The Certainty of Impact Windows vs. The Cone of Uncertainty

The Certainty of Impact Windows vs. The Cone of Uncertainty

The Certainty of Impact Windows vs. The Cone of Uncertainty

Every year, hurricane forecasters improve their accuracy. That means the dreaded cone of uncertainty is shrinking.

Some Floridians cynically refer to the cone of uncertainty as the cone of terror. It’s easy to understand the moniker if you have ever sat in front of the television set as the local weather forecasters provide continuing coverage of the approaching storm.  (It really isn’t healthy to watch too much news coverage in the days and hours preceding the storm. Make your plan ahead of time and stick to it when a hurricane watch or warning is posted.)

The National Hurricane Center, on the other hand, defines the cone of uncertainty this way:

“The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of circles (not shown) along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over a 5-year sample fall within the circle. The circle radii defining the cones in 2018 for the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins are given in the table below.”


And while we’re on the subject of definitions, for those of you who may be new or relatively new to South Florida – and may also be new to the need for impact replacement windows – the term “tropical cyclone” is a blanket term that covers everything from a tropical depression to a major hurricane. The National Hurricane Center helpfully defined this one, too:

“A tropical cyclone is a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation.”


Ok, now that we have that all sorted out, lets get back to the evolution of the cone of uncertainty.

Believe it or not, the National Hurricane Center says, “Based on forecasts over the previous 5 years, the entire track of the tropical cyclone can be expected to remain within the cone roughly 60-70% of the time.”

There’s a paradox in the increasing accuracy of the storm track predictions, however. Remember, if the track is right 60-70% of the time, that means it’s wrong 30-40% of the time. So, the paradox is that when the cone of uncertainty shrinks, chances are that fewer people will be preparing and may be caught off guard if the storm wobbles from its expected path.

If those people haven’t put up their hurricane shutters and if their homes aren’t protected by hurricane doors and impact windows, things could get more than a little uncomfortable. That’s just one of the many reasons why installing impact replacement windows and doors will enhance the value of your home.  Whether you are looking for hurricane impact windows in Boca Raton, where Master Builders Windows has its corporate offices, or hurricane doors and impact windows in South Florida from The Keys to Vero Beach, Master Builders team of experienced installers will ensure that your family and your home will be ready – no matter where the cone of uncertainty lands.

Anyone who remembers what happened with Hurricane Irma last year will understand how unpredictable a hurricane can be – and how important hurricane impact windows can be. The storm looked to be making a bee line for South Florida, with landfall expected somewhere along the state’s southeastern coast. But that didn’t happen. It wobbled to the west, slamming into The Keys and heading up the west coast.

That storm was so big, that even though we were spared the full brunt of a Category 5 storm, we did receive quite a bit of damage and power outages were extensive.

Which brings us to another point: It’s also important to understand that the new, smaller cone of uncertainty predicts the probable track that the CENTER of the storm will take.  It does not reflect how far out from the center the hurricane force winds will stretch.

That’s why the National Hurricane Center now issues this caution: 

“The cone contains the probably path of the storm center but does not show the size of the storm. Hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.” 


So, how do you deal with the uncertainty? By calling Master Builders Windows for a free quote on impact windows and doors in Boynton Beach, garage hurricane doors in Boca Raton or impact windows in Ft. Lauderdale.  We serve homeowners from Key West to Vero Beach, so call us today. 

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