“We have to be credible in what we are sending out in terms of our products and warnings,” National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told the Weather Channel on Tuesday.
Bryan Norcross, the Weather Channel’s hurricane expert, said the hurricane center’s adherence to “arcane and inflexible rules” compromised communication.
“When all hell is breaking loose, sometimes you’ve got to break a few rules to do the right thing,” he blogged after the decision.
Smith said, “People — including Mayor Bloomberg — were misled by the NWS’s, in my opinion, highly unfortunate decision not to issue a hurricane warning, into thinking the threat had lessened when it actually increased.”
Two days before Sandy hit, while noting the serious danger, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) played down the chances of sudden water surges, “which is what you would expect with a hurricane, and which we saw with Irene 14 months ago. So it will be less dangerous.”
He pivoted quickly after the Weather Service updated its report on potential sudden water surges.
According to New York City statistics, about 6,100 people used emergency shelters in the run-up to Sandy, compared with 9,600 for Hurricane Irene. Both storms prompted mandatory evacuation of the same low-lying areas, totaling about 375,000 people, though Sandy caused more extensive damage to the city.
The national death toll for the storm hit 125, and cleanup estimates in New York and New Jersey alone are in the billions of dollars.
Knabb said that closely following procedure may have caused confusing messages.
“There are some inflexibilities in the Weather Service warning and product dissemination system that we could change for next time,” he told the Weather Channel.
Broun said Friday that he still has questions about the assessment.
“I worry that the lack of independent voices on this panel will ultimately result in a white-washed report, lacking any depth or substance that would make the final product useful,” he said.
NOAA said it plans to meet Broun’s Dec. 14 deadline for a response to his letter.
Jason Samenow is The Washington Post’s weather editor. Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and blogs for the Wall Street Journal.