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How Certain Is The Cone Of Uncertainty?

This photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a satellite view of Hurricane Dorian taken at 10:00 p.m. EDT, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

Going into last weekend Floridians looking at the cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Dorian were unsure if it’d impact Jacksonville or Pensacola. By Tuesday it was evident it would never make landfall in the state. Ryan Truchelut Chief Meteorologist at Weather Tiger explains why this is.

“I think people have maybe a little bit of a sense of this is a guarantee like nothing can happen outside of the cone. But remember even under average conditions a third of the forecast are going to be outside of the cone," said Truchelut.

The storm could leave the cone about one-third of the time. That’s based on a 5-year average. But it can go outside of it. He says once you go past 48 hours the level of uncertainty increases. Basically – the closer a storm gets, the more accurate the forecast.

Joining Irma, Maria, Matthew and Michael Hurricane Dorian makes the fifth Category 5 hurricane since 2016. Some attribute the trend of strong storms to climate change, others say it could be a coincidence. Longtime meteorologist Nancy Dignon doesn’t think that’s enough to indicate climate change is having an impact on storm strength but she says she’s watching.

“If we see the trend and it continues there is but no doubt if it’s a little warmer then the conditions or the environment is more favorable for development, they’re going to develop and they’re going to be stronger. So I don’t want to say we’re only going to see those but we are seeing a trend towards some of the stronger hurricanes," said Dignon.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA predicted 10 to 17 named storms this season. Tropical Storm Gabriel announced Wednesday makes the seventh storm of the season. The Atlantic Hurricane Season ends November 30.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.