It’s Hurricane Season… Really

Spoiler alert: If it came again today I’d expect the same result. Little has changed. And by historical standards Irene was on the low end of what a direct hit could be.

This is a good time to talk hurricanes because we’re now really in the season. I know it starts June 1, but the serious stuff (and Connecticut’s true susceptibility) doesn’t get going until late August. It’s like clockwork!

I could learn to enjoy the lazy life, but not like today. I’ve mostly been laying on the couch or standing. No sitting! No lifting! Nothing to irritate my tender parts.

I spent a little time this afternoon trading emails and phone calls with Peter Pach, Op-Ed Editor at the Courant. I’ve got the cover story in Sunday’s Opinion section. It’s a little look back at Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. We’re coming up on the anniversary.

Spoiler alert: If it came again today I’d expect the same result. Little has changed. And by historical standards Irene was on the low end of what a direct hit could be.

This is a good time to talk hurricanes because we’re now really in the season. I know it starts June 1, but the serious stuff (and Connecticut’s true susceptibility) doesn’t get going until late August. It’s like clockwork!

There are two systems currently running through the tropics. Let me dismiss Joyce first. I was worried about it for a day, but it doesn’t look like it will be strong and Joyce will most likely stay well out to sea.

Years ago storms like Joyce might have been missed. Be wary when you see us dip farther into the alphabet and talk about busy seasons. It doesn’t mean much. We’re quicker on the trigger today.

On the other hand Friday is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. August 24th saw the “A” storm. We’re now on “J.”

Isaac is another story. As I watched cable news today Isaac was a story because the Republican National Convention is next week in Tampa and because CNN reporters on-the-ground say the general population in Haiti have no hint it might come there! Wow.

Even if they knew where would they go?

The latest official forecast from the Hurricane Center has Isaac transiting Cuba the long way. Cuba is a mountainous island–hurricane kryptonite. Of course as soon as Isaac exits Cuba it’s in the Florida Straits then the Gulf of Mexico. Both are warm. Both will have minimal inhibiting factors.

What I’m getting at is even if Isaac comes off Cuba as a ratty depression conditions will be there for rapid reformation… or not. Hurricanes are quirky that way.

Earlier today Bill Karins MSNBC’s meteorologist said,

“I don’t see any way possible that Tampa’s going to be completely missed at this point.”

Seriously, Bill, I never would have said that. It’s Thursday. There’s a lot that can change. That’s more accuracy than science can provide.

I am also glad not to be Florida’s governor or Tampa’s mayor who both spent the afternoon blowing smoke and saying how prepared they are. Uh huh. I’m sure they’re ready for 50,000 extra souls all used to be treated like kings and being first in line. At least there will be a full complement of strippers and hookers (thanks again to CNN for that coverage).

More than likely the Republicans will have a poor impression of Tampa Bay weather, but no actual hurricane. It will remain the kind of romantic fantasy hurricane’s always are until you’ve experienced one first hand. That no electricity thing gets old in a hurry.

If Isaac survives Cuba the Northern Gulf looks most likely for landfall. No one is off the hook yet. It’s only Thursday

From Somewhere Over Central Florida

It’s been years since I threaded my way through Florida thunderstorms. That’s probably what’s on tap today.

“Eighty miles north of Tampa.” That’s the word from “Sully” up front. The ride is silky smooth now. The first hour was very choppy.

I can’t tell you what happened in between as I fell asleep while watching “This Week in Technology.” Sorry Leo.

There are light cumulus clouds under the plane. Off to the east (where we’ll soon be heading) things are more complex.

It’s been years since I threaded my way through Florida thunderstorms. That’s probably what’s on tap today.

Sleeptime is over. A short stop in TPA then southeast to FLL.

Addendum: We made it, but with a slow circle over the swamp! Within minutes of being airborne we were told there was a thunderstorm directly over Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Here’s the flightpath.

On The Way To Florida

Why does he need to go through security? He does, after all, have the keys to the plane.

“I’ll call you when I get to Baltimore,” I wrote in an email to my friend John who will be picking me up at Ft. Lauderdale. Uh oh. I’m not flying through Baltimore. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to function as an adult this time of day?

I’m writing from Gate 6 at Bradley International. My flight is scheduled to leave for Ft. Lauderdale at 9:00 AM with a brief stop in Tampa.

