ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

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#3861 Postby KBBOCA » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:14 am

This discussion (about how hurricane watches & warnings were handled) is no longer just limited to weather sites or academics. It's become an issue of interest to the general public too, especially as it affects the question of insurance and hurricane deductibles.

Here's the link to an interesting article at NJ.com:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/1 ... cart_river

From my personal perspective, one thing that was so striking about the NWS alert maps, was that there were hurricane wind marine warnings just offshore (You can see a saved example of the map from 10/27 here). It was very weird to see that and not have their be corresponding watches / warnings for the coastline etc. since the storm was expected to make direct landfall.

Given that the SSHS categories are now based solely on winds, it *would* seem logical that if a coastal area is expecting hurricane force winds (from a storm that was at some point a tropical system covered by the NHC), there ought to be a hurricane warning, and somehow to avoid confusion, it has to be clearer what PARTS of the area are likely to experience the winds. (e.g. offshore waters only, the immediate coastline or further inland...)

It's a slightly different topic, but I want to give two SHOUT OUTS and give praise for two things that greatly helped me as an amateur have clear information and enabled me to warn / advise friends in the affected areas.

1) the NWS briefings from the Mount Holly office were incredibly clear, concise and helpful and put together in non-technical terms. ABSOLUTELY they saved lives. I hope all NWS offices will consider putting together such a product and doing similar public briefings when they are faced with a significant event.

2) The H*Wind analysis and the IKE scale. It was the IKE scale for storm surge that I found most helpful. All of us here knew this was likely to be a catastrophic event for the NY area when that IKE level for surge reached 5.8 out of 6. Winds were not the primary danger, storm surge was, and that H*Wind analysis communicated that extremely clearly.

So WHY was that information not disseminated in NHC or NWS advisories? I only knew of it because of folks here, and because of Dr. Jeff Masters' blog at Wunderground. I would think being told that storm surge risk was at 5.8 out of 6 would have caused more folks to evacuate Atlantic City, Staten Island, Hoboken, etc.

3) Likewise the CERA storm surge maps. AWESOME. I wish they'd been publicized more in the general media.
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#3862 Postby artist » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:18 am

why do they not issue a separate warning for surge? A surge warning as such? And since it is coming from the hurricanes effects, would be issued by the NHC. And if its beginning up build up was started from a hurricane, it should still remain with the NHC. Just because its core temp has changed doesn't mean that it wasn't due to the 'original' hurricane itself. In a system that large the water had been building up for days. Those characteristics never changed.
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#3863 Postby CrazyC83 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:34 am

From a technical point of view, NHC was right. However, the problem was not the technical points but the message to the public.

It is doubtful that had full Hurricane Warnings been issued that 100% would have evacuated from even the lowest-lying areas. However, it might have brought some more to do so...we will never know.

This was definitely a place where S2K, other forums, weather blogs and the NHC all shined. I don't think there was one single member on here that downplayed the storm either - newbie or veteran. Any of us could have gone with climatology and believed that this storm would go out to sea. We all were able to read the general pattern and quickly no one believed the GFS. Also everyone was trying to tell the public that regardless of the general structure of the storm, this will behave like an incredibly large hurricane, and the pressure of 940mb justified such (which was around what we all predicted - I predicted 950 at landfall, it was 946 - some predicted lower). NWS offices jumped on board, and they truly knew what was happening. Having said all that, people that don't know anything about weather patterns may have thought that and not prepared well. That needs to be addressed as well. Had this happened not too long ago, the death toll - as tragic as it is - could have crushed even Katrina and been up close to the 1900 Galveston storm.

Finally, the GFS issue needs to be addressed. It was clearly a FAIL in the middle term. The Europeans creamed the Americans on the weather model front.
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#3864 Postby Extratropical94 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:45 am

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nati ... f6954310=1

Damage estimations as high as $55 billion already. :eek:
That's the 2nd highest ever for an Atlantic storm and also the 2nd highest worldwide, I believe.

Katrina caused (inflation adjusted) damage of $108 b, Andrew had $44.9 b.
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Re:

#3865 Postby artist » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:52 am

artist wrote:why do they not issue a separate warning for surge? A surge warning as such? And since it is coming from the hurricanes effects, would be issued by the NHC. And if its beginning up build up was started from a hurricane, it should still remain with the NHC. Just because its core temp has changed doesn't mean that it wasn't due to the 'original' hurricane itself. In a system that large the water had been building up for days. Those characteristics never changed.

I want to add a point to this. We already do it with tsunami warnings for earthquakes. The surge of a massive hurricane as this has pretty similar effects.
To me, this has always seemed the most obvious answer. Separate surge warnings for any storm that warrants them. This storms surge, along with atronomical high tides was producing ill effects even down into south Florida after the storm had passed here. In Broward county, along the coast, 60 homes were surrounded by the surge.
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3866 Postby Frank2 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:07 am

Somehow I missed the fact that the NHC did not issue hurricane warnings for the affected area - as others said that will be a sore point during the off season (and my guess is that might prompt a few (or more) lawsuits that will require courtroom meteorologists to testify and explain the reasons why in weather terms), but as others said apparently a few changes are needed when it comes to a hurricane that's become a hybrid system...

Frank
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#3867 Postby KBBOCA » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:12 am

Uh oh. This (lack of hurricane warnings) is now one of the top stories in my Google News headlines. Accuweather is making a stink and the Politico blog has picked up the story.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/11 ... tml?hp=l11

I feel terrible for the folks at the NHC and NWS who are going to be harrassed on this issue, instead of being applauded for an AMAZING job on the forecast.
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Re:

#3868 Postby CrazyC83 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:14 am

KBBOCA wrote:Uh oh. This (lack of hurricane warnings) is now one of the top stories in my Google News headlines. Accuweather is making a stink and the Politico blog has picked up the story.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/11 ... tml?hp=l11

I feel terrible for the folks at the NHC and NWS who are going to be harrassed on this issue, instead of being applauded for an AMAZING job on the forecast.


This was a nightmare from the get-go. They only had two options to avoid a REAL nightmare of a late warning shift (an issue that also came up in the Irene Service Assessment, but much more pronounced here):

1) Break the directives and policies, and keep hurricane warnings even after becoming post-tropical

2) Issue as they did to minimize confusion within the directives
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Re:

#3869 Postby wxman57 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:34 am

artist wrote:why do they not issue a separate warning for surge? A surge warning as such? And since it is coming from the hurricanes effects, would be issued by the NHC. And if its beginning up build up was started from a hurricane, it should still remain with the NHC. Just because its core temp has changed doesn't mean that it wasn't due to the 'original' hurricane itself. In a system that large the water had been building up for days. Those characteristics never changed.


The NHC is discussing issuing such warnings soon, but there are issues with considering surge warnings:

1. Unlike other warnings that are based upon certain specific weather criteria (wind speed, for example), a storm surge's damage potential depends on factors other than the surge height. A 5 ft surge into a barrier island with maybe 3ft elevation is a major event, while that same surge striking a coastal area with a 10ft seawall is not. It's not just the surge height that is the issue, it's the topography the surge will impact. So the NHC cannot base a surge warning on projected surge height. Warning requirements will be different for just about every section of the coast due to changes in topography.

2. Storm surge warnings will often have to be issued long before a hurricane warning, as wave setup 24-36 hours ahead of the wind impact could cut off possible evacuations. Therefore, to provide at least 48 hrs warning of a dangerous surge, the warnings would need to go out when the storm may be 72-84 hours from landfall. Unfortunately, track accuracy is not great at that time before landfall - not good enough to be very precise as far as a surge prediction.

Such details need to be worked out before surge warnings will be issued.

Oh, and I think the NHC's efforts to "minimize confusion" actually had the opposite effect.
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Re: Re:

#3870 Postby artist » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:43 am

wxman57 wrote:
artist wrote:why do they not issue a separate warning for surge? A surge warning as such? And since it is coming from the hurricanes effects, would be issued by the NHC. And if its beginning up build up was started from a hurricane, it should still remain with the NHC. Just because its core temp has changed doesn't mean that it wasn't due to the 'original' hurricane itself. In a system that large the water had been building up for days. Those characteristics never changed.


The NHC is discussing issuing such warnings soon, but there are issues with considering surge warnings:

1. Unlike other warnings that are based upon certain specific weather criteria (wind speed, for example), a storm surge's damage potential depends on factors other than the surge height. A 5 ft surge into a barrier island with maybe 3ft elevation is a major event, while that same surge striking a coastal area with a 10ft seawall is not. It's not just the surge height that is the issue, it's the topography the surge will impact. So the NHC cannot base a surge warning on projected surge height. Warning requirements will be different for just about every section of the coast due to changes in topography.

2. Storm surge warnings will often have to be issued long before a hurricane warning, as wave setup 24-36 hours ahead of the wind impact could cut off possible evacuations. Therefore, to provide at least 48 hrs warning of a dangerous surge, the warnings would need to go out when the storm may be 72-84 hours from landfall. Unfortunately, track accuracy is not great at that time before landfall - not good enough to be very precise as far as a surge prediction.

Such details need to be worked out before surge warnings will be issued.

Oh, and I think the NHC's efforts to "minimize confusion" actually had the opposite effect.

Good to hear it is being discussed. I agree, I think it caused much added confusion.
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3871 Postby clifman » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:53 am

Hurricaneman wrote:I think the NHC did the best they could given they could for this hurricane, and not puting hurricane watches and warnings out could be a sore point, but it technically was extratropical at landfall so IMO it was the right call in the end and people should have taken the warnings that were given seriously and not think that high wind warnings < hurricane warnings because in some cases they can be equal


To me the bottom line/salient issue here is that the public has absolutely no idea of the distinction btwn hurricane and extra-tropical. What they understand - and what matters - is the strength of the wind, the height of the surge and the amount of rainfall. As you all know, even the SSHS is imperfect in those regards, but at least it's a general scale with which the public is familiar and can grok.

