Today's rush to judgment by MSM on new NHC proposed hurricane categorization

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Hurricane Sandy on 10-29-12 – image: NOAA

This was quite a circus to watch today. I didn’t bite.

Early this afternoon, AccuWeather reported the National Hurricane Center had announced they were modifying the definition of hurricane warnings becuase of Hurricane Sandy. They made a big deal out of it. Turns out that wasn’t quite right, read on.

Following the criticism of the National Hurricane Center’s handling of Hurricane Sandy and the non-issuance of hurricane warnings north of North Carolina, it has been decided that the NHC will now have more flexibility in their policy regarding the issuance of advisories. Beginning in 2013, the NHC will have the flexibility to issue multiple advisories on post-tropical cyclones for landfalling systems or close bypassers.

According to the NHC, this required a revision of the Hurricane Warning definition.

“The main issue is: we want people to get ready for hurricane conditions, and that’s why we are changing the definition of hurricane warning to be a little more inclusive of other things than just a hurricane,” Chris Landsea, Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center, told AccuWeather.com.

Playing follow the leader, The Weather Channel added a story that built upon the AccuWeather story. TWC wrote:

The National Hurricane Center confirmed Wednesday that changes to their system of issuing hurricane warnings will be altered prior to the start of the 2013 season. NOAA spokesperson Maureen O’Leary said changes to the warning system will be made, but said she was not able to comment further at the time.

A report issued at an annual NOAA hurricane meeting in Miami stated the NHC will now be able to issue a hurricane warning on a post-tropical cyclone.

But wait, not so fast! They haven’t actually made a rule change yet.

Seeing all the excitement, the In an emailed statement to many media outlets today, NOAA’s Chris Vaccaro indicated this change is not final but rather part of an ongoing process:

A proposal was raised during the NOAA Hurricane Conference last week for NWS to have the option to issue hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings for post-tropical cyclones that threaten life and property.

This is one step in the process required before any proposed change to operational products becomes final. As part of our review of the 2012 hurricane season, including the Sandy service assessment, we will review all policies and changes through the existing and established process.

This sort of reporting is just about what we’d expect.

I think some new categorization is a good idea, because some storms are big on winds, some are big on rain, some are big on storm surge, and some are big on all three. Getting a handle on these to truly rate storm effects would be better. In this case, Sandy happened to just hit a place that isn’t used to hurricanes on a regular basis, and it wasn’t strong enough to rate hurricane strength, so hurricane warnings were not issued. The fact that it was NYC put a microscope on it. If hit Florida, it would have been just another storm.

CCM Mike Smith talks about the warning issue on WUWT.TV here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu-6NIUNNw0

You can see some of the MSM playing follow the leader below….

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john robertson

Rather than give a clear description of the storm, as in the weather warnings we already have. The proposal is to add more verbiage?
Well its a tropical storm, quasi hurricane or another Sandy?
How about a Gore Event? Lots of wind and little substance.

theduke

Anybody who wasn’t aware of the destructive potential of this storm as broadcast on radio and television and posted endlessly on the internet is an idiot. Forgive me if I’m short on empathy here, but COME ON!!

HaroldW

The new warning should be “Winds High And Tidal Surge Up: Possibly Destructive Or Calamitous”. Of course known by its acronym.

Gunga Din

I don’t live anywhere near NYC so I don’t know what kind of warnings were actually issued. But I know that here in the midwest we get warnings all the time of various kinds of severe weather threats as they approach.
I’m sure NYC recieved warnings.
Is the issue that the warnings came from the National Weather Service and not the National Hurricane Center?

“If hit Florida, it would have been just another storm.”
The reason a non-hurricane like Sandy was so deadly, was because of the presence of the Arctic front. I doubt any hurricane in Florida has ever encountered the Arctic front.

Can’t really argue with the intention. Better than all the gloating over the stimulus to the gravy train, and ignoring the number of times similar events have occurred in the past.
Over here in NE Oz we have cyclone and severe weather “warning” and “watch”, with defined areas and time projections. When it gets to 24 hours out or thereabouts, local Disaster Management Committees kick in, with powers to requisition premises and vehicles, direct police etc. Regular civil administration is suspended.

This article is not factually correct.
I respectfully request that its author retract the claim that Sandy was not “strong enough” to be a hurricane. I was MOST CERTAINLY strong enough to be a Hurricane. It made landfall with a minimum central pressure of 939 mb for crying out loud!! The debate was over whether the storm had “tropical characteristics”.
As someone who LIVES on Long Island, I can tell you that the conditions were DEFINITELY worse than other minimal hurricanes that have passed over my head at various points in my life. We had sustained winds of easily 65 mph ON LAND and just offshore (without friction to interfere) there were sustained winds to 80…and gusts over 90 mph were fairly common in central Long Island. That…is CLEARLY of Hurricane strength.
I repeat…Sandy was NOT “just another storm”…if a 939 mb non-tropical cyclone hits Florida, I assure you, it will cause a ton of problems just as it did in NYC. Particularly if it comes attached to FOURTEEN FOOT storm surges, very VERY widespread 75 mph wind gusts and isolated severe microbursts and microvortices in the feeder bands. The statements made by the author on the nature of Sandy demonstrate deep ignorance and must be corrected.
Thank you.

