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National Hurricane Center to debut new, experimental forecast cone; see what's changing and why

The new experimental graphic will be available on the NHC website for both full and intermediate advisories.
Posted at 7:20 PM, May 31, 2024
  • The forecast cone you're used to seeing shows where the center of a storm may be days in the future.
  • The National Hurricane Center will debut a new, experimental version of that cone in August.
  • Watch the video above to see what's behind the change and how it's designed to keep you safe.


Experimental changes coming to the forecast cone are designed to keep you safe. I’m First To Know Meteorologist Riley Winch here in the Collegetown neighborhood at Florida State University. I'm checking with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center to see what changes are being made and why.

The forecast cone you're used to seeing shows where the center of a storm may be days in the future.

Cone example - not a current forecast

But the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami tells me, “one of the drawbacks or limitations of the cone is that it’s not an impact graphic.” Robbie Berg is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

He says the traditional cone doesn't give a clear picture of how a storm could impact your neighborhood. “Whether it be winds, storm surge, heavy rainfall, or tornadoes. Any of those hazards can extend well beyond the bounds of the cone itself.”

Take Hurricane Michael for example.

Hurricane Michael makes landfall at Mexico Beach in 2018

While much of the Big Bend was removed from the cone the day before landfall, strong winds and strong surge still impacted much of our area.

So, forecasters are making an adjustment.

"What we’re going to be doing experimentally this year starting around mid-August is we will be including any type of inland hurricane or tropical storm watches or warnings that may be in effect, and those are actually issued by the local National Weather Service offices as you have one in Tallahassee,” Berg explained.

Screenshot 2024-05-24 at 12.18.52 PM.png
Example of what the experimental graphic will look like, not a current forecast

So, I visited the National Weather Service in Tallahassee for closer look at how that partnership works to keep you safe.

"We're hoping to kind of draw focus away from the cone itself," said Mark Wool. He is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

By focusing more on the watches and warnings issued for local counties, different hurricane impacts can be better understood for the neighborhood where you live.

“That should hopefully motivate folks to rush their preparations to completion,” Wool said.

Places like Tallahassee and Valdosta are miles from the coast, but, “the wind is a big significant thing here. Also flooding. You know we’ve got hilly terrain here, so you can definitely get in a flash flooding scenario and that can be a threat to life.”

With changes being made, Wool has one hope: “I hope the public will just be more prepared, and maybe I think it will lessen the chance for people to be surprised.”

The new, experimental forecast cone will debut on August 15th.