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Emily Keeping Forecasters On Their Toes

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in west Miami-Dade have been busy over the last few days tracking Tropical Storm’s Emily’s movements.

Wednesday night they were a bit perplexed when the storm, packing 50 mph winds, started meandering off the coast of Hispaniola. After a few fits and starts, Emily continued its west-northwesterly trek late Thursday morning.

“It’s been a little bit unpredictable, a little bit difficult and we sometimes see that with these weaker systems,” said hurricane forecaster James Franklin

Franklin said tropical storms are harder to follow than hurricanes because of their lack of organization and intensity.

“Not that I want one but a Category Five Hurricane is a lot easier to forecast then a tropical storm.  In fact track errors for hurricanes are about 30% less than they are for tropical storms,” said Franklin.

Forecasters at the NHC said the five-day forecast averages a 250 mile track error.

As the models change, the center changes the ‘projected path’ cones – but not before putting a little psychology into the forecast.

“It’s very hard to get people’s attention back once you have lost it. We don’t want to let an area off the hook until we are absolutely certain,” said Franklin.

Tropical storms are more difficult to track than hurricanes because there is a lot less area to same.

By Thursday afternoon, the rocky terrain of Hispaniola took such a toll on Tropical Storm Emily that the National Hurricane Center has issued a final advisory as Emily degenerated into a trough of low pressure.

On Thursday, U.S. government forecasters updated their Atlantic hurricane season outlook.

According to the forecast, it may be just a bit more active than originally thought.

Last May, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters said they expected 12 to 18 named storms of which 6-10 could become hurricanes; up to six of those could become major hurricanes.

On Thursday, forecasters said they now expect up to 19 named storms of which 7-10 could strengthen into hurricanes.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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