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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kudos to the National Weather Service

I'd like to give major kudos to the National Weather Service this morning.

First, their predictions for the "we can't call it a hurricane" extra-tropical Low were spot on, rather better than any of the other models I've seen.

But the bigger kudos I'd like to give is for making a tough but correct reporting call. I wouldn't have even noticed it if, for a few minutes this morning, they hadn't made a different choice, which also was arguably "correct".

The text report, which has since been revised but take my word for it, reported that the center of the Low would make landfall on Haida Gwaii at whatever time it was. If you're thinking "where in the hell is Haida Gwaii", you're not alone, even if you happen to be in the Pacific Northwest.

Haida Gwaii is the new name of what used to be the Queen Charlotte Islands, as of 3 June 2010.

Now, I'm happy to see that the islands have been renamed in such a way as to honor the (sadly few remaining) Haida people who live there. What happened to the Haida and other first peoples on the archipelago was pretty horrible, and the renaming is a small but not insignificant step toward making reparations. And, I'm happy that NOAA/NWS wanted to raise awareness of the name change.

But I'm most happy that NOAA/NWS recognized that a report of a significant weather hazard probably wasn't the best place to do that. If you happen to be reading this post, then you have access to the internet. So if you see a weather alert with a place name that you don't recognize, you can just Google it. The marine broadcasts, however, are being received by mariners who only have access to VHF or single-sideband voice broadcasts, or NAVTEX. So information anchored to a place-name which is unfamiliar is no information at all.

NOAA/NWS recognized this promptly and corrected it. Good on them. And now more of us know the proper name of Haida Gwaii.

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