Probe recommends Proenza's permanent removal; Atlantic and Hawaiian tropical update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 PM GMT on July 20, 2007

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At a Congressional hearing yesterday, results of the independent probe sent by NOAA to investigate management problems at the National Hurricane Center were presented by Dr. Jim Turner. Dr. Turner is deputy director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was leader of the independent team of five people sent to NHC on July 2. Their report (Attachment 9) recommended the permanent removal of Bill Proenza as director of NHC (also called the Tropical Prediction Center, or TPC):

"The current TPC director should be reassigned and not be allowed to return to his position at the center. This should be done due to his failure to demonstrate leadership within the TPC rather than his public statements about the QuikSCAT satellite or NOAA leadership."

In his testimony, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Conrad Lautenbacher, presented some very damaging evidence against Mr. Proenza. Lautenbacher's written testimony includes a letter (Attachment 2) providing a detailed description of a conference call requested by 11 NHC employees (including 7 of 9 of the hurricane forecasters), with the acting head of the National Weather Service, Mary Glackin. If you want to better understand the NHC controversy, read Attachment 2 describing what was said during the June 19 meeting.

I'll make one more post this afternoon analyzing the science of what was presented at the Congressional hearing. Then, it's time to let this issue fade until the next Congressional hearing on the issue, tentatively planned for December or January. The tropics are starting to heat up, and it's time to focus on the coming hurricane season.

Tropical wave near Puerto Rico
A tropical wave near Puerto Rico is spreading clouds and thunderstorms over a wide area of the Eastern Caribbean, northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and surrounding waters. This wave is under about 20-30 knots of wind shear, thanks to the presence of an upper-level low pressure system to its northwest (Figure 1). This upper low is expected to stay in place an continue to bring hostile wind shear to the area the next few days. I don't expect the shear will allow anything to develop from this tropical wave.


Figure 1. Water vapor image from this morning showing the tropical wave near Puerto Rico, and the upper level low with dry air (dark colors) to its northwest. This upper level low sucking in moist air from the tropical wave, and is bringing hostile wind shear of 20-30 knots over it.

We will need to watch the waters off the Carolina coast on Saturday, when a cold front is expected to push off the coast. Most of the models are predicting the formation of a low pressure system along the tail end of this front by Sunday. This low may be an ordinary extratropical storm--or possibly a subtropical storm--due to the presence of high wind shear. NHC has put a Hurricane Hunter aircraft on standby to investigate the region on Sunday afternoon, if necessary. Even if the low is extratropical, it may be able to suck up plenty of tropical moisture and douse the mid-Atlantic coast and/or New England with heavy rains as early as Monday.

Cosme to skirt Hawaii
Residents of the Hawaiian Islands can relax a bit now, as it appears that Tropical Depression Cosme, will pass well south of the Big Island on Saturday. The edges of the outermost spiral bands will probably bring rains of 1-3 inches to the east side of the Big Island. Wind shear has fallen to 5-10 knots, and ocean temperatures are beginning to warm to 80F under the storm, and I expect Cosme will regain minimal tropical storm strength by Saturday. Satellite imagery of the storm shows that the amount of heavy thunderstorm activity has remained about constant so far today.

Jeff Masters

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267. 900MB
7:35 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Pressure starting to drop at Yucatan Buoy and some convection just reappearing.

Wind Direction (WDIR): E ( 80 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 13.6 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 17.5 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 2.6 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 6 sec
Average Period (APD): 4.0 sec
Mean Wave Direction (MWD): ESE ( 105 deg true )
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.93 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -0.03 in ( Falling )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 84.9 F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 86.4 F
Dew Point (DEWP): 76.8 F
Heat Index (HEAT): 95.2 F
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266. Fshhead
7:33 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
LOL I see the ULL I was talking about yesterday pretty much took care of the wave near PR!!
I got a question for you guys??
Where do these ULL'S keep popping up from? They did same thing last year. It was like a wave would flare & POOF a ULL to shear it to death. Also how is this ULL sitting right where I thought was the Bermuda High???
All I know is living in Fla. you gotta LOVE dem ULL'S lol
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265. WPBHurricane05
3:35 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
I say we will have 13-15 named storms with 7-9 hurricanes. That prediction includes Barry.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
264. leftovers
7:31 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Does Las Vegas or England (they bet on anything) taking bets on the number of TS. and hurricanes. 14 more seems like a long shot to me. That is alot. Thank god for Friday.
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262. moonlightcowboy
7:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Jp, there's no winning this debate with you. I'm through.

QS was already being replaced before Proenza came along. What do you think Goes is and other weather-related projects. Do you think the whole weather industry was sitting around with their thumb up their _ _ _ waiting for a Proenza to come along and save the day? Hardly.

The fact that he got some additional money into a budget, well, that's great. That's his job. Any director should be doing just that.

