After Hugo: Look at forecast improvements over the last 30 years

Hurricane Hugo

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Hurricane season is officially underway, and the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo is approaching.

Since that storm ravaged the Lowcountry, forecasting has evolved to better predict storm threats.

In 1989, the average forecast error for hurricane forecasting was about 300 nautical miles three days out from landfall. Now, our three-day error is about 75 nautical miles.  

“What it all boils down to is more data allows for better modeling,” said Bob Bright, a meteorologist with the Nation Weather Service in Charleston.

Data comes into our office continuously from radars, satellites and weather balloons, and more data has improved track forecasting for storms. However, meteorologists remain challenged by strength forecasting.

No matter the ability to forecast, the bottom line when keeping your family safe remains the same: be prepared for the worst.  

“Remember, you need to understand your risk and be prepared the best you can,” said Bright. “Listen to the emergency officials, have a plan and be ready to enact that plan when the time comes.”  

Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, but it’s not unheard of for storms to develop outside of the official season.  The last five years have all featured named storms before the official start date. 

The Hurricane Center is working to extend the five-day hurricane outlook to a seven-day outlook, this would allow more time for you to prepare. However, it will not change the outcome of a storm.

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