The headline in The Tampa Tribune: Florida Takes a Wicked Blow
This was one of the worst storms in the history of the South and East. Florida had winds of over 100 mph and storm surges of more than 10 ft. in place. A great recap of the storm is here.
Why do I bring a major storm 19 years ago to the attention of blog readers?
Because this storm was incredibly well forecast. I happened to be in Tampa giving a speech to a major insurance company four days before the storm began. From the podium I told them that winds of 90 mph would occur and the tides would resemble a hurricanes. I also told them to, if possible, take an earlier flight Friday (the final day of their conference) rather than waiting until Saturday because they might get stuck (many did).
This wasn’t because I was a brilliant forecaster. It was because the National Weather Service’s models, which were just starting to ingest inflight-data from aircraft and other data sources, combined with the models’ higher resolution, allowed these forecasts to be made. Add in the Doppler radar that was being installed at the time and these were major steps to the increase in forecast and warning accuracy we enjoy today.