MattyB

Non-climate related, but this reminds of how the Macquarie Dictionary in Australia redefined the definition of the word ‘misogyny’ in the wake of the Australian Prime Minister’s tirade against the Opposition Leader.

Perhaps a “FETCH” warning system too. No?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetch_%28geography%29

Gunga Din

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm
=============================================================
Since you live there, what kind of warnings actually were issued and by whom?
I’m not asking this to be argumentative, but if a hurricane warning had been issued, what practical difference would it have made?

Peter Dunford

If you missed all the hurricane / megastorm / frankenstorm media reports I don’t see how you would have been aware of a hurricane warning either.

Paul Coppin

Is the issue that the warnings came from the National Weather Service and not the National Hurricane Center?
Yes. The NHC has a broad mandate to issue warnings across regions, whereas the NWS has a locally distributed responsibility. There was discussion in the storm discussions being issued by the NHC about how they were holding up their categorization levels specifically so that they could issues warnings beyond past the point where the NHC would hand off the warning responsibility to the NWS, which then would fragment the warnings into local ones. I echo the comment above about there being no need to change the warning system – Given the media coverage and the available analysis nobody had an excuse for not seeing this coming. We watched the damned thing develop for days.
And Mr. Souders, However you want to believe, Sandy was not a hurricane at landfall. Central pressure is not a unique criterion for hurricane categorization. Doesn’t even have to have an eye. There are many storms that come and go with low central pressures that are not hurricanes.
What Sandy was, was a broad multi-low pressure system that generated a severe storm surge on an area not structured to handle one.

Matthew Souders
Hurricanes are not defined by central pressure, and 65 mph winds do not fall into the Hurricane category. Additionally, wind gusts over 74 mph may be in the correct realm… but Maximum Sustained Winds are where the definition is at.

Maximum Sustained Surface Wind. When applied to a particular weather system, refers to the highest one-minute average wind (at an elevation of 10 meters with an unobstructed exposure) associated with that weather system at a particular point in time.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/sym/pd01006004curr.pdf

Believe it or not folks…I’m not an idiot. I am also a meteorologist, so please do not assume I fail to know what a hurricane is.
I dare you…go look up any hurricane in the best track data set that hit land and had sustained winds at landfall of less than 85 mph and produced ANY hurricane force sustained winds at an ASOS or AWOS cite. Good luck, because it don’t exist, pals. Hurricanes lose a lot of wind at the ground where we measure it as soon as they hit the friction created by land. That doesn’t mean they’re not hurricanes the very nanosecond that they hit. Nor does it mean that it’s unnecessary to hoist hurricane warnings.
Let me answer a few questions:
1) The offshore winds were measured by buoys – look it up.
2) The on shore winds were most assuredly a big part of the problem – some have suggested the problem was only surge. The literally thousands of trees down in my town alone beg to differ – as does LIP)A.
3) Actually, the question was whether it was accurate to say that this storm was not strong enough to be a hurricane (it most certainly was strong enough to be a hurricane – even if it hadn’t recorded sustained hurricane force winds just offshore at time of landfall, it wouldn’t have been for lack of STRENGTH…it would have been for lack of dynamic support immediately at the surface) or that the lack of strength was the reason for the lack of warning issuance or that this storm would have been NO PROBLEM if it had hit Florida. All of those things are blatantly false. The reason they did not issue warnings was because they believed that it moved from being a tropical system to an extratropical low just before it came ashore, not because they lowered the winds to below hurricane force. And any 939 mb cyclone ANYWHERE is going to produce major damage and surges no matter where it hits or how “used to it” those areas may be. My request for a retraction stands.

FrankK

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm
This article is not factually correct.
I respectfully request that its author retract the claim that Sandy was not “strong enough” to be a hurricane. I was MOST CERTAINLY strong enough to be a Hurricane. It made landfall with a minimum central pressure of 939 mb for crying out loud!! The debate was over whether the storm had “tropical characteristics”.
——————————————————————————————————————-
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane and storm scale:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffir%E2%80%93Simpson_hurricane_scale
Tropical Storm; 39 to 73 mph
Hurricane Cat. 1 : 74 to 95 mph scaling up to Hurricane Cat. 4 with > 157 mph.
So as Mr Souders states “sustained winds of easily 65 mph ON LAND and just offshore (without friction to interfere) there were sustained winds to 80…and gusts over 90 mph” – The storm therefore ranged between a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds and gusts of Hurricane force 1. Not pleasant but not the worst or near the worst. The storm wave surge was the problem.
Were the winds measured with a wind gauge or estimated Matthew?

