Saturday, May 30, 2015

National Beef Day - Burgers at Sea

May 30th
National Beef Day

It's embarkation day, you've just gotten on a Carnival cruise ship, you are looking for something quick to eat before exploring the ship ...

What Comes to Mind?

 Guy's Burger Joint

It's all about choices...

How do you like your burger?

On Carnival Cruise Lines, if you are on a ship that has gone through Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, like Carnival Conquest or Carnival Breeze to name a couple, you can grab lunch from Guy's Burger Joint, the cool poolside spot for hot burgers and hand-cut fries.   If you watch cable TV, you know who "Guy" is ...   Guy Fieri entered into an agreement with Carnival Corporation to introduce his burgers at sea.  

You can select from the Plain Jane or several common options.  Why not customize your burger by adding your favorite toppings at the Toppings Bar?   This is a fun place to enjoy National Beef Day or any day.   The best news - it is included in your dining options at no additional cost.

What's Your Favorite Burger at Sea

Many cruise lines have "burger bars" poolside as well as in their buffets.   Do you have a different favorite?  We'd love to hear from you about what you think is the best burger at sea.

2015 Hurricane Preparedness - Taking Action

Recovering from Disaster
Final In the 2015 Series

Rebuilding After the Storm

We conclude our coverage of the 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at recovering from the storm.  Three organizations come to mind when you think about the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster:  FEMA, Red Cross, and the National Guard.  There are many other organizations and individuals that also play a key role in providing immediate and long-term assistance to those impacted by the hazards of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process with the first concern being immediate search and recovery while keeping safety in mind.   After the area has been made safe, the recovery process can begin.  Here are some resources that are helpful after the storm:
Even with all the scientific advances in recent years, it is still impossible to predict how many storms will occur in a given year and what communities lie in their path.   Just like in sports, the best defense is a good offense.


Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here

In this case, Hurricane Preparedness is that secret play that can make the difference in loss of property and lives.  It is for that reason that we have participated with NOAA, FEMA and other organizations in sharing these public service announcements.   We have been covering hurricane preparedness for years, so if you still need more information, you can check out some of our other articles which can be found via links in our Hurricane Zone page.

We are reminded about some disturbing news, published by the American Red Cross, about how Despite Sandy’s Damage, U.S. Coastal Residents Still Unprepared. 

An infographic on the survey findings can be viewed here.

American Red Cross Urges People to Get Ready for Hurricanes

Friday, May 29, 2015

2015 Hurricane Preparedness - Get a Plan

Click on this interactive image to learn more about being prepared for Hurricanes and other Disasters


Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
Below Normal: Atlantic      
Above Normal: Central & Eastern Pacific


A below normal hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. See Related Blog Posts section below for links to NOAA outlooks for each region as well as hurricane preparedness information.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida."
(Click to enlarge)  Courtesy: CPHC
The president recently designated May 24 - May 30, 2015 as National Hurricane Preparedness Week. NOAA and FEMA encourage those living in hurricane-prone states to use this time to review their overall preparedness. More information on individual and family preparedness can be found at and

"Preventing the loss of life and minimizing the damage to property from hurricanes are responsibilities that are shared by all"

"FEMA is working across the administration and with our state and local partners to ensure we're prepared for hurricane season," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "But we can only be as prepared as the public, so it's important that families and businesses in coastal communities take steps now to be ready. These include developing a communications plan, putting together a kit, and staying informed of the latest forecasts and local emergency plans. You can't control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, but you can make sure you're ready."

Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Read more about Family Communication during an emergency. has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan (FEP) (PDF - 750 Kb) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.  Learn what your family can do before, during, & after a hurricane:

Disaster Prevention should include:

Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (pdf) - Spanish Version (pdf)
"How To" guides for protecting your property from flooding & high winds. (FEMA)

Be Red Cross Ready image

Are you Red Cross Ready? Click here to launch an interactive module with pictures, audio and video content.

More on what to do before, during and after a hurricane can be found at: An infographic on the survey findings can be viewed here.

Related Blog Posts & Links

More links and information about tropical storms and other weather conditions can be found in the Weather & Hurricane Zone tabs above.

Hurricane Preparedness Week:   May 24 - May 30, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ANDRES First Tropical Storm East Pacific 2015 Season

Other images: 5-Day track off3-Day track off3-Day track onInteractive

 Hurricane ANDRES
The 2015 East Pacific Hurricane Season officially started on May 15th and the first Tropical Storm has formed well southwest of Mexico and is expected to become a hurricane by the weekend.

NHC issuing advisories on TS ANDRES


Full coverage of this, and all tropical storms, can be found on our Hurricane Zone page.   There are RSS feeds from the National Hurricane Center posted there giving you up to the minute information.   For storms that impact cruises, we will bring you information on those details as well.  Please bookmark that page for further reference during the Hurricane Season which runs now through November 30th.

Hurricane ANDRES
200 PM PDT TUE JUN 02 2015

near 85 mph (140 km/h)
with higher gusts
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive



SURF:  Swells generated by Andres are affecting portions of the west
coast of the Baja California peninsula.  These swells are likely to
cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.  Please
consult products from your local weather office.
300 AM MDT THU MAY 28 2015

900 AM MDT THU MAY 28 2015

300 PM MDT FRI MAY 29 2015

800 PM PDT SAT MAY 30 2015


2015 Hurricane Preparedness - Forecast Process

Hurricane Forecast Process
Fifth In the 2015 Series

Forecast Process
We continue our coverage of the 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at the tropical weather forecasting process.

6 Hour
Forecast Cycle
When a storm threatens the following occurs
A new hurricane forecast cycle begins.
Receive the location of the center of the hurricane.
Initialize or start thehurricane models with the storm's location and intensity
Receive model guidance and prepare a new hurricane forecast.
Coordinate with National Weather Service and Dept. of Defense.
Issue the full hurricane advisory package.
5am EDT (4 CDT)
11am EDT (10 CDT)
5pm EDT (4 CDT)
11pm EDT (10 CDT)
Participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conference call with the affected states.
A new hurricane forecast cycle begins.
When a Watch or a Warning is issued, intermediate advisories are initiated.

Source:  NHC: Forecast Process (Learn More)

Part of the mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) is to save lives and protect property by issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous weather conditions in the tropics. This section provides information about the roles of those responsible for providing hurricane information to emergency managers and decision makers.

The TPC is comprised of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB), and the Technical Support Branch (TSB). During hurricane season, the latter two provide support to the NHC.

The local NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in hurricane-prone areas are also important participants in the forecast process.

Observations including satellites, buoys, reconnaissance aircraft, and radar are the basis for all forecast and warning products issued by the NHC. Quality, quantity, and timeliness of remote sensing observations are critical for accurate and timely forecasts and warnings.

The various observations are checked for quality, analyzed, and put into a suite of computer models. 

The computer models take in the observations and perform millions of calculations to generate predictions of hurricane behavior and the general conditions of the atmosphere in which the hurricane is embedded. The model results are packaged as guidance for the appropriate national centers and local offices and for evaluation and use in the NWS's forecast and warning process.

Forecasts and warnings are coordinated between the national centers and local forecast offices to provide consistency, which is critical during severe weather episodes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NOAA 2015 Hurricane Season Predictions

Credit: NOAA
Predictions for 
2015 Hurricane Season

We've already provided you with Colorado State University's April Prediction for the Atlantic Basin.  NOAA has just released its predictions for the Atlantic Basin, Central and East Pacific regions.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Hurricane Season Approaching 

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) had predicted an below-normal season which is what actually resulted.  The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season was a below average Atlantic hurricane season that produced nine tropical cyclones, eight named storms, the fewest since the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Looking Back at 2014

In the chart below, the numbers in parenthesis are the averages, so you can easily see that the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season was below average.  

Atlantic Basin
Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
Climatology (in parentheses)
NOAA 2014
Named Storms (NS) (12.0)  8 - 13 8
Hurricanes (H) (6.5)3 - 66
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.0) 1 - 2 2
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (92.0)  40 - 100 67

Atlantic Hurricane Outlook & Seasonal Climate Summary Archive

The 2014 Eastern Northern Pacific Hurricane Season was well above average with the number of named storms more than double the average.  Hurricanes exceeded the top estimate, and there were 9 major hurricanes.  The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) was well above normal.

East Pacific

Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
Climatology (in parentheses)
NOAA 2014
Named Storms (NS) (9.6) 14 - 20 22
Hurricanes (H) (5.9)7 - 1116
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.3) 3 - 6 9
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (96.1)  95-160 198

For more details, read the complete NOAA 2014 Eastern Pacific Seasonal Climate Summary 

Looking Ahead to 2015

As is customary, the Colorado State University releases its predictions in December and April. See our blog post,  2015 CSU Atlantic Hurricane Prediction, for their 2015 predictions.

Atlantic Basin

Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
Climatology (in parentheses)
NOAA 2015
CSU 2015
Named Storms (NS) (12.0) 6-11 7
Hurricanes (H) (6.5)3-63
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.0) 0-2 1
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (92.0) 40 - 85 40

NOAA’s 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook 70% chance of a below-normal season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 0 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). 

East Pacific

Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
Climatology (in parentheses)
NOAA 2015
Named Storms (NS) (9.6) 15 -22
Hurricanes (H) (5.9)7 - 12
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.3) 5- 8
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (96.1) 110 - 190

NOAA’s 2015 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook is calling for a 70 percent chance of 15 to 22 named storms, which includes 7 to 12 hurricanes, of which 5 to 8 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).  The outlook calls for a 70% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 5% chance of a below normal season.

Measuring total seasonal activity: The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index

An important measure of the total overall seasonal activity is the NOAA Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season.  According to NOAA’s hurricane season classifications, an ACE value above 117% of the 1950-2000 median reflects an above-normal season. An ACE value above 175% of the median reflects an exceptionally active (or hyperactive) season.
Hurricane Season Dates 

Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15th and also ends November 30th.
Download the Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (PDF) 

This article continues our 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Series
Be Sure To Visit All Week for More Articles

2015 Hurricane Preparedness - Inland Flooding

Hurricane Inland Flooding
Fourth In the 2015 Series

Looking for current storms?  Click Image or Here

Inland Flooding
We continue our coverage of the 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at another of the hurricane hazards.  In particular, we'll look at Inland Flooding.

