World meteorological organization ra IV hurricane committee thirty-fifth session

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(8 to 12 April 2013)




At the kind invitation of the Government of Curaçao, the thirty-fifth session of the Regional Association (RA) IV Hurricane Committee was held in Willemstad, Curaçao from 8 to 12 April 2013. The opening ceremony commenced at 09.00 hours on Monday, 8 April 2013.

    1. Opening of the session

1.1.1 Dr Albert Martis, Director of the Meteorological Department Curaçao and Permanent Representative of Curaçao and Sint Maarten with WMO, …

1.1.2 Mr Arthur Rolle, President of WMO RA IV, thanked the Government of Curaçao through the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, and Dr. Albert Martis and his staff for the excellent arrangements for the meeting. He welcomed the incoming Chairman of the Hurricane Committee, Dr. Richard Knabb, and the new Directors of RA IV. He informed the new Directors of the excellent work done by the Hurricane Committee during the past 35 years; and, advised them to look forward to superb guidance from Mr Tyrone Sutherland and Dr Jose Rubeira, both of whom served on the Committee for a number of years. The President told the Committee Members and those present that improvement in the forecast track errors was the major factor in the reduction of disasters in the Region. He wished the delegates every success in their deliberations.
1.1.3 Mr Jeremiah Lengoasa, Deputy Secretary-General of WMO, welcomed all the participants and expressed WMO’s appreciation to the Honourable Earl Balborda, Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, and through him, the Government of Curaçao for hosting the thirty-fifth session. He extended his gratitude to Dr Albert Martis, Permanent Representative of Curaçao and Sint Maarten with WMO and his staff for the warm welcome and hospitality and for the excellent arrangements made to ensure the success of the session. In referring to the widespread disaster bought by Hurricane Sandy, Mr Lengoasa encouraged the Committee to share the outcomes of its review of Hurricane Sandy with NMHSs in other areas prone to tropical cyclones. Mr Lengoasa commended the Committee for the significant results achieved in improving the warning services in this region with its strong sense of partnership. He also emphasized the proactive actions taken by the Committee to broaden the scope of its activities through involvement in the cross-cutting projects of WMO and other regional entities to establish regional early warning systems from a multi-hazard point of view. With reference to the World Meteorological Day of this year, Mr Lengoasa stressed that we are encountering increased challenges as the impact of tropical cyclones become diversified. He expressed his expectation that the Committee, through the present session, will develop effective strategies and coordinated actions to further enhance its warning services for the region. In ensuring WMO’s continued support for the Committee’s programmes and activities, Mr Lengoasa wished the participants a very successful session and an enjoyable stay in Curaçao.
1.1.4 Mr Earl Balborda, Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning,...
1.1.5 The session was attended by xx participants, including xx from RA IV member States of the Committee, observers from the Netherlands and xx regional and international organizations. The list of participants is given in Appendix I.

    1. Election of a Chairman

Due to the retirement of Mr William L. Read (USA), Chairman of the Committee, as Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Weather Service (NWS)/National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Dr Mark Guishard (UK), Vice-chairman of the Committee, as Director at Bermuda Weather Service, the Committee unanimously elected Dr Richard Knabb (USA), Director of NHC and Mr Keithley Meade, Director of Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Service, as respective Chairman and Vice-chairman of the Committee.

    1. Adoption of the agenda

The Committee adopted the agenda for the session as given in Appendix II.

    1. Working arrangements for the session

The Committee decided on its working hours and the arrangements for the session.