Ygor

” non-issuance of hurricane warnings north of North Carolina”??
If at any time anywhere in the world someone was warned of bad weather, it must have been in this case. It was all over the news for weeks, all over the world!
Whether the National Hurricane center actually called it a hurricane or not north of North Carolina makes no difference.
I suspect this is part of an effort to make “extreme weather” more common, thereby proving there’s something “unprecedented” going on with the climate and the weather.
Soon we will be seeing statistics in the mainstream media showing a jump in hurricanes, not taking into account that tropical storms have also been included.
We’ll be watching..

Gale Warning
Post Tropical Storm With Hurricane Force Wind Warning
Post Tropical Storm, Hurricane Force With Storm Surge Warning
“How Long Can You Tread Water?” Warning.
— from Bill Cosby’s “Noah: Me and You Lord.” 1963

eyesonu

Many, many years ago when tropical storms were common a “reference mark” was determined to establish just how severe the winds were. Cat 1, Cat 2, etc. Now everyone wants to be a “victim” so we need to classify everything lower to be all inclusive. I am personally a “victim” of circumstance.
We should lower the long term standards of rating weather events to 40 mph for hurricane status so everyone experiencing a strong thunderstorm can rave about the ‘hurricane.” For those who build a cabin on the riverside, if the water overflows the bank you can rave about the flood and claim your victim hood rather than your stupidity for building on the river’s edge. If you build a house in the forest, when the inevitable fire comes along you can claim your “victim hood.” Build on the coast at 10 feet above mean sea level and you will certainly get your chance for “victim hood.” I shed few tears for your stupidity but please don’t ask me to pay for it.
End result, government steps in and allows no one to even put up a tent or picnic table in the 500 year flood zone. Then you will cry “victim” out the other side of your mouth.

I think the warning system should be modified to issue some sort of a “hurricane
warning” or “hurricane strength storm warning” when a post-tropical or extratropical
cyclone appears likely to produce “hurricane force sustained winds”, or a storm
surge at least typical of the average 75-MPH barely-hurricane.
Hazel of 1954 produced hurricane-force sustained winds most of the way from the
NC-VA border to 70-75 miles north of Toronto – while post-tropical / extratropical
in type of storm. This includes Philadelphia and NYC.
There is also the March 1962 Nor-Easter which was the worst coastal storm of
the 20th century for much of New Jersey.
And, the October 1991 “Halloween Storm” / “Perfect Storm” which brutalized MA
to Nova Scotia , and was no picnic as far south as Jacksonville, FL and as far north
as Newfoundland. That was a primarily extratropical storm that both formed in a
strong-storm-favoring weather environment and sucked in Hurricane Grace.
When that storm was dying, the small-size un-named Hurricane 8 formed in that
storm’s center, and hit Nova Scotia as a tropical storm – with less impact than the
extratropical monster had. (Not new – Karl of 1980 also did that.)
That monster had maximum sustained winds maybe 70 MPH – barely short of
“hurricane force” – same as the monster Sandy had on USA land and coastal
barrier islands.

Gerald Machnee

Katrina was a hurricane when it hit New Orleans. So why did they lose so many lives and have so much flooding?
Lets face it. They ignored history as has been shown in posts here, and are now looking for excuses.

eyesonu

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm
” … if a 939 mb non-tropical cyclone hits Florida, I assure you, it will cause a ton of problems just as it did in NYC. Particularly if it comes attached to FOURTEEN FOOT storm surges …”
=======================
Would you be silly enough to state a FOURTEEN FOOT storm surge from the low tide level when the normal high tide would be in excess of 6′ with regards to your reference level with the full moon? Are you hyping more than a little? Are you emotional?

Frederick Michael

The idea that Sandy was not hyped ENOUGH is positively laughable. The name “Frankenstorm” was INVENTED for this storm. The only way we could hype storms more than this is to get them sponsors. Imagine “Sandy, sponsored by Federal Express” or even, “The Microsoft Hurricane Sandy.” If we can do things like this with the Orange Bowl, we can do it with hurricanes.
Next, “The Citibank US Senate” or “The Prudential White House.” Heck, this might be the answer to the fiscal cliff.

Rascal

This appears to be a bureaucratic contest over who’s “got jurisdiction”.
Mayor Bloomberg was on the TV just about any time I turned it on, warning people thath sht storm was strong and a heavy surge was expected due to the full moon.
Shut down of essentially the entire mass transit system alone should have been indication of the expected severety

davidmhoffer

So the NHC knew about a really bad storm but they couldn’t say anything about it because it didn’t meet some definition in some manual? What were they afraid of? That someone would ask for their data?

