New York City’s Plan to Combat Extreme Weather

By Roger Caiazza

On September 27, 2021 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio releasedThe New Normal: Combatting Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City,” billed as a “landmark report that provides New York City with a new blueprint to prepare for and respond to extreme weather”. I wholeheartedly support many of the initiatives proposed in the document but I disagree with the report’s arguments suggesting that absent climate change, initiatives to increase resiliency would not be appropriate.  Furthermore, given the enormous sums of money needed to address these issues I question whether it is appropriate to continue to spend any money on emissions reductions to ameliorate the alleged effects of climate change.

The report starts off claiming the devastation associated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 1, 2021 was unprecedented: “it was a frightening lesson in our new reality: one in which even so-called “remnants” of storms, traveling from thousands of miles away, can be as ferocious and dangerous as those aimed directly at our city”.  The report goes on to say: “Increasingly, these extreme weather events are the new normal: part of an undeniable climate crisis that stretches across our entire nation, from droughts in the Southwest to raging wildfires on the West Coast. Climate change isn’t a far-off threat. It is here, it is real, and it is taking lives.”

New York governments have been claiming that most every recent extreme weather event is evidence of climate change for quite a while.  For example, before the most recent Climate Act implementation meeting I wrote a post predicting that Hurricane Ida impacts would be highlighted at the meeting and, surprising no one, that is exactly what happened at the meeting.  I have documented other instances where New Yorkers have confused climate change impacts with weather events here.

In my prediction post I noted that on August 22, 2021 tropical depression Henri made landfall in Rhode Island.  Although it had weakened from a hurricane and skirted New York, it dumped heavy rains from New Jersey to New England.   The region had a wet summer so the ground was already saturated.  As a result, the main impact was flooding.  Hurricane Ida struck the Louisiana coast on August 29, 2021.  I followed the forecasts of the remnants of Ida as it slogged north and the east out to sea in the New York City area.  Every forecaster was warning that heavy rains were likely in the New York City area and coupled with already saturated grounds that flooding was likely. 

Cliff Mass described the weather as it hit the area and noted that New York’s Central Park had a record of 3.15 inches in an hour.  He explained that hurricane remnants, known as extratropical cyclones, combine strong upward motions with large amounts of tropical moisture.  This combination causes heavy rains and flooding.  Moreover, Paul Homewood evaluated climate data and showed that that worse precipitation has been observed in the past

Sadly, there were big impacts associated with the storm.  The New York City report states that “For the first time in history, the National Weather Service (NWS) declared a flash flood emergency in New York City. The storm shattered the record for the most single-hour rainfall in our city, set only two weeks earlier by another extreme storm, Hurricane Henri. It flooded streets, subways, and homes. Most tragically, Ida took the lives of 13 New Yorkers.”

Dr. Cliff Mass defines the Golden Rule of Climate Extremes as: The more extreme a climate or weather record is, the greater the contribution of natural variability.  For example, he did an extensive analysis of this summer’s great Northwest heat wave and found that “ global warming only contributed a small about (1-2F) of the 30-40F heatwave and that proposed global warming amplification mechanisms (e.g., droughts, enhanced ridging/high pressure) cannot explain the severe heat event.”  Although he did not do a similar analysis of the New York City flooding, the analyses described above suggest a similar conclusion here.  Note, however, his description of the weather event made the point that we could and should improve forecasting and communications for this type of event because the deaths were preventable.

In this regard, the New York City report is encouraging.  The press release explains that the following new strategies are outlined in the report:

  • Educate, train, and acclimate New Yorkers to this new reality
  • Increase planning for the worst-case scenario in every instance
  • Accelerate upgrades to storm modeling, tracking, and alert systems
  • Broaden protection for inland communities, not only our coastlines
  • Protect basement and cellar occupants
  • Prioritize investments in low-income neighborhoods, immigrant communities, and communities of color
  • Re-imagine our sewage and drainage system, and rapidly increase green infrastructure and cloudburst solutions
  • Call on support from the state and federal government in further depending our reach

I will look at these strategies in more detail below.

