DISCUSSION: In the wake of all of the devastation inflicted by the recent landfalls from a Major Hurricane Harvey, there is already a very widely covered and strong-worded media frenzy setting in as the world continues to monitor the evolution of Hurricane Irma. However, it is imperative to keep some very key points in mind over the course of the next week. Regardless of where you live (i.e., if you do in fact live somewhere along the U.S. Gulf and/or East Coast, it is still far too out in the process of Hurricane Irma's lifetime to know where she may be headed within 7 to 10 days from now. Many people's nerves may be particularly startled based on the fact it would appear that the United States just "got done" with one major hurricane and then comes the infamous phrase which is often tied to hurricanes "here we go again."
Having said that, it is imperative to understand that many of the current model forecasts being discussed by the world media are based on ensemble forecast model products. Ensemble forecasts models are designed such that individual forecast track members have minor changes with respect to different parameters so that there are a wide array of possible solutions to get an idea of how different forecast scenarios may influence the future intensity and/or track of Hurricane Irma. Therefore, as forecasts continue to fly onto television, laptop, tablet, smartphone screens, etc., be sure to keep the following knowledge in mind as you read. That all-important factor is that official hurricane track and intensity forecasts are only ever issued out to 5 days. The reason for that time-frame of choice is due to the fact that statistical error has only been shown to be reduced sufficiently during that period of time from the current location of a hurricane at some given period in time. Hence, trying to look beyond any 5-day forecast for an incoming tropical cyclone is futile in all actuality.
Nonetheless, it is imperative for people living across coastal sections of both the Gulf Coast and the East Coast of the United States to remain vigilant over the course of the next 7 to 10 days in case the situation becomes more precarious within the next week.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz