Prof. Russell L. Elsberry
Distinguished Professor
Department of Meteorology
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA

Abstract: Tropical cyclones cause some of the greatest natural disasters around the globe. Progress has been made in providing skillful forecasts of the tracks of these cyclones out to five days using global and regional numerical weather prediction models. Some skill has also been achieved in forecasting the formation out to five days. Differing views exist as to the predictability limit (length of time) of such deterministic forecasts. Both statistical and numerical prediction techniques also have some skill in predicting the total number of tropical cyclones in a region over the entire season, but not where the tropical cyclones may form and move. The weekly European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble prediction system with 51 members appears to bridge the gap between the 5-day deterministic model predictions and the seasonal predictions. During the 2008, 2009, and 2010 western North Pacific typhoon seasons the ECMWF ensemble provided probabilistic forecasts of both the formation and the subsequent tracks of most of the typhoons at Week 1 through Week 4 periods. Since tropical cyclones are rare events, and these forecasts have some uncertainty, questions arise as to how and when to alert the public as to the tropical cyclone threat to achieve the proper response.

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