Educating New Yorkers to be more weatherwise is a necessary first step in the public warning process.  In my opinion, many city folks are so insulated from the real world, including the weather, that they don’t bother to follow weather forecasts.  For the most part, that only creates inconveniences.  However, there are extreme weather events that can affect safety and they have to be aware of the consequences.  Given the importance of this requirement I will not quibble that those events have always happened and, even if the magical solutions to mitigate climate change are enacted, severe weather events will continue happen.

The planning for worst-case scenarios basically consists of setting up a “new senior position at City Hall, the Extreme Weather Coordinator”.  Hopefully they will work closely with the National Weather Service experts in the area of severe weather communications.  If the warnings are not credible then they will be ignored.

I am sure Dr. Mass would endorse the plan to “build state-of-the-art storm modeling, a new tiered alert system tailored to at-risk areas, and a modern tracking system that will monitor dangerous weather throughout the tri-state area and beyond”.   I agree that this is necessary and would be the first to support diverting some of the money poured into climate change research into a better warning system for weather events associated with the “new normal”.  This certainly is a “no regrets” option.

Three of the strategies are related.  Inland communities and basement occupants are threatened mostly because the sewage and drainage system is inadequate.  The report notes that “Completely recalibrating our sewers for storms like Ida would require a decades-long, potentially $100-billion investment dependent on federal funding”. However, it would reduce the severity of inland flooding, help prevent basement flooding, and reduce the health impacts associated with sewage overflows.

It seems that all environmental infrastructure projects proposed today have to include environmental justice commitments.  I doubt that anyone would object to requirements that mandate equitable investments.  However, given the amount of money needed to address all the resiliency problems it would be inappropriate to try to over-compensate low-income neighborhoods for past injustices.

Clearly it is beyond the capability of the city to fund everything that could be done.  Not surprisingly, the final strategy is to get more money from “our partners at the State and Federal level”.   In my opinion New York City is missing the obvious solution.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions affect global warming as alleged, there are problems with New York City’s support of greenhouse gas emission reduction mitigation projects.  In the first place, New York emissions reductions cannot possibly measurably affect global warming.  Paul Knappenberger’s Analysis of US and State-By-State Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Potential “Savings” In Future Global Temperature and Global Sea Level Rise used the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change which projects changes based in expected global warming based on admittedly old Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates.  I simply pro-rated his estimates of United States impacts by the ratio of New York greenhouse gas emissions divided by United States emissions to determine the effects of a complete cessation of all New York State’s emissions.  I found that there would be a reduction, or a “savings,” of between 0.0097°C and 0.0081°C by the year 2100.  To give you an idea of how small these temperature changes are consider changes with elevation and latitude.  Generally, temperature decreases three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000-foot increase in elevation above sea level.  The projected temperature difference for all the greenhouse gases is the same as a 39-inch change.  The general rule is that temperature changes three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 300-mile change in latitude at sea level.  The projected temperature change is the same as a change in latitude of less than a mile. Given these small changes I believe that there could not possibly be an effect on extreme weather events from New York emission reductions.

In addition, New York’s potential emission reductions should be considered relative to the rest of the world.  According to the China Electricity Council, about 29.9 gigawatts of new coal power capacity was added in 2019 and a further 46 GW of coal-fired power plants are under construction.  If you assume that the new coal plants are super-critical units with an efficiency of 44% and have a capacity factor of 80%, eliminating all New York’s greenhouse gas emissions will be replaced by the added 2019 Chinese capacity in less than two years.

I think that the New York City New Normal report outlines useful strategies to address the problems of extreme weather.  I disagree that there is any “new” normal but the fact is that extreme weather always has happened and will always happen whatever mankind tries to do, makes planning a system to address these events a no regrets solution.  The biggest impediment to implementation is the enormous funding needed and I believe it is obvious that taking the money presently being thrown away on greenhouse gas emission reduction projects would be better served funding these strategies.  New York emissions cannot possibly be reduced enough to affect global warming and the alleged new normals of extreme weather even if there is a link between the two.  Given that it is a moral imperative that everyone should have access to abundant, reliable energy that can only be provided affordably with fossil fuels means that emission increases elsewhere are going to be greater than any possible New York emission reductions.  Finally, New York’s emphasis on wind and solar zero emissions resources for future emission reductions depends on technology that does not exist.  As a result, catastrophic blackouts with impacts equivalent to the extreme weather events are likely as a result of the mitigation efforts of New York.  It would be logical and safer to use emission reduction funds for the proposed strategies.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York.  This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company with which he has been associated.