2.1 The Chairman reported to the Committee that during the 2012 season, Mr Alvaro Palache from Venezuela, Mr Michael Alexander from Dominica and Mrs Rebeca Morera from Costa Rica, participated in the WMO/RSMC Miami attachment programme. The meteorologists helped with hurricane warning coordination in the region during tropical cyclone events while they gained valuable training in hurricane forecasting. RSMC Miami and WMO strongly encouraged WMO RA-IV Permanent Representatives to continue to support this programme.
2.2 The Hurricane Attachment Programme brings weather service personnel from vulnerable Members States to train on forecasting, preparedness, and public outreach during hurricane season. Three participants will be trained during the 2013 hurricane season. The announcement requesting candidates for 2013 would be send by the Region IV President in April.
2.3 Three meteorologists from the Mexican Air Force were stationed at the RSMC Miami during 2012. Captains Bruno Abraham Pineda Mosqueda, Jose Roberto Hernandez Lucero and Marcos Laureano Munoz Flores helped coordinate timely clearances for hurricane surveillance and reconnaissance flights over Mexico during tropical cyclone events that had the potential to make landfall. Their efforts helped improve the overall efficiency of the Hurricane Warning Programme. The Chairman urged the continuation of this programme in 2013 and a letter of invitation has been sent to the Mexican Air Force.
2.4 The WMO RA-IV Workshop on Hurricane Forecasting and Warning and Public Weather Services was held at RSMC Miami 11 - 22 March, 2013. This year's workshop was conducted in English. The Chairman strongly supported that the workshop continues to be offered in English and Spanish every other year due to the importance to the region’s hurricane programme.
2.5 Dr Lixion Avila participated in a Hurricane Forecasting Workshop in Bogota, Colombia during February 2013. This workshop was a shorten version of the one held in Miami but benefited more students from Colombia.
2.6 The Latin America Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour (LACHAT) that was scheduled to take place in March 2013 was cancelled due to severe and unprecedented budget restrictions affecting all federal agencies of the United States government. RAIV Member countries expressed their deepest concern over the cancellation of this year's events. The Member countries reaffirmed the importance of the hurricane awareness visits and how it relates to yearly hurricane preparedness within the Region. The tour provided an opportunity for RSMC Miami and the Directors of Meteorological Services in the Region to meet with air traffic control and disaster preparedness agencies, regarding tropical cyclone forecast and warning services. The CHAT also increased public awareness of the hurricane threat and serves to recognize and strengthen national and international teamwork for storm warning and emergency response. The tour also provided an opportunity for the media and the Member countries to promote hurricane preparedness which is invaluable to protecting lives and property. The Committee emphatically agreed that every effort should be undertaken to reinstate the tour in 2014.
2.7 Reconnaissance aircraft played an extremely important role in monitoring the track and intensity of tropical cyclones. During the 2012 season, the U.S. Air Force and NOAA Reconnaissance Hurricane aircraft provided valuable meteorological data not available from any other sources. Data from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft helped to determine that Sandy was a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale at landfall in eastern Cuba.
2.8 RSMC Miami and the Chairman greatly appreciated the radar imagery received operationally from RA-IV Members during the hurricane season. The Chairman encouraged NMHSs to continue to make radar imagery from the region available operationally via the Internet or any other possible way. Belize radar was extremely important in determining the structure and landfall of Hurricane Ernesto in 2012.
2.9 Surface and upper air observations were very important to the operational forecasts of the RSMC Miami. The Chairman appreciated the members’ efforts to maintain their observation and communication systems, especially the data received from members during tropical cyclone events. As an example, this year the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) Automatic station in Clarion Island provided very useful winds and pressure data during the passage of Hurricane Miriam.
2.10 The Chairman thanked the members affected by tropical cyclones for the timely submission of their post-storm country reports. These reports were vital to the preparation of the RSMC Miami Tropical Cyclone Report. Cuba submitted both Isaac and Sandy’s reports in a timely manner.
2.11 Coordination between RSMC Miami and the U.S. Department of State Crisis Operations Center during hurricane events in 2012 was helpful in communicating forecasts with the U.S. Embassies in the RA-IV countries.

2.12 As part of the United States Weather Research Programme (USWRP), the Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT) was one of the primary avenues to evaluate research projects with the goal of transitioning successful projects into operations. There were 12 on-going projects which would be completed during the upcoming 2013 hurricane season.

2.13 The NOAA Hurricane Forecast Improvement Programme (HFIP) was a multi-agency effort to improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecast. The specific goals of the HFIP were to reduce the average errors of hurricane track and intensity forecasts by 20% within five years and 50% in ten years with a forecast period out to 7 days. The benefits of HFIP would significantly improve NOAA's forecast services through improved hurricane forecast science and technology. Forecasts of higher accuracy and greater reliability (i.e., user confidence) were expected to lead to improved public response, including savings of life and property. RSMC Miami remained actively involved in leading aspects of HFIP. The procedure whereby promising output was made available in real or near real time for the Specialists was in place. Promising output would be made available in or near real time at:

2.14 The Director of RSMC Miami, Dr Richard Knabb, participated in the 7th RSMCs/TCWCs Technical Coordination Meeting (TCM-7) via teleconference due to other activities related to Hurricane Sandy.