Oh…and as for surge…yes, this occurred at astronomical high tide, but 14 feet of water is still 14 feet of water…and 9 feet of actual surge above expected tide is still 9 feet of surge…which rivals most category TWO hurricanes, let alone category 1. And that amount of water can and will do catastrophic damage anywhere…Florida, Texas or NYC. The location only matters because the city is valuable property and the morphology of the sea floor and river system of the city made the situation worse.
But I repeat my challenge. Find any hurricane that made landfall with max sustained winds of 85 or less…and then find one verified sustained wind report of greater than 74 mph. You won’t be successful, but I wish you luck.

Catcracking

I find it disapointing that a government agency is so poorly managed that they can’t use common sense when a masssive storm is hitting a highly populated area and issue warnings. Are they so stupid that they split hairs over defining the storm. We all knew that it was very dangerous through other means of warnings.
Even though the National Hurricane center apparently was handcuffed over semantics, As one residing in New Jersey, I can say without any reservations that we were adequately warned that this was a massive, dangerous storm and we were given opportunity to take measures and most took this advice seriously.. Our Governor took this seriously and strongly communicated measures that need to be taken including extensive evacuation of potentially affected areas.
While some seem to emphasize that this was not a full blown hurricane, it does not matter since massive areas over 100 miles from the path lost electricity for periods as long as 2 weeks and a storm surge over 13 feet was experienced over 100 miles north of the storm track. As others mentioned there were other factors that contributed to the impact of the storm like a lingering NE storm, high monthly tides, etc.

u.k.(us)

Storms are fickle.
Precise predictions, beget lawsuits from agencies/governments with very deep pockets.
Err on the side of caution everytime.
As was done for Sandy.
The track/impacts were being broadcast at least 48 hours in advance.
When “The Weather Channel” sets up shop in your front yard, county, or state, it is time to prepare for a (the) storm.
Fair warning.

One other thing…you may think Sandy was “hyped” just fine…but I was actually here on the ground watching the reaction of the citizenry. The lack of the issuance of hurricane warnings caused (a) Bloomberg to think it would not be a bad storm and tell the city’s residents that they needed to get their kids to school and themselves to work (b) people on Long Island not to prepare for the inevitable gas shortages and lengthy power outages (and I asked some folks what they were doing to prepare and heard them say “well it’s just a bad nor’easter…we get those all the time, right?” so don’t tell me the lack of the hurricane label didn’t matter.
There’s a difference between media hype (which we are saturated by so much we have learned to IGNORE it…and official recognition by the authorities that this is going to be a bad storm. The NWS did their jobs admirably…got the warnings out and worded them as strongly as they could…but people don’t listen to specific wording much…they reading “high wind warning” (which we get behind cold fronts and which frequently does not verify with damage) and “coastal flood advisory” and think “OK…gonna be storny…” whereas they read “Hurricane Warning” and think “oh crap…a HURRICANE is coming!” This storm was one where you needed to treat it with respect and prepare for a lot of problems…and people thought it was a nor’easter like any other even with the crazy FrankenStorm label.
That is why the Hurricane Center is considering altering their warning system. And good on them for taking such quick action, if you ask me.

Gail Combs

Ygor says:
December 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm
….I suspect this is part of an effort to make “extreme weather” more common, thereby proving there’s something “unprecedented” going on with the climate and the weather….
_______________________________
Exactly what I was thinking. The government has a nasty habit of changing the accounting system when they want to fool the public.
Unemployment Statistics comes immediately to mind: graph and link
Walter J. “John” Williams of Shadow Statistics states:

Have you ever wondered why the CPI, GDP and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? The problem lies in biased and often-manipulated government reporting.
….One of my early clients was a large manufacturer of commercial airplanes… Suddenly, their model stopped working, and they asked me if I could fix it. I realized the GNP numbers were faulty, corrected them for my client (official reporting was similarly revised a couple of years later) and the model worked again, at least for a while, until GNP methodological changes eventually made the underlying data worthless.
That began a lengthy process of exploring the history and nature of economic reporting and in interviewing key people involved in the process from the early days of government reporting through the present. For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in 1989 in the New York Times and Investors Daily (now Investors Business Daily), considerable coverage in the broadcast media and a joint meeting with representatives of all the government’s statistical agencies.
Nonetheless, the quality of government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last couple of decades. Reporting problems have included methodological changes to economic reporting that have pushed headline economic and inflation results out of the realm of real-world or common experience.
Over the decades, well in excess of 1,000 presentations have been given on the economic outlook, or on approaches to analyzing economic data, to clients—large and small—including talks with members of the business, banking, government, press, academic, brokerage and investment communities. I also have provided testimony before Congress…
http://www.shadowstats.com/

He even has a subscription only article: No. 479: Presidential Election, Hurricane Sandy, October Employment and Unemployment,

Gail Combs

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm
One other thing…you may think Sandy was “hyped” just fine…but I was actually here on the ground watching the reaction of the citizenry. The lack of the issuance of hurricane warnings caused (a) Bloomberg to think it would not be a bad storm and tell the city’s residents that they needed to get their kids to school and themselves to work….
______________________________________
Sounds like blame should rest squarely on Bloomberg’s shoulders (and his advisors). As Catcracking said the New Jersey Governor took the storm seriously and took it upon himself to do what he was paid to do. Bloomberg did not.

