Texas air pollution study gets help from the Hurricane Hunters

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:52 PM GMT on May 19, 2006

Houston and Los Angeles rank as the two most polluted or cities in the U.S. To address the problem in Houston, a series of air pollution field studies have been run over the past decade in Texas to help understand the what is going on, and come up with the best emission control strategies needed to reduce ozone pollution levels. The TexAQS II Air Quality Field Study is that latest effort to do so. The field study, slated to run through September of this year, will take a broad number of surface based and airborne air pollution and meteorology measurements. A key tool in the study is one of NOAA's P-3 weather research aircraft, which will be specially outfitted as a state-of-the-art air pollution sampling platform. I flew on the NOAA P-3s in a number of such air pollution field studies during my stint with the hurricane hunters. My most memorable project came in 1989, when we flew over the Arctic Ice Cap to track "Arctic Haze". It was unbelievable to be flying over what should have been one of the cleanest places in the world, only to find visibility reduced to three miles in thick haze, due to pollution blown over the North Pole from industrial sources in Eastern Europe.

Figure 1. Areas of the U.S. in violation of the EPA standards for ozone pollution.

The data collected in the Texas study will be used to develop a variety of computer models needed to understand what is going on, and thereby recommend pollution control strategies. Ozone is not emitted directly, but is formed in a very complicated way from the "precursor" pollutants, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). It turns out that this formation process is extremely non-linear--which means that in some cases, reducing emissions of one of the "precursor" pollutants will actually increase ozone. As a result, you really have to understand the problem thoroughly before going to the expense of implementing emission controls of NOx or VOC in an effort to reduce ozone pollution.

Computer modeling efforts to understand pollution are of limited help, because we don't have a very good idea about how much pollution is being emitted. Each year, businesses are required to submit estimates of how much pollution they are emitting. These emission estimates, however, are not very accurate. For example, according to a story published May 7 in the Houston Chronicle, a British Petroleum refinery in Texas City (just south of Houston) reported that it emitted three times more formaldehyde and ammonia in 2004 than in 2003. The increase in emissions at this one plant was so large, that it distorted the data for refineries nationwide, according to the EPA. The Texas City plant accounted for the bulk of a 15 percent increase in emissions in 2004 that drove refinery pollution to its worst level since 2000. The problem is that the company likely underestimated its 2003 emissions. The emission estimates are all theoretical, and are not based on actual measurements of pollutant gases coming out of the stacks.

The article quotes Matt Fraser, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, who says: "It's incredible that they were that far off. That's a huge increase in formaldehyde. It just shows you how little attention is being paid to getting emissions numbers right. And since all of our air-quality control strategies are based on that data, it makes you wonder." Well, the planners of the TexAQS II Air Quality Field Study are also wondering, which is why there is the necessity of doing this field study. The only sure way to know what's really going up into the air is to go out and measure it, and this summer's study should help the scientists and regulators figure out what the right steps are to control air pollution in one of our most polluted cities.

Unfortunately, the participation of NOAA's P-3 in the Texas study means that only one P-3 will be available for hurricane hunting this hurricane season. This worries me, because the P-3s are the best tool we have for hurricane reconnaissance. The Air Force C-130s do not have the state-of-the-art radar systems like the P-3s carry, nor the new SFMR Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer instrument that can measure surface winds speeds anywhere in a storm. Will participation of the P-3 in this air pollution study save more lives and property than if the aircraft participated in hurricane hunting this Fall? I think that is probably the case, but it is definitely a gamble that I'm uncomfortable with.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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311. louastu
6:29 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Anyway, I have to get ready to go. I will be back later.

I honestly hope that things have cooled down by the time I get back.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
308. atmosweather
2:28 PM EDT on May 21, 2006
"El nina"

Is that supposed to be El Nino or La Nina?
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307. weatherhunter
6:26 PM GMT on May 21, 2006

Sorry wonrg link here is the right one
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306. NOLAinNC
2:26 PM EDT on May 21, 2006
What is with the CAPS? Try italics for emphasis. They READ better.
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305. weatherhunter
6:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2006

El nina Comeing back??????

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303. hurricanechaser
6:10 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey everyone,

I am not trying to discredit STORMTOP and it is also a FACT that we ALL will get some wrong ourselves for it is the nature of the science plain and simple and I am certainly not faulting him for a sincere effort much less an excellent job early on relatively speaking.

