Spaghetti models: Why all are not created equal

Reliable computer models

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The exact path of a hurricane is unpredictable, but as major storms head toward the U.S., meteorologists rely on dozens of computer models to try and predict where a storm could make landfall.

"Some of the [computer models] might want to take the hurricane out to sea too fast at certain times, and some of them don't want to re-curve the hurricane. We know what those biases are with each one of those models, so when we are making those forecasts when the hurricane center is making their forecast, they take all of that into account," said FOX 8 Chief Meteorologist David Bernard.

Bernard's 25 years of experience help him in predicting a storm's potential path.

Some of the computer or "spaghetti" models are developed specifically for hurricane forecasts, while others are developed for general weather forecasts, but no one computer model should be used as an indicator of the storm's actual path, according to Bernard.

"The science that goes into producing these models is stronger than what we had over a decade ago, and in that sense, they are more reliable," he said. "They have more sophisticated equations that allow us to analyze the atmosphere in greater detail, and if you analyze the atmosphere in greater detail, you are going to get a more accurate result."

The introduction of social media also changed how information on hurricane predictions are spread. It sends information out to a broader audience, but it also can lead to misinformation or inaccurate predictions being spread as truth.

"Unless you're trained in how to use these models and what they exactly mean, you can't make the proper determination on whether or not you're at risk for a storm by looking at [the computer models]. You must stick to what the official National Hurricane Center forecast is and what we're saying here at FOX 8 is as far as any risk to you or the community at large," Bernard said.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.