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About thegreatdr

  • Birthday 12/15/1972

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  • Location:
    Montgomery Village, MD
  • Interests
    Subtropical cyclones, tropical cyclones, rainfall forecasting, medium range forecasting, surface analysis

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  1. Greetings all. It's been a long time since I posted on the forum. Hopefully this is the right place for this posting. For those that know me on Facebook and Twitter, I've been digging into the history of hurricane tracking chart use by the public, which appears strongly concentrated on the Atlantic Basin. Forecast agencies were the originator of the charts and their use, using them to plot tracks of ongoing storms, create forecasts, and then season summaries. Without the charts in use in the 1930s and 1940s, the term Cape Verde hurricane might not have been used -- these systems formed off the eastern side of the tracking and forecast charts. I'm concentrating on their distribution to and use by the public. Here is what I know: 1950: The first known blank hurricane tracking chart was printed in a book for the public's use. Gentry's book "Hoist Hurricane Warnings" 1956: Hurricane Tracking charts were printed in newspapers and were being laminated for multiple uses. Many included a few tracks of past storms, and all included preparedness information and/or safety tips. The Miami Herald may have been the first paper to do so, but was followed up by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The first magnetic charts were produced. All maps uncovered so far from this year were in a mercator projection. While I thought the 1954/1955 hurricane seasons started their use, it does not appear so. 1957: Insurance companies, such as Travelers, were printing and distributing the charts to their insurers to warn of hurricane hazards and as an effective advertising campaign 1961: The first evidence that the United States Weather Bureau/Government Printing Office distributed charts to the public. At first they were purchased for 10 cents, but eventually were distributed for free. There was shading used in the charts at first, then color ink, usually blue. 1960s: Banks, radio stations, television stations, grocery stores, gas stations (primarily Shell), and lumber stores started copyrighting and distributing their own hurricane tracking charts to their customers. Polar stereographic projections began to be used. Tracks of older storms continue to be included. 1970s: Kentucky Fried Chicken copyrights and distributes its own hurricane tracking charts by 1977. Grocery stores, in this case Publix, began printing hurricane tracking charts on their shopping bags. Shopping bags in the 1970s were paper -- plastic bags were used by 1980. The tracks of older storms are no longer included on the charts. 1980s: Hurricane guides were distributed within newspapers at the beginning of the season and began to appear in color, which included a tracking chart along with useful numbers in the event of a hurricane. Accu-weather began partnerships with some of the above entities to distribute their own hurricane tracking charts. In South FL, Lindsey Lumber was their partner. This appears to be the first indication that circles indicate tropical cyclone location. Circles were adapted by NHC as a tropical depression symbol within the last few years. Hurricane tracking charts were printed in the magazines Weatherwise and Blue Hill Observatory Bulletin. NHC tracking charts used dots, similar to surface analyses, to indicate latitude and longitude instead of a grid of lines. Hurricane tracking programs were developed for the IBM PC/XT by 1982. ATCF was created for hurricane forecaster use by 1988. The first evidence that other countries outside the United States (Belize and Jamaica) were tailoring the charts of use in their countries. 1990s: Colorful/shiny polar stereographic charts were produced by Publix and TV stations across central FL that reached into high latitudes -- around 60N. Gridded mercator projection hurricane tracking charts were back in use by the NWS/NHC. Partnerships with the American Red Cross led to red and blue maps being produced by 1995. Storm became the dominant hurricane tracking program early in the decade. Beginning in the mid 1990s, operational hurricane tracking and forecast charts showing a tropical cyclone's past and forecast track were available from NHC and JTWC on the internet, with the first uncertainty cones being used. Unisys becomes one of the first sites to plot maps for all seasons online. NHC scans pages from the 1992 Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Basin publication for their online archive annual track archives. Tracking charts for the northeast Pacific become available to the public. 2000s decade: GIS programs allowed users to underlay other fields, such as population data, along with the forecast cone. The Atlantic hurricane reanalysis begins at HRD, and shifts to NHC mid decade, and is supported by the CDMP, which loses funding by 2008. NHC adapts their printable charts to .pdf by 2006. 2010s decade: IBTrACS is developed as a web based tool for global tropical cyclones, using all data sources available, official and unofficial. Users can tailor the maps to their liking, using various quantities and distances to locations to weed out storms not of interest. If anyone knows of significant use of hurricane tracking charts by the public outside the United States prior to the late 1980s, how early they were created for the public, or anything not covered in the above timeline, let me know. I've been in the process of scanning and acquiring older charts in order to document their history, which does not appear to be widely known or previously researched.
  2. Thanks for the link to outflow boundary. That's one of the wiki articles I improved a while back. =)

  3. After my coworkers let me know that my profile name had come up back in November, I joined this board. I won't post often, nor while at work, so expect delays if you send me messages.