NHC director Proenza calls for new satellite

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:52 PM GMT on March 19, 2007

At a news conference last week, incoming National Hurricane Center director Bill Proenza issued a plea for new funding to replace the aging QuikSCAT satellite. Ocean surface winds measured by the QuikSCAT satellite are one of the most important sources of data used by hurricane forecasters, and losing the satellite would be a major blow. The QuikSCAT satellite's "SeaWinds" instrument emits a pulse of microwave energy that bounces off the ocean surface and returns to the satellite. The amount of microwave energy bounced back to the instrument is inversely proportional to how rough the sea surface is, and one can compute the wind speed and direction at the ocean surface based on this information. These measurements, performed twice per day over most of the Earth's surface, are the only reliable source of wind information for much of the remote ocean areas. As a result, this data is critical for the computer models that forecast hurricanes, since hurricanes typically move over data-poor ocean areas. Proenza estimated that without winds from the QuikSCAT satellite, two day hurricane track forecasts would be 10% worse, and three day forecasts 16% worse. I imagine that these increased errors would primarily affect weaker systems far from land, where we don't have data from the Hurricane Hunters. Still, the average cost of putting a single mile of the U.S. coast under a hurricane warning is about $1 million. These are the costs due to evacuation, preparation, and lost business before the hurricane's winds start to blow. Given that the average error in a two-day forecast was about 100 miles last year, even a 5% increase in hurricane track errors could add up to more than $100 million in false alarm costs in just a few years. Consider the case of 1999's Hurricane Floyd--2000 miles of coast were warned, resulting in over $1 billion in false alarm costs.

Figure 1. The NASA QuikSCAT satellite. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

The QuikSCAT satellite was launched in 1999, and was originally scheduled for a two-year mission. The satellite is now entering its 8th year of operation, and is down to its backup sensors. QuikSCAT could fail at any time. A replacement would cost about $400 million dollars and take at least four years to construct and launch, according to Proenza. No replacement is currently planned. Funding a replacement QuikSCAT satellite is one of the most urgent hurricane-related funding issues Congress needs to address, and I'm pleased the new NHC director is drawing attention to this need early in his tenure.

I'll have a new blog on Wednesday.
Jeff Masters

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131. hurricane23
2:39 PM GMT on March 21, 2007
Drakoen that is correct development this time of year is very rare but the GFS has been pretty persistant on some type of sub-tropical or hybrid system developing in this area and moving in a ENE fashion.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
130. Drakoen
2:31 PM GMT on March 21, 2007
If you look at the animated loop. I t seems that the shear it effecting those cloud tops.The shear may die down by next week, but that would be quite dramatic, though those shear charts prove unreliable. Kinda surprsing tosee there be a possible invest at this time of the year.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 32857
129. hurricane23
1:39 PM GMT on March 21, 2007
00Z CMC has 2 areas of development!

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128. hurricane23
1:25 PM GMT on March 21, 2007
06Z GFS continues to show some type of maybe hybrid development.

Current Visible satellite of the area.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
127. sxwarren
11:38 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Sea level rise consequences -

Sea volume increases need to be measured horizontally as well as vertically.

Gradually sloping coasts (1'-2' per mile), such as in Delaware or the Gulf states, may see a shoreline loss up to 200 times the vertical rise in sea level. For every centimeter (10mm, or about the current 3-year average) in sea level rise, this could equal nearly seven FEET of shoreline retreat in these areas.

Whether hurricanes increase in average intensity or not, this would potentially increase the damage they can do.
Member Since: October 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 103
126. Patrap
11:12 AM GMT on March 21, 2007

More From The Times-Picayune | Subscribe To The Times-Picayune
Corps caused disaster, report says
State inquiry finds decades of blunders
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
By Bob Marshall

Decades of incompetence and neglect by the Army Corps of Engineers allowed Hurricane Katrina's storm surge to devastate New Orleans, according to a long-awaited report being released today, the state's only official investigation into the causes of the disaster.

In a sweeping indictment of corps stewardship, the report alleges that agency supervisors ignored increases in the threat level for their project, knowingly built levees and floodwalls lower than congressionally mandated, failed to detect or ignored glaring errors during the review process, underestimated the impact of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet on the city's defenses, and failed to properly maintain the system.

The report, conducted by Team Louisiana at the request of the Department of Transportation and Development, echoes many points made in other probes last year, including that of the Independent Levee Investigation Team, led by the University of California-Berkeley, and the interim report from the corps' own Independent Performance and Evaluation Team. But while those efforts focused largely on technical aspects of the structural failures, the LSU-based Team Louisiana sought to pinpoint the decisions that caused those failures.

