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Off-Topic >> Everything and Nothing

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HCW
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QuickSat to fail ANYTIME
      #75517 - Tue Jun 12 2007 05:56 PM

MIAMI (AP) - An aging weather satellite crucial to accurate predictions on the intensity and path of hurricanes could fail at any moment and plans to launch a replacement have been pushed back seven years to 2016.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chief said the failure of the QuikScat satellite could bring more uncertainty to forecasts and widen the areas that are placed under hurricane watches and warnings.

If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two- day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference between a city being evacuated or not.

"We would go blind. It would be significantly hazardous," said Wayne Sallade, emergency manager in Charlotte County, which was hit hard by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

In the letter to a Florida congressman, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher blamed the delays on technical and budget problems. Scientists said if QuikScat failed, they may have to rely on less accurate satellites.

Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said authorities "may have to err on the side of caution" in future forecasts.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070612/ap_o..._Go2yWK3yZG2ocA

f

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Edited by HCW (Tue Jun 12 2007 06:30 PM)


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josh
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Re: Barry Gone, Quiet Again [Re: HCW]
      #75518 - Tue Jun 12 2007 06:02 PM

I'm not entirely sure where this should go, but the QuickSat satellite is past its service date and there will be no replacement until 2016. This sounds like this is a result of budget cuts, basically a major bureaucracy problem. Sources say it could go at any time resulting in a diminished ability to predict the path of storms by as much as 16%. That's a lot of coast line.

Full Article

Edited by josh (Tue Jun 12 2007 08:06 PM)


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danielwAdministrator
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Quikscat Satellite [Re: HCW]
      #75520 - Tue Jun 12 2007 11:49 PM

This was released during the 2007 Hurricane Conference.
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/research/2007-05-17-quikscat-satellite_N.htm


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LoisCane
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Re: Quikscat Satellite [Re: danielw]
      #75526 - Wed Jun 13 2007 03:11 PM

It's a serious problem, part of a much bigger problem. We want accuracy in forecasting but we don't want to pay the bill or more so... the priorities for where the money gets spent are not where many of us think they should go.

An informed public who cares could make a difference.

Must be so frustrating to work at places like the NHC or NWS and deal with budgetary details while trying to do the best job possible for the public. Not easy.

--------------------
http://hurricaneharbor.blogspot.com/


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CoconutCandy
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Quikscat Failure - What am I Missing ?? [Re: danielw]
      #75613 - Mon Jun 25 2007 12:11 AM Attachment (334 downloads)

I have a few questions regarding the 'imminent failure' of the QuikScat satellite.

Perhaps some of the many capable meteorologists and other 'technical experts' that contribute to these excellent forums could provide feedback and address my questions.

First, a few quotes pertaining to the QuikScat satellite, excerpted from various news articles and postings.


>> The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chief said the failure of the QuikScat satellite could bring more uncertainty to forecasts and widen the areas that are placed under hurricane watches and warnings.

>> If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two- day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference between a city being evacuated or not."

>> Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said authorities "may have to err on the side of caution in future forecasts. That means more people disrupted, and more impact on the economy. On the other hand, we have to err on the side of the protection of life. And that's how we would handle it."


CNN picked up on this article after it came out (perhaps many of you saw it) and, using Katrina as an example while Katrina was still in the GOM several days away from making landfall, showed how the 'cone of uncertainty' would have to be widened by 100 miles or so *on each side* of its projected landfall..

>> In the letter to a Florida congressman, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher blamed the delays on technical and budget problems. Scientists said if QuikScat failed, they may have to rely on less accurate satellites.

OK. Enough quotes for the moment. Now for a few thoughts and questions.

I consider myself a veteran storm tracker, having been tracking them since the very first male named hurricane, David, back in '79 when I lived in Coconut Grove. And I'm quite familiar with the various satellites, their sensor packages, their capabilities, and so forth.

I also make extensive use of the NRL (FNMOC) Tropical Cyclone homepage, and the many, excellent products available on the site, including the QuikScat products.

