Chaos Theory and Hurricane Predictions

The 11 PM August 31 forecast from the National Hurricane Center makes me feel somewhat more optimistic about this hurricane. Notice that the cone now includes the areas offshore. It means the hurricane may meander along the Florida coast a much better scenario for all Floridians. Even on this track, there will be winds and tons of rain, but we may avoid the catastrophic devastation that earlier forecasts implied.

But this evening, part of the Florida coastline went under a tropical storm: from Deerfield  Beach to the Sebastian inlet. It’s because the storm hasn’t yet made the northward turn.

This storm has been difficult to forecast in terms of specific tracks. Initially, it was supposed to track through Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. It avoided Hispaniola completely and, gratefully,  didn’t do much in Puerto Rico. Then it was supposed to slam into South Florida as a cat 4 hurricane – with the target pinpointed as West Palm Beach.That resulted in frenetic grocery store buying today, long lines at gas stations, many stations running out of gas, bare shelves at Publix.That scenario is looking less likely with this 11 PM forecast.

Earlier this month, I read a fascinating article about how technology has helped make hurricane forecasts more accurate – except in certain areas.  “As first demonstrated by Edward Lorenz half a century ago with chaos theory, also known as the “butterfly effect,” a very small change in initial conditions can produce substantial differences in future outcomes when it comes to meteorology. In other words, small initial errors in forecasts propagate down the line like a large snowball rolling down hill.”

How does climate change contribute to this situation? Probably quite a bit, but it’s unlikely you’ll hear that from government officials in the trump administration.Check out weather underground’s research and conclusions on this storm.

Since we don’t know as of shortly after midnight on September 1 how all this will unfold, whether we’ll have power or Internet, we won’t be posting until the hurricane has done whatever it’s going to do.To all our Florida friends, stay safe.

And hey, focus on pushing this sucker off the coast!





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