Sunday, March 28, 2004

You say Tomahto, I say...

There was this big storm, see, and some people said it quacked like a cyclone (hurricane), and others said it quacked like a storm. The problem was really whether it was a duck or a pato.

Now true cyclones in the South Atlantic are extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that this was the first one observed in detail. So rare that the very southern coast of Brazil had never had any experience with one, and the Met service did not have an anemometer net to track wind speeds.

So what started as an argument about "was it a cyclone?" based on wind speeds has now devolved into an argument about "the Americans say it was a hurricane, but we're not so sure" and "agency so-and-so should have issued a hurricane warning" and of course into the "who do we sue?" question.

Here's an early look at the storm from a site at Goddard.

Goddard's Earth Observatory also had a series of news pieces (1,2,3,4) on the storm.

Why did I go to Goddard rather than to NOAA's National Hurricane Center or to NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory? Because they got nothin'. Nothin' - no postings at all. In fact, I was disappointed at how stale those sites' front pages were. Now, before I get hate mail from NOAA, I just have to say that this is typical of NASA - they have an amazing PR machine that cranks out this stuff making it look like all the other agencies are not doing anything, and it drives me nuts. But we could do our part by blowing our own horns. Come on, NOAA!

OK, I did find a hurricane primer at AOML that might be useful. Sigh.

Here's a very interesting website from Hong Kong (?!) that tracked the e-mails back and forth debating whether this storm was a cyclone or not. Note that lawyers get involved...

I am sure that the court system in Brazil will soon let us know exactly what kind of duck it was that hit the Santa Catarina coast.