2.15 NOAA/NWS had been engaged in capacity-building efforts within the region. NWS IAO supported capacity-building, education and outreach activities in RA-IV through the WMO's Voluntary Contribution Programme (VCP). Many of the projects were in support of the monitoring and warning of hurricanes operations of RSMC Miami, but the activities also supported the routine forecasting and operations of NMHSs in the region.

2.16 NOAA Tropical Training Desk: NOAA trained six fellows from Central America and six from the Caribbean each year at the Tropical Desk at the NCEP HPC. Fellows were trained on operational skills, including numerical weather prediction techniques. In addition, the Spanish-speaking chief instructor for the Tropical Desk delivered week-long specialized training course for officials in Mexico.

2.17 NOAA supported the Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum which included technical training for forecasters in RA IV.

3.1 The Committee noted that, at its 64th session (Geneva, June 2012), the WMO Executive Council gave following guidance to the Tropical Cyclone Programme (TCP):

a) Capacity development

  • Due consideration to developing countries, LDCs in particular

b) Regional tropical cyclone (TC) bodies and WMO Projects

  • Close linkage between TCP and other WMO Programmes through the relevant WMO projects such as SWFDP and CIFDP

c) Improvement of Operational TC Forecasting

  • Extended use of ensemble techniques including multi-model consensus forecasting and ensemble-based probabilistic guidance

- More objective TC analyses as recommended by IWSATC

- Establishment of TC Forecaster Website

d) Standardization of the format in TC warnings

- Implementation of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) in TC warnings

- Migration of the format of TCAC advisories for aviation from text to graphics
3.2. The Committee was briefed about the outcomes of annual/biennial sessions of other four regional TC committees held during the intersessional period, as follows:

  1. The 14th session of the RA V Tropical Cyclone Committee was held in Apia, Samoa from the 16 to 20 July 2012 in conjunction with the 3rd Meeting of the ICG/PTWS Regional Working Group on Tsunami Warning and Mitigation in the South-West Pacific Region (14 July).

  2. The 20th session of the RA I Tropical Cyclone Committee (TCC) was held in Maputo, Mozambique from 3 to 7 September 2012. The Committee carried out a complete reformation of its Technical Plan to make it more strategic. It also reconfirmed the full implementation of the new storm-naming procedures.

  3. The 45th session of the ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee was held in Hong Kong, China from 29 January to 1 February 2013. The Committee published the 2nd Assessment Report on the Influence of Climate Change on TC in the Typhoon Committee Region. It also endorsed the implementation of the SSOP Project jointly with the Panel on Tropical Cyclones.

  4. The 40th session of the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Panel decided to hold an integrated workshop with participation of the members of its all the working groups of Meteorology, Hydrology and DRR.

3.3 For the capacity development in TC forecasting, TCP held a number of workshops and training events in cooperation with its partner Programmes, including the RA IV Workshop on Hurricane Forecasting and Warning, and Public Weather Services which was held at RSMC Miami, Florida, USA, from 12 to 23 March 2013. It also organized attachment trainings jointly with the RSMCs Tokyo and New Delhi which invited experts of Philippines/Viet Nam and Bangladesh/Myanmar/Oman, respectively.