The purpose of warnings is to warn the public, not make arcane (to the layperson) distinctions btwn storm types. Warnings should be issued regardless of storm type for this simple reason - to alert the public and save lives.

ps - and I concur with those who have advocated for a separate surge warning, as it can vary hugely independent of TS/hurricane category.
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#3872 Postby KBBOCA » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:18 pm

I was sad to read just now that the death toll on Staten Island keeps climbing, including 2 young boys swept out of their mother's arms when their car got caught in the flooding.

From the ABC7 twitter feed:
link: https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=% ... 7&src=typd

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro confirms four more bodies found - at least 19 dead on Staten Island

The storm surge maps had shown the extreme danger for Staten Island. See for example the storm surge graphic I saved and posted on Sunday.

Staten Island was covered in red in that map indicating extreme surge.

BUT, I never heard the risk to Staten Island discussed much in the media briefings. Folks were focused on lower Manhattan (the Battery), the subway flooding, Coney Island, Rockaway, Long Island and the Jersey Shore.

The tragedy in Staten Island is awful.
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#3873 Postby brunota2003 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:30 pm

I think, given the tight spot, the NHC and NWS did amazing! The problem lies, somewhat, in education. People, including EOMs and mayors etc, need to realize that non tropical systems can be just as dangerous and deadly as tropical systems. If a Nor' Easter developed and took the same track, it could easily produce the same damage. Someone needs to sit down with, at the very least, the regional emergency management across the coastline and explain (and show) to them what surge is capable of doing! Everyone, from what I heard, was shocked that roads were destroyed and houses moved by the surge. I know what surge can do, those reports don't surprise me (in fact, with a big surge event, I expect it!)...am I still in awe at the power of water? Yes. Surprised at the damage that occurred? Not so much.

Teach at least some of the "important" people what it can, and ultimately will do, so when it happens they already know what they are going to face after it is over. Knowledge saves lives. Without knowing what could actually happen, you get people thinking they are safe from an 8 ft surge on a 3 ft barrier island!
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#3874 Postby KBBOCA » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:56 pm

Very cool. Just saw a Tweet from ABC News - several NYC weatherman will be ringing the closing bell at the NY Stock Exchange today to honor them for their work.

So excited for @LeeGoldbergABC7 @SamChampion @Evansweather ringing the closing bell at the #NYSE today. @GMA @eyewitnessnyc #SandyABC7

One of the forecasters had hardly been home for 10 days. Check out this REALLY cute picture of a note and treat his daughter left for him!
http://pic.twitter.com/HZYHc728

AWWWWWWW! So cute!
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#3875 Postby KBBOCA » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:00 pm

A good State by State guide to Sandy's impact:

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/1 ... ane-sandy/

Helpful since so much of the media focus is on NYC and the Jersey Shore.
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3876 Postby sammy126 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:30 pm

Why are the storms getting more violent and destructive? Is it due to climate change?
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3877 Postby wxman57 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:52 pm

sammy126 wrote:Why are the storms getting more violent and destructive? Is it due to climate change?


Nope. In fact, the U.S. has seen far fewer major hurricane hits in the past 20 years than back in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3878 Postby HurrMark » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:44 pm

wxman57 wrote:
sammy126 wrote:Why are the storms getting more violent and destructive? Is it due to climate change?


Nope. In fact, the U.S. has seen far fewer major hurricane hits in the past 20 years than back in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.


Agreed... unless something unprecedented happens in November, we would have gone seven consecutive years without a major landfall. And if you go further back, we have gone 11 out of the last 13 years without one (and the one in 1999 hit the most sparsely populated county on the coast). So we really have been lucky...most of the big storms have either shunted out to sea or stayed south.

Mayor Bloomberg feels Sandy was due to global warming, but while it was a devastating storm, it was devastating only because it was in the "right" place at the "right" time...no other reason. The only thing that might be remotely related to global warming was higher than average SSTs, but most really were not on Sandy's track...they were further north.
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Re: ATL: SANDY - Remnants - Discussion

#3879 Postby Terry » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:44 pm

One problem is going to get worse: as climate change raises the levels of the oceans we'll see more surge/flooding problems. Add to that all of the population growth around our coasts and it's not a good thing. If we get back into a period of more major hurricanes.... OUCH.
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#3880 Postby gsytch » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:44 pm

Storms appear to be getting more destructive because we are living in their path, and on islands not meant to house large communities. I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and those islands were just begging for a hit like this. Sand bars do not make a community, nor are for houses to be built no matter the technology. Staten Island was a reclaimed swamp. Do th math. But we will rebuild and do so exactly in the same spots. Terrible tragedy. I live in coastal Tampa Bay, and I do not live on the water for a reason.
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