Revolt at NHC; tropical update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:24 PM GMT on July 06, 2007

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The extraordinary political turmoil at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) continued yesterday, with the release of a statement signed by nearly half of the staff calling for the immediate dismissal of director Bill Proenza. Front page stories in both the Miami Herald and Florida Sun-Sentinel detail the letter, which reads: "An unfortunate public debate is now occurring over the ability of the National Hurricane Center to meet its mission. The undersigned staff of the National Hurricane Center has concluded that the center needs a new director. The effective functioning of the National Hurricane Center is at stake. The staff of the National Hurricane Center would like nothing more than to return to its primary mission of protecting life and property from hazardous tropical weather, and leave the political arena it now finds itself in." The letter is signed by 23 of the center's 49 employees, including almost the entire senior staff. Many NHC employees were on vacation, and did not have the opportunity to sign the letter.

The articles in the two newspapers also quote my blog from yesterday, where I present the case against Bill Proenza--his misrepresentation of the science of how much the QuikSCAT satellite influences hurricane track forecasts. I'll have more to say on the matter this afternoon, when I've had a chance to process some of the feedback on this.

Tropical update
A low pressure system (96L) with a well-defined spin is about 550 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, moving westward towards the islands at 10-15 mph. This low continues to show sporadic heavy thunderstorm activity, but has been unable to overcome the large amount of dry air it is embedded in. It would appear that 96L's window of opportunity for developing into a tropical depression has closed, as wind shear has risen to 20 knots and is expected to remain at least 20 knots for the next two or three days. None of the reliable computer models develop the system into a tropical depression.


Figure 1. Model tracks for 96L, the low pressure system approaching the Lesser Antilles Islands.

New disturbance off the east coast of Florida
An area of disturbed weather has developed off the east coast of Florida along an old frontal boundary. Long range radar out of Melbourne, FL shows a large disorganized area of showers off the coast. The area is under 20-25 knots of wind shear, and the shear is forecast to remain above 20 knots for at least the next two days in the region, which should prevent any development. The GFS computer model shows this disturbance moving off to the northeast over the weekend, but it could bring heavy rains to Florida and the Northwest Bahamas Friday and Saturday before it does so. None of the reliable computer models develop the system into a tropical depression.

Jeff Masters

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165. Altestic87
12:01 PM EDT on July 06, 2007
zzzzzz...

Stop this political nonsense.
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164. ladyweatherbug
4:00 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Pat...just my luck!! hahaha The stinking karma would follow me!
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163. bluehaze27
3:59 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
There was 6 to 9 inches of rain in the Kendall, Coral Cables, Pinecrest, Perrine area of South Florida yesterday.
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161. StormHype
3:47 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Proenza will fire his insubordinate staff and replace them with ambitious, cheap, and submissive Indian contractors over a wire from Bangalore.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1210
160. Patrap
10:59 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
Bad Karma..move west 5 miles
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
159. ladyweatherbug
3:46 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Using bad science to prove a point is not good. Especially in a political arena. Having half your staff wanting you gone is not good. Not believing in or supporting your company spending millions in excess to throw a party is good. What about Dr Masters taking the directorship?? Let him get in there and clean it up.

That being said....this is a tropical weather blog, so I'm looking for some tropical weather. All of this rain over Florida and we've barely gotten a sprinkle here. There was a huge gully-washer 5 miles from my home the other day and we didn't see a drop.
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158. kmanislander
3:57 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Who would have thought that a satellite could cause all this trouble !.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
157. wunderwomen
11:57 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
hahaha
LMBU
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156. MisterPerfect
3:55 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
New Rules of the Game:

Question funding, no problem.

