They Save Lives! History & Operation of the National Hurricane Center
The National Hurricane Center, or NHC for short, is located on the campus of the International University in Miami, Florida. It is part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).
Overview of the Center National Hurricane
If we talk briefly about the main missions of the NHC, we can highlight the following, namely saving millions of lives not only in the United States, but around the world. Also, their goal is to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters and increase the efficiency of the U.S. economy. How does the National Hurricane Center in Florida help to achieve these goals, you ask?Their job is to monitor and track weather conditions on a daily basis, with a clear assessment of their hazards.
This center comes up with the best ways to observe and follow the development of various natural phenomena and assess their future danger to people. To prevent disasters and loss of lives, the NOAA National Hurricane Center has special forecasts and warnings that are like a “trusted and calm voice of the United States in the heart of the storm.” Together with its partners, the NHC takes care of preventing tropical weather threats and saving hundreds of people and the infrastructure of entire cities.
Does the U.S. National Hurricane Center keep track of all storms and hurricanes worldwide? The answer to that question is no. The organization has its territory to watch closely every day, hour, and even minute. Their coordinates for tracking are between the 140th meridian and the Prime Meridian to the 31st parallel north in the North Atlantic Ocean. They also assess the situation west of the 30th parallel north in the northeast Pacific.
The organization tries to keep the Americans updated, so it has a National Hurricane Center website and even a National Hurricane Center app for us to track hurricanes.
How Does the National Hurricane Center in Miami Work?
Although the National Center Hurricane is a U.S. government agency, it is also the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for the Eastern Pacific and North Atlantic Territory. This decision was made by the World Meteorological Organization because it is the best center for collecting observations and forecasts for tropical cyclones in these regions.
If the NHC lacks resources and capacity, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center comes to its aid. Instead of the NHC, this organization prepares tropical cyclone recommendations as well as weather forecasts for the Northeast Pacific. Recommendations for the North Atlantic Ocean are prepared by the Weather Forecast Center. As well, the U.S. center is the main National Hurricane Center in the Gulf of Mexico for such countries as Cuba, Guatemala, Canada, and Mexico. Moreover, due to severe hurricanes that formed over the Caribbean basin in the last years, the National Hurricane Center Caribbean satellite is used to assist the monitoring.
The center has a dedicated Tropical Forecasting and Analysis Branch (abbreviation TAFB) whose job is to produce marine forecasts regularly. They produce forecasts in the form of open sea and ocean charts throughout the year. Partners from the ocean forecast center collaborate to improve forecasts and analyses. Because the National Hurricane Center predictions help prevent disasters not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well, a lot of investment is pouring into the technology and science sector of the Tech and Science Branch(TSB) of the NHC. It is the funding of this sector that provides technical support to the center.
To monitor the development of natural phenomena, the National Hurricane Center NOAA works closely with the Airborne Coordination of All Hurricanes. Through close cooperation, NHC has the ability to dispatch aircraft for hurricane and storm research and operational National Hurricane Center updates and warnings about the threat from tropical cyclones, especially during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. They also respond quickly to other significant weather events in spring and winter, such as landslides and snowstorms. The U.S. government’s Joint Hurricane Test Bed and Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project programs help improve the quality of the center and their forecasts.
The center has a special period for hurricane seasons in the Northeast Pacific and across the Atlantic. A team of storm and hurricane specialists, which tracks tropical winds, issues routine tropical weather forecasts and news every day for the Northeast Pacific and North Atlantic. If this task force forecasts a major hurricane or tropical storm within 48 hours, the group responds quickly and transmits data to the center. The NHC in turn relays its task force’s information and observations with the latest updates of the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center to special government agencies and the media. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather radio is also used to alert the public.
National Hurricane Center Tracking Process
The center uses statistical methods to predict tropical cyclones in the open ocean. In most cases, they are based on climatology (the science that studies tropical cyclones). Methods of numerical weather forecasting using computers and artificial intelligence are also used. For example, scientists use mathematical equations to calculate the movement of hurricanes.
The prerogative to give names is still only with the World Meteorological Organization, which annually publishes lists with the names of hurricanes. Interestingly, the rotation of names occurs every six years, but the names of the most destructive and deadly hurricanes are deleted from the rotation so that it does not happen again.
History: From the United States Signal Corps and Weather Bureau to the National Hurricane Center, 2021
Thanks to the work of Father Benito Viñez, the first hurricane warning service was established in the 1980s.
