Claudette: How did the models do?

Slidell, LA flooding courtesy pic Associated Press
Slidell, LA flooding courtesy pic Associated Press

We know all to well the huge amounts of rain a tropical depression or storm can produce -- slow movers that are just strong enough to bring in buckets of rain. Look at the Doppler estimate from New Orleans, Louisiana last weekend where more than a foot of rain fell:

Slidell, LA was inundated with 12-14" of rain

Like so many storms, there are the haves and have-nots -- less than an inch in Baton Rouge to the west. So clearly, knowing the path of the storm is paramount in preparing and knowing what to expect. Whenever I speak, someone always asks which is the better hurricane model -- the American (GFS) or the European. The answer is that they are both excellent models and that is why we have to monitor both as the storm evolves.

I went back to compare Tuesday through Thursday (all 12z runs) and see just how each model did. First the GFS, which had a Sabine Pass track on Tuesday before correcting west to Vermillion Bay and then southeast Louisiana:

Tuesday and Wednesday's GFS for Friday/Saturday
Thursday GFS Forecast for a Friday evening landfall

The European was no better or worse with its forecast, with pretty much the same path predicted each day, although the GFS was better with timing a late Friday night/early Saturday morning landfall. Here’s the European:

Euro Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to
European model last Thursday thanks to

You can see for yourself that the two primary global models both did well in forecasting the storm. An interesting angle to this whole story, though, has been the upgrade to a Named Storm.

What’s in a Name?

Turns out, a lot is in a name! Claudette was a Potential Tropical Cyclone as it made landfall and wasn’t upgraded to a named tropical storm until well inland. If you have an inland residence that is damaged by storm winds or hail, then you will find yourself with a 2% deductible. If, however, the damage is caused by a Named Storm then that deductible goes to 3%. This according to my insurance company, SMI, in Galveston. That 1% can make a big difference.

Different insurance companies may well have different policies so I encourage you to check yours and make sure you are covered for “Named Storm.” As we continue to see active hurricane seasons we are likely to get storms that aren’t strong enough for a name until or shortly after landfall (Imelda in 2019 and now Claudette in 2021). Homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi are finding out that there is a big difference in their coverage when a storm gets a name.


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About the Authors:

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

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.