However, it is an undeniable fact that he didn't do a good job or really even close to be honest as he and others claim when it truly mattered most that really could have meant another 10,000 deaths that were SAVED by the NHC awesome forecasts from 66 hours in and the facts are indisputable and it is very unfortunate for New Orleans that STORMTOP'S forecasted landfall 22 hours before she actually crossed the coast did NOT actually materialize between Pass Christian and Gulfport as he predicted even at the way off 180 mph category five intensity.

However, New Orleans good fortune would have been Gulfport over to Mobiles unfortunate reality if STORMTOP had been "right on" as he claims.

Not too mention, when it STILL came ashore where it did, no doubt more lives would've been lost because New Orleans would have thought they were off the hook less than 24 hours before she hit.

One death is really too many from any storm of course. That being said, there would NOT have been over 1400 deaths had he really gotten it "right on" even if she had come ashore as a 180 mph categhory five between Pass Christian and Gulfport due to all the major evacuations in these areas (more would have evacuated for a 180 mph category five as well) and because they most importantly aren't living below sea level and this erroneous forecast track would've completely spared New Orleans as I keep noting.

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302. louastu
6:09 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
"but the floding was also causd in places by overtopping from the surge not simply levees failing."

One of the biggest reasons that the levees failed is that the water poured over the top of the levees, and eroded the foundations of the levees. This allowed the water to push sections of the levees over, and enter the city. If the levees had not been overtopped, then they very well may have survived the storm, and the pumps would have been able to prevent any major flooding.


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300. WSI
6:01 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
"Stormtop's problem is that he predicts every single storm in the Gulf to be a "Category 6" hitting New Orleans..."

Michael has the quote of the day on this one. Right on target. Remember.... Emily was going to tag Mexico, back up, head for New Orleans, and strengthen to impossible levels. All with a huge high sitting over the southern US. I am going to predict there will be a hurricane this season, and then rub it in everyone's face when I am right. Vague does not equal correct.
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299. hurricanechaser
6:02 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey Louastu,

I agree with most of your points for I have no real knowledge of how strong a storm would have to be for the levees to fail but the floding was also causd in places by overtopping from the surge not simply levees failing.

I completely agree with the reality that there will never be such a thing as a "perfect" forecast due to the immense complexities involved and why the NHC did such an amazing job from 66 hours to landfall for that forecast is really unbeatable.

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298. hurricanechaser
5:41 PM GMT on May 21, 2006

Do you not also realize I am been extremely FAIR with the facts when I research and made the blog comparing your forecasts with the NHC at the continued request of Califonia (wasn't my idea).

I have consistently stated you did an awesome job up until 72 hours to actual landfall and way outperformed the NHC up until that point with all your early successes like the SW movement into Miami, the category five prediction in the Gulf that I myself didn't expect, a landfall forecast near Grand Isle, La. when the NHC was saying the Fl. panhandle and you deserve all the commendation for these.

However, the NHC completely outperformed you by a mile (actually make that like about 30-60 miles in comparison) when you were changing forecasts from WEST of Grand Isle all the way over to Gulfport, MS. but not once forecasting Buras and then the La./MS> border while the NHC was right on during this same time between 66 hours and the 22 hours prior to landfall when you actually did stop posting forecats at 22 hours before landfall with your final 180 mph category five between Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS (the eye not the brunt which you try to spin it).

In other words, it has not nor is it personal but these are FACTS based solely on the NHC forecasts and your own in your very own words.

In short, no one did a better job than the NHC on both the track and intensity forecasts 66 hours to landfall and they SAVED thousands of lives because they did NOT make poor life threatening predictions of a landfall so FAR EAST that would've completely spared New Orleans from even hurricane force winds much less the deadly flooding and most likely would have meant more deaths since most would not have evacuated thinking they were safe at the 22 hours to landfall you were predicting as noted above.

Anyway, think what you so choose but these are facts NOT simply my opinion of them.

In reality, it makes ZERO difference to me if everyone thinks erroneously you outperformed the NHC 66 hours to landfall when it truly mattered most or even if you have even somehow convinced yourself but it does matter to me that the NHC is NOT getting credit for the awesome truly life saving forecast while you claim they caused more than 1400 deaths that would not have occurred had they listened to you.

In reality, the total would probably not have been ONLY 1400 had they listened to you and fortunately they didn't and were really "right on" and they not you or anyone else including me deserves that credit.

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297. LemonAromatique
5:50 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Even if we did manage to slow down the emission of CO2, where would the excess go?

I don't understand what you're asking here. If we emit less, there'll be less "excess" to go anywhere. Are you talking about removing CO2 that's already in the air?