At the moment Ft. Lauderdale is feeling the sting of strong thunderstorms with a Tornado Warning in effect! The system has moved out of Tampa.

The tsuris in Florida is related to the same weather system we’ve got in Connecticut. It poured for most of my drive to the airport. It wasn’t any worse than rain I’ve driven in a hundred times, but it was enough to make the drive less pleasant and more cautious.

I followed a Southwest pilot through security this morning. He had a tiny HP netbook in his tray along with his his iconic Southwest leather jacket.

Why does he need to go through security? He does, after all, have the keys to the plane. Is there really a security advantage to having him walk through the airport in his stocking feet?

If you haven’t been following this trip came up when my mom fell and shattered her elbow. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. It’s outpatient surgery… but isn’t everything nowadays.

I expect it will be a bumpy departure from BDL.

The Phillies Win It All

“You know Geoff,” I’ve been told a dozen times in the last few days, “These are Philadelphia fans who threw snowballs at Santa.”

The Phillies won the World Series. It’s strange that I, a well documented Phillies fan, should be so late to the game with this news. They beat Tampa last night to win the Series 4-1. Helaine and I are very happy-obviously.

It’s a shame this series was touted as uninteresting–played between two teams that no one cared about. Yes, that did diminish my enjoyment. I probably shouldn’t be so shallow, but I am. It was actually a well played series by two really good teams.

“You know Geoff,” I’ve been told a dozen times in the last few days, “these are Philadelphia fans who threw snowballs at Santa.” Enough. I moved to Philly in 1975 and it was legend before my arrival. Let it go. The city would have gotten paroled for manslaughter sooner!

I am impressed with many of the Phillies individually. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are bright guys. It’s a pleasure to hear them interviewed. Charlie Manuel is a steady hand who never seems to panic–especially in situations where I would.

Helaine especially likes Chris Coste (who didn’t get an at-bat during the World Series), backup catcher and author of “The 33 Year Old Rookie.” After reading his book, she sent him an email which he answered. Yes–that makes a difference.

Based on place of birth I should be a Mets fan. In fact my folks took my sister and me to Shea Stadium a few weeks before it opened in the early 60s. We got to stroll the outifield on that sunny Sunday afternoon. For an apartment dweller, that beautiful expanse of emerald green grass was exquisitely foreign.

But it was Philadelphia where I realized I wasn’t a kid any more. It’s where I worked the second half of the seventies. I was there at “The Vet” for the 1977 National League Playoffs when the fans intimidated Bert Hooten with the loudest crowd noise I’ve ever heard.

Of course, Philadelphia is also where I met rabid Phillies fan Helaine.

The fun of a World Series win is short lived. Pitchers and catchers report in February. At that point it’s, “what have you done for me lately?” The anguish will start again.

To The World Series

As Helaine answered I said the magic words: “Put another one in the win column for the Fightin’ Phils.”

nlcs.jpgI stayed in the newsroom for the final out. The Phillies beat the Dodgers and with that go to the World Series. There were so many times I thought this would never happen.

I plucked the cellphone out of my pocket and held down “9.” As Helaine answered I said the magic words: “Put another one in the win column for the Fightin’ Phils.”

One of the Phillies’ announcers used to say that. He’s gone from the team now, but the phrase lives on.

Helaine couldn’t stay to talk. Stef was on the other line from college. She’d been watching the game too and wanted to share the bottom of the ninth with her mom. Stefanie, do you know how good that made your mother feel?

I later heard Stef watched the presidential debate first. One for Helaine and one for me. Good child.

The Phillies open the World Series, probably at that really ugly stadium in Tampa, next Wednesday. It’s all very exciting.

Earlier today I asked Helaine if the Phillies’ season would be a success if they just got to the World Series? No answer. The pressure’s on.

The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

Greetings From PBI

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:55 PM. Now it’s on the board for 3:15 PM. It makes no difference. We were here early anyway.

As we passed painlessly through security, I had an overhead announcement making the last call for a Southwest flight to Tampa, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sacramento. That’s a lot of peanut and Diet Coke time between here and Sacto.

We’re at Gate B5, which isn’t a particularly long walk. Helaine found a seat right away, but I staked out our position in the Group “A” line.

Southwest doesn’t have reserved seats. As you check in, you are assigned a boarding group – A, B, or C. But, all A’s are called together, so one of us (that normally means Helaine) usually gets in line. Today it’s my turn.

