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NHC to Provide Greater Lead Time for Watches, Warnings

01/14/2010

Beginning with the 2010 hurricane season, NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami will issue watches and warnings for tropical storms and hurricanes along threatened coastal areas 12 hours earlier than in previous years. According to NHC experts, advancements in track forecasts are making it possible for forecasters to provide greater lead time. Tropical storm watches will be issued when tropical storm conditions are possible along the coast within 48 hours. Tropical storm warnings will be issued when those conditions are expected within 36 hours. This is an increase of 12 hours from those issued in previous years.

Similar increases in lead-time will apply to hurricane watches and warnings. The hurricane watches and warnings will generally be timed to provide 48 and 36 hours notice, respectively, before the onset of tropical storm force winds. That additional time will also allow people preparing for the storm -- securing oil rig platforms, getting food and water stockpiled, boarding windows and such -- enough time to finish preparations and get to safe shelter.

According to WX4NHC Coordinator John McHugh, K4AG, the NHC has improved the track accuracy in their forecasts over past few seasons, cutting the error rate to roughly one-third its level in 1970 and half the level of 15 years ago, thanks to of advances in computer models and increased satellite measurements of atmospheric conditions; WX4NHC is the Amateur Radio station at the NHC. "The extra 12 hours that has been added to both the tropical watches and warnings will be of benefit to the Amateur Radio volunteers of WX4NHC who have for the past 30 years supported NHC in their mission," McHugh told the ARRL. "This increase in time will allow us to better schedule their operating time along with those of our supporting groups of the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and the VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIPWXNet) and allow people to better plan the release from their day jobs."

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read, KB5FYA, said the new guidelines will make it easier for those who live in hurricane-affected areas to evacuate in a more timely manner: "With increases in population and infrastructure along vulnerable US coastlines, emergency managers need more lead time in order to make life-saving decisions regarding evacuations."

Hurricane season runs from May 15-November 30 in the Eastern Pacific and on June 1-November 30 for the Atlantic Basin.



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