Anthony, please forgive me, for this is entirely off-topic, but heartfelt:
R.I.P. Dave Brubeck. Composer, entertainer, teacher, leader, musician. Jazzman! Thanks Dave, for showing the teenage Herkinderkin possibilities undreamed.

Gnomish

mr souder said: “But I repeat my challenge. Find any hurricane that made landfall with max sustained winds of 85 or less…and then find one verified sustained wind report of greater than 74 mph. You won’t be successful, but I wish you luck.”
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/special-reports/katrina.html
Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest storms to impact the coast of the United States during the last 100 years. With sustained winds during landfall of 125 mph (110 kts) (a strong category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale) …
Other storms have had stronger sustained winds when they made landfall including the following:
The Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys, September 2, 1935, Category 5, 892 mb, Approaching 200 mph
Hurricane Camille, Mississippi, August 17, 1969, Category 5, 909 mb, Approaching 190 mph
Hurricane Andrew, Southeast Florida, August 24, 1992, Category 5, 922 mb, 165 mph
Hurricane Charley, Punta Gorda, Florida, August 13, 2004, Category 4, 941 mb, 150 mph

eyesonu

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm
=================
The NHC hyped this storm to no end. Same as IRENE. Maybe that was the issue. The NWS was spot on.
I logged current weather reports on WUWT as Sandy progressed up the Atlantic seaboard in live time (cut and paste) and included Bermuda to boot. Hype kills and you want more of it. Are you a sadist?
If 30 mph storms are classified as “hurricanes’ will that make it better?
TELL THE TRUTH! Leave it to the fools to decide their own fate!

Martin Mason

Surely anything that prepares the population of the area better is a good thing? It wouldn’t have reduced the damage though, while we all want to live in nice prime areas we have to accept that nature makes no allowances and every now and again we have to pay the price. Surely the population couldn’t have been better forewarned though? We had saturation news coverage here in the UK for at least 2 days before the event. Sandy wasn’t the problem, built up areas being in its way were the problem.

otsar

If it is not a hurricane when the storm hits land, then the hurricane deductible does not apply.

AndyG55

If they change the rule, be wary of the climate bletheren also changing the historic record, or at very least, finding a way to say the next storm is “way badder than ever,”, even if its barely a wind !!

scarletmacaw

Matthew Souders says:
December 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm
But I repeat my challenge. Find any hurricane that made landfall with max sustained winds of 85 or less…and then find one verified sustained wind report of greater than 74 mph. You won’t be successful, but I wish you luck.

Here’s a hurricane with max sustained winds of 85 just before landfall that had sustained winds inland measured at > 64 knots using doppler radar. As far as I can tell, the NOAA data does not include ASOS or AWOS measurements. Hopefully you are not basing your challenge merely on the lack of published data. Maybe, as ‘A Meteorologist’ you can find wind speeds measured at MLB?
The base page on Hurricane Erin 1995:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mlb/?n=erin
The doppler wind field from MCO:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/mlb/erin7.jpg

Actually…doppler velocities from Sandy were in excess of 64 kt too. Doppler velocities are not right at the ground unless the echoes are immediately proximal to the radar dish where such measurements are not very accurate anyway.
There’s a reason I specified ASOS and AWOS…because my original coments re: Sandy in which I quoted 65 mph sustained winds and was roundly mocked for said quote relied on the actual observed winds at ASOS/AWOS. But if you check RTMA (real time mesoscale analysis) there was a band of 85 mph sustained winds a the surface just off the Long Island and New Jersey coasts and sustained winds in excess of 75 on land. They just don’t always hit the ASOS stations. And if you’re wondering, that RTMA analysis for wind is a combination of radar estimates, RAP initial analyses and obs from surface stations.
I ask again…find me a storm with 85 mph or less in sustained winds at landfall that had 75 mph winds (sustained) at an official reporting station (and yes…those reports are publicly available…check weather underground, for example)…and win a prize. They don’t exist.

Dave Trimble

HaroldW.
I think your acronym “WHATS UP DOC” was very clever and humorous. Thanks for the effort and keep it up.
Dave on the left coast

scarletmacaw

Let me add that Anthony is right. I’ve lived through several hurricanes in Florida, including hurricane Erin 1995 (described above) where the eye went right over my house. Hurricanes are not fun, and the power outages afterwards are a major nuisance, but we live with them. If Sandy hit Florida with the same size, strength, and bad timing as it had when it hit NYC, it would have been just another cat 1 hurricane, with no media hype before or afterwards.

