Could Hurricane Forecasting Get Better in 2013?

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Could the relative humidity around a hurricane help make forecasts more accurate? Photo: ThaRemix / CC by 2.0

Could the relative humidity around a hurricane help make forecasts more accurate? Photo: ThaRemix / CC by 2.0

What will the weather be like tomorrow? How about next week?

Weather forecasting is a tricky business at the best of times, and even when lives depend on what the forecast says, it still doesn’t get any easier to predict what might happen. When it comes to hurricanes, the questions are serious.

Will a tropical storm change into a potentially deadly hurricane? Where will the hurricane hit? How strong will it be?

Hurricane Uncertainty Causes Social Uncertainty

The uncertainties behind hurricane tracking can lead to some interesting social conundrums.

In 2012, Hurricane Isaac threw the Republican convention’s plans into disarray, as it appeared that a hurricane might bear down on the location of the convention. The hurricane led to the cancellation of some convention activities.

More certainty can help people prepare. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy also morphed with a winter storm system to create a superstorm, an incredibly wide hurricane that dumped rain on the US East Coast, led to blizzard conditions in more mountainous areas, and combined with high tides to create high storm surges, leading to extensive damage. Luckily, there was some warning about the superstorm.

While damage to the US was serious, other countries suffered even more profound consequences from this year’s hurricane season. For those in the Caribbean region, these hurricanes were devastating. In a region that struggles with poverty and inadequate housing at the best of times, hurricane season is an additional challenge, one that often leads to loss of life and large scale flooding and landslides. Could more certainty about hurricane forecasting help all those in hurricane-prone regions prepare?

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