Interview with the Northwest Florida Daily News

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:11 PM GMT on November 21, 2006

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Sorry for putting this out so late in the day. The fourth in the series of Dr. Masters' vacation blogs.

This is last part 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. This portion of the interview was meant to run during my last vacation back in June, but Tropical Storm Alberto put an early end to that trip! I'll be back to live blogging Thanksgiving weekend.

Q. What about NHC's storm-naming convention? NHC uses anglicized and Latino names for storms, but clearly exhausted its list for 2005 and used letters of the Greek alphabet for storm names. But the Greek alphabet is limited. For instance, had NHC named the unnamed tropical storm that formed late in the 2005 season, then Hurricane Wilma would have been named Hurricane Alpha. Seeing as how Wilma has been retired, and the Greek alphabet cannot be expanded, the name Alpha came very close to being retired, which would mean busy seasons in the future would skip Alpha and go directly to Beta, possibly confusing the public. How would you fix this problem?

A. James Franklin, one of the NHC hurricane specialists, told me that he came up with an alternate list of names to replace Greek names and avoid this problem. He presented his list this year to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) committee that decides such matters, but they unanimously rejected his proposal. He thought that when and if we ever do retire a Greek name, the WMO will then have no choice but to accept his alternate list.

Q. The Weather Underground has a space reserved for blogs. This is a lively venue, with amateur weather fans reporting and speculating about weather phenomena, including hurricanes. At times the blog entries seem to cross the line between amusing pastime and actual public service reporting, particularly during last year's Hurricane Wilma as the storm bore down on the Yucatan Peninsula and official reports were skimpy at best. How would you characterize the accuracy and utility of such blog dispatches? Does blogging have a role in weather reporting?

A. I think we're just starting to explore that. I tried to feature blogs from wunderbloggers who were in the path of last year's storms, but it was difficult to find the time to coordinate this, in addition to all of my other duties. We'll continue to explore how best to take advantage of this great new communication opportunity in the coming hurricane seasons. I think blogging offers a great alternative to the sensational journalism ones sees in the news media; you're more likely to get an honest picture of what's really happening.

Q: NHC seems to produce very accurate predictions of storm paths. Now, they will attempt to forecast storm intensity at landfall. What's your take on this? Does NHC have access to new technology that allows them to make such forecasts? And if they are wrong, do you foresee negative ramifications?

A. The NHC's best performing computer model the past three years, the GFDL, got an upgrade of the equations it uses for the coming hurricane season. The new model was retrospectively run on Ivan and Katrina, and made track forecasts that were 10-12% better, and 5-day intensity forecasts that were 30% better. However, the retrospective intensity forecasts for Rita and Emily were slightly worse, so our ability to make better intensity forecasts still has a long ways to go. There is also a new model being made available to the public next year, the Hurricane Weather Research Forecast (HWRF) model, which will replace the GFDL. So, the models are getting better, mostly thanks to the tremendous amount that has been learned through research over the past 20 years. However, intensity forecasting is still in the primitive stages, and we should continue to expect large errors in landfall intensity forecasts. I think that NHC has to put out intensity forecasts, because they do have some skill over chance.

Q: NHC debated eliminating the middle line in the cone of probability of landfalling hurricane predictions. Ultimately they decided to keep the middle line. What's your opinion about the middle line?

A. I like the middle line. As a scientist, I am used to seeing data presented as a line with error bounds.

Q. Lastly, here's a fun question. The Weather Underground is beginning to appear in news stories about hurricanes, and with the increase in tropical cyclone activity The Weather Underground has become one of the go-to places for storm information. How does it feel to be a "star"? Do you face any of the privations normally reserved for people like Brad Pitt or Madonna?

A. Well, living here in Michigan, I don't encounter too many people who've heard of me. When I travel, though, I've learned to be armed with Weather Underground pens to give away! I haven't signed any autographs yet, but have had to endure getting my picture taken with blog fans a few times. All in all, it's been a very modest amount of fame that hasn't been unpleasant at all, and I have been very much enjoying sharing my knowledge and stories with people.

Q. Many thanks, Dr. Masters!

A. You're welcome!

Jeff Masters

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Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 272 - 222

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272. hurricane23
4:00 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone...
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
271. kmanislander
3:54 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Hi Progressive

Happy Thanksgiving to you too. My wife is American so we will definitely be stuffing our faces in my household tonight
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
270. kmanislander
3:52 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
better check on the pies though !
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
269. ProgressivePulse
3:52 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving fellow Bloggers!
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 4863
268. kmanislander
3:51 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Hi Pat

All turkeys are safe and sound in ovens LOL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
267. Patrap
3:37 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Better Batten down the turkeys!..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
266. kmanislander
3:34 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Panama City now with N winds and Colon with NW
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
265. kmanislander
3:28 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Hurricane

I agree. We will have to wait for either a recent QS pass or a local obs from a ship in the area. However, the W wind at Panama City may be related to the blob.
I am not so sure about the NW wind at Colon because N to NW winds dominate the western half of the entire Caribbean due to the front that can now be seen to be lifting out.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
264. hurricane23
3:18 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
kmanislander i do see maybe hints at a circulation trying to develope with this blob in the sw caribbean but iam not sure if its at the surface.

Here is a look at an infrared loop...

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
263. hurricane23
3:11 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Bahahurican i dont think much will come of this blob as over all conditions are not favorable for any significant development.Windshear is not to bad in the SW caribbean but it increases to 40kts to the north.

Here is a look at this area on Ramsdis.



