Understandably, and seemingly lost in post-Hurricane Sandy discussions, is the expert work of the men and women at the National Hurricane Center, in the individual National Weather Service forecasts offices up and down the eastern seaboard and those who work in hurricane research producing the “spaghetti” forecast models.
Their work, coupled with the evolution in the science of hurricane forecasting, undoubtedly saved many lives and provided significant warning for those living in the Caribbean, Bahamas and those affected areas in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
The NHC issued its first advisory on what would become Hurricane Sandy at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22.
By 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, the five-day forecast error track cone was covering much of the northeast. At that time, the intensity forecast of Sandy was projected to be at tropical storm strength.
By 5 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, the NHC’s skinny black line, which we’re not supposed to focus on, was projecting the center of a hurricane to come ashore just south of New Jersey. Still much of the northeast from Connecticut to North Carolina was well within the five-day cone. The NHC’s projection of a hurricane-strength cyclone coming ashore never wavered and the strong warnings were also issued about the potential for serious storm surge.
Sandy’s center came ashore at about 8 p.m. Monday near Atlantic City, N.J., and a mere 28 miles from where the core was projected to arrive three-and-a-half days earlier.
That is an astoundingly accurate forecast and while all storm projections will not likely be that proficient, it proves the value of the nation’s hurricane warning system and the return derived from continued hurricane research.
Andy Newman, Palmetto Bay