First question: Are the other satellites really 'less accurate' ?

I thought that the GOES satellites, with their '1 Km Zoomed' images, especially for cyclones with well-defined eyes, are *very* accurate for providing 'center fixes' in the absence of aircraft recon or land-based NEXRAD images, as is typical when these storms are still 'at sea', far from any land areas.

And, during nighttime hours, the Microwave sensors of several different satellites also show, quite well, the center positions for storms that are far from land, well before the hurricane hunters are sent out on recon missions to obtain detailed information.

.....

Now for a few thoughts on the QuikScat satellite itself.


>> "When you look at QuikScat, what it does is it gives us a swath of data that's 1,500 to 1,800 kilometers wide, all at one time, one moment. It covers 90 percent of the global oceans in one day,"

>> If the satellite fails, the options are few. Other satellites have instruments to measure wind speed and direction over water, but they are less accurate.


Now, my understanding (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that QuikScat is a truly valuable tool for monitoring areas of disturbed weather ('Invests') and provides excellent (if not timely) data during cyclogenesis into Depression and Tropical Storm status.

I've always been very interested in studying the illustrative, color-coded wind barbs, showing the thunderstorms organizing while the cyclone is in the intensification stage, usually depicting the strongest wind barbs in the 'rain-contaminated' convective areas.

With me so far? But the 'wind scale', as shown on the bottom of the image, only goes up to 60 Kts. (orange barbs), and it seems that QuikScat cannot measure hurricane force winds (65 Kts. +).

But it is still obviously valuable in showing the 'center of circulation' (but less accurately than the GOES 1 Km zoomed images?), and, perhaps more importantly, the radius (usually asymmetric) of Tropical Storm force winds accompanying maturing or fully matured hurricanes.

I am including an attachment (please click the 'Attachment' link at the top of this post to view) of powerful GONU in the Arabian Sea on June 5th, while it was a 105 Kt (Cat 3) cyclone. You'll notice that the strongest depicted wind barb is QuikScat's 60 Kt 'limit'; a *single*, orange barb near the center of GONU. Should there not be many more orange barbs near the center? And this is also the 'closest' QuikScat image to it's maximum intensity as a Cat 5 cyclone.

And here's a few, final thoughts about the QuikScat instrument, before I come to the point of this post, in relation to the larger context of the News articles posted above. Please bear with me. You will see where I am going with this.

It's been my experience, over many years of observing, that there is sometimes *many hours* duration (sometimes a day or more!) between the times that QuikScat will make a 'direct pass' over any given storm. And often, it's an 'incomplete' scan, where the sensors' path 'samples' only a partial portion of the complete circulation (as with the GONU image attached), and sometimes completely missing the 'eye' of a mature hurricane altogether.

And finally, it sometimes seems that the 'center of circulation' does not correlate too well with the overlaid visible image, as is the case, again, with the GONU image provided. Note that there is only a 16 minute difference between the QuikScat and the Visible images, not nearly enough time duration to account for the 'apparent discrepancy'.

OK. Let's sum up before I make my point and venture a few questions.

1) QuikScat shows only tropical storm force winds; only up to 60 Kts.
2) There is often *many* hours elapsed between passes over any given storm.
3) The scan is often 'incomplete', depicting only a portion of the entire circulation.
4) Sometimes, the scan will miss the center of circulation entirely.
5) Sometimes, there appears to be poor correlation between the QuickScat image and the overlaid Visible or IR image, even when the time difference is not that large.

Hope I haven't put too many of you to sleep, because here comes the good part ...

When we have a Hurricane or Tropical Storm threaten a coastal area of the US, we send out the 'Hurricane Hunters' to fly into the storm 'round the clock, providing very accurate center fixes, sampling it's radius of TS-force winds, and providing a plethora of very detailed thermodynamic data to the NHC, and other agencies, for use in initializing the various numerical models that ultimately go into the forecasted watches and warnings.

And sometimes we send up the high-flying NOAA aircraft to provide detailed info of upper-level steering currents, etc., again, all very helpful as additional data to 'plug into' the models and other forecasting tools.

