QuikSCAT science at yesterday's hearing

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:22 PM GMT on July 20, 2007

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Dr. Robert Atlas, director of the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory--the parent organiztion of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division--testified at yesterday's Congressional hearing, on the science of QuikSCAT. In his written testimony, Dr. Atlas presented a good summary of QuikSCAT science:

There are three studies that address the potential degradation to computer hurricane forecasts that might result from the loss of QuikSCAT. Each of these studies has limitations that prevent definitive conclusions, and additional studies are needed. In my opinion, the preponderance of evidence from the three studies indicates that computer model forecasts of landfalling hurricanes, especially in the 2-5-day time range, could be degraded if we do not mitigate the loss effectively. Forecasters at the NHC are able to improve upon the computer forecasts, so that the potential degradation can be diminished. This is especially true as the storms are approaching land in the shorter time ranges. In addition, NOAA has recently developed an effective mitigation plan that would make substantial use of other satellites as well as enhanced aircraft observations.

I was pleased to see Dr. Atlas mentioning many of the uncertainties I've been drawing attention to. In his verbal comments, he offered a theory as to why the study done using the Navy NOGAPS model showed little effect of QuikSCAT on hurricane track forecasts. The NOGAPS model inserts a "bogus" vortex where a tropical cyclone exists, and this bogus vortex is resistant to modification by winds from QuikSCAT. The GFS model, used in the QuikSCAT study Bill Proenza cited, does not do vortex bogusing.

Dr. Atlas was not questioned about the uncertainties of QuikSCAT's impact on hurricane track forecasts, which surprised me. The general consensus among Congress members seemed to be that QuikSCAT was a valuable enough satellite that it deserved to be replaced, regardless of whether Mr. Proenza exaggerated its importance or not. No one talked about the need to cut any hurricane funding to pay for QuikSCAT, and a number of Congressmen thought we should be spending more. Congressman Ehlers (R-Michigan) said, "I think we have given short shrift to NOAA and its satellite program, considering how much is spent on the satellite programs for the Department of Defense, Global Positioning System, and NASA."

QuikSCAT science in the independent panel's report
The independent panel sent by NOAA to investigate management problems at the National Hurricane Center talked extensively about QuikSCAT (Attachment 9 of the written testimony of the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Conrad Lautenbacher). The report said that mistrust of Bill Proenza by the staff was, in part, caused by disagreements about the science of QuikSCAT:

"Statements by the director about the limited lifetime of the QuikSCAT satellite and the resulting impact on forecasts--made without context or caveat--raised public doubt about the center's ability to perform its mission and distracted center staff from doing their jobs."
And: One senior hurricane specialist noted that the director repeatedly quoted him out of context about the potential impact of QuikSCAT's loss even after the director was told that he was in error.

Had I been a senior forecaster at the NHC, I would have raised the same issues, and spoken out against the misrepresentation of the QuikSCAT science that occurred. The director of the NHC must be honest with the uncertainties in the science if he is to be entrusted with the most important job in weather.

Jeff Masters

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328. GainesvilleGator
1:48 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Hey stormkat, is it just me or have these waves off of Africa been kinda big. We always see lots of waves come off Africa in May-Jul but they pretty much fizzle out after a couple of days because of cold water, dry air, or wind shear. Unless I didn't pay much attention to them in the past they seem kinda big to me this year.

If some of these big waves develop we may see one of those Floyd/Hugo size storms ramp up. Nevermind Andrew, beware of those big boys.
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327. Chicklit
1:53 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
So the snub nosed LST Lists??? Or does it just wash over?
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325. islandaerie
1:49 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Yes, Chicklit, its the very same, but this one is only around 50' long, flat bottomed, with a big flat slablike "nose" to deal with seas. Obviously, I am hoping for a millpond. Right....
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324. Chicklit
1:50 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
islandaerie, Some of the posters on here are very knowlegeable and have blogs of their own that you can go to for more indepth analyses.
I suggest you check with some of them as they'll be posting here soon. Sometimes you have to ask the same question more than once because the blog moves.
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323. islandaerie
1:45 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Thanks Chiklit...I have seen those images, and wind and seas are down in the area. I am hoping for a "brush by" to the East which might suck wind out of the transit route but so far, been unsuccessful in finding a prognosis for this thing. Do not want increase in seas. but I like the SAL alot...and thanks for the feedback.
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322. eaglesrock
9:46 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
August 3rd...I believe you but I don't believe you at the same time...it will be near that date. Thanks Stormkat for the post...LOL. BTW, how was your fishing trip? You probably just went to the store to get a can of tuna...LOL
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320. Chicklit
1:47 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Is this what you mean by LST?
Landing Ship, Tank
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The tank landing ship (LST, for "Landing Ship, Tank") was created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying significant quantities of vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore. More than a thousand of these ships were laid down in the United States during WWII. Eighty were built in UK and Canada to a modified design and known as LST (3).

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318. eaglesrock
9:40 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
That new wave off Africa looks good. But there's too much SAL near it. It won't develop unless it decreases.
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317. nash28
1:41 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Morning all.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
316. Chicklit
1:36 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Link
islandaerie: I can't tell you what's going to happen at 26N,75W...looks clear right now based on this water vapor imagery though. (In case you don't already know, click on Lat Long in upper left hand corner for grids.)...By "take a right" I gather you mean go south?
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315. islandaerie
1:25 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Hello all....I have done a considerable about of research this AM, as I have a husband on an LST, yes, I said, LST, about to turn right at 26N/75W to head direct to the Virgins. Could anyone supply a good link to allow me to receive accurate forecasts of this system and the progress of our little red blob which is in the Atlantic, just North of PR? Sure would appreciate it.
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314. IKE
8:24 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: eaglesrock at 8:09 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
Well, the unreliable NAM is calling for something in the western Carribean by Tuesday...LOL.


I hear ya. LOL!

Occasionally they are correct on disturbances down there. I remember last year they were..sometimes.

I wouldn't bet my paycheck on it!
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313. sullivanweather
1:15 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
LOL

I haven't gotten that far...

But I can tell you this. A few good waves are about to move off, shear is going to be relaxing and that bermuda high is building towards the west.

Unfortunately this isn't a good combo
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312. amazinwxman
1:14 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Sulliv do you know where in the southeast the tropical weather will be at?
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311. StoryOfTheCane
1:13 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
haha yeah Ive been stayin hidden the past week or so, been kinda boring in the tropics. cant complain about that though.
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310. sullivanweather
1:10 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Eaglesrock, just updated my blog with forecast for 1st 1/2 of august and a commentary on the phantom heat wave
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309. sullivanweather
1:09 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
lol, you just answered your own question!!

Yeah, the new view is awesome
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308. amazinwxman
1:08 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
StoryOfThe I posted a comment on your blog didn't know you were over here on this one.
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307. eaglesrock
9:08 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
Well, the unreliable NAM is calling for something in the western Carribean by Tuesday...LOL.
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306. StoryOfTheCane
1:07 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
its at most been within the past 3-4 days that they put it up on here, I like it
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305. StoryOfTheCane
1:04 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
this is awesome, when did they start putting up this wide view on noaa?

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304. sullivanweather
12:33 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Didereaux,

How could you blame the man. If you're not living in Miami, or Houston, or New Orleans you're not hearing much about the going ons with this very important issue. I don't know who's in Masters' inner circle, but some of those involved in this may be.

As far as his statements as the NHC director being the 'most important job in weather'...he may be right. No other job in weather demands the responsibility of trying to save as many lives as the NHC has to.
Hurricanes are the biggest weather disaster that could happen, arguably.

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303. SkulDouggery
12:29 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I'm not a weather guru but the Gulf looks as if its trying to swirl. I know the water is warm, is this something to be concerned with?
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302. Didereaux
12:29 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Dr. Masters,
Just my personal opinion, but if you don't knock off this office politics crap soon your blog and you will dissolve into complete irrelevency. Quit yammering, prove your point with results...that is what we do in science!
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301. IKE
7:25 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Looks like the ULL in the NW Caribbean is weakening....


"Caribbean Sea...
weakening cut-off upper low remains centered NW of the Cayman
Islands near 21n82w covering the area N of 18n from 78w to the
Yucatan Channel generating scattered showers/thunderstorms
within 120 nm along the coast of Cuba from 78w-84w. Broad upper
high anchored just E of the Lesser Antilles extends a ridge axis
E across the remainder of the Caribbean enhancing scattered
showers/isolated thunderstorms N of 17n from 74w-87w. The ITCZ
axis in the E Pacific region extends from Colombia across S
Panama generating clusters of scattered moderate/isolated strong
convection S of 12n from 75w-78w to inland over Colombia and E
Panama. Moderate easterly trade winds continuing across the
S/central Caribbean."
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300. sullivanweather
12:13 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
I give an 80% chance that we'll see an invest with one of the next 3 waves coming off Africa.

They all look formidable and they're coming off the coast in close sucession. This should prevent the amount of SAL that has been flooding in behind the previous waves, giving them more moisture to work with.

Quite a few waves have already come off the coast this year with a decent vorticy associated with them, but the SAL killed them off.
If the organization that some of the previous waves have shown continue once the SAL drops off we could be looking at a very big Cape Verde season.

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299. FormerFloridian
8:17 AM EDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: GainesvilleGator at 8:12 AM EDT on July 21, 2007.
Hey Koritheman, some of us actually like SAL AND windshear. Maybe you don't pay attention to the price of gasoline or Crude. Crude closed at $75.57 per barrel on Friday. Keep in mind that Crude peaked around $78 a barrel after Katrina & Rita. We are not far from record highes and this is without a single storm threat in the GOM. Barry was in the GOM but wasn't a threat to offshore oil facilities.

Don't forget that Florida received a lot of hurricane damage in both 2004 & 2005. The insurance rates went through the roof & subsided a little bit after 2006 was a bust. I fell asleep last night before the news came on but the TV 20 news commercial mentioned that either Allstate or State Farm wanted to cancel homeowners policies within 5 miles of the coast.

