Hurricane How do Meteorologists Forecast Hurricanes?

Hurricane forecasting is a specialized skill which involves analyzing highly complex atmospheric conditions. Many parameters at all layers of the atmosphere affect hurricane movement and intensity. Determining the dominant parameters is the most difficult factor in tropical cyclone forecasting.

A combination of forecasting techniques are currently employed by tropical meteorologists in predicting the future movement and intensity of a storm. The subjective technique utilizes the experience of each meteorologist and uses the various rules of thumb based on the physical laws of motion. The more scientific approach is the objective technique, which is based on extrapolation of past positions of the storm, area climatology of past hurricanes, and dynamic or statistical meteorology. History of OCSI explains one of our prediction methods.

Dynamic meteorological techniques are based on the "steering current" concept. This current may be at a particular level of the atmosphere or an averaged wind flow through a layer. There are differing ideas on whether the 700 mb level or 500 mb level handles the hurricane movement forecast better. Storm size and intensity often determines the steering current level used. If the storm is large and intense, then the higher 500 mb winds will probably yield a more accurate forecast. A smaller storm will tend to move with the 700 mb winds.

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