The league of extraordinary meteorologists are extraordinarily pissed off at the National Hurricane Center for their pedantic warnings for Frankenstorm Sandy. Specifically, they feel that the NHC's wonkiness led them to not issue Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings when the conditions will be hurricane-like.
Instead, they're issuing a High Wind Watch, which means nothing to anyone.
Sandy's called the "Frankenstrom" because it's currently transitioning from a warm core tropical system to a cold core, hybrid storm. Therefore, issuing a Tropical Storm Warning/Watch or Hurricane Warning/Watch will eventually be technically incorrect since it won't be a tropical system, but rather a sub-tropical system.
The NHC says they're worried that people will be confused when, after the storm goes inland, they switch all the later warnings and watchings to High Wind and Coastal Flooding alerts so, with the exception of points offshore, they're issuing High Wind Watches/Warnings.
Here's their explanation:
AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS ADVISORIES...TO AVOID A HIGHLY DISRUPTIVE CHANGE FROM TROPICAL TO NON-TROPICAL WARNINGS WHEN SANDY BECOMES POST-TROPICAL...THE WIND HAZARD NORTH OF THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING
AREA WILL CONTINUE TO BE CONVEYED THROUGH HIGH WIND WATCHES AND WARNINGS ISSUED BY LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICES.
If that means anything to you, congratulations. Here's the response from the professional meteorological community.
The Weather Channel's Brian Norcross:
I grant that a technical reading of the "rules" says that you can't put up a Hurricane Watch and a Coastal Flood Watch and a High Wind Watch at the same time. But I'm betting the rules didn't envision a super-mega-combo freak of a storm slamming into the most populated part of the country. When all hell is breaking loose, sometimes you've got to break a few rules to do the right thing.
There will be a whole lot of talk about this when the storm is over. Hopefully that will result in a communication policy that meets the world-class standards of the forecasting that goes on at the Hurricane Center and at Weather Service offices all over the country.
The bottom line... let's all get on the same page. The forecast calls for a massive, destructive storm to affect tens of millions of people. If the forecast is wrong, hooray. But so far it's been right, and the odds are this is going to be really bad for a lot of people. Everybody's goal should be to be sure that as many people as possible are as ready and aware as they can be.
Here's Jim Cantore:
I completely disagree with NHC not putting up Hurricane warnings for the northeast.#sandy— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) October 27, 2012
And The Wall Street Journal's Eric Holthaus:
@wxjoe prob is, accuracy won out in their internal accuracy vs effectiveness debate.— Eric Holthaus (@WSJweather) October 28, 2012
I think I just booked myself a trip to AMS Annual Meeting in Austin next January to have the NHC tropical vs non-tropical warnings debate.— Eric Holthaus (@WSJweather) October 28, 2012
Repeat after me: A 'High Wind Watch' = Tropical Storm/Hurricane Watch. A 'High Wind Watch' = Tropical Storm/Hurricane Watch. #HighWindWatch— Eric Holthaus (@WSJweather) October 27, 2012
You can follow a long debate over this at on the NHC's Facebook page, where the consensus is the NHC is blowing it.
The criticism also spills over into Mayor Bloomberg's initial handling of the storm threat:
I agree the NHC is being too nerdy and not helpful. After Irene, people may think they can survive a hurricane and think this isn't as bad when many professionals actually think it'll be as bad or worse.
How are you reacting to the storm? Does the lack of a Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warnings impact your behavior?