So you still want lots & lots of Hurricanes?


I sometimes wonder if people who want these hurricanes even own a home or any type of property. I do understand the need for hurricanes to study them, etc., but wishing for them makes no sense at all.

By the way, it was State Farm who said they are dropping 50,000 homeowners. I don't live in Florida but still keep up with what's going on down there. State Farm was our carrier when we owned our home down there.
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298. GainesvilleGator
11:59 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Hey Koritheman, some of us actually like SAL AND windshear. Maybe you don't pay attention to the price of gasoline or Crude. Crude closed at $75.57 per barrel on Friday. Keep in mind that Crude peaked around $78 a barrel after Katrina & Rita. We are not far from record highes and this is without a single storm threat in the GOM. Barry was in the GOM but wasn't a threat to offshore oil facilities.

Don't forget that Florida received a lot of hurricane damage in both 2004 & 2005. The insurance rates went through the roof & subsided a little bit after 2006 was a bust. I fell asleep last night before the news came on but the TV 20 news commercial mentioned that either Allstate or State Farm wanted to cancel homeowners policies within 5 miles of the coast.

So you still want lots & lots of Hurricanes?
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297. IKE
7:07 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: sullivanweather at 7:06 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
IKE,

There does appear to be some type of vorticy there and perhaps some turning in the low levels.


I noticed some turning....

I also noticed on the GFS model run that the wave/low train is about a week away from getting going..if the model holds true.

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296. hurricane23
12:06 PM GMT on July 21, 2007
Nothing to significant but things continue to look more interesting with GFS.

Here is the 6Z run which you can see how its developing things out in the eastern atlantic.
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295. sullivanweather
11:59 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
IKE,

There does appear to be some type of vorticy there and perhaps some turning in the low levels.

What you don't want to see are those banding features to the north start to become stationary and develop convection. Then some kind of cyclogenisis might be occuring...

If anything does develop lets hope upper low over northwest caribbean remains in place to keep it in check and deflect it away. If it starts retreating into Mexico....look out.
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294. hurricane23
11:56 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: sporteguy03 at 11:40 AM GMT on July 21, 2007. (hide)
Still watching that area above Puerto Rico, let's see if it gets picked up by the front and go out to sea, if not well who knows but conditions are going to become very favorable soon.

Not until those ULL's move out of the vicinity.Things look quite through the weekend.Adrian
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293. 900MB
11:56 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Not mine, I don't own it...just think for some reason that the next td will come out of that specific area. Psychic forecasting..about as good as any other method.
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 684
292. IKE
6:54 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Posted By: leftovers at 6:32 AM CDT on July 21, 2007.
Looks pretty impressive on the visiable. What do you think ike?


A lot of shear around...from the models I've looked at...it should move north....no development.

Now the SW Caribbean might be a different story. Note the clouds coming off of South America..east of Panama.
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291. sullivanweather
11:51 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
900mb,

If this thing belongs to you, can we sue if it grows into a cat5 monster and sends Tampa to oblivion?! ; ) j/k
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290. 900MB
11:48 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Looks like my little swirl South of Cuba survived the night...still worth watching..awfully warm waters in the Yucatan basin..we'll see!
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289. sporteguy03
11:38 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Still watching that area above Puerto Rico, let's see if it gets picked up by the front and go out to sea, if not well who knows but conditions are going to become very favorable soon
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288. amazinwxman
11:33 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Good Morning all,

Anything of interest going on in the tropics this morn? Is that low still 'forecast" to form off of the Carolina coast or has that changed too?
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286. IKE
6:26 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Statement as of 5:30 am EDT on July 21, 2007

For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico...


disorganized cloudiness and showers extending from the central
Caribbean Sea northeastward into the Atlantic for several hundred
miles and are associated with an upper-low interacting with a
tropical wave. Upper-level winds are not conducive for development
at this time.

Elsewhere...tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the
next 48 hours.

$$
Forecaster Avila
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284. IKE
6:20 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
Trouble ahead in the western Caribbean????

Link
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283. sullivanweather
10:26 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
3 waves


Fsh,

There's two more behind it. I think at least an invest should come of one of these three systems. It's not going to be long durations of time inbetween emergence off the African coast. SAL should have a tougher time building up behind their passge.
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279. Fshhead
9:14 AM GMT on July 21, 2007
Kori like a I said here earlier. I am POSITIVE you guys will have something to track within a month or so. Sept is the height of the season. Sure you will track something then. I just hope its not headin' my way while we are trackin' it lol
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278. KoritheMan
4:03 AM CDT on July 21, 2007
I don't like the SAL or ULL's.... How am I supposed to watch development? I like to study tropical cyclones and other weather like snowstorms, severe weather, etc. The harm I don't want, but I do like to study them......

I'm already in a bad mood tonight, but I won't take it out on anyone here. It's just I don't think the SAL will taper off at all until at least August 15.
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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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