GFDL’s Hurricane Forecast Model Achieves High Accuracy in 2008 Season
November 30, 2008
The 2008 hurricane season officially came to a close on November 30,
marking the end of a season that produced a record number of consecutive
storms to strike the United States and ranks as one of the more active
seasons in the 64 years since comprehensive records began.
Since it became operational in 1995, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Laboratory?s (GFDL) hurricane forecast model has consistently been among
the leading models used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for
accuracy in predicting hurricane track and intensity. GFDL?s hurricane
forecast model performed extremely well again in the 2008 hurricane
season. In both the East Pacific and Atlantic basins, the GFDL model
had the lowest track forecast errors when compared to the other standard
numerical guidance. In the critical 48-hour and 72-hour time period,
the model errors in the Atlantic basin were about 13 and 8 percent
(respectively) better than the next best standard model guidance.
Similarly, in the East Pacific, where the GFDL model had the lowest
track errors at all time levels, the model errors at the critical
48-hour and 72-hour time period, were 21 and 12 percent less
(respectively) than the next best performing model. The excellent
guidance of the GFDL model was an important contributor to the
outstanding performance by NHC in the very active 2008 Atlantic season.
A total of 16 named storms formed in the Atlantic this season, based
on an operational estimate by the National Hurricane Center. The storms
included eight hurricanes, five of which were major hurricanes at
Category 3 strength or higher. An average season has 11 named storms,
six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Overall, the season is tied as
the fourth most active in terms of named storms (16) and major
hurricanes (five), and is tied as the fifth most active in terms of
hurricanes (eight) since 1944, which was the first year aircraft
missions flew into tropical storms and hurricanes.