The article you recently published on hurricanes (“Circles of Uncertainty,” Issue No.111, Jan./Feb. 2001) contains an assortment of serious omissions and incorrect information. Most important are the following:
1. Hurricanes are well detected and tracked over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by the U.S. Tropical Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center, as well as the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and U.S. Navy. Additionally there are private weather Qnd routing services that provide timely and accurate tropical weather updates.
2. When tropical activity exists (be it tropical waves, depressions, storms, or hurricanes) there is an abundance of timely and accurate information available to mariners. This information is transmitted via an assortment of methods; including but not limited to the web, e-mail, voice, Inmarsat, Navtex, MPC charts, SSB, wefax, and satellite imagery.
3. A detailed and complete listing of tropical products and services is found in the recently published manual titled Mariners Guide to Hurricane Awareness in the North Atlantic Basin. This manual can be downloaded and printed from the National Hurricane Center’s web page (www.nhc.noaa.gov). All mariners who sail in the Atlantic Ocean should read this manual as it describes the full life cycle of tropical features, including their migration into mid-latitudes, where they transform into storm-force low pressure systems.
4. There are two tried-and-true methods of analyzing hurricanes that enable mariners to determine track bias, recurvature, acceleration, course to avoid, radius of dangerous seas and area to avoid. These two rules, called the 34-knot wind radius and 1-2-3 rule, are taught in both the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies’ (MITAGS) Coast Guard-approved five-day Heavy Weather Avoidance course and the Ocean Navigator Hurricane Detection and Avoidance course.
5. Last, the Marine Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center meteorologists are trained and motivated forecasters who use highly sophisticated and reliable computer models to detect, track, analyze, and forecast hurricanes. Their products, disseminated via text, graphic, and voice, are released immediately upon completion and should be relied upon.
I hope your readers will take time to become educated on tropical weather and realize we are extremely fortunate to have the Marine Prediction Center and Tropical Prediction Center providing mariners with high-quality, useful analysis and forecast products.