The line for Group “A” is behind the check-in podium facing a bank of now removed payphones. The good news is, there are power outlets here. Good for me, with a laptop who’s battery stamina is measured in seconds.

What’s bad is, I’m sitting on my tush and this floor is very hard.

Someone just walked up to ask if this is the line for “A.” Yes. That’s the fith time this question has been asked.

With so many people in close proximity, there is no privacy. I’m listening to a guy right now having a business conversation on his cell phone. A few minutes ago a woman checked her messages using the speakerphone feature of her cellphone!

She quickly hit the switch when a message came in telling her the person speaking was in withdrawal and needed her help. Honest.

I took a look at our flight’s data on As I was looking, a woman nearby asked if there were weather problems on our route. I quickly called up the Weather Service composite radar for the US. No problem. She thinks I’m a road warrior god.

I expect Southwest will make up any delay during our stopover in Baltimore. We’ll be home later this evening.

This was a very short trip to Florida, but I’m glad we made it. It was nice to see them. Nice to hang out with them. Nice to leave before we wore out our welcome.

Our Eventful Trip To Florida

This was an interesting trip to Florida. Everything went wrong. Everything went right.

The trip to Bradley Airport was just fine. We pulled into Roncari, dropped off our car and hopped into the van. Because we were going to Florida, we left our coats in the car. Because it was just sitting, the van’s engine and heater were off. Bad time to be coatless.

It wasn’t a particularly busy Saturday afternoon. We wheeled our bags in, checked the one that held the always suspect and always dangerous toiletries (can’t carry those on anymore) and headed toward security.

Even on a light travel day, if you only have two of the four screening stations open, there will be a line. There was a sizable line. Still, we were early – no sweat.

A man wearing a white TSA shirt with those weird epaulettes yelled instructions vaguely in the direction of the line. He held up a one quart plastic bag. He said something about laptops. He was the vocal equivalent of the hodge podge of Scotch taped signs carrying most of the TSA’s rules.

Hint: Dirty, sometimes ripped signs, affixed to pillars with tape, is not the way to make people think you’re a top notch safety and security organization. They will think of you as the DMV with arrest powers. Better still…

Do this. Don’t do that. Can’t you read the signs? – “Signs,” Five Man Electrical Band.

Remember, these people thoroughly screen all the pilots even though they will be at the controls of the actual airplane!

I emptied my pockets, removed my shoes, put my laptop in a plastic tub – flat. This wasn’t my first time to the rodeo. I knew the drill.

I walked into the phone booth GE claims will sniff out explosives. Little puffs of air poked at my clothes. I waited. I waited some more. The door opened and I stepped out.

Next up was the metal detector. I was told, unless I was wearing a “country trucker” belt buckle I’d be OK. I walked through


I looked down at myself. Oops. My Bluetooth headphone was sitting on my shirt. I handed it to the guard… a guy who remembered me from when he worked at Sears Optical.


I’ll bet you didn’t know this. The TSA has a two strikes and you’re out policy. I needed to be patted down.

I’ve heard stories about how terrible this is for women. Get in line. It’s demeaning for everyone.

The guy was doing his job, I know. I just don’t want anyone feeling me up. And, in essence, that’s what being patted down is.

Before he went to my most sensitive parts, he told me he was going to use the back of his hand. it made no difference.

These guys are doing their job. Of course. Does this job make us safer? I don’t think so.

Our plane was due at Gate 4. As is the norm with Southwest it unloaded quickly, but before we could board, there was an announcement. On the way in, the plane had flown through a flock of birds and struck one with the leading edge of the left wing.

They didn’t think the plane suffered any damage, planes are designed to survive, but maintenance would have to look and make sure… and they don’t work for Southwest… and they’ll have to drive over from wherever it is the folks who work maintenance Saturday afternoons are kept.

Within a few minutes the pilot decided the plane would pass, so we might as well board anyway, even though the inspection hadn’t started. And we did.

So, we’re sitting there on the plane, and Helaine is staring at a guy wearing shades, looking at the wing, when the pilot comes on the P.A. He’s still expecting a passing grade on the wing, but now TSA was telling him there’d been a security incursion at the airport and until the two people who wandered where they shouldn’t be were located, there would be no landings, no security screening and no departures!

