World Wide Weather – We’re all tropical weather experts thanks to the InterWebz!

World Wide Weather – We’re all tropical weather experts thanks to the InterWebz!

I don’t know how we ever got through hurricane season without the Internet.

Back in the old days, before every computer in the world was hooked up to every other, and massive, powerful servers were on call, 24 hours a day, spewing forth encyclopedic quantities of information each nanosecond, we would actually have to wait for the latest weather information. This information would usually come from the TV or radio and would be bestowed upon the unwashed masses by “broadcast meteorologists.”

I digress. We’re not talking about broadcast weathermen—we’re talking about the kind of weathermen that you and I are becoming thanks to the World Wide Weather Web. There are so many weather resources out there, free for the looking, from layman-friendly easy-to-understand sites to the more complex, scientific pages. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s out there. Here are some URLs (website addresses) of useful hurricane and weather resources online.

I’ll start with the bad mamma jamma of all weather sites: Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com). This site offers weather forecasts for just about any location on Earth, including links to local radar, current conditions, climatological data, and long-range forecasts. There are special pages for all types of weather, and their Tropical / Hurricane page is a great resource that combines user-friendly maps and charts with a plethora of information from the National Hurricane Center and other sources. Particularly informative is Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog, where the Weather Underground founder will interpret and discuss all the information from official forecasters and computer models, and his insight is a big help in understanding all the other information out there.

The National Hurricane Center’s website (www.nhc.noaa.gov) is a comprehensive look at all things tropical. There are forecast products posted for tropical depressions and named storms, plus a link to more satellite imagery, hurricane history, educational material, and a lot of other stuff. The maps and charts that show the forecast track of a storm are THE OFFICIAL CHARTS AND ADVISORIES that all the other media outlets use, and are THE SOURCE for THE OFFICIAL CONE. Particularly informative are the “Discussions” that the NHC forecasters issue with each official advisory. This is where one can read about the rationale behind the track and intensity forecasts, and it often tells more about why the forecasters think a storm is going to do what they predict it will do.

Anyone who follows tropical weather at all is familiar to some degree with the various computer models the forecasters use to predict the track and intensity of tropical cyclones. Names like GFDL, NOGAPS, HWRF, GFS, and UKMET are abbreviations by which these models are commonly known (for example, GFDL stands for NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory; UKMET stands for United Kingdom Meteorological Office). Our own South Florida Water Management District has an informative website (www.sfwmd.gov), and just follow the links to their Weather and Hurricane Models pages. This models page shows the forecast tracks of a lot of different

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