COLUMBUS, GA (WRBL) – Hurricane season starts June 1, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration or NOAA has rolled out new tools and made a few changes to hurricane outlooks. 

A few new tools that will switch from experimental to operational will be peak storm surge forecast graphics, as well as potential storm surge flooding maps. These maps will also include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A big change will come in how and when we will receive tropical weather outlooks. These outlooks outline areas of disturbed weather that have the potential for tropical development and they are typically issued four times a day. Starting this year, the National Hurricane Center will increase the time period of the tropical weather outlook from five days to seven days. 

This will allow for better preparation on possible tropical development. The NHC will still provide a two-day outlook in addition to the new seven-day outlook. 

We will also see changes to the header of the tropical weather outlook. Invest or “areas of investigation” will be identified at the top of the outlook for easy identification and organization.

While we may not live close to the coast, heavy rain, wind and tornadoes are common in our area as tropical systems move inland, especially on the gulf coast. Remember to always have a plan in place and to stay weather aware.