A conversation with Bob Breck: What will hurricane season bring?

A conversation with Bob Breck: What will hurricane season bring?

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's been almost three months since Bob Breck stepped away from daily forecasting duties at FOX 8. But Bob might be fishing and golfing more than he used to, he's still keeping an eye on the weather, and he's closely watching the Gulf to see what this season may bring.

"Conflicting information," Breck said when asked what he has seen so far in terms of a forecast. "Number one, remember years ago Dr. Gray came out with this hurricane projection? You know Dr. Gray just passed away a couple weeks ago, and he was the first. Now we have, like, 13 people doing it, 13 universities or the government whatnot. There are so many that are involved in this now, and they are all saying similar things, but some aren't. So there's a lot of conflicting information. Most of them are saying it should be a more active season than, say, the last two or three years.

"Think about it. The last two or three years, ever since Isaac, we've been very quiet, very fortunate. And I think just based on averages we're probably more likely to see a threat or two in the Gulf. Doesn't mean we're going to be a direct hit. But like you say, it only takes the one storm. You have to be ready for that one storm in case it comes our way."
Experience matters and we're lucky to have a team of meteorologists who know New Orleans and know hurricanes. Bob has been a big part of that for decades and new Chief Meteorologist David Bernard wasn't about to let him take all that knowledge and expertise with him when he retired.

"Everybody was sad to see you go on a nightly basis, but we stressed, hey, we're still going to have Bob as part of this team," Bernard said. "You're going to be our hurricane consultant here, and you're going to be on the standby and the ready should we need you. How do you see that role at FOX 8 for yourself?"

"Say I'd been a brain surgeon all my life - not that what we do here is brain surgery, but if you were a brain surgeon all your life and you get up in age, maybe your dexterity, eyesight and touch is not as good, so what you do is you give it to the younger surgeons and you assist," Breck responded. "And that's what I'm doing with you. I'm not going to be there to take what you do with the hurricanes. I'm just going to assist and maybe add on to anything that David or Bruce or Nicondra or Shelby talk about."

But how busy the Atlantic might be this year doesn't change our risk along the Gulf Coast. Bob said we always have to be ready for that one storm. And this takes us back to forecasting where that one storm could go. Science has made big strides, but it's not perfect

"A lot of times, Bob, people come up to me, they come up to you [and say] 'Where is the storm coming? Is it coming here?'" Bernard said. "And it's four, five, maybe six days away. I can't ever give them a definitive answer. Why is that?"

"That's part of the media's problem - thinking we can do more than we can," Breck said. "And it's the uncertainty in the forecast beyond two or three days. They want more. They wanna know five days, they wanna know seven days. Soon it's going to be 10 days. You get that on our weather app now. They want that 10-day forecast, when in reality we both know that once you get beyond a certain time frame, the uncertainty is so great, that forecast isn't very meaningful.

"And in terms of hurricane forecasting, it's that cone of error - some call it uncertainty, I like to think of it as the error. The storm is not going to follow the centerline. It's going to be to the left or right of it. But there is that uncertainty, and that's what we need to convey because just maybe 50, 80, maybe 100 miles makes a big difference on location and what impacts happen."

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