DISCUSSION: There is little to no debate throughout the global atmospheric science community that hurricane forecasting has undergone a substantial and noticeable amount of improvement over the last thirty to forty years plus. Both with respect to being able to better anticipate the forward track of developing an intense tropical cyclones to also being able to predict their intensity as well as maximum intensity father in advance, there is no argument that atmospheric science has made tremendous strides in being able to better anticipate critical changes within tropical cyclones. Having said that, over the past ten to twenty years or so, operational hurricane forecasters over the NWS National Hurricane Center have developed ways to make even greater strides than many other regions of the world. This is due to an incredibly intelligent and experienced collective team of research and operational forecasters on hand as well as direct access to state-of-the-art numerical forecast model resources.
More specifically, many of the better tropical cyclone forecasts from around the globe have emerged in the wake of the introduction of ensemble forecast methods. Ensemble forecasting is a mode and an approach to operational forecasting wherein the forecaster in question utilizes a forecast model whose sole job is to effectively modify specific properties of model conditions at the start of the run to create various forecast solutions which add up to what is referred to as an ensemble. By then blending the respective future track and intensity results from the collection of different individual ensemble members, this then facilitates a better idea of the more likely range of possible solutions for the future of a given tropical cyclone event.
In the case of the current highest concern across the tropical Atlantic Ocean which happens to be Tropical Storm Florence, operational forecasters have been and will continue to integrate ensemble forecast approaches quite heavily right up to the point of landfall to have the best possible edge on the range of possibilities for the future track and intensity of what will more-than-likely soon again be Hurricane Florence. Moreover, it looking at the graphic attached above (courtesy of Meteorologist Sam Lillo from the University of Oklahoma), you will see how it is noted that the intensity forecast out to 5 days for Tropical Storm Florence happens to be the highest intensity forecast out through a 5-day period over the past twenty years. More importantly, this reflects how overall forecast confidence has evolved and changed over that time-span with the advent of higher-resolution regional as well as global models combined with infused ensemble forecasting techniques as well.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz