Skip Navigation Links weather.gov   
NOAA logo - Click to go to the NOAA homepage National Weather Service   NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS homepage
National Hurricane Center
Local forecast by
"City, St" or "ZIP"

 
Alternate Formats
   Text     |   Mobile
   Email   |   RSS XML/RSS logo
   About Alternates
Cyclone Forecasts
   Latest Advisory
   Past Advisories
   Audio/Podcasts
   About Advisories
Marine Forecasts
   Atlantic & E Pacific
   Gridded Marine
   About Marine
Tools & Data
   Satellite | Radar
   Analysis Tools
   Aircraft Recon
   GIS Datasets
   Data Archive
Development
   Experimental
   Research
   Forecast Accuracy
Outreach & Education
   Prepare
   Storm Surge
   About Cyclones
   Cyclone Names
   Wind Scale
   Most Extreme
   Forecast Models
   Breakpoints
   Resources
   Glossary | Acronyms
   Frequent Questions
Our Organization
   About NHC
   Mission & Vision
   Staff | Q&A
   Visitors | Virtual Tour
   Library Branch
   NCEP | Newsletter
Contact Us
   Comments
Follow the National Hurricane Cent
er on Facebook Follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter
FirstGov.gov is the U.S. Government's official Web portal to all Federal, state and local government Web resources and services.
 
 

NHC Tropical Cyclone Graphical Product Descriptions


Download the NHC Product Description User's Guide for all tropical cyclone-related products.

Contents

 


Tropical Cyclone Track Forecast Cone and Watches/Warnings

Tropical Cyclone Track and Watches/Warnings 
image example

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. The black line and dots show the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track of the center at the times indicated. The dot indicating the forecast center location will be black if the cyclone is forecast to be tropical and will be white with a black outline if the cyclone is forecast to be extratropical. If only an L is displayed, then the system is forecast to be a remnant low. The letter inside the dot indicates the NHC's forecast intensity for that time:

D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH

NHC tropical cyclone forecast tracks can be in error. This forecast uncertainty is conveyed by the track forecast "cone", the solid white and stippled white areas in the graphic. The solid white area depicts the track forecast uncertainty for days 1-3 of the forecast, while the stippled area depicts the uncertainty on days 4-5. Historical data indicate that the entire 5-day path of the center of the tropical cyclone will remain within the cone about 60-70% of the time. To form the cone, a set of imaginary circles are placed along the forecast track at the 12, 24, 36, 48, 72, 96, and 120 h positions, where the size of each circle is set so that it encloses 67% of the previous five years official forecast errors. The cone is then formed by smoothly connecting the area swept out by the set of circles.

There is also uncertainty in the NHC intensity forecasts. The Maximum 1-minute Wind Speed Probability Table described below provides intensity forecast and uncertainty information.

It is also important to realize that a tropical cyclone is not a point. Their effects can span many hundreds of miles from the center. The area experiencing hurricane force (one-minute average wind speeds of at least 74 mph) and tropical storm force (one-minute average wind speeds of 39-73 mph) winds can extend well beyond the white areas shown enclosing the most likely track area of the center. The distribution of hurricane and tropical storm force winds in this tropical cyclone can be seen in the Cumulative Wind History Graphic described below.

Considering the combined forecast uncertainties in track, intensity, and size, the chances that any particular location will experience winds of 34 kt (tropical storm force), 50 kt, or 64 kt (hurricane force) from this tropical cyclone are presented in graphical form and in tabular form for selected locations and forecast positions.

Graphics for Atlantic tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

Graphics for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 2:00 AM PDT, 8:00 AM PDT, 2:00 PM PDT, and 8:00 PM PDT (or 1:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM PST, and 7:00 PM PST).

The graphics also will be updated when intermediate public advisories are issued, and special graphics may be issued at any time due to significant changes in warnings or in the cyclone.

Note:  A detailed definition of the NHC track forecast cone is also available.


Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Speed Probabilities

Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Speed Probability Grahic image example

Three types of tropical cyclone wind speed probability values are created for each forecast/advisory package, but not all of these values are distributed or placed on the Internet. For each probability value, the event in question is a sustained (one-minute average) surface (10 m) wind speed of at least a particular threshold value (34 kt...39 mph, 50 kt...58 mph, or 64 kt...74 mph) at a specific location.

