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Nat’l Hurricane Center Alters Definition Of Hurricane Warning

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (CBSMiami) – It’s official: a hurricane warning will be posted the next time a system like Superstorm Sandy threatens the U.S. coastline.

The National Hurricane Center has modified the definition of a hurricane warning. In deciding whether to issue such a warning, no consideration will be given to the storm’s characteristics (tropical or non-tropical) as it approaches the warned area.

Instead, the new definition focuses solely on whether the system could produce hurricane conditions. The Coral Gables-based weather agency now defines a hurricane warning as:

An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical, sub-tropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

The National Hurricane Center had considered the change after Superstorm Sandy’s forecast fiasco.

Because Sandy was forecast to transition into a post-tropical system just before striking New Jersey in October, the hurricane center did not post a hurricane warning, relying instead on local warnings already in place.

The problem was that even though its core unraveled before landfall, Sandy struck with hurricane conditions, including a devastating storm surge that flooded much of the Northeast coastline.

That prompted some to criticize the hurricane center, mainly Bryan Norcross, a former South Florida weathercaster and now tropical expert for The Weather Channel.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel contributed to this report.)

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