National Hurricane Center

National Hurricane Center
View from the front of the National Hurricane Center's building
National Hurricane Center
Agency overview
Formed 1965
Jurisdiction United States government
Headquarters Miami, Florida
Agency executives Bill Read, Director
Edward Rappaport, Deputy Director

The National Hurricane Center (NHC), located at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, is the division of the National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting weather systems within the tropics between the Prime Meridian and the 140th meridian west poleward to the 30th parallel north in the northeast Pacific ocean and the 31st parallel north in the northern Atlantic ocean. Its Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) routinely issues marine forecasts, in the form of graphics and high seas forecasts, for this area year round.

During the Atlantic and northeast Pacific hurricane seasons, the Hurricane Specialists Unit issues routine tropical weather outlooks for the northeast Pacific and northern Atlantic oceans. When tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, the center issues the appropriate watches and warnings via the news media and NOAA Weather Radio. Although the NHC is an agency of the United States, the World Meteorological Organization has designated it as Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for the North Atlantic and eastern Pacific. As such, the NHC is the central clearinghouse for all tropical cyclone forecasts and observations occurring in these areas, regardless of their effect on the US. If the center loses power or becomes incapacitated in some manner, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center backs tropical cyclone advisories and tropical weather outlooks for the northeast Pacific ocean while the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center backs up tropical cyclone advisories and tropical weather outlooks for the north Atlantic ocean.



The National Hurricane Center has its roots in a December 19, 1898 declaration by then-President William McKinley for the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) to establish a hurricane warning network. As communications and forecasting evolved, responsibility for issuing hurricane warnings was eventually centralized in the Miami Weather Bureau office.[1]

In the 1953 Atlantic season, the United States Weather Bureau began naming storms which reach tropical storm intensity with human names. This replaced a 3-year plan (involving the 1950, 1951, and 1952 hurricane seasons) to name storms using the spelling alphabet.[2] Initially, storms only had female names, but after some protest, male and female names were alternated beginning in the 1979 season.[3] The World Meteorological Organization now creates and maintains the annual lists. Names are used on a six-year rotation, with the deadliest or most notable storms having their names retired from the rotation.

The Miami office was designated the National Hurricane Center in 1967, and given responsibility for Atlantic tropical cyclones in their vicinity. Some other hurricane warning centers, such as in New Orleans and Boston, played a role into the 1980s. In 1984, the NHC was separated from the Miami Weather Service Forecast Office, which meant the meteorologist in charge at Miami was no longer in a position above the hurricane center director. By 1988, the NHC gained responsibility for eastern Pacific tropical cyclones as the former Eastern Pacific Hurricane Center in San Francisco was decommissioned.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blew the WSR-57 weather radar and the anemometer off the roof of Gables One Tower, then the location of the NHC's offices. The radar was replaced with a WSR-88D NEXRAD system. In 1995, the NHC moved into a new hurricane resistant facility on the campus of Florida International University, capable of withstanding 130 mph (210 km/h) winds.[4] The current director of the National Hurricane Center is Bill Read.

Former and current directors

Hurricane Specialists Unit

The NHC's hurricane specialists are the chief meteorologists that predict the actions of tropical storms. The specialists work rotating eight-hour shifts from May through November, monitoring weather patterns in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans. Whenever a depression appears, they issue advisories every six hours until the storm runs its course. Public advisories are issued more often when the storm threatens land. The specialists coordinate with officials in each country likely to be affected. They forecast and recommend watches and warnings. Each specialist signs forecasts and advisories with their last name, sometimes issuing joint statements with other NHC staff members.

During the hurricane season, the HSU routinely issues their Tropical Weather Outlook product, which identifies areas of concern within the tropics which could develop into tropical cyclones. If systems occur outside the defined hurricane season, special Tropical Weather Outlooks will be issued.[6] Routine coordination occurs at 1700 UTC each day between the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center to identify systems for the pressure maps three to seven days into the future within the tropics, and points for existing tropical cyclones six to seven days into the future.[7] Possible tropical cyclones are depicted with a closed isobar, while systems with less certainty to develop are depicted as "spot lows" with no isobar surrounding them.

Outside of the hurricane season, the specialists concentrate on public education efforts.[8][9]

Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch

A panoramic view of TAFB's operations at the NHC

The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB, formerly the Tropical Satellite Analysis and Forecast unit) is a part of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. The TAFB is responsible for high seas analyses and forecasts for tropical portions of the Atlantic and Pacific. Unlike the Hurricane Specialists Unit (HSU), TAFB is staffed full-time around the year. Other responsibilities of the TAFB include satellite-derived tropical cyclone position and intensity estimates, WSR-88D radar fixes for tropical cyclones, tropical cyclone forecast support, media support, and general operational support.[10]


As part of their annual tropical cyclone activity, the agency issues a tropical cyclone report on every tropical cyclone in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basins, which are available since 1958 and 1988, respectively. The report summarizes the synoptic history, meteorological statistics, casualties and damages, and the post-analysis best track of a storm.[11] The reports were formally known as Preliminary Reports up until 1999.[12]

The agency maintains archives and climatological statistics on Atlantic and Pacific hurricane history, including annual reports on every tropical cyclone, a complete set of tropical cyclone advisories, digitized copies of related materials on older storms, season summaries published as the Monthly Weather Review, and HURDAT, which is the official tropical cyclone database.[13]

See also

Cyclone Catarina from the ISS on March 26 2004.JPG Tropical cyclones portal


  1. ^ American Presidency Project. William McKinley. Retrieved on 6 December 2006.
  2. ^ Gary Padgett (1999). "Monthly Global Tropical Cyclone Summary July 2007". Australian Severe Weather. Archived from the original on 2010-10-07. Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  3. ^ Colin J. McAdie, Christopher W. Landsea, Charles J. Neumann, Joan E. David, Eric S. Blake, Gregory R. Hammer (2009-08-20) (PDF). Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1851 – 2006 (Sixth ed.). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. p. 18. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Commerce Secretary and NOAA Administrator announce new National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza to Succeed Max Mayfield.". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-06. 
  6. ^ National Hurricane Center (2011). "Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  7. ^ United States Department of Commerce (2006). Service Assessment: Hurricane Katrina, August 23-31, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  8. ^ Tropical Prediction Center. The National Hurricane Center: Max Mayfield, Director Ed Rappaport, Deputy Director. Retrieved on 6 December 2006.
  9. ^ Tropical Prediction Center. Tropical Prediction Center Staff. National Hurricane Center. Retrieved on 2009-03-08.
  10. ^ Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch
  11. ^ NOAA Coastal Services Center. "Historical Hurricane Tracks". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  12. ^ National Hurricane Center (2008). "2008 Atlantic hurricane season". NOAA. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  13. ^ National Hurricane Center staff (2011-05-10). "NHC Archive of Hurricane Seasons". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 

External links

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