Did I mention we were flying to Tampa, with a 45 minute layover before boarding a connecting flight to Palm Beach International?

The minute hand on my watch began moving fast enough for me to see. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed. Then it was a half hour and forty five minutes.

I saw the pilot, standing near the door, and explained our plight. He said he’d check.

As the one hour mark approached, we were cleared to go. Michael, a ground agent from Bradley and Dominic, a flight attendant came over to where we were seated. They understood our predicament… one shared with 13 others on the flight… and would make sure word got out.

I’m not going to make you sit through the second-by-second details, but we landed too late to make that connecting flight. Except Southwest held it at the gate!

I know I’ve slobbered endlessly in the past about my great affection for Southwest, but you tell me if this is the outcome you expected? And it wasn’t because I was TV-boy.

We walked the three gates to our outbound flight, handed over our boarding passes and started to walk down the jetway. Along the way, I thanked EVERY Southwest employee I saw. I wanted them to know this was the decision they needed to make, and I appreciated them making it.

“Avoid eye contact,” Helaine said as we boarded the plane. These folks had been sitting aimlessly, waiting for us.

As I walked down the aisle I looked up and to no one in general said, “Thank you for waiting.”

After all this tumult and grief we landed in Palm Beach about ten minutes late! My parents were waiting for us.

It was a very bad day to be a bird flying low over the Bradley Airport approach. It was a good day to be the Foxes. We’re in Florida.

Hurricane Season Bust

Back in March, AccuWeather loudly proclaimed their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season. I was not amused and said so here. My worry was, if they were right they’d scream it from the rooftops. If they were wrong no one would remember.

Being held responsible for your predictions is a good thing and encourages you to be very careful in what you predict.

Today in the Drudgereport, Matt Drudge remembered. Must be a slow news day. I’m not complaining.

Drudge’s headline is actually a link to a story at TBO in Tampa. These are the people in the crowded theater who heard someone yell “Fire!”

This is not to say AccuWeather or Dr. Gray of Colorado State (whose forecast was also way off) aren’t fine forecasters. What it does say is, forecasts need to be presented in context. Forecasters have to admit that not every forecast has the same degree of certainty.

People also have to realize, the number of storms isn’t the most important factor in hurricane destruction. Hurricane Andrew came in a very slow season. It was the “A” storm – in late August. The season begins June 1.

Bottom line: When it comes to the health and safety of people, hyperbole is a bad thing.

Arrival In Boynton Beach

Is there a tuberculosis sanitarium here in Palm Beach County? I’m asking because of an experience in Tampa last night.

We were standing in line, waiting to board our flight, when the hacker arrived. She was not a Richie Hebner type hacker. This was a woman with a cough loud enough to wake the dead.

When you first hear a cough like this, your reaction is to look up and speak to God. I begged him not to put her in an enclosed aluminum tube with us for an hour.

So much for my pull with God.

We got on and moved about two thirds of the way to the back. She got on and moved farther back. Trajectory was on her side.

As the door to the plane closed, it became apparent she had a partner in crime. Another woman began hacking and coughing. Southwest, now with stereo coughing.

Isn’t this the fear of every airplane traveler? You’re a shut-in with diseased passengers.

So, though we’re thrilled to be here… should Helaine and I come down with something terrible, you read it here first.

It’s Tampa… And A Delay

Unfortunately, the first thing we saw in Tampa’s airport was the television screen showing us our outbound flight would be late. Luckily, there’s free wireless access at this airport.

As Helaine and I stood, milling around with our fellow members of Southwest Boarding Group “A,” we looked left. The boarding area was crawling with pre-boarders – parents and their small children?

“SBF,” I asked?

Though I’d never used those initials before, she knew exactly what I meant. Would this be the ‘screaming baby flight’ to Tampa?

As it turned out, most of the noise on the flight came from the boy’s and girl’s tennis teams from Springfield College, though even they were well behaved.

This was a classically good flight. I fell asleep before we were airborne. In fact, at one point I briefly woke up, turned my head to look out the window and only then realized we were flying.

Our pilot, from the Gus Souflas School of Aviation&#185, was very excited today. Instead of flying out over the Atlantic, we were flying over Central North Carolina.

Like I said, this was a very nice flight. Until the last few minutes it was smooth as could be, and even the bumps we felt on descent weren’t too bad. We landed in Tampa 25 minutes early!

