2 Episode results for "Dr Rick Nab"

Hurricane Season 2019: How Can We Improve?

Weather Geeks

49:29 min | 1 year ago

Hurricane Season 2019: How Can We Improve?

"Two thousand eighteen hurricane season thrust itself upon the history starting on Memorial Day Weekend Sub Tropical Storm Alberto then Hurricane Florence scraping North Carolina's flooding rains in September and finally category five Hurricane Michael Destroying homes and lives along the Florida panhandle in October with all of these storms meteorologist emergency managers had to constantly work together to refine their communication everyone in storms paths safe. Today I have two of those people at the top of their game Dr Rick Nab the previous National Hurricane Center Director and Current Weather Channel hurricane expert and Rebecca Molten Natural Hazards Planning in Disaster Response Spots meteorologist for Fema today we'll be looking back at how we did in two thousand eighteen and what we can improve upon as we start the Twenty Nineteen Atlantic Hurricane Season Dr Nab and Rebecca. Thank you for joining US Thadani. These are two of my favorite colleagues in the business and two of the best in the business too so I'm always glad to talk to people I wanted to start right with twenty nineteen because as we're taping this we're few days from the national hurricane season season. I want to go to Dr Nap I after what are your initial thoughts on the hurricane season forecast and then I wanna come the Rebecca for your initial response on how we did last year's we think about the upcoming season's I what are your initial take on the on the seasonal forecast forecast. Let's ignore it seriously there we because last year it didn't do anybody any favors and this year. I think there's so much uncertainty in it. There's nearly equal chances if you listen to the seasonal forecasters of having above or below or near average bridge season and as we saw last year when it wasn't forecast to be above average so you're how bad realize you're really in this camp that suggests that okay there may be some usefulness out there for the seasonal forecasts but I mean as we often say it only he takes one storm so with where we are the twenty nine thousand nine season. There's no sort of signal is clear signal largely because of the uncertainty and what El Nino is going to do for preparedness in for readiness you need to ignore the seasonal forecast forecast because in any year just like last year you can have a really bad season where you live and in our country overall when the season is forecast to be average or blow average and the seasonal forecast last year had some serious inaccuracies overseas but I still fully support the pursuit of the science. It's all about how we talk about it and how it has messaged I think last year overall people got a little bit of the wrong message early in the season and were were surprised is by how busy in batted got but again it only takes Warren last year. It took to to drive that message home so I'm as always this time of year concerned about whether or not people are getting ready ahead of time because there are some really tangible tangible important reasons to get ready ahead of time thirty day waiting period on flood insurance long lines for supplies. If you wait till the hurricane warning is up. You've really got to get ready now. Because who knows who's going to have the bad year this year. Regardless the seasonal four yeah and Rebecca you. You're you're all just in an emergency manager and think about these things from FEMA perspective. Let me get your take on sort of the question I asked Dr Nab and then sort of from your perspective I absolutely echo what Dr Bob said one hundred percent <hes> ask anyone who survived Florence or harvey or <hes> Michael or any of the previous storms we've had if they remember what the seasonal forecast was and it doesn't matter and if anything I worry a little bit more about hurricane fatigue this year and a until it totally this is what you mean by that yeah so so hurricane fatigue we've heard it <hes> already started to be used because of the severe weather and the tornadoes and the flooding that we've had but <hes> you know with these past few years people have they. They may either think they know what's going to happen or they're tired of hearing the same message and it's a complacency that <hes> you know. Are we really getting the message through everything that's happened and and so we worry about that a little bit and and folks who went through Hurricane Florence and had flooding may think they survived a major hurricane when it wasn't takes many forms doesn't apps because you were hit recently and you're dealing with recovery and preparation at the same time or you're tired of dealing with hurricanes and you're tired of preparing every year and nothing happens but what if it happens to you this year because it hasn't happened to you in a long time so we got people with all kinds earns a different experience levels both recently long-term we have people who are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew when they were hit by Florence and so how do you cut through everything they've experienced to make sure they prepared again this year so a message like we have with the seasonal forecast where it's not clear. Will it be average or not. How do you really <hes> inspire? Everyone is okay. Let's look at what we've seen the past few years in and how do we get ready when we need to focus water. That's even harder to get through to people that flooding is what's killing folks after the storm and rainfall and river flooding is the greatest danger. It's really hard to get people to motivate. Do you do either of you think that because of what we've seen in recent years with Harvey and Florence the Water Threat and I know Dr Nab you and I talked in a previous weather Geeks podcast about the whole Saffir Simpson messaging in what we saw with Florence in that you know once it was sort love downgraded and category some people at Guard down but we knew that with both of those storms harvey and Florence it was going to be a rain event that was going to be the issue. Do you think that people are more aware that are still a messaging struggle. No I don't think people are more aware of that because as we're seeing right now with the flooding people don't understand a meteorologist. Don't make it easy for people to understand what we mean when we say flooding well. Let's stay there. You say meteorologists overcoming the pathway of a lot of people that are listening to this podcast so so you're saying part of the onus is on us absolutely a meteorologist were fantastic at forecasting the amount of rainfall twenty inches of rain but we are very I guess new to the art of of demonstrating waiting to someone what does that mean for me. Does that mean basements going to flood or does that mean. I need to go up to the attic. Does that mean I'll be dry. If I live in an inland area like Raleigh or Charlotte or you know if I can't see the coast does that mean me and how you know oh I guess just water in the force of it and the damage from it <hes> there's so many aspects that we are still really knew too. I think understanding having that conversation with people about what does that mean to you fully grief that especially when it comes to the inland flood threat right I mean we still have some work to convinced on storm surge and I still worry that they're still could be large loss of life in a single day to storm surge if you have rapid intensification or low evacuation compliance rate but we have made a lot of progress progress on storm surge in recent years on the education of it. We're issuing warnings in the weather service storm surge watching warning the hurricane centers potential storm surge flooding map. I mean they're stored to do there but there's so much more work to do on the inland fled threat not just with the collections of warnings and products that I think need to be enhanced for the inland threat but the technology isn't even as far along we we don't have the inland inundation mapping and modeling capabilities is that we do for storm. I like Rebecca says one thing to count how many raindrops fall we use meteorologist. We tend to be a little obsessed with how many inches of rain Ryan or how many bathtubs it fills up but does that mean I could could get flooding into my house. What does that mean location specific hazards Pacific for people near the coast and inland and even if we solve all of that? I'm still convinced that we as humans in general we just are not as afraid of water or as interested in water as we are afraid of wind and interested in Rick. I was just I literally before we came in to tape this podcast. I just tweeted something because I saw a farmer out in Arkansas talking about his flooded a farm from the recent storms out in the Mid West and Great Plains and I was making the point that there's been a lot of headlines Rightfully so about the tornadoes but let's not forget the damage in from the flooding because I think flooding does not raise the same awareness it doesn't have both the same telegenic coverage and and that's and that's a shame because you look at the statistics just over the last decade flooding is taking more lives than any other weather related hazard. We're losing on average about one hundred people year in this country to flooding more than half of them in their cars and this year we're not having a good year. I mean as of this date and I fear I hope not but I fear the number will go up by the time some people listen to this but this year we've lost way more than the average number people in flooding flooding and the rate of the number of people dying in their cars and flooding is higher than historical numbers would show so we're still not as a society taking water a seriously and or we're not realizing just how dangerous it is. In light of all the wind related hazards that were so much more aware of it seems we are talking with Dr Rick Nab who is the weather channel's hurricane expert and former director of the National Hurricane Center and Rebecca Molten the natural hazards planning in disaster response meteorologist for FEMA. Now I wanna take this opportunity because I think a lot of people who Dr Nab is and then we'll have you kind of set your sort of background their second but Rebecca tell us a little bit what about Fema how you been at Fema and exactly what your responsibilities are there well. My responsibilities seem to be changing depending on what the weather is for the day. I've been with FEMA now for twelve thirteen years. Here's my memory gets foggy because volley events. We've had <hes> and I I am a meteorologist as you say and I started really to help the agency is in the southeast the eight southern states that we have from Mississippi up to North Carolina and anything up to Kentucky <hes> look at the hurricane hazards and support our states with creating good evacuation zones and understanding the hazard in getting that information out and it really expanded from there to all different hazards and my role and communicate communication is during an event I collaborate with the National Hurricane Center to communicate this information to emergency managers so primarily with the state but also with Fema and all the federal partners of the D._O._T.. Is a huge part burner of ours and obviously whether and transportation is really big deal so I've got a lot more involved in that so my role is really grown and expanded and now <hes> includes all of the weather hazards in the planning and all of the phases of emergency management <hes> <hes> everyone thinks of it primarily in response