We continue our coverage of the 2011 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at the tropical weather forecasting process.
Source: NHC: Forecast Process (Learn More)
Part of the mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) is to save lives and protect property by issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous weather conditions in the tropics. This section provides information about the roles of those responsible for providing hurricane information to emergency managers and decision makers.
The TPC is comprised of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB), and the Technical Support Branch (TSB). During hurricane season, the latter two provide support to the NHC.
The local NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in hurricane-prone areas are also important participants in the forecast process.
Observations including satellites, buoys, reconnaissance aircraft, and radar are the basis for all forecast and warning products issued by the NHC. Quality, quantity, and timeliness of remote sensing observations are critical for accurate and timely forecasts and warnings.
The various observations are checked for quality, analyzed, and put into a suite of computer models.
MODEL GUIDANCE AND INTERPRETATION
The computer models take in the observations and perform millions of calculations to generate predictions of hurricane behavior and the general conditions of the atmosphere in which the hurricane is embedded. The model results are packaged as guidance for the appropriate national centers and local offices and for evaluation and use in the NWS's forecast and warning process.
COORDINATION WITHIN THE NWS
Forecasts and warnings are coordinated between the national centers and local forecast offices to provide consistency, which is critical during severe weather episodes.