OK. Now my point(s) and a few questions. Let's take Katrina as an example, since it's the example that CNN used for their segment, which was seen by millions of viewers.

>> QuikScat ... provides key data on wind speed and direction over the ocean. Weather aircraft and buoys can also obtain similar measurements near a storm, but they do not provide a constant flow of data as QuikScat does.

Hmmm... I respectfully disagree. QuikScat does *NOT* provide a "constant stream of data" (for any given storm), as I discussed in the above paragraphs.

In view of the *truly* constant stream of data provided by the continuous recon missions into Katrina while she was still in the Gulf, did the QuikScat data *really* provide that much useful data, in comparison to the *huge volume* of data provided by the buoys and recon missions themselves?

If the QuikScat had *completely* failed, say, a week before Katrina formed, would the NHC *really* have had to widen the 'cone of uncertainty' by a hundred miles on each side of the projected landfall? With all the excellent recon data, I think not.


>> "We would go blind. It would be significantly hazardous," said Wayne Sallade, emergency manager in Charlotte County, which was hit hard by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

I just don't understand this statement, at all. Any storm in the GOM, hurricane or otherwise, threatening the west coast of Florida, would certainly have non-stop recon missions (or at least 6 hourly 'fixes') flown into it. Would the absence of QuikScat really render us 'blind' ??

>> If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two- day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference between a city being evacuated or not. " ... we have to err on the side of the protection of life ... that's how we would handle it."

Again, any 'significant' storm, even 2 or 3 days away from a projected landfall on a US coastline, would have plenty of satellite imagery (GOES, primarily) and aircraft reconnaissance data providing excellent center fixes and intensity information, among other data, to assist in the initialization of the numerical models. Would the lack of QuikScat really make *that much* of a difference, in view of its inherent limitations, as discussed above?

Now to wrap up. I'm not trying to undermine or underestimate the importance of the QuickScat satellite. It's a great tool, and I'm fascinated by the detailed 'picture' (albeit not timely) of the cyclogenesis process it provides as the storm progresses from an Invest into a named storm.

But I still contend that its importance, with respect to potentially US landfalling hurricanes, is marginalized by the superb recon we receive from the hurricane hunters, especially, once they begin their non-stop missions.

And finally, to reiterate. QuickScat is great for 'Invests' and TD and TS strength cyclones, especially in the data-sparse regions over huge oceanic areas. And in showing the radius of TS-force winds of matured storms, as well.

But once we have a potentially landfalling hurricane 2 or 3 days from a US landfall and the 'data-rich' recon missions begin, I feel that QuickScat's 'overall contribution' for forecasting landfall is truly marginalized and, in it's complete absence as would occur with a total satellite failure, should *NOT* contribute to widing the area of US coastline for which watches and warnings are issued, which is the focus of the News articles.

What am I missing ?? Your thoughts and feedback would be appreciated.

--------------------
"Don't Get Stuck on Stupid" - General Honore, following Hurricane Katrina


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Robert
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Re: Quikscat Failure - What am I Missing ?? [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #75614 - Tue Jun 26 2007 01:34 AM

wow cocucunut candy thats a lot you did and yes it did almost put me to sleep and now im cranky becuse of it.
The quickscat is key in the fact that its not usefull in a real time sence. It provides a by daily analyses of the world ocean in wind speed and direction for use in models. before a model spits out a forcast evrery 12 or 24 hours joe blow or you and i have to feed it something to spit out. And the more accuret the information you feed Mr. model the more accuret what he spits out will be. And bye having a fairly detailed look at what the winds are doing over 90 % of the ocean evry 12 hours via sattelite vs land observation out of australia tahita hawaii bermuds the virgin island ect ect Hopefully you see where im gojng with this cuz im now very tired and going to bed and sorry about the bad spelling Good night cocunut candy have good night.


