Best Websites for Hurricane Information
Its the summer and that means its Hurricane season! Although Hurricane season runs from May to November the peak months include August, September and October. After the devastating Hurricane season of 2004 and 2005, when the United states was hit over and over again, awareness of of these storms took front stage on many media outlets. The coverage was great while it was a top story, however these storms are not always monitored on your daily news. As the population at the coast has increased and the chances of a more active hurricane cycle the next few decades, information will be key to saving lives and property. In this article i will suggest and review a number of sources that offer reliable and helpful statistics and maps for these monstrous but beautiful storms.
I have been interested in the weather for majority of my life and have spent numerous hours watching news coverage and browsing the Internet to monitor, understand and just be in awe of storms like hurricanes. So over the years I have come across a number of sites where I find the information on hurricanes not only reliable but up to date and informative. The sites I will review include The National Hurricane Center, Accuweather, and Wunderground: The Weather Underground. These three sites are the ones that i turn to for the latest and most accurate hurricane predictions and statistics.
The National Hurricane Center
My first stop when gathering information about the latest storms brewing over the warm waters of the Atlantic ocean is the National Hurricane Center, under NOAA. This is a federal organization that forecasts tropical activity for United States Interests.
The site is organize fairly simple with a map showing the the Atlantic basin on the homepage, which includes current active storms as well as potential development over the next 48 hours. The potential development forecast is handy to look at what might develop soon. Although the homepage starts with the Atlantic, the site also covers the Eastern Pacific. Once you click on a particular storm, you are given the most up to date statistics on the storm including: wind speed, pressure, movement and location. Also on this site you are given a number of maps which include: 3 day and 5 day forecast tracks with cone of probability, warnings and watches map, wind history, Maximum wind speed probability chart (shows chances of how fast the winds will get over a 48 hour period), Hurricane wind speed probability (shows the areas that have a chance of seeing hurricane force winds), 50-Knot wind speed probability and Tropical Storm Wind Speed probability.
The National Hurricane Center is my first stop because it has some original data and observations which most other cites will use. This original source gets the information first, therefore it is a great starting point.
The next site i go to is Accuweather, a privately owned forecasting company located in State College, PA. This site offers copious amounts of tropical information as well as expert opinions. I use the free version of the site but there is also a paid version, which I believe offers additional forecast, models and opinions. I go to this site not only for the current stats for a storm but also for explanation and predictions on overall weather patterns impacting tropical systems.
Accuweather's hurricane page opens up with a map of the world, showing current sea surface temperatures and boxes for the major development regions of tropical activity. This includes the Atlantic basin, the Eastern Pacific, Western Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean. This coverage is much greater then the United States focused NHC (National Hurricane center). When clicking on one of the active storms your are given information in various media formats. This includes the current statistics, video forecasts and discussion on, as well as maps. The maps include a number of NHC maps, but also accuweather's forecast map, Satellite images, multiple model forecasts, and watches and warnings.
What makes this site stand out is the various media formats offered in which information is delivered. Unlike other sites, you can watch a video of a meteorologist explaining the variuos aspects of any given tropical system or tropical patterns. It is also a great place to view easy to understand computer models for tropical storms, allowing you to try to make your own forecast for fun, at least that's what i do sometimes!
Finally, the last site I visit the most is Wunderground The Weather Underground. This site is also a privately owned site and offers large amounts of data and information about tropical systems and other weather systems. I like this website because it has different maps, models and forecast tracks then the other sites. It also has some user interaction, with maps that allow you to put click on and off various variables like models, forecast, and wind radius.
The hurricane page opens with a map of current sea surface temps and active storms. Above the map are tabs with the different tropical development areas, which can be clicked on to focus on a particular area, such as the western pacific. Below the map are rows, based on locations of active storms, with basic up to date stats for each storm. Clicking on the storms name will give more information and maps. The maps include 3 and 5 day forecasts, computer models, ensemble models, model intensity ( which shows pressure and wind speed forecast for all the forecast models), storm history, satellite, Hurricane Hunter (tracks paths of the planes through the storm), wind, cumulative wind, historical (shows tracks of storms that have passed within the same area of the current storm), and finally wunder map. The wundermap is an interactive forecast map that combines stats with forecast path, and forecast wind field.
Overall this website offers more models and visual forecasts for tropical systems. What makes it stand out is its combination of various stats into an interactive map, allowing you to see information you want together on one map.
Mobile Hurricane Updates!
Away from the computer or on the go, get simple to read updates on Twitter! Follow some of the accounts below for reliable updated information on the latest Tropical News!
Jim Cantore (Meteorologist at The Weather Channel) @JimCantore
National Hurricane Center (NOAA) @HurricaneAlerts
Weather Underground @wunderground
and don't forget that you can search information about Hurricane activity on Twitter via the Hashtag! Just go to search and place a # before the name of the storm and any tweet that mentions the storm will show up! For example with the early Tropical Storm Beryl of May 2012, search Beryl or #Beryl to find out what everyone thinks of the storm!!
So if your looking to stay informed or just interested in the fascinating dynamics of tropical development, the websites to go to are The National Hurricane Center, Accuweather and Wunderground. These sites will not only offer great information but they also help you to learn a little bit about tropical development and atmospheric science with every new storm! These are not the only sites out there and I'm sure with the growing popularity of Twitter new sites will develop. If you use any other sites for hurricane information please post a link or share, the more information out there the better for preparation of these dangerous yet beautiful storms.