operations but I'm not traditionally forecasting like the weather service forecasters would or <hes> a meteorologist here where they're looking at details in the forecast. I'm much more high level. What what does this mean overall? What's the impact the so what now what and how do we <hes> as an agency prepare to support our states many of whom are very well positioned to support their local communities and that's a that's really a three sixty five Evatt effort? Now I have worked with Rebecca for many years. We've crossed have many many times and primarily through the hurricane liaison team at the National Hurricane Center when she would be deployed down there <hes> when I was a forecaster in the later when I was director and I I hope people realize how important that function is to have fema inside the Hurricane Center with a permanent presence that is augmented by people like Rebecca when their particular region as. Is region four so often is is affected and Rebecca helped me tremendously. When I was a director at Hurricane Senator there was one particular hurricane situation where the we were? She was getting concerned that there were certain communities that needed to be focused on to ensure they got the message and evacuated in a timely manner and she she was my eyes and ears to that situation and she helped us in the hurricane center and in the weather service connect with the state and local emergency managers we all got on the phone and made sure we're all on the same page and that is the kind of action that is life saving and the partnership between Fema Ema and the National Weather Service is very very strong but the hurricane liaison team at Hurricane Center is is really a crown jewel of that and it facilitates a lot of really important conversations you talk about all the communication strategies we have all the products we have human-to-human conversation is really the core of what the weather service calls rightly so decision support services when you're trying to make sure evacuation decision makers have all all the right information in their hands all of us talking together. human-to-human is what really makes that process work. 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They're also fun whether quizzes online forum take exclusive giveaways that only we love whether members can receive join for free today to receive a weekly newsletter and be a part of the most passionate weather fan base at love weather dot TV and we are back on the weather geeks podcast. I'm Dr Marshall Shepherd from the University of Georgia and I'm talking to hurricane. Experts may come at this from different perspectives and this is whether Geeks I want to geek out now. I WANNA Kinda Circle back to twenty eighteen. I mean you all know what happened in two thousand eighteen with various storms Michael which was recently upgraded to a category five <hes> Dr Nabala later. I want to get your thoughts on why that happened in the process would then I'll start with you there. Why did why was there a reanalysis? Why did we go? Why do we go back in upgrade these storms but I I want to get your thoughts on that and then I get both of your thoughts on what surprised you about twenty eighteen well? When I was a Hurricane Specialty Hurricane Center I did that task of reevaluating storms that Hurricane Center had handled operationally in fact every depression storm hurricane that the National Hurricane Center handles operationally they do a post event analysis for and write a full report on the the whole meteorological history the forecast accuracy the casualties everything about it and I had to do that for storms Katrina which was an extensive high profile Post analysis and a change in the category afterward and the reason that that has done is because you have so much more information after the factor in intensity estimation in real time is one-sided? You have information up to that time. After the fact you have all the information that comes in after after that to provide more context and sometimes with the benefit of more time more data and more careful analysis you come to a slightly different conclusion and that's commonplace. The Michael Changed Their Katrina Change Change. Those are just two examples among hundreds of times that the post event intensity analysis has been different. The change in Michael People might not realize is very very small. It was only five miles an hour. It's just that some firemen are changes are more important than others and it took it from the highest category four number that you can have to the lowest category five number but if the messaging the same right yeah and it doesn't change the overall outcome it but it's an attention getting changed and it shows you that high end for his just as bad as a as a borderline five and if you read the description in the report talks about how uncertain certain they still are because we still don't fully sample the winds and hurricane and we rate hurricanes differently than tornadoes. We don't rate hurricanes by the damage they nobody knew what the strength of Michael was based on looking at the damage in a lot of the head into a storm surge to it wasn't just a wins it's done by all available wind observations but it does put Michael in very unique and rare company of Landfall in category glory five in the United States. How many how many we've we've had Michael Camille and the thirty five her and I thought it was thought and and Dr Nab? I don't know if you saw director grams graphic rapidly intensified. He's category. Five storms were just tropical storms seventy two hours three days before we're talking about in meteorological parliament something I'll rapid intensification are are I and we've seen that with several of the storms in the last couple of years <hes> in both in the Atlantic Basin as well and Rebecca that prevent that presents some very serious real time absolutely evacuation decision kind of situations because if you are currently dealing with a tropical storm I mean if you and I were at in hurricane and lays on team that hurricane center and we're on the phone with emergency managers. We're saying this is currently tropical storm and the exact forecast takes takes it to cat two or three. How do we deal with intensification possibility? I want to come to Rebecca on this because you know one of the things I ask is what was surprising. I think for many of us what was surprising although we were watching it is Michael it really did rapidly intensify defy and as we all three no detract forecasting is has progressed a bit better than the intensity forecast but you know both of you know but Rebecca you know that there are people as well. I've got this category three threshold. I'm not doing anything unless the category every three or higher. I'm talking about people that live in these areas but then you have a storm that rapidly intensified cat five essentially. How do we message that? How do you as a person at Fem- are just as a colleague? How do you think about messaging that type of when you know that there are the people that say they're not gonNA leave and ss cat for or so forth? How do we can convey that impacts and more important than a number? I wish I had the million dollar answer to that but in in my world that really translates to not just the hazards but in vacuum time and the amount of time because people will respond to major hurricanes cat three and above and are more likely to evacuate you are clearance time the amount of time it can take for a community to leave <hes> you can see jump in some areas of the country significantly from an entire day of daylight to all of the sudden you're behind the power curb and you should have evacuated yesterday. So those are the situations we try to prevent so we work emergency managers to look at scenarios so if the forecast is for cat to okay what does that timing for cat three. How does that change and how do we incorporate that an uncertain team decisions so that we aren't trying to get people off the road when we're in the middle of the rainfall and storm surges coming up over evacuation routes and and you know sometimes those has its can come before quite a bit before landfall so we we really have to message that <hes> carefully and a a lot of that is done in the the off-season in the preparedness and the education and the outreach we do with emergency manager and that's one of the reasons I was so <hes> and I I? I don't expect your want you to comment on this but that was one of the reasons I was so concerned about the sequestration. I'm sorry the shutdown <hes> that we saw because I know a lot of things happen off season at the hurricane center and in many of those people idled and so it's important for the listeners to understand that <hes> those nowhere near hurricane season that really had an impact on some of the things that that you just heard <hes> other things things that surprise either either of you about what we saw in two thousand eighteen in terms of hurricane season. I think we'd all be kidding ourselves if we didn't say everything I the the forecasters at the Hurricane Center are world-class best forecasters forecasters and I think collectively jaws just dropped when we saw storm like Michael. I know my stomach dropped. When I saw Flori- become what I I knew would be a harvey leg situation? I wasn't expecting that either. The amount of rainfall we keep increasing rainfall scales and adding colors and I just really did not expect to continue to see these types of impacts from storms. I can't imagine that there's any meteorologist meteorologist anywhere who isn't a little surprised that Michael God is strong the I mean we we were anticipating some strengthening and when it was for me in the western Caribbean there was a fair amount of wind shear wasn't the ideal environment firemen for significant strengthening and every time we went through another forecast cycle and we all saw reasons for upping the intensity forecast we had to keep saying well but plan for another category higher than that and then there would get up to that on the next advisory and then all plan for another category we were trying to catch up with that's the nature of the beast the the rapid intensification puzzle is so difficult and intensity forecasting still remains a significant puzzle because look look at how high intensity forecast for Florence compared to what it made landfall but with Florence we as meteorologist. We all knew that Florence was going to slow down. That's why we were sounding. The alarm on the inland flood threaten the track forecasts continue to be stellar in many ways and the intensity forecast continue to be a big challenge. There are small changes small improvements happening in intensity forecasting overall but we have not cracked that nut on rapid intense guy well then I wanted to sort of energy what I was surprised I was actually surprised though I shouldn't have been because of the strength in the movement the speed of Ford speed of of Michael we saw hundred plus mph winds in Georgia and devastated Minnie the agricultural crops but I wanna stay with the intensity. I think you know an even one of you feel free to chime in on this. Why is it that the hurricane track forecast in the models do are so much better than the intensity forecast histamine? Can you just give the listeners sort of a one. Oh one of why we've been able to make better strives to the track forecast track forecasting has to do with the large scale pattern. It's much more possible and feasible all to observe and model and forecast with the larger scale patterns are going to do and that the the hurricane doesn't have its own steering wheel. Okay it steered by the larger weather systems around it intensity forecasting. Has a lot to do with that. Surrounding environment because wind shear and and ocean temperatures in the humidity levels in the atmosphere can affect intensification but intensification has a lot to do with what's going on in the inner core which is far more difficult to observe and to forecast and that what is going on in the inner core is what made Florence and Michael opposite senses difficult to get hold on in terms of forecasting intensity and most major hurricanes go through a rapid intensification face but we just can't seem to get a handle on when inner core is going to tighten up like that and you know what is going to be the exact timing and magnitude of of rapid densification and Michael showed why this is such a high priority forecast improvement need and has been for years and that is it it was I recall hard to convince everybody in the panhandle to evacuate and the night before we're talking to the Florida governor on television and we're I'm on there with them. We're both pleading together with people to get out but only seem to really motivate people to go was the fact that kept getting stronger and kept getting stronger and got out because they could in a lesser populated area people got out the night before because it had gotten to cat three and into cat four so if if we could forecast our cast rapid intensification <hes> it would save a lot more lives and I think we really owe it to <hes> thank the hurricane hunters. They're amazing data collected continuously as Michael made landfall really save lives Rebecca. What's your take on this? Though as much as we are wanting intensity forecast we better in as much of a problem as rapid intensification is we still had enough of an idea of the strengthening and there there was there were still the useful warnings and products for storm surge and the conversations with emergency managers about the possibility of getting stronger and those storm surge products account for possibilities of stronger system. The system still worked not we still called evacuations in enough time for people to get out yes and that gets into the complicated process of you can have the best forecasts in the world and they will still be a number of other factors that play and and that's what makes my job incredibly difficult <hes> kind of an art of communication plus planning working with our partners as you mentioned. <hes> you know the face to face communication. I interestingly went back and looked since we've started using cell phones which Arthur I think was hurricane. Arthur was the first storm that I can really tell that we started texting each other all the time and using social media and you would think that that would really improve communication station but our number of conference calls were talking to each other has gone up not down so are we really pushing around more information in improving the outcome and helping people evacuate or we just pushing out more information. We have a lot more work to do on that front. Get to understand I think some of the demographics of that area it was different communication message that we needed and storm surge warning on the Atlantic coast for three feet means something different than storm surge warning on the Gulf coast to people when okay here warning. They're thinking Katrina water and that's not necessarily what the forecast was so there's a lot of communication challenges and we really work to help folks understand those localized challenged and the local emergency managers of the ones who really really deserve the lion's share of the credit for those those folks are heroes those women and men who call those evacuations and which is not an easy decision to make and then of course the responders and all the planning that goes on for years to put them in that position and FEMA and the army corps of engineers and Noah Weather Services mainly hurricane center are part of something called the National Hurricane Program that puts all these tools together to empower and enable and equip local emergency managers with some of the tools that they use for that evacuation decision making and again the hurricane liaison team their king center facilitates that at at at a broad level able and sometimes we get local even from Hurricane Center so there's so much being done that I hope the public realizes that and that you my dream on the whole evacuation thing was that it is that every person in the public would boil it down to this. I know my evacuation zone. I know where I'm going to go and how I'm going to get their told to evacuate and when I'm told to go I'm going to go flood insurance and yes. I was just talking about the evacuation question but yes the flooding wasn't started to you. That's that's another pillar of hurricane strong initiative right but the public should have tremendous confidence when their local officials issuing evacuation instruction and should comply and it's much easier to comply if you've planned ahead and that's why we stressed the prepared this time because you wait till the last minute. You're not going to nowhere to go or what to do if you haven't thought ahead of time the weather channel is partnering with Land In to give you a chance to win some amazing gear three lucky winners will receive the new ultimate rain jacket that the weather channel meteorologist will be wearing during the upcoming hurricane season. So what are you waiting for inter for your chance to win at we love weather dot TV slash lands in that we love weather dot TV slash land and we are back on the weather geeks podcast talking with Rebecca Multan from Fema and Dr Rick Nabbed from right here at the weather channel and formerly the Director of the National Hurricane Center. I want to pivot the discussion a little bit now you you've been touching catching on it throughout the discussion but communication we're in an era where our models are getting better. We have goes satellites. We've got really good radar systems but the communication social media this is something that was talking with Eric Blake go before we came in to do the taping the social media era and Hurricanes Rebecca. What are your thoughts on social media communication morning and messaging hurricanes you know I so I have also a background and communication shame which I thought was going to actually be a detriment when I got my graduate degree meteorology and ended up serving me perfectly in my in my world that I'm in now and it really boils down into? I think meteorologists have to realize that they may be the scientific experts but we are not experts in public communication and I think it would be really helpful for folks to sometimes consider that in flip their point of view around because so often we want the public trust us but we don't trust them and they're telling us by what they do or don't do or you know what information they consume do what they think about the weather and it whether it's such a personal part of everyone's lives and we've seen a lot of the social science in our community come out the to tell us things I'm thinking particularly about tornadoes but also hurricanes how people personalized in need she to personalize the weather information in order to make the right decisions and as meteorologist we we have an idea of what we think is the right decision but I see there's a lot sometimes when meteorologists are sort of second guessing emergency managers. Why are they doing this? Why are they doing that? You may not be an expert in that field and the more I think we can flip around our perspective and try to understand some of these Maury will actually start to take better steps forward social media. Sometimes it can be people talking at each other and a no. There's a lot of meteorologists talk about this that we all follow each other really reaching the public and then how do we connect with them <hes> but we all know people who aren't meteorologist and it's so fascinating that don't think like us and talk to people find out what they what they understand what they don't and then believe them trust them that they're not stupid because they don't understand maybe as an example of floods we have twenty different four products and it's possible people still don't know what flood mean gene so. Maybe we yes. We're experts at the rainfall. We can tell you all the hydrology but maybe they're telling us a real neat there and we do have in my program is is Dr Not mentioned the National Hurricane Program there is a lot of science and art art baked into the evacuation planning the hazard but also the behavioral studies <hes> we look in try to understand why people did or didn't evacuate how long it takes them to get their what their needs are if they get to a shelter all of those things mercy managers are such great sources of information when it comes to the community you know social media like any other communications tool like any other technology has its strengths and weaknesses has things that we use it well for and things we don't use it so well for but one thing that I have found it to be extremely useful for is to listen and to see what people in the public are thinking saying and it really gives me situational awareness on what we might be saying in a real time event that isn't really getting through or what misconceptions are out there and not just during a real time event but in other times a year including the lead up to hurricane season. I think one mistake I've made a meteorologist over the air is assuming that because has I've said it for the past ten lead ups to hurricanes that everybody's hurt and has gotten it and I gotta come up something new to say but we still have to get back to basics because not everybody is a hurricane of veterans. Some some people are living in communities for the first time in life there hurricane prone and we still have to not make assumptions that everybody has heard all of it before or understands it. It's really hard to take off that hat sometimes guilty. Why is that we all we all are because we kinda get locked into sort of our personal perspective? My wife tells me that's all the time she's like yeah. You're very weather a rare but most people aren't but at the same time everyone has a phone in their pocket right weather APP on there so they think they know and we have an entire field in emergency management in FEMA. We have a chair dedicated in our response center justice social media listening and we have crowd sourcing and and so that's such an important part I think of what we do ought to just assume that we know everything and we as meteorologists aren't the only ones who are dealing with this challenge. I mean the flood insurance issue for example was something that we as meteorologist I think are getting more involved in the discussion and and that's a good thing we we. I don't think it's a good thing for meteorologist. Just stick to the meteorologists at least be conversant and be aware of the issues that affect how people's outcomes are as a result of extreme weather in flood insurance is a big part of it and in in getting involved in that conversation with experts in insurance and with people in the public. That's another topic where we feel like we've said the same things in the right things over and over and people understand but a lot of people still don't understand what they're homeowners are renter's insurance covers or doesn't cover and why they need flood insurance in the first place in there so many misconceptions. They don't think they're vulnerable to flood or they don't know they're vulnerable to flood the hundred year. Five hundred year stuff has thrown people for a loop the assumption that it's too expensive on and on and on and so that's why you know it's it's important to again not assume that everybody's heard it and keep hammering home the basics but also understand. What is it about Howard communicating it? That is not being understood. How can we change how we community and as you were talking I was thinking about something? General Russell. Lottery told me one time if you can see water from your house or the air if it's close by you probably are going to have a flood situation at some point the storm surge we say hey just because you can't say the ocean doesn't mean ocean. I've heard that one as well I wanna now ask both of you now Dr Nab you're in front of millions conveying information about these storms on the weather channel. I mean in your quite good at it. Rebecca your focus more on emergency managers the public from a different perspective as you think about twenty eighteen and as we move forward to twenty nineteen how you message storms storms like a harvey. I'm sorry Michael or a Florence from T._v.. Perspective of Emergency Management Perspective do you change your your messaging approach <hes> for different types of storms or is it pretty much always the same I from the T._v.. BB Perspective perspective and then the Emergency Management Perspective oh I think we have to handle every event on its own merits and not treat every storm the same with us the right tools for the right situation and what you say what products so you emphasize and how you explain the threats and the hazards and what people ought to do and when it's headed toward a different parts of the country with different populations and different experience levels or how recently they've been hit you've you've got to handle every situation very differently and it's not just because of the meteorology of it I mean sometimes wind is more of a concern most of the time waters more of her concern and even Florence on notice there were significant Tornados too. There was an active storm absolutely so there are a number of things that we think we do well as a meteorolgical meteorological community in in just about every hurricane situation and we need to keep doing but there are things that we need to do differently. If if we had Florence all over again I hope there's some way that we could not just with products and warnings but with how we communicated and we probably need some social science input on how to do this better. But how do we truly sound the alarm for a potentially catastrophic widespread inland flood I mean I don't think we're saying that or conveying that in the right terms flash flood watch certainly doesn't do it even the weather prediction center successive rainfall outlook that goes high risk that probably isn't even quite enough in the scope of even event like a Florence like a harvey meteorologically we saw common. We knew it was going to slow down. We knew how much rain was going to fall in inches and in feet and we were starting to talk about potentially catastrophic flooding but I don't think the Republic then transformed that into their mind a picture of most of the state of North Carolina going underwater I mean we saw that I'm think the public saw that how do we flip that script and convey massive inland on flooding but in other cases still convey the risk that there are few communities that could flood even if it's not going to be widespread so we gotta get that picture of my communities GonNa Flood Into People's heads Somehow Yeah Rebecca. What are your thoughts? I think you hit the nail in the ahead with picture I combed through <hes> newspaper reports online and any interview I could get with people after Florence and I really WanNa know what the people were doing in their cars when they died and why they were there. That's something that isn't unanswered question that I would. I would love to happening here. In two thousand nine hundred absolute. Most people are dying this year in their cars and when when they're interviewed afterward they say things like well well. If I could have seen it it was night into the water I never would have driven into it or thought. It was a puddle. We have so many challenges there rebecca we do and I one thing I read a lot was people saying well. It didn't flood here during Matthew or we had add water during Matthew and unfortunately there are some people who have had to evacuate during Matthew and then had to do it again for Florence and they're using that mental picture in their mind from what they're familiar absolutely the middle models <hes> and I know Castle Williams out there shout out the castle and and that the University of George I know he's thought about some of these vary issues as well. I found that in talking to people in Harvey they were like well. We get floods all of the time here in Houston so I didn't think it was going to be a big deal but by its very nature was an anomaly event so it's an event you probably we have an experience before right or using their experiences with another type of flood so and you know you mentioned things. You haven't experienced before that I think this off season. It's funny because I'm thinking about football and I realized that are passed to fema administrators have both come from the south and so they ben Hutuo fans and so it's AC- country exactly so it will now brock may have been easy. I don't know anyway so we do have a little bit of football culture and actually the new nominee is also from the south so we do have football coach going so in in a reminds me of like we look back on the season and see how we played in what happened what worked and it's almost like watching films on the offseason. We have gone back in our exercises. I have done to this year where we have walked through a rapid intensification in less seven seventy two hours. What are we going to do? What resources will be challenged? What teams will we need that type of response over and over and over again are planning? I think there was after Katrina I saw a lot of agencies and partners looking looking at one hundred twenty hour timeframes <hes> Five Day forecasts and you know a nice long time line where you have storm coming across the Atlantic and you can see coming but with Michael everyone is said to me you know it. It was just down there in the Caribbean and then it moved in a little bit. We didn't think it was going to really come here and with Florence there was the kind of expectation that it will curve out to sea for a minute so <hes> yeah we've really gone back and looked at and tested <hes> with Florence. You had every swift water response team I think in the entire country position ready to jump in and help out because we had that longer time let but what do we miss when we don't harvey was another example <hes> so that's one thing I really see mercy. Managers looking thing at is is what have we learned. How can we adjust and even with all of the forecast being one hundred percent accurate that isn't the case but if that were to be the case and even if all the emergency management instructions were completely timely and perfectly communicated none of that solves the problem of people driving their cars into floodwaters because after at that point the category issues long on the rains have already fallen instructions for emergency managers have already been given and now individuals are facing that decision? Do I keep driving or do I turn around and I don't know what the secret sauce is here but they're still too many people who continue driving and sometimes drive around barricades officials have put in place. I know there are a lot of successes to be touted with how the turnaround don't drown messaging. I mean I don't know how many lives it has saved as probably save more than we realize right but they're still too many lives being lost this way in cars in floodwaters that sometimes I wonder if we need to as a nation put more resources into more easily closing roads yeah from ever having to make them we would snow at some of the I was just heading down to the coastal Georgia and even when I was in the Northeast and mid Atlantic I I mean they had these sort of barriers that were closed down and he's talking about closing roads in ways that are as strong when you prevent people from trying to steal a rental car and you prevent people from trying to drive to where there's a chemical spill or an accident or you're trying to keep people from driving close to a stadium at the super prolong talking about do we is it is it to the point where we have to and this would obviously take a lot of money for the equipment and the people because the officials in law enforcement emerge demands are doing stellar job on this with the resources they have but do we need more resources to close roads in large numbers in ways that people can't drive around. I mean that would take a lot of money. Is that what we need to do because it now it's not that we're losing a few lives this way. We're losing dozens of lives every year and we're losing people in flooding more than any other weather related hazard so that's why I think this deserves serious consideration to put some resources to glow without the evacuation orders in place without the these are areas that may not have been expecting landfall at by any stretch you have a lot of businesses that aren't closed and are going to close so our people driving to work because they have to yes these decisions that really people will way. They're sort of individual value propositions. I gotta get my kid from daycare exactly so and so his the risk I mean that risk of driving through their complicated issues but I think both of you raise key points ep or so we don well past our time but that's okay. That's the beauty of podcast. I'm going to give each of you thirty seconds for your final thoughts thirty seconds each star back on twenty nine thousand nine hurricane season with messes. You WanNa get out there. The past past few seasons have been devastating and we've all seen things that we thought were unbelievable and I'm in the business of catastrophic planning <hes> show I think the season we have to be on our toes like we haven't been before because we just don't know and we do now that the unthinkable quote unquote is absolutely possible. Don't just try to hope the problem away. Don't think it can't happen to you. If you just just take that approach. It puts you in a position of weakness because then you're letting whatever hurricane does surprise you in come your way dictate your outcome and that's the whole premise behind this hurricane strong initiative. It's making a strong so that whatever becomes our way we can deal with but that only happens. I'm convinced if you plan ahead by finding out your evacuation zone and buying your supplies and updating your insurance and getting flood insurance and strengthen your home and figuring out who you can help because if he wait until the last minute it's too late to late. That's where we have to end it before we do though I know both of your on social media where where can people find you on Social Media Rebecca. My handle is our C.. P. M. W. X.. which is my initials plus weather? That's that's pretty simple. I'm primarily on twitter Dr mcnabb okay so make sure you follow both of these folks particularly as we get to June first and start the Atlantic hurricane season and that's where we have to end it. Thank you both for joining us really great conversation and I'm Dr Marshall Shepherd and we will see next time or I also make sure you're not only listening to the podcast. Go Up there and follow it on those various podcast outlets like itunes stitcher and whatnot see you next time <music> yeah.

