Hurricane season begins in a month, so what’s new this year?

May the 1st be with you. Today, we just want to briefly acquaint folks with some of the changes to expect in the upcoming hurricane season. Every year, lessons are learned, data is collected, and changes are implemented. Forecasters and those that communicate the risks and impacts are always attempting to improve, even if just a little.

The cone: New graphics available

The biggest and most important change this year from the National Hurricane Center will come via the cone graphic you often see.

Example of the old forecast cone graphic with warnings and watches from Hurricane Idalia last year. (NOAA NHC)

In the older maps, the watches and warnings covered the coastal regions, and that was that. As we’ve learned, impacts extend far from the track of the center and far from the coast very often. Thus, to capture this more, the NHC will now be including a different map, with the inland watches and warnings included.

An example of what the new cone graphics will look like later this season, which includes inland watches and warnings in the U.S. (NOAA NHC)

These watches and warnings have been issued for a number of years, but they’ve never been combined with the forecast cone on the NHC maps. These maps are considered “experimental,” which in NWS parlance means they may not always be available quickly. But they will be there, likely beginning in August. People will be able to provide feedback to the NHC about these images. We plan to include them when available in our posts.

The rainfall forecast: Going global, sort of

One thing I actually made mention of last year either here or on social media was the lack of rainfall forecasts for international locations. That will be partially corrected this season. Experimental rainfall graphics will now be issued by the NHC and Weather Prediction Center for the Caribbean and Central America. This is very good news, as rainfall is sometimes the biggest threat from these storms.

Experimental rainfall forecast maps will be issued for storms that impact the Caribbean and Central America this year, in addition to those that impact the U.S. (NOAA NHC)

This will give us another useful communication tool for individual storms.

U.S. watches and warnings: More frequent updates

In the past, NHC advisories could generally be broken into two groups: Primary advisories issued at 5 & 11 AM/PM EDT, and then intermediate advisories issued every three hours in between the two primary advisories. Very little would change in the intermediate advisories, other than position and intensity. Well, now the NHC will have the option to expand or trim back watches and warnings in these advisories for the U.S. So, if the forecast looks to change or the storm speeds up or something, there will be the option to give an additional 3 hours of lead time on watches or warnings. Every hour counts ahead of these storms, so this is a welcome change.

Other notes: Spanish, size, names

In addition to the big changes noted above, the NHC will implement some other tweaks this year. There will be additional products available this year in Spanish which should allow almost all key information to be accessed from the NHC in both English and Spanish. This is thanks in part to AI, which is really helping improve how much and how quickly information can be translated. I assume additional languages will be on the board in the future too.

Size forecasts for wind radii will extend out to days 4 and 5, previously only available through day three. The size of the cone is adjusted each year based on average track error. As the NHC states, “the size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over the previous five years (2019-2023) fall within the circle.” It’s a little complicated, but it’s built to account for as much potential error as possible. This year’s cone size will actually increase a little in the Atlantic basin, particularly in days 3 through 5, though not by a huge amount.

The storm list for 2024 is above and can also be found here, going out to 2029.

Hurricane season outlooks continue to populate, and according to the Barcelona Supercomputing Center site that tracks these things, the current consensus forecast for the 2024 season is 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes, compared to an average of 14, 7, and 3 respectively. So, yes, this season is highly likely to be very active. We’ll have more for you soon, and we’ll start pushing daily outlooks out sometime later this month. Spread the word on our site, and follow us on the socials.


Dubious Dubai flooding claims run rampant: What’s the reality?

Recent rainfall and flooding in Dubai of all places has set off a firestorm of misleading, incomplete, and even some bizarre theories on social media. How did this actually happen? Turns out it was a pretty straightforward forecast, and no one should be surprised that this was a major event. It just happened to also hit a place that has a lot of people, rarely sees events of this magnitude, and happened to mention that they also seed clouds, which is unlikely to have done much to affect the outcome.