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September 30, 2021 6:13 am

How about fixing the storm sewers in NYC, and actually separating them from the sanitary sewer system?

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 6:36 am

I was going to conclude that this was the right answer for the wrong reason but, as you point out, it really is some right answers but all for the wrong reason

Reply to  Roger Caiazza
September 30, 2021 6:55 am

My thought was that 3.5 inches an hour is not that an extreme storm, so upgrading the storm sewers to deal with 3 or 4 sigma storm would be correct.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 7:56 am

Let’s be honest, 3.5 inches in even a half hour is not catastrophic rain fall. 3.5 inches of rain on concrete and buildings will be if the storm sewers are not large enough to carry the run-off. The real problem is little soil and grass and foliage to slow it down.

ATheoK
Reply to  Jim Gorman
October 2, 2021 7:14 pm

The real problem is little soil and grass and foliage to slow it down.”

More likely, the storm sewer drains are clogged with debris, newspaper, trash and coffee cups. Water blocked from entering the sewer seeks a different path downward.

meab
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 9:46 am

Planning along the eastern seaboard should have always accounted for the possibility of storms and hurricanes. It’s disingenuous to suggest that this is a new phenomena.
 
In 1635 the “Great Colonial” Hurricane hit New York and New England, the “Dreadful” Hurricane of 1667 destroyed over 10,000 houses in Virginia, and the “Great Storm of 1693” devastated Long Island. There were other hurricanes that made landfall in the Tri-State area – 1788 (left the Battery in ruins), 1821, 1893 (the second hurricane that year, different from the one that hit Halifax, Nova Scotia), 1944 (“Great Atlantic” hurricane), 1954 (Carol), and 1991 (Bob). The 1938 “Long Island Express” made landfall in Long Island as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph and wind gusts up to 150 mph bringing waves surging to 35 feet. The Long Island Express makes Superstorm Sandy and Ida look like a breezy day in the park.
 
Hurricanes have also pummeled Canada’s Maritime Provinces many times before; in 1775, the “Independence Hurricane” killed at least 4,000 people in Newfoundland and an 1873 hurricane left 223 dead, destroyed 1200 boats, and flattened 900 buildings in Nova Scotia. Other hurricanes hit the Canadian Maritimes in 1866, 1886, 1893 (1st of two hurricanes that hit the Northeastern coast that year), 1959 (Escuminac), 1963 (Ginny), and 2003 (Juan).  

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  meab
September 30, 2021 1:25 pm

I have recently been told that Millennials don’t set any store by history, so everything is new and unprecedented to them.

Chakra
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 30, 2021 8:19 pm

Completely agree. Their memory is limited to last 10 years only.

H.R.
Reply to  Chakra
October 1, 2021 10:16 am

You misspelled “10 minutes” Chakra.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  meab
October 1, 2021 2:50 pm

My wife and I hiked Great Falls National Park in Virginia a few years ago. The Potomac runs through it, and rim of the gorge on which we hiked is IIRC at least 100 feet above the surface of the river. On that rim trail we found a high-water marker, commemorating the maximum water height in various floods. It was astonishing to see that floods could actually fill that gorge, and then rise high above the rim. The highest recorded was in a flood from 17-19 March, 1936. This site https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=125300 has pictures of some of the markers, the second of which gives some idea of how high they were.

The 1936 flood was due to a combined heavy rainfall (3.73 to 8 inches across the several states) and a melting snowpack in West Virginia. (see https://www.weather.gov/lwx/1936Flood) This page is great in that it shows how separate phenomena (a lingering snowpack and a heavy storm) can combine sometimes with devastating results. Natural variability is the name for that.

Interestingly, the maximum flood height has been trending down since then.

garboard
Reply to  meab
October 1, 2021 7:39 pm

Camille In 1969 after hitting the gulf coast dumped 27 inches of rain over virginia

Wade
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 7:35 am

It has been my experience that politicians use climate change to cover over their corruption and incompetence.

“It is not my fault that the money set aside to fix a problem found its way into my pocket; it is climate change making things worse!”

