Weather Links: Hurricanes

By Jack Williams ©2015

If  you live along the U.S. Gulf or Atlantic coasts, or just want to keep up with hurricanes or other kinds of tropical cyclones elsewhere in the world, the links below will take you directly to information you need or want.

Atlantic Basin Forecasts and Outlooks

To learn whether a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane has formed over the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or eastern Pacific, or what such a storm is doing, the first place to check is the National Hurricane Center (NHC) Active Storms page.

On this page you will see listings for both the Atlantic-Caribbean Sea-Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific.

If you wonder wheather something might be brewing, check the NHC’s  Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook for a quick check of the Atlantic Basin (The Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico)  The NHC also has an Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook page.

A resident of Gilchrist Island, Texas, looks at the remains of his home on Sept. 25, 2008 after Hurricane Ike devastated the area. FEMA photo by Patsy Lynch

The NHC’s Text Product Descriptions will help you understand the several different kinds of storm forecasts, outlooks, and advisories.

The Graphic Product Descriptions explain the several kinds of maps the NHC issues during storms.

The best single source of tropical cyclone information other than the National Hurricane Center, which I know of, is Dr. Jeff Master’s WunderBlog on the Weather Underground Web site. Masters, a former hurricane researcher, offers informed, detailed commentary on global tropical cyclones.

Hurricanes and the Gulf oil spill

A good example of Masters’ work is his May 26, 2010 WunderBlog post on “What a hurricane would do to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”  Any reporter who wants to write about hurricanes and oil spills would be wise to begin with this post before calling other experts for comments.

Global Tropical Cyclones

Hurricanes are the kind of storm known as tropical cyclones with sustained winds faster than 74 mph that occur in the Atlantic Basin (The Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) or in the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and east of the International Date Line.

Northern Pacific 74 mph or stronger storms west of the Date Line are called typhoons.

In the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean such storms are called Cyclones.

NASA’s Hurricane Resources Page could really be called a tropical cyclones resources page. When a tropical cyclone is active anywhere in the world, you should find a satellite image and information at the top of this Web page. It also has numerous links to research reports, often by NASA scientists.

The science of hurricanes

A good way to begin learning about the science and forecasting of hurricanes is reading Chapter 10 of The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather. For a more detailed look at hurricane forecasting is Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth, which Dr. Bob Sheets and I wrote in 2001.

If y ou want to look deeper into hurricane science, you should read Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes by Kerry Emanuel, who is a leading hurricane researcher.

Flying Into Hurricanes

One of NOAA's two WP-3 airplanes used for hurricane flights. NOAA photo

Anyone who follows hurricane reports and forecasts knows that the men and women who fly into hurricanes supply vital information. Hurricane Watch devotes an entire chapter to the history of flying into hurricanes. Chapter 10 of The AMS Weather Book uses gaphics and text to explain how and why storm flights collect data that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Souce notes and further reading for the AMS Weather Book are on a Web site. This site’s links for Hurricane Flying takes you to a lot more information.

While hurricane flying is much safer than you might think, storms have at times severely tested hurricane-hunter crews. Surely the worst of these was the September 1989 flight of one of NOAA’s two WP-3s NOAA 42. Jeff Masters, who was the flight meteorologist on that flight and tells the harrowing story in his Hunting Hugo story.

Climate Change and Hurricanes

The AMS Weather Book Web site Explorations: Hurricanes and Climate Change page is a good place to begin learning about this vexed topic. Chris Mooney’s book Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming tells in details how the political and scientific battles over warming and hurricanes played out during the busy 2005 hurricane season. While the science has moved on since then, Mooney’s book is invaluable background for anyone who wants to look into warming and hurricanes.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best place for answers to questions about hurricanes and other tropical cyclones is the NOAA Hurricane Research Division’s FAQ.

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