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Reply #9: But it's the process that's problematic. [View All]

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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. But it's the process that's problematic.
Doppler tends to lose accuracy over distance, and the ocean buoys aren't maintained on a regular basis (they're in the middle of nowhere in the ocean). If land or satellite based doppler hits a storm and indicates that it's at 43mph, for example, the margin of error is large enough to question whether or not that reading is accurate (it might be 46, it might be 39). This is why storm speeds aren't "official" until they hit a secondary corroborating sensor at first. Out in the middle of the Atlantic, this means waiting until it hits a buoy, or sending a plane out to check it. If the storm is moving slowly, or the track in uncooperative, it can take the better part of the day for a storm to hit a buoy. If they have to send a plane out, it's a six hour trip to the mid-Atlantic spawning grounds.

The thing is, the precise speed of a hurricane isn't really considered all that important when they're still in the mid-Atlantic. At that point the forecasters are more interested in calculating the track and growth rate of the storm, both of which work fine with satellite based doppler. Out there, nobody cares about 41 or 39 miles an hour, because neither the ships or the fish really give a dang about whether or not the storm has a name. If the storm gets very powerful in the mid-Atlantic, it will be named simply because there's little question about it's intensity (a doppler return on a mid-Atlantic storm with 120mph winds will obviously merit a name, because even calculating in its inaccuracies, it's well above the limit). A borderline hurricane won't get named until that second verification of wind speed is established, which typically won't happen until it moves into the western atlantic.

The problem with your suggestion is simple: If satellite doppler puts a storm at 41MPH, with a +/- 5MPH margin of error, the track doesn't have it hitting a buoy for a day, and the plane is six hours out, do you name it? What if doppler has it at 41MPH for the whole six hours, but the plane finds only 38MPH when it reaches there? Furthermore, how would you justify sending someone out to check a borderline storm like that, if its track has it spinning harmlessly into the North Atlantic? Does the name really matter if it's only going to be a tropical depression by the time it actually reaches anyone who cares?

Personally, I can't justify putting peoples lives at risk just to determine whether or not CNN can call it a "named storm".
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