Yea, that's that I meant.
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296. ForecasterColby
5:48 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Junkie, it was not the Fed's problem. The federal government is not even allowed to enter the state with relief until authorized by Blanco. The country is carefully built to keep states semi-autonomous, and I'd like to keep it that way.
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295. louastu
5:21 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
This is the last time I will say this, and I want to make it very clear.

The NHC is not to blame for the deaths of over a thousand people.

The reason that so many people died because of Katrina was:

1. People tried to force nature to do what they wanted (i.e., they built levees to keep the city from having to deal with floods, which would deposit sediment, which kept the city a few feet above sea level).

2. The levees that were in place were inadaquate (they were only built to withstand a cat-3 storm surge).

3. The levees were not properly maintained (the surge from a storm which peaked as a strong cat-2, and hit as a strong cat-2 very well may have breached the levees).

4. Last, but not least, the government officials did an absolutely horrible job of getting people to safety. This is likely a result of poor emergency planning, and a level of complacency brought on by all the storms that had come close to hitting the city, but veered away at the last minute.

I think the NHC did a great job in predicting Katrina, and made it very clear that this was going to be a catastrophe several days in advance. A perfect forecast on any storm is currently not possible, and I very much doubt that we will ever be able to make perfect forecasts with any consistency.
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294. hurricanechaser
5:19 PM GMT on May 21, 2006

What is it around here with people intentionaly lying and/or manipulating real facts?

You said:

the only reason i wasnt on the blob after 66 hours of my forecasting because i knew everthing was written in stone whether you like it or not tony boy the NHC dropped the ball on KATRINA and you better get over it...either you cant read and by the way the second landfall was the pass christian area and gulport area..new orleans would of fared just fine if the corp of engineers would of built our levees right..so tony i wasnt off on the landfall i was right on target...if you can read its all there i suggest you read it after you take your medication...

First, you intentionally try to cover up your poor forecast of a 180 mph category 5 landfall between Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS. saying that you supposedly stopped forecasting the 66 hours before landfall when in fact you you were all over the place changes your forecasted locations never predicting it at Buras and then at the La./MS. border, while the NHC was "right on".

In reality, you stopped posting this last update 22 Hours before landfall before landfall NOT 66 hours, but nice try to manipulate facts for you are certainly in great company here in this community for sure.

Secondly, please forgive me for not realizing that Katrina came ashore between Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS. as a 180 mph category five instead of an official 125 mph category three at Buras FIRST and then at the La./MS. border which had HUGE consequences in comparison.

Do you not realize that had you actually been "right on" for real that New Orleans would NOT have had the deadly flooding and the areas of Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis would NOT have had the brunt of the storm for that would have been much farther EAST naturally with the difference in your ERROR and the NHC awesome forecasted landfall where it actually DID come ashore.

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293. tornadoty
4:44 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Katrina is an interesting case, sort of like Charley, that shows how far we are from our ability to make a near-perfect hurricane forecast. There was nothing aside from climatology that indicated that Katrina would weaken immediately up to landfall. Remember, it took an unexpected ERC to draw in that dry air. Had that not happened, the odds are very high that we would have witnessed the first category 5 landfall since Hurricane Andrew. The path was a very hairy situation. Though some models did indicate a more southerly path (IIRC, the GFDL had it going through the Keys as a category 4), NONE of them had it moving SW for any length of time. It is very rare for that sharp of a SWrly movement in that area. It can be strongly argued that had it not turned SW after landfall, it would have followed that predicted path into the Panhandle because it would have interacted with the trough sooner. It is my personal belief that the NHC did a fantastic job adjusting the track as necessary as the unexpected SWrly movement took place. Now, as for the evacuation debaccle: the Hurricane Pam exercise of 2004 showed that it would take New Orleans 60-72 hours to evacuate. If they had 66 hours as someone here said, that would be plenty of time to get the vast majority of the city to be properly evacuated. However, whoever was responsible for calling the evacuation (I believe that was Nagin) dropped the ball. The mandatory evacuation was called 18 hours before landfall. That is deplorable. To go political for a second, the governor of LA, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, did the best job of all government agencies when it comes to Katrina. She, as soon as Nagin called the evacuation, instituted contraflow immediately on I-55, I-59, and I-10. Though she had her quibbles with Bush, Brownie, and Nagin, consider that it was Bush, Brownie, and Nagin. However, in the whole picture, the only agency that come out smelling like a rose is the NHC. They did the best job that anybody could do. Period.
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292. jeffB
3:40 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
ForecasterColby wrote:

Oxygen sickness doesn't set in until your O2 levels are way, way lower. *grabs formulas, does a little math* At Denver's altitude, roughly a sixth of the atmosphere is gone for purposes of breathing. 21% -> 18% (which is way beyond even the most extreme estimates) would only be equivilent to roughly a 4000ft rise in altitude. Denver wouldn't be real nice, but most of the world's population lives at fairly low (a few hundred ft) altitudes, where the effect would be tiny.