“It is not my fault that we ignored the warnings of the meteorologists and we ignored the warnings of the engineers who repeatedly and frequently warned us about this problem decades ago and then again years ago and then again months ago and then yet again days ago; it is climate change makings things worse! And, what is more, because climate change is always to blame, we will still never ever listen to the engineers who were proven right.”

H B
Reply to  Wade
September 30, 2021 4:01 pm

A good excuse for not doing your job just what every lazy incompetent bureaucrat wants

mark from the midwest
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 7:42 am

Tom, you beat me to it. Much of New York’s drainage infrastructure is antiquated, even by 20th century standards. Separating the systems is the most logical thing to do, but I suspect the cost would be in the 100’s of billions of dollars for the simple fact that in order to separate systems you need to dig them up. At this point they are buried under so much developed real-estate that the “digging” part is well beyond the scope of just getting a guy with a backhoe.

Reply to  mark from the midwest
September 30, 2021 9:02 am

City I live in planed of 300,000 budgeted 2 billion to separate storm from sanitary sewers and have spent over 4 Billion so far and are not done yet. Also had to include hundreds of “Run-off retention” areas. Basically a french drain like pit in the ground to hold the local runoff and slow its flow into the new sewers.All new developments require sufficient storm retention for historic rainfalls. I can not picture this happening in NYC short of removing every twentieth house and putting in these massive “French Drain” like pits. Manhattan Is, will require massive sewers.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  mark from the midwest
September 30, 2021 9:24 am

Tom/Mark – Rather the separate, supplement. A deep tunnel drain serving Central Park alone would relieve much of the overload. An 80/20 approach.

mark from the midwest
Reply to  Paul Johnson
September 30, 2021 10:36 am

It’s a partial / better than nothing fix, but most of New York is on the other side of the East River, and you also have the part of New York, (the metro), that is in New Jersey. While it makes some sense to create supplemental storm drains that could take some of the load off, it makes more sense to send all those people to California, annex it to Mexico, and be done with the headaches for good. Mexico would probably be happy with their tripling of G.D.P., and we should even throw in the Federal Lands to sweeten the deal.

Steve Z
Reply to  Paul Johnson
September 30, 2021 11:39 am

Central Park is not the major problem, since it has much more vegetation and uncovered soil to allow rainfall to soak into the ground than the densely populated areas surrounding it.

The major problem is densely populated areas of Manhattan with many city blocks of skyscrapers and streets in between that have been completely paved over, with very little open soil into which water can soak. Heavy rainfall on buildings just runs down the sides of the buildings into the sidewalks and into the streets, which must be evacuated by storm drains.

As Paul Johnson below commented, in many old cities, the storm sewers and human-waste sewers are combined, and flow into water-treatment plants, due to the possibility of horse manure in the streets during the 19th century. Since there are very few horses pooping in the streets of New York any more, the storm sewers should be separated from human-waste sewers from buildings, with storm runoff allowed to flow directly into the nearby Hudson and East Rivers, which could speed up the flow without backing up in wastewater treatment plants.

The major obstacle to getting funding for such projects is political. An occasional flood can wipe out businesses on the ground floor, but most New Yorkers live well above the ground floor, and can simply wait out a flood on higher floors until the flood waters recede, which they inevitably do. So will the vast majority living on higher floors vote to fund storm-sewer work which will only benefit those few who live (or own businesses) on the ground floor?

Jamaica
Reply to  mark from the midwest
September 30, 2021 4:25 pm

NYC has been rebuilding a 4 block stretch of sewer lines near my house in Queens for over a year. They would never finish replacing the sewer lines.

Ron Long
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 8:11 am

Tom, the fix is already underway. Many New Yorkers are moving to Florida. Fixes the problem. Remember, you can’t cure stoopid. What?

Reply to  Ron Long
September 30, 2021 9:06 am

Problem is – Democrata are self replicating and bisexual. Thus, any exodus of intelligence will be replaced with increased dumbness.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 9:12 am

In cities that installed major sewer systems before around 1910, sanitary sewers and storm sewers were combined because horse manure in street runoff made the streams essentially the same. The problem now in NYC appears to be failure to clear “fatbergs” from the system, leading to storm backup.

ATheoK
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 2, 2021 7:06 pm

NYC was warned about Sandy and similarly warned to sandbag their tube(subway) entrances.
NYC maintenance threw down a few bags and ignored the warnings.

