I just read the Hurricane Center’s technical discussion on Frances:
OF FRANCES HAS DETERIORATED SINCE YESTERDAY AND THE CENTRAL PRESSURE
HAS RISEN TO 959 MB. IN ADDITION…SOME UPPER-LEVEL SOUTHWESTERLY
WINDS ARE CURRENTLY CREATING SOME SHEAR OVER THE HURRICANE
DISRUPTING THE CLOUD PATTERN. THIS MEANS THAT THE HURRICANE HAS
WEAKENED AND THE INITIAL INTENSITY HAS BEEN LOWERED TO 100 KNOTS.
Let’s read between the lines.
Frances is already less than 115 mph and they’re worried it is going to get weaker. On the other hand, they… all of us who forecast weather actually… remember Andrew, and more recently Charley. These are storms that responded rapidly to their outside environments and hit land stronger than anticipated.
I think I mentioned last night that hurricane forecasting is attempted even though we don’t understand all the factors, or even which factors we’re leaving out. Hurricane track forecasting is bad – intensity forecasting is awful.
That’s not an insult to those who do the forecasting. It’s just a fact. And, at the moment, I don’t see any breakthroughs in hurricane forecasting on the horizon.
Here’s where the pact with the Devil comes in.
If Frances hits Florida, and it’s a wimp, then lives are saved. But then no one will listen when the next one comes… and the next one could be Andrew or Charley or the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
On the other hand, if your forecast verifies and it’s 115 mph coming in, people will be hurt (you hope the warnings have been heeded and no one’s killed), property will be destroyed, lives displaced.
Wishing won’t change things. Still, what do you wish for?