Irene sends 4.5 foot storm surge up Chesapeake Bay

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011

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The eye of Hurricane Irene is back over water, after the hurricane completed a 11-hour crossing of eastern North Carolina. Irene came ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am EDT this morning as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 115 mph at 7:19am, as measured by a Department of Transportation official. I suspect this measurement came when a thunderstorm near Irene's center collapsed, sending a powerful downburst to the surface. A trained spotter on Atlantic Beach, NC measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. However, no regular weather station or buoy has measured sustained hurricane force winds in Irene, with the highest winds being 67 mph at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy as Irene made landfall. Winds have peaked along the coast of Virginia, where sustained winds of 61 mph were observed at 6 pm EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Irene's passage over land weakened the storm slightly, and satellite loops show more dry air has wrapped into the storm. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is still very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area--but there is much less rain over the storm's southeastern quadrant, over water. Radar-estimated rainfall shows a 50 mile-wide band of 8+ inches of rain has fallen from where Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, northwards to Dover, Delaware. Some isolated amounts of 15+ inches may have fallen, according to the radar estimates. Bunyan, NC has received 14.00" so far, and the towns of Washington, New Bern, Grifton, Newport-Croatan, Wonona, NC, all received more than ten inches. Norfolk, Virginia had received 7.73" as of 7pm EDT, and Suffolk, Virginia, 8.00".


Figure 1. True-color MODIS image of Hurricane Irene over North Carolina taken at 11:35 am EDT August 27, 2011. At the time, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the storm's greatest damage. High tide is near 7 - 8 pm EDT tonight, meaning that the storm surges occurring now will be some of Irene's most damaging. The highest surges measured at any of NOAA's regular tide gauges at 8 pm were 4.5 feet at Sewells Point in Norfolk Virginia and Oregon Inlet, NC. Higher surges are occurring father inland where narrow inlets funnel the storm surge to higher elevations. It remains unclear if the ocean will overtop Manhattan's sea wall at The Battery Sunday morning during the 8 am high tide. Latest storm surge forecasts from SUNY Stony Brook predict a peak water level of 2.4 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at 7:15 am Sunday, which would put the ocean right at the top of the sea wall. Presumably, waves from the hurricane's winds would then push some water over the top of the wall, but it is uncertain whether or not this would cause significant flooding. The storm surge was already 1 foot at 8 pm tonight. Storm surge flooding continues to be a major concern all along the coast of Long Island Sound; I recommend the SUNY Stony Brook storm surge page for those interested in looking at observed and predicted storm surge levels along coast New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.


Figure 2. Storm surge at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, Virginia as of 8 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011. The green line is the storm surge, which is the difference between the observed water level (red line) and what the water level should have been without the hurricane (blue line). At 8 pm, the storm surge was 4.5 feet. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 6:30 pm EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's shrinking hurricane-force winds (yellow and orange colors.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene over water, but very few areas of land were receiving tropical storm force winds. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
The emergence of Irene's eye over water will slow the storm's rate of weakening, but the storm is under too much wind shear to allow it to intensify. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, and also the large majority of the tropical storm-force winds. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 50 - 60 mph. Coastal areas of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the New York CIty area will mostly see top winds in the 40 - 55 mph range, since they will be on the weaker left side of the storm. Winds on the upper floors of skyscrapers will be up to 30% higher, but I expect there will be only isolated problems with New York City skyscrapers suffering blown out windows. The winds from Irene in New York City will be no worse than those experienced during some of the city's major Nor'easter winter storms of the past twenty years.

Tornadoes
Four tornadoes have been spawned by Irene, two in coastal North Carolina last night, and two in coastal Virginia today. At least two homes have been destroyed, and ten others damaged by the tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for all of coastal Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

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92 could follow Irenes foot steps
Member Since: February 13, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 294
Quoting weatherguy03:
Irene and Our Next Possible Threat For The U.S.


Thanks!!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
I can't believe the things I'm reading over the web about this storm. It's a storm, that means a threat to life. Just because one person isn't feeling the effects of wind and rain and storm surge doesn't mean someone else isn't!

Billions in damages
Thousands upon thousands of people without power
Flooding

So what if it isn't a Cat 3, it's still a huge system that has moved up the EC and caused a lot of problems a long the way. What about the aftermath? There are people that will have their lives seriously interrupted and seriously affected not to mention the loss of life so far.

