Interview with the NW Florida Daily News - Part 3

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:48 PM GMT on June 07, 2006

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This is part 3 of an interview I did with the Northwest Florida Daily News of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, that was published on Sunday, May 28. The questions were posed to me by Del Stone Jr., Deputy Managing Editor and self-admitted weather nut. I'll be back to live blogging on June 14.

Q. Dr. William Gray is often quoted in the media for his pre-season storm predictions. Do you have any opinion one way or the other about the accuracy or efficacy of his reports?

A. I like his forecasts, as well as the seasonal hurricane forecasts put out by NOAA. They have some skill, and are valuable for helping determine if a hurricane season will be active or quiet.

Q. In the wake of last year's Hurricane Katrina, you were pointed in your remarks about the Bush administration's response to the storm. Taking into consideration all of the information about that response that has been released since then, has your opinion changed?

A. My criticism of the Bush Administration was primarily aimed at false comments made about the flooding of New Orleans being an unexpected disaster. This was a valid criticism, because this disaster has been expected by virtually everyone who studies hurricanes. I wasn't critical of the bungled response to the disaster, but certainly could have been. I also made a more general criticism of our political system, asking how it is that a nation as wealthy as ours was not able to evacuate the thousands of poor people who had no transportation of their own. I blamed this on the political process in our country where the wealth of one's campaign contributors is our politicians' primary concern, not the welfare of the poor in New Orleans. How is that Mexico, a much poorer country than our own, suffered only four deaths from Hurricane Wilma last year? Recall that Wilma hit the most heavily populated tourist area of Mexico as a Category 4 hurricane, and sat over Cancun for three days. And Hurricane Emily hit Mexico twice, first as a Category 4 at Cozumel, then as a Category 3 near Texas. But no one died in Emily! The difference is that the government of Mexico made a determined effort to evacuate those at risk, and provided transportation. In the U.S., a totally inadequate effort was made--in part, because the people affected were poor and of little concern to the politicians. The City of New Orleans was primarily responsible for coming up with a hurricane evacuation plan, with help from both the state and federal governments. All three branches of govenment failed this responsibility. In fact, a repeat of Katrina is entirely possible--newly re-elected Mayor Nagin has not yet come up with a workable plan to get those without transportation out of New Orleans for the next hurricane. How is it he got re-elected? According to a May 22 article on cnn.com, the bus drivers Nagin wants to use have not yet signed on, and the city has too few buses. The state and federal government are supposed to help out, but this hasn't happened yet. There are plans to get help from Amtrak and the commercial airlines, but again, there is nothing official. Is it asking too much for the federal government to step in and provide National Guard troops to transport people out? Mexico was able to get its citizens out of harm's way, why can't we? We need to take a hard look at our system of goverment in this country and answer that question. I think we need to move towards more public financing of elections and other reform measures such as Instant Runoff Voting to help reduce the influence of money on politics.

Q. It was recently suggested FEMA should be dismantled, to be replaced by a new and larger government disaster-response agency. Do you think such an agency would do a better job of assisting the victims of hurricanes, and if not, what would you advise lawmakers on Capitol Hill?

A. FEMA has not done well as a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), since that agency has given priority to anti-terrorism programs. FEMA and DHS are bureaucratically incompatible. For example, FEMA was using hurricane forecasts from NHC in the days leading up to Katrina, while DHS was using forecasts provided by Accuweather! The two sets of forecasts were considerably different, so the two agencies were never on the same page, even before the disaster. It makes sense to try putting FEMA back on its own again. However, this will not magically solve the agency's problems--remember that FEMA was an independent agency during the response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when the emergency manager of Dade County, Florida famously pleaded, "Where the hell is the cavalry?"

What is needed is for the Bush Administration to put competent people in charge of FEMA with disaster response experience. Political appointees like Michael Brown, who was an official with the International Arabian Horse Association before he came to FEMA, are a recipe for disaster. Congress needs to establish some sort of oversight on the administration of FEMA to ensure the organization is not a dumping ground for political appointees. Since President Carter formed FEMA, only Clinton appointed a FEMA director who had professional disaster management experience. And where was the press on this matter? Where was the investigative journalism needed to call attention to Michael Brown's lack of credentials before Katrina? I think in general the press has been far too negligent investigating and reporting on the qualifications of the government officials who are responsible for ensuring the safety of Americans. Another example of this is the agency responsible for food safety in America--the Department of Agriculture. Right now you'd have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by the industry it was created to regulate. But you don't hear the press saying much about this conflict of interest, despite the fact that each year food-borne illnesses kill four times as many Americans as died in Hurricane Katrina.

