Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Jersey Transit incorrect use of weather forecasting software led them to completely misread force and direction of super storm Sandy, 100's millions of equipment lost-Reuters

 1/11/13, "Exclusive: Readying for Sandy, NJ Transit erred in modeling storm," Reuters

"New Jersey Transit incorrectly used federal government software that otherwise could have warned officials against a disastrous decision to leave hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment in a low-lying rail yard before Superstorm Sandy struck, a Reuters examination has found....

In a Saturday morning briefing, almost three days before the storm hit late on the night of Monday, October 29, forecasters supplied a chart warning of a storm surge as high as 8 feet on the southern tip of Manhattan, a level that Szatkowski said should have been enough to "make the hair stand up on their necks."

But the methodology used by New Jersey Transit officials with the federal government software predicted a surge of about 3 feet at The Battery in Lower Manhattan.

The actual storm surge hit 9.23 feet at The Battery.

According to the documents, New Jersey Transit modeled a storm traveling northeast at 10 miles per hour.

Their inputs "severely underestimated the surge," said Ross Dickman, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in New York City, in an email.

"The forecast all along was for a system to turn westward before approaching the NJ coast, so I do not know where they would have gotten a NE movement from," Dickman said.

A storm moving northeast would be heading away from New York and would have a substantially lower surge.

New Jersey Transit officials have been criticized by Dickman and Szatkowski for failing to contact their offices for advice as the storm approached. Dickman said the National Weather Service is "prepared to help or train any emergency manager" in the use of the modeling software."...

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