National Hurricane Center Rebecca Florence Michael Fema Dr Rick Nab harvey meteorologically Hurricane Specialty Hurricane Hurricane Florence Florence National Hurricane Program director Hurricane Michael North Carolina Hurricane Matthew US Rebecca Molten FEMA
Hurricane Hype & Hurdles

Weather Geeks

46:56 min | 2 years ago

Hurricane Hype & Hurdles

"Today we are joined by Dr Rick nad Dr. Rick nab is the former director of the National Hurricane Center in his currently the hurricane expert for the Weather Channel. He has a forecaster and the communicator in time when hurricanes are setting all types of record after last season Florence, we have plenty to get into slits dive right in with Dr Rick nab. I'm Dr Marcia ship it from the university of Georgia, Rick. Thanks for joining us take you so much Marshall. I really love the podcast platform. I'm a avid podcast listener including out to whether geeks of course, and it's wonderful because you can listen to it while doing just about anything else as opposed to video. I drive over to the university of Georgia everyday. And so now I'm a podcast since I've been doing podcast so, and we certainly have a lot to talk about with you. It's been an active last two years of hurricanes and you know, in the television version, whether eighteen minutes, we can do a deep dive today because we've got about forty. So let's just jump right in now. We're right on the heels of hurricane. Florence in a way a game changing storm. So I want to dive right in with some conversation because one of the things that people have been talking about or what are we learning from storms like Florence? And one of the big things that has come up is the saffir-simpson scale. What are your thoughts on? I've been vocal about. I've been saying we don't necessarily need them get rid of the saffir-simpson scale, but we certainly think about the, you know, augmenting it, perhaps thinking carefully, what are your thoughts. You know, this has come up after nearly every storm. That's not a major hurricanes for you. Finish your been telling media that too, because I've been getting calls from media and they it's new bit in our community. This is something that's not new, not at all. And in fact, it even has come up after past major hurricanes when we've compared them like the Charlie Katrina comparison when Charlie was a smaller cat for Katrina was a larger cat three. And which one was the broader disaster? Which one was the storm surge? Disaster in the category didn't line up with who had the war storm surges Astor because Katrina be larger. Was that. But it is a legitimate question that comes up every time is is the categorization of hurricanes hurting or helping, and you can break it up into different avenues that we could go down. The first legitimate question has been, she'll be get rid of the scale right now, and I will say up front that it is possible that if we knew then when the scale was first introduced, what we know now, maybe we wouldn't have used scales in the first place what, but one thing I wanna pick you back on that answer though is when the scale was sorted, then I went back some of the history of this with Bob Simpson and and FAFSA who were he was an engineer, I believe they really worth thinking about wind damage and from what I can tell. It's pretty good at sort of Brian rib rich Neider actually wrote something in Forbes recently called in defense of the storm of the San Francisco where he showed that it does a pretty good job with. Mapping, wind absolutely does into this day. It still does, but it before long it became used for categorizing the hurricane tire storm wind image, right? And it took on a variety of uses including giving people some idea of what the storm surge potential was. And since that time we've gotten a lot better at forecasting and depicting and communicating the storm surge hazard. And that's why years ago we took explicitly storm surge out of the listing of what the impacts of a category one through five, hurricane war, and we, we started de-emphasized the category, especially if we weren't talking about wind you, the hurricanes. I knew that happened in that happened under your watch is director of Ericsson. Yes. Early on in that tenure, the the wheels will already turning direction and and then we. He did after I got there again with a lot of work already. Having started on the topic was okay if we're going to de-emphasized the category and we're going to take storm surge out of it, what are we going to do to better communicate storm surge itself? And we moved toward implemented new storm surge graphics, the potential storm surge flooding map storm surge, warnings and watches from the national weather service because we knew that we had to not only communicate the deadliest hurricane hazard evolve with its own warning, but we also knew how location specific it was not just storm specific and you take the same hurricane and you have it go up on the northern Gulf Coast. You're gonna get a different storm surge result. If you take the exact same hurricane, have going to southeastern Florida back. So we had to get locations Pacific in hazards Pacific, instead of trying to categorize the storm with all these different hazards, but you're right. It is still. This day this for Simpson hurricane Windscale the wind. Maybe is to start saying that, well, we have been. Listen on the website. Saffir-simpson hurricane wind scale ended is still, I think, a very useful communications device to hammer home. You've got a category four coming here. You got shelter from this kind of wind like you would at tornado and that sort of thing. So that is one reason why I don't immediately jump to the conclusion that we should get rid of the scale. I agree. Yeah. Augmentation, some supplementation, but there are other reasons why I'm not so sure that getting rid of the scale is going to solve the problems that have come to people's minds as a result of what happened in the Florence, talk about it. Because let's say, for example, the hurricane Senator decided, okay, starting in twenty nineteen. We're not gonna use the scale anymore. Let's say they chose to do that now. Maybe a lot of people would follow suit, but number one, nine everybody would. And if you started seeing advisories where the winds are one hundred forty miles an hour, then I'm sure a lot of people out there would say, well, this is what used to be a category for hurricane. So you would take a long time for the category to leave our vernacular. Right? That's actually been one of the reasons I have not advocated getting rid of such an inertia in the system in the public side, but there's even more to it than that, I think. And that is even if you got rid of the categories and nobody mentioned it, you would still have the miles per hour and there's no faking. There's no avoiding. There's no hiding. That a weaker wind machine is still very capable of being a deadly water machine, and you could easily envision people saying, well, the winds have come down from one hundred forty two ninety. So I'm not taking this very seriously. We saw that there's a colleague of mine who knows if someone in Florence, South Carolina, that was can't four. They evacuated Florence South Carolina from Florence, but then when it went down the cat to, they went home now and I would argue that. That could play out well, after we obliterated the category system, because people I when I left, they said the winds one hundred thirty. And when I heard it was only ninety five, I decided this wasn't a big deal anymore. So the atmosphere is never gonna stop throwing us these curveballs where wind isn't as strong and as damaging and catastrophic as in a cat four or five, right? But it is still going to be because it's large because it's slow moving because it's both because it hits an area that has gotten a lot of rain recently because of runs into areas with a lot of mounds at squeeze out the moisture because the rivers already high on and on and on. You can have rain induced flooding disasters without a really, really strong hurricane or storm based on the win. We that seen it. Yeah, we knew it. Harvey. So we can't uncategorized ourselves out of that problem. That is still to me a fundamental challenge that we all have. And that is how do we convince people to be more afraid of water in consider that in Florence? A lot of the fatalities happened with vehicles on flooded roadways, long after the category have gotten out there after the forecast long after the rain had fallen long after the flooding had already heard, and people are still driving into the water covered roadways, hammer on that a little bit because that's a great point. I mean, I'd mentioned this in a couple of places as well, because remember back in two thousand seventeen with Harvey, there was all of this discussion about whether people should be getting out and vacuuming and the mayor make the right decision. And one of the points that he made at that time is that a lot of people die in their cars than these norms and your suggest. I hadn't seen the actual breakdown on the numbers, but they're in Florence. We've seen this yet again where people are dying in their cars driving before. I did see one. In case where a mother of drove around the barricade in the baby was swept away there. There was that case in there are other cases where the vehicles were pushed off the roadway, and then the person drowned. There were other cases where the the roads were slick and that cause an accident. There other cases where people drove into a tree that had already fallen on the roadway. Yeah, see, these are inland fatalities that we've seen a current many times course. We saw fatalities in this case from tree falling onto home from carbon monoxide poisoning. So all of the fatalities causes both direct from the forces of the storm and indirect by the circumstances of the storm have reared their heads again, and one of them is the the direct forces of water sweeping vehicle off the roadway in the people worn or more the the occupants drowning and that you definitely have gone long past the forecasting and the category and all that. And now the. Floodwaters are right in front of that person's eyes and they still get themselves in trouble so that that's a that's getting to be a non meteorological discussion. And that's what do we do to get more freight of water discussing. I think that's, I think that's key. I think waters just not scary to people. I think people are familiar with rain, familiar with floods, and they way the risk and fan. I mean, I've seen a lot of rain before, so I think that's right. One of the other interesting things about Florence, and we saw this with Matthew is the riverine flooding because you're making his well after the rain stops. Sometimes the peak flooding, at least from the river standpoint is still to come. And we've, we've used the phrases for many years that inland flooding can happen hundreds of miles away from where the hurricane I comes shore and for days or not weeks after the rain stops falling. We're still seeing as we sit here speaking, the rivers have been coming up and we're only two years removed from that. Having happened in Matthew and we're less than two decades removed from that. Having happened in Floyd. So this is