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New NHC revelations; Atlantic tropical update; Hawaii watches Cosme

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:47 PM GMT on July 19, 2007

There are no areas of interest to talk about in the tropical Atlantic today, but we will need to watch the waters off the Carolina coast on Saturday when a cold front is expected to push off the coast. The tail end of this front could serve as the focus for development of a tropical disturbance. The UKMET model is forecasting the development of a low pressure system here on Sunday. This low may be an ordinary extratropical storm, though, due to the presence of high wind shear.

Large amounts of dry air and African dust cover the eastern Atlantic, and this dusty air is moving westward towards the Caribbean. Tropical storm development is unlikely in this region for the coming five days. Thereafter, as a major shift in the Northern Hemisphere weather pattern puts a ridge of high pressure in place over the Eastern U.S., the Saharan dust outbreaks may decrease. Additionally, wind shear over the tropical Atlantic is expected to decrease substantially by next week, and chances of tropical storm formation are much higher next week than they were this week.

Hawaii eyes Cosme
Residents of the Hawaiian Islands need to keep an eye on Tropical Depression Cosme, which is headed towards the islands and may impact their weather by Saturday. Cosme is struggling with 10-20 knots of wind shear and ocean temperatures of about 25 degrees C. Satellite imagery of the storm shows that the amount of heavy thunderstorm activity has decreased some this morning, and it is possible that the unfavorable shear and SSTs will kill the depression before it encounters warmer waters and lower shear on Friday. If Cosme does survive the next 24 hours, it could re-intensify to a weak tropical storm and brush the Big Island of Hawaii on Saturday.

Figure 1. Sea Surface temperatures beneath Cosme were about 25 C (78 F), just below the 26 C threshold favorable for tropical cyclones. Cosme will be traversing a region of 24-25 C SSTs through Friday, then SSTs will warm to 25-26 as it approaches the Hawaiian Islands on Saturday.

More on the National Hurricane Center controversy
In an article published in the Houston Chronicle yesterday, senior hurricane specialist James Franklin said that employees of the center were not coerced by NOAA management into signing the July 5 letter of no confidence against director Bill Proenza. This view was echoed by NHC's top administrator in an Orlando Sentinel article. Franklin outlined a variety of reasons why the staff lost confidence in Proenza--Proenza lacked experience in hurricane forecasting and showed little interest in learning the science, ignored his employees to the tune of 2000 unread email from them, and lied to the press about his employees' reaction to his reprimand from NWS chief Mary Glackin.

Also in the Houston Chronicle story is the revelation that Proenza never applied for the position of director of NHC. He was demoted into it, according to Daniel Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization. This raises the question, who put Proenza into the job? Why did they do it? Hopefully, this will get answered at today's congressional hearing. The list of people testifying include Bill Proenza; QuikSCAT expert Dr. Robert Atlas; emergency management officials who worked with Proenza; and the head of NOAA, Admiral Lautenbacher. With the exception of Lautenbacher, all these witnesses are likely to be allies of Proenza. Also testifying will be Dr. Jim Turner, deputy director of the federal agency NTIS (National Technical Information Service), who led the inspection team that showed up at NHC without notice on July 2. Dr. Turner's report was scheduled to be completed this Friday, July 20, but is now scheduled to be released to the Congressional panel today. Notably absent from the list of people called to testify is anyone from the National Hurricane Center. Also absent is a QuikSCAT science expert besides Dr. Atlas, who has thus far not addressed in his public comments, that I have seen, the very high uncertainties surrounding the impact of QuikSCAT data on track forecasts of landfalling hurricanes. In fact, in comments published in the Orlando Sentinel, Dr. Atlas claimed that Proenza's statement that loss of the loss of QuikSCAT could reduce the accuracy of hurricane-track forecasts by as much as 16 percent represents "the consensus of the scientific community." Well, that is not the case, as myself and senior hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center will attest to. I'll be sure to present a full analysis of the science presented--and the science left unsaid--at today's hearing.

The hearing charter for today's hearing raises these questions:

Why was Proenza chosen to be Director of the highest profiled Center at NOAA?

Beyond the items listed in the Glackin memorandum--which NOAA stresses was not a reprimand document and was not placed in Mr. Proenza's personnel file--are there any other actions that better justify the action to place Proenza on leave?

Why was there such a depth of dissatisfaction over Proenza's focus on a particular satellite?

What is needed to properly equip the Tropical Prediction Center, and are those resources available at this time?

Was the Tropical Prediction Center incapable of carrying out its core task of identifying, tracking and predicting hurricanes before the evaluation team was dispatched by Admiral Lautenbacher?