Jeff Masters

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897. Cavin Rawlins
5:33 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
A WEAK 1015 MB HIGH
IS CENTERED IN THE NW GULF NEAR 27N95W. MAINLY FAIR AND DRY
WEATHER EXTENDS ACROSS THE GULF WITH LIGHT SFC WINDS. THE DRY
WEATHER IN THE REGION OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS MAY COME TO AN END
FOR A PORTION OF THE GULF THIS WEEKEND AS A SLOWLY DEVELOPING
SYSTEM IN THE NW CARIBBEAN MOVES NWARD DRAWING TROPICAL MOISTURE
INTO THE E/CENTRAL GULF. THIS SYSTEM MAY DEVELOP INTO THE FIRST
TROPICAL DEPRESSION OF THE ATLANTIC SEASON IN THE NEXT DAY OR
TWO.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
896. 53rdWeatherRECON
5:29 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
I think I see a center of the circulation developing @ 17N 84W from 18N 86W. right click on 4th square and slow it down a bit and use lat/long
Which means I think that the center of this system will develop more East than the models were originally saying. Anyone who has watched the models over the past 4 years have probably noticed the trend of the "fading models" they all have the trajectory right but they start off in one spot and move either more east or west over time. Some were calling this the "winsheild wiper effect. Especially evident with Rita's final approach.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
895. Levi32
5:10 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Yay I can post on the upstairs computer while making breakfast!

I just found the low level center at 18.2n 83.0w. Use the nasa site to zoom in on visible loop and you will see it. It is right in between the two main areas of convection.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
894. Hellsniper223
5:09 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
^_^ Hour or two.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
893. KShurricane
5:06 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
COULD STILL FORM DURING THE NEXT OR TWO

Next what? day? hour? weeks? nanosecond? millenium? I love it.
892. haydn
4:51 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
There is a great typo in that NHC advisory. lol
890. IKE
4:49 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Dr. M has a new blog.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
889. JugheadFL
4:48 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Has any checked out the low that is around 44W 27N? it doesn't have too much convection yet, but it seems to have a nice circulation!!!!
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
888. PNWstormJUNKY
4:47 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Thanks and take care. Hopefully I will be in the path of anything that comes across. Yahoo! I am bringing my laptop for sure now along with my digital camera!
887. Levi32
4:47 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
That is weird bama, but that just shows how hard this forecast will be. Most likely the first low track is the correct one. Our system will most likely meander around the Yucatan straight or somewhere in there, and then pick its final course. That is what is shone on the GFS, except it shows a new low forming and moving northeast.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
886. ProgressivePulse
4:46 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Ciao Bama!
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
885. bamaweatherwatcher
4:45 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
alright im off to work y'all..have a great day!! PJunky have a good flight!
884. Levi32
4:44 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
They actually say in the outlook that it could become a depression.

"...THIS SYSTEM IS SHOWING SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION THIS MORNING. DESPITE THE CLOSE PROXIMITY TO LAND...AND UPPER-LEVEL WINDS THAT ARE ONLY SOMEWHAT CONDUCIVE FOR ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT...A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD STILL FORM DURING THE NEXT OR TWO AS THE SYSTEM MOVES SLOWLY NORTHWARD...."
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
883. bamaweatherwatcher
4:44 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
hey check out the phase analysis for the GFS. It shows two systems, the current one will go into the central gulf stall and drift se, the second will form south of apalachacola, florida in a few days and go across florida. has it lost its mind?Link
882. ProgressivePulse
4:44 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Said weakness is traversing down from the north as we speak, just about into Florida.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
881. rwdobson
4:42 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
they (NHC) are basically saying it may become a TD in the next day or two. Don't think it will make it to Alberto status, but who knows.
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1589
880. stormhank66
4:42 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
anyone know what time the newest model runs come out? and does anyone have a link? thanks for any help
879. JupiterFL
4:39 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Heaven forbid anyone gets offended. I am a goofy ass white guy. So what.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
878. bamaweatherwatcher
4:38 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
LARGE CLUSTERS OF SCATTERED STRONG CONVECTION
COVER THE AREA WITHIN 200 NM OF LINE FROM CENTRAL AMERICA NEAR 15N86W TO CUBA NEAR 22N80W. THIS LOW IS EXPECTED TO BECOME
BETTER ORGANIZED AND DRIFT N INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS.