First, thank you for doing the math that I was too lazy to do. :-)

Second, I agree that the issue of reduced O2 concentration is a red herring. We agree that nobody else should be seriously predicting 3% CO2 levels, or the concomitant drop in O2 levels.

Who says plants need fertilizer to grow? What do you think plants did before mankind?

I think that ecosystems evolved over thousands or millions of years of succession, where each year's growth of annuals contributed incrementally to the soil's nutrient content, as did the excrement and bodies of the animals that lived and died there. Again, if you're willing to warm up the Earth by 5C overall and wait a few thousand years, it's quite possible that Russia could become a lush, fertile paradise.

How does it kill them? Do they get caught in a half-inch-per-year sea level rise and drown?

As you yourself said just above, most of the world's population lives at fairly low altitudes. More importantly, one of the main reasons they live there is because that's where the most fertile land is. It might be easy for you to pack up your family's belongings and move, but it's considerably harder to pack up the land you till.

Not only will millions of people be displaced by a significant rise in sea levels, the areas toward which they're displaced are largely already overcrowded. Even on timescales of generations instead of years, mass migrations from lower ground may not be welcomed by those on higher ground. If you think people who live in a relatively rich area always welcome those from a disadvantaged area, you probably haven't been paying much attention to the recent debate on US immigration. :-)

In the US, perhaps, we can just figure that our children and grandchildren will find jobs and move to areas of higher altitude once they graduate from college. Even in the case of acute regional disasters, like Katrina, we can find places to resettle the victims, by driving them hundreds or thousands of miles. In most of the world, it's not nearly that easy.

And, finally, there are the unpredictable but potentially huge changes in precipitation patterns, which won't necessarily be gradual everywhere. When extended drought causes famine, populations do migrate -- but in migrations, particularly of the poorest, a lot of people suffer and die.
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291. Alec
12:39 PM EDT on May 21, 2006
We are definitely going to get hot today....the high over the Gulf will help heat the SE up as well as support rapid SST rise in the Gulf with the loop current becoming warmer with time....
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4:27 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
i would like to thank all of you who have written 100 s of emails backing me up on katrina how you said i was dead on from the beginning....i surely appreciate your support even if they have a few that are going to disagree...i will be on top of this hurricane season and currently im watching a 1008 mb low south of western cuba which is forecast to move in a nw direction late monday towards the southern gulf...this is where im concerned the high that is currently there now is forescat to move out in 48 hours and a strong trough digging in from the rockies will influence whatever develops in the gulf this week...i would urge everyone from the florida panhandle to the texas coast to listen to the weather this week..i will immediately break in with bulletins to let you all know what my thinking is and if we need to take serious action or not...stormtop will advise you so dont worry....im watching the low south of the western tip of cuba...the shear in the area is starting to slacken up...this has been a statement from stormtops hurricane warning office in new orleans louisiana...001138
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289. Alec
12:30 PM EDT on May 21, 2006
I think the NHC gave enough warning and was pretty darn accurate 60 hrs in advance from landfall...they forecasted Katrina to come in at 135(which was extremely close!) I still feel bad for NO and hope that they recover and people's lives come back in order. It hurts to see people suffer...
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287. Inyo
4:20 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
to be honest, although stormtop irritates me, his forecast was not too far off, NOR was that of the NHC. Both indicated that New Orleans was in great danger at least 48 hours in advance... in light of this, it was not the fault of the predictions that people didnt leave.. it was a breakdown of the emergency system due to politics and inefficiency, in my opinion
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286. franck
4:00 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
The politics of the New Orleans situation was dastardly. Nagin wanted Feds to help fetch people off housetops and provided food, water and shelter. But to let them bring order would have undermined his big daddy mystique. As everything in New Orleans, and as everything is becoming in this country, it is actually about race.
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285. StormJunkie
3:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Colby, you are right that Nagin and Blanco were a bigger problem then the NHC, but the feds should have stepped in once they realized that the local management was incompetent.

Check out the warming waters in my blog. I have sst mapos from 03 to 06 posted a couple earlier ones also. Neat to be able to compare them.

