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Hurricane track forecasts may reach end of improvement in a decade

NHC meteorologist says perfect forecast impossible

Track improvements (blue line) never expected to reach zero error and eventually reach the limits of improved predictability(dashed blue line).
Track improvements (blue line) never expected to reach zero error and eventually reach the limits of improved predictability(dashed blue line).

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – This year had some of the best hurricane predictions on record but a top hurricane forecaster expects improvements will be capped in the near future.

Perfect forecasts will never happen according to the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center.

Dr. Chris Landsea says there will not be much improvement in track forecasts beyond 10 years.

He expects a limit based on careful consideration of the empirical and theoretical evidence in his research that shows the rate of improvement is slowing in the Atlantic and may leveloff by the year 2030.

Computers models have advanced the forecast over the years.

To see how skillful predictions have become over the decades just look at the accuracy of 
Hurricane Maria’s track by the National Hurricane Center. It was their best forecasted track on record looking one and two days out.

In fact one day out, a storm’s location is typically just under 50 miles from where it was predicted the day before.  This improvement is more the twice as better compared to 1990.

Advances in global forecasting models have helped push track errors down below 115 miles for a 3 day forecast. 

He would like to see research efforts focus on improving hurricane intensity forecasts along with hurricane impacts for the future.
 


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