Unfortunately, the first thing we saw in Tampa’s airport was the television screen showing us our outbound flight would be late. Luckily, there’s free wireless access at this airport.


Origin Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l [KPHX]

Destination Tampa Int’l [KTPA]


Date Saturday, Mar 11, 2006

Duration 3 hours 20 minutes

Progress 1 hour 36 minutes left 1 hour 43 minutes

Status En Route (936 miles down; 856 miles to go)

Proposed/Assigned Actual/Estimated

Departure 11:15AM MST 12:51PM MST

Arrival 04:29PM EST 06:11PM EST

Speed 453 kts 516 kts

Altitude 39000 feet 39000 feet

Flight 915 is over Houston… and speeding its way here (faster than the original flight plan called for), but it will be late. It is a casualty of Phoenix’s first rain since October.

I’ve been on planes that stopped in Tampa, but I’ve never actually set foot in the terminal. It is broad with high ceilings and lots of space. I can see the stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play out the floor to ceiling wall of windows.

Like any airport, it’s not meant for extended stays, so I’ll be hearing the “suspicious packages” announcement a few dozen times before we leave.

As I mentioned, there is wireless access, but there are few places to plug my uncharged laptop. I hunted down a socket with a flip-up covering in the carpet. It’s turned off.

The only working plugs I could find were associated with a phone booth. Actually built for dial-up Internet access (before the airport started giving it away), this fixture is a dinosaur. Between cellphones and wireless, there’s not much business left for pay phones.

My folks are holding dinner. We won’t get to their place much before 9:00 PM.

Did I mention this is Florida? Even at the tale of a long winter it’s sunny and green outside.

&#185 – I described Gus, a pilot described by my friend Howard, in this entry from an earlier Vegas vacation.

On Our Way To Florida

It seems such a shame. Now that it’s begun to get warm, we’re heading to Florida.

We haven’t seen my folks since late October, so this seemed like a good time. You’ve also got to add the fact that I’ve been ‘forced’ to use some vacation time or lose it.

As much as I like Southwest Airlines, our allegiance will cost us in convenience. The trip down to Palm Beach International will take around six hours, including a change of planes in Tampa.

I’m bringing my camera. For the first time ever Helaine and I are both bringing laptops.

I’m also bringing a small video camera. I have this idea about interviewing my folks and having them describe how they met, dated and married. The finished product will be a ‘video short’.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, my next post will be from Boynton Beach – land of decaf.

The Climatic Skeptic In Me

Wednesday morning on CNN, Miles O’Brien and meteorologist Chad Myers, chatting.

O’BRIEN: Let’s check the forecast now. Chad Myers, you’re a little bit of a skeptic on global warming, I know.

MYERS: No, I absolutely believe that CO2 is heating the atmosphere, but also, some of these thermometers that we’ve had out in the plains for years or in the cities for years are getting surrounded by more buildings. So you get more buildings, you get more asphalt, you get more heat, so the thermometers are different. The whole — metro areas are getting warmer, where, in fact, maybe you just see — if you put that same thermometer out in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska, maybe it wouldn’t be too much different. We’ll have to see. You know, I know that this is happening; it’s just a matter of how much it is, that’s all.

O’BRIEN: So, there’s a little bit of global paving, too, along with global warming?

MYERS: Well, there you go.

Myers comments got a quick rebuke on and spilled over to a weathercaster bulletin board I often read.

Like Chad Myers, I’m “a little bit of a skeptic on global warming.”

Here’s what I posted in the conversation after someone said, “This is a scientific issue, not a political one.”:

That one sentence cuts to the core of this controversy. Of course it’s a political issue. If it were a scientific discussion, we’d be hearing positive as well as negative implications to warming. Even in dire global warming scenarios, there are many beneficiaries.

If this were a scientific discussion, not political, graphs of CO2 levels would start at 0 ppm, not 310 ppm&#185. Starting high on the graph makes the increase look much more severe.

It seems, based on my limited contact with colleagues, that operational forecasters tend to be skeptics on the long range implications of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. I first noticed it at the “Million Meteorologist March,” when many of us were invited to the White House (excellent baked goods) to hear Al Gore speak about global warming. Most of the operational mets I spoke with that day were skeptical.

If you forecast the weather on a daily basis, you’re likely skeptical about the worst of the global warming predictions, because you’ve been burned by models and then chastised by viewers. Research mets don’t get that dose of forecast reality.