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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361. Thundercloud01221991
7:42 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Take a look at the pressure readings in the area

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360. kmanislander
7:41 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Looks like something may be going on at the surface in this general area given the W winds now being reported

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359. Thundercloud01221991
7:37 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
according to this it is south wind in Arnos Vale or East of the center

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357. Tazmanian
7:38 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
STL come to my blog
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356. DDR
7:37 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
hey kamanislander,wind at piarco,Trinidad were SSW this morning
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355. kmanislander
7:38 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Also W wind at Martinique and SSW at Guadaloupe
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354. Bonedog
3:35 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
wow the line is developing to the north of my area and already tornado reports and warnings issued. Not normal for here :(
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353. kmanislander
7:36 PM GMT on July 19, 2007

West wind now reported at St Lucia
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351. Bonedog
3:33 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
I am getting ready for some nasty weather here. NWS and SPC calling for severe storms with winds to 70mph, rainfall above 2 inches and hail to 2 inches. Hopefully I can make it home in time to get the lawn furniture tied down and the pond water level down.
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350. islandtimeholidays
7:33 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
St Vincent and the Grenadines
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349. Thundercloud01221991
7:32 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Take a look at this the winds just shot up 4-5 knts in the past half hour to hour at this buoy

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348. Bonedog
3:32 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
ah ok. this one was from 16:34 utc figured it was close enough time wise.

what time is the next pass?
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347. tristanh72
7:32 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
nothing is ever 100% taz. lol

Not entirely true. I'd say there's a 100% chance of someone saying "it's one to watch" on every new wave to appear and any "blob" to be "interesting"

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346. Thundercloud01221991
7:31 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
What country

Hello tazmanian, very strange, wind just shifted to West. I am at 13N 61.2 W, Bequia
I thought the wave passed last night, appears like it is coming back
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345. Tazmanian
7:30 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
hello : islandtimeholidays you can this call me taz ok
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344. islandtimeholidays
7:23 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Hello tazmanian, very strange, wind just shifted to West. I am at 13N 61.2 W, Bequia
I thought the wave passed last night, appears like it is coming back
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343. Drakoen
7:28 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Bonedog the QuickSAT for tonight has not passed yet.
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342. Bonedog
3:24 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
nothing on quickSCAT

decending pass:
href="http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/dataimages21/cur_hires/zooms/WMBds88.png" target="_blank">

accending pas:
href="http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/dataimages21/cur_hires/zooms/WMBas88.png" target="_blank">
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341. groundman
7:22 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: PensacolaDoug at 2:15 PM GMT on July 19, 2007.
You know, it kinda sucks to be so fascinated by these storms while at the same time worrying that they will form and head for you.
I don't wish 'em on anyone else either, but I love to watch and track 'em. It's weird. Thanx for the update Doc!

Ever heard of bipolar Doug?? Just kidding, I think most of us on here share your feelings. Please please don't let one form, but yes please let us track it and know ALL about it if it does.
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340. benirica
7:22 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
unfortunately... no doubt there...
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339. GetReal
7:16 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
The E. Caribbean wave has definately become more symmetrical in appearance over the last few hours. The ULL to the north of the system is actually far enough to the north of the this wave, to assist in the ventilation of the blossoming convection. The upper level anti-cyclone is also clearly visible. It appears that things may finally be falling into place for some actual further development...
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338. Fshhead
7:20 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Benrica, now the heavy rain in Puerto Rico I think we can ALL agree on lol
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337. Drakoen
7:18 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: jphurricane2006 at 7:16 PM GMT on July 19, 2007.

agree with Bob, no organization at this time, but conditions are better for this thing than most anything else this year, lets see if it persists until tomorrow before we get too excited

Yea. thats what i said ealier. These system can look pretty in the day and nightime you see nothing. I will say that it is slightly better organized compared to this morning, though.
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336. benirica
7:18 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
right now if there was no ULL in play to make me think that is why it blew up id think this is actually getting together to do something...
do something or not, its going to bring plenty of unwanted rain to us here in Puerto Rico.
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335. Fshhead
7:19 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
& it appears to me the ULL'S motion is to the west? correct??
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334. Drakoen
7:16 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
the waves current motion is to the WNW...
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333. Fshhead
7:15 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Hmmm I don't know..... its going to run right into it. It may be helping convection now but, in a day or 2????
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331. Fshhead
7:13 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
LOL & I want to note that I am NOT a weatherman by no means. I just remember last year ALOT smaller ULL'S killing off bigger waves than this
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330. JupiterFL
7:12 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
That ULL is definetly helping. If you watch the radar loop you can see the convection really building on the north side just under the ULL.
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329. Fshhead
7:11 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Well all I know is this... The wave moving towards the ULL. Not good odds....
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328. Drakoen
7:10 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
fshhead for now the upper level low is actually helping the wave outflow. We will have to see where the ULL moves.
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327. RL3AO
2:09 PM CDT on July 19, 2007
I've caught up on the "blob".

I give it a 30% chance at 97L and a 10% chance of TD3.
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326. Drakoen
7:07 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
the anticyclone is realy helping the overall appearance. Still i wanna see how this wave does at nighttime and if it can develop a LLC.
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325. Fshhead
7:08 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
heres the loop showing the ULL clearly!
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324. bobw999
3:04 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
I wanted to know if anyone else was having trouble loading the blog?

