NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

NOAA’s GFDL Hurricane Forecast Model Achieves High Accuracy in 2008 Season

NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) hurricane forecast model performed extremely well again in the 2008 hurricane season, which ended November 30.

A total of 16 named storms formed this season, based on an operational estimate by NOAA's National Hurricane Center. The storms included eight hurricanes, five of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher.

In both the East Pacific and Atlantic basins, the GFDL model had the lowest track forecast errors when compared to the other standard numerical guidance. For example, in the critical 48-hour and 72-hour time period, the model errors in the Atlantic basin were about 13 and eight percent, respectively, better than the next best standard model guidance. This corresponded to a slightly greater than 60 percent reduction in track errors relative to skill, as determined by the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC’s) Climatology and Persistence model.

In the East Pacific, where the GFDL model had the lowest track errors at all time levels, the model errors at the critical 48-hour and 72-hour time period, were 21 and 12 percent less, respectively, than the next best performing model. The excellent guidance of the GFDL model was an important contributor to NHC performance in the very active 2008 Atlantic season.

More accurate hurricane track forecasts reduce the length of coastline under hurricane warnings. This saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per mile of unnecessary coastline evacuations.

More on the 2008 hurricane season.

November 2008