3.4 As regards the RA IV Workshop in 2013, the Committee was pleased to know that the two Haitian forecasters successfully completed the training with a language support which WMO specially arranged according to the recommendation of the Committee at the 34th session. The Committee was also informed of the tentative results of the evaluation by the participants. Overall, the workshop was found satisfactory for all the participants, including the general organization such as course programme, training material and facilities. Many participants responded that they learned a lot during the two-week training, developing the knowledge of track forecasting and such new technologies as ensemble forecasting and satellite applications. More importantly, they improved the understanding of the products and operational works of RSMC Miami and strengthened their linkage with the RSMC. The Committee iterated the valuable contribution of the Workshop to the capacity development in hurricane forecasting and expressed its gratitude to RSMC Miami for their continued effort for hosting this annual training event.
3.5 The Committee noted with pleasure that the TC Forecaster Website (TCFW) had been launched in April 2013 with the support of Hong Kong, China as host. The Website was aimed to assist forecasters in their operational forecasting of tropical cyclones. It would function as a portal to various websites offering data/products of TC analyses and forecasts and also provide research outcomes and training materials, thus serving as a comprehensive source of information for TC forecasters. Noting the significance of TCFW particularly for developing countries, the Committee encouraged the Members to actively use the TCFW and give feedback to TCP for further enhancement of its utility.
3.6 The Committee also noted that update of the Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting had been completed in April 2013 by Mr Chip Guard of Guam, USA as Chief Editor. The new Global Guide would be web-based for easy access by forecasters and to achieve synergetic effect with the TCFW. In this regard, the Committee was informed that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology agreed to develop a website to accommodate the new Global Guide. The Committee envisaged that the Global Guide website would be effectively linked and coordinated with TCFW to maximize their synergy effects. It also requested the WMO Secretariat to provide hard copies to the developing states which have problems with Internet access.
3.7 The Committee was informed that the 7th TC RSMCs/TCWCs Technical Coordination Meeting (TCM-7) was held in Indonesia from 11 to 15 November 2012 to promote the uniformity and standardization of the global tropical cyclone forecasting services. TCM-7 worked through a broad agenda ranging from terminology to training needs, communication strategies, warning responsibilities and operational procedures. The Committee took note of the TCM’s decision on the feasibility study of a globally-unified classification of tropical cyclone. In referring to the users who were fully accustomed to the existing classifications, the Committee requested the WMO Secretariat to give due attention to the necessity and acceptability of the standardized classification.
3.8 The Committee noted that, among the priority actions of TCP for 2013 and beyond such as organization of regional workshops and TC committees’ sessions, the Programme would give its special emphasis on i) maximizing the synergies of Tropical Cyclone Forecaster Website and the website for the new Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting and ii) effective organization of the group trainings in Regions I, IV and V.
3.9 Some countries providing TC warning services in the different basins (e.g. France) expressed their interest in the harmonization and standardization in various matters related to tropical cyclones.

4.1 Summary of the past season
4.1.1 A report of the 2012 hurricane season in the North Atlantic basin and in the Eastern North Pacific was presented to the Committee by Dr Richard Knabb, Director, RSMC Miami   Hurricane Center. As regards Hurricane Sandy, the Committee reserved its detailed review and discussion for the special session on Hurricane Sandy which was to be conducted under the Agenda Item 9.1.
4.1.2 The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season was marked by above-average tropical cyclone activity with the formation of 19 tropical storms, of which ten became hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes – Michael and Sandy – strengthened into major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). The numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes were each above the long-term average (1981–2010) of 12 and 6, respectively. The two major hurricanes were slightly below the long-term average of three, and they only lasted for a total of 12 hours. Six of the storms made landfall and five of the named cyclones formed from non-tropical origins.
4.1.3 The 2012 hurricane season was the third straight year that 19 named storms had developed. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, a measure that takes into account both the strength and duration of the season’s tropical storms and hurricanes was 144% of the long-term median, making it the 11th highest in the last 30 years. Although a record eight named storms formed during the month of August, no hurricanes developed south of 22° N latitude in the Main Development Region (MDR). This indicates that large-scale environmental conditions were not favourable across most of the tropical Atlantic MDR. In late October, Hurricane Sandy interacted with a strong upper-level trough, which contributed to the cyclone’s wind field expanding into a massive circulation that caused record storm surge values across much of the mid-Atlantic and north-eastern regions of the United States.
4.1.4 There was a near-average amount of tropical cyclone activity during the 2012 eastern North Pacific hurricane season. Of the 17 tropical storms that formed, 10 became hurricanes and 5 reached major hurricane strength (category three or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). In comparison, the 1981-2010 averages are about 15 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. Although the numbers of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes were slightly above average, in terms of the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, 2012 had about 93% of the long-term median value of ACE. The majority of the eastern Pacific tropical cyclones were spawned by tropical waves. As was typical for this basin, most of the tropical cyclones remained offshore of the Mexican and Central American coasts. However, Hurricane Carlotta crossed the southern coast of Mexico in late June, bringing Category 2 hurricane conditions to the coast. It was also the easternmost landfalling hurricane in the eastern Pacific since reliable records began in 1966. Paul caused some damage in Baja California Sur, Mexico, although it degenerated to a post-tropical cyclone prior to making landfall in that state. .
4.1.5 The detailed report on the 2012 hurricane season provided by the RSMC is given in Appendix III.
4.2 Reports on hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical disturbances and related flooding during 2012
4.2.1 Members provided the Committee with reports on the impact of tropical cyclones and other severe weather events in their respective countries in the 2012 hurricane season.
4.2.2 During the Canadian presentation, information was provided on the challenges its Meteorological Service faced with social media and conflicting tropical cyclone information available to the public and the media during the 2012 season. An example was given regarding the potential development of Hurricane Rafael and its impacts on land.