CodeTech

Matthew Souders:
I don’t know ANYONE who thinks Sandy was a cakewalk, or wasn’t extremely damaging, and yes, terrifying. But I have to tell you, I live in landlocked Calgary, Alberta, and even we were completely aware what was going to happen, DAYS in advance, and knew full well that there were going to be a lot of people analyzing it afterward and complaining that there wasn’t enough urgency to the warnings.
Thing is, despite the raw energy and destructive power, Sandy was not a hurricane at landfall. The definition of a hurricane has been clear for my entire life, and again, even up here landlocked and a 12 hour drive from the Pacific Ocean, we know the definition of a hurricane. And we also know that you don’t mess around with storms that approach hurricane strength.
I wonder how the rest of the US, and all of Canada, and for I know all of Mexico and Europe appear to have been fully aware of what was crawling up the East Coast, but the bubble of NYC kept the people there blissfully unaware of what was going on?
If I were you, I’d be wondering more why your news and alerting systems failed you, when everywhere else seems to have been completely aware. Personally I think it’s the same bubble of unreality that affects election campaigns.
As far as I can tell, the only reason “superstorm” is kept as a description is that it was more than a “storm”, but NOT a hurricane. And hurricanes HAVE hit NYC in the past… which is why so many people have so little tolerance for what we perceive as whining after the fact.

I imagine if the NHC had issued a warning, they would have been castigated for that given that it’s not part of their mandate. It’s hard enough to get public servants to do what they are mandated to do, never mind what they are not. One thing I noticed during the broadcasts on the TV news was that the journalists standing outside in the Frankenstorm (presumably to give their reports some authenticity) were all wearing hats! That suggested to me that the winds weren’t all that strong given the the propensity of hats to depart heads in really strong winds.

Herkinderkin said @ December 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Anthony, please forgive me, for this is entirely off-topic, but heartfelt:
R.I.P. Dave Brubeck. Composer, entertainer, teacher, leader, musician. Jazzman! Thanks Dave, for showing the teenage Herkinderkin possibilities undreamed.

Think I’d better take five…

Albert Stenton

Gail Combs said: “Sounds like blame should rest squarely on Bloomberg’s shoulders (and his advisors). As Catcracking said the New Jersey Governor took the storm seriously and took it upon himself to do what he was paid to do. Bloomberg did not.”
Indeed. Every weak-willed libtard who never sees a regulation complication he doesn’t like blames someone else than the tribe, when their pleasure seeking gets interrupted.
For the information of those who think this generation knows better than the people who built this meteorological system, it was put together by men who had to get around in big creaky iron boats, and big creaky aluminum planes, when they had to fly across hell and back in all weather, in all conditions, at all hours, without being wrong or IT WAS THEIR A$$.
They used college degrees which gave this generation the grasp of every electrical and electronic concept in modernized instrumentation and sensing PLUS the experiences of hundreds of thousands of individuals aggregating reports by people, interviewing people while bodies floated past in hurricane aftermaths; and they did it for the best benefit they could figure for a population whose average education level was the 10th or 12th grade in the 1950s and 60s.
Lack of any regard for the work of the people who came before you is the mark of the destroyer; the emotionally immature who believes because he bought a refill for his pen, he must have more to say.
It’s not happened to our infrastructure overall; but weather is and has ALWAYS been the scientific hall where every single hackster, hickster, huckster and hustler has squashed in with their unprovable, unmeasurable, undefinable and on-it’s-face-hockey contravention of the very elements that make measurement work; claiming it’s just too small for you to see it, but because it’s real big like all the air, it’s actually too big to see.
These hicks have people teaching that there’s an unmeasurable force in the planet regulating the weather, that doesn’t respond properly to instruments which measure reaction to light, instruments which measure reaction to heat, instruments which measure reaction to pressure, physical mechanical leverage, there’s no machine or instrument that measures it but it’s supposed to be scientific heresy to say you don’t believe it:
when the MARK of the SCIENTIFICAL HOAX is that you can’t measure it, you can’t predict it, you can’t replicate it with an experiment, you just have to go along with the rest of the people who say they see the complete sense in basing national and international emergency mitigation on an unmeasureable, unpredictable, unable to be even explained so that it leaves window tint on a car still functioning.
If you try to explain to your associates at work how your new tint film on your car works, you have to tell them that you bought that window tint to keep your car a little warmer.
Or you’re in violation of government employee overseen ‘signts.’
The storm warning system that works for MILLIONS – around the WORLD – and pioneered the art of saving human life with widespread electronically disseminated storm information in which a meteorologist or one who works closely with one and knows what he/she says better sound like the meteorologist training them – describes the storm personally in the syntax and format most important to the people and the property in the area
using radars undreamed of and hardly able to be comprehended by the average person – digital software & firmware algorithms that give the most basic to the most exacting information
FREE
ONLINE
from ANYWHERE in the WORLD
about where Sandy was
And Bloomberg says “HE JUST DIDN’T HAVE ANY WAY to KNOW.”
Really.
Really.
People really expect to not have others snort laughter to their face,
after every single particular about not just the Sandy storm, but the other two it intersected with,
were having every single metric
you can apply an instrument to,
given to him for free,
on the
INTERNET.
Realtime.
Really.
Bulls$%*+.
Bulls$%*+,
BULL$%*T.
Just sayin. Can you imagine if your boss told you to go find out kind what was going on with Hurricane Sandy & friends, and you came back and told your boss that you really couldn’t figure out enough to know really, what was going on?
Can you imagine yourself standing in the face of someone and telling them that story, and expecting to not only not get fired, but to not have your name make the circuit as the most embecilic diptard to have occluded sunlight meant for respectable people, by getting up & going outside that day?
Yeah we need a new system because I couldn’t figure out what was going on with the information available to me for free on the internet and from the top level managers of every single weather and oceanic monitoring organization.
Not in New York.
On earth.
Yeah I think we should just completely redo this whole thing because I know evertime I get one of those highly detailed weather reports and go check the instrument readings from a half dozen separate, computer-automated electronically regulated, I feel like GOLLEE! i shure wisht i NEW wut wuz uh… HAPPniN owt THAIR!”
Yeah THAT’s what I think. Especially after having grown up watching the system come to it’s present state, working with emergency leaership for decades and all, seeing how over,
and over,
and over,
atmospheric & oceanic metrics have gotten a level of precision that used to be reserved for SURGERIES on WORLD CLASS ROYALTY,
Captains of Industy,
Important leadership in politics of the most sophisticated empires ever known.
I’m putting myself in Bloomberg’s position and yeah definitely it was the hurricane warning system that was really at the cause of pretty much … everything that didn’t get done.

