When tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, the center issues the appropriate watches and warnings via the news media and NOAA Weather Radio. Although an agency of the United States, the World Meteorological Organization has designated the NHC as Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for the North Atlantic and eastern Pacific. As such, the NHC is the central clearinghouse for all tropical cyclone forecasts and observations occurring in these areas, regardless of their effect on the US.
The Miami office was designated the National Hurricane Center in 1967, and given responsibility for Atlantic tropical cyclones in their vicinity. Other hurricane warning centers, such as in New Orleans and Boston, played a role even into the 1980s. In 1984, the NHC was separated from the Miami Weather Service Forecast Office. By 1988, the NHC gained responsibility for eastern Pacific tropical cyclones as the former Eastern Pacific Hurricane Center in San Francisco was decommissioned.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blew the WSR-57 weather radar and the anemometer off the roof of Gables One Tower, then the location of the NHC's offices. The radar was replaced with a WSR-88D NEXRAD system. In 1995, the NHC moved into a new hurricane resistant facility on the campus of Florida International University, capable of withstanding 130 mph (210 km/h) winds. The current acting director of the National Hurricane Center is Bill Read.
Each specialist signs forecasts and advisories with their last name, sometimes issuing joint statements with other NHC staff members.
Outside of the hurricane season, the specialists concentrate on public education efforts.
The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB, formerly the Tropical Satellite Analysis and Forecast unit) is a part of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. It provides support to the NHC during hurricane season. The TAFB is responsible for high seas forecasts for parts of the Atlantic and Pacific. Unlike the NHC, TAFB is staffed full-time around the year. Other responsibilities of the TAFB include satellite-derived tropical cyclone position and intensity estimates, WSR-88D radar fixes for tropical cyclones, tropical cyclone forecast support, media support, and general operational support.
The World Meteorological Organization now creates and maintains the annual lists. Names are used on a six-year rotation, with the deadliest or most notable storms having their names retired from the rotation.