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The Thin Line between Forecasting and Interpreting Hurricane

Hurricane always leads to mass destruction that can be minimized by timely and accurate forecasting. The 2017 hurricane season has brought to our attention the immediate need to have an accurate communication of the impact, their path and intensity; however, the latest has proven that there is significant misunderstandings of the two most commonly used storm forecast visualization methods named Summary displays and Ensemble displays.

The possible paths of a hurricane that has been reflected by the Summary displays, is in the form of a cone with hard boundaries that is referred to as the "cone of uncertainty." On the other hand Ensemble displays method shows lines indicating many possible paths that a hurricane could take. Hurricane forecasts are costly affairs and they have a high impact on health and safety of people, there has been little research to show how to minimize the uncertainty of forecasting for the sake of general public. By using data of the both methods the participants interpret differently about the size and intensity of Hurricanes.

Ensemble displays are considered more promising for high-level decisions such as regions to evacuate; however, it can be misunderstood by novice. The correct forecasting may help people to evacuate or take precautionary actions. It is very important to make people aware as to what they are seeing and what it means. Media should also be extra careful while informing people. 

By: Anita Aishvarya