Convince the government the billion dollar satellite sucks and needs an upgrade or a new one....enter Donald Trump..."Ya Fiehd"
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20140
155. EmmyRose
3:55 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
The handshake of doom.
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154. WPBHurricane05
11:55 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
What the heck is going on in that picture sp? LOL!!!!
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
153. phillyfan909
10:49 AM EST on July 06, 2007
Speaking of politics and weather, whatever happened with India's misleading prediction of 03? Any fallout? There should be a separate service for the Indian Ocean north of the Equator, from the southern tip of India to the east coast of Africa. Have it based it in Karachi.
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152. Patrap
10:54 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
By JOHN PAIN

gotta love dat handle for a writer ric..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
151. wunderwomen
11:55 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Posted By: bluehaze27 at 11:53 AM EDT on July 06, 2007.

I saw a pig fly at the Roger waters concert recently.


really well then Bush has to do something o wait that might not go over well with him so i guess it will have to be at the end of times
*running under my desk incase something flys out of the screen*
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150. MisterPerfect
3:54 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
LOL Wsp,

Mayfield looks like he's ticked off for being ignored in that picture....That just might not be far from the truth...
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20140
149. weatherguy03
11:52 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
So now there are two things to do. Either he resigns and we move on, or he appologizes for the QuikScat errors, say he was wrong, and we move on.
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148. weathersp
11:49 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Can't Bush commute Proenza somehow?

Nope... We want max back!

Bush and Proenza
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147. bluehaze27
3:52 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
I saw a pig fly at the Roger Waters concert recently.
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146. wunderwomen
11:51 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
well this is fun *sighs*
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145. weatherguy03
11:46 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
The damage is done to the Public trust for this season.Regardless if Bill stays or goes.

Why? We still have some of the best forecasters in the world who have done a remarkable job the last few years in forecasting these storms. And we will still have this when and if Proenza. He is the deal. The guys spoke too soon. Sometimes when you are the new kid on the block, yes I know he isnt "new". but new to the NHC. You have to take things slow. Maybe he should of waited until after the season. He made an error in judgement.
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144. ricderr
3:51 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Hurricane Center Chief: I Won't Leave
Published: 7/6/07, 11:26 AM EDT
By JOHN PAIN
MIAMI (AP) - The new director of the National Hurricane Center, under fire from staff members who wanted him ousted, said Friday that he won't resign and that the disagreements can be resolved.

Director Bill Proenza replaced Max Mayfield in January. On Thursday, 23 employees - about half his staff - urged the government to removed him immediately.

"We may have some disagreements in the philosophy of making changes at the hurricane center in the future as far as what we want for new capability, new science and technology," Proenza said in a phone interview. "Does that justify removing someone?"

The senior and front-line forecasters who called for Proenza's dismissal argue that he damaged public confidence in their ability to forecast storms and distracted the center from its work.

Proenza has publicly criticized the government for failing to provide enough funding, particularly to replace an aging weather satellite. But staff members say he is misrepresenting the satellite problem, and they worry the consequences of his campaign to replace it could hurt their forecasting abilities.

"The effective functioning of the National Hurricane Center is at stake," the 23 staff members said in their letter. "The staff of the National Hurricane Center would like nothing more than to return its focus to its primary mission of protecting life and property from hazardous tropical weather, and leave the political arena it now finds itself in."

Proenza blamed many of the problems on a Commerce Department team sent this week to review the center's its management and organizational structure and ability to provide accurate and timely information. The team's report is due by July 20 to the department, which oversees NOAA, the hurricane center's parent agency.

Senior hurricane specialist James Franklin said Friday that the staff already tried resolving their differences internally and that the team's arrival was part of that process.

He said Proenza had misrepresented what would happen if a key satellite called QuikScat failed. It is now past its expected lifespan, and Proenza has argued that tracking forecasts could be up to 16 percent less accurate without it.

"He has been very loudly saying if it failed our forecasts for landfalling storms would be degraded, that warning areas would need to be expanded," Franklin said. "None of that is the case, and he knows that we feel that way. The science is not there to back up the claims that he's making."

Franklin worried that Proenza's statements would result in inferior technology hastily being substituted for QuikScat, possibly funded with money pulled from reconnaissance flights sent to investigate Atlantic storms.