Albert Stenton

Spelling and grammar above, sorry, I meant in one place to write ‘can you imagine if your boss told you to go KIND OF find out what was going on with Hurricane Sandy,’
several other spelling and grammatical errors sorry

Kev-in-Uk

Just a thought – if they regrade or redefine ‘Hurricane’ definitions, will that mean that the climate boys can go back through the hurricane data and adjust them to show an increasing AGW effect on hurricanes? I’ll place a small wager that someone does it!

Albert Stenton

I purposely wrote that part about your employer telling you to go KIND OF find out about Sandy.
Seriously:
If you had been told and taught and had swung around drinking coffee and bullshitting and having people tell you stories, and having people from every single corner of your, particular burg, come talk to you about Hurricane Sandy,
Do you, as a potato chip truck driver, a manager at the Home Depot and an Insurance man at AllState,
do you as a farmer out making your rice fields and corn and wheat acreage, your roadway resurfacing, your concrete form building company,
do you the taxi driver really believe, that if someone told you go fetch enough information about Sandy that the people in your area could have a… a real good idea about just what was likely to go on,
do any of you here believe that after two weeks going around bullshooting and interfacing with people about this Storm and it’s associated smaller two,
that you would be still so flabbergasted and stupified, that you woudn’t really have much idea of how things had probably ought to go, to get the most return for the least investment of your resources,
especially if every news group on the east coast had every meteorologist on staff and retired, or obliquely interested, tweeting your assistants and you, sending you updates on pressures and humidity, temperatures and swell, all this —
do you really think you would just be so up in arms your response would be “WHAT WE NEED, is sum MOR REGyaLAYshuNz cauws I cudn; figur nuthin owt.”
Do you
Really
Really,
REALLY think that just being some guy who fetched coffee for a third tier meteorologist at a small station that given the instructions to spend the next two weeks, to find out all you could, even though you were a 21 year old new guy with barely a clue,
that one of your concerns for your efforts as you tried to get out the good word
was that what would really have stopped a lot of the suffering was that the hurricane warning regulations made it difficult to know what was going on?
Pfft.

Albert Stenton

Again apologies for the lax editing

David, UK

theduke says:
December 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm
Anybody who wasn’t aware of the destructive potential of this storm as broadcast on radio and television and posted endlessly on the internet is an idiot. Forgive me if I’m short on empathy here, but COME ON!!

Is there a point to your little rant – beyond stating the bleeding obvious, of course?

TheBigYinJames

Kev-in-Uk says: “if they regrade or redefine ‘Hurricane’ definitions, will that mean that the climate boys can go back through the hurricane data and adjust them to show an increasing AGW effect on hurricanes? I’ll place a small wager that someone does it!”
I’ll raise your bet that someone has ALREADY done it, and that indeed if you include storms in the metrics the trend for ‘hurricanes’ is upward/hockey-stick shaped and will nicely counter those pesky skeptical claims that weather isn’t getting any worse. Anyone on our side willing to do the cacls before they release it?

