Tropical Storm Erika was no easy storm to forecast. Looking back to it there were many things that went right and many things that went wrong with regards to the forecast. More importantly was the reaction that took place as numerous forecasts that went out on social media created a false and misleading sense of Erika and what would happen. Models were everywhere with this storm. If you search back through the archives of this site under Tropical Storm Erika and read some of the posts that I put up during the storm’s lifetime, thankfully I did not buy into all the model variations. It was very clear that Erika was in a hostile environment that ultimately ripped the storm to pieces.
It is concerning that when a threat to the US eventually occurs there will be mass confusion and panic, particularly in the northeast where post Hurricane Sandy anxiety exists to a large degree. It needs to be made clear that comparisons made to other hurricanes are meaningless in that each storm is unique both in its structure and in the surrounding meteorology that it exists in. Yes some storms are alike but no 2 are identical. The differences could make outcomes unexpected. Smart forecasters are aware of this and have to keep their minds focused on the game.
The National Weather Service has an excellent blog post up tonight that reviews Tropical Storm Erika in both the forecast that the National Hurricane Center made. It examines the large then normal forecast errors and asks the imporant question of how the National Hurricane Center can improve the next time around. The biggest battle it faces is the onslaught of social media and getting its message out to everyone over the voices that shout loud but offer little real substance. The blog post is very good read and it will help you get a better understanding of the challenges the National Hurricane center faces time and again when tropical systems threaten.