  • Dubai was recently hit with a storm that dumped copious amounts of rain on the desert megacity, arguably their heaviest rainfall since at least the 1950s.
  • Over 6 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, which equates to over 2 years of average rainfall for Dubai.
  • Dubai captured the headlines, but the rain also impacted places like Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
  • The event was extremely well-forecast and captured by modeling ahead of time.
  • Cloud seeding likely contributed a little to rain totals, but should not be attributed as the cause of the flooding.

What happened?

An extremely anomalous weather pattern established over portions of the Persian Gulf and Middle East this week, featuring a rather deep upper-level trough over the area. This type of pattern is what typically brings unsettled, wet weather to mid-latitude locations.

A deep upper-level storm arrived and slowly migrated eastward across the Arabian Peninsula between Sunday and Wednesday. (Tropical Tidbits)

This trough seems to be cut off from the jet stream, a condition that also isn’t necessarily uncommon in many places, and historically it does lead to localized prodigious precipitation totals in spots under the right conditions. So while the placement of this weather system was a little strange, the outcome (scattered heavy rain and flooding) was not.

Forecast rainfall from the ECMWF model’s Sunday overnight run showed as much as 5 to 6 inches of forecast rainfall over the Strait of Hormuz, the north tip of the UAE, and portions of Oman and Iran. (Tropical Tidbits)

Model forecasts were all over this. In fact, the forecast from Sunday’s European model (shown above) pegged Dubai for roughly 4 inches of rainfall between Sunday and Thursday, with most of it falling Tuesday. Nearby areas showed bullseyes of 5 to 6 inches of rain over the Strait of Hormuz and into portions of southeastern Iran, as well as in Oman (where over 15 people died from flooding). So this was not a surprise storm by any means. Unusual and historic, certainly, but not a surprise from a modeling standpoint. This is about as well telegraphed as you could hope for.

Various other factors likely helped amplify the rainfall over the UAE, Oman, and Iran. The location of this region in proximity to a number of features that usually align with heavy rainfall, and the presence of precipitable water values (PWAT) that were likely over 200 percent of normal made this basically a straightforward case of an area that would get hammered by heavy rain.

Precipitable water values were forecast to be over 1.25 to 1.5 inches above normal in portions of the Arabian Peninsula and southern Iran on Tuesday. (Pivotal Weather)

Precipitable water is essentially how much moisture is available for rainfall. If I saw this 2 to 3 days ahead of time over a place many of you will be more familiar with, like Houston, I would expect flood watches and warnings to be imminent.

The bottom line: An anomalous pattern produced an anomalous result, and nothing about it should have been a surprise given the forecast.

Did cloud seeding make it worse? Not really

If you read the above section, you can see that models were actually printing out 4 to 6 inches of rainfall over this area. Cloud seeding is a process where humans fly an aircraft into a storm and release a small amount of a harmless compound, typically silver iodide. The intent is to seed the storm with a few more nuclei for raindrops or snowflakes to form on within the cloud that will enhance precipitation downwind of the storm. This strategy has been practiced for years, all over the world, and almost always in arid areas where water is a vital and precious commodity. Every little bit helps these areas, so when storms happen, it is common for cloud seeding to occur. Typically, you could see rain totals increase by 5 to 15 percent based on the project. Each one has mixed results, some with more rain, some with little to no increase in rain.

So doing that back of the envelope math, if you assume the UAE generates cloud seeding results on par with historical averages, you would be looking at roughly 0.3 inches to 0.6 inches of additional rainfall. When dealing with 6 inches of rain in an arid location that lacks the ability to handle so much water, that’s primarily background noise, a rounding error mostly. Cloud seeding certainly did not cause the storm, as we saw above. And historical results suggest it would have had minimal impact on the end results as well, other than providing just a little more water for an arid region. It’s like saying that the 538th home run by an unnamed baseball player that allegedly took performance enhancing substances was directly caused by the performance enhancing substance. That ballplayer would almost certainly have hit a deep fly ball or even a home run without the PEDs, but the PEDs just added a little whipped cream on top to nudge it out. The heavy rainfall was the cake, the cloud seeding was the icing. You’re still getting cake, you’re just getting a few more calories.