sure most of you saw this already but the last sentence is interesting. first time i've seen them say it is going develop opposed to just saying we will wait and see.
877. PNWstormJUNKY
4:37 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
:P
876. Hellsniper223
4:35 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
o_O;; *bites* Ehemm.... *recomposes self*
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
875. bamaweatherwatcher
4:34 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
yea hellsniper...i put my boards up last night..thats why i got up so late LOL!!!
874. PNWstormJUNKY
4:33 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
*Rawrs back*
873. Hellsniper223
4:32 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
It'll be nice to have the boards on the windows again... I'm a cave monster. "Wrarr!"
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
872. PNWstormJUNKY
4:32 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Drinking coffe and getting sucked in to this blog when I should finish packing and run my errands before my flight tonight. I just can not seem to break away though!
871. bamaweatherwatcher
4:31 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Im doing alright...just dreading having to go to work. how bout yourself?
870. PNWstormJUNKY
4:29 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Bama! How are you this morning?
869. bamaweatherwatcher
4:28 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
just make sure that if you do warn somebody of a potetntial TD that it will be minimal in strenght at best...worst case barely a cat 1 the way its looking. dont want to freak people out. Alot of people (non-weather junkies) are edgy about these things and due to all the katrina talk during the winter think every strom has the potential to be a Cat 5.
868. Levi32
4:26 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Yep this thing is getting its act together in a hurry. Latest visible loop shows a new batch of convection forming over the low level circulation. Basically all we need to get this to depression status is some 25 knot winds.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
867. radikalweather
4:25 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
And about cancunguy comment way to go buddy i am too latin from PR and i completely agree with you i too visit this site because my country is extremely vulnerable from hurricanes all the time and get a little uncomfortable fot that type of comment i hope that that sort of thing will not happen again
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 6
866. Cavin Rawlins
4:22 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
We should all be warning one another of potential Tropical Depression One...passing advice and information........There are some very educated people that I have learned so much from........Keep up the good work......
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
865. radikalweather
4:19 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Good morning everyone it looks like my prediction is going down the toilet too LOL! it sure has good convection and developing at sure speed well tomorrow we should have TD 1 on the block...
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 6
864. StellarCyclone
4:16 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Cancunguy,
Sorry about any racial slurs, etc. that you have seen on this blog. Probably the best thing is to click obscene under each insulting comment. Most people reading and contributing to this site are of course good people who respect all people regardless of race, culture, etc. I try not to let racists bother me too much since it is obvious to me that racists of all kinds are the real losers of life.
All the best,
StellarCyclone
863. PNWstormJUNKY
4:15 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Good morning normalguy. Sleep well?
862. ProgressivePulse
4:15 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
At this point Stormhank it is hard to tell. All models are pointing that way and most are around TD or Border TS strength, nothing major. It is way to early to tell though, I would check in tomorrow and especially tomorrow evening after the recon data is recieved.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
861. haydn
4:12 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
bets on 1000 posts anyone

Finally some potential action in the tropics since those early may predictions were busted...mine included
860. Hellsniper223
4:12 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
This model makes me happy.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
859. Levi32
4:08 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Ok I'll say TD 1 in 9 hours.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26659
857. Hellsniper223
4:05 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Well, We're all having fun now... but wait till it runs through that dry air and becomes a cat 12... I've been through a cat 12... Saw a Sheep get stripped of wool without sheers.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
856. bamaweatherwatcher
4:05 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
i got a nickle on apalachacola, florida!!! lol!
854. gbreezegirl
4:04 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Hi all. Lurker here longtime. I too am in the panhandle. Looks too much like Arlene did to me. Need the rain though and something to blow the Crows away from my pool and into the next county!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 274
853. 53rdWeatherRECON
4:02 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
oh wait this isnt price is right...sorry my bad

Hahahha ; ) It sure does seem like that. There is all kinds of gambling going on here. I bet more bets were placed on when the first tropical storm would form than who will win the NBA finals.

Soon the gamblers on here will be taking and placing bets on landfall location, strenght, Surge height, destructive wind field size.

It is very comedic.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
852. Hellsniper223
4:01 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Ok... I guess ya got me... My prediction is flawed... 7hrs 23minutes 4seconds.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
851. NormalGuy
3:59 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
LOL, I say it will be TD in 12 hrs....
850. stormhank66
3:59 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
anyone got any input on how strong this low could become or where it may head I live in florida panhandle.. u think we maybe affected?
849. seflagamma
3:59 PM GMT on June 09, 2006
Ok finally caught up again. I see our blob is not going away that it is now developing!!!!


enjoyed reading all of your post since my last post yesterday afternoon.

Keep it as nice as possible!! ;o)

Gamma

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40917

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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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