Tropical Forecasts Are About Preparation, Not About Fear
Chances are you have seen a television meteorologist running animations of tropical models that show Louisiana being affected by a major tropical weather system sometime in the next week to ten days.
Some would suggest these weather experts are simply trying to scare the public into watching the next newscast for an update. They aren't. The most respected meteorologists are simply doing their job. That job is to let you know there is a possibility of another serious weather event in our state.
The truth about the system currently known as Invest 99L is this. Nobody knows exactly where it's going to go or just how strong it's going to be. Scientists have developed very reliable computer models using satellites, computers, and other specific data to give you and me the best chance to prepare in the event of a storm. However, even these sophisticated models lose their degree of accuracy when they are extrapolated over more than two days.
That's why current forecast models for 99L have possible landfall potential as far west as the Texas Gulf Coast and as far east as missing the United States completely. If you're not map savvy, that's a lot of distance.
Still, why do local forecasters show these animations of our hometowns being walloped by a huge storm? It's to get your attention. We the people tend to hear what we want to hear. If a forecaster suggests that a storm won't affect our area then we take that to be the gospel and don't plan ahead. When they do show the potential of a possible local strike then we at least go check the batteries in our flashlights.
Every year on or about June 1, the start of hurricane season, media outlets encourage residents in coastal states to verify their hurricane preparations. Nobody ever does that. If we did there wouldn't be such long lines at hardware stores two days before a storm hits, would there?
You need to understand this about tropical weather systems. They are like a leaf on a pond. They do not steer themselves. They are affected by other weather systems and the motion of air in the atmosphere. They go where they are taken.
Think of forecasting the landfall of a tropical system the same way you'd be able to pinpoint where in that pond that leaf is going to touch the shore. If you can figure out how to do that accurately and consistently, there are some folks at the National Hurricane Center that would love to pick your brain.