NOAA 99-R213
Contact: Frank Lepore, Randee Exler


As Central America and the Caribbean continue their difficult recovery from Hurricanes Georges and Mitch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane specialists are crossing international boundaries March 15-19 to lend their expertise to local forecast and safety initiatives.

The NOAA specialists make up a United Nations-sponsored team, which will meet with emergency managers and meteorologists in Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba—countries hit hard last year by the powerful hurricanes.

"As hurricanes approach the United States, we benefit from the observation networks and forecast efforts of other countries," said team leader Jerry Jarrell, director of the National Weather Service's Hurricane Center, a NOAA facility in Miami. "Open lines of communication allow us to gain valuable data for our own hurricane operations and lend our expertise to our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean," he said.

According to Jarrell, aviation, marine, tourism, and other interests worldwide have a stake in accurate hurricane prediction. In fact, the National Hurricane Center is designated by the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization as a regional center for tropical storm warning and is mandated by the U.S. government to coordinate operations with other countries.

"From a world perspective, weather knows no boundaries," Jarrell said. "We mutually benefit by visiting Caribbean nations. The weather they have today is the weather that reaches our shores a day or two later."

U.S. hurricane experts visited Central America last year and coordinated services with Nicaragua and Honduras, the two countries most impacted by Hurricane
Mitch. "By demonstrating international involvement, we assist meteorologists in maintaining a strong base of support within their own governments and help them demonstrate the value of their forecasts to vulnerable communities," Jarrell said.

"As we revisit the areas ravaged by Hurricanes George and Mitch, it's useful to gain the perspective of the scientists who were there," the NOAA hurricane specialist continued. "Collectively, we can help reduce the losses caused by powerful tropical events. We are fortunate to have these countries as part of the international team."

A visible tool in the awareness program is the NOAA P3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft which will transport the hurricane experts during the tour. "The aircraft serves as a flying classroom," Jarrell said, "and local officials and citizens alike are invited to come aboard." Famous for flying into hurricanes, the four-engine turbo-prop is flown by pilots of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and based at NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

The National Hurricane Center will conduct three hurricane awareness tours this season. In addition to this week's tour, the hurricane experts will return to English-speaking Carribean countries next month. Also scheduled is a tour of Eastern U.S. cities and Canada.

Following is an itinerary for Central American-Caribbean Awareness Tour (March 15-20, 1999):

Location Date/ Arrive Depart
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
(Toncontin International Airport)
15 March 1200 (Local) 1630
Managua, Nicaragua
Agusto Cesar Sandino Field
16 March 1000 (Local) 1600
Havana, Cuba
Jose Marti Int'l
16 March 2000 (Local)
17 March --Day-long static display in Havana
18 March

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
De Las Americas Int'l
18 March 1300 (Local)
19 March

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Luis Monoz Marin Int'l
19 March 1115 (Local)
20 March


Additional background information and en route updates are available on the National Hurricane Center's Web site at: