Tropical storm Ernesto turned out to be little more than a rainy day for most Floridians. Ernesto's fizzle illustrates the difficulty forecasters face predicting the intensity of tropical storms -- a science that lags far behind figuring out where a storm will go. State emergency management director Craig Fugate says he’s concerned that it’s often such a mystery to forecasters why hurricanes sometimes develop so quickly…
“That was never in the forecast for Ernesto, but much of the science is the same. Why do some storms develop when others don’t? Why do storms strengthen? Why do they strengthen rapidly? Why do they sometimes weaken rapidly?”
Technological advances have enabled forecasters to cut their error rate in half since 1990 for predicting where tropical systems will go.
National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield describes the process as a "jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces." Fugate says he hopes there’s more research funding to give forecasters better tools to predict storm intensity.
Ernesto surprised forecasters by failing to strengthen before reaching the southern tip of Florida, where it delivered drenching rain but none of the heavy winds or damage that had been expected. State officials say their biggest concern in advance of Ernesto were the more than 30-thousand people in Florida still under blue tarps from past hurricanes. But they say even those people in most cases had no trouble weathering the storm. Craig Fugate is Florida’s Emergency Management Director.
“For those people who feel that this was an inconvenience, we understand. But would you rather have had the damages associated with a land-falling hurricane, versus being prepared and being spared the damage and misery from a storm?”
Fugate says most of the heaviest rain fell over the Everglades in Collier & Glades Counties. But even in those areas flooding was minor – and wind damage nearly non-existent.
Thursday, 31 August 2006 01:00
Tropical Storm Ernesto Wrap-upWritten by WGCU Newsroom