By Ken Kaye
11:08 AM EDT, April 4, 2013
Although Superstorm Sandy slammed the Northeast coastline with the force of a hurricane last October, no hurricane warning was issued.
That won’t happen again, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
As of June 1, the center is officially expanding the definitions of watches and warnings, allowing them to be issued even if a system loses tropical characteristics, as did Sandy before it hit.
After strengthening into a hurricane in the Atlantic, Sandy was predicted to merge with a winter system and unravel into a post-tropical storm before striking land.
At the time, the hurricane center declined to issue a hurricane warning, saying it would have confused residents in light of a plethora of local warnings already in place.
The center also said protocol dictated that it couldn’t post a hurricane warning for a system that wasn’t expected to hit as a hurricane.
Sandy ended up killing at least 87 people, damaging or destroying 650,000 homes and causing at least $50 billion in damage in the United States. It also left 8.5 million customers without power, some for months.
In the aftermath, some television meteorologists criticized the hurricane center, saying a hurricane watch and warning should have been issued no matter what to ensure residents took the storm seriously.
In the future, hurricane center forecasters will have more flexibility to communicate storm threats, said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service.
“Sandy’s forecast was remarkably accurate and under a similar situation in the future, forecasters will be able to choose the best option to underscore the urgency involved,” he said.
A hurricane watch is posted when hurricane conditions are possible in a certain area within 48 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a certain within 36 hours.
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