4 hurricane graphics you need to understand before June 1

The National Hurricane Center has released four hurricane graphics aimed at helping people better understand the risks posed by an approaching storm.

Some graphics are just tweaks to well-known products, such as the forecast track cone.

Check the Palm Beach Post storm tracking map.

But others are entirely new and could easily be misinterpreted.

Here are the four graphics and what they mean.

  1. Potential tropical cyclones: To improve alert times for tropical systems, the NHC will begin issuing advisories for potential tropical cyclones. These are systems that are not yet a tropical depression, storm or hurricane, but may become one as they near the coast. The forecasts for potential tropical cyclones will look the same as tropical storm and hurricane forecasts, but the track cone may be larger because there is less certainty in predicting where an unorganized system will go.
The National Hurricane Center will make forecasts on potential tropical cyclones before they meet the definition of tropical depression or storm.

2. Earliest reasonable arrival of tropical storm-force winds: So that people will have a better understanding of when preparations should be complete ahead of a storm, a new wind graphic will be used this year that shows when tropical storm-force winds will reach specific areas. The graphic contains the percent chance that the winds will impact an area and approximate time. A second graphic will show the most likely arrival time of tropical storm-force winds.

Example of the earliest arrival time of tropical storm-force winds.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

3. Update to tropical cyclone advisory graphic: The NHC updated the look of its tropical cyclone advisory graphics with cleaner lines and softer colors. It also added an important new element with a circular mark in the forecast cone that shows the extent of hurricane and tropical storm-force winds. This will better illustrate the fact that damaging winds don’t always stay within the cone and people living outside the cone can still feel impacts.

Example of track cone with tropical storm-force wind field.

4. Storm surge watch and warning maps: The NHC will issue storm surge watch and warning advisories this year the same as they do for tropical storms and hurricanes. The storm surge watch means the possibility of life-threatening flooding from storm-related surge is possible within 48 hours. A storm surge warning means the danger of life-threatening flooding from rising water moving inland could occur within 36 hours.

Example of storm surge watch and warning map.

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Author: Kimberly Miller

Kimberly grew up outside Washington D.C. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995. Her beats have included K-12 education, universities and colleges, real estate, and general assignment.

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