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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-17-013
Details
Synopsis: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is providing the following information to urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS; a component of NOAA), and the US Coast Guard to take action on the safety recommendations in this report. The recommendations address, in the interest of mariner safety, the development of tropical cyclone information and its availability to mariners. The recommendations derive primarily from factual information gathered during the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the sinking of cargo vessel El Faro on October 1, 2015. The factual data revealed that critical tropical cyclone information issued by the NWS is not always available to mariners via well-established broadcast methods. The data also suggest that modifying the way the NWS develops certain tropical cyclone forecasts and advisories could help mariners at sea better understand and respond to tropical cyclones. Further, factual data on the official forecasts for Hurricane Joaquin and other recent tropical cyclones suggest that a new emphasis on improving hurricane forecasts is warranted. The NTSB has yet to determine the probable cause of, or contributing factors in, El Faro’s sinking. Nevertheless, based on the meteorological facts gathered thus far, plus discussions with the NWS and the Coast Guard, the NTSB makes ten recommendations in this report. Two recommendations are addressed to NOAA, seven to the NWS, and one to the Coast Guard.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Quantitatively define “significant change” in terms of both the track and intensity of a tropical cyclone to guide the issuance of Special Advisory packages.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Marine
Location: 36 NM Northeast Crooked Island Bahamas, AO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA16MM001
Accident Reports: Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS El Faro Atlantic Ocean, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, BahamasSinking of the US Cargo Vessel El Faro: Illustrated Digest
Report #: MSR-17-02
Accident Date: 10/1/2015
Issue Date: 6/29/2017
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 7/14/2019
Response: -From John D. Murphy, Chief Operating Officer, NOAA National Weather Service: After examination of official track forecast error statistics and gathering feedback from a marine community partners' workshop, the following criteria were adopted for "Special Advisory" issuance for track beginning in 2019: A special advisory will be issued if the forecaster has high confidence by three hours after the previous advisory release that the initial position error of a tropical storm or hurricane compared to the interpolated position from the official track forecast is 40 n mi or greater and exceeds the initial position uncertainty, or if there is an otherwise significant departure from the official track forecast as determined by the forecaster. In 2018, the following criteria were adopted and implemented for "Special Advisory" issuance for intensity: If the forecaster's estimated current intensity exceeds the 12-h intensity forecast* or the initial intensity by 10 kt or more, whichever is higher, or if an upgrade in storm status has occurred (tropical depression to tropical storm or tropical storm to hurricane) that was not forecast in 12 h, even if the difference between the current intensity estimate and the 12-h intensity forecast is less than 10 kt. *Except if the 12-hour intensity forecast represents a decrease from the current intensity estimate associated with a weakening storm after landfall. All NHC procedures have been updated accordingly, and NWS believes that this action is now complete pending any further discussion with NTSB.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 4/22/2019
Response: We note that you have preliminarily developed the following quantitative criteria to address this recommendation: (a) Intensity: The estimated current maximum wind speed of a tropical cyclone (that is not decaying) exceeds the 12-hour forecast wind speed by more than 5 kts, or there has been an unforecast status change from a tropical depression to a tropical storm, or from a tropical storm to a hurricane, a Special Advisory will be issued. We look forward to reviewing the criteria, once developed, for changes in a storm’s initial location that would trigger a special advisory. Pending completion of these criteria and their use to guide the issuance of special advisory packages, Safety Recommendation M-17-13 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 7/15/2018
Response: -From Andrew Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast, and Support Office, NOAA/ National Weather Service: I would like to bring to your attention increased support that NWS is providing to the U.S. Coast Guard with respect to improving dissemination of hazards in the oceanic domain. Starting last week, the NWS Ocean Prediction Center, in coordination with the National Hurricane Center and the NWS National Operations Center began providing weekly PPT briefings to USCG District 5. Note in the attached Memo from OPC to the NWS Chief Operating Officer that the actions fully support safety recommendations from the NTSB El Faro report. The second attached file, called "Briefing Slides.pdf", contains briefing slides from last week. The first two slides were presented to the USCG on July 9 and highlighted hazards associated with cyclones Chris and Beryl. The 3rd and 4th slides show updates to NWS leadership regarding oceanic impacts from Hurricane Chris. Slide 3 shows AIS data and ship avoidance maneuvers in advance of Chris - leaving a mostly ship free northeastward slot. Slide 4 shows a tanker who appeared to move close to or through the eye wall. OPC later reported that the tanker turned northwest and headed toward the NY Bight once the storm had passed. The NWS continues to improve decision support services with our core partners in support of transportation safety. Thought that you would be interested.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2018
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, National Weather Service, Analyze, Forecast and Support Office: In progress. NHC is setting quantitative criteria for intensity and location/track change that will trigger the issuance of a Special Advisory. If the estimated current maximum wind speed of a tropical cyclone (that is not decaying) exceeds the 12-h forecast wind speed by more than 5 knots, or there has been an unforecast status change from a tropical depression to a tropical storm. or from a tropical storm to a hurricane, a Special Advisory will be issued. These changes are in place for 2018. Criteria are still being developed for changes in the storm's initial location that would trigger the issuance of a Special Advisory, with the goal of implementing them in 2019. Note that these new criteria are in addition to existing requirements for the issuance of a Special Advisory to issue U.S. watches/warnings for a tropical cyclone between standard 6-h advisory issuances.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 2/20/2018
Response: We note that you have preliminarily developed the following quantitative criteria to address this recommendation: (a) Intensity: The estimated current maximum wind speed exceeds the 12-hour forecast wind speed by 10 kt or more. (b) Location: The estimated location of the storm center differs by at least twice the estimated position accuracy, or 25 nm, whichever is larger, from that found by interpolation of the forecast, and the difference is not due in the forecaster’s view to a “trochoidal” (short-term) wobble of the center. Pending completion of these criteria and their use to guide the issuance of special advisory packages, Safety Recommendation M-17-13 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 11/30/2017
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast, and Support Office, National Weather Service: The NWS can accept the recommendation. NHC could propose through established governing organizations that it use the following criteria, in addition to existing requirements associated with issuing U.S. watches/warnings, to decide when to issue a Special Advisory. It may also, at its discretion, issue Special Advisories to indicate changes that do not reach these criteria. (a) Intensity. The estimated current maximum wind speed exceeds the 12-hour forecast wind speed by 10 kt or more; (b) Location. The estimated location of the center differs by at least twice the estimated position accuracy, or 25 nm, whichever is larger, from that found by interpolation of the forecast, and the difference is not due in the forecaster's view to a "trochoidal" (i.e., short-term) wobble of the center.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 6/29/2017
Response: On June 20, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its safety recommendation report Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners, related to the October 1, 2015, sinking of cargo vessel El Faro. Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the safety recommendation report, which can be accessed at our website, www.ntsb.gov, under report number NTSB/MSR-17/02. As a result of this investigation, we issued two recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one recommendation to the US Coast Guard, and the following seven recommendations to the National Weather Service.