“New technologies exist that can provide the opportunity for better understanding and study of hurricane situations. It was apparent from this survey and others that a need for heavy rain and wind speed information on a higher spatial resolution along the coast and over open water exists. Currently, there is a paucity of observations from today's infrastructure. Such information along and near the coast is crucial during hurricane situations….”
“The density of surface observations in the Caribbean and the Carolinas is extremely low. This posed a significant problem to forecasters trying to obtain information during the storm.”
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--> Appendix E Findings from NOAA Natural Disaster Survey Reports Hurricane Gilbert1 3–16 September 1988 Finding 1.4 (Need for Higher Resolution in NWS Products). “New technologies exist that can provide the opportunity for better understanding and study of hurricane situations. It was apparent from this survey and others that a need for heavy rain and wind speed information on a higher spatial resolution along the coast and over open water exists. Currently, there is a paucity of observations from today's infrastructure. Such information along and near the coast is crucial during hurricane situations….” Hurricane Hugo 10–22 September 1989 Finding 3.1 “The density of surface observations in the Caribbean and the Carolinas is extremely low. This posed a significant problem to forecasters trying to obtain information during the storm.” 1 References for each disaster survey are found in the reference section at the end of this report under “NOAA, United States Department of Commerce,” listed by the name of the storm under specific study.
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--> The Halloween Nor'Easter of 1991 East Coast of the United States… Maine to Florida and Puerto Rico 28 October-1 November 1991 Finding 2 “The availability and continuity of an adequate, reliable, and timely data base (consisting of meteorological observations, sea state conditions, and water level measurements) is vital if NWS offices are to provide accurate and timely coastal flood watches and warnings. This includes those areas behind barrier islands, particularly where large rivers or embayments are involved (e.g., Pamlico Sound) so that adequate warning for seiches and coastal flooding can be given.” Recommendation 2–3 “The NWS should install an adequate marine observational network that would fill the gaps in the current arrangement and would provide the minimum coverage necessary for the reconfigured forecast areas in the modernized NWS. This network should include shoreline/shallow water wave height measurements.” Hurricane Andrew 23–26 August 1992 Finding I.I.1. “Satellite imagery is the only source of information over data-sparse oceans, except for ships which generally avoid rough weather.” Finding II.I.1 “The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has decided to remove all large navigational buoys and replace them with other, smaller types of buoys. The replacement buoys are too small to be fitted with meteorological instruments. Loss of the current buoys, in the near future, will mean the loss of hourly data from stations along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.” Recommendation II.I.1 “The NWS, through its National Data Buoy Center, should ensure that sufficient capabilities are present to maintain hourly observations along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters.”
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--> Hurricane Iniki 6–13 September 1992 Finding 3.4 “Although Iniki passed between the existing data buoy network south and west of Hawaii, the sea height information provided by this network was the only real-time data available and allowed CPHC forecasters to make reasonable coastal sea height forecasts.” The Great Nor'Easter of December 1992 10–14 December 1992 Finding II-2 “Coastal and offshore data (e.g., wind, seas) are especially important to forecasters during coastal flood events for the determination of storm surge and wave battery. Limited observational data were available from a large area of the ocean off the northeast U.S. coast at the time the storm occurred. This lack of data coverage was also addressed in the Halloween Nor'easter of'91 and the Northeast Blizzard of'78 reports. The loss of the Coast Guard's Large Navigational Buoys just off the Delaware coast barely a month prior to the Great Nor'easter of December 1992 proved to be a particularly great handicap to forecasters.” Recommendation II-2. “The NWS should supplement the present marine observational network in order to fill the gaps which presently exist and to provide the minimum coverage necessary for the reconfigured forecast areas in the modernized NWS. This network should include shoreline/shallow water wave height measurements. Towards this mandate, the national Marine Observation Network (MAROB) initiative must continue to be pressed forward.” Superstorm of March 1993 12–14 March 1993 Finding 1.1 “NWS could have made improvements to the Coastal Flood Watches and Warnings for the Florida Gulf Coast. A significant contributing factor to this problem was the insufficient number of Gulf of Mexico marine and coastal observations, water level measurements, and a lack of storm surge
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--> guidance products to assist in forecasting these events. NWS has never had sufficient marine observations nor enough real-time water level information. The need for these data were also noted as deficiencies in the Disaster Survey Team report on the Halloween Nor'easter of 1991. Chapter 4 and Finding and Recommendation 4.1 further address these problems.” Finding 4.1 “High availability of buoy and coastal station observation data are vital to support the NWS marine forecast and warning program. The scarcity of marine weather observations greatly impacted the quality of NWS marine forecast and warning services during the Superstorm. A similar finding was noted in previous DST Reports.” Recommendation 4.1 “NOAA should pursue additional marine observation sources including collaborative efforts with state and private organizations.” Finding 4.3 “The NGWLMS [Next Generation Water Level Measurement System] can support up to 11 ancillary measurements such as air temperature, atmospheric pressure, and wind speed and direction. Optimization of this additional capability could partially compensate for the scarcity of marine observations.” Recommendation 4.3 “NWS should take action to include the addition of environmental sensors at NGWLMS stations to measure additional parameters for relay in real-time to NMC (now NCEP) for processing and dissemination on the Automated Field Observation System (AFOS).” Hurricane Bertha 5–14 July 1996. Finding 9: “Rip currents associated with Bertha resulted in 3 deaths and over 100 rescues along the Florida and southeast Georgia coasts. Heavy surf advisories were cancelled before two of the deaths occurred. Lack of data off the southeast Florida coast forced forecasters to estimate wave heights from local wind forecasts.”
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--> Recommendation 9: “NWSFO Miami must redouble its efforts at seeking partnerships with Beach Patrol units and other organizations to secure critical wave height and surf reports.” Hurricane Fran 28 August-8 September 1996 Finding 6: “Coastal flood warnings and forecasts could be improved with access to better ocean level data. There is a lack of real-time observations along the most critical east-facing beaches. For example, NWFSO Wilmington, North Carolina, has access to only four automated coastal observing sites along its 125-mile (approximately 200 km) coastal area of responsibility.” Recommendation 6: “Efforts to properly equip coastal areas with real-time ocean level observations, for both land and marine areas, should be intensified. The NWS and the National Ocean Service (NOS) should collaborate to provide NWS operational access to NOS data and real-time graphing of data. The Chesapeake Bay and other Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) basins should be updated on a scheduled basis to maximize the model's output and subsequent NWS surge forecasts.”