Hurricane Sandy may turn out to be the most expensive storm to hit the U.S. -- causing damage to 15 states and power outages to over 8 million people -- yet the National Hurricane Center did not issue hurricane warnings north of North Carolina.
Typically, hurricane watches are announced 48 hours in advance of the expected onset of tropical storm-force winds. Hurricane warnings are usually issued 36 hours in advance. The National Hurricane Center issued a statement on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, that there would be no advisories issued for Sandy to the north of North Carolina.
The following is an excerpt from the NHC statement:
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues advisories, forecasts, and warnings on tropical cyclones - the generic term for hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions. Sometime prior to making landfall, Hurricane Sandy is expected to lose its characteristics as a tropical cyclone and take on the structure of a wintertime low-pressure area. Because the National Hurricane Center only issues advisories on tropical cyclones, there will be changes in the flow of information coming out of the NWS when this transition occurs.
Hours before landfall, AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers urged the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to reverse its decision to not issue hurricane or tropical storm warnings for Sandy north of North Carolina.
"To indicate that there is a landfalling hurricane, and to issue warnings about it, is the most effective thing that can be done to warn the public," Myers said.
There were no hurricane watches or warnings issued by the National Hurricane Center for New Jersey ahead of Hurricane Sandy's landfall near Atlantic City last Monday evening.
"What we have is a hurricane becoming embedded in a winter storm. It's clearly unprecedented," Myers said. "But to refuse to issue hurricane warnings clearly can cause confusion."
According to Myers, not issuing such warnings led to mixed signals for both public safety officials and the public.
"Mayor Bloomberg was confused at one point over the weekend whether Sandy was a hurricane," Myers said. "If the mayor of the biggest city in the United States was confused, emergency management and others certainly can be confused" as well.
Without hurricane warnings from the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service (NWS) organization changed what products they issued. According to the normal procedures for issuance of Tropical Cyclone Products, once the National Weather Service puts out a tropical storm/hurricane watch/warning, the local NWS offices can issue Hurricane Local Statements. Instead, the Philadelphia and New York City NWS offices put out a multitude of watches and warnings, which included:
-Coastal Flood Warnings
-High Wind Warnings
-Flash Flood Watches
-Coastal Flood Watches
-Hurricane-Force Wind Warnings
-Public Information Statements
-Special Weather Statements
-Marine Storm Warnings
"It changed a little bit because of the type of product we issue," Al Cope, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Philadelphia, said. "For a hurricane warning or a watch, we issue a product called the 'Hurricane Local Statement.' That covers a lot of things. It covers the winds, the effects of the winds, the wave, the tidal surge and other threats in a tropical system. In this case, we handled it with a different set of products."
According to Cope, when meteorologists brief government officials, emergency management and the media, the type of product doesn't matter so much as the seriousness of the storm impacts that they convey. The name of the product doesn't matter so much as when the winds from the storm are going to start or when the highest storm surge is going to be.
"As far as I could tell, the severity of the situation was pretty well conveyed, even though there wasn't a hurricane watch in effect. ... [Sandy] was bigger than just a hurricane. It was a hurricane combined with a nor'easter. We felt that if we had hurricane warnings out and suddenly they disappeared [when Sandy lost hurricane status], that would create a lot of confusion. We thought the public would better served with a consistent set of products" through the storm.
The coldest air of the winter is gripping much of the eastern United States and will feature single-digit and sub-zero temperatures in the Northeast through the Valentine's Day weekend.
The dangerous cold gripping the eastern United States will set the stage for a significant snow and ice storm to unfold from Tennessee and Georgia to Maine Presidents Day into Tuesday.
A storm will track across portions of the midwestern United States into Sunday night bringing a batch of snow and ice.
A multi-vehicle accident involving more than 50 vehicles occurred amid snow showers and brutal cold and led to the shutdown of Interstate 78 in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning.
Voters heading out to the polls on Saturday, Feb. 20, can expect mild weather and dry conditions for the next step in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Heavy rain will raise the risk of flooding across more than a dozen states from the Southeast on Presidents Day to the East Coast on Tuesday.
Cape May,NJ (1899)
36" of snow fell in 2nd blizzard of the month.
New England (1940)
Valentine Day blizzard southern New England: 10-18 in. of snow along with gale winds.
Roofs collapse: Since noon, Feb. 13th, roofs collapsed at Police Building in Sparta, a tennis court northwest of Grand Rapids, and a bowling alley in Grand Haven due to weight of snow. In western Michigan this is one of the heaviest snow packs in the past 3 decades. Also in the Alpena area, a roof at the Air National Guard Base at Phelps Collins Airport collapsed.