Hurricane forecasts from the National Hurricane Center are improving and more accurate than before
The boldest forecast in the history of the National Hurricane Center was made at 11 a.m. Aug. 26, 2021, when a newly formed tropical depression was predicted to rapidly intensify to near-major hurricane strength before reaching the marshy fringe of the Gulf Coast.
It was the first advisory for what would become Hurricane Ida, which deepened to a 150-mph Category 4 beast that walloped Louisiana on Aug. 29 and then maintained major hurricane muscle for eight hours after landfall.
Forecasting for rapid intensification — defined as a harrowing ascent in wind speeds of at least 35 mph in 24 hours — was nearly unheard of 10 years ago. But technology has given tropical meteorologists a more bullish confidence in predicting what traditionally has been a forecaster’s greatest nightmare.