On our second trip to New Caledonia
, we faced a similarly confusing situation.
There was a cyclone 200 miles north of New Caledonia
, but it was poorly organzied. We were about 500 miles from New Caledonia to the southwest. We downloaded the Australian weather
fax that said the storm was headed toward Australia
. Next, we downloaded the New Zealand weather
fax that said the storm was headed toward New Zealand
. Within twelve hours, the New Zealand weather fax said the storm was heading back toward Australia.
It is frustrating to figure out our storm avoidance plan when the weather faxes sent the storm southwest, then southeast, and then southwest again. The problem was that in a poorly organized cyclone, it's hard to pick the center of the storm on the satellite
photos and using all the tools available to meteorologists. Once a particular forcaster picks the center of the storm, the next forecaster may pick a different location for the storms center, and that creates the impression that the storm has moved in a different direction. What really happened was that the forcasters had different opinions about the location of the storms center, and there was very little movement of the cyclone over the twenty-four period when we were trying to figure out the best method of storm avoidance. Situations like these create a lot of confusion.
When I was in the Navy
staitioned at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in eastern Puerto Rico
, we had lots of tropical storms and hurricanes pass by each summer. In one memorable storm, there was a hurricane
going through the northern windard islands heading our way. Before it got to Roosevelt Roads, the hurricane
downgraded in intensity, and the navy
track of the center because it was poorly organized. It actually went directly over our base. When it emerged on the north side of Puerto Rico
, it quickly reformed into a hurricane. I remember talking to one of the weather men
on base, and they told me that they lost
track of the storm until it reformed to the northwest of us.
There are lots of no man's lands in big patches of ocean where there aren't many weather observations. In those no man's lands, there are black holes where nobody is fully committed to giving accurate weather forecasts. On the trip from New Zealand to Fiji
and New Caledonia, storms can happen that aren't shown on the weather fax because New Zealand and Fiji
don't spend resources predicting weather far from their shores.
The moral of the story for me was that I always got weather information from more than one source. After I get all the information, I put it together to come up with a coherent storm avoidance plan.