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CoconutCandy
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What am I Missing? / Katrina QuikScat Image [Re: Robert]
      #75615 - Tue Jun 26 2007 04:14 AM Attachment (294 downloads)

(Please Note: I promise to keep this brief, and will also serve as a 'summary' of my above post)

Aloha Robert,

Thank you for your reply. Apologies for making you cranky with my excessive post.
I hereby resolve to keep my posts much shorter in the future.

I understand and totally agree with what you said about QuikScat in your reply. I have no 'issues' with any of that.

I *do* have an issue, however, and it is this:

The News Articles state, rather 'factually' that if QuikScat *were* to fail tomorrow the NHC would have to widen the watch/warning area of the effected coastline by up to 16% for a 3-day forecast.

And one public official even said that "We would go blind. It would be significantly hazardous ... " without QuikScat.

Very briefly, my summary of QuikScat's 'limitations':

1) QuikScat shows only tropical storm force winds; only up to 60 Kts.
2) There are often *many* hours elapsed between passes over any given storm.
3) The scan is often 'incomplete', depicting only a portion of the entire circulation.
4) Sometimes, the scan will miss the center of circulation entirely.

The main point I am trying to make here is that, if a 'significant' hurricane were to threaten a US coastline, even 3 days away, we'd have non-stop recon missions (or at least 6-hourly fixes) flying into it, which then provides a plethora of 'real-time' data to crank into the models used as a forecast aid, as you mentioned.

And that any 'contribution' of QuikScat in that situation is not very significant, in view of the *huge* amount of date coming in from the hurricane hunters.

In view of this, I just fail to realize or understand *WHY*, with the lack of QuikScat in this situation, NHC would have to widen it's watches/warnings for a coastline by as much as 16%? And the 'blind' statement just makes no sense to me at all.

Yes, QuikScat *is* very important for the reasons you mentioned, and for the ones I laid out in my long post.

BUT! In the context of the news articles above and what they state ... Why? Why? Why? I just don't 'get it'.

WHAT AM I MISSING ?? Help me out here, folks.

That's it! Told you I'd keep this brief.

- Norm in Honolulu

PS: I've attached a spectacular QuikScat image of Katrina at CAT5 a day before landfall.
Note that it's late afternoon, with the eastern eyewall lit up by the setting sun towards the west.

--------------------
"Don't Get Stuck on Stupid" - General Honore, following Hurricane Katrina


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Robert
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Re: What am I Missing? / Katrina QuikScat Image [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #75617 - Tue Jun 26 2007 08:28 AM

becuse models are global they have to be. Bye telling the winds winds over say the indain ocean where no recon can get to you can get an idea of the pressure in the area ect and what the pressure over the indian ocean or south pacific or north pacific even the northern atlantic will all have an effect on each other. If you cant see whats going on 5000 miles out in the middle of the pacific then the model cant see it and what it thinks will be wrong. The world is a slip stream genrally what is going on over japan will effect what is 3 days off the coast of america.

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Ricreig
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Re: What am I Missing? / Katrina QuikScat Image [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #75618 - Tue Jun 26 2007 08:41 AM

Ok, let me try

You said:
Quote:


Very briefly, my summary of QuikScat's 'limitations':

1) QuikScat shows only tropical storm force winds; only up to 60 Kts.
2) There are often *many* hours elapsed between passes over any given storm.
3) The scan is often 'incomplete', depicting only a portion of the entire circulation.
4) Sometimes, the scan will miss the center of circulation entirely.

The main point I am trying to make here is that, if a 'significant' hurricane were to threaten a US coastline, even 3 days away, we'd have non-stop recon missions (or at least 6-hourly fixes) flying into it, which then provides a plethora of 'real-time' data to crank into the models used as a forecast aid, as you mentioned.

And that any 'contribution' of QuikScat in that situation is not very significant, in view of the *huge* amount of date coming in from the hurricane hunters.

In view of this, I just fail to realize or understand *WHY*, with the lack of QuikScat in this situation, NHC would have to widen it's watches/warnings for a coastline by as much as 16%? And the 'blind' statement just makes no sense to me at all.