His antics were pathetic, trying to lead a team of scientific, weather professionals from a bully pulpit with a whip! Wrong man for the job, that simple!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
261. bobw999
3:33 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
1992- Andrew in August, how many storms? 6
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260. MichaelSTL
2:32 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
And I think that way too many people still have "2005 disease"...

2004 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed: July 31, 2004
Last storm dissipated: December 2, 2004
Strongest storm: Ivan - 910 mbar (hPa) (26.88 inHg), 165 mph (270 km/h)
Total storms: 15
Hurricanes: 8
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 6
Total fatalities: 3,132+ (deadlier than 2005)
Total damage: $42 billion (2004 USD)
$44.9 billion (2006 USD)


Or:

2001 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed: June 4, 2001
Last storm dissipated: December 6, 2001
Strongest storm: Michelle - 933 mbar (hPa) (27.56 inHg),
Total storms: 15
Hurricanes: 9
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+): 4
Total fatalities: 105
Total damage: $7.1 billion (2001 USD)
$8.1 billion (2006 USD)

Tropical Storm Barry (2001)
Barry formed from a tropical wave in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 2. Moving westward, it weakened to a tropical depression, and was expected to continue to the west-northwest. Instead, the ridge to Barry's north degraded, allowing the system to turn northward and restrengthen to tropical storm strength on the 5th. It peaked that night at 70 mph, but some southwesterly shear prevented the storm from reaching hurricane strength. Barry made landfall near Santa Rosa Beach, Florida on August 6 as a strong tropical storm with a developing eyewall, leading to the possibility of Barry being a hurricane. After making landfall, the remnants of Barry continued inland, and dissipated over Missouri on the 8th.

Tropical Storm Barry was responsible for two deaths in Florida, one due to a lightning strike. Another indirect death was also reported. Damage is estimated at $30 million. The tropical wave that eventually became Barry is blamed for capsizing a boat carrying Cuban refugees, and six of the passengers drowned.
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259. LuvsStorms
7:31 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
I feel that this has turned into my guilty pleasure. Long time lurker, however since the two LA hurricanes, I've seen devastation first hand and I feel a little guilty for coming to the site and seeing that there is nothing going on in the Atlantic? Does this make sense to anyone else?
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257. Tazmanian
7:28 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
yes you are right Atlantic season has been dull
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115430
256. IKE
2:29 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
look at 1999 Bret formed on August 19th and we had 12 named storms, every year is different, but saying even in 2 weeks more without a storm, doesnt mean the year is a bust

I didn't say that.
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255. MichaelSTL
2:29 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Take a look at this; sound familiar (and then look at the date). Also, here is a comment posted in that blog:

Good Morning y'all
That graphic looks like a Jackson Pollard painting
How can you tell when a tropical anything is forming with all those lines - very very interesting
I will stick to my prediction of 12 this year -
looks like all is quiet but I cant read inbetween those lines LOL


12? LOL LOL LOL... there were more than that many hurricanes alone...
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254. IKE
2:27 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: jphurricane2006 at 2:27 PM CDT on July 20, 2007.
once again I disagree IKE


Two weeks from today will be August 3rd...that's not early in the season anymore...that's approaching the heart of the season.
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252. IKE
2:26 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: Tazmanian at 2:19 PM CDT on July 20, 2007.
not that i want to see any thing out there but you no what i am trying to say


I will admit...so far the Atlantic season has been dull.
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250. Tazmanian
7:25 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
ok
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249. bobw999
3:26 PM EDT on July 20, 2007
Don't waste your breath jp. I've tried it before, and got the same response as you did.
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248. moonlightcowboy
7:20 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: jphurricane2006 at 7:19 PM GMT on July 20, 2007.
anyway im done, the QS will be fixed now, and im pretty sure that it wouldnt have been fixed if Bill hadnt of spoken up


Jp, the QS problem was not a "new" issue. Other measures have already been going on like the new Goes sat, etc. Sure, we all like QS and I'm sure the forecasters do, too. No one wants to see it fail, or be without the technology. It's being replaced by new thinking, new technology rest assured.

To say that it will be fixed due to Proenza's yelling and snorting around is short-sided. He's not that powerful rest assured. There are many more positive things going on by more people with more forward thinking and insight than Proenza. He's a dinosaur with dinosaur thinking and antique antics. He's gone. We should all get over it and move on.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
247. IKE
2:23 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: jphurricane2006 at 2:22 PM CDT on July 20, 2007.
Taz its still early in the season, no need to declare anything dead yet


Another 2 weeks and that excuse can no longer be used.....

TAZ...I think they'll be more than 6 storms for the season.
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246. EdMahmoud
6:44 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
OK, unlikely, but the big mass of storms over Texas, from the interaction of an upper low and a weak tropical low that came inland near Tampico a few days ago, has hardly drifted anywhere at all. And it almost has the suggestion of some anticyclonic flow aloft.