4.2.3 A very interesting discussion on social media followed the presentation, highlighting the need for NMHSs to adopt these modern communication paths. There was consensus among those Committee members intervening that NMHSs cannot compete with or try to discredit the myriad of information present within social media. The members also stated though that it is the role of the NMHSs to ensure appropriate messages, the “official” messages are be shared through these new dissemination channels. Concerns were raised over capacity because, as Meteorological Services expand into these new communication channels, the more traditional channels would still be required. The Committee supported the idea of its membership sharing experiences on the challenges and successes using the social media with a goal to further expand the reach of official alert messaging.

4.2.4 The members’ reports submitted to the current session are given in Appendix IV.

5.1 Mr Tyrone Sutherland (British Caribbean Territories) agreed to serve as rapporteur on this agenda item with the assistance of Mr John Tibbetts. This agenda item allowed Committee members to raise matters that had an impact on the effectiveness of the Hurricane Warning System.
5.2 The Committee discussed inconsistencies in describing hurricane categories since the introduction of the modified Saffir-Simpson scale. It was noted that in some parts of the technical literature, the start of a Category V hurricane was listed as 156 mph and in others it was 157 mph. There was a similar issue with category IV. It was pointed out that there had been slight adjustments to the scale to help with rounding off when dealing with changing from knots to mph. It was further pointed out that all parts of the Hurricane Operational Plan needed to be checked for consistency and corrected where necessary. In particular, the Committee agreed that the disaster management agencies and the media needed to be properly informed about the modified Saffir-Simpson scale, particularly the larger influential media organizations. The Director of the US National Hurricane Center (RSMC-Miami) informed the Committee that he would make it a priority to communicate these issues with the Weather Channel in the USA and encouraged other Committee members to ensure the same in their own countries.
5.3 The Committee held a very extensive discussion on the coordination of tropical cyclone watches and warnings with respect to Haiti. The discussion emanated from difficulties that surfaced during the 2012 hurricane season in which the warnings to be issued within Haiti could have been inconsistent with the official warnings issued by the RSMC for Haiti, as contained in the Hurricane Operational Plan. It was noted that communication between Haiti and the RSMC were difficult, requiring the intervention of the Météo-France office in Martinique to avert any potential problems.
5.4 The member of Haiti on the Committee described the national procedures for issuing warnings and alerts within the country. The Committee reiterated that the issuance of alerts and warnings to the public and various national sectors remained the responsibility of the national services. Nonetheless, most of the Committee members were of the view that, particularly since the 2010 catastrophic earthquake, the Meteorological Service (Centre National Méteorologique – CNM) in Haiti had not yet recovered sufficiently to be able to fully assume responsibility for issuing tropical cyclone watches and warnings for Haiti. In the case of Haiti, therefore, the issuance of national alerts and warnings must build on and be consistent with the warning status issued for Haiti by the RSMC Miami.
5.5 The Committee noted that there were several international initiatives and projects designed to assist Haiti, such as the Government of Canada’s 6.5 million Canadian dollar project for the Rehabilitation of the National Meteorological Services in Haiti. It was felt that these initiatives should be given time to be implemented, following which Haiti’s capabilities could be assessed. The Committee agreed that for the time being, the current procedure described in the RA IV Hurricane Operational Plan, in which the USA, through the RSMC-Miami, agreed to issue tropical cyclone watches and warnings for Haiti, should be retained.