"It's one thing to use modern, state-of-the-art computer modeling and determine what happened, and the other teams did a very good job of that," said Ivor van Heerden, a director of the LSU Hurricane Center who led Team Louisiana. "But the only way to really understand if mistakes were made was by relying entirely on using the (engineering) tools the corps would have used -- or should have used -- when they did their designs."

A spokesman for the corps' hurricane protection office in New Orleans said officials there have not yet seen the report and had no comment.

18-month effort

The 10-member investigative team, including seven Louisiana State University engineering and storm researchers and three private sector engineers, spent almost 18 months and $200,000 on the effort, including a $100,000 grant from its major backer, the state Department of Transportation and Development. Among the key findings:

-- By ignoring two increases in the severity of the Standard Project Hurricane -- the model storm the system was designed to thwart -- the corps knowingly failed its 1965 congressional charge to protect the city against "the most severe combination of meteorological conditions reasonably expected."

The original model was based on research through 1959. But the corps did nothing to strengthen the system in response to two increases in the projected strength of the model storm, in 1972 and 1979.

"The standard set by Congress in 1965 was very specific -- 'the most severe threat that could be expected,' " van Heerden said. "Our research shows very clearly that the standard was changed, but the corps just kept going about its business as if nothing happened." Katrina, a Category 3 storm when it made landfall, fell far short of the expectation of the most severe hurricane.

-- In 1985, the head of the project ordered his staff to ignore an official reduction in the elevation of the land they were building on, which meant the corps finished levees and floodwalls it knew were as much as 2 feet lower than claimed. That decision helped turn Katrina from an inconvenience into a catastrophe.

"Had the walls been built as high as called for, the floodwalls in the Lower 9th Ward would have been overtopped for 1.5 hours, but instead water poured over them for 4.5 hours," van Heerden said.

He said the extra three hours resulted in deep trenching on the protected side of the floodwalls, contributing to the collapse that sent a wall of water roaring through the neighborhood, killing more than 100 people and displacing an entire sector of the city.

Below-design walls and levees contributed to many of the more than 50 breaches the system sustained during Katrina, the researchers said.

More findings

-- Applying the corps' own design manuals in use at the time, Team Louisiana found instances where the agency missed glaring engineering mistakes by subcontractors, which led to breaches including those on the 17th Street and London Avenue canals.

In one instance, local firm Eustis Engineering botched a standard engineering formula in deciding that a thin layer of clay at the bottom of the London Avenue Canal could prevent water from seeping into highly porous sands below, the report said. During Katrina, water pushed through the clay, quickly traveling through the sand to the dry-land side of the sheet pilings, weakening the levee and leading to a catastrophic breach. Eustis Engineering has declined to comment in the past on the matter and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"Had the corps caught that error -- as it is supposed to -- and required the work to have been done properly, in all likelihood the design would have been changed, which could have prevented this failure," van Heerden said.

"We found several stances where (better) designs were originally proposed -- T-walls instead of I-walls -- and then changed for no apparent reason." -- The corps failed to maintain the parts of the system properly, including keeping pace with subsidence. Moreover, the agency ignored advances in engineering knowledge and technology that could have prevented the flood.

The system "was managed like a circa 1965 flood-control museum," the report reads, pointing out that the corps made no improvements to account for well-known changes in elevations, sea-level rise or even gaps left in the system.

Paul Kemp, who was part of Team Louisiana as an LSU storm modeler, said he was "struck by the fact that the corps showed no sense of mission on this project, even though it was involved with it for more than 40 years."

Instead, the agency showed "absolute adherence" to obsolete standards -- a 1959 model for the Standard Project Hurricane. And yet the corps seemed willing, Kemp said, to make other wholesale changes midstream, such as abandoning a proposal to install floodgates at the canals in the mid-1980s, which might have stopped the Katrina surge that broke through their walls.

"It looked like no one was really in charge," he said.

Calls for 8-29 panel

The report also calls for the state and Congress to hold "8-29 Commissions" for a full investigation of the disaster, passage of a "Katrina Recovery Bill" to ensure coastal restoration and flood protection are fully financed by the federal government, and more transparency on the part of federal and state authorities when discussing flood protection plans.

"Citizens of New Orleans were never told by those with both knowledge and responsibility just how vulnerable they were to flooding, or the public safety compromises made in designing and building structures," the report states
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144126
125. BahaHurican
9:53 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Well, there was actually a Category 2 hurricane in March before (no, I am not talking about the South Atlantic hurricane).