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284. ForecasterColby
3:17 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Oh, God, Chaser is back.

The NHC did not do a bad job with Katrina. However, by the time they were right on, Katrina was well into the Gulf and bombing, so that even if NOLA had decent city management, 66 hours is not enough time. As I recall, the NHC also overforecast landfall intensity somewhat until Katrina was dragging in dry air. Still, they did well, and most of the fault lies in Nagin and Blanco, IMO.

Anyhow, ST, I feel that I did a bit better than the NHC on Katrina, specifically on early intensity forecasts. I wanted to be able to easily verify my forecasts, and to have others do so, and that's why the AHC exists.
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283. StormJunkie
2:29 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
Good morning all.

So ST are we still on for the 23-28?

Does any one know why the NAVAL METEOROLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY CENTER - NORFOLK sites windshear and other models go down sometimes? Just a few hours some times and couple of days other times.

Stop by and check out StormJunkie.com also.

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2:38 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
thanks pt 100.............StormTop
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2:08 PM GMT on May 21, 2006
tony first of all you need to go to sleep and take your medication because you are becoming a parrot repeating things over and over again..if you dont agree with me find everyone here is entitled to there opinion even you but dont trash what you read you mention nothing about the pressure of the storm...the only reason i wasnt on the blob after 66 hours of my forecasting because i knew everthing was written in stone whether you like it or not tony boy the NHC dropped the ball on KATRINA and you better get over it...either you cant read and by the way the second landfall was the pass christian area and gulport area..new orleans would of fared just fine if the corp of engineers would of built our levees right..so tony i wasnt off on the landfall i was right on target...if you can read its all there i suggest you read it after you take your medication...
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280. pt100
12:19 PM GMT op 21 Mei, 2006
From my part, end of discussion, I'll restate:
Give him the credit, fight him with facts (and not afterwards!), make use of his knowledge and forget all the other things which are not important at all.
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278. hurricanechaser
11:40 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey Michael and Alec,

I hope you both have a great day as well.:)

I am most certainly done rehashing this topic for I couldn't say anything more than what I have already provided in my rebuttal blog requested by Califonia when most falsely accused me of trying to discredit STORMTOP instead of understanding it was a FACTUAL defense of the NHC.

Honestly, it is so difficult to see Califonia keep reposting that webpage that is not really a fair and factual representation of the NHC and STORMTOP comparison when considering how awesome the NHC did 66 hours to landfall and how far off on both track and intensity STORMTOP was thereafter when lives would have really been at stake as explained in my previous posts that will most likely go unread and thus this post will most likely be misunderstood and misinterpreted as well.

I hope you and everyone else has a truly blessed day.:)

Your friend,

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277. Snowfire
6:41 AM EST on May 21, 2006
I have a new post on my blog.
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276. hurricanechaser
11:09 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey pt,

I gotta get a short nap for I have been up all night in reality.

That being said, I wanted to provide yet one last fact based on my experience in forecasting and working in the field itself as well as reviewing the NHC forecasting history.

Do you realize that every forecaster is wrong more often than correct when trying to predict hurricane landfalls and intensity over a given season if you take into account each 6 hour forecast advisory and compare it to the eventual reality.

My point is that this should highlight just how much guess work (though a very educated and experienced one) is involved in tropical cyclone forecasting despite all of the immense forecasting tools at their disposal.

My desire is NOT to discredit another's forecasting abilities but to provide the facts as it relates to the NHC's remarkably accurate forecast when it truly mattered most and would have never made mention of STORMTOP who I had never heard of until Califonia posted that web page awhile back repeatedly and when I came to a far different conclusion naturally, he requested that I post a very detailed rebuttal if I could.

In reality, this really wasn't too difficult for I gathered the information regarding STORMTOPS outrageous forecasts straight from his web page and couldn't understand how he came to such an unusual conclusion in my personal opinion in relation to the STORMTOP and NHC comparison.

Just so that there is no confusion, it makes zero difference to me if 90% of the people here can outperform me on my forecasts for my forecasts are no more than my very own personal educated guess and that is all they will ever be and this is no different for any other as well.

In short, I am not here to compete with anyone else but to hopefully help even one other person in some minute way.

I wish I had never read califonias webpage and noticed the aforementioned disturbing claims against the NHC for I couldn't help but share the facts in defense of the NHC not as an effort to discredit STORMTOP but based only on the facts.