"Nobody's happy about doing what we did," Franklin said. "We tried so hard not to go this route. There are costs involved, but the costs of not speaking up for the nation's hurricane program were higher in the long run."

A telephone message left for NOAA's Washington office was not immediately returned.
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 676 Comments: 22383
143. wunderwomen
11:49 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 11:49 AM EDT on July 06, 2007.

Can't Bush commute Proenza somehow?


LMBO!!!!


The day when pigs fly
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141. WPBHurricane05
11:48 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Can't Bush commute Proenza somehow?


LMBO!!!!
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
140. Snowfire
3:49 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Blob Watching Department:
Is there a hint of a swirl at 8N102W?
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139. Patrap
10:44 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
You won't find any predictions from me. I don't know enough about meteorology to make any predictions. I post about other issues. Morals, ethics, goverment, etc., as they relate to tropical weather events. The one and only prediction that I ever made was where Katrina would hit in Florida. I predicted, based on folly, that it would hit North Miami Beach, under the reasoning that there are lots of Russians living there and Katrina is a Russian name. And that prediction turned out right to within 2 miles 2 days out! Ha! But reading the archives from that time would be fun. I've done it, and I encourage all to spend some time reading them. Especially from the time Katrina was a struggling TD to the days after Katrina hit New Orleans. They make for much more interesting reading than the blogs right now, especially with the tropics thankfully so quiet.




Didnt have much time for reading here in New Orleans after August 29th.2005 Im glad you found it er,entertaining...

It only took 5 days for the Feds to find New Orleans...not so bad in todays context. I hear Paris Hilton is up for the NHC directors post. That should hold you to late August when the er,real entertainment starts. Enjoy your summer.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
138. MisterPerfect
3:46 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Can't Bush commute Proenza somehow?

Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20140
137. wunderwomen
11:46 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
proenza has been talking about this ever since he became director, why is the debate heating up as the hurricane season heats up this is purely idiotic
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136. TheB52s
3:45 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
I'm outside looking in.....

Frankly, the country can afford another satelite and getting one on the books now is the prudent thing to do.

Yes, it is a political fight to get funding for the satelites. And yes, politics isn't fair nor is it a scientific process.

The nation will fight for the huricane hunters. There will be a public outcry should that program ever be threatened. Whoever thinks to shut this program down should be throw in jail along with the person who invented the outsourcing customer service to far flung countries.

You guys can fight on two fronts and not have to choose which one to fight or which has priority. You can chew gum and walk at the same time, can't you? You guys deserve and the public will continue to benefit of having both tools.

Pencil whipping the director publicly about where the 16% came from should be left in the confines of a conference. Let the peer review do it tactfully. We could care less in the public: the 16% and arguments about is as exciting or as compelling as the new irs tax law. But, the last satelite? on its last trasmitter and nothing in the books, those are the alarm points and shame on you if you don't fight for getting another one. We can understand that.

The satelite is always up there 24/7. A hurricane hunter has to be scheduled.

The 23 who signed should have kept it in the family and not air it publicly. They sound like prima donnas and appeared to be way too comfortable with Max. Change happens and the old boss will different than the new boss. The situation reaks like a teenage MTV reality show.

The nation deserves better.






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135. emagirl
3:43 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
so anyone think we are going to have any storms soon...i am tired of politics..just my opion....
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134. jeans
3:39 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Dr. Masters was also quoted in the Orlando Sentinel this morning.
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133. CosmicEvents
3:29 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Posted By: weatherboyfsu at 3:08 PM GMT on July 06, 2007.