It's quite sad that sensationalism has gripped people to such an extent that they lose all sense of reason. Nobody is invincible and we should all learn to respect mother nature a bit.

*rant over*
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Quoting txag91met:


There are so many untrained so-called meteorologists out there. I have been forecasting for 20 years, and I have BS, MS degrees in meteorology. But I still think the NWS should be privatized. a) more money for top forecasters...right now I have to compete with NWS. If I didn't have the NWS and only had their data, I could easily start my own company and compete. Competition creates the best forecasts!
If you didn't the NWS you wouldn't have their data
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The 3 million, and increasing, people without power are thanking the NHC for warning them to stock up on water, food, and fuel. Those that didn't are wondering if it will be hours or days before the lights come back on.
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Quoting weatherh98:
Okay my use of the and and and buttons is about to skyrocket... weather blog guys, lets talk about weather now.... you know howawesome a cold front fels, no humidity is amazin



you no what we can talk about what evere the heck we want has long has we dont get too off topic
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Quoting P451:


Surprised at that joke considering your home country got raked by the same storm.


We have mostly recovered, at least in my area. Very shocking that some areas don't have power yet, but today's weather will help out. I feel bad for the old lady that drowned in a river here.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5694
Quoting WhoDat42:
Better to overhype and be safe than underestimate and be Sorry!!
I agree. Overhyping the storm prompted people to vacate their homes at areas that are hit by Irene and thus preventing more deaths.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Accuweather will never let it's control of it's promise of a lovely day at Disney go... Most people don't realize they are owned by Disney. They do use it to their advantage.

Privatizing weather would be disastrous. These corporations would control what you see.


Absolutely!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Okay my use of the and and and buttons is about to skyrocket... weather blog guys, lets talk about weather now.... you know howawesome a cold front fels, no humidity is amazin
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Xyrus2000:


And screw over anyone who couldn't afford your "services".

There are times when the greater good outweighs your right to make a profit. Weather information is one of those times. And don't bring up that "competition will keep prices competitive" crap, because you're kidding yourself if you think for one second that a company like TWC wouldn't do everything in it's power to destroy any competition. They would monopolize then lock down the data, and only those willing to pay would get the info. And considering how valuable that info is everyone would pay through the nose to get it (except those who can't afford it, but who cares about them anyway right?).

There are very good reasons why things like the fire department, police, and yes even the weather service are NOT private. When you operate critical safety services in a way that puts profit above everything else, the only people who don't end up suffering are those that can afford their "protection payments". Just read up on what happened with the for-profit fire protections services. "That's a nice business you have there. Be a shame if it burned down now wouldn't it?"

Of all the many perspicacious things you've said, this is the most perspicacious of all. ;-) To echo your sentiment: some things are simply too important to leave up to privatization. I'm not a proponent of a heavy government hand in everything--but those motivated solely by profit have proven over the centuries that they simply can't be trusted to police themselves. Period.
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1524. K8eCane
Is there anyone in my area that is hurting and need some kind of help? I will do what I can if so. Im in Wilmington
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Quoting odinslightning:




I find it amazing to see how well tracking works nowadays. I do apologize earlier this week for getting mad about tracking, I was flaming at all the downcasting and i was worried people would get hurt cuz trollers in here would post bogus info.. 10 days out the models pegged this. Didn't the UKMET have the track almost exact like 5-7 days out? That's amazing considering how bad forecasting used to be.


Levi had it pegged early-on, as well, as I recall. I pretty much ignored the Irene noise, and listened to Levi's assessments.
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Quoting odinslightning:




I find it amazing to see how well tracking works nowadays. I do apologize earlier this week for getting mad about tracking, I was flaming at all the downcasting and i was worried people would get hurt cuz trollers in here would post bogus info.. 10 days out the models pegged this. Didn't the UKMET have the track almost exact like 5-7 days out? That's amazing considering how bad forecasting used to be.

Also, even the NHC clearly states that the worst part of modeling now is predicting the intensity. They are working on getting better, but it is the weakest link.

For everyone bashing NHC and the metero's that warned you.....Look back at the Long Island Express and thank god that at least someone is watching the tower protecting you nowadays. It is better to error on the side of safety as opposed to ignoring those trying to help you. What you have lost is a few bucks in supplies (all reusuable for other good purposes or returnable with your receipt) and some hours of preparing. What you could have lost is your life, and then what would your money, stuff, and time mean if you were dead??


