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Hurricane Forecast Track Information: Is It Always Right?

Is the National Hurricane Center forecast track always right? While the NHC does a very good job in determining where a storm will go, the center of circulation (eye) many times will deviate from this path slightly.

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And, this is why good planning and preparation is always key for residents of coastal regions who are in the cone of uncertainty, and for those just outside of this cone.

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Planning and preparations for where projected landfall is forecast is the same for those 100 miles on either side and inland.

If residents are prepared, have their supplies ready, know their evacuation routes, and have everything is place, the projected path will not matter.

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If you’re someone who follows all updates the NHC gives, you’ll notice they give a 5 day projection, and a 3 day projection. The 3 day track simply means that hurricane conditions are very likely for that area, and the exact path line is certainly never guaranteed.

These storms are very notorious for deviating to the right and left some just before landfall.

Do Not Focus On The Eye And Landfall Forecast Track

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One of the biggest mistakes I see coastal residents make is planning and making preparations only when the exact forecast track is over where they live. By exact, I mean where the eye is expected to cross over land.

This practice is not good judgement as weather conditions including high winds, heavy rain, flooding, and tornadoes and waterspouts do happen many dozens of miles away from landfall.

As an example, consider Dorian in 2019. The track for this storm in Eastern NC was to stay just offshore and then parallel the coast. Which, is exactly what this storm did.

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However, 12 hours before Dorian crossed over Carteret County, a EF2 waterspout came onshore in Emerald Isle causing considerable damage. And, when this waterspout occurred, the eye was well over 70 miles away.

For residents only watching the eye and making preparations around it’s position, it’s likely they were caught off guard.

The best advice I can give someone new to living along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast is to have ALL supplies purchased and know your evacuation routes before June 1, and to have everything in place when the NHC places your location within the cone of uncertainty.

Keeping our advice in mind, it won’t matter where the forecast track is projected to occur, or whether the NHC got the path right. Please, never focus on the eye and where the eye will make landfall.


Are you a coastal resident along the Gulf or Atlantic who watches all NHC updates and you notice the exact eye forecast track changes on every update, but then begins to narrow down as it approaches the coast?

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If so, what’s been your experiences on that path holding true even 12 hours out before the center of circulation crosses land?

The next time one of these systems approaches the area you live in, about 12 hours out ask one of your local meteorologist on social media if the eye of the storm will cross over where you live and I guarantee she or he will tell you it’s probable, but not guaranteed.

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Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

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