Last year I flew to Florida to see my folks. The plane stopped in Tampa on the way to PBI. As I looked out the window, I noticed the sky covered in cirrus clouds. As I looked closer, I realized they were contrails which had become diaphanous. They just hadn’t mixed out under the very weak upper flow.

I picked up my cellphone and called a friend – my expert on NWP. How, I asked, are these man made clouds taken into account in the models? They aren’t.

In fact all our short range models and certainly the multidecadal climate models, make assumptions, guesses and estimates. There’s just not enough data to properly initialize everything.

Tonight, based on the 12z runs, the models will have over predicted much of Connecticut’s temperatures by 5-10 degrees. And that’s just a 24 hour forecast!

In the meantime, I’m sure tonight many people in Fairbanks are saying of global warming, “Bring it on.”

PAFA 270653Z 00000KT 1/4SM R01L/3500V4500FT FZFG FEW001 BKN004 M43/ A2981 RMK A02 SLP123 T1433

That’s -45f with .25 mile visibility in freezing fog.

&#185 – Here’s the graph I was talking about.

Two Point Conversion – Good Idea

I drove home for dinner as Helaine was watching the Tampa Bay – Washington football game. It’s good to have a wife who loves sports and is an adamant Philadelphia Eagles fan.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend. Go Tampa Bay.

With under two minutes to go, Tampa Bay scored a touchdown, leaving them down by a point. A kick (aka: PAT) from the two yard line would tie the game. A 2-point conversion would put them ahead.

John Gruden, Tampa Bay’s coach, elected to go for the two point conversion. He literally put the game on the line at that point, because if the attempt failed, Washington would certainly run out the clock.

Listening in the car, I heard Gruden’s choice second guessed. Coming home, I heard the same thing from my wife. The proper play is to kick the safe PAT and hope for the best in overtime.

I disagree.

First, you have to assume the PAT is a gimme. Last year, all season, Lawrence Tynes of Kansas City missed two – and he still had a 96.7% success rate! No one else missed more than one. So, by going for the two point play, you’re taking a ‘sure’ tie off the board.

On the other hand, if you tie, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get the ball back. Even if you do, will you ever have an easier place to score from that the two yard line?

Yes, you’re giving up a tie – seldom the final result. What you are doing is securing the chance to win right there. I like that idea. Just having the opportunity to score and probably win is more than you’re guaranteed in overtime and more than many unhappy teams get.

Today, Gruden was successful. If the play would have failed (the refs did review it), he would have been a major goat… but he still would have done the right thing.

Hurricane Questions

After the loss of life, and confusion, following Hurricane Charley, an interesting op-ed piece was written by Bryan Norcross, Chief Meteorologist from WFOR in Miami. You can read it here now, or click the ‘continue’ link at the end of this posting.

Norcross makes some interesting points, many of which I agree with.

Though we make our own forecasts at the TV station, we respect the Weather Service’s watches and warnings (though there are times I mention them, followed by what I think will actually happen).

The bigger problem occurs when watches and warnings are contradictory. Uncoordinated watches, warnings and statements for hurricanes, severe storms… even winter weather, is a continuing weakness of The Weather Service. All hurricane watches, warnings and statements should come from one place – period.

This certainly led to the disservice done to the people for Florida.

When local offices speak, they address problems from their own perspective, which is not necessarily the public’s. And, the public and media are probably concentrating their attention on the Storm Prediction Center (Whose idea was it to change this from the much more meaningful Hurricane Center?), which is where most people would expect to find hurricane info.

I work in Connecticut, a small state served by three NWS offices. Their statements often mislead the public because each only refers to the region for which they forecast.

Here’s an example. If Boston says a watch has been canceled for Connecticut, they mean their counties. No one in Connecticut could read a statement like that and understand that half the state is still under a watch.

During the winter, Litchfield County, our ‘snowbelt,’ might be under a lesser category of alert because the Albany office uses somewhat different criteria than the New York or Boston offices. When I post a map which shows a Winter Weather Advisory for Litchfield while there’s a Winter Storm Warning for our other counties (even though Litchfield has the more wintry forecast) it does nothing but confuse.

I have been to NWS ‘customer’ conferences in Washington, and have tried to sensitize them to this confusion. As you see – no change.

Continue reading “Hurricane Questions”