But, all of this is more or less irreleveant because the storm is being affected by patterns of weather often thousands of miles away from where the storm currently is. The location and strength of the various high and low pressure areas around the storm are important because they steer the storm and in turn, each of these high and low areas interact with each other and affect where each other will move and the amount of movement and how much moisture and the temperature of the air that gets moved and how fast. All of this affects our hurricane which is just a small piece of the overall weather pattern, an important piece to those it hits, but still a small part overall. The forecasters need to know as much as possible about ALL of the players in the overall weather patterns and how they interact and the Quicksat provides much of the detail that is fed into the models that help the prediction processes that ultimately help predict where the hurricane will go. It isn't just the hurricane they are having to predict, it is the weather around the hurricane that affects its path, and rarely is the strength of these *other* high and low pressure areas producing more than good breezes, much less TS or higher storm winds. Thus, even though Quicksat might only show up to 60K winds, that is 99% of the winds of significance and certainly 99% of the significant data used to predict the overall world weather pattern movement that ultimately affects the hurricane.

I think that might be what you are missing. Losing the detail used for the predictions increases the inaccuracies in the models and ultimately the inaccuracies in the forecasting of the hurricanes, or so it seems to me.

--------------------
Richard
A forecast is NOT a promise!


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CoconutCandy
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New Understanding / Remaining Issues [Re: Ricreig]
      #75621 - Wed Jun 27 2007 01:09 AM

Thanks for your excellent replies, guys! I'll break this into 'bite sized' pieces for easy reading.

>> "The location and strength of the various high and low pressure areas around the storm are important because they steer the storm and in turn, each of these high and low areas interact with each other and affect where each other will move and the amount of movement and how much moisture and the temperature of the air that gets moved and how fast ... Quicksat provides much of the detail that is fed into the models that help the prediction processes that ultimately help predict where the hurricane will go."

Now I'm beginning to understand; the light is beginning to come on. My 'perspective' was too narrow and myopic. I didn't know what an important player QuikScat really is in helping initialize the global models. Let's just hope that the satellite, like the Mars Rovers, far exceeds it's projected life span. Maybe it will plug along for years still. It certainly is one of my 'favorite' satellites.

But still, just a little more clarification, please.

>> "If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two- day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference between a city being evacuated or not ... That means more people disrupted, and more impact on the economy. On the other hand, we have to err on the side of the protection of life."

Do we issue watches/warnings for a section of coastline *3 days* away? The 'cone of uncertainty' at 3 days out would be effected without QuikScat, certainly, but the impact on *Warnings/Evacuations/Economic Impact??*

Hmmm.... I thought that the recon missions did an excellent job of determining the watches/warnings, once a storm got close enough to land for NHC to begin initiating the warnings/evacuatons and hoisting the hurricane warning flags for the effected areas.

And why the " ... difference between a city being evacuated or not ..." ?? If they're going to " ... err on the side of the protection of life ... " then the referred to cities *would* be evacuated. No "or not" about it. They *would* be!

And what about the statement "Weather aircraft and buoys can also obtain similar measurements near a storm, but they do not provide a 'constant flow' of data as QuikScat does." The keywords here are "near a storm".

Finally, I still feel that the statement "We would go blind. It would be significantly hazardous," is somewhat of an exaggeration. QuickScat may be very helpful for the numerical models, but certainly it's *not* the *only* input for the models, is it?

Thanks again for your replies. Just a little more clarification and I'll be satisfied.

May the force be with QuikScat !!


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Ricreig
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Re: New Understanding / Remaining Issues [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #75622 - Wed Jun 27 2007 01:40 AM

Quote:


Thanks again for your replies. Just a little more clarification and I'll be satisfied.