On that note, I do want to apologize to some of you in here, notably Nea.....I went back and checked the old NHS warnings on Katrina and you are right. Back then i was a cat adjuster but I wasn't into weather as much as I am now......I do remember that back then I heard from some reputable source as saying Katrina would die across Fla and she wouldn't reform. So in my mind because I wasn't as into weather as much as I am now I just always related that as the official forecast. I do sincerely apologize for my comments 2 days ago when the Irene was approaching 75w/23n.

Personally I thank god for Bill Read and everyone in Miami. If it wasn't for them just imagine how many more people would be hurt on a yearly basis, and that's not just Americans, they watch the tower for Central America, the Caribbean, etc. They have saved countless lives....in just a given year (take your pick what year)...... let alone the years and years of service combined.....
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Quoting cloudburst2011:



you are the troll pal you been a troll ever since you came on this blog...i dont like your attitude it sucks like you do...you need to get a life no one is accusing the NHC of anything...i think they did a great job on IRENE...what would they have to criticize them about...do tell pall...


Wow...guess you told him, huh? I think we all know who the troll is now
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
@1501 Neapolitan
Seems to be a little less of what was expected, but still pretty bad.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5694
Quoting Neapolitan:
92L winds @ 25 knots, pressure @ 1010. Look for this one to ramp up comparatively quickly;

AL, 92, 2011082812, , BEST, 0, 105N, 215W, 25, 1010, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1013, 180, 90, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,


I know it is too early for track prediction for 92L but any thoughts would be good to hear.
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Better to overhype and be safe than underestimate and be Sorry!!
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1516. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Taylor26:


In a knowledge economy, the business model is all about monopoly position. In weather forecasting, you obtain that by being the only outfit in town with the resources to collect the information. Right now, you the taxpayer pay for that, and as a result the information is free to all. Kill of NWS, and you eventually end up with a private monopoly that has all the information.

Everybody okay with e.g. TWC being your only (and I do mean, only, after they kill off competition) source of weather information?




Accuweather will never let it's control of it's promise of a lovely day at Disney go... Most people don't realize they are owned by Disney. They do use it to their advantage.

Privatizing weather would be disastrous. These corporations would control what you see.
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Quoting BanTech:


I didn't say it wasn't a deadly or serious storm....I said it was over-hyped....which it was....to the likes I have never seen before. The media made it out as the apocalypse.
stand up against these arm chair forecasters its more dangerous to sit around posting on blogs all day than take a walk in the 40mph storm! heart disease? go to the store today look around usa is flabby! nhc nailed this one
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most television sets with which I'm acquainted can be set to a different channel...or turned off....just, as they say.....sayin'....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
1511. K8eCane

Quoting presslord:

\
I haven't heard...
well we definitely dodged a major bullet...no pun intended
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Quoting FLdewey:

The writers at Fox News?

(Does it count if they make the future up to match the fake stories?)


LOL...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
1508. HarryMc
Quoting Neapolitan:
Here's your "overhype":

-- New York City's Hudson and East Rivers have overflowed .
-- River water is flooding into Manhattan's streets.
-- 3 million people are without electricity and FEMA officials say it could be days before power is restored.
-- Parts of outer Philadelphia were flooded as high as street-sign levels.
-- At least 11 have died in five states due to the storm.

As I stated earlier, it's possible--and even likely--that TWC and other media outlets have overplayed their hands. But only someone truly lacking in perspective and weather knowledge would accuse the NHC and FEMA of doing so.


+
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Quoting TybeeJoe:

That link was a 404


http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/08/27/do-real ly-need-national-weather-service/


This might work, or try googling - Do we really need a national weather service?

I am NOT putting down the NWS, merely pointing out a reference to WU.
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As if you needed the evidence, this thread proves you can't please everyone...
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TropicalStormIrene's average travel-speed increased to 26.5mph(42.6k/h) between 6amGMTto12pmGMT
from the 17.3mph(27.9k/h) between 12amGMTto6amGMT

H.Irene's_12pmGMT_ATCF : Starting 27August_12pmGMT and ending 28August_12pmGMT

The 4 southern line-segments represent (Hurricane then)TropicalStormIrene's path
(AIY's red dot touches, nearly bisects the most recent line-segment)
and the northernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.