5.6 The Committee recognized and thanked Météo-France for its important contribution in facilitating warning coordination between the RSMC and Haiti and agreed that Météo-France should be asked to continue this collaboration for the foreseeable future. In this regard, the representative of France offered to work with Haiti to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Haitian Meteorological Service that would ensure proper coordination of warnings with the RSMC, as well as ensure the proper preparation and dissemination of alerts and warnings at the national level by CNM.
5.7 In light of the discussion above on coordination with Haiti, the Chairman confirmed that the Tropical Analysis Branch at NHC would produce an extra section within the Tropical Weather Discussion bulletin for Haiti and the Dominican Republic and that this could start by May 1, 2013.
5.8 A discussion was held on the Coordination between the NHC and Dutch Caribbean Islands. This discussion was essential due to the restructuring process within the Meteorological Services following the new constitutional arrangements in which Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the three remaining islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius are special municipalities of the Netherlands. Under the Hurricane Operational Plan, Aruba already had responsibility for preparing and issuing warnings for its territory and coastal waters. It was decided that Curaçao would be responsible for issuing warnings for Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius, while Sint Maarten will be responsible for issuing their own Watches and Warnings.
5.9 The Director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) provided the Committee a presentation on an experimental 5-day genesis forecasts. He indicated that there were many special users who were very interested in a forecast beyond 48 hours, and that NHC had been experimenting with 5-day outlooks. He described the science behind the longer-term outlooks and showed that verification indicated that the product could be fairly reliable.
5.10 In this regard, he demonstrated that this could be done by extending the period of the Tropical Weather Outlook (TWO) and by transitioning the TWO into a probability-based product, which had been very successful. He demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of tropical cyclone genesis forecasting at the RSMC in terms of model performance, geographical bias and forecaster skills. He provided examples of the prototypes of new graphical/text formats for 5-day genesis forecast and informed the Committee that, after some further internal tests, the RSMC planned to start issuing text documents and possible graphical displays between July 15 - Aug 31 so that they could be in place for the peak of the hurricane season.
5.11 The Director of the National Hurricane Center also provided the Committee with a proposed Tropical Analysis & Forecast Branch (NHC/TAFB) product for the East Pacific Offshore Water Zones. He indicated that the new product would cover new offshore waters zones, taking into account geographic and political considerations, as well as synoptic and mesoscale meteorological considerations. Among other things, he indicated that this product was needed due to large number of recreational boaters, cruise ships and freight through Panama Canal. He showed that the new product would provide more details than existing high seas forecast products and would benefit from the gridded pattern of the numerical models. The product would benefit users by allowing data to be derived from gridded database, provide more precise information, including zones of small scale wind patterns. He indicated that 2013 would be used to obtain approvals for the product with a planned implementation date of April 2014. In welcoming the prospect of this new product, the Hurricane Committee urged the countries of Central America and northwest South America to communicate with each other on the programme for discussion at the next Committee meeting.
5.12 Discussions were held on the use of the term “Monsoon Trough” by the National Hurricane Center. The Hurricane Forecasters and the TAFB had held meetings on this matter and had submitted a report. Representatives from Central American countries, which were impacted more directly by the use of this term, suggested that the public in their countries were more accustomed to hearing and understood the term “Inter-tropical Convergence Zone”. Moreover, they noted inconsistencies in having some charts referring to the area by one name and another having a different name. The National Hurricane Center indicated that it would consult with the countries affected to find a way forward.

