The heart of the National Hurricane Center is the operations area. During the hurricane season, it's staffed around the clock by at least two hurricane forecasters.
One side of the room is used for storms in the Atlantic basin, while the other side for those in the Eastern Pacific basin.
When a tropical cyclone is present anywhere in these basins, the National Hurricane Center will prepare and issue advisories every six hours, with intermediate advisories in between if needed. It's a process that calls for a thorough analysis of data and the skills of experienced scientists.
In preparing the forecasts, the hurricane specialists are looking at what is happening with the storm in real time, with information from hurricane hunter aircraft, data buoys and satellites. They will analyze as many as 12 computer models to help in their predictions. When the models do not agree, presenting a variety of potential tracks, it is up to the forecasters to rely on their years of experience to decipher the information.
In the center of room is where a coordination conference call takes place before the issuance of the forecast, between the hurricane forecaster and NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, NOAA's Hydrologic Prediction Center and Ocean Prediction Center, and the affected coastal National Weather Service forecast offices. Once the forecast is prepared, the hurricane specialist will formulate the forecast into understandable information for use by the public, broadcasters, and agencies in the emergency management community.