3B.3 Moving Beyond the Cone of Uncertainty: Communicating National Hurricane Center Forecasts of Hurricane Track and Wind Hazards

Monday, 7 January 2013: 12:00 AM
Room 18D (Austin Convention Center)
Robbie Berg, NOAA / NWS / National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL; and J. Rhome, E. Gibney, B. H. Morrow, M. Lowry, and W. Booth

A 2006 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies, Completing the Forecast, provided several major recommendations to the weather and climate community outlining how to better characterize and communicate uncertainty information in forecasts. One of the recommendations specifically stated that “NOAA should improve its product development process by collaborating with users and partners in the Enterprise from the outset and engaging and using social and behavioral science expertise.” The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is heavily engaged in a research-to-operations initiative called the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP) to produce hurricane forecasts of higher accuracy and greater reliability. While most of the teams in HFIP focus on the physical aspects of hurricane observation and modeling, a Socio-economic Team comprising NHC scientists, other National Weather Service forecasters, and representatives from the emergency management, media, private sector, and social science communities are working to identify current and new hurricane products and graphical techniques that will increase public understanding of hurricane forecast information and enhance reliability on NWS forecasts. Each member of the team brings a unique and diverse perspective on user requirements, especially since some are users of forecast information themselves. Comprehensive social science surveys and research are being conducted to test graphical prototypes with emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, the public, and NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologists.

This presentation focuses on the graphical prototypes of tropical cyclone track and wind forecasts that have been created and externally tested with users. Specifically, the Socio-economic Team has placed priority on investigating products that address the potential for strong winds from a tropical cyclone (something that the forecast cone does not do and is often misinterpreted as doing) and also the arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds, a parameter that is key for evacuation decision making.

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