All those terrifying forecasts of Hurricane Irma's track come out of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

But if communications to Miami get knocked out, the data collection and forecasts will shift here to the National Weather Prediction Center in College Park.

Forecasters in College Park are already getting ready.


“I’m incredibly concerned,” said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast ops, about the storm. “It's going to be right up the Florida peninsula…which is essentially the worst-case scenario.”

He's feeling the same way he did just before Katrina.

“Pure dread in my system, because there is no place this is going to go other than populated areas," he said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami is built like a bunker. But it could still be cut off.

“They will survive in that building in Miami. But the infrastructure to support communications in and out of that building, much of that is not necessarily in our control,” said Carbin.


College Park has already taken over forecasts for Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico. And Saturday morning, it will take over predictions for Hurricane Jose out in the Atlantic.

Four forecasters have come up from Miami in case Irma knocks the National Hurricane Center off line.

“I can't even imagine what it's like to forecast remotely and watch this unfold. That is going to be tough,” said Carbin. “One of our forecasters said yesterday, 'I'm leaving my home, I don't know what I'm going to come back to.’”

The National Weather Prediction Center gets all the same data and put together all the same forecasts as the Hurricane Center. It just hopes it doesn't have to.

The National Weather Prediction Center will be open its house for all of us Saturday. You can see how they put together these life-saving forecasts.

The forecasters say their work is a calling and a national service.

They are hoping they get a break from the hurricanes in time for that Saturday open house.