What else should we know?

We’ve seen a lot of heavy precipitation extremes in recent years all over the world, and as much as many folks don’t want to discuss climate change, you absolutely need to in this instance. Here’s a look at Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman water temperature anomalies.

Water temperatures are running substantially above normal in the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Arabian Sea. (Weather Bell)

Given the Arabian Peninsula’s location, if you were to inject 200 percent of normal moisture to this area and got heavy rain, it was almost certainly influenced by the excessively warm Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman. No matter which direction the wind was coming from, you were probably transporting this warm, moisture-laden air into an already primed atmosphere. The end result was one of the worst rain events for an area in modern times. Our oceans are on fire around the world right now, and heavy precipitation extremes are increasing. The causes are more complex than a social media post or three could cover, but climate change is a significant player in it all. Expect to see more situations like this in the coming months and years.

Tapping the brakes before the 2024 hurricane season

Thanks to everyone who used our site in advance of Monday’s eclipse. Sunday was our highest traffic day since October. So we’re glad some of you sought us out or found us!

It’s now April 11th, which means the start of hurricane season is less than 2 months away. As we’ve discussed ad nauseum, it’s expected to be a very active season. With that in mind, barring a massive weather event between now and then, we’re going to take the foot off the gas a bit. We have a few things to address before the start of hurricane season, including changes to some of the tools and products this year, as well as the name list, among other things. We’ll push some posts out about that stuff over the next six weeks. You may have read about it elsewhere, but we intentionally opted to wait til we got closer to the season to discuss these things, when it becomes relevant.

In the meantime, please give us a follow on our primary social channels, feel free to subscribe to our emails (at right), and let us know if you have any questions:


Remember, our preparedness page has a ton of links to local sites that can help you with relevant, local information on getting ready ahead of hurricane season.

Your complete eclipse viewing guide from Texas to Canada, plus details on how to participate virtually

Today, we will cover the latest detailed eclipse outlook. Also, Dwight Silverman joins us to offer a virtual viewing guide to the eclipse if you’re unable to get to it or if you’re under clouds. There are some cool ways to engage with the event, as you’ll see!


  • Cloud cover likely to obscure the eclipse in much of Texas and portions of western New York or northeast Ohio.
  • All other areas along the totality path have potential to see the eclipse in some capacity.
  • Best bets right now are probably Indianapolis, Sherbrooke, Quebec, or Caribou, Maine.

A full eclipse forecast from south to north

We’ll work south to north today to clue everyone in on the latest and greatest cloud forecasts as of this morning.

South Texas/Central Texas

For the Rio Grande Valley and much of south and central Texas, the trouble on Monday will be that all three cloud layers we tend to track will be likely to have clouds. There should be a blanket of high clouds, a healthy blanket of mid-level clouds, and at least scattered low clouds.

A mix of low, middle, and high level clouds will likely spoil the eclipse for the majority of South and Central Texas. (Tomer Burg)

The end result will be that the majority of people in the path have clouds for the eclipse. A select few (impossible to predict where) may, may end up with thin enough high clouds and a break in the mid-level and lower clouds that the eclipse could be visible. But I wouldn’t bank on that. Verdict: Disappointing.

North Texas

The forecast gets more difficult north and east of Austin, which is better news for North Texas. We know that high clouds will be in place. While that will impact eclipse viewing, in the right scenario, it could also make things more dramatic looking.

High clouds are likely and low clouds are a good possibility across North Texas, but there will likely be breaks in several spots that could allow for some dramatic eclipse viewing! (NWS Fort Worth)

The problem in North Texas will be lower clouds. The hope is that some of them will scour out in the late morning. But that’s an impossibility to predict, so you’ll be rolling the dice no matter what tomorrow. Still, your odds here are better than to the south. Verdict: Worth a shot.


While not perfect, Arkansas conditions look pretty decent right now. The southern part of the state will have the same struggles as North Texas, with some low clouds potentially spoiling the view. But as you come northward, the chances of seeing the eclipse with just some high clouds increases.

