Television’s Quandary

I have spent a good part of this late evening playing poker and watching coverage on Hurricane Frances. Frances did come on shore, not far from Stuart, early Sunday morning.

This storm has been poorly forecast for the last few days.

Listen, I make forecast mistakes all the time – I am not claiming perfection by any means. On the other hand, I have seen a number of calls from the Hurricane Center which seemed to discard what was actually happening at the time. I have thrown up my hands in wonderment.

It’s really tough to take when there is a large staff of meteorologists consulting on each forecast, as there is at the Hurricane Center.

There is nothing else I want to see on television. Yet even with wall-to-wall coverage on cable news, and the ability to watch Channel 10 from Miami on our HD channel, there is too much filler and too little meat.

If anyone does get props, it would have to be CNN. They have done the best job from what I’ve seen. And, as much as I dislike the idea of reporters in the middle of weather that no one should be in, John Zarella has been excellent, as has their meteorologist, Rob Marciano.

The problem, of course, is at most times it’s impossible to get reports from the areas where the weather is the worst. You can’t transmit to satellites when the rain is heavy. You also can’t put the dish up to transmit when the wind is strong enough to rip it off the truck!

I believe this is more hurricane coverage than has ever been available. With the build-up to Frances, and the pictures from Charley, it was inevitable.

Frances is not the strongest hurricane, but its duration will be what’s remembered. There won’t be the destruction of homes that there was with Charley, but there will be lots of beach erosion and the kind of damage that happens when structures submit – as opposed to being instantaneously destroyed.

I will be curious to see the damage near Lake Okeechobee. It is my guess that structures aren’t quite as substantial, both because of its distance from the coast and the income of its inhabitants. Even with less wind, they will be creamed.

If this is a moderate hurricane, who would ever want to ‘weather out’ a strong one?

Tonight’s Last Look At Frances

One last look… one final peek at the computer guidance before bedtime. It is troubling.

The gfdl is continuing to call for the track of Hurricane Frances to move just north of West Palm Beach and then over Lake Okeechobee, through the center of the state, and into the Gulf of Mexico via Tampa Bay. This is well south of the official Hurricane Center forecast.

The cross state portion of the trip should take nearly 24 hours. Even that number doesn’t take into account all the hours of tumult, just the hours the eye is over land.

Miami radar is continuing to show the eye over the Bahamas. It still doesn’t look like it’s moving to me. That’s a bad sign. Slow moving storms mean more rain. If the storm is capable of 2-3″ of rain per hour, the enemy becomes time. More hours equal more rain.

On this radar screen&#185 the eye should look like the hole on the end of a drinking straw. Instead it looks like a manhole cover – huge.

That eye would really have to shrink… and quickly… for the storm to intensify. The gfdl thinks it will. There is plenty of warm, open water west of its current position. I won’t even venture a guess. I think this storm is beginning to become very unpredictable.

The gfdl anticipate landfall for the eye late Saturday evening. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it still offshore Sunday at daybreak.

Moving slowly like this hurricane Frances doesn’t have to be a Category 3 or 4 storm to do real damage. It will wear its opponents down over time.

&#185 – The link is ‘live’, meaning clicking gets you the latest view which is not necessarily going to resemble what I’m seeing at 3:43 AM EDT.