Looking Out for Hurricanes

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On any given day during hurricane season, one may choose from a variety of “outlooks” in order to maintain situational awareness concerning potential threats from tropical storms and hurricanes.  An outlook basically is a type of forecast used to indicate that a hazardous weather event may develop.  The National Weather Service issues three outlooks which are relevant for people living, working, and playing in the Florida Keys.  These are the “Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook”, the “Tropical Weather Outlook”, and the “Hazardous Weather Outlook”.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook is issued in May, and updated in August each year.  This product gives the broad-scale, big-picture assessment of expected tropical cyclone activity across the Atlantic Ocean basin (including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico).  The Tropical Weather Outlook focuses on the potential for tropical cyclone development across the basin during the next five days.  The Hazardous Weather Outlook is a local-scale product prepared by your Florida Keys National Weather Service meteorologists, with reference to the potential for any hazardous weather in the Florida Keys during the next seven days.  Together, these products hopefully will serve to responsibly inform the Florida Keys marine community concerning tropical weather threats so that you may effectively stay aware and be prepared. Each year, meteorologists from government, academia, and the private sector issue outlooks for the upcoming hurricane season.  The National Weather Service (NWS) is the weather forecasting arm of “NOAA”, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The NWS issues its own outlooks for both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricane seasons. The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook was released on May 22, and is available online at: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.shtml The NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook is a general guide to the expected overall activity during the upcoming hurricane season.  It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not predict levels of activity for any particular region.  The Outlook is issued by the NOAA/National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, and prepared through a collaboration of atmospheric scientists working at the Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, and Hurricane Research Division.  The “Atlantic” hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. The scientists consider large-scale observations and trends known to be associated with tropical cyclone activity (for example, sea surface temperature averages, wind shear, and global weather patterns), as well as the output from a variety of global weather prediction models. The Tropical Weather Outlook is a message which discusses areas of disturbed weather over tropical and subtropical waters and the potential for tropical cyclone development during the next five days.  The outlook will mention tropical and subtropical cyclones, including the system’s location, status, and change in status.  The Tropical Weather Outlook is issued at least four times per day, at 2:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. EDT (an hour earlier during standard time).  A graphical version is made available as well on the National Hurricane Center web page at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gtwo.php?basin=atlc&fdays=2 The Tropical Weather Outlook will include a probability genesis forecast, to the nearest 10 percent, for the probability of tropical cyclone formation within the next 48 hours, as well as 120 hour formation likelihood. The Hazardous Weather Outlook is a brief description of the potential for hazardous weather in the Florida Keys and across the adjacent coastal waters.  It is intended to provide the public, media, and emergency managers with a single source of information regarding expected hazardous weather through the seven-day forecast period.  The Hazardous Weather Outlook is released each morning at 6:00 a.m., and updated during the day as needed.  It is crafted by Florida Keys National Weather Service meteorologists, and available online at: http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&product=HWO&issuedby=KEY The Hazardous Weather Outlook will provide a description of the potential for local hazardous weather “events” such as tropical storm or hurricane impacts, severe thunderstorm, tornado, or waterspout prospects, small craft advisory or gale conditions, among others. Hopefully, these three outlooks will help you keep a lookout this hurricane season. As always, remember to be weather-ready, and stay safe!


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