Look at the direction, too. Running to the sun . . .lol

It would interesting to see what conditions in 1908 led to the development of this system.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26797
124. StoryOfTheCane
6:15 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
In the 62 years of recorded hurricane history, only 4 systems have formed between the months of January and April

8 have formed in May

36 in June

59 in July

176 in August

228 in September

114 in October

33 in November

7 in December
123. StoryOfTheCane
6:10 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
until this shear drops considerably and sst's increase another few notches theres no way thats happening, 23. Once this shear dies down though, we're looking at a very active La Nina year.

122. Caffinehog
5:00 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
The shear's still too high. Could be subtropical, but I doubt it. It's our best shot so far this year, though.
Member Since: June 5, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 40
121. hurricane23
4:36 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
00Z continues with development but in a much weaker state.Maybe a hybrid type system.Goodnight

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
120. hurricane23
3:57 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Another version...

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117. hurricane23
3:48 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
waiting on the 00Z GFS which is coming out.
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116. BahaHurican
3:47 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Looks like a spinoff from a front . . .

Hmmm .. ..
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26797
115. hurricane23
3:45 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Weaker then the GFS but the Nogaps also seems to think we might see some development.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
114. hurricane23
3:36 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Bahahurican if anything were indeed to form it should move in a ENE trajectory.Development this time of the year is quite rare for a reason and the chances of anything significant taking place are rather low but its happend in other occasions.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
113. BahaHurican
3:34 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
We have had tropical sytems form, though rarely, in April. We're only 10 days from that.

That being said, so far there doesn't seem to be much of anything that would lead to this kind of early generation, besides the warm winter we have had.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26797
112. Quark
3:33 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
hello 23 and evere one
111. BahaHurican
3:32 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Ah, to the east of us, not directly over us.

This might be interesting, but only if it actually moves west . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26797
110. hurricane23
3:27 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
We'll the GFS has been insisting on development that past few days and in all honesty the chances of it takeing place are rather low but its worth watching.00Z should be out in about the next our or so.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
109. catastropheadjuster
3:25 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
H23 Hi, Nothing can form this early can it?Cause it's too early and the winds are to high. am I right?
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3689
108. hurricane23
3:15 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
18Z GFS seems to keep insisting on development in about a week!Something to watch?Maybe.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
107. weatherboykris
3:02 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 2:36 AM GMT on March 21, 2007.

When ice melts, it actually absorbs heat, so a glass of water with ice in it would remain near 32*F until all of the ice melted - it is freezing water that releases heat.

Darn...got it backwards.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
106. ajcamsmom
2:50 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
All I know for sure is that I am doing my best to rebuild my home in Pass Christian, MS...I want to go back so bad it hurts. I started rebuilding in October and my builder just has not come thru for me...I am meeting with a new builder on Friday...but, when I do get back, I have already decided...if another storm knocks me down anytime soon...I will leave my slab, put in a power and water hook-up and move in a nice RV.
105. Skyepony (Mod)
2:47 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
KABUL - More than 50 people have been killed and hundreds displaced because of heavy rainfall, avalanches and floods over the past few days in Afghanistan's southern and south-western provinces, officials say.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 418 Comments: 43842
104. Skyepony (Mod)
2:42 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Just out
MADRID, Spain - Global warming is likely to bring more tidal waves, floods and hurricanes, leading meteorologists said on Monday.

"What we know is that global warming is very likely to lead in the future to more frequent tidal waves," the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told a news conference ahead of a meeting in Madrid on Monday.

"Heavy precipitation events are very likely to become more frequent ... and it's likely that hurricanes and cyclones will become more intense," Michel Jarraud said.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 418 Comments: 43842
102. weatherboykris
2:33 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
And surrounding ice.Which will melt more ice,release more latent heat,melt more ice,and release more latent heat.A positive feedback loop.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
101. weatherboykris
2:31 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Good point CB.Not to mention the latent heat release from the water melting will warm surrounding water.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
99. BahaHurican
2:23 AM GMT on March 21, 2007

I've been having a "bad feeling" about this season. I'm not sure if the season will actually have more storms, but I am more concerned about where the storms that DO form will end up. So far I haven't seen much in the way of steering pattern forecasting, but I'm really interested about 1) location of AB high / ridge, and 2) amount of SAL dust.