Steering is obviously weak. Be interesting if that did what Allison in 2001 did, drift back toward the Gulf, mosey offshore, and then come back towards Louisiana.

Not that I'm saying that is going to happen.

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242. Tazmanian
7:18 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
not that i want to see any thing out there but you no what i am trying to say
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115430
241. Tazmanian
7:18 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
i think this year is going to be like 1977 if we dont start see some in soon
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238. Thundercloud01221991
7:14 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
cosme expected to strengthen

Link
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235. MisterPerfect
7:10 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
all he wanted was the QS to be replaced and it is 3 years passed when it should have been replaced and is on its last legs, the information he used in his argument, came from NOAA themselves

Gee, wonder what agency has the luxury of doing that replacement job? Perhaps if the companies that were contracted to build a new satellite weren't burdened by Global WArming concerns and regulations maybe it would be cheaper and faster to correct the problem..
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234. MTJax
7:10 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: MTJax at 6:49 PM GMT on July 20, 2007.
Being I am in graphical mode today, lets do a pre-season briefing on symbols for those who might have forgotten over the long winter.

Thanks, and a question, please.

On the surface map, why are some lows posted in red, and some in black, and sometimes they change back and forth at the same location? TIA


Good question because the standard is:

High and low pressure centers are indicated by a large block H and L, respectively, together with a set of digits identifying the estimated value of the central pressure. On some charts, the H is colored blue, while the L is drawn in red.

http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~hopkins/aos100/sfc-anl.htm
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233. Drakoen
7:12 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30670
232. moonlightcowboy
6:58 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Another thing that bothers me about Proenza, is that the QS problem didn't just arrive with him being named NHC director. The QS problem has been around for a while. Accordingly, it should have quit a few years ago, but apparently it's a tough bugger and hanging on.

So, QS was NOT new news. Proenza's been involved around weather all of his career. He knew previously of QS and could have been seeing, talking the hubbup way before he was named director. That is if he was so inclined to have good, "more-accurate", 10-16 percent better forecasts!

This is old news. Let's stop beating the dead horse. He's gone and good riddance.

I think it's SJ, on his blog, that has Einstein quoted...something like this:

"The significant problems we face can not be solved by the same level of thinking that created them!"--Einstein

Proenza has been part of the "level" of thinking (or not thinking) that created the problem. He could have done more probably for QS, through lobbying, discussion...way before he became a "mouthpiece" at NHC.

...time now for new, progressive, forward thinking. And thankfully, Proenza is just part of the "past" now!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
230. IKE
2:06 PM CDT on July 20, 2007
Drakoen is talking about the one off of Africa. The wave north of Puerto Rico is getting sheared to death. The other portion of the wave is moving west into the central, then western Caribbean.
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228. Drakoen
7:06 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
By: TropicalMan07 at 7:04 PM GMT on July 20, 2007.

Im talking about the carribean wave...but if its because of the time o day then whats the reason for everyone saying the ULL is shearing it apart?


i was refering to the wave of Africa. Sorry. Yea the upper level low is tearing apart the wave in the Caribbean.
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226. MisterPerfect
6:57 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
I've asked the question before:

Would a more accurate satellite actually and ultimately lead to layoffs and downsizing in the atmosphereic agencies? I mean, we don't have thousands of people out there hunting for Near Earth Asteroids, only a handful. Perhaps Proenza's employess sensed a feeling of being replaced. If that is the truth, which will never be exposed anyway, then negligence of the people is the fault of the entire agency itself and not just one man. You just can't replace hundreds of weather experts with scabs like a factory union strike. Ah, but removing the director...that's easy.
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224. Drakoen
6:57 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: TropicalMan07 at 6:56 PM GMT on July 20, 2007.

tHAT WAVE LOOKS TO HAVE DIMINISHED... but by monday there sghould be favorable conditions mostly everywhere into next week.


Its because of the time of day.
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223. DaytonaBeachWatcher
6:55 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
jp
i think that panties got in a twist because when Proenza said the forcast track would be 10 and 16% less accurate the forcasters took that to mean that he thinks that they cant make decent predictions without the QS which may or may not be the case since i have no idea how much they depend on it.
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222. MisterPerfect
6:55 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
YEah Adrian, its much easier to blame a computer and models when the going gets rough...
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220. moonlightcowboy
6:52 PM GMT on July 20, 2007
Posted By: MTJax at 6:49 PM GMT on July 20, 2007.
Being I am in graphical mode today, lets do a pre-season briefing on symbols for those who might have forgotten over the long winter.


Thanks, and a question, please.

On the surface map, why are some lows posted in red, and some in black, and sometimes they change back and forth at the same location? TIA
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610

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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.