Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tropical Forecast Riddle

This morning's discussion by the overnight crew at the National Hurricane Center, about newly-designated Tropical Depression 2 -- which is, for the nonce, far away -- raises a nettlesome question. Here's what the forecast discussion says:
As usual there is considerable uncertainty as to the strength of this system later in the forecast period. If the cyclone moves farther North than anticipated below it will probably encounter stronger shear and not intensify as much as forecast. On the other hand if the system moves farther south than expected late in the period... It will probably become stronger than anticipated here.
Is it a logical oxymoron to anticipate the unexpected path and intensity of a storm? Or, is it simply a down-to-earth quantum effect of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle?

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