WeatherZine #19


We encourage your correspondence, and although we cannot print all that we receive, we will include at least one short, perhaps edited, letter per issue.

Dear WeatherZine

In response to Jerry Jarrell's discussion (April 1999 Weatherzine, "What Does the National Hurricane Center Need from Social Scientists?":

From the perspective of New Jersey's Hurricane Program Manager, I submit the following priorities:

1. Issuance of an official confidence factor. When the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues each advisory and accompanying discussion statement, there are varying degrees of detail regarding just how confident it is in its prediction. I would like to see this expanded to a good level of detail and then standardized. Even a mathematical coefficient could be developed and issued for the storm, say on a scale of 1-5 out to one decimal place. With this added to our arsenal, planners like me would have something more to go on than simply a forecast track on a map. This is the missing link between the minds of the scientists in Miami, and the planners in the field who are using the advisories to make (or not make) things happen.

2. In the USACOE restudies, add a standard element to include the development of last refuge evacuation planning. This goes along with the above recommendation somewhat in giving the state and local planners another option for use with storms that are not "behaving", and therefore a timely evacuation recommendation cannot realistically be made. Develop a set of traffic flow analyses which would track an approaching tropical storm wind field which eventually overtakes the tail end of an evacuation and then identify shelters that could be used to get the people to safety as a storm passes. This was used in Florida for Opal (I believe) and probably saved a number of lives. For those storms where we intentionally allow the "zero hour" to go by without starting an evacuation, we know that we could strand a certain number of vehicles, and we need to have a formal and equally viable "Plan B" to cover them. Right now, I'd bet that almost all planners delay pushing the button to get one or even two more advisories in the hope that the subsequent discussions give a better confidence to the forecast track and justify an order to evacuate.

3. Have the insurance companies that are helping to build more resistant houses develop a standard booklet for prospective house buyers who will be building from scratch. It would cover not only safety, but insulation, utilities, siding, roofing, flooring, etc. Everyone wins because the builder always adds a percentage of overhead to the cost of the options.

— Mike Augustyniak


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