The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says they will make changes to their hurricane warning policy after heavy criticism of their handling of Hurricane Sandy.
NHC officials told Accuweather on Wednesday that they will change the warning policy/criteria for storms like Sandy, beginning in 2013.
Since Sandy hit the East Coast as a strong post-tropical cyclone in late October, the NHC has been under heavy criticism for not issuing hurricane warnings north of North Carolina. But rather opting to go with widespread high wind warnings even while the storm still contained hurricane-force winds at landfall.
“Sandy was not ideal, and the way we handled it was not right. But we’re fixing it,” said Chris Landsea, Science and Operations Officer at the NHC.
“We realize this was not satisfactory and we want to make it better for next year,” Landsea added.
According to the NHC, the new revision of the hurricane warning definition will be as follows:
An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical, sub-tropical, or post-tropical cyclone.
Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
The old hurricane warning definition reads as:
An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area.
Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
The NHC expected Sandy’s temperature structure to change as it merged with a strong jet stream wave from the west and for a meteorological definition, technically not be a hurricane, but rather a strong post-tropical cyclone.
However, the impacts from the storm remained the same as a hurricane with massive and widespread devastation from storm surge and hurricane-force winds along the New Jersey and New York coastlines.
Sandy officially made landfall in southern New Jersey near Atlantic City on the evening of Oct. 29 with category one winds of 80 mph. More than 120 people were killed and 8.6 million people lost power.
At the end of each hurricane season, NOAA holds an internal review. This meeting was held last Tuesday and Wednesday.
With the reactions to the warnings of Sandy so fresh and the confusion that the wording many have created by not issuing a hurricane warning, the decision was made to institute this new policy.
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season ended Nov. 30 tied as the third most active season on record with 19 named storms for a third consecutive year.
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