It was not national and was set up in Cuba. But later, a couple of years later, the U.S. decided to create government agencies that would respond quickly to the challenges of nature. So, from the 1980s through the 1990s, the U.S. Signal Corps and the Weather Bureau took on the role of tracking hurricanes and storms. At first, the two organizations were based in Cuba and Jamaica, but later it was decided to move their headquarters to the mainland United States, namely Washington, D.C. In 1902, all research of these two organizations was conducted from the U.S. capital. Over time, the central offices of the U.S. Signal Corps and the Weather Bureau have been renamed the National Weather Center and the National Weather Service Hurricane Center, respectively. These two then-new organizations assumed responsibility for analyzing, tracking natural phenomena in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the right to advise and warn of impending hazards from hurricanes and storms. As early as 1935, an organization called the Regional Hurricane Bureau took over all the functions of the National Weather Center of Hurricane.
It was this organization that came up with the concept of an Atlantic hurricane season. Scientific studies highlighted a specific period when the intensity of hurricanes and their number increased, which further made it possible to monitor the danger from the ocean during this period more vigilantly. Every six hours, the regional hurricane bureau issued news and warnings of impending hurricanes and storms from the ocean.
During World War II, the Regional Hurricane Bureau office moved to Florida. Already in Miami, scientists began to assign names to tropical cyclones, using the phonetic alphabet of the Navy and Army. In 1950, the Hurricane Bureau published its first report of the year and wrote many articles on the hurricane season. In 1953, the U.S. Weather Bureau first gave human names to storms that reached the category of tropical storm intensity during the Atlantic season.
The U.S. Weather Bureau began a hurricane research project in the 1950s, with scientists and special equipment such as military planes, ships, and radar involved for research purposes. To store all the data about the Bureau’s research, the National Hurricane Information Center was established in Miami, which kept all the documentation and reports from the research. The Weather Bureau itself moved many times from one part of Miami to another, until in 1964 it settled down at the International University.
In 1954, all hurricanes and storms were forecast one day in advance, then two days in advance in 1961. Beginning in 1964, the National Hurricane Center forecasts were issued three days in advance; today the forecasts are issued five or six days in advance. Already at the International University of Miami, the organization began to take on today’s features of the Hurricane National Center and started to develop its departments.
The United States National Hurricane Center Today
Beginning in the 1970s, the duties and research of the National Meteorological Center, which was renamed the Hydrometeorological Forecasting Center in 2013, was given new responsibilities, namely the advisory responsibility for tracking and reporting, and informing the public about inland tropical depressions. In 1977, the National Meteorological Center no longer had the right to name hurricanes, this right passed to the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations. Interesting fact: male names were added to the hurricane name list only in 1979, before that all Atlantic hurricanes were named with female names. The offices of the National Meteorological Center lasted until 1983.
A year later, a separate branch of the National Hurricane Center was established, which became the main center for warning of hurricane hazards. In 1990, by order of the US Parliament, the East Pacific Hurricane Center in San Francisco was eliminated, and the NHC was made responsible for the tropical cyclones of the East Pacific Ocean.
Since NGK is based in an area prone to hurricanes and storms, in 1995 the organization returned to the Florida International University, but in a new hurricane-resistant building. It can withstand high winds of up to 150 mph (approximately 230 km / h). In 1995, the organization was again renamed. Its name was changed to the United States Tropical Forecasting Center. All storm and hurricane scientists and specialists united in the NHC division. Already in 2010, the organization received its current name, namely the NHC, and all of its specialists became called as the Hurricane Specialist Unit.
National Hurricane Center Update on Dorian Hurricane
In 2020, the NHC published its detailed report on the terrible Hurricane Dorian, which became one of the most expensive hurricanes in US history and the most powerful and destructive in the history of the Bahamas. (read our new article on Hurricane Dorian and its aftermath here:)
According to the National Hurricane Center Dorian update, in August 2020, a tropical storm formed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. In the form of a storm, he walked through Puerto Rico, Barbados, and the Virgin Islands. Then it turned into a category I hurricane and headed towards the Bahamas. In the beginning of autumn, Hurricane Dorian pounced the islands with the power of a Category 5 hurricane and claimed many lives, destroying the infrastructure of cities. For more than a day, the hurricane terrorized the Bahamas and then headed towards the United States and Canada. The hurricane passed through the last two countries with the strength of category 3 and then passed to the east and weakened to a storm and disappeared.
Thank you for reading our extensive article on the National Hurricane Center. Stay tuned for all the latest developments!