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

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61. Drakoen
2:56 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
ryang, i am saying it is our best chance to see something in the short term although i am not anticipating development. That wave of Africa is also interesting.
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60. Drakoen
2:55 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
The wave itself is moving away from the SAL.
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59. ryang
10:54 AM AST on July 19, 2007
Ok, So you are saying it has a chance to develop?
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58. ryang
10:52 AM AST on July 19, 2007
Also, a large area of SAL is behing the wave, over the islands.
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56. Drakoen
2:52 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
ryang the upper level high will make the wave unaffected by shear. Read weatherguy03 blog.
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55. IKE
9:52 AM CDT on July 19, 2007
ryang...there's 20 knots of shear about 150-200 miles north of it, but it's paralleling that shear.

Here's a shear map from CIMSS>>>Link
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54. kmanislander
2:47 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Hi Again

The wave in the Caribbean only stands a chance of developing if the ULL over the Caymans moves away. It has been stationary now for two days and the WV loop does not show much in the way of any movement at this time. There may be a very slow wwrd drift but the wave is closing on it fairly quickly.

The loop shows this quite clearly

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53. ryang
10:47 AM AST on July 19, 2007
IKE... And it's moving WNW into shear north of it. Anyway, it's still disorganized.
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52. guygee
2:46 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
I am trying to figure out what new authority the NTIS has obtained over the past few years to have the right to "inspect" the NHC. NTIS used to be a rather benign government agency with a mission "to support the nation's economic growth by providing access to information that stimulates innovation and discovery."

Apparently the NTIS has gained some sort of policing powers over the government scientific community in the past few years. I could not find the change in law or executive policy that supports this, although I did find this old article from 1999 when there was a move to try and eliminate the NTIS:

Anybody out there have more recent information on the NTIS and the source of their right to "inspect" the NHC?
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50. Drakoen
2:36 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Also there is an upper level high over the lesser Antilles.
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49. IKE
9:33 AM CDT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: ryang at 9:32 AM CDT on July 19, 2007.
The wave over the islands, will be sheared away soon.

From what? CIMSS has shear at 10 knots or lower everywhere in the Caribbean except for near the coast of Guatemala and Nicaragua.
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48. Drakoen
2:32 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
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47. msphar
2:19 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Things that go poof in the morning (PDT):
COSME is gone but not forgotten, still 800 East of Hawaii TD status,reminant core. That cloud east of SA, that captured so much attention last night,vanishing this AM.

Next week will be more interesting, because the bar was set low this week.
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46. ryang
10:29 AM AST on July 19, 2007
The wave over the islands, will be sheared away soon.
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43. moonlightcowboy
2:26 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Drakoen, that pic of the GFS...well, that HIGH out there is just SOOOOOO big and dominate....intimidating!!! I think we'll get 97L and Chantal soon...and with that high, shoot-looks like trouble ahead.

Okay, now I gotta go...running late.
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40. MisterPerfect
2:26 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Report: Proenza should not return to storm center

WASHINGTON -- Bill Proenza should be reassigned and not permitted to return as director of the National Hurricane Center, according to a special team sent to investigate the management crisis at the center.

The team's final report, released just before the beginning of a congressional hearing on the matter, said Proenza had become a divisive force at the center and had lost the confidence of much of his staff.

In the wake of a staff mutiny, Proenza was placed on indefinite leave last week from the center, also known as the Tropical Prediction Center.

''The current TPC director should be reassigned and not be allowed to return to his position at the center,'' said the report by the team, assigned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to look into Proenza's brief tenure at the center.

''This should be done due to his failure to demonstrate leadership within the TPC rather than his public statements about the QuikScat satellite or NOAA leadership,'' the report concludes.

Proenza and his superiors at NOAA were scheduled to testify Thursday morning to a congressional committee investigating the situation at the forecasting center in West Miami-Dade County.

Proenza, who ran the center for only six months before being relieved of duty, was the first witness to be called by members of the House Committee on Science and Technology. His testimony was expected to begin about 10 a.m.

The special investigative team said forecasters and others at the center ''are highly dedicated to achieving the mission of saving lives and protecting property'' but ``the short-term ability of the TPC to provide accurate and timely information was put at risk due to the TPC director's disruptive conduct and the lack of trust between many staff and the director.''

It said that Proenza's actions ``intimidated some staff and alienated others. Teamwork, essential to the center's forecasting capabilities, was damaged severely. Some staff were concerned about retaliation for voicing their views.''

The team said Proenza's public statements confused and unnecessarily worried residents of the hurricane zone and that many of his employees believed that he lacked integrity in his dealind with them.

Proenza has denied all such assertions and suggested that he was being punished for occasionally objecting to orders from NOAA headquarters and otherwise bucking management.

During his brief tenure at the hurricane center, Proenza repeatedly criticized his bosses at NOAA and alienated many of his employees, who ultimately rebelled and publicly demanded his dismissal.

Later Thursday, the committee was scheduled to hear from NOAA head Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr.

