Forecasting hurricanes is much better

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2018

As June 1st approaches, most of us are preparing for what we hope will be an uneventful hurricane season.

Outside of a close call in October of last year, that hurricane season in Pearl River County was easily forgotten.

But hurricanes are always in the back of our minds. As such, Sunday’s hurricane presentation drew a crowd. As I and the rest of the attendees listened to a local seasoned meteorologist give us background on how technology has increased the accuracy of weather forecasts and hurricane tracking I began to wonder what it would have been like a century or more ago.

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Today, meteorologists have a plethora of data collected from space and other sources to determine a storm’s size, shape and possible path, weeks from it ever reaching land.

And while those long range forecasts are often wrong, we still know a storm has formed, and there’s a chance we will need to take action.

While Mississippians know that most storms that do come ashore provide little more than some gusty winds and lots of rain, memories of Camille and Katrina remind us that every decade or so a major storm will cause days of discomfort as we wait in muggy conditions for power to be restored.

Even with decades of access to satellites and advanced computer systems that crunch the numbers and give us an accurate one to three days of advance notice, many may still wonder why we don’t have accurate forecasts a week or more prior to a storm’s landfall.

But just think what it would have been like 100 or even 50 years ago. Prior to all of this technology, people were unaware that a hurricane was coming until it was literally knocking on their door.

Without prior notice, evacuation and buying supplies prior to landfall was out of the question.

Hurricane prediction may still not be perfect, but I’ll take a definite day or two notice to prepare over none at all.