NOAA WEB SITE MAPS MORE THAN 150 YEARS OF HURRICANES
July 8, 2004 — Meteorologists, emergency planners and people living and working near the coast can now find out how tropical storms could affect their area, using an updated NOAA Web database of tropical cyclones. The “Historical Hurricane Tracks” Web site allows users to find out how many tropical storms and hurricanes have hit a given area on the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in the last 150 years and on the Pacific Coast in the last 50 years, as well as the paths those storms took. The added Pacific data now makes the history of hurricane activity on all U.S. coasts accessible to hurricane researchers and the general public. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the 2003 track data of Hurricane Isabel. Please credit “NOAA.”)
“This Web site is an excellent example of how NOAA is marshaling the resources and combining the data it gathers to directly benefit the public,” said Richard Spinrad, Ph.D., assistant administrator of the NOAA National Ocean Service. “The sharing of observational data, such as hurricane historical tracks, is important to our resource planners, emergency management personnel and to the general public in their efforts to mitigate future impacts of coastal hazards such as hurricanes.”
“As growth on our shores continues unabated, the need for people who live and work on or near the coast to be prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms becomes even more urgent,” added retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. “Information contained in this site can help emergency managers and other officials prepare hazard awareness campaigns, risk assessments, evacuation plans and other measures to protect lives.”
Originally developed for the 2002 hurricane season by the NOAA Coastal Services Center in partnership with the NOAA National Hurricane Center, the site allows users to search for storms using such criteria as storm name, ZIP code, state, county or parish, or latitude and longitude. The information is then displayed on a map of the area, showing the track of the storms, where they made landfall, and their changing intensity.
The site also couples this hurricane strike information with coastal population data, making it the first NOAA site to provide both types of information side by side. Viewing this information together can help users determine how hurricanes might affect populations along the coast and to what extent emergency planners need to educate residents about preparing for hurricanes.
“By looking at the site’s population graphs, you can see that major hurricane activity has been relatively light in the past 40 years, while the population along the coast has increased dramatically in many areas,” said Margaret Davidson, director of the NOAA Coastal Services Center. “Emergency planners and community leaders can use this information to gauge how much planning they need to do to get people ready for the next big storm.”
Updates to the site have made it even easier for users to find the information they need. With more user-friendly search options, people can not only explore the hurricane history of pre-selected areas but also create their own specific regions to search. In addition, meteorologists and hurricane specialists can now download the data for specific storm tracks and directly access tropical cyclone reports for storms in both the Pacific and Atlantic Basins.
The NOAA Coastal Services Center works to support the environmental, social and economic well being of the coast by linking people, information and technology.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.