Lautenbacher chose Proenza last December for the highly visible job at the hurricane center -- despite Proenza's reputation as a maverick within the bureaucracy. Then, in an unprecedented action, Lautenbacher put him on indefinite leave last week and placed deputy director Ed Rappaport in charge.

During his testimony, Lautenbacher was expected to discuss details of the report by the team he dispatched to the center earlier this month to conduct an unannounced, snap investigation of complaints about Proenza's leadership.

The turmoil, which has fractured the staff into pro-Proenza, anti-Proenza and neutral camps, still rages as the heart of the hurricane season approaches -- though all sides say they can and will work together to produce accurate forecasts.

At the core of the dispute: Proenza's public criticism of NOAA for not swiftly replacing the QuikScat weather satellite, an important tool that already is beyond its planned life span.

He also criticized NOAA for spending millions of dollars on an anniversary celebration while his forecasters dealt with budget shortfalls and $700,000 that was cut from a hurricane research project.

He claimed that his forecasters supported him, but most did not. They said he exaggerated QuikScat's contribution and his warnings unnecessarily alarmed the public about the accuracy of their forecasts.

In addition, they feared that his efforts would result in a hastily conceived plan to merely duplicate QuikScat rather than a project to build a vastly superior replacement, which they preferred.

Some employees also complained about Proenza's management style and said they had reason to doubt his truthfulness.

One senior forecaster, Rick Knabb, wrote in an e-mail that Proenza had publicly misrepresented remarks made by Knabb during a private conversation and ``I will no longer meet or talk with you in private.''

At the same time, however, Proenza was supported by others at the hurricane center and by many within NOAA's scientific community.

They praised him for raising public awareness about QuikScat's imminent demise and about inadequate funding for hurricane research.
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39. PensacolaDoug
2:24 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Good site Josh. I didn't see the "poll" tho.
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37. hurricane23
10:25 AM EDT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: StormW at 10:19 AM EDT on July 19, 2007.

Good morning Adrian.

Hey storm how u feeling?Hope your feeling better.

I did some updates on my website as far as marine obs and recon data if you can stop by and take a look.Thanks

1-My Tropical Page
2-Aircraft and marine obs page
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35. wederwatcher555
2:23 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
that wave off africa could be chantal? too early to say obviously, but does it stand a chance greater than those we've seen this week?
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34. Drakoen
2:23 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
this wave is slightly more interesting and its closer to the lower 48s
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31. Drakoen
2:22 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
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30. ryang
10:21 AM AST on July 19, 2007
Posted By: Drakoen at 10:21 AM AST on July 19, 2007.

ryang the the GFS 06z develops a 1007mb low with that wave of Africa.

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29. Drakoen
2:20 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
ryang the the GFS 06z develops a 1007mb low with that wave of Africa.
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28. ryang
10:18 AM AST on July 19, 2007
The CMC also shows a low around 30W Africa soon(TOMORROW OR FRIDAY).Link
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25. ryang
10:16 AM AST on July 19, 2007
Posted By: JoshNHurricanes at 10:15 AM AST on July 19, 2007.

ya think that'll be 97L? Drkeon

I think it will be... NO SAL to worry about...
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24. Chicklit
2:13 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
What I don't get is, if this is a "congressional hearing," why is only one side of the issue being heard????
Politics. What a crock of bull-hooey.
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23. Drakoen
2:16 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: JoshNHurricanes at 2:15 PM GMT on July 19, 2007.

ya think that'll be 97L? Drakoen

Can't tell. it just came of the coast.

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 32600
22. gthsii
2:15 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
texascanecaster: can you just post links to the articles? All this text is littering the weatherblog.
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21. ryang
10:15 AM AST on July 19, 2007
The new wave now coming off, the GFS develops it at 40W.
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20. PensacolaDoug
2:08 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!
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18. hurricane23
10:13 AM EDT on July 19, 2007
Posted By: srada at 10:12 AM EDT on July 19, 2007.

Thanks Hurricane23

Not a problem....

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16. srada
2:09 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Thanks Hurricane23
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15. Drakoen
2:10 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
New wave of the coast.
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12. moonlightcowboy
2:00 PM GMT on July 19, 2007
Good morning, all! Nice update, Doc.

See the blob crashed and burned into the SA coast.

The Caribbean wave will be interesting; but, it sounds like Doc doesn't think it will develop.
I like Kman's and Adrian's take on it this morning though.

A good part of the Itcz remains higher than 10n, especially near the broad low out at 38w,12n. The low is still hanging on with a wide spin. It still has a chunk of SAL in front of it, but it seems to keep getting pulled into the moisture of the Itcz.

Behind the low, its mostly SAL free for any new blobs rolling off the A coast. "Five days"...well, we'll have to see. I still think we'll get at least one July named storm before month's end. Today's just the 19th...long way to go yet for the "tropics."

Have a good day. I'm out for an all-day meeting, and then meeting my daughter for dinner. So, you all hold the fort down and keep the doors closed. I'll catch up this evening! L8R!
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