One year ago Tropical Storm Irene left devastating scars across the terrain of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It also left invisible scars on the people it impacted. What has happened, has happened. People are still handling money issues with FEMA and the state and I understand that. But from a meteorological standpoint it is time to move onto the next disaster that will hit our area, take what happened with Irene, and make more elaborate forecasts and prepare the public even better.
I mentioned in yesterday's blog about my time in Boston, Mass last week where I spoke about the historic flooding in this area. I was with Chief Met Kerrin Jeromin and we spoke to a roomful of television and radio broadcasters (mostly meteorologists). Also in the crowd were folks at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Here are the main topics we covered in our 15 minute presentation at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers:
I realized the severity of the storm when pictures and video started coming in. But this is a good thing about this day and age. Everyone is an I-Reporter. There are more cell phones on this earth than there are people. Almost everyone has the ability to document a natural disaster like this and it helps meteorologists and forecasts out big time. We can see what's happening at the ground level, instead of just accumulated rain from a rain gauge. What does that translate to? Well now we're getting a better look from the public on what storms are causing.
To the future I'm going to be relying on the public very heavily. I'm in a studio with no windows combing through lots of data. But I need you, the public! Thank you in advance for your reports and suggestions of where to send news crews so we can tell others the story, and save lives in the process.
The technology continues to get better. The forecast track with Irene was spot on four days out when the storm was still in the Caribbean. Granted at the time we were still unsure where it would ultimately goes, it shows the forecast ability is getting better. We're constantly tweaking weather models and getting the most information we can from those planes that are sent out into the storms.
For instance the radar in Burlington, Albany, and Gray Maine have recently been updated. The doppler radar is now dual polarized. The technology now allows us to get a three-dimensional view of what's in those clouds. It can help us with flash flooding, as the radar now has a better grip on how much rain has fallen and the rainfall rate ongoing. Better and better technology will lead to a greater lead time and heads up for the public with regards to weather alerts.
Unfortunately sometimes it takes big events to learn for big events. I think Irene was one of those. Everyone has a story from it, but I bet everyone has learned from it. From a forecaster and broadcaster role I have certainly learned from it and will try to translate that into the best awareness in the future events.
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier