J10.4 Advancements in Operational Hurricane Forecast Guidance from NCEP/EMC HWRF Modeling System: Progress in Hurricane Forecast Improvements During the Last Decade since Hurricane Katrina

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 4:15 PM
Room 344 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Vijay Tallapragada, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/EMC, College Park, MD; and H. Tolman and F. Toepfer

Although hurricane track forecasts have shown steady improvement over the years, intensity forecasts, which were rather stagnant until recently, started showing significant improvements in the past few years. This could primarily be attributed to more focused research, development, implementation and enhancement of advanced high-resolution atmosphere-ocean coupled hurricane modeling system known as the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast (HWRF) model in operations at NCEP. The Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP) established by NOAA in 2009 with ambitious goals of reducing track and intensity forecast errors by 20% in five years and 50% in ten years, apart from improved reliability and accuracy of hurricane forecast models, is the major driving force behind this steep step progress in hurricane intensity forecast guidance. The operational HWRF model was able to demonstrate steady and significant improvements in intensity forecasts since 2011, essentially reducing the intensity errors by about half and reaching the 5-year HFIP goals by 2015 (Figure 1). Hurricane Katrina is one of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes in the history of United States. As we are entering into its tenth anniversary, it is timely to review the state-of-the art of operational hurricane forecasting then and now. This presentation will illustrate the quality and skill of hurricane forecasts for Katrina using today's state-of-the-art operational HWRF modeling system compared to the technology existed ten years ago, with emphasis on the scientific advancements accomplished, and the challenges we still face in predicting rapid changes in the hurricane intensity.

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