not a new occurrence. Unfortunately in the Carolinas and South Carolina had the loosely related to Joaquin flooding in twenty fifteen. So we've had riverine flooding and flash flooding and number of fatalities and billions of dollars of damage from inland flooding in the Carolinas before. So I I like you. I'm heartbroken by the fatalities. I'm heartbroken by the scope of the damage. I'm heartbroken that so many people don't have flood insurance another story, and I think that comes into the, we're not afraid enough of water to get insured for it. Right. Yeah. I wanna talk to you a little bit more about that later in the show as well, but it's interesting that you talk about Florence. What are some other lessons learned we smoked at time on the African scale in the water? What if some other lessons learn? You're one of the top Oregon. World. What do you some of the things that you've seen from this particular event that we've learned? Well, I'll quickly throughout that. I don't think augmenting the scales gonna help either. I, I think I'm pleading for the rest of the world. Do not add add more categories can add like a cat one or s or because I've seen this thrown out there and there's a colleague, Jason sink buyout at university of Alabama, has an alternative scale, but you you don't think any. I think having multiple scale categorisations out there in real time as a hurricane is approaching is gonna throw people for so many loops because you wanna keep it. I agree with this. You wanna keep it simple because the more complexity you add the more. Yeah. Let's say you you categorize it for each hazard. Got a w three for win, and you've got an are five for inland flooding. You've got an s. two for storm surge, and you've got to our two for rip currents. People will just get so confused by that and also fundamentally, and this really gets to your question, what have we learned from Florence. If fundamentally, I think it is far more effective to give people forecast warnings local officials in emergency management decisions when the hazard and the information are specific to their location and our hazards specific. So for example, in the case of new Bern, North Carolina, there was a storm surge warning in effect. There were evacuation instructions in effect. There were storm surge numbers valid for that specific area. So that was hazard specific locations, Pacific information in that, I think is far more, especially in the long term. Going to succeed in getting people to act then is a categorization of the storm itself. So I'm fundamentally against trying to categorize the storm. I'm more in favor of forecasting and warning for and giving people instructions for hazard specific locations, Pacific information that I can say, this applies to you and where you are in the storm has a lot to do with what you're going to experience what warning you should get and what hazard we should be talking about and what action we should be talking about. You try to put all that into a categorization system. We're all going to all report our hair out. And welcome back to the weather geeks podcast, I'm Dr Marshall shepherd and we're talking today with former National Hurricane Center director, Dr Rick nab who's also the wetter weather channel's hurricane expert. And you've been kind of dissecting the sort of post lessons from hurricane Florence, and you know, one of the sort of buzzwords sort of discussions after Florence has been the saffir-simpson scaling for Dr Nassar perspective on that and the sort of over categorization. And my philosophy in life is always kind of the kiss philosophy gotta keep it simple as they say. So if we can't categorize the storm and you've given a good example of how I think a lot of this came from lessons learned from sandy with the sort of storm surge products that are being produced. Now Debbie, PC I heard saw Bill the pinta in an article, talk about fat. Well, the flood. We had good numbers out there on what we expected from Harvey and Florence with the rainfall, and they did. I give them the proper shout out to all of the Noah colleagues WBZ. Arcane thinner, but people aren't looking at PF forecast now they're not getting that kind of for me. So how do we, we know it's out there, but how do we get that rainfall information to them? Well, I I would make the case that how many raindrops fall isn't really the issue. You can't. We can count raindrops all day long, but how much it matters to. Citizen who's in the path of heavy rainfall. Is only going to really get through to them and caused them to act if it is translated into, does that mean it is going to flood in my community? Is my home going to flood? Do I need to stay? Do I need to go? What do I need to do about that? And. How much rain is too much. Rain has a lot to do with how much rain you've gotten in the weeks leading voices, the soil, how high are the rivers and in the weather service for year we talked about and we've shown on the Weather Channel flash, flood guidance, you know how much rain does it take to cause flash flooding. So. Rainfall forecast isn't taking the information in the actionable information all the way to the finish line. We have to translate it into what are the chances that it's going to flood and what do I do about it? And we had at the National Hurricane conference back in the spring. I, I let a panel session with a number of emergency managers and weather service folks about the concept of inland, evacuation zones and inland evacuations, and it was partially post Harvey, but it was also partially post Matthew. We had the director of North Carolina emergency management. We had forecast office folks from the Houston Galveston area me. So people who had been through the inland flood disaster before and both meteorologist anti mercy managers. And we talked about our motivation is to lessen the loss of life in in rain induced inland flooding, and that includes river. What do we do about it? And there were two major categories of ways that we needed to produce the problem. One is how do we stop people from driving their cars onto water covered road? And number two, how do we deal with people who are really finding themselves even if they're in their home in a life threatening flood rising waters in their community and for the ladder. That's what mostly happened in Houston. Houston was mostly not people dying in their cars. Matthew at was in North Carolina, but in Houston, it was mostly people dying in structures, struck rising waters in their community. So obviously for the people driving their cars onto water covered roadways, we have to do more to convince them not to do that or stop them from doing that. But with the rivers rising waters riding rising your communities. If you could know the rainfall and flood innovation forecast far enough in advance or know that you've got a vulnerable. Oversight community or somebody that's nearby you whenever can you get those people out in targeted limited evacuations ahead of time. And I think everybody thought that has some merit and we could head in that direction, but we still need to do a better job of forecasting, the rainfall, forecasting the inundation, right? And that's harder. But I think post Florence that that discussion could accelerate a little bit. I agree. If we even if you don't have an inundation map in front of you from the weather service, if emergency manager, I could say, you know what? I've got these riverside communities that have flooded before I'm just going to get the most vulnerable frequently flooding people out and. Then block that area off block off roads that typically flood and more aggressively barricade roads. So people don't as frequently find themselves confronted with that turnaround, don't drown, there's and you couldn't even get covered. So it isn't just about better, neater, logical communication, or better meteorological forecasting. I think it's more aggressively taking actions that lessen the chance that people are in the flood. Yeah, in the first place, if the great point we talked with Dr Rick nab National Hurricane Center, former director of and currently the weather channel's hurricane expert. He's found his way back home to the Weather Channel. Great to be back. I want to shift gears here little bit and talk about the modeling in the forecasting get whether geeky here because we were talking about as a community, this potential for North Carolina landfall for some time. If you were kind of really paying attention to this meteorologically and that kind of pan down, we were talking for a good bit of time about the possibility that may stall steering cars. We're going to be weeks. So that kind of happened the intensity. Well, we know the intensity challenges still out there. So overall, you're Cessna the modelling and forecast and you gotta talk about track. And intensity a little bit separately. Even though in many cases, they are interdependent if but we had a pretty good idea that Florence was at least going to have a chance to make landfall in the US. The chances were there based on looking at a large number of track model scenarios looking at the Unstoppables of the European model, looking at a variety of models, but also just looking at the overall steering pattern. We saw again, this massive, strong deeply orig- pattern forming over the north west Atlantic, and it just didn't look like there were many rides out of town for Florence right before getting to the US and miss that one ride that could have taken an east Bermuda and once at miss that the pattern in the atmosphere gave us high confidence that it was at least gonna get close. You know, people often don't realize it hurricanes. Don't have their own steering wheel, powerful hurricanes are still steer. Around by the larger patterns around them. And that's one of the things that makes the track forecast, which is historically the last several decades improved because we have the models have a better handle on those large enough to conditions, right. And the synoptic conditions for Florence reminded me once it started moving west and between Bermuda and the Caribbean. It reminded me a bit of the Isabel scenario which through in DC area, five days without power in Maryland, with that Isabel was a tremendous wind and water disaster and made landfall North Carolina and sent a storm, serves the Chesapeake and even flooded downtown Baltimore and all that. Obviously, Florence played out a little differently, but where it was similar was that the location of landfall was very well predicted by the models by the Hurricane Center. I was there an oath three as a science officer. I remember we got the location of where it was going to reach land very well forecast the timing. Was a bit off just like it was at Florence. Andy intensity was too high in the forecast for Isabel. Same thing in Florence, we often have trouble figuring out how long a really intense hurricanes going to stay in ten states. Yeah. Talk about written a little bit about this in an article in Forbes about the differences in why the models may be struggle a bit more with the intensity changes. Talk a little bit about why the intensity forecast is a little different and it's it's mainly because it has to do not only with what's going on in the environment, but it has to do with