Conditions improve in Arkansas, especially from Little Rock northeastward. (Tomer Burg)

It’s especially good north and east of Little Rock and west of Memphis. Verdict: Maybe good!

Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky

We’ve got mostly decent conditions expected in this area. High clouds are likely, but low and mid-level clouds are not.

Mostly favorable viewing is expected in the Missouri Bootheel, southern Illinois, and along the Ohio River. There will be patches of clouds around but hopefully not in any one place for too long. (Tomer Burg)

This should allow for a good view in most places, though you may need to maneuver just a little. Verdict: Mostly good!

Indiana and Ohio

Purdue in the national championship game, and minimal clouds for the eclipse? A little something for everyone in Indiana.

Conditions look good here now, with no significant issues expected. Ohio looks a little more mixed. Low level clouds may linger in Northeast Ohio, while high clouds persist elsewhere. Not a total loss, but there are some risks the farther northeast in Ohio you’ll be.

Western Ohio looks great, but conditions get trickier the closer you get to Cleveland or Erie, PA. (Tomer Burg)

Verdict: Great in Indiana & NW Ohio, very mixed in NE Ohio.

New York

Western New York will have some troubles I think, with cloud cover persisting. As you work toward the Tug Hill Plateau and North Country, things will improve.

Western NY may not have optimal conditions, and the eclipse may be obscured in spots. However, the Tug Hill Plateau and North Country/Adirondacks look good. (NWS Buffalo)

You probably want to go as far north and east as possible for the best viewing conditions, or at the least the best odds of them. Verdict: Good toward Lake Champlain, with increasing risks southwest.

Northern New England & Canada

High clouds will probably impact viewing (not enough to obscure it completely though) as you head into the northeast Adirondacks of New York and Burlington, VT.

Conditions will become significantly favorable as you head east of Burlington, VT. (NWS Burlington, VT)

As you head into Quebec and Maine and New Brunswick it looks spectacular. Clear skies win out.

Your winner will be the region between Montreal and Maine, into New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island (Tomer Burg)

We see few risks here, so if you’re setting up shop in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Caribou, or Houlton east into New Brunswick and PEI, you will have prime viewing. Clouds may begin to sneak in for Newfoundland or Labrador. Verdict: Yes, this is the place.

How to view the eclipse if it’s cloudy or you can’t travel

Most people won’t be traveling to see Monday’s eclipse or may be disappoint by clouds, so we turned to Dwight Silverman to show us how technology can come to the rescue if you want to participate.

There are plenty of ways to watch the eclipse unfold in real time via broadcast and cable TV as well as streaming, with many options tracking the eclipse across the U.S.

If you prefer your TV delivered through more traditional means, both over-the-air and cable news channels will cover it (expect lots of picture-in-picture views as other news is reported). And if you subscribe to a faux-cable package of channels such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, Fubo or Sling, you’ll be able to watch using the usual suspects on those platforms.

But some of the most interesting and science-geeky outlets will be specialty streamers, including the biggest kahuna of them all: NASA, which will have multiple options.

NASA-TV will be all in covering Monday’s solar eclipse on a multitude of platforms, including Apple TV, seen here. (Apple TV)

NASA-TV, the space agency’s classic public channel, will offer coverage through its apps on platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, DirecTV, Dish Network, Google Fiber and Amazon Fire TV. If you don’t have the app or channel installed, you can pull it in from your platform’s app store.

Alternatively, there’s NASA’s new streaming initiative NASA+. Try the NASA+ web page, a YouTube channel, as well as NASA app for iOS and Android. (The iOS app will also work on Apple’s new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, potentially making it appear as though the eclipse is floating right in front of you!)

NASA will offer two eclipse feeds on its platforms – one with commentary, and another, commentary-free feed directly from a telescope.

Of course, NASA’s not the only streaming game in town. Other, space- and science-oriented sites will have their own live feeds including:

Happy eclipse viewing (even under cloudy skies)!