From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for December 2012

Hurricane Warnings : A New Policy-NOT YET

December 5, 2012 - 06:13 PM

A late update.  Here is the statement just issued from NWS Public affairs.    "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"  .So nothing has changed. . .yet


Since Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast, NOAA and the National Weather Service have been criticized by many for not continuing "Hurricane Warnings" North of North Carolina, but rather issuing "Hurricane Force Wind Warnings".  Almost everything was covered in this warning map from the National Weather Service except a "Hurricane Warning" along the shore that sure would have gotten attention.  

Forecasters expected Sandy's temperature structure to change as it merged with a strong jet stream wave from the west and for a meteorological definition, technically not be a hurricane.  For the millions hit by Sandy, and the devastation it caused, it will always be Hurricane Sandy.  Today, as first reported on the National Hurricane Center said it will change the warning policy/criteria for storms such as Sandy.  This was confirmed to me today by NOAA officials.  Here is the relevant quote from Chris Landsea at the National Hurricane Center as reported by accuweather.

 An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical, sub-tropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

"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 

At the end of each hurricane season NOAA holds an internal review.  This meeting was held last Tuesday and Wednesday.  With the reactions to the warnings of Sandy so fresh and the confusion that the wordings many have created, the decision was made to institute this new policy.  It sure makes sense to myself and I think most other broadcast meteorologists.  The policy also now appears consistent with the policy of the Canadian Hurricane Center which sure makes sense.  The bottom line is that this new policy should lead to a consistent message, better decisions, and we sure all hope help save lives.

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Record warm day: Does this mean a mild winter?

December 3, 2012 - 04:41 PM

What a December day.  Records not only set here in Washington but across the country from Iowa to North Carolina.  Look at these afternoon temperatures.  Sure more at home in October than December.  


  So now you might be wondering, does this record start to December mean a "mild" winter?  Remember that "winter" for weather and climate records are the months December, January and February.  Let's go to the records as they say.  I looked at the record high temperatures set in the first 10 days of December.  Today was a record 71° 

Remember December 1998?  We set 3 record highs in that first week of December so I only counted 1998 once.  So 8 years with record highs for the first 10 days of December.  Four times those record warm December days were followed by a "mild" winter.  The winter of 2001-2002 following the record high 75° on December 5 was 5 degrees above average! 

But there were also 4 winters, following record highs in early December than were colder than average!!  The record high of 74° on December 8, 1978 was followed by a winter almost 3° colder than average

So the answer, just looking at the record books is NO-record highs in the beginning of December DO NOT mean a mild winter will follow.  You'll just have to stay tuned and to most of us, it still looks like an average to even a bit colder than average colder winter.  Still many days ahead snow lovers.


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