Leonardtown, MD – There are three changes the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is making for the upcoming hurricane season:

1. Adjustments to official hurricane track maps

One of the biggest changes this hurricane season will be adjustments to the NHC’s hurricane track map. When the NHC issues a track for a tropical system, the map includes what is known as the “cone of uncertainty.” For the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, the cone will be smaller than it has been in past years. This will give the public a better idea of where the center of the storm is headed in the coming days.

“The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of imaginary circles placed along the forecast track,” the NHC said. While this map shows where the center of the storm is projected to track, some impacts may be experienced in areas outside of the cone.

2. Experimental wind maps will become official

In 2017, the NHC introduced an experimental map to help convey to the public when strong winds would arrive at a given location. These experimental maps showed the expected arrival time of tropical storm-force winds in 6 to 12-hour increments extending five days out.

The NHC will issue two different maps showing variations of the expected arrival times.

“One [component] is the ‘earliest reasonable time’ one could expect tropical-storm-force winds within the forecast cone. The second component is the ‘most likely’ time one could expect tropical-storm-force winds to reach a given location within the forecast cone

3. Advisories will include potential impacts farther in advance

Whenever there is an active tropical system, the NHC issues a public advisory which includes information about all aspects of the storm, such as current winds, expected storm surge and the precise location of the system’s center. In past years, these advisories only discussed the given tropical system for the next two days, limiting the amount of long-range details about the storm. However, beginning this year, these advisories will contain information which talks about hazards as far as five days in advance.