New $50 million hurricane research center: a bad idea

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:28 PM GMT on July 01, 2009

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Hurricane track forecasts have improved by about 50% over the past twenty years, which has undoubtedly saved many lives and billions of dollars. These forecast improvements have primarily resulted from the investment made in hurricane research, which has been funded at approximately $50 million per year over that period. To me, it is unfathomable that our nation spends so little on scientific research that provides such an incredible value. The President's National Science Board, which makes budget recommendations for the National Science Foundation (NSF), agrees, and recommended a six-fold increase in hurricane research spending to $300 million per year in a 2007 report. But exactly how much "bang for the buck" are we getting from hurricane research? The answer is murky, making it difficult to excite the kind of attention and political appeal needed to give hurricane research funding the big shot in the arm it deserves. However, recent moves by the Obama administration show that they are taking notice of the need to spend more money on hurricane research. But, a recent proposal by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, to build a new $50 million hurricane research center in Orlando, is the wrong way to boost hurricane research.


Figure 1. A science team led by NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD) prepares for a mission into Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Image credit: NOAA/HRD.

How current hurricane research is funded
In 2008, about $50 million was spent by the U.S. government on hurricane research, with about 25% of this total going to maintain the facilities that do the research. The $50 million funded 228 person-years of research. About 35% of this was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the rest of the money coming from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and NASA. An additional $4 million was earmarked by Congress in 2008 to fund NOAA's promising new effort to improve hurricane intensity forecasts--the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP).

Where future funding increases should go: HFIP and JHT
The President's proposed FY 2010 budget continues the roughly $50 million dollars the hurricane research community traditionally gets, but adds $13 million in funding for the HFIP effort. To me, this is a great way to channel new hurricane research funding, as the HFIP effort is heavily focused on improving hurricane intensity forecasts, which have not improved at all over the past twenty years. Specific advancements outlined in the HFIP plan include:

1) Improving hurricane track forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
2) Improving hurricane intensity forecast accuracy by 50% out to 5 days by 2018.
3) Extending the lead time for hurricane forecasts out to 7 days.
4) Reducing the false alarm rate for rapid intensity forecasts.
5) Increasing the probability of detection of rapid intensification.

Another great way to boost hurricane research funding would be to put more money into NOAA's Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) project. This $1 million per year program has funded 50 separate hurricane research efforts over since 2001, 30 of which have been adopted operationally by the National Hurricane Center. Examples of successful JHT projects include the successful integration of the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) surface wind measurement instrument into NHC operations; improvements to the GFDL and HWRF computer models; and improving techniques to make a "consensus" forecast based on the output of our four best computer models. However, no new money for JHT has been proposed in the FY 2010 budget, though some of the money earmarked for HFIP may flow into JHT.

A new $50 million hurricane research center proposed
Instead, a new proposal for hurricane research funding has been championed by Representative Alan Grayson, D-Florida. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Grayson is pushing for a new $50 million hurricane research center to be built in Orlando. He demanded that such a hurricane research center be built in exchange for his vote for the controversial climate change bill passed Friday by the U.S. House, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. There is no language in the actual bill authorizing funds for such a center--Grayson merely has the word of democratic lawmakers, including President Obama, that such a center would be built. "I think it's a very worthwhile project. I look forward to working on it and making it a priority as the legislative process moves along," said U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, in the Orlando Sentinel article. The center could be constructed with funds aimed at helping states "study and adapt to climate change," money that would not be available until 2012 at the earliest. The hurricane center is "among the type of activities that would be eligible to receive funding," Waxman said. "We've never had anything [like this] come into this district before, ever," said Grayson, a freshman lawmaker. "This will be the world-leading facility for hurricane research. This will draw people from all over the world."

Well, I have championed efforts to give more funding to hurricane research over the years, and I think the $300 million per year in funding for the National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board is what is needed. However, I think Grayson's proposed new hurricane center is a bad idea. Florida already has a world-leading facility for hurricane research, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key, and does not need another. The U.S. hurricane research community has an infrastructure in place that works, and the best way to foster hurricane research is to pump money into this existing infrastructure. I talked with a number of senior hurricane research scientists about the idea of a new hurricane research center, and none of them supported it. It's great that Rep. Grayson's wants to put new much-needed funding into hurricane research, but he didn't consult with the experts to see if a new research center was a good way to do this. It isn't. Where are all of the scientists needed to staff such a center going to come from? Presumably, they will be drawn from existing successful research teams, leading to the disruption of these proven research efforts. Adding a new national research center with a new bureaucracy with new management needing on-the-job training will dilute and distract from current hurricane research efforts, and is not a good way to spend $50 million. Several senior hurricane research scientists are going to be reaching out to Rep. Grayson over the next few months to make him more aware of the abilities and needs of the hurricane research community. Hopefully, these efforts will result in a more productive way for the Congressman to boost hurricane research. If you live in Rep. Grayson's district, I recommend you contact him to express your desire to see him champion a more effective way to boost hurricane research than with his proposed $50 million hurricane research center. Putting the $50 million into the National Hurricane Research Initiative (HFIP) effort would be a better use of the funds. To his credit, Rep. Grayson is a co-sponsor of the National Hurricane Research Initiative of 2009 (H.R. 327), a bill introduced into the House of Representatives on January 8, 2009. This bill is a lesser ($150 million per year) version of the $300 million per year National Hurricane Research Initiative proposed in 2007 by the President's National Science Board.