6.1 Under this agenda item, the Committee designated Mr Keithley Meade (English-speaking Vice-chairman) and Dr José Rubiera Torres (Spanish-speaking Vice-chairman) to serve as rapporteurs. Mr John Parker (Canada) agreed to serve as a coordinator for Attachment 8A (List of Telephone Numbers of National Meteorological Services and Key Officials) to the RA IV Hurricane Operational Plan.
6.2 The Committee reviewed in depth the Operational Plan, taking into account changes and additions that came out from this and the other agenda items.
6.3 RSMC Miami announced that the U.S. National Weather Service is working toward the operational implementation of a U.S. storm surge warning in 2015. The warning would be issued for a significant risk of a life-threatening storm surge and it would be in addition to the current tropical storm and hurricane watches/warnings. The new watch/warning approach would allow the U.S. NWS to warn on the specific wind, surge, and rainfall threats from a landfalling tropical cyclone. The U.S. NWS would be refining and testing a concept of operations during the 2013 and 2014 hurricane seasons, with operational implementation planned for 2015. RA-IV Members are encouraged to discuss the new hazard based warning paradigm with emergency responders, the media, and the public in their countries. A discussion on the coordination of all tropical cyclone related watches/warnings (including a storm surge warning) was expected to continue at the 36th session of the Committee.
6.4 RSMC Miami indicated that the U.S. NWS would be broadening the hurricane and tropical storm watch and warning definitions to allow these watches and warnings to be issued or remain in effect after a tropical cyclone becomes post-tropical, when such a storm poses a significant threat to life and property. In addition, the RSMC Miami would ensure a continuity of service by continuing to issue advisories during the post-tropical stage, when a storm poses a significant threat to life and property. These changes were motivated by the special challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy, which evolved from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone prior to reaching the coast of the United States in October 2012. The forecast and warning challenges that were faced within the Region were also discussed under the agenda item 9.1. The Committee adopted the changes to the watch/warning definitions and the new definitions were listed in section 1.2.1 of the Operational Plan. Changes to the RSMC advisory issuance criteria were reflected in section of the Plan.
6.5 Section 2.1.2 of the Operational Plan was corrected to show that the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) in Honolulu, Hawaii back up the RSMC Miami on eastern North Pacific basin advisories. The Weather Prediction Center (WPC), formerly the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) in Washington remains the RSMC Miami backup for Atlantic basin tropical cyclone advisories. CPHC became the east Pacific basin backup center for RSMC Miami in 2011.
6.6 RSMC Miami indicated that a new use of the Tropical Cyclone Update (TCU) product would allow the discontinuation of the Tropical Cyclone Position Estimate (TCE). Beginning in 2013, the TCU would be issued to provide a continuous flow of information regarding the center location of a tropical cyclone, when watches or warnings are in effect and the center can be easily tracked with land-based radar. Previously this information was conveyed by the Tropical Cyclone Position Estimate (TCE). Recent changes to the TCU, which included a formatted summary block of key storm information, have made a separate TCE product unnecessary. In all cases where a TCE would previously have been issued, NHC would issue a TCU instead. Section 3.1.4 of the Operational Plan was modified to reflect the new use of the TCU.
6.7 Pending completion of some technical development, RSMC Miami announced that it was planning to extend the time covered by the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific Tropical Weather Outlooks (TWO) from 48 hours to 5 days. In July or August of the 2013 hurricane season, RSMC Miami would begin including information about a system’s potential for development during the following five-day period. This information would be provided probabilistically in 10-percent increments, and would supplement the 48-hour probabilistic formation potential already provided. NHC was developing a corresponding five-day genesis potential graphic that might also be available in 2013. The Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook that highlights the location of areas of disturbed weather and shows the 48 hour probabilistic genesis potential would remain unchanged.
6.8 Update of Chapter 5 (Satellite Surveillance) was proposed by the WMO Secretariat (Space Programme) and adopted. Major updates were related to the planned termination of the operation of GOES-12 in 2013 and the replacement of Metop-A by Metop-B (EUMETSAT) in April 2013..
6.9 British Caribbean Territories proposed an inclusion of the new radar, which was installed in Grand Cayman, in 4.6 - Caribbean Meteorological Organization network of Doppler radars in Chapter 4. France proposed a change of the location of a moored buoy, which occurred in December 2012, in ATTACHMENT 7C
6.10 In Chapter 9, the Committee considered retirement of the names of tropical cyclones of significant strength or impact during the previous season. At the request of the USA, the Committee decided to retire the name ‘Sandy’ and adopted ‘Sara’ as its replacement, which was to be used for the 2018 season.
6.11 British Caribbean Territories suggested that members review the ATTACHMENT 8B to see if they wished to continue to have their countries in the list even though they have no intention of broadcasting warnings on the GTS.
6.12 The Committee decided to remove phonetics from the list of hurricane names.
6.13 The delegate from Spain raised some concern about the use of the word ‘alert’ which is not a part of the Spanish language. The Committee requested Dr Jose Ruberia, Spanish-speaking Vice-chairman, to work with Spain for a solution.
6.14 Regarding the membership of Aruba, which came up for discussion at the 34th session in USA, the WMO Secretariat informed the Committee that arrangements had been made for the RA-IV membership of the Netherlands. In accordance with the discussion at RA IV-16, WMO/TCP would request the necessary information from Aruba for inclusion in the Operational Plan such as their responsibilities and observation networks, and would propose the amendments at the 36th session in 2014.
6.15 The Committee urged the WMO Secretariat to ensure that above amendments and changes as well as other minor changes made to the Plan were posted to the WMO/TCP Website, both in English and Spanish, before commencement of the 2013 hurricane season. In this connection, the Committee commended Météo-France for its continued update of the Operational Plan in French and its provision to the Meteorological Service of Haiti. The Committee requested the WMO Secretariat to assist Météo-France with this translation.