Cumulative – These values tell you the overall probability the event will occur sometime during the specified cumulative forecast period (0-6 hours, 0-12, 0-18, etc.) at each specific point. These values are provided in both the text and graphical formats. In the text product, the numbers are in parentheses. The graphical products depict only cumulative values. The text product is transmitted to users via normal NWS dissemination methods. The graphic is available on the internet from the National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Individual – These values tell you the probability the event will start sometime during the specified individual forecast period (0 - 6 hours, 6-12, 12-18, etc.) at each specific point. These periods are individual, since nothing that occurs before or after the specified period affects the probability. These values are provided only in the text NHC product. They are the values outside of the parentheses (cumulative values are in the parentheses). The term "individual" also makes a clear distinction from the cumulative period values for users.

Graphics for Atlantic tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

Graphics for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 2:00 AM PDT, 8:00 AM PDT, 2:00 PM PDT, and 8:00 PM PDT (or 1:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM PST, and 7:00 PM PST).

Special graphics may be issued at any time due to significant changes in warnings or in the cyclone.

Note:  A more detailed description of these probability products is also available.


Tropical Cylone Surface Wind Field

Tropical Cyclone Wind Field image example

This graphic shows the areas potentially being affected by the sustained winds of tropical storm force (in orange) and hurricane force (in red). The display is based on the wind radii contained in the latest Forecast/Advisory (indicated at the top of the figure). Users are reminded that the Forecast/Advisory wind radii represent the maximum possible extent of a given wind speed within particular quadrants around the tropical cyclone. As a result, not all locations falling within the orange or red shaded areas will be experiencing sustained tropical storm or hurricane force winds, respectively.

In addition to the wind field, this graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The white dot indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone, and the dashed line shows the history of the center of the tropical cyclone.

Graphics for Atlantic tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST). Graphics for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 2:00 AM PDT, 8:00 AM PDT, 2:00 PM PDT, and 8:00 PM PDT (or 1:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM PST, and 7:00 PM PST).

Special graphics may be issued at any time due to significant changes in warnings or in the cyclone.

Note:  Please read the Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Field full product description.


Cumulative Wind History

Tropical Cyclone Cumulative
Wind Distribution image example

This graphic shows how the size of the storm has changed, and the areas potentially affected so far by sustained winds of tropical storm force (in orange) and hurricane force (in red). The display is based on the wind radii contained in the set of Forecast/Advisories indicated at the top of the figure. Users are reminded that the Forecast/Advisory wind radii represent the maximum possible extent of a given wind speed within particular quadrants around the tropical cyclone. As a result, not all locations falling within the orange or red swaths will have experienced sustained tropical storm or hurricane force winds, respectively.

Graphics for Atlantic tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

Graphics for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 2:00 AM PDT, 8:00 AM PDT, 2:00 PM PDT, and 8:00 PM PDT (or 1:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM PST, and 7:00 PM PST).

Special graphics may be issued at any time due to significant changes in warnings or in the cyclone.


Maximum 1-minute Wind Speed Probability Table

Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed Probability
Table image example

The table shows the probability that the maximum sustained (1-minute) surface (10 meter elevation) wind speed of the tropical cyclone will be within various intensity ranges (dissipated, tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane) and for the five categories on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale during the next 120 hours. These probabilities apply to the maximum sustained surface wind associated with the cyclone, and not to winds that could occur at specific locations.

The probabilities are based on forecast errors during recent years in the official track and intensity forecasts issued by the TPC/NHC. The probabilities are computed from the same method that creates the individual location specific wind speed probabilities.

Graphics for Atlantic tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

Graphics for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones are normally issued every six hours at 2:00 AM PDT, 8:00 AM PDT, 2:00 PM PDT, and 8:00 PM PDT (or 1:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM PST, and 7:00 PM PST).

Special graphics may be issued at any time due to significant changes in warnings or in the cyclone.


Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook Example Image
Example Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook for the Atlantic basin.
(Click for another example with mouseovers)

The graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (TWO) is a web display that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began testing during the 2007 hurricane season. The Graphical TWO is intended to be a visual companion product to the text TWO. The NHC produces a graphical TWO four times daily in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins.