Good links for HFIP information are at:

http://www.nrc.noaa.gov/HFIPDraftPlan.html
http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/workshop20 09/presentations/1_Gall_HRH%20HFIP%20presentation. pdf

Some summaries of recent HFIP activities in the last year are at:

http://www.dtcenter.org/plots/hrh_test/index.php
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/research/tropical _cyclones/hfip/workshop_2009/

My next post will be Friday, when I'll have the first half of July hurricane outlook.

Jeff Masters

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333. IKE
Levi32....the facts are...there hasn't been a named system in the Atlantic. I know what you're saying but, the totals so far are.....0-0-0.

I agree, 90L looked like a TS and I wish a recon had flown in before it landed.

So far.....

0
0
0.
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Quoting IKE:


It's cooled off here...down to 92.3.
Today has been the first day my AC hasn't been running nonstop in quiet awhile. It's currently 73... too bad I can't be outside to enjoy the temperature.
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CFS Forecast History

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The CFS model did a very good job in 2008, even though long-range models display little accuracy.

==============================================

Easterly anomaly indicating El Nino conditions



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329. IKE
Quoting Michfan:


Feels about the same here at Fort Rucker in SE Alabama. Not a drop in god knows how long.


It's cooled off here...down to 92.3.
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If the invests in May had been named, we would already be up to Bill, and people would be screaming that it was going to be another 2005-like year. In a situation like that Adrian's downplay would be very necessary to still the hype. In the reality situation that we have now where there have been no storms yet, albeit that it's normal, some people take that as a sign of a non-season and lose their guard. In that case it's good to remind people of the dangers of any season and that it only takes one storm out of the total that form to ruin somebody's life.

I guess there always has to be balancing. Some people overreact to everything, and depending on which way the hype is going, there has to be counteraction to keep people within reason in their thinking about the season. Long-term residents near hurricane-prone areas don't even need to be reminded about the potential dangers of every year, but there are always those who need reminders that not every early-starting season is going to be a blow-out and not every slow-starting season is going to be a bust, and that anybody can be hit anywhere, any year.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting RMM34667:
Thanks Levi and Haha.. This is very good news. Not that I want the flooding, and no one should need their sprinkler in the near future. But it would be nice NOT to have to get up at midnight to water the lawn once a week! I hope they lift the restrictions soon.
They won't life the restrictions until the water has had sufficient time to reach the aquifer... which takes a while.
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Thanks Levi and Haha.. This is very good news. Not that I want the flooding, and no one should need their sprinkler in the near future. But it would be nice NOT to have to get up at midnight to water the lawn once a week! I hope they lift the restrictions soon.
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Quoting IKE:


I'm up here in the desert Florida panhandle. Had about a tenth of an inch in the last 3+ weeks.



Feels about the same here at Fort Rucker in SE Alabama. Not a drop in god knows how long.
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Quoting Levi32:


It seems to be with the exception of NW Florida:



Drought Monitor shows no significant drought:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting Weather456:
What Adrian/hurricane23 is doing is bringing the wrong perception to the general population. Every single post he thinks the season is a bust, storm number-wise. But what about human impact, how can you predict that? how can you downplay that? How can you predict that out of the 6 named storms 5, impacted someone, somewhere?, how I ask you? The season is expected to be near normal, and we already know that (heck I prediected 12 named storms) but you remind us of it almost single day! But none of the experts have downplayed the importance of being prepared.


Preparedness is the key to safety. This year has been very anomolous with respect to expectations. The models have been out to lunch. Just look at some of the record cold temps registered for the month of June. The NE US had the 8th coldest June on record and that was exhibited in many other areas of the globe in both hemispheres. While we had 100+ for to long in the SE US. This would be the year to expect the unexpected in my novice book. L8R, gettin my galoshes out to go stomp some puddles.
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Thanks Levi!
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Quoting RMM34667:
I was wondering if anyone could post the current drought index for FL? And I was wondering if our "3 year drought" was over?