You ask good questions However, I don't think the forecasters are the ones that make the decisions about evacuations, or for that matter, even recommending evacuations. What they do provide is educated guesses based upon their experience and all of the available data they have about the situation, including of course, Quicksat. Now, politicians and other officials make the decisions based upon those forecasts (read: guesses) and as you saw with Katrina, and the Keys with other recent storms, the decisions to evacuate or not are very political and often come too late to be as effective as they should be for orderly and safe implementation. These decisions are often made by people that see the 'line' in the forecast map and don't read the caveat the forecasters give about the 'cone of uncertainty'. Now, if that 'line' is suddenly 'off by 16%' (and I don't know where that number came from but it seems reasonable given the importance of the data Quicksat provides), I can see the critical decisions being further delayed or rationalized (don't evacuate; it is expensive and besides, it is off by 16% so it will miss us anyhow). In other words, IHMO, the loss of *any* tool will make the hard fought gains in forecasting accuracy a very uphill battle. Just don't make the mistake that the forecasters are the ones deciding whether or not to evacuate, they have enough problems trying to determine where the beast is likely to go.....or so it seems to me.

--------------------
Richard
A forecast is NOT a promise!


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CoconutCandy
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Finally Satisfied / Photo of Florida from the Space Shuttle [Re: Ricreig]
      #75623 - Wed Jun 27 2007 02:26 AM Attachment (329 downloads)

Thanks again, guys. You've given me a lot to chew on.

I'm certainly more 'enlightened' on these issues than I was a few days ago.

I appreciate the time you've both taken to provide me with a larger perspective.

And I didn't realize that the decisions re: evacuations were not strictly in the hands of the forecasters.

But I was aware of the seriousness of the issue, especially in the Keys, having lived in Coconut Grove (hence my screen name) back in the '70's. And I spent 2 or 3 weeks in the Keys and Key West every summer during those years.

I now understand the gravity (pun intended) about the 'backsliding' of the 'hard fought, uphill battle' with regard to forecast accuracy, should QuikScat suddenly go silent, as we go into what is expected to be a very busy season.

As an aside, I've attached a beautiful photo of Florida from the Space Shuttle. Such great memories!

I'll cool my jets on all the posting for a'while. Wishing you all the best.

Many Mahalos from Hawaii - Norm


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madmumbler
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Re: Finally Satisfied / Photo of Florida from the Space Shuttle [Re: CoconutCandy]
      #75674 - Mon Jul 02 2007 10:34 AM

Evacuations are called by local EOC officials. Watches and warnings are issued by the NHC. They tell local officials what's happening -- the locals take it from there.

Some places, like the Keys, MUST be evacuated several days in advance. I was in Key West when Andrew was coming, and had to evacuate. They must evac in stages.

Other places, like barrier island chains (Sarasota, Charlotte, Pinellas, Lee, Collier counties) MUST evacuate earlier to get everyone off the islands in time.

Municipalities/Red Cross can't open large shelters for mass evacs in a matter of hours -- they have to plan and have things ready. Highways might have to be contra-flowed. Supplies must be staged (state/national guard level operations).

Charley was predicted to hit Tampa -- it hit us here in Charlotte. HOWEVER, had they NOT ordered evacs in Pinellas/Hillsborough and it HAD hit up there, there would be public officials with their heads on pikes for public display.

EOCs must weigh how to protect the greatest number of people the most efficient way. To evacuate persons with special needs (PSNs takes time -- they have to fly large cargo planes into the Keys to evac hospitals and PSNs, for example), to prepare staff, etc.

And remember, there are places like Charlotte County where there really ARE no shelters because of our elevation. Many of our residents must go to Sarasota or south to Lee/Collier or east to DeSoto.

A lot of planning and drills have to happen for any of this to occur. And of course, when they order evacs (like Charley) and it doesn't hit, they still get blamed for not being right, even though they did all the right things.

Problem is, there are too many people who will 1) rely on the government to tell them what to do and take care of them instead of staying informed and making their own decisions and preparing to be self-sufficient, and 2) refuse to listen to what the government says regardless of what they say. Both of these kinds of people are dangerous for various reasons -- they are the kind who blame officials for "making" them evacuate when they didn't have to, or who call 911 when the storm surge is at 10 feet and they're in their attic because they didn't evac when they should have.

--------------------
Lesli in SWFL.
Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.


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