Closer view here
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
262. kmanislander
2:56 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Colon and Panama City in Panama have NW and W winds respectively.
There could be a circulation in that blob just N of Panama.
The last QS pass does not show anything but it may be several hrs old
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
260. BahaHurican
12:09 PM GMT on November 23, 2006
Hey!!!

Look at the SW Caribbean this a. m.!

Could this be the BINGO the models kept saying was coming "next week" and "next week"?

I'm sorry I won't be able to check in all day . . . . [sigh]
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20734
259. RL3AO
7:38 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Yani Visible

Yani
258. Levi32
6:36 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Here's a link to full-sized image.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
257. Levi32
6:35 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Patrick here's a forecast track map for TC Yani. Forgive me I'm not sure what the second cyclone is that you're refering too.



Goodnight everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
256. Trouper415
6:31 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Good evening everyone and HAPPY THANKSGIVING. BEING THANKFUL IS ONE OF THE BEST HTINGS HUMANS CAN DO!!!

Anyone have a 5 forcast map for those 2 cyclones out there?

Thanks
Patrick
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
255. hurricane23
4:42 AM GMT on November 23, 2006


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
254. SteveDa1
4:24 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Im out, I gotta wake up early tomorrow... I will see you all tomorrow.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
253. hurricane23
4:19 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Skyepony no problem...check mail
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
252. SteveDa1
4:15 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Replied to the email adrian.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
251. Skyepony (Mod)
4:13 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Guess I'm trying to ask..what's the big advantage?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36107
250. Skyepony (Mod)
4:12 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Thanks 23 for the links...I checked them out Storm predator seemed gungho on the new lightning indicater which WU has had for a while. & for the membership here, get up to 40 frames, plus the advanced radar stuff on the left. Remove clutter is sweet being so close to the radar.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36107
249. hurricane23
4:08 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
steveda1 try again.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
247. SteveDa1
4:07 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
I didnt get mail Hurricane23.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
246. Skyepony (Mod)
4:05 AM GMT on November 23, 2006


I don't think cmc ever totally, consistantly dropped the Caribbean system.

The observations from around that bouy in the last 6 hrs.

The models when hadn't dropped this have been kinda flipping around on move west, hit land~ or most the energy track over Cuba or Hispanolia & either go STS or meet up with the gale & stay cold core. Then there was the rare, like maybe yesterday's cmc 00Z that had the Caribbean TS & the Atlantic STS.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36107
245. hurricane23
4:03 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
steveda1 check your mail....
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
244. kmanislander
4:03 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
wow already after 11
gotta grab some shut eye
c u all tomorrow
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
243. SteveDa1
3:58 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
The GFDL is developing another hurricane in the E pacific... a Category 2 by early next week. It did the same thing with sergio, I think it likes the eastern pacific (GFDL). Although Sergio did develop it wasnt nearly as strong as what it said it would become. Another area that bears watching, if its still buying the idea in 2 days then we got something.

I was looking at the run from yesterday, 18z. My bad. For some reason this site didnt update
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
242. kmanislander
3:55 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
I loaded IE7 yesterday and now the GHCC site no longer gives me the lat and long numbers when I move the cursor around

Anyone else have this problem ??
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
241. kmanislander
3:50 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Steve

Easy mistake to make
I am starting to see a seperation of that convection from the frontal trough that stretches to the N

If that continues then there is a chance for something to get going ( if only for a short time ). The GFS has the system pushing back to the W so it bears watching
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
240. hurricane23
3:48 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
kmanislander try going threw my navigation....see my katrina page and my 2005.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
239. SteveDa1
3:46 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
If the buoy was to the N of the low then the wind would be out of the East

Yea, I got mixed up because for an instant i thought that we measured wind by where it is going but its from where it is coming from. I knew it, just messed up. ;)
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
238. kmanislander
3:45 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
got it
man there's enough there for an hour of browsing !

Will check it out tomorrow. Getting late now
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
237. RL3AO
3:43 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
It looks like it's trying to build an eyewall.

236. hurricane23
3:43 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Try again.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
235. kmanislander
3:41 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Adrian

no mail in the box
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
234. kmanislander
3:39 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
If the buoy was to the N of the low then the wind would be out of the East
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
233. hurricane23
3:38 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
kmanislander check your mail....
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
232. kmanislander
3:37 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Not quite but close
The West wind does indicate a low forming but the low would have to be N of the buoy in order to produce a W wind at the buoy
If the buoy is at 15N then the low center would be near 16 or 17 N
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
231. hurricane23
3:36 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Another view of YANI at bottom right hand corner.click here for loop


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
230. SteveDa1
3:31 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
What's wrong with the west wind? Oh, the buoy is north of the spiral down there so there might be a low developing?
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
229. kmanislander
3:26 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
West that is
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
228. kmanislander
3:25 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Wesy wind ??

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
227. SteveDa1
3:23 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
It is moving extremely slowly. At 1 mph wont get too far anytime soon just like the graphic says:

Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
225. hurricane23
3:17 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
Tropical cyclone YANI has gotten alot better organized over the past couple of hours and is now developing an eye like feature which is trying to clear out.Winds are at 55kts. Infrared view

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
224. SteveDa1
2:56 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
I am at about 60 feet above sea level so I can say that the pressure is the same as what it reads. It is at around 1032mb. Hmmm... The atmosphere is more complicated than I thought :S
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
222. SteveDa1
2:51 AM GMT on November 23, 2006
I see, thanks a lot for the info. I cant seem to find upper-level pressure maps but I am still trying.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297

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About JeffMasters

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