7.1 The Committee designated Mr Keithley Meade (English-speaking Vice-chairman) and Dr José Rubiera Torres (Spanish-speaking Vice-chairman) to serve as rapporteurs.
7.2 The Committee recalled that, at its 34th session in Jacksonville, United States of America, it argued that too much time was being spent for the review of the Technical Plan and emphasized that it was necessary to creating a mechanism to shorten this process so that less time would be spent over the discussion for the update. The Committee then suggested that the WMO Office in Costa Rica request all the Members to review the Technical Plan a few months prior to the session and to give feedback to the Office on the necessary amendments. The WMO Office in Costa Rica proceeded as was suggested and achieved relative success with the responses from many of the Members as shown in the document for this agenda item.
7.3 The Committee conducted a thorough review of the draft Technical Plan. It made further updates in several programmes according to the additional comments from the members.
7.4 While commending the WMO Office in Costa Rica for its efforts for drafting the Technical Plan, the Committee requested the members to send their comment to the Office in a more timely manner in the future.
7.5 The Committee recommended the President of RA IV to approve the updated RA IV Hurricane Committee’s Technical Plan and its Implementation Programme, which is given in Appendix V.

8.1 The Committee reviewed the assistance, pertinent to the implementation of the Technical Plan or strengthening of the operational plan, provided to Members since the Committee’s thirty- fourth session and considered the plan for future action.
8.2 The Committee expressed its satisfaction that WMO, through the Development and Regional Activities Department (DRA) with the support of the WMO Office for North America, Central America and the Caribbean (NCAC), has continued the development of technical cooperation activities to ensure cost-effective services to Members. The NCAC Office has also provided support to regional activities and assisted in the implementation of WMO Programmes in the Region.
Regional activities
8.3 The Committee was informed that:

  • During 2012 WMO has continued its Project Office in Mexico to support the National Water Commission in achieving integrated, sustainable management of water and the PREMIA project aimed to, as outlined in the agreement between the WMO and the Government of Mexico, the efficient management of water, technical support in the fields of hydrology, meteorology, climate variability and change and their effects on water availability, in particular ground water reserves, prevention of floods will be also another area to be covered.

  • Based on the Strategic Development Plan 2010-2019 formulated by WMO for the NMS of Mexico in 2010, the Government of Mexico requested of the World Bank the formulation of a project to continue the implementation of the Strategic Development Plan for the NMS in the next Mexican Administration (2012-2018). The Modernization Project for the NMS of Mexico (USD 105 million) funded by the World Bank (2012-2018) includes the following four components: 1) Strengthening of institutional capacity; 2) Modernization of the meteorological network; 3) Improvement of meteorology and climate forecasting; and 4) Developing regional capacity with the establishment of regional hydrometeorological centers.

  • WMO through its Project Office in Mexico would continue providing support to this project for the Modernization of the NMS of Mexico as well as to the PREMIA project on integrated water management, both projects under the Agreement of Cooperation between WMO and the Government of Mexico.

  • The Meeting of NMS’s Directors of Iberoamerican Countries was held in Madrid, Spain, in October 2012 with the attendance of the Spanish speaking Members of the RA III and RA IV. The action plan for the period 2011-2013 was ratified. The main lines of action of the three-year Plan include, institutional strengthening of NMHS and resource mobilization; development of climate services through pilot projects; education and training; and development of subregional virtual centres for the prevention and monitoring of extreme events.

8.4 The Committee was also informed that:

  • The RA IV Workshop on Hurricane Forecasting and Public Weather Services took place in Miami, U.S.A, from 12 to 23 March 2012. This very important workshop is organized on an annual basis at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, USA, with strong support of WMO and the U.S.A.

  • WMO, through the trust fund from Spain, supported during 2012 several activities including courses on automatic weather stations maintenance, data processing, climate change, administration of meteorological and hydrological services, flood management, seasonal forecast, hydrology, statistic forecast tools, use of forecast products and satellites, and other topics. Additionally, a series of seminars and workshops were also supported especially in hydrological forecast, seasonal forecast, coastal flooding, and telecommunications interaction.

  • The Master Degree Programme in Hydrology with strong distance and computed aided learning components has continued with great success at the WMO/RMTC of Costa Rica, with the participation of students from RA IV countries.

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