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Robert Chester Sheets (born June 7, 1937) is a meteorologist who served as the director of the National Hurricane Center from 1987 to 1995. He was born in Marion, Indiana.[1] He is well remembered for numerous interviews given from the Hurricane Center during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Sheets also was a member and eventual director in Project Storm Fury, an attempt to modify hurricanes with silver iodide. Since retiring in 1995, Sheets has continued his relationship with the media, becoming a special-situation hurricane analyst with ABC network affiliates in Florida. He has also co-authored a book on hurricane information and stories.

 

The National Hurricane Center-Past, Present, and Future

ROBERT C. SHEETS

National Hurricane Center. Coral Gables. Florida

(Manuscript received 5 January 1990, in final form 15 February 1990)

 

ABSTRACT

The National Hunicane Center (NHC) is one of three national centers operated by the National Weather

Service (NWS). It has national and international responsibilities for the North Atlantic and eastern North

Pacific tropical and subtropical belts (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) for tropical analyses,

marine and aviation forecastsa, nd the tropical cyclone forecasta nd warning programsf or the region. Its roots

date back to the I 870s, and it is now in the forefront of the NWS modernization program. Numerous changes

and improvements have taken place in observational and forecast guidance tools and in the warning and

responsep rocesso ver the years. In spite of all thesei mprovements,t he loss of property and the potential for

losso f life due to tropical cyclonesc ontinuest o increasera pidly. Forecastsa re improving, but not nearly as fast

as populations are increasing in hunicane prone areas such as the United States East and Gulf Coast banier

islands. The result is that longer and longer lead times are required for communities to prepare for hunicanes.

The sea land over lake surge from hurricanes (SLOSH) model is used to illustrate areas ofinnudation for

the Galveston/Houston,T exas;N ew Orleans,L ouisiana; southwestR orida; and the Atlantic City, New Jersey

areasu nder selectedh unicane scenarios.T heser esultsi ndicatet he requirementf or lengthy evacuationt imes.

The forecasta nd warning processis then illustrated, starting with tropical analysesn, umerical guidance,t he

meteorological/hydrological coordination of the forecast, and finally the warning coordination and response

process.E xamplesa re usedt o illustratet he sensitivityo f the warninga nd responsep rocestso preplanning based

upon SLOSH model results, the coordination between NWS and local and state officials, and the critical role

played by the media for motivating people to take the desired action in an orderly fashion. These examples

iUustrateh ow this processw orkedt o nearp erfectiond uring HurricaneH ugo, but wasd isruptedi n the Galveston/

Houston area by conflicting information reaching local officials and the public during Hurricane Gilbert.

Finally, a brief look into the futurei s attempted,w ith emphasisu pon new observings ystemsn, ext generation

numerical modelsa nd expectedim provementsi n tropical cyclonet rack and intensity forecastsa nd the warning

processa t landfall and inland. The next generationw eatherr adar (NEXRAD) systemsin the modernizeda nd

restructured NWS are expected to playa major role in improving short-term warnings of flash floods, high

winds, and possible tornadoes as hurricanes move inland and start to decay.

 

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