what's going on in the inner core storm on much smaller time and space scales than what determines its track. And it has a lot to do with interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean, and some of the details in the ocean atmosphere interface. And then you really break it down to mess Gail convective type of forecasting where you're trying to forecast the timing and. Strength of one or more concentric, I walls and while replacement cycles and that changes the size of the hurricane, we get exactly. That's a great point because we have things like the the hurricane war, the war from those types of things, and you're right. A lot of the processes related intensification related to the energetics in the eye wall and the rain at various things. And you know our models still evolving and you still have data that you need the kinda get it those scales in order to get it those processes in order to get intensity forecasting to be exactly right. You not only have to have a pretty good idea of what the general pattern in the atmosphere and the ocean is. But then you also have to be able to collect enough data at the beginning of the forecast through an assimilation scheme to initialized the internal structures of the hurricane, then you have to have a model that knows the physics of the atmosphere well enough to write the equations to model that and then you. You still have to get the track pretty good because if you send the hurricane in the wrong place, it goes goes over different part of the ocean experiences. Different atmospheric environment reaches landed a different time, and then you have to be able to model the really significant changes in the inner core, like I will replacement cycles. And you know, Florence seem to have everything going for it to remain very intense hurricane all the way to landfall bit. In those couple of days before it hit the brakes right near the coast, it struggled and we didn't completely understand why there were some wind shear that seem to increase at times that we didn't think it was going to just so difficult to forecast how that inner Corey Volve. But we did we the meteorology community did a very good job of being able to tell again back to track that it was going to slow down and be and weak steering currents when it was near or over the coast or just inland. And that's why we were raising. The alarm about a long duration event and a rainfall induced flooding disaster and that it was going to be a larger hurricane. By the time it got to the coast as opposed to when it was farther offshore, because here's a, here's one really big Florence less than that. I hope we finally have our head and a hurricane weakening is not always all good news. I glad you said that because I'm quoted out there in AP Associated Press story where I said, I'm on record thing and that quote, in many ways I felt the storm was more dangerous when it was cat too, because everything considered equal. A larger hurricane is worse than a smaller one because it stalling or stop. Yes in, yeah, that that that you add. You just. Pile onto the problem, but everything else considered equal, larger hurricanes, going to be a longer duration of wind. So longer time for the gusts to cause damage, take power out, longer duration of rainfall. Even it's going the same speed is this look as a small one and a larger hurricane is a much more effective storm surge producer than a smaller one. So large as bad and most major hurricanes when they go through a weakening process, especially has to do with internal structural changes, eyeball, replacement cycles, it's going to get larger Katrina. Did that sandy did that? I did. I mean, on an on, we see this over and over in Florence did that. And so when it was weakening us, you saw the headlines and you heard the social media chatter and that. Oh, thank goodness. It isn't as strong as it wasn't. Yes. Now that was good for lessening. The overall wind impacts no doubt about it, but it was bad news for how large it was going to be. And then you add on top of that that was going to be hitting the brakes. Because of the steering currents collapsing. And that's why I went on television saying, this is a nightmare scenario. I really worried about a long duration event a disaster. This is going to be retired all that stuff and but because the wind speeds had come down, people were discounting the fact that it was large and slow moving so. And that gets back to that initial conversation little bit because the wind speeds and the categorization. But this thing had so many other dangerous aspects plus, let's not forget the tornadoes. Yes. So in that again, emphasizes y. a a one system to categorize a hurricane. You would have to categorize not only the winds, the maximum wins the strength of the winds. You'd have to categorize based on its size based on its forward motion based on the vulnerability of the coastline. It's going toward relative to storm surge based on how much rain has fallen based on whether it's hitting mountains or flat, you just, I just don't wanna see us waste anymore. Entergy trying to categorize the storm. But if you take the characteristics of the storm, and then you translate them into very strong language and very strong local decision making, and hopefully then very well informed. Decision making on the part of the citizens who are being threatened by these hazards and you make them hazard specific and location specific, and we get used to being afraid of storm surge warning. We used to be afraid of seeing water covering the road in front of our eyes, and we used to be afraid of seeing the flags up at the beach when it's a high, rip current risk and the beaches closed at lifeguards are saying, stay out if we get more freida water. Where it is threatening us locally and all the different ways that hazards that are water related can get us. That is where I think the the success will lie. I mean, it's it's easier to want to tell all the meteorolgical categorize it some other way or say something different. You know. We've got to change the psyche of how we fear the storm. Yeah, social scientists have described to me. We, we have to make being more frayed of water. A social norm. Yeah, I think that's a great hashtag out there be more frayed of water. And we're back on the weather geeks podcast with Dr Rick Nash from the Weather Channel is the hurricane expert there and talking all about lessons learned from hurricane Florence and tapping into Dr nabs vast years of experience in the tropical meteorological community there. Two things that I want to kind of put out there to you and get your reaction to one this idea that the storm was over hyped because there were some that were saying that not just the public and Twitter sphere, but even some media people and perhaps even others. So that's one in the second one is this idea of warning fatigue talking about so long. Some people felt that there was going to be warning fatigues, talk about the this was over hyped element. I why? Why are we seeing that more and more. If we didn't have double digit fatalities. And if we didn't have what looks to be a like a multibillion dollar disaster than maybe I would entertain a conversation my whether or not we made too much of it ahead of time, but the loss of life has been well. It's not even just staggering and low cost will be during a poultry farm house about to go there. The pit that the the business interruption the agriculture, the people's homes that have been inundated and damaged the the long term effects of not having power and communications and other infrastructure, how long it takes a community at back to normal all of those things along with the staggering loss of life. You know, this was a big deal. Retired, like you said, this will be retired. Yeah. And again, I felt confident in saying that ahead of time not because of the category strength, but because of how long duration the storm itself was going to be because of its large size and slow motion, but given how bad it seemed like it was going to be with the water disaster. I knew a lot. Most of us knew who communicated about it, knew it was going to be water disaster that was gonna take a long time to recover from. So the fact that it was made a big deal out of if that's what we mean by hype. I don't think there's any problem with. The word hype is often used association with big sporting event that's coming all. There's all height, there's all hype. But you know when when when people don't complain about the hyper, a big sporting event is when it delivers. Right. And then you look back on the hyphen, go well. Makes sense that we were talking about because ended up being a very close competitive game. That's obviously a positive more frivolous. But what I'm talking the point is you get the point and that is if you talk about something as if it is really dangerous and life threatening and a really big deal for these communities and for their livelihoods and ends up being a big deal that is taking lives and is. Economically, devastating, and hard to recover from a long term hit. Then I'm all in on the hype if that's what we want to call it, I was just, I, I actually was just dumbfounded by what I was seeing in various places as we it was hard because you people like you and I saw what this was going to be. And I just fattening to see some people out there saying that because they were so focused on the elements that weren't going to be the dangerous aspects of the storm. And it just kind of brings home what you've been saying. And I think it does go back to less of a fear of water, Brian, more of a fear of wind. If there was a really tiny fast moving cat for coming at us, then nobody would be saying those things we can. Of course you should be hyping this ause coming toward the coast and it could conceivably take fewer lives or take no lives. But nobody would question hyping it because you make a big deal about a massive -ly, strong wind machine, even if it's not massive, even if it's small. So it goes back to the conversation, my water and. I just hope we can. Us what has actually happened in how bad it has been and tell all those stories. As we are good at doing on the Weather Channel, we did it after last year's hurricanes. We didn't just drop the story after the storm came ashore in the waters receded and followed these communities and what happened. And we got to keep telling the stories of how deadly how damaging how economically difficult. It has been on people to recover because of water and just get more frayed of water. And then maybe if we get used to that mindset, then maybe when we make a big deal about a big water disaster coming in addition to win a lot of times, both then maybe we won't receive so much backlash hashtag, be more frayed of water tweet that out there. If you listening heard it on, whether I think it's critical, we're not care about the creditor who said where you heard it. That's the key point that we need to inject into the. Psyche of the American public and broader. By the way we were dealing with Florence, it was a massive, super typhoon in the Pacific at the time to where you can keep an eye on that as well. I have to always watching what's going on the tracks, whatever part of the world Thailand take a hit. Is that