A. Scott

The point of Chris Landsea and the NHC’s reasons for this proposed change are being missed by most here in the rush to pile on about whether it was an official hurricane at landfall or not.
The PROBLEM was, and is, the now proven issue with the policy of dropping hurricane status regardless of strength North of North Carolina, as/when the storms transition to post-tropical cyclones – or Nor’Easters. .
The NHC and NWS polcies created a very poor situation where the storm was in many peoples eyes “downgraded” – lost its hurricane classification, despite that it most certainly was still a hurricane while offshore, and many believe it to have been a CAT 1 at landfall.
The following story described the problems they encountered and the reasoning for what they did:
NHC Reveals Reasoning for Non-Issuance of Hurricane Warnings for Sandy
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/nhc-reveals-thought-process-be/2384464
I don’t entirely agree with their positions and decisions, but this was a very real problem. As the storm was at a critical point it stopped being called a hurricane. NHC and NWS scrambled to try and keep people informed.
There were many headlines like this:
Sandy downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm
Hurricane Sandy Downgraded to Post-Tropical Storm
Then there were these type:
Hurricane Sandy Downgraded, Then Upgraded Again
Hours after being downgraded, Sandy returns to hurricane
Add that Irene drew criticism it was over-hyped when it was not as strong and did less damage than warned, and you have a real mess.
Regardless of the claims of some, Sandy WAS, or at worst minutely below, a hurricane force storm at landfall. It had winds as noted by a meteorologist in the area.above that were CAT 1 level. There is numerous other evidence as well. Here is one example:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/10/sandy_wind_speed_map_see_how_s.html
In the “Willis, not a hurricane at landfall” post ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/29/tropical-storm-sandy/ ) – I provided direct data from a private provider – Weatherflow – used by (and identified by) the NWS around the time of landfall for their warnings, that showed winds in hurricane strengths.
I also showed NWS warnings that noted above hurricane force winds at landfall.
As an aside the Weatherflow data a was very interesting, They graciously made the Sandy data public. It is well worth a visit too that thread and to Weatherflows site to look at the quality of their system.
Not only did the “downgrade” to non-hurricane status, while remaining at or very near hurricane levels, create confusion, but it also had a gigantic effect on insurers. The Governor issued a decree that because Sandy was not officially a hurricane, that the hurricane deductibles on every insurance policy were not allowed to be charged.
This is perhaps one of the most ignorant and short sighted decisions made regarding Sandy. The action saves the current homeowners their 20% deductibles. But the insurers must make those losses up somewhere, and that will be from all who are insured, thru higher premiums. And premiums in those areas will raise even higher as the insurance companies now know they cannot trust they will be able to collect the bargained for deductibles, regardless of the strength and damage of the storm.
Poster Phil Night I thing had some excellent ideas on how to address the problems Sandy created – how to more accurately and effectively communicate danger levels of these storms. He proposes a “Threat Index” which takes into account the overall danger of each storm based on several inputs.
I think this is a great idea – as the same Threat Index – rating a storms danger on scale of 1 to 5 – can be used for all types of storm events, The criteria underlying may be different for say a winter storm than a hurricane – but the Threat index idea allows a ranking of the likely severity of each storm type. ,
It seems certain some changes must be made. The NHC proposed rule is a start in right direction, but I would think something like the Threat Index – which can offer a more subjective assessment of danger – is a better idea yet.

Albert Stenton

What I’m (obviously very poorly, grammar & spellingwise especially today) saying is that
it’s not POSSIBLE
for ANYONE
to have not had enough information even if he was 19 years old, and told
“Vito you’re a good boy, a fine young man; and these zombies have killed alllllll the meteorologists, and that evil property-grabbing Bloomberg and me an’ Vinnie here is runnin thah vig on the hurricane wackin the Gambeezie brothers’ import bizness…
for the next two weeks Mr. Bloomberg’s personal assistant, who was saved by kicking Bloomberg’s evil #$$ out of the limo at the appropriate moment –
he’s a “friend of ours” and he’s gonna take you around, and you’ gonna tawk tuz awl, these people, see, an’ yu’wa’gonna come back heeyah en TELL us, wat thuh good people uh New York gotta KNOW, to get through this thing safe & sound. Kapish?”
Do you REALLY think it would be POSSIBLE for YOU – young 19 year old Vito, still skinny, don’t know why a coffee maker makes hot coffee come out,
to come back after two weeks
and NOT have everything you needed to tell the good people of that area,
what they needed to know?
I find that not only past impossible but past impossible for “a good kid, ”
19 years old who’d never been out of the Boroughs.
much less for anybody else.