EarthRisk Technologies Quantifies Past Hurricane Errors to Reduce Forecast Uncertainty

Sep 19, 2012, 11:03 ET from EarthRisk Technologies

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- EarthRisk Technologies, a pioneer in the research, analysis and visualization of extreme temperature and weather pattern risks, is expanding their meteorological research into the realm of hurricanes.

EarthRisk's science team, in collaboration with academic researchers such as Josh Cossuth, a PhD student at the Florida State University Center for Atmospheric Prediction Studies , is working on quantifying past hurricane errors in order to improve certainty for current and future forecasts.

"The initial research is focused on improving the risk assessment of the forecast cone," said John Plavan, CEO EarthRisk Technologies.  "It is very promising so far and we think we'll be Beta testing the methodology during this hurricane season.  

"A small change in the size or the location of the hurricane forecast cone can significantly impact investment decisions," Plavan added.  "We are looking to dynamically adjust the cone model and improve hurricane risk analysis for our clients in the energy and insurance industries."

Trying to nail down the path of hurricanes and tropical storms has long been one of meteorologists' most elusive challenges.   To date there has been marked improvement in tropical cyclone track forecasts, and this year alone, the National Hurricane Center has reduced the radius of potential divergence from 110 to 103 kilometers.  But despite these improvements, the NHC reports that there is still only a 60 to 70 percent chance that the center of a five-day storm will stay within the uncertainty cone.  Average cone errors remain at about 140 miles (226 km) for all storms in the past 11 years.   

"Our research suggests that there is an untapped ability to diagnose uncertainty by looking at the previous errors," says David Margolin, EarthRisk's Director of Meteorology.  "We are considering several variables including location, intensity, speed, time of year, previous trends, direction bias, nested cones and synoptic climate patterns."

By testing error margins of various climatological characteristics in specific basins and at varying speeds, Cossuth and Margolin are able to adjust and customize cone size. 

"In some cases, considering whether a system is a tropical storm, minor hurricane or major hurricane has a large impact on the magnitude of historical track errors," Cossuth said.  "For example, when we look at cone errors from the past 11 years, Tropical Depressions average errors of 177 miles (286 km), but Category 5 hurricanes are under half that at 85 miles (137 km)."

Cossuth is a part-time consultant for EarthRisk Technologies.  He spends the balance of his time as the co-investigator on a two-year grant from the NOAA Joint Hurricane Testbed project.  He has several published works on tropical cyclone genesis and probabilistic forecasts. 

EarthRisk's dynamically adjusted cone forecasts are based on National Hurricane Center data on storms of similar intensity and location, rather than on all storms in a particular region.  For example, a strong hurricane moving through the western Caribbean Sea can have a narrower uncertainty cone than a weak tropical storm moving through the Gulf of Mexico.

Steve Bennett, EarthRisk's chief science and products officer adds, "Our company is not looking to compete with the National Hurricane Center in terms of forecasting and public safety. We are more focused on assessing the financial risk related to hurricanes."

About EarthRisk Technologies:
EarthRisk Technologies is a San Diego-based software company founded in 2010.  The company's product suite, TempRisk, is a web-based platform that crunches 60 years of weather data to formulate the odds of cold snaps and heat waves 40 days in advance, a lead-time that is twice as long as any in the industry.  Trading groups, power producers and energy traders around the globe use TempRisk for a climatological edge in their investments.  For more information, visit

SOURCE EarthRisk Technologies