right? Thailand, Philippines, I should say yeah and China and and there are a lot of places that have been hit this year out in the west Pacific. And most of the really devastating impacts have been watering and and we're not just basing this on what happened in Florence and any other storms this year. If you look at the statistics over the last many decades, nine out of ten people who die in land falling tropical systems die in water. Storm surge, rain induced inland flooding at the beach on boats and one outta ten die due to the wind. And those are just the direct forces. And then you look at all the indirect fatalities that arise from the circumstances surrounding it. A lot of those are water related as well. And our. Not because of wind killing you. They are because of some of the ramifications of water and win taking out the power and the nasty and lengthy aftermath, which is what we're going to be dealing with in Florence and people finding themselves in less than ideal conditions that are in poor health. They're just so many ways that the aftermath of a wind and or water disaster can be so dangerous. Maria drove that home more than anything else. But we've had a lot of indirect fatalities carbon monoxide poisoning. Fourth of controversy about this and how many people died and Maria. We've always wanted creamy from row. We've always when we did do these kind of statistics count direct and indirect. Is that right? It has become more thorough. Yes. The reporting of the indirect fatalities. And over the years in hurricane centers, reports on every individual tropical cyclone. We didn't always really breakdown the indirect fatalities. Part of that was data collection and so forth was harder in the past. But when win Dr Ed Rappaport deputy director, Hurricane Center when I was there. And who's still in that position. You know he was working on his indirect fatalities work when I was there and I said, do you take all the time you can because this is important work because. As he found out, we've lost nearly as many people from the indirect causes of death after tropical cycle or before during after tropical cyclones, as we have from the forces of the stormy of the direct causes are the wind and water forces taking a life in the midst of the storm blunt force trauma, my flying debris and drowning in a storm surge Neilan flood. But the indirect fatalities are like cardiovascular failure before during after in in bad conditions, you get into vehicle accidents, you get into problems with power outages. Power outages can be surprisingly damaging, Carmen. People run their generators improperly die from carbon monoxide. Poisoning people are dependent on medical equipment and that fails in power outage. They electrocuted by touching down power line, they light candles and they start fires. Power outages have taken a lot of lives that's another indirect cause, and then the the whole course of evacuation can be dangerous. So these indirect causes again have been almost as deadly in total as the direct causes. And I think the main benefit from categorizing all of those and understanding the circumstances of the fatalities is so we can change and improve our messaging to help people stay alive from the indirect causes this as much as the drag meteorologist. We want to protect people from the wind and the water. We gotta mix in there. How do you protect yourself from cardiovascular failure? How do you protect yourself from power outage? How do you stay out of trouble in your car? And so even leading up to Florence? We were throwing in. A lot of what to do, what not to do with information to survive the preparation, survived the storm and survived the aftermath both from direct and indirect causes and and a lot of the Florence fatalities are indirect. Yeah, and that's general. I wanna I wanna get your second question. Was there so much lead time we were talking about this so much on Twitter that it was is that some people argue that's problematic. What are your thoughts the farther in advance of forecast is this you'd the more uncertain? It's going to be the more probabilistic. It has to be the more what if we're going to have to be thrown in there, but I think the five day forecast lead time from the Hurricane Center along with what the pattern and what the models and what the end sambas were saying. Even beyond five days, we started talking about it well before five days, and I think in a responsible way. To give people as much heads up as possible because you know what happens when people don't get enough time, then you hear the, I was caught off guard. I didn't know that this was going to happen and all that sort of thing. So. When it's responsible and it gives people plenty of lead time to take action. I think the lead time is good, especially on the track forecast now on the intensity forecast again, you know, the models aren't as good there, but the potential was there for not only a large and slow moving hurricane with all the water problems. But the potential is also there for a very devastating kit from the wind, and we still got wind damage. Why are we afraid of a category Warner category? Two hurricane terms of the wind you ever been through one, they're not fun terms of the wind. So I don't have a problem with the lead time and. I think that. The luxury of time that that gives people to do things that maybe they didn't do before the hurricane season. It gives them time to think through their vacuous zone evacuation route. It gives them time to get supplies. It gives them time to do things to their home to get it ready to lessen the chance that the home is damaged against people sandbag. There's all kinds of things that you can do with that luxury of time. So I don't decry advance notification of the possibility to motivate people to do things. They didn't do a long time before. The only thing you can't do with a few days lead times, get flood insurance thirty. You've heard Dr. Nab mentioned flood insurance issue. If you live in these areas, you're prepare running out of time, but I wanted to get your last thought because you know, even during the midst of the lead up to the storm, I was I was having press contact me about climate change, and I don't like the talk about that in the midst of the leader because I'm more concerned about the media of the event in disaster wanna get your thoughts because they're in that conversation is going to be had as we've seen hurricane Harvey in lane rea- the typhoons that we're seeing in western Pacific. What can we say in cannot say at this point from your perspective, really? Well, first of all, we should be having this conversation as often as possible because we need to be all of us and informed as we possibly can about what's changing with our planet so that we know what to do about it. I'm concerned about the water impacts of tropical systems getting progressively worse, not just from. Pure observation of how many big flooding events we've had recently. But what the causes of those are probably pointing to their even was a recent study pointing to how overall globally and especially unfortunately near the US that the forward speed of tropical cyclones is getting measurably slower than I'm also I've been concerned for many years now about how much we've had to deal with these larger hurricanes. Physically horizontally larger. And when you consider what might be causing the slower forward speeds, and you look at events like Harvey and Florence and even twenty seventeen with events like Maria and Jose moving slower than you would usually associate with a hurricane going just north or just off the east coast, they didn't move all that fast and even stalled around for a while. And and her mean after it struck the Florida panhandle went off and stalled off these coasts there's a lot more of this seemingly slower motion, even stalling, and you combine all of that with greater rainfall rates which are more and more being fairly clearly documented and scientific community. And then the. Conclusive things we can and then sea level rises clear one. Yeah, up all of those things. Even if the numbers and strengths of hurricanes aren't changing. And that's an open question really, really hard to document that or given the relatively short record over which we've measuring the strength of a hurricane. We have had satellites as long as we all think. And I think people that are responsible in talking about this little acknowledge that as you. But even if the numbers and strengths hurricanes have been and will stay the same. And I'm not saying that's for sure. But let's say they do. I'm still concerned that the saltwater and freshwater impacts of tropical storms and hurricanes are getting worse anyway because of higher rainfall rates, sea level rise, larger storms, slower, moving storms, and you add into all of that more and more people living near the coast and more and more people living in areas that didn't use to be urbanized right rate point. So now you've got the greater potential for urban flooding disasters. Like we saw in Houston, which was made worse a flood prone area, made worse by there being a lot of concrete, and you know the the. The roads have to be used as part of the flood drain it system because there's no other way to get the water all the way from the north side of Houston out to the Gulf of Mexico. Any other way. So water water, water. That's the. That's the problem here. And. The podcast producers to. I think we wanted to append to that. I mean, there's recent studies even by professor carry manual and colleagues at MIT that suggests even the the storms like this are intensifying bit further poll word is well, yes, there's plenty of evidence for that as well. Further north four cat four storm at the time, at least when it was taking aim. North Carolina hadn't seen too many that drink at time. Of course, another reason why you can get a really strong hurricane into the mid Atlantic visas. If they're moving more, if they're moving really fast and they don't lose their intensity after leaving the Gulfstream, but you got slower moving larger ones than they stay there longer. And then even if they weren't as strong, these larger slow moving weaker systems can be bigger storms producers and bigger rainfall disaster. So I just hope that we can all learn to be more frayed of water enough to not drive into it enough to evacuate from it enough to ensure ourselves from it enough to not go swimming in it just stay out of the water and and ensure. For yourself from financial disaster after a flood, then you can not only survive the storm but recover in the aftermath. And that's where we're going to have to end it today. Dr Rick Knapp. Thank you for joining us extra heavy Marshall, great job with this podcast. I listen to every in it's, you know what the great podcast when we didn't get to nearly everything I wanted to get to. We had such a great discussion that I think we did what we needed to do for this and we'll have you back soon. Dr Marshall shepper from university of Georgia, and that's been the weather spot.

Florence National Hurricane Center Florence hurricane Florence North Carolina Dr. Rick nab Harvey director Matthew Simpson hurricane Windscale university of Georgia Katrina US Marshall Dr Rick South Carolina Houston Florida Gulf Coast