As pointed out by Cliff Mass and multiple weather forecasters, NYC was warned again about flooding. Which NYC dismissed.

Hence, all of the videos showing rivers flowing down tube entrances and flooding the subway.

NYC will blame climate change for their own failures.

ResourceGuy
September 30, 2021 6:29 am

How about adding a curb at the entrance to the subway? dorks

Brooks H Hurd
Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 30, 2021 8:18 am

The Tapei Metro entrances have a 1 meter curb you must walk up to enter. New York City also needs to place curbs around the subway air vents which are flat on the sidewalks throughout the city.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
September 30, 2021 9:11 am

But adding some curbs in NYC would involve forgoing several billion dollars in federal recovery funds for municipal unions and project budgets. They love “superstorm” Sandys.

Mark Whitney
September 30, 2021 6:44 am

Pragmatic approach? You are talking about New York, right? The place that gave us AOC. Talk about a fantasy.

beng135
September 30, 2021 6:50 am

Don’t upgrade infrastructure or prepare/adapt in any way. Just stop heating your home and driving your car. There ya go.

Cosmic
Reply to  beng135
September 30, 2021 9:43 am

The naive LEFTIST creep agrees.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  beng135
September 30, 2021 1:29 pm

And then use horses to pull carriages, carts and wagons. Don’t need to separate the sewers.

DMacKenzie
September 30, 2021 7:02 am

…..“new senior position at City Hall, the Extreme Weather Coordinator”….
So whenever bad weather causes flooding, or power outages, heat waves, ice storms, just you name it….there will be a person whose job is to declare “climate change” the culprit, rather than poor planning, bad response coordination, inadequate equipment inventories, failure to heed weather forecasts….all that more usual stuff….

whatlanguageisthis
September 30, 2021 7:07 am

The projected temperature difference for all the greenhouse gases is the same as a 39-inch change.

I propose a cheaper alternative to NYC: require any building with residents in the basement to build another floor on the roof and have all apartments move up one floor. This 120″ elevation change for all at risk residents will effectively offset the CO2 impact for centuries and resolve the issue at a much lower cost than all other proposed solutions.

September 30, 2021 7:07 am
  • “Protect basement and cellar occupants“

The City Rats lobby has spoken.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Doug Huffman
September 30, 2021 7:57 am

I wonder how many rats were drowned?

beng135
Reply to  Jim Gorman
September 30, 2021 8:18 am

Rats are pretty smart. They prb’ly moved upward to avoid it.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  beng135
September 30, 2021 9:23 am

Suggesting they are smarter than those who remained in their basement apartments as the streets became rivers.

Coach Springer
September 30, 2021 8:23 am

About the 1 to 2 degree of heat attribution to global warming for the Pacific Northwest heat wave: Does that mean that deadly cold waves are that much less deadly too?

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Coach Springer
September 30, 2021 8:41 am

No, cold is worse too, everything is worse, that is the beauty and joy of it.
There are no good things.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Coach Springer
September 30, 2021 9:24 am

Actually the benefit of higher low temperatures will far exceed the “concern” over higher high temperatures, since cold deaths are far more likely than heat-related deaths.

Coach Springer
September 30, 2021 8:24 am

Or they could move.

AndyHce
Reply to  Coach Springer
September 30, 2021 11:02 am

Financially impossible for the majority unless you are suggesting another of those often presented displays of refugees struggling along a long trail, carrying everything they can manage on their back, dying like flies trapped behind a window pane.

Pflashgordon
September 30, 2021 8:35 am

The existing forecast and warning system worked as designed. NOAA forecast heavy rain for NYC well in advance, then accelerated their warnings to “flash flood emergency” as reality began to strike. In a city of 8.8 million people, only 13 died in the flooding. Tragic as it may have been, given the speed of onset and the rainfall rates and quantities, that is really quite a reasonable number of fatalities. They lose about 500 per year to homicide, sometimes 10 or more in one day.

Better storm water management systems would have helped, but there is little one can do to eliminate flooding in a severe weather case such as this. I expect that, were one to delve into the city’s engineering group, you would find that they have been trying for years to get funding for flood control upgrades. Now it is taken out of their hands and put into the hands of a politician. In government bureaucracies, with competing funding priorities, it often takes a catastrophe in a given sector to get knee jerk funding. Unfortunately, they then usually go on a wasteful spending spree, and special interests and contractors quickly gather at the feed trough.

