As “late next week” starts to come within range of increased model accuracy for tropical storm forecast tracks, more of those models are bringing Florence – at this writing a tropical storm – farther west. There’s still no guarantee she’ll take any one particular path and climatology is technically against her making landfall, but it’s hard to ignore the potential now.
There are a few points I really want to make with this post:
- Just because no hurricane on record started where Florence started and hit the US mainland as major hurricane doesn’t mean that it has never happened. Accurate keeping of storm track records is a relatively recent activity, especially when you factor in satellite records. To the same point, it also doesn’t mean that it can’t ever happen. As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything!
- It’s still too early to tell. For the most part, hurricane track forecasting is not very accurate more than five days out, which is why the National Hurricane Center’s official track only shows the next five days. It’s also the reason the cone of uncertainty on that track is widest on the fifth day. Often, the storm’s path will fall somewhere within that cone, but if you watch the updates religiously like we weather geeks do, you’ll notice even the cone moves with each new model run.
- Despite potential landfall still being too far out to say for certain if it will happen, it is a good time to go ahead and prepare, especially if you live on or have property on the coast. It only takes one storm to devastate an area, and even if Florence is not that storm, there are two more potential tropical storms lining up behind her off the coast of Africa. And it’s definitely too early to tell where they will go.
We are currently in the climatological peak of hurricane season for the north Atlantic, and the ocean’s temperatures have become much more conducive to storm production in recent weeks. If you haven’t already prepared, now is the time.