NWS Changes Hurricane Warning Policy

The National Hurricane Center, in the aftermath of Super-storm Sandy, drew heavy criticism for not issuing a warning in the northeastern United States ahead of the storm.  In response, the NHC announced yesterday that it is changing its policy for how post tropical storm warnings are delivered to the public.

According to the National Weather Service, Sandy was a category-1 hurricane that merged with a cold front and transitioned to a post tropical storm just prior to coming ashore.  Simply put, this means the storm’s energy source changed.  Nonetheless, it still delivered hurricane-strength winds and a devastating storm surge.  While the NWS explanation was technically correct, the change in nomenclature proved to be a source of confusion and led many people to under estimate the threat posed by the historic storm.

Until now, the NHC was only allowed to publish warnings for narrowly defined hurricanes and tropical storms.  With the implementation of the new policies, however, the hurricane center will be able to keep warnings and advisories in place for storms that threaten people and property, even if they lose their tropical characteristics. The new procedures go into effect on June 1st, the official start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hopefully, this new approach will avoid any misperceptions in future.