'Cane Forcasts Get An Upgrade

hurricane forecast AP

Meteorologists will issue five-day hurricane forecasts beginning with the upcoming season, extending the three-day forecasts used since 1964, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.

The National Weather Service is lengthening the forecasts after a two-year test. The agency cites improvements in technology that will allow the five-day forecasts to be sufficiently accurate and the need for longer-range outlooks as coastal areas become more populated as reasons for the extension.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

"This five-day forecast provides a valuable planning and preparedness tool and is a tangible step forward in our efforts to protect lives and property, and enhance the U.S. economy," said James R. Mahoney, NOAA deputy administrator.

The new forecast will be useful for those who need more than three days to move themselves and their property, such as the U.S. Navy, Mahoney said.

"U.S. Navy interest in the longer range forecasts are driven by the lengthy time required to protect major shore activities, move ships at port or divert those at sea," said Capt. Jeff Bacon, Commander of the Naval Atlantic Meteorology and Oceanography Center.

The National Hurricane Center went through a rigorous set of experiments 2001 and 2002 to test its capability to issue five-day forecasts, said Max Mayfield, the hurricane center's director.

Data from those tests indicate the extended forecasts will be as accurate as three-day forecasts issued 15 years ago, Mayfield said.

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