The National Weather Service is turning to a prominent critic to assess its performance during Hurricane Sandy.
Mike Smith, an AccuWeather senior vice president based in Wichita, has been named co-chair of the panel reviewing what went well, what went poorly and potential changes in the weather service’s products and procedures.
“For the next few months, I’m going to be extraordinarily busy,” Smith said via e-mail.
Convening an independent panel is a departure from standard practice. The weather service has traditionally relied on internal reviews of agency performance during major events such as the Joplin tornado.
In a Nov. 2 post on his weather blog, “Meteorological Musings,” Smith described the agency’s service assessment program as “badly broken.”
“The Joplin tornado SA (service assessment) was a complete joke,” Smith wrote. “It never mentions its own mis-location and misreporting of the tornado’s location and direction of movement. The SA report issued in the wake of the April 27, 2011, tornadoes in the South omitted several crucial issues.”
Smith insists he is a big fan of the weather service, “but I also believe we have to be scientifically honest in order to continue to improve as an applied science,” he wrote in the blog post.
He then posted a series of questions that any report on Sandy should examine:
“Its decision not to issue a hurricane warning as a hurricane was approaching the coast was, in my opinion, disastrous,” Smith said of the NWS. “That is just my opinion. We need objective facts.”
No timetable for completion of the panel’s review has been announced.