Federal weather forecasts for Hurricane Sandy were exceptionally accurate last fall, but the warnings themselves were confusing, an internal review has found.
The gigantic October storm lost tropical characteristics hours before landfall in New Jersey, so the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stopped calling it a hurricane. Instead it shifted its focus to flooding and high-wind warnings, and moved responsibility from the National Hurricane Center in Miami to local weather offices.
NOAA's self-assessment said that move led to confusion among the public and the news media, a complaint made by independent meteorologists.
The 66-page report uses confusion 88 times.
The confusion stemmed from a "lack of flexibility" about what Sandy was when it morphed from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm. Such a storm is essentially a hurricane that no longer gets its energy from warm water and loses its eye. Coastal residents and the news media thus misinterpreted Sandy's potential effects, the report said.