I will go on record and say STORMTOP is certainly knowledgeable and he will get some forecasts right but I guarantee he will get more wrong as will be the case for the rest of us as well if you take into all of our 6 hour forecasts to even include the NHC which is not meant to discredit them either, but to simply highlight how remarkable the NHC did on the Katrina forecast.

Unfortunately and unfairly, this fact is not even noticed by very few and instead has gotten overshadowed by the popular misconception here that STORMTOP did so much better.


This is because most distinctly remember how well he did do with the SW turn into Miami, calling for category five in the gulf (I did not expect this myself), and how far off the NHC was prior to 66 hours prior to landfall and Califonias webpage doesn't fairly represent the facts regarding the NHC forecasts nor STORMTOP's 60 hours to landfall.

Here's another fact, STORMTOP most definitely way outperformed the NHC up until 66 hours till landfall.

However, the opposite is true thereafter with STORMTOP being way off after that and overall, there is no comparison in how well they did for the Gulf coast landfall.

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275. Alec
7:29 AM EDT on May 21, 2006
Absolutely right Michael....the Katrina landfall was a mere chance he got right....louastu, yes ST blamed the NHC for the 1000+ deaths when it was in fact the NHC who were VERY accurate. Again 180 mph is a whole lot worse than 135mph(wind force exponentially increases as the winds increase).......Ok im done w/that hope everyone has a great day!:)
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273. hurricanechaser
10:27 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey pt,

FACTS, what facts are you reading? I provided detailed facts that couldn't be rebutted in a blog entry encouraged by Califonia and this has ZERO to do with his personality but the FACT he didn't honestly didn't do so well when it mattered most.

Regardless, you are entitled to your own opinion.:)

I will reiterate Tacos sentiments, a lot of us predicted Katrina better than STORMTOP for Gulf coast landfall (although I wasn't here yet at the time), but we don't feel a need to have web pages created to make it APPEAR we outperformed the NHC much less say that the NHC killed more than a thousand people while that would not have happened if they had listened to us.

I wrote my FACTUAL comparison in their very own words and the FACTS are undeniable that STORMTOP was way off on both track and intensity and if that had been the NHC forecasts from 60 hours to landfall, we most likely wouldn't be talking about 1400 deaths but deaths in the 10,000 range.

Your post suggests that you didn't read my posts for the legitimate reasons why I make such a serious prospect, but simply relied on a persuasively written yet just as inaccurate summarization of the facts that focus on STORMTOPS early success where he did most definitely outperform the NHC up to 72 hours prior to landfall and he deserves all the credit for which I have given him repeatedly.

However, no offense intended but there is no factual reasoning to support giving credit for such a poor forecast when it truly mattered most that very well could've been even more disastrous had it emanated from the NHC.

Unbelievably, the NHC is still not getting the credit they truly deserve for saving tens of thousands of lives for the facts are that no one here or anywhere else did a better job 60 hours into landfall on both track and intensity and that is not simply an opinion but a fact supported by concrete evidence.

Specifically, I unlike you took Califonia up on his request for me to provide a rebuttal and in doing so, the evidence clearly supports the conclusions I have provided.

Once again, this has nothing to do with his personality, any desire whatsoever to discredit STORMTOP, or questioning his forecasting abilities but simply providing the facts based on my very exhaustive research requested by Califonia.

This factual comparison was reposted in a recent blog entry (that I had since deleted) because STORMTOP started claiming that the NHC killed over a thousand people that supposedly wouldn't have died had they listened to him which is absolutely false and more likely would have been a far worse scenario based on his erroneous forecast.

It is also important for people to realize that this seemingly competitiveness to be the first to make an accurate and dramatic forecast means very little compared to the far more important reality of an accurate one when it truly matters most in my humble opinion.

Consequently, there is a very sound reason why the NHC despite their own imperfections, don't forecast in such an irresponsible manner.

I will conclude by stating another fact that none of us including he very best hands down at the NHC provide forecasts that amount to anymore than ones best educated guess due to the incredible complex and inexact science that tropical meteorology really is.

As a result, ones gut feeling can even outperform another's detailed through analysis and is one of the reasons I personally chose to work in the meteorological field myself and I suppose I might take things too seriously considering the professionals at the NHC aren't making their best guesses on this website but have the incredible responsibility and burden that a misforecast by them could lead to ten thousand deaths while any our imperfect forecasts have little if any effect on that reality fortunately so.