Currently in Nassau the winds are ridiculously high. Wind chill has prolly taken temps down as much as 10 degrees today / tonight. It's supposed to continue windy here for a couple of days, too. So I don't think we will get much in the way of a low sticking around here any time soon . . .

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26797
97. jake436
2:09 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
I despise getting involved in discussions about GW, but I find your dad's concern about the ice caps melting and causing the sea level to rise to be interesting. He thinks that this hurricane season will somehow be worse because of that? First of all, since '05, any sea level rise, IF it were to actually happen, would probably be less than an INCH! Secondly, with that ice melting like it is, the water temps ought to be really cool this summer, right?

Actually, the first three concerns your dad has are legitamite enough, although they don't make a strong case for a WORSE season than '05. The water temps were high then, and there was no El Nino then. There was, however, a lot more barrier islands then, or at least they were in much better shape before the '05 storms. They are really struggling to rebuild themselves in certain areas, like the Chandeluer chain of islands off the LA/MS coast. Most of the sand base was washed away, and the marsh mud will not be able to stand even a minimal storm until some rebuilding occurs. However, even that doesn't make for a worse season...just a worse result, if at all possible, in that there is even less to slow down the surge. In all honesty, in retrospect, the islands didn't do much to slow down the surge anyway during Katrina. Nothing will slow down 30' surge with 20' waves on top.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 271
96. ajcamsmom
2:00 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
My dad thinks this hurricane season may be worse then 2005. He feels this way because El Nino is gone, the barrier islands are gone, water temps are up and with the melting ice caps, he thinks that the sea level is rising...any comments?
1:26 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Out back, in sight of the VAB, in Haulover Canal, they say the shrimp are running well, but I can't go tonight. It's been better this season without tropical storms tearing up the grass beds last year.
That hail damage is ugly - I had a car that looked like that one time. I hope the repairs hold up. (The Shuttle, not the car).
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2157
93. Patrap
12:44 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
Orbiter in High Bay..click for High rez Link
Space Shuttle Atlantis, surrounded by service platforms in highbay 1 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, continues to undergo inspection for hail damage. Special scaffolding and access platforms have been erected around the space shuttle and repair methods and criteria are also being developed.

Repairs to the orbiter thermal protection system tiles are nearly complete and technicians are preparing to conduct non-destructive evaluation of the vehicle's reinforced carbon carbon panels on the left wing leading edge using thermography equipment.

NASA program managers are meeting this week to assess the damage and repair status to the external tank which was damaged Feb. 26 during a hail storm at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

A teleconference follows the meeting to review options for repairing the fuel tank and live audio of the event will be available. View of ET Hail Damage..click to enlarge Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144126
92. hurricane23
12:18 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
That OCSI prediction is ridiculous as they have the entire eastern side of florida in blank with only 7 named storms and only 4 becoming hurricanes is a little unrealistic and could only give folks a false sence of security.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
12:16 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
OSCI? Pulleease!
witch doctor
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90. 882MB
12:14 AM GMT on March 21, 2007
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89. cajunkid
10:44 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
Skyepony, probably so

it still caught my attention
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1408
88. Skyepony (Mod)
10:40 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
cajunkid~That OCSI prediction with nothing for east central Fl makes me nervous. This far out, odds are they got it all wrong.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 418 Comments: 43842
87. Skyepony (Mod)
10:35 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
On the ENSO discussion about 3 weeks ago the ESPI went slightly positive indicating we would have a little warming soon, the next week it dropped to like -.46 & this last week -.81, which signals cooling in the next few weeks. I see this little warming as being reassuring that we totally haven't left the relm of climotology. ENSO like many other things in climate go generally in an up or down fashion by taking a lot of little ups & downs to get there.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 418 Comments: 43842
86. cajunkid
10:34 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
Check this out
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85. cajunkid
10:32 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
Check this out Link
and this
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84. CaneAddict17
10:31 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
April 3rd or 4th I think
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 156
83. MissBennet
10:13 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
LOL Wishcasterboy... we should have Toyota make it. Then it'll last 20 years and still have enough left over for another 100,000 miles.

*sigh* I miss that car... 310,000 miles and still going when I sold it to a high school kid.

Enough about cars, when does the next Atlantic basin hurricane forcast come out? All I've seen is the UK guys forcast. Will Colorado put one out soon? Or did they already and I missed it...
82. Wishcasterboy
9:54 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
This satellite was sent up in 99 and it's ready to crash? I think they need to make these so they last longer.
81. Tazmanian
8:35 PM GMT on March 20, 2007
poor FL

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