Using straightline projection of the travel-speed&heading derived from the ATCF coordinates spanning the 6hours between 6amGMT then 12pmGMT :
TS.Irene's travel-speed was 26.5mph(42.6k/h) on a heading of 17.4degrees(NNE)
TS.Irene was headed toward passing near WahconahFallsStatePark,Massachusetts for the
6pmGMT
(PSF is PittsfieldMunicipalAirport)

Copy&paste 34.7n76.6w-35.5n76.3w, 35.5n76.3w-36.7n75.7w, 36.7n75.7w-38.1n75.0w, 38.1n75.0w-40.3n74.1w, aiy, 3n6, jfk, 38.1n75.0w-42.5n73.13w, psf into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

The previous mapping (for 28August_6amGMT)
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Quoting aerojad:
I really don't understand all the knives coming out for the NHC this morning. They did a rather excellent job on the track forecast. Obviously with the unusual lack of mixing of flight-level winds down to the surface this means that the numbers it should have been, it wasn't. The whole dynamic of this storm really changed when the eyewall collapsed. At that point we ended up with an odd hybrid of a tropical system with an extratropical system's windfield characteristics.

These large windfield type storms are not that common in the Atlantic, nor are these storms with difficulty mixing the windspeed down to the surface as efficiently as it should. Still, weather forecasting isn't an exact science, it's a learning one. Each and every storm that comes and goes is an opportunity to learn just a bit more.

How can you blame someone for erring on the side of caution? The mission of the NHC is to help protect lives by providing accurate and actionable information to the public. Even with all the warnings in the world ten people still died. Would you have rather the NHC under-estimated the storm and inspired less evacuations? Even if it would have led to a few more deaths?

You can't blame the NHC for the media hype. The 1980's media and 1990's media would have taken this and run in a completely different direction than today's media, which seems hell bent on broadcasting a real life version of a segment from a Hollywood disaster flick. You can't blame the NHC for that. All they did was provide data.

When there is a tornado warning and you take shelter, are you upset when your home, or hundreds of other homes are not leveled when the storm passes? No? Then why are some people coming across as upset that the Atlantic seaboard from Wilmington to Jersey hasn't been wiped out?

Predicting the future isn't 100% accurate. That's okay.

Excellent. 10,000 points... ;-)
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1502. MZT
Quoting Jax82:
FOXNEWS is painful to watch. They just showed a reporter a reporter with an english accent showing some flooding in a parking lot. Meanwhile there are people walking around, sitting on benches, etc. I cant watch anymore, they are trying too hard.
Enjoy the comedy. It's especially good when they're talking about how bad it is, and you see someone in the background walking a dog or taking a smoke break! :-}
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 793
Here's your "overhype":

-- New York City's Hudson and East Rivers have overflowed .
-- River water is flooding into Manhattan's streets.
-- 3 million people are without electricity and FEMA officials say it could be days before power is restored.
-- Parts of outer Philadelphia were flooded as high as street-sign levels.
-- At least 11 have died in five states due to the storm.

As I stated earlier, it's possible--and even likely--that TWC and other media outlets have overplayed their hands. But only someone truly lacking in perspective and weather knowledge would accuse the NHC and FEMA of doing so.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1499. aerojad
I really don't understand all the knives coming out for the NHC this morning. They did a rather excellent job on the track forecast. Obviously with the unusual lack of mixing of flight-level winds down to the surface this means that the numbers it should have been, it wasn't. The whole dynamic of this storm really changed when the eyewall collapsed. At that point we ended up with an odd hybrid of a tropical system with an extratropical system's windfield characteristics.

These large windfield type storms are not that common in the Atlantic, nor are these storms with difficulty mixing the windspeed down to the surface as efficiently as it should. Still, weather forecasting isn't an exact science, it's a learning one. Each and every storm that comes and goes is an opportunity to learn just a bit more.

How can you blame someone for erring on the side of caution? The mission of the NHC is to help protect lives by providing accurate and actionable information to the public. Even with all the warnings in the world ten people still died. Would you have rather the NHC under-estimated the storm and inspired less evacuations? Even if it would have led to a few more deaths?