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272. pt100
09:55 AM GMT op 21 Mei, 2006
I just read the whole history of Stormtop and Katrina and I take my hat off for him and make a deep bow.
How many of you critics can say that you have predicted a path and development so far in advance so exactly right.
Please show it to us like California did with Stormtop/Katrina.
If you can't please be silent and admire the fact that someone, other like yourself, did.

Oke he's an odd one but take a look in the mirror and can you say that you are normal without lying?

Give him the credit, fight him with facts (and not afterwards!), make use of his knowledge and forget all the other things which are not important at all.


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271. hurricanechaser
8:26 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey Randyman,
To be completely honest STORMTOPS forecasts don't bother me for he isn't in a position like the NHC but the facts do matter when he is claiming the NHC caused more than a thousand deaths when in reality they most likely saved 10,000.

Moreover, I will never understand how he and Califonia think he even came remotely close to performing as well as the NHC when it mattered most 60 hours to landfall and for STORMTOP to say his forecat would've saved those people is completely wrong for it most likely would've meant more people deciding to stay and more deaths.

It is not about STORMTOP but about the NHC and the awesome job they did on their forecast and the lives that were actualy saved as a result despite STORMTOPS flawed perspective in my humble opinion as explained in detail in my previous posts.

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270. Randyman
8:07 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
I have to be honest StormTop brings this blog alive with his colorful comments, condescending attitude, and his inflammatory predictions regarding tropical developments. He likes the attention everyone gives him which is why he can't stay away the blog for a long period of time...He always says he will come back when things 'warrant' but he never stays away for too long...So don't take StormTop too serious, just don't respond to his posts that you feel are totally off-the-wall...
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269. hurricanechaser
8:01 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey califonia,

To reiterate since I left off the end of my post...

In short, I had posted a FACTUAL comparison of the NHC forecasts against STORMTOPS from 60 hours to landfall (Stormtop stopped posting 22 hours to landfall expecting the 180 mph Pass Christian landfall which would've been far more disastrous for New Orleans and the surrounding areas for the aforementioned reasons since he was so far off on both track and intensity) in their very own words.

Ther is no way any objective person who understands all the variables involved in hurricane forecasting to include what it meant as to where Katrinas eye precisely crossed the coastline, her intensity at landfall, and how these dramatically different forecasts would've affected the areas that did actually experience the wost of Katrina.

Most importantly, since STORMTOP was still forecasting a 180 mph landfall between Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS. and since he was way off, most likely tens of thousands of residents would've still been in New Orleans expecting her to go so far EAST where she would not have even brought hurricane force winds to the city much less the flooding that claimed more than 1400 lives.
This could've also given those who actually experienced the brunt of the storm like in SE la., New Orleans EAST to Pass Christian, MS. a false sense of security forcasting it to go EAST of all these areas while the awesome NHC forcast really did no doubt save tens of thousands of lives.

This is why tropical cyclone forecasting is so difficult but yet so important because a difference of even 30 miles in landfall location could've meant the difference of 1400 lives not being lost in New Orleans or with STORMTOPS forecast had been dissinated by the NHC would've left these residents with a false sense of security and no doubt more would have not evacuated and most lkely would've meant even more lost lives possibly pushing 10,000 as was the intial expectations a few days after the disaster.

This is not to discredit STORMTOP or his abilities but to distribute the FACTS about the NHC and the amazing job they did to save thousands of lives and to point out how forecasting the extreme event can create more consequences than one realizes and why the NHC gets an unfair rap for being too conservative for if they were going to the other extreme as noted here cxould be just as serious if not moreso relative to forecast intensity.

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268. Inyo
8:00 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Colby, it is true that with more CO2 in the air (up to a point) plants do better.. also with more heat, plants will produce more biomass, assuming average rainfall stays the same or increases. However, the CO2 in the atmosphere and in plants is constantly exchanging... aka, CO2 absorbed by plants is re-released when the plants burn or decay. So while increasing the amount of vegetation on the earth does decrease atmospheric CO2, it will not account for stuff dug up out of the ground. The only way to remove the excess CO2 is to re-bury it.

it is a fallacy that all animals and planys are harmed by warming temperatures. However, due to human impacts, the ability of these organisms to move north or up in elevation with the warming is decreased. So there would be some extinctions. Also, yes the earth has been much warmer before. What was the climate like? It was much warmer and wetter, and dominated by rainforests and swamps. Most likely, the hurricanes in these ancient days were much more intense too. The thing is, humans are a species of deserts, savannahs, and plains. We don't do well in swamps or rain forests.. humans can survive in these environments, but in much lower populations than what we have now... if our floodplans and coastal plains become uninhabitable due to flooding and rising sealevels, it will not be good for us. Then again, if greenhouse warming decreases the human population, maybe that will beneifit other species.. but i dont want any of my friends to die.