The graphical TWO is usually available shortly after the text TWO has been issued, but occasionaly there might be a slight delay for the updated graphic to appear on the NHC website. For this reason, users are reminded that the text TWO may show updated information a few minutes prior to the graphical TWO.

For the Atlantic basin, the Graphical TWO is issued from June 1 to November 30 at 2:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM EDT. For the Eastern Pacific basin, the Graphical TWO is issued from May 15 to November 30 at 5:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 5:00 PM, and 11:00 PM PDT. During Standard Time, the graphic is issued one hour earlier than the times indicated above.

A special TWO may be issued at any time when important changes in areas of disturbed weather over tropical or subtropical waters need to be conveyed before the next scheduled release of the TWO.

Note:  A more complete description of the Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook can be found here.


Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Probabilities (2 - 25 feet)

Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Probabilities for 2 Feet example

The Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Probabilities product consists of a graphic and GRIB2 data for creating the graphic for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal areas of the continental United States. This product is intended to provide users with information which enhances their ability to make preparedness decisions specific to their own situations.

The graphic shows probabilities, in percent, of storm surge exceeding various thresholds. In 2009, the range of thresholds were expanded and include data at 1-foot intervals. A minimum value of 2 feet and a maximum value of 25 feet will be available.

This storm surge graphic is based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the National Hurricane Center (NHC) official advisory and accounts for track, size, and intensity errors based on historical errors. Additional information on the SLOSH model can be found at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ssurge/ssurge_slosh.shtml.

The emergency management community is the primary target audience. However, this product will also be widely used by other federal, state, and local government agencies; the media; maritime interests; and the general public.

The product is available on the NHC website whenever a hurricane watch or hurricane warning is in effect for any portion of the Gulf or Atlantic coasts of the continental United States. Updates to the product are produced about one hour after the issuance of routine NHC tropical cyclone advisories at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

The data are available in GRIB2 format in the National Digital Guidance Database (NDGD) via HTTP and FTP.

Note:  Read a more complete description of the Storm Surge Probabilities (2 - 25 feet).


Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Probabilities (exceedance)

Probabilistic Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Exceedance for 20% example

The Probabilistic Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Exceedance products consist of a graphic and GRIB2 data for creating the graphic for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal areas. The exceedance products show storm surge height in feet, above normal tide levels, such that there is an N percent chance of exceeding it, where N ranges from 10 to 90 in intervals of 10 percent. The 10 percent exceedance height, for example, is the storm surge height, above normal tide levels, such that there is a 10 percent chance of exceeding it.

The storm surge graphics are based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the National Hurricane Center (NHC) official advisory and account for track, size, and intensity uncertainty from historical errors. Additional information on the SLOSH model can be found at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ssurge/ssurge_slosh.shtml.

The emergency management community is the primary target audience. However, this product will also be widely used by other federal, state, and local government agencies; the media; maritime interests; and the general public.

The product is available on the NHC website whenever a hurricane watch or hurricane warning is in effect for any portion of the Gulf or Atlantic coasts of the continental United States. Updates to the product are produced about one hour after the issuance of routine NHC tropical cyclone advisories at 5:00 AM EDT, 11:00 AM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT, and 11:00 PM EDT (or 4:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM EST).

The data are available in GRIB2 format in the National Digital Guidance Database (NDGD) via HTTP and FTP.

Note:  You may also read the full description for the Probabilistic Storm Surge Exceedance product at MDL's web page.

U.S. Rainfall QPF from WPC

Example of the WPC QPF Rainfall graphic

This graphic is created by the NWS/NCEP Weather Prediction Center (WPC) and shows rainfall potential for the United States when a tropical cyclone threatens land. The graphic is displayed as a Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF), which shows rainfall totals for a specified time period, based on forecaster discretion. For more rainfall information, visit WPC Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts.



Quick Navigation Links:
Tropical Cyclone Forecasts  -  Tropical Marine Forecasts  -  Data Archive
Outreach  -  Prepare  -  About Cyclones  -  About NHC  -  Contact Us

NOAA/ National Weather Service
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
National Hurricane Center
11691 SW 17th Street
Miami, Florida 33165-2149 USA
nhcwebmaster@noaa.gov
Disclaimer
Credits
Information Quality
Glossary
Privacy Policy
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
About Us
Career Opportunities
Page last modified: Friday, 05-Jul-2013 16:26:43 UTC