You can't blame the NHC for the media hype. The 1980's media and 1990's media would have taken this and run in a completely different direction than today's media, which seems hell bent on broadcasting a real life version of a segment from a Hollywood disaster flick. You can't blame the NHC for that. All they did was provide data.

When there is a tornado warning and you take shelter, are you upset when your home, or hundreds of other homes are not leveled when the storm passes? No? Then why are some people coming across as upset that the Atlantic seaboard from Wilmington to Jersey hasn't been wiped out?

Predicting the future isn't 100% accurate. That's okay.
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Quoting fmhurricane2009:


I guess Jose saw The Weather Channel yesterday and he followed suit!


thats cold hahaha
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Quoting spayandneuter:


I am listening to your Fire Department radio right now and there are calls flooding in about downed power lines and downed trees........be careful! Also flooding from the canals, but not sure where those are. they mentioned 135? Lots of roads closed due to flooding from canals.


Just did a full walk around the area. There is a bit more low lying flooding than I saw before, both on the beach side and on the bay side. The winds peaked about an hour ago and are still gusty but slowly on their way down. The beach itself got raked over pretty good, once the waves recede a bit this evening I'll be interested to see how it has changed.

There are some trees down, mainly ones that had weak roots it seems, but there appears to be very little structural or even roof damage to homes out here.
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1496. Skyepony (Mod)
4 million+ without power..
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Quoting K8eCane:

Hey Press...They definitely got it worse further north in NC than us here in Wilmington. Do you know if anybody ever heard from Grandpato4? Had him on my mind all through this thing

\
I haven't heard...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
They seem sad on the weather channel.

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Quoting txag91met:


There are so many untrained so-called meteorologists out there. I have been forecasting for 20 years, and I have BS, MS degrees in meteorology. But I still think the NWS should be privatized. a) more money for top forecasters...right now I have to compete with NWS. If I didn't have the NWS and only had their data, I could easily start my own company and compete. Competition creates the best forecasts!


And screw over anyone who couldn't afford your "services".

There are times when the greater good outweighs your right to make a profit. Weather information is one of those times. And don't bring up that "competition will keep prices competitive" crap, because you're kidding yourself if you think for one second that a company like TWC wouldn't do everything in it's power to destroy any competition. They would monopolize then lock down the data, and only those willing to pay would get the info. And considering how valuable that info is everyone would pay through the nose to get it (except those who can't afford it, but who cares about them anyway right?).

There are very good reasons why things like the fire department, police, and yes even the weather service are NOT private. When you operate critical safety services in a way that puts profit above everything else, the only people who don't end up suffering are those that can afford their "protection payments". Just read up on what happened with the for-profit fire protections services. "That's a nice business you have there. Be a shame if it burned down now wouldn't it?"
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Quoting txag91met:


There are so many untrained so-called meteorologists out there. I have been forecasting for 20 years, and I have BS, MS degrees in meteorology. But I still think the NWS should be privatized. a) more money for top forecasters...right now I have to compete with NWS. If I didn't have the NWS and only had their data, I could easily start my own company and compete. Competition creates the best forecasts!


In a knowledge economy, the business model is all about monopoly position. In weather forecasting, you obtain that by being the only outfit in town with the resources to collect the information. Right now, you the taxpayer pay for that, and as a result the information is free to all. Kill of NWS, and you eventually end up with a private monopoly that has all the information.

Everybody okay with e.g. TWC being your only (and I do mean, only, after they kill off competition) source of weather information?


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Quoting stillwaiting:
72mph unooficial gust in plymoth mass,as i was sayn,i expectsect ,providence and boston to have higher winds than nyc



the strongest winds did relocate to the eastern quads overnight. that's gonna mean more wind peril across the NE states.
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


But the carolinas didn't start the codes until after Hugo...been lurking for a bit...leaving...the complaining that people didn't get slammed like predicted is just nuts...only GOD knows everything, the fact that the storm weakened (thanking God) and did not innundate 10 states is a blessing but something that the models did not see...i think the deaths that are confirmed (Darwin or not) don't matter anymore...i am over it...hope that no one else dies from storms this year...whether it is 1,000 or just one...it did make a difference in SOMEONES life

+++++++
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1488. Skyepony (Mod)
Flood~ You got a point..maybe I'm jaded that this wasn't so over hyped because I don't watch TWC.
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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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