So why should the federal government pay to fix NYC’s deficient storm sewers? That would be like asking the federal government to pay for tornado shelters for everyone in tornado alley.

In the end, there will be another typical woke government overreach. If you are a NYC engineer, though, this will be your day to shine, provided they don’t scapegoat your department for failing to fix what no one allocated funds for you to do. (I have personally witnessed this knee jerk “leadership” at the university level.)

Also, let’s drop this “extreme weather” term. Since severe events are expected to happen somewhere practically every year, they are not extreme. Especially in light of the new CAGW propagandists’ fixation on weather, not climate, we fail when we adopt their terms. Among meteorologists (I am one), “severe” is good enough.

September 30, 2021 8:45 am

It will take NYC 20 – 40 years to return back to the levels of CO2 emissions they had when Indian Point was running. Presently they have farmed out their Green Energy to Canada.hydro power and have clear cut a path as wide as a football field’s length across Vermont. Fires in California has shown that this desecration of this old forest will need to stay clear cut as long as the rely upon Canada for Green Energy. Soon they will decide that the massive forest preserves in northern NY will need to be cleared to provide a site for the NYC power.

Rich Lambert
September 30, 2021 9:12 am

New York City is just hoping to get a big chunk of the $3,500,000,000,000 porkulus bill that is in Congress.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Rich Lambert
September 30, 2021 11:13 am

Which as actually $5 trillion when fully implemented in year 12 after the phase-in tricks used to hold down the 10-year estimate process by CBO.

Cosmic
September 30, 2021 9:40 am

Heatwaves have decreased in MN since 1930 where I live. What say you Mayor?

Tom Abbott
September 30, 2021 10:58 am

From the article: “Dr. Cliff Mass defines the Golden Rule of Climate Extremes as: The more extreme a climate or weather record is, the greater the contribution of natural variability. For example, he did an extensive analysis of this summer’s great Northwest heat wave and found that “ global warming only contributed a small about (1-2F) of the 30-40F heatwave”

He didn’t “find” anything, he is guessing. Global warming in this case means Human-caused Global Warming. Nobody, including Cliff, can find this human-caused global warming, so they just guess and make assumptions.

Assuming things not in evidence. Some do it wittingly, and some do it unwittingly.

Olen
September 30, 2021 11:10 am

They should drop the extreme weather and concentrate on control of water and wind that might hit the city. And stop excusing their failure by telling New York residents how tough they are.

Andy Pattullo
September 30, 2021 12:17 pm

Can’t we just go back to blaming and punishing witches? Then we could skip the pseudoscientific charade that climate-change causation nonsense is based on reality. I prefer a system where we all agree that only witches can predict the weather in 50 or 100 years. That should help.

4caster
September 30, 2021 2:31 pm

I see several issues in the Ida aftermath, and NYC’s over-reaction to it:

