2017 hurricane season brings changes to advisories, warnings

As the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins to pick up, many people have noticed meteorologists and forecasters using slightly different terminology, namely the phrase “potential tropical cyclone.”

The change was part of a series rolled out by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), starting in the 2017 season. According to an outline of the new changes, the old National Weather Service (NWS) policy did not allow hurricane or tropical storm watches or warnings until after a tropical cyclone had formed. With the change, the NHC as the option to "issue advisories, watches, and warnings for disturbances that are not yet a tropical cyclone, but which pose the threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours." (NOTE: The term “tropical cyclone” is an umbrella term that applies to tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans, typhoons in the Western Pacific Ocean and cyclones in the Indian Ocean.)

Potential Tropical Cyclone 3 did not have a name as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the NWS had already issued watches and warnings along the Texas and Louisiana coasts in line with the changes. The Houston metro area was placed under a tropical storm watch around 10 a.m. Tuesday, and the National Hurricane Center designated PTC 3 as Tropical Storm Cindy around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

If a future storm becomes organized but does not have sustained winds above 39 mph, it would be designated as a tropical depression with matching numerical designation (i.e., Potential Tropical Cyclone 6 would become Tropical Depression 6). If that tropical depression strengthens into the tropical storm, it would be named using the next name on that year's list of names. TAP HERE for the list of Atlantic storm names.

Another change will be regarding storm surge, the rising of the sea and coastal flooding often associated with a tropical cyclone. Beginning with the 2017 hurricane season, NWS offices will issue storm surge watches and warnings to highlight areas “that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation from a tropical cyclone, subtropical cyclone, post-tropical cyclone, or a potential tropical cyclone.”

The definitions of a storm surge watch and warning are as follows from the NHC:

Storm Surge Watch: The possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone, or a post-tropical cyclone. The watch may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The watch may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.

Storm Surge Warning: The danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone, or a post-tropical cyclone. The warning may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The warning may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.

TAP HERE to see the full changes to National Hurricane Center products and services. (Link will open a .pdf document.)

TAP HERE for the latest forecast from the KVUE Storm Team.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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