Have You Seen These

Here Comes Sandy, Here Comes Sandy, Right Down Hurricane Lane

Sung to the tune of Here Comes Santa Claus. Yes, I know it is Halloween season, but I can’t get the tune out of my head. The only thing “Frankenstorm” Sandy will likely be delivering are huge lumps of soggy wet coal in everyone’s stockings. To make matters worse, one of Sandy’s apparent elves – New York City Mayor Bloomberg seemed intent on assuring all of us kids that we will be getting a great gift.

For the past week, forecasters have been crunching tons of data related to Sandy’s various forecast models, which were remarkably similar in their predictions of strength and path early in the forecast period.  As we entered this weekend model results tightened even more, even though the storm’s development will become very complex as it merges with a low pressure system to the north.  This prompted weather forecasters to predict a “mega-storm” of likely historic proportions.  In fact, the Weather Channel’s famous meteorologist Jim Cantore was dispatched to New York City/New Jersey area to monitor and report on the street.  (It is never a good sign if you see Jim standing around your neighborhood…)

Seemingly oblivious to somber and cautionary reports from various weather gurus and the National Hurricane Center, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference yesterday afternoon to talk about the pending storm and what the City was doing to prepare.  While he talked about the need to take the storm seriously, and prepare, he also said the storm’s most intense weather was projected to miss them to the south.

“So if things are the way it’s planned and if everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we will get through this very nicely and look back on it and say maybe we can offer some help to other parts of the area upstate or below us, south of us, which might get hit a lot harder…”

“The trajectory says that the storm will hit a little bit south of us, the Maryland/Delaware area. Nobody’s exactly sure where landfall is going to be, but we are working to ensure that no matter how or when the storm arrives the City will be well prepared and our residents safe…”

“Let me tell you first we are not ordering any evacuations as of this time for any parts of the city. We’re making that decision based on the nature of the storm.”
“Although we’re expecting a large surge of water, it is not expected to be a tropical storm or hurricane-type surge. With this storm, we’ll likely see a slow pileup of water rather than a sudden surge, which is what you would expect with a hurricane, and which we saw with Irene 14 months ago.”

“So it will be less dangerous – but make no mistake about it, there will be a lot of water and low-lying areas will experience flooding.”  

Really Mayor? Who was the meteorologist you consulted?  The guy from the Subaru commercials? Now, I don’t know where  he got his weather information from, but there appeared to be a disconnect between what mainstream weather sources were saying in social and traditional media worlds.  Earlier in the day, the National Hurricane Center apparently indicated that they were going to leave warnings and messaging up to local weather sources.  Jim Cantore weighed in Twitter to address Bloomberg’s decision to not implement an evacuation plan and the Hurricane Center’s decision;

Immediately after the Mayor’s statement, Twitter lit up.  One of the most vocal protests came from Jim Cantore,

Now, I know ordering an evacuation is a really big deal, and causes all kinds of problems.  So, the Mayor’s cautious approach on pulling the trigger on evacuating vulnerable areas is understandable.  However, the overall context and tone of the statement, assuming that the storm will be “less dangerous” than Hurricane Irene in the face of mounting evidence that this storm may indeed be historic and epic was a bad move.   I also think given the high profile of the National Hurricane Center, and our reliance on it as THE credible source for ocean storm information, the decision to shift it’s messaging and warnings to local National Weather Service may have been a big mistake as well.

Let’s hope that the Mayor’s predictions and statements end up being prophetic….for his sake.

You can read Mayor Bloomberg’s statement here.

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief ,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO, Fire service consultant. Social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Father and Grandpa with an open wallet.