Is Tropical Cyclone Intensity Guidance Improving?
Published Date: 2014
Published By: American Meteorological Society
The mean absolute error of the official tropical cyclone (TC) intensity forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) shows limited evidence of improvement over the past two decades. This result has sometimes erroneously been used to conclude that little or no progress has been made in the TC intensity guidance models. This article documents statistically significant improvements in operational TC intensity guidance over the past 24 years (1989–2012) in four tropical cyclone basins (Atlantic, eastern North Pacific, western North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere). Errors from the best available model have decreased at 1%–2% yr−1 at 24–72 h, with faster improvement rates at 96 and 120 h. Although these rates are only about one-third to one-half of the rates of reduction of the track forecast models, most are statistically significant at the 95% level. These error reductions resulted from improvements in statistical–dynamical intensity models and consensus techniques that combine information from statistical–dynamical and dynamical models. The reason that the official NHC and JTWC intensity forecast errors have decreased slower than the guidance errors is because in the first half of the analyzed period, their subjective forecasts were more accurate than any of the available guidance. It is only in the last decade that the objective intensity guidance has become accurate enough to influence the NHC and JTWC forecast errors.