Real-Time Global Tropical Cyclone Activity

Real-time monitoring of global tropical cyclone statistics. Also contains extensive basinwide archives.

How good is the data?

As you go back in time, the quality of the best track data generally degrades. The quality of this data is also very heavily basin dependent. For example, the North Atlantic is the only basin that currently has operational aircraft reconnaissance. For all other basins, intensity estimates are currently based virtually entirely on satellite data. The Dvorak technique is the primary technique currently used today to estimate tropical cyclone intensity from satellite imagery. This technique was first initiated in 1972; however, the quality of satellite data in the 1970s through the mid-1980s likely led to significant underestimates in intensity, especially for the most intense systems.

Here are the time periods that I typically consider to be the most reliable for each TC basin. I also list a few publications discussing various issues with data quality.

Time Period of Highest Quality Data by Basin (with reason in parentheses listed for start year)

North Atlantic – 1966-present (Geostationary satellite data available)Northeast Pacific – 1988-present (National Hurricane Center took over observational responsibilities)Northwest Pacific – 1985-present (Joint Typhoon Warning Center deems these best tracks to be of highest quality)North Indian – 1985-present (Joint Typhoon Warning Center deems these best tracks to be of highest quality)South Indian – 1985-present (Joint Typhoon Warning Center deems these best tracks to be of highest quality)South Pacific – 1985-present (Joint Typhoon Warning Center deems these best tracks to be of highest quality)

References

Joint Typhoon Warning Center Best Tracks Documentation – Describes the quality of the JTWC best track since 1945.
Extremely Intense Hurricanes – Revisiting Webster et al. after 10 Years – Discusses changes in observational platforms that may have led to a spurious increase in Category 4-5 hurricanes prior to 1990.
On estimates of historical North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity – Discusses likely under-estimates in tropical cyclone counts for the North Atlantic basin prior to 1965.

What is Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)?

ACE is calculated by summing the square of the maximum sustained winds of each tropical cyclone (in knots) every six hours when the system is classified as either tropical or sub-tropical. The resulting value is then divided by 10,000. Details of the calculation are available on Wikipedia

What data source are you using for your calculations?

Real-time estimates of global tropical cyclone activity are calculated from the operational b-decks as archived on the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research
These are operational estimates of intensity and have not been subject to any thorough review. When tropical cyclones are active, these files are updated every six hours with estimates of location, maximum wind, minimum sea level pressure and a variety of wind radii information. More information on the b-decks is available on the National Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Tropical Cyclone Guidance Project.

How do you make your climatological calculations?

Climatological calculations are made from the best tracks provided by the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center as archived on the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship.
Best tracks are the best estimate by the operational center for a tropical cyclone’s intensity for every six-hour period when a tropical cyclone is active. Other times may be included in the best track when additional information is provided (e.g., landfall, aircraft reconnaissance).

How do you account for tropical cyclones that cross basin boundaries?

Occasionally tropical cyclones will cross boundaries between basins. This most frequently occurs between the Northeast Pacific and Northwest Pacific basins, as well as the South Indian and South Pacific basins. In this case, days as a tropical cyclone are counted in the basin where the storm was located. So, if a storm was in the Northeast Pacific as a tropical storm for 4 days, then passed into the Northwest Pacific as a tropical storm for 2 more days, it would count as 4 named storm days for the Northeast Pacific and 2 named storm days for the Northwest Pacific. In terms of storm counting, this particular tropical cyclone would count as 1 named storm in the Northeast Pacific and 0 named storms in the Northwest Pacific (in order to avoid double-counting).

As another example, if a system becomes named in the Northeast Pacific but intensifies into a typhoon in the Northwest Pacific, it would count as 1 named storm and 0 hurricanes in the Northeast Pacific and as 0 named storms and 1 hurricane/typhoon in the Northwest Pacific.

All statistics for an individual storm are displayed under the basin in which it formed. This is to avoid confusion of having TCs listed in multiple basins. Consequently, if there are basin crossers in a particular year, the named storm days for each tropical cyclone in a basin may not add up to the total days observed in a basin.

United States Warning Centers

National Hurricane Center – United States operational warning center for the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific (to 140°W).
Central Pacific Hurricane Center – United States operational warning center for the North Central Pacific (from 140°W-180°).
Joint Typhoon Warning Center – United States warning center for the Northwest Pacific, the North Indian Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere.

Model Guidance

NCAR Tropical Cyclone Guidance Project – Real-time operational model output whenever tropical cyclones are active anywhere around the globe.
Tropical Tidbits – Global forecast model output and real-time analysis tools.
SUNY-Albany (Brian Tang) – Operational guidance as well as model trends and preliminary verification for active North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific tropical cyclones.

Satellite Analysis

Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere – Extensive suite of satellite analysis tools.

Naval Research Lab – Wide array of satellite tools.

Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies – Vast array of satellite platforms – also allows the ability to overlay satellite-analyzed shear over forecast model tracks of storms

Blogs

Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang – Frequent blogs about tropical cyclones, especially during the Northern Hemisphere hurricane season.
Brian McNoldy (Univ. of Miami) – Blogs on Atlantic tropical cyclones throughout the hurricane season.
Weather Underground (Jeff Masters and Bob Henson) – Frequent blogs about tropical cyclones when they are active anywhere around the globe.

Global Tropical Cyclone Statistics

Weatherbell (Ryan Maue) – Real-time global Accumulated Cyclone Energy tabulations – along with plots of historical ACE and hurricane frequency.