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Friday, August 31, 2012

On a rogue wave, maybe

CBS Local Media in Los Angeles carried on their website a timely pre-Labor Day holiday article today by John Brooks :"10-Foot Breakers Possible Amid Holiday High Surf Warning"
National Weather Service forecasters say a “building southerly swell” is expected to bring waves between six to eight feet to local beaches starting Friday morning through Sunday afternoon, with the largest surf peaking Friday night into Saturday afternoon. 
South- and southwest-facing beaches like Zuma Beach, Point Dume, and other parts of Malibu could see waves as high as 10 feet throughout the weekend. 
Santa Monica surfer Myra was skeptical of those numbers as she watched the relative small breakers crash at Surfrider Beach in Malibu. 
“On a rogue wave, maybe,” she said. “Maybe.”
That's pretty much standard forecast report one would generally expected.  What is interesting is the report also included surfer Myra's skepticism on those forecasted numbers.  It is by no means unusual or new, National Weather Service has their work cut off for them to make general public users take their forecast seriously.  Even though NWS forecasters are all dedicated hard workers.  The problem of inaccurate forecasts is not at all with the forecasters.  Rather it's the science that the forecasters rely on to do the forecast is basically half-cooked.  A very obvious symptom is just take a look at the NWS: heavy on operation and political climate studies, very little research on basic sciences  on atmosphere, ocean, and their actual dynamical systems locally.  Local forecasters are only allowed to take the central model outputs without the need even take a look out of the window! Yes, only the model -- the almighty model -- knows what's going on, no question needed or allowed!

What is most interesting to me is surfer Myra's last comment: "On a rogue wave, maybe."  I added the emphasize here.  I assume Myra is not a research scientist herself, but she gave that comment no true research scientist, even the world's foremost experts can't do anything better than her simple answer.  Regarding freaque waves, may be there will be one, or may be not!  We don't know where, when, how, or why, just may be!

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