View the Potential Impact of Hurricane Florence on This Interactive Map
The National Hurricane Center expects Hurricane Florence to cause ” life-threatening catastrophic flash flooding ” when it hits land later this week, and now there is a tool that gives us an idea of just how catastrophic the impact will be.
This tracker from ESRI uses a familiar predictive model to calculate some key demographic data for an area within the cone of error. The ESRI tracker shows the total population, households and educational institutions along the projected path of Florence:
Clicking on individual items in the legend displays additional data, including the proportion of the total population over 65 and the number of households below the poverty line. At the time of writing, 16% of the affected population is over 65, with 15% of the affected households living in poverty; the median household income is $ 51,000.
Whether you are in a danger zone or watching a storm from afar, you need to know how to correctly read the projection of the error cone. ESRI has an effective resume in their tracker description (emphasis mine) that touches on the main points:
“The cone of uncertainty … represents the likely trajectory of the center of a tropical cyclone and is formed by including the area covered by a set of circles along the forecast trajectory (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc.).
It is important to note that the area affected by a tropical cyclone can extend well beyond the cone that encompasses the most likely trajectory area at the center. ”
In other words, if your city – or those close to you – is outside the cone of error, it simply means that the center of the storm is not expected to pass; areas outside the cone can still experience strong winds and heavy rainfall, so local forecasts should be monitored closely in the coming days. This is the most important thing to take away from error cone projections, but if you want a more detailed explanation, this Wall Street Journal article briefly explains how they are calculated, how to interpret them correctly, and what the limitations are. …
Understanding the potential human cost of a storm – especially among vulnerable populations – is an important first step in mobilizing support for those communities facing the worst impact. Lock your hurricane plan, check your friends and family, and be prepared to do some background checks before making any donations to relief efforts.