  1. The NWS NOAA previously had a vigorous outreach/education program in many offices. To my knowledge, this has been curtailed or eliminated with the excuse of budget constraints, with blame to go to past (last 10-15 years) and current management. Without active and sustained education, the public is undereducated to the extreme weather events, which might not recur for a couple or more generations. In one office which shall remain nameless, the supervisor retaliated against the outreach program members and essentially dismantled the program, which formerly had been one of the best programs in the country, resulting in the loss of education to thousands of school children. The NWS needs to immediately reinvigorate and expand the Outreach/Education initiative.
  2. There is a huge disparity in the skill level, energy level, and efficacy of the NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologists, especially in the Northeast, and a lack of ability and oversight from the regional HQs and national HQ. One pretty useless WCM was fairly obviously selected because of his/her sexual preference.
  3. There has been a creep of the “Cry Wolf” problem within the NWS. One notorious forecaster/warner, who worked at a couple of different offices in the Northeast, routinely overplayed everything, from temperatures to QPF to Fire Weather Red Flag Warnings; this resulted in a loss of confidence in the overall office effort, as hyped products mostly failed to reach predictions. Fewer people listen to Flash Flood Warnings anymore, and fewer still act on them; this is because every urban flood event is warned for, and people are not taking them seriously. I know, Ida was upgraded to an Emergency, but the public is not wholly aware of any difference. No one listens to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings either. Only Tornado Warnings are serious business. The media is certainly exceedingly culpable here as well. I advocate reducing many Severe Thunderstorm Warnings to Advisories, where a tree or a limb in one place is what frequently verifies a Warning, and leave warnings for truly significant events. Increase the SVR’s wind gust threshold to 60 knots.
  4. It seems that after every forecast/warning failure, or perceived failure, there is a push by a government entity to avail themselves of a private forecast service, or more than one, and to use the average of those sources as a basis for decision-making and/or action. While that’s fine on the surface, one needs to be able to gauge the skill of these different forecast sources. The NWS has frequently throughout the past 70 years been the most accurate source for severe weather information, especially in real time; however, users need to realize that that source may fail for a given situation. But, over the long-term, the highest-level skill set and best analysts will yield the best results for decision-making. An average of voices may not yield better results over the long term. On the negative side for the NWS, there has been a wholesale change to younger meteorologists in the past decade, and many seem to be less well-educated synoptically, and there are less “credentialed” meteorologists in some cases, with a concomitant loss of experience and historical knowledge. This varies by office, but it appears to me to be a real issue in some areas. Lastly, there seems to be a lot less in-office analysis these days, replaced instead by just loading in the “model of choice,” which may work in most circumstances, but will inevitably fail at times when significant severe weather is imminent. Models can only be accepted when they are validated by both real-world comparison to observations AND short-term forecasts as visualized by the expert meteorologist’s brain and which are set up by the meteorological conditions that need to be teased out by proper analysis.
Reply to  4caster
September 30, 2021 3:51 pm

Thank you. You bring up so interesting points.

As you point out the forecasts were good but ignored. How the heck do you fix that?

Paul
Reply to  4caster
September 30, 2021 7:21 pm

re: the ‘cry wolf’ problem
they do this kind of thing every year with hurricanes also. They sensationalize the
reports so much that no one has any idea what the hell is going to happen or where the storm is going to go. It’s a clown show to watch weather reports with supposedly adult people in front of a map on the a wall waving their arms & making all kind of exaggerated sweeping motions like a kiddygarden teacher trying to get something across to a class of wide eyed kids, spaghetti lines go all over the map when the storm is still a week out & everything is doom & gloom & anyone who lives along the coast all the way up to Maine is in danger of a storm that’s going to cross the Keys to hear them tell it & all of the reports from different sources are different.
The Weather Channel is the worst, but the others aren’t far behind. I’ve lived on the central east coast of Florida for the last 14 years & one thing I can count on if nothing else is that the weather people go nuts every year around July. You are right
4caster, I don’t listen to them anymore, in fact I mute them. I check the map a couple times every day to see where the storm is & what I think & make my own mind up as to what I’ll do as DDay gets closer. (running away isn’t my thing, sides I’m too damn old)
The worst part of all of this that they get a lot of people in a panic, people clean out stores & buy all kind of sheit they don’t need, the major highways turn into a huge parking lots & traffic jams of people trying to run away.
If you have any doubts about what I’m saying just go online & read some of the reports that have been written about the current hurricane named Sam. Sam is still way out in the ocean heading north, but everyone all along the coast is in danger… so they say.

Peter Morris
September 30, 2021 3:37 pm

Yeah good luck with that.

You can’t tell New Yorkers anything. They already think they’ve seen and know it all.

Peter W
September 30, 2021 3:49 pm

On September 8, 1900, a major hurricane struck Galveston, Texas. Some 6,000 people died and property damage exceeded 17 million in year 1900 dollars. Explain to me how CO2-caused global warming created that disaster.

Trying to Play Nice
September 30, 2021 4:10 pm

Because New York hasn’t upgraded it’s infrastructure for years, it’s my fault and I should pay for it through federal funds. DeBlasio and the rest of you New Yorkers can burn in H*ll.

Skeptic JR
October 3, 2021 5:46 am

Well, NYC *should* have some sort of seawall, shouldn’t they?
Maybe it will distract them from constantly whining about New Orleans. We had fewer people die here from Ida, which hit us directly, than they did in NJ and NY where they just got the remnants. Seems like they are the ones who can’t handle it.

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