Cosmic.......As my mom use to say.....the proof is in the pudding........I believe we have access to the archives on here.....And i am willing to bet that half the people that were on here then are not now.........And half of the people that are on here now were still in high school.......theres nothing wrong with that...but when i get some time i will visit the archives and bring back some quotes....Maybe even from you cosmicevents.......lol
.
.
You won't find any predictions from me. I don't know enough about meteorology to make any predictions. I post about other issues. Morals, ethics, goverment, etc., as they relate to tropical weather events. The one and only prediction that I ever made was where Katrina would hit in Florida. I predicted, based on folly, that it would hit North Miami Beach, under the reasoning that there are lots of Russians living there and Katrina is a Russian name. And that prediction turned out right to within 2 miles 2 days out! Ha! But reading the archives from that time would be fun. I've done it, and I encourage all to spend some time reading them. Especially from the time Katrina was a struggling TD to the days after Katrina hit New Orleans. They make for much more interesting reading than the blogs right now, especially with the tropics thankfully so quiet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
132. Patrap
10:42 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
10 bucks for no-ads

Priceless...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129904
131. bluehaze27
3:42 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Mayfield retired because he said no one was listening. Gov't? Us? Both?
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130. WPBHurricane05
11:41 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
WPB: Don't you mean 97L. I am a little supprised there is not more discussion on this. Yes a lot of shear but there is good circulation and a lot of mositure.

I meant that 96L is a naked swirl and the moisture for the Florida blob is to the south making it a naked swirl. Yes there is moisture with this one.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
129. weathermanwannabe
10:35 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
Wish I could be fly on the wall at NHC...Is this bascially a continuation of the earlier debate, in the Spring, about bringing NHC more "into the fold" of NWS, as opposed to being relatively independent? If Proenza is a "company man" aligned with NWS, this would probabably not sit well with the regular staffers and scientists who certainly don't give a hoot about politics. They are basically "on-strike" at the begining of the hurricane season; not good for all of us and I wonder if this would have blown up now if we had a more active season in progress (crisis seems to bring scientists together)...
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128. bluehaze27
3:39 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
I don't know what Dr. Masters' political leanings are but I do remember a political banner on this site a few days ago that said stop McCain Feingold I believe. I don't see any banners now and I hope he keeps it that way.
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127. MelbourneTom
3:40 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
WPB: Don't you mean 97L. I am a little supprised there is not more discussion on this. Yes a lot of shear but there is good circulation and a lot of mositure.
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126. wunderwomen
11:38 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Posted By: ricderr at 11:37 AM EDT on July 06, 2007.


Could this not have waited until December????


well..if we agree..that this is political...and if we think about it under that light..then no..it couldn't...as....in december...not as many people would care about the NHC.....no tropical threat..all attentioned tuned elswhere


exactly because the attention it is getting
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125. MisterPerfect
3:37 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Dear Max Mayfield,

Enjoying retirement? SUPERMAN, IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, WE NEED YOUR HELP!!
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20140
124. wunderwomen
11:37 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
Posted By: StormW at 11:37 AM EDT on July 06, 2007.

Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 3:35 PM GMT on July 06, 2007.

I agree 27windows. Figures the debate starts heating up as the hurricane season does.

That's OK...I'm here! (LOL)!!!!!!!! (just kidding).



LOL
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123. ricderr
3:36 PM GMT on July 06, 2007

Could this not have waited until December????



well..if we agree..that this is political...and if we think about it under that light..then no..it couldn't...as....in december...not as many people would care about the NHC.....no tropical threat..all attentioned tuned elswhere
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 676 Comments: 22383
122. wunderwomen
11:36 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
u know it seems they are doing it for the attention in some way i dont know ponder that for a minute
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120. bigtrucker
11:33 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
i dunno, Dr. Masters seems very fired up about this whole fiasco.And i cant figire out why.
well Im outta here, have a good day, guys
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119. WPBHurricane05
11:33 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
I agree 27windows. Figures the debate starts heating up as the hurricane season does.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
117. wunderwomen
11:34 AM EDT on July 06, 2007
exactly
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116. bluehaze27
3:30 PM GMT on July 06, 2007
Misterperfect, you almost got me going in defense of Olbermann but then that would start a political storm on this board which I would rather observe from afar.
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115. ihave27windows
10:30 AM CDT on July 06, 2007
I don't really care about this BS. This shouldn't be happening during hurricane season. I want my home, family, and everyone else in harms way looked after and protected.

Could this not have waited until December????
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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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