Which model was best during Hurricane Laura and other lessons we learned

Buildings and homes are damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, near Lake Charles, La. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Just a few notes today on Hurricane Laura and what we can all glean from last week.

First, the models: even the best ones were determined to bring Laura to Galveston (the Canadian) or Chambers County (the ICON), while the American (GFS) held fairly firm to Sabine Pass or Southwest Louisiana. From run to run, the GFS varied little, especially after the storm got into the Gulf on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at some of the model runs and you can see why we all held our breath. The Euro finally came in line with the actual track but never completely. The Canadian and ICON models preferred Texas.


So, it was the American Model with the correct forecast. There was a one-run wiggle toward Sabine Pass but the model soon clamped back on Cameron, Louisiana and varied little.


The NHC forecast

Ultimately, the National Hurricane Center stuck with the American track throughout their forecast and from three days out, they nailed it. The lesson here is those professionals are in place for a reason and while it’s not always perfect, following the NHC forecast will beat any individual model out there. They did not buckle to the pressure of the other global models but went with their own forecasting expertise.

Kudos to them!

And now we can all quit saying how the Euro is better than the American. It isn’t.

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER FORECAST from when Laura entered the Gulf never varied very much and was spot on

Now what?

A viewer asked me if now because of Marco and Laura, the Gulf of Mexico has cooled down. Wellllll, yes, but it’s all relative:

Blue is a cooler Gulf

However, the temps in the gulf are still 84-88 degrees! All it takes for a storm is 80 degrees. We’re not out of those woods yet, by any means:

84-88° in the Gulf

We still have a good five weeks to go before that sigh of relief, so stay vigilant!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.