The likely reason for the coldest periods being associated with extinctions is not that the cold weather caused the extinctions. The likely reason is that meteors and/or massive volcanos caused both the extinctions and the cold periods. Most likely, the extinctions occurred not only because of the sudden cooling, but because the sun was blocked out by dust and chemicals in the upper atmosphere, killing most plants.
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267. Randyman
7:55 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
243 AM CDT SUN MAY 21 2006




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266. hurricanechaser
7:43 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey Califonia,

Now, lets take into consideration the difference bwtween the far more accurate NHC landfall intensity and STORMTOPS 170-180 mph plus category five landfall forecast.

First, there is absolutely NO comparison between a 170-180 mph category five (consider just the incredible wind damage from a less intense 150 mph Charley and 165 mph Andrew) that would have made the REAL Katrina look like a category one in comparison relative to wind damage and was the reason that the infampous New Orleans NWS freightening hurricane statement the day before was so extreme based on the expectation of 175 mph category five winds not simply the massive surge.

Moreover, Katrina would've had to maintain her more concentrated eyewall of around 85 miles as opposed to the 125 miles that hurricane force winds extended out to at landfall with her substantial weakening.

This would have meant that the storm surge would've been a bit more concentrated and once again EAST of Pass Christian, MS. based on this erroneous forecast.

In short, the NHC forecast was perfect 60 hours to landfall on both landfall location as well as intensity and no doubt spared thousands of lives that weren't lost that otherwise may very well have been with such an erroneous forecast being disseminated by STORMTOP so far off to the EAST creating an even greater disaster for New Orleans for the aforementioned reasons as well as the areas that did actually receive the brunt.

In short, I had posted a FACTUAL comparison of the NHC forecasts against STORMTOPS from 60 hours to landfall (Stormtop stopped posting 22 hours to landfall expecting the 180 mph Pass Christian landfall which would've been far more disastrous for New Orleans and the surrounding areas for the aforementioned reasons since he was so far off on both track and intensity).

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264. Randyman
4:51 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
What up Alec? Long time no see...
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263. louastu
7:43 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
I should note that I am very tired right now, and may not be thinking things through very clearly.

Anyway, I am going to bed now. Good night everybody.
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262. louastu
7:26 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
I have not said a whole lot on this issue, mostly because I do not know the history (I do not want to know the history, as I am sure it is very long, and would probably cause problems).

I do not have a problem with him saying he outperformed the NHC (while I think the NHC did a fine job, this is simply his oppinion). I have not done the research on this topic (and don't intend to), but if he is indeed blaming the NHC for thousands of deaths, then I most definately do have a problem with that. To place the blame on the NHC, is to completely neglect over a century of very poor city planning, and lack of government foresight.

I am a little confused about your last 2 paragraphs, as they seem to contradict each other.
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261. hurricanechaser
7:24 AM GMT on May 21, 2006
Hey Califonia,

Trying to keep this in smaller readable posts.

Not ony would New Orleans had escaped the catastrophic flooding disaster but with his forecast so far to the EAST, many evacuees who did leave might very well have either chosen to stay or returned home thinking it was going so far EAST for a landfall point between Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS.

Now, just imagine for a second what a far worse catrastrphe it would've been based on what actually did occur considering this real prospect and the mass griodlock that would've occured when these unfortunate residents realized less than 24 hours prior to landfall that STORMTOP is still making such a forecast and it instead keeps moving towards them and we have mass hysteria with no time for tens of thousands more likely causalties under such a scenario.

In Pass Christians case as well as Bay St. Louis and these areas that took the brunt of the storm surge and strongest winds that was incredibly accurately predicted by the NHC 60 hours in advance ALL the way till landfall based on a landfall of the eye at the La./MS. border as opposed to between Pas Christian and Gulfport as predicted by STORMTOP with his 170-180 mph winds.

The fact is that a landfall at Pass Christian, MS. would've spared this area and Bay St. Louis from the massive category five surge and the more than 200 lives lost here and moved it much farther to the EAST consistent with the distance between actual landfall as remarkably forecasted by the NHC and STORMTOPS erroneous eye landfall betwen Pass Christian and Gulfport, MS.

If he had been right, places like Pasagoula, MS. and Mobile, Al. would have experienced xtreme conditions far exceeding what they actually got that was bad enough relative to storm surge.

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