TIA


Link
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting RMM34667:
I was wondering if anyone could post the current drought index for FL? And I was wondering if our "3 year drought" was over?

TIA


It seems to be with the exception of NW Florida:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
I was wondering if anyone could post the current drought index for FL? And I was wondering if our "3 year drought" was over?

TIA
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Tampa is about to reach its average July rainfall of 5.3". It is the first day of the month haha
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317. IKE
(CNN) -- Mississippi has kept its U.S. heavyweight title for a fifth straight year, among both adults and children.

The percentage of adults classified as obese went up in 23 states, but Mississippi, with 32.5 percent, stayed atop the latest annual rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health. The same survey put the state's adult obesity rate at 31.7 percent in 2008.

In addition, 44.4 percent of Mississippi children ages 10 to 17 are classified as overweight or obese, the study found.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
I have a question to the experts.Does the 6 month forecast of shear reliable?

I ask because I saw that earlier posted and see that the EPAC is Orange and Brown meaning tons of shear and that basin is supposed to be active in a El Nino year.


Not that I consider myself an expert, but the forecast for high shear in the east Pacific doesn't make much sense to me. If anything the enhanced convection in the area that El Nino generates builds an anomalous upper ridge which provides lower wind shear in the eastern Pacific. I don't have the numbers on how accurate the CFS has been, but last month's forecast predicted the same high shear for the east Pacific in June, but the actual shear values in the east Pacific for the month of June were near or below climatological average.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting aspectre:
266 nrtiwlnvragn "NWS got their new computer(s)."

Thanks, good to hear. So did they come with or without the ban on using those weather computers for climate predictions?
BTW I swapped my postings on 241 and 260

JeffMasters "However, I think Grayson's proposed new hurricane center is a bad idea. Florida already has a world-leading facility for hurricane research, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key"

Which seems somewhat like having a VA hospital in the middle of an Army artillery range.
At least ya don't hafta worry about Orlando washing away.


I am not aware of any restrictions or if there are restrictions. I would think with the new adminstration that would not be an issue, at least for the next 3 1/2 years.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10876
Quoting Weather456:
What Adrian/hurricane23 is doing is bringing the wrong perception to the general population. I every single post he thinks the season is a bust, storm number-wise. But what about human impact, how can you predict that? how can you downplay that? How can you predict that out of the 6 named storms 5, impacted someone, somewhere?, how I ask you? The season is expected to be near normal, and we already know but you remind us of it almost single day! But none of the experts have downplayed the importance of being prepared.


Yep, all you gotta do is look at 1992. Hey that Rymed.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23574
What Adrian/hurricane23 is doing is bringing the wrong perception to the general population. Every single post he thinks the season is a bust, storm number-wise. But what about human impact, how can you predict that? how can you downplay that? How can you predict that out of the 6 named storms 5, impacted someone, somewhere?, how I ask you? The season is expected to be near normal, and we already know that (heck I prediected 12 named storms) but you remind us of it almost single day! But none of the experts have downplayed the importance of being prepared.
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I have a question to the experts.Does the 6 month forecast of shear reliable?

I ask because I saw that earlier posted and see that the EPAC is Orange and Brown meaning tons of shear and that basin is supposed to be active in a El Nino year.
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Quoting NRAamy:
Crocs are in Florida

we've got them in Calif too...those shoes are everywhere...I want a pair in hot pink, but they cost too much...maybe ebay has some knock-offs....


Just get ya one of them IOU's they started handing out today in Cali :)
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Quoting AllStar17:
I am watching the convective blowup north of Costa Rica and Panama. 93L developed in a similar fashion, so I am keeping an eye on it. I know that there is an ULL near Jamaica, but it seems to be moving west.


The thunderstorms are being caused by a upper divergence on the south side of the upper low in the western Caribbean coupled with instability associated with the Columbian Heat Low. And sorry but no 93L did not develop from anything like this.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
306 Dakster "Crocs are in Florida... I was shocked to learn this too, but a recent visit to the Sawgrass Recerational Park in Palm Beach County taught me otherwise. They are not as common as Alligators... IIRC, Caymans are the most common, but I could be wrong on that."

The (North)American crocodile is an endangered species. And the cayman is an invasive species "introduced to Florida waterways through the pet trade, and is now commonly found in canals of southeast Florida. The exotic speckled caiman is native to Latin America."
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Tampa flood feed..Link
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Crocs are in Florida

we've got them in Calif too...those shoes are everywhere...I want a pair in hot pink, but they cost too much...maybe ebay has some knock-offs....
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Quoting CaneWarning:


According to Wiki they can go into salt water but they cant live in it. It also says crocs can live in salt water, but I've never heard of a croc in Florida.