I am. I tried other sites and they work fine.
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323. Fshhead
7:06 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Hmmmm all this talk of this wave strengthening..
Did you guys notice the HUGE ULL just north of it?? I am thinking this will keep the wave in check. (IMO)
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322. NormalGuy
6:56 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Going on a cruise next week, anyone know about any tropical formation around the bahamas??? Please say no....
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321. kmanislander
7:05 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
No problem here
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320. Drakoen
7:00 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
yea kman. it looks more circular.
I wanted to know if anyone else was having trouble loading the blog?
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319. guygee
7:02 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: CosmicEvents at 6:54 PM GMT on July 19, 2007.
Is the hearing over in Congress?
Yes, but apparently there will be further hearings scheduled, according to the Chair.
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318. Thundercloud01221991
7:01 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Tornado Warning
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317. kmanislander
6:52 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
The cloud field shows a well developed anti-cyclone now overhead the wave as indicated by the "fanning out" of the clouds and overall circular appearance. The linear shape the wave had this morning is pretty much gone which may be an indication of an attempt at organization

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316. CosmicEvents
6:53 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Is the hearing over in Congress?
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315. guygee
6:51 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Joint Hearing: Subcomittees on Energy & Environment and Investigations & Oversight
"Tracking the Storm at the NHC" (cont'd)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) strongly defends the reputation of NHC and it's employees.

Last witnesses are up, Admiral Lautenbacher and Dr. Jim Turner.

Admiral Lautenbacher (Paraphrase):
"The NWS, the TPC, and the NHC is fully prepared for this year's hurricane season".

"...7 of 9 Hurricane specialists felt 'muzzled' by Proenza..."

Admiral Lautenbacher follows up with a damning description of events, assessments and complaints against Bill Proenza.

Admiral Lautenbacher (rough paraphrase): "Hurricane forecasts do not come out of a computer...they are the product of very talented hurricane specialists...that need our complete support."

Dr. Jim Turner also testifies strongly in support of removing Bill Proenza permanently from NHC leadership.

Admiral Lautenbacher talks about the process of contacting NIST to put together a team to investigate problems at NHC and complaints against Proenza.

Admiral Lautenbacher states that he secured legal authority from the Secretary of Commerce to conduct the inspection. Also that he received legal authority from the Secretary of Commerce to remove Proenza from NHC leadership in June of this year.

Admiral Lautenbacher is being questioned on why the inspection of NHC was completely unannounced even to Proenza.

Lautenbacher claims that assembling the team for inspection was undertaken without any pre-conceptions on the need to remove Proenza. He emphasizes that the the legal authority to remove Proenza was necessarily and legally granted by the Secretary of Commerce.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) recites the impressive credentials of both Lautenbacher and Dr. Turner from their resumes.

Diaz-Balart asks Turner about the difficulty of getting employees to criticize their superiors on record.

He then "hypothetically" criticizes Lautenbacher for not acting more aggressively in removing Proenza before the start of a hurricane season.

Rep. Ron Klein (D-Florida) says he is convinced that the potential loss of QuickSCAT is an important issue in these proceedings, and states his belief that the loss of QuickSCAT data would be detrimental to the mission of the NHC. He then asks Lautenbacher for his opinion.

Lautenbacher agrees that remote sensing of surface vector windfields is important and he hopes that quickSCAT will continue to operate through the season. He mentions ASCAT and the addition of four new bouys.

Rep. Ron Klein (D-Florida): (paraphrase) "For the record, I visited the NHC and talked to two different forecasters that validated Proenza's statements on the need for QuickSCAT."

Hearing Chairman Representative Brad Miller (D - NC, 13th District): "There will be further hearings"..."NHC forecasting is not as good as it could be"..."intensity forecasting and forecasting of inland flooding is not as good as it could be". He believes that the unannounced inspection was highly irregular. He also states that he still has questions whether the firing of Bill Proenza came from "above" or "below".

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) is highly critical of the committee for not calling witnesses from the NHC, but also cites the need for them to work undisturbed by politics during the hurricane season. Representative Nick Lampson (D-TX)jokes that they will honor Diaz-Balart's request for a field hearing in Miami next December or January.

Hearing Adjourned.
Sorry for all the typos and paraphrases and a lot of missing information. I will try and find a link to the hearing transcripts and post them here for anyone that is interested.
Related links:
Energy and Environment Subcommittee Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Joint Hearing
Written testimony of all witnesses as well as opening statements by subcommittee chairs can be found on this site.

Opening Statement By Investigations & Oversight Chair Brad Miller
Opening Statement By Energy & Environment Chair Nick Lampson
Lampson Concerned About Survival of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite
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314. Tazmanian
6:49 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
there may be 2 lows the 1st low looks like it is moveing WNW why the 2nd low looks like its moveing W

her is the loop of the 2 lows

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312. Drakoen
6:45 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
I don't see a swirl north of the ABC island. I am more interested in the the area south of Puerto rico where there may be some lower level convergence.
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311. weatherguy03
2:49 PM EDT on July 19, 2007
A rather vigorous wave though. But right now no organization.
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