Rob White's Posting

Important information in the comments from the NWS and my reply in comments.

Original posting:

Please take a look at Rob White's blog posting about today's termination of the Hurricane Sandy Service Assessment.

Of particular interest, look at this part of his posting.
NWS public relations went to the trouble to delete, twice, the word "hurricane" in Rob's subject line as Rob explains in his blog.
It has become increasingly clear in the last couple of days that, regardless of the meteorological facts, someone or some people at NWS and/or NOAA do not want Sandy to be a "hurricane." Is this because hurricane warnings were never issued? Don't know.

I can tell you the original assessment team was committed to finding out and publishing the truth.


  1. Technically, I doubt it was a true "hurricane" at landfall, and I think the Tropical Cyclone Report will find that it became post-tropical will back up a few hours at least (to 1200Z or 1800Z October 29).

    HOWEVER, regardless of status, it was a hurricane-strength storm, with a very low central pressure - about 943mb at landfall - and had the impacts of a large, intense hurricane. The impacts need to be brought strong and hard and people need to treat these storms of that strength - regardless of origin or structure - as hurricanes for preparedness. That goes back to one of my recommendations.

  2. Craig, I don't know what it was at landfall. I do know there are tropical meteorology specialists that are adamant that it WAS a hurricane at landfall. That is one of the things the aborted service assessment was going to look into.

    It is extremely curious to me the efforts the NWS management is making NOT to call it a hurricane. Why? We had already decided to look into that but now we, and the nation, may never know.

  3. But, interestingly, the "confusion" about the name seeped into Senator Schumer's assessment for insurance purposes. He, a non-scientist, was terming the system as being "downgraded" to a "tropical storm" when, in reality, he was probably hearing the word out of context as "Post TROPICAL [cyclone]". While he may be playing with the nomenclature, it is equally likely that he is confused by the terminology.

    For some background...this 'debate' was addressed, to a degree, in 2009 at the NOAA Hurricane Conference: What to call a hybrid or transitional system? Post-Tropical, Extra tropical? Keep the name? (this was agreed to)? Maintain or discontinue warnings? The decision was made to use both Post-Tropical for transitioning cyclones, and Extratropical for former cyclones which completed transition. To reduce confusion, the name would be retained. A quick look at NWS Directives does not indicate per se how the TC Watch/Warning process would work; however, the ability to issue a "Post-Tropical Storm (name)" Local Statement is spelled out. Interesting that the term Storm is used and not Cyclone. I can't say if this is oversight or not, but one can see how even this usage would lead to confusion among elected officials and other users.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I have to say that if even we as meteorologists are confused by the potential lingo and terminology of a transitioning tropical/extratropical cyclone, then without a doubt non-specialists (EMS, local officials, public) are too. With a high-probability, high-impact storm like Sandy was as it approached the northeast, simplicity and clarity should be paramount. Then people can spend their time deciding on what actions to take, rather than trying to figure out what to call it.

  6. Hello - My email to Mr. Rob White yesterday was not a forward of the original email he sent to Doug Young, so I didn't delete or alter his original subject line. The email I sent to Mr. White was a fresh new email. Some call the storm Hurricane Sandy, while others call it Superstorm Sandy. I believe the assessment team was calling it Hurricane "Superstorm" Sandy. That's too much text to fit into a subject line, so I opted to simply use "Sandy" for brevity. Thank you, -Susan Buchanan/NWS Public Affairs

    1. I find the confusion mostly media-driven. Officially it was Hurricane Sandy until landfall, then it was officially Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy. There is no such thing officially as a "Superstorm", just the media didn't want to use the long PTC term.

      I'd stick with "Hurricane Sandy" as the official name, since that is what it was for most of its lifetime. The TCR hasn't come out (and likely won't until early 2013 I would think) and that could change the point of extratropical transition.

  7. Susan,

    Thank you for the clarification and I will post a notice at the top about your message.

    That said, as co-chair of the aborted Sandy Assessment, it was being called "Hurricane Sandy Event" by the team. It was not being called Superstorm Sandy.

    Mike Smith

  8. For the record, the e-mail replies that I received from the NWS contained the "reply" notation "Re:" in the subject line (see screenshots), which comes up by default when one hits the "Reply" button on an e-mail.

    I suppose that she could have typed "Re:" manually, but why would one change the subject line of an original e-mail anyway, even if beginning a new thread? That is highly unusual in my experience dealing with thousands of e-mails annually.

    I was able to fit the entire text into the subject line on my original e-mail, and I find the response "that's too much text to fit in a subject line" interesting to say the least...

  9. Point of clarification to my last comment. It just dawned on me that I did not "grab" the subject line when I did the screen capture in question on the blog post, so you can't see the "re:" that I'm referring to...

    None the less, I still maintain my position that it was odd not to reply to my original e-mail (if that is indeed what was done) and instead initiate an entirely new one with a different subject line. That just doesn't make any sense. Typically one wishes to preserve the original text, and I get the distinct impression that was exactly what was trying to be avoided in this case...

  10. Rob,

    I understand but I felt it was important to get Susan's remarks on the record. Readers can come to their own conclusions.



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