Crocs are in Florida... I was shocked to learn this too, but a recent visit to the Sawgrass Recerational Park in Palm Beach County taught me otherwise. They are not as common as Alligators... IIRC, Caymans are the most common, but I could be wrong on that.
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"Anyone notice that the blog time is an hour behind? Mine says 3:40EST."

...which would be correct. However, the clocks in your house are probably all set to EDT.

I see this all the time where people use *ST to abbreviate time all year...
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Anyone have a good link to current SSTs? The site I normally use hasn't been updated in forever. Not sure what's going on with it. I just have to believe the SSTs in the GOM are through the roof.


Link
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Anyone have a good link to current SSTs? The site I normally use hasn't been updated in forever. Not sure what's going on with it. I just have to believe the SSTs in the GOM are through the roof.
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Quoting Seastep:


Have to set it to EDT....

Thanx..
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266 nrtiwlnvragn "NWS got their new computer(s)."

Thanks, good to hear. So did they come with or without the ban on using those weather computers for climate predictions?
BTW I swapped my postings on 241 and 260

JeffMasters "However, I think Grayson's proposed new hurricane center is a bad idea. Florida already has a world-leading facility for hurricane research, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key"

Which seems somewhat like having a VA hospital in the middle of an Army artillery range.
At least ya don't hafta worry about Orlando washing away.
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
Anyone notice that the blog time is an hour behind? Mine says 3:40EST.


Have to set it to EDT....
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I am watching the convective blowup north of Costa Rica and Panama. 93L developed in a similar fashion, so I am keeping an eye on it. I know that there is an ULL near Jamaica, but it seems to be moving west.
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Quoting robbieNDBC:


Yep that's the building! I find it hard to believe there's a basement anywhere in this state! That's pretty cool.

What meteorology office is located there? Are they in affiliation with the NWS near the mall?


Check mail.
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Quoting NRAamy:
my time is correct too....maybe you just have a hangover?

lol...my cookie was bad...I had to turn off my computer here bc of the storms...
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Sad story today involving a snake

Link



That is extremely sad, but people really need to understand the danger of owning snakes like that. I had a Burmese for a year and a half...less than 2 feet long when I got her, and 9 feet by the end of the first year. I turned her over to a friend that was permitted for it. Burms tend to be one of the more unpredictable constrictors, and mine developed a bit of an attitude problem despite being held regularly and fed properly. After a certain point, a large snake like that can become more of a liability than a joy to have around. In the wild, a snake like that will likely be preying on larger mammals, and it's only natural that it would mistake a small child for a food source. Extremely sad, yes, but avoidable.
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my time is correct too....maybe you just have a hangover?
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
Anyone notice that the blog time is an hour behind? Mine says 3:40EST.


My time is correct.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Anyone notice that the blog time is an hour behind? Mine says 3:40EST.
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Quoting Chicklit:
2004 Continued...
July
The first tropical system of the Atlantic season formed approximately 175 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina on July 31st. Tropical Depression One was initially poorly organized and did not show signs of significant intensification. However, the storm became Hurricane Alex during the first few days of August...


shsshhhhhhhh!! You can't compare this season to 2004, only 2006 and 1914! ;) I Joke of course.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23574
Quoting GBguy88:
Hey TampaFLUSA, what storm is that in your picture? That thing is mammoth.

The 1993 'Storm of the Century'...it was mammoth...Link
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Quoting Levi32:


No, but I'm glad that people are noticing it, because fronts in the Gulf of Mexico are things to be watched. In this case the upper trough is digging in and creating a baroclinic zone that is driving all the moisture and energy away to the NE. Basically the energy is getting funneled away from the tail-end of the front and not allowing it to consolidate enough to form a tropical low.



I've noticed it because it's been dumping rain on my head all day!!!
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I'd welcome an event just so it's not a repeat of '04...
Link
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11176
Hey TampaFLUSA, what storm is that in your picture? That thing is mammoth.
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Sad story today involving a snake

Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10876
Quoting NRAamy:
283. hahaguy 1:27 PM PDT on July 01, 2009
I usually see a gator or two getting a tan across the street from my house on the banks of my pond


you mean my Aunt Edna and her friend Golda?


You could say that lol.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
283. hahaguy 1:27 PM PDT on July 01, 2009
I usually see a gator or two getting a tan across the street from my house on the banks of my pond


you mean my Aunt Edna and her friend Golda?
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I usually see a gator or two getting a tan across the street from my house on the banks of my pond.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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