Charting the Course
Furgione, Laura K.
Furgione reviewed NOAA’s activities at the time of Hurricane Floyd in comparison to today’s technology and integration. She reviewed the tracks and impacts of the 1999 series of storms—Hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene—and how important forecasting was to reducing the death toll. Since that time, the National Hurricane Center has gone from six to ten forecasters and has expanded its webpage to allow more users. In 2008, there was less storm track error and the forecast has been extended from three to five days. Wind speed probability and storm surge probability products are also new. Tornado forecasting lead time was ten minutes in 2001, and now it is 15 minutes. The hydrologic prediction service now has over 2,237 hydrographs, and the system is 56% complete. Future projects include advanced flood inundation mapping for North Carolina. Because of Floyd, North Carolina is ahead of other states in flood mapping. There is now a greater understanding of the ecological impacts of big storms and their run-off. NOAA is also working on information to help communities become more resilient and suffer less financial loss in the future. They have used the NOAA satellites to assess damage after Hurricane Isabel, and the Storm Ready program has also been developed. Finally, Furgione showed that climate change has not had a discernable effect on hurricane activity over the last 100 years. Global sea-level measurements, however, show that sea-level rise is occurring. Increased sea level is expected to increase storm surge impacts in the future.