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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-17-009
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 OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: Develop and implement technology that would allow National Weather Service forecasters to quickly sort through large numbers of tropical cyclone forecast model ensembles, identify clusters of solutions among ensemble members, and allow correlation of those clusters against a set of standard parameters.
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 (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Date: 4/22/2019
Response: We note that, under the HFIP, the NWS is developing statistical and other postprocessing techniques to more effectively use forecast model ensembles, including those from multiple forecast ensemble systems, so that forecasters can more quickly identify optimal solutions. Pending the development and implementation of these techniques, Safety Recommendation M-17-9 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2018
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, National Weather Service, Analyze, Forecast and Support Office: In progress. Statistical and other post-processing techniques are actively being developed under HFIP to more effectively use forecast model ensembles, including those from multiple forecast ensemble systems, to provide additional interpretative guidance to NWS forecasters. HFIP is also promoting new techniques for presenting model forecast ensemble data to forecasters that can more quickly identify optimal solutions based on multi-model input, or a set of possible solutions if the model forecasts cluster around a few different scenarios. HFIP will ensure this activity becomes and remains a priority activity.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 4/18/2018
Response: -From Jill Walker, Executive Officer, National Weather Service, Science, Technology, and Integration Office (STI): Statistical and other post-processing techniques are actively being developed under HFIP to more effectively use forecast model ensembles including those from multiple forecast ensemble systems, to provide additional interpretative guidance to NWS forecasters. This is especially important when model ensemble forecasts exhibit bi-modal or multi-modal tendencies due to increased uncertainty in the environmental forecasts. HFIP is also promoting new techniques for presenting model forecast ensemble data to forecasters that can more quickly identify optimal solutions based on the multi-model input, or a set of possible solutions if the model forecasts cluster around a few different scenarios. HFIP will ensure this activity becomes and remains a priority activity. Current HFIP Strategic Plan is available: http://www.hfip.org/documents/HFIP_StrategicPlan_Yrs5-10_Nov05_2014_Update.pdf. Updated HFIP Plan required by the Weather Act is currently a NOAA Draft Document but will be made available when released to Congress.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 4/5/2018
Response: -From Andrew Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast and Support Office, NOAA/ National Weather Service: Thank you for sending the documentation for Recommendations M-17-08 and M-17-09. I am responding to let you know that NOAA's National Weather Service has received and understands these recommendations, and will gather a team of subject matter experts to provide NTSB with a detailed proposal for addressing them within the next 60 days. These recommendations align with work already planned and underway through the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program, as authorized by Section 104 of Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. This will also be a topic of discussion at the meeting discussed with NTSB, tentatively planned for May 2018, and we will ensure the appropriate subject matter experts are in attendance to discuss these issues with NTSB in detail. Thank you also for today's discussion. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. We look forward to continued coordination with NTSB on these important actions.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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 seven recommendations to the National Weather Service, one recommendation to the US Coast Guard, and the following two recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.