Stop and think about that for a minute and you'll agree that the force of rushing, rising, water can do extensive damage in a very short period of time.    For those that ignore evacuation suggestions, they could quickly be cut off from safety.  Inland flooding can be a major threat to communities hundreds of miles from the coast as intense rain falls from these huge tropical air masses. 

Most of these fatalities occur because people underestimate the power of moving water. It isn't necessarily the strongest storm that has the greatest potential for flooding.  Often the weaker, slow moving storm can cause more damage due to flooding than a fast moving severe tropical storm.

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes: Hurricanes pack a triple punch: high winds, soaking rain, and flying debris. They can cause storm surges to coastal areas, as well as create heavy rainfall which in turn causes flooding hundreds of miles inland. While all coastal areas are at risk, certain cities are particularly vulnerable and could have losses similar to or even greater than those caused by the 2005 hurricane, Katrina, in New Orleans and Mississippi.
When hurricanes weaken into tropical storms, they generate rainfall and flooding that can be especially damaging since the rain collects in one place. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison produced more than 30 inches of rainfall in Houston in just a few days, flooding over 70,000 houses and destroying 2,744 homes.
Federal And National Resources 
Find additional information on how to plan and prepare for floods, what to do during and after a flood and learn about available resources by visiting the following:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Hurricane Preparedness - High Winds

Hurricane High Winds & Tornadoes
Third In the 2015 Series

High Winds from Hurricanes

We continue our coverage of the 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at two more of the hurricane hazards.  In particular, we'll look at High Wind and Tornadoes.


Cat. Speed (mph)
1 74-95
2 96-110
3 111-129
4 130-156
5 >157
The intensity of a landfalling hurricane is expressed in terms of categories that relate wind speeds and potential damage. According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a Category 1 hurricane has lighter winds compared to storms in higher categories. A Category 4 hurricane would have winds between 131 and 155 mph and, on the average, would usually be expected to cause 100 times the damage of the Category 1 storm.
Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance.  A summary chart is shown here. More details were covered in 2014 Hurricanes - How They Work.


A tornado is a dark funnel-shaped cloud made up of violently rotating winds that can reach speeds of up to 300 m.p.h. The diameter of a tornado can vary between a few feet and a mile, and its track can extend from less than a mile to several hundred miles. Tornadoes can occur any time, with many occurring in spring or early summer.
Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere embedded in the rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane.

Tornado Facts
  • When associated with hurricanes, tornadoes are not usually accompanied by hail or a lot of lightning, clues that citizens in other parts of the country watch for.
  • Tornado production can occur for days after landfall when the tropical cyclone remnants maintain an identifiable low pressure circulation.
  • They can also develop at any time of the day or night during landfall. However, by 12 hours after landfall, tornadoes tend to occur mainly during daytime hours.

The Fujita Scale

F-Scale NumberIntensity PhraseWind SpeedType of Damage Done
F0Gale tornado40-72 mphSome damage to chimneys; breaks branches off trees; pushes over shallow-rooted trees; damages sign boards.
F1Moderate tornado73-112 mphThe lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.
F2Significant tornado113-157 mphConsiderable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated.
F3Severe tornado158-206 mphRoof and some walls torn off well constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in fores uprooted
F4Devastating tornado207-260 mphWell-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak foundations blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.
F5Incredible tornado261-318 mphStrong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures badly damaged.
F6Inconceivable tornado319-379 mphThese winds are very unlikely. The small area of damage they might produce would probably not be recognizable along with the mess produced by F4 and F5 wind that would surround the F6 winds. Missiles, such as cars and refrigerators would do serious secondary damage that could not be directly identified as F6 damage. If this level is ever achieved, evidence for it might only be found in some manner of ground swirl pattern, for it may never be identifiable through engineering studies

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Hurricane Preparedness - Storm Surge

Hurricane Storm Surge
Second In the 2015 Series
2015 National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Storm Surge Hazard

We continue our coverage of the 2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at some of the hurricane hazards.  In particular, we'll start by examining the greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane, the storm surge.

Simply put, it is a dome of water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm.  The advancing water, combined with the normal tides, can increase the mean water level by 15 feet or more.  The threat is increased if it combines with high tide.  Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, the mean sea level is around 10 feet, so a storm surge above that level could cause catastrophic damage.

The Many Factors that Influence Storm Surge
  • Central Pressure
  • Storm Intensity
  • Storm Forward Speed
  • Size
  • Angle of Approach to Coast
  • Shape of the Coastline
  • Width and Slope of Ocean Bottom
  • Local Features

Download INTRODUCTION TO STORM SURGE (PDF) for more background information about storm surges and consult the following links for animations and other useful information. Be sure to watch the PSA video below as well.  


Hurricane track forecasting continues to improve, but the the average track error 48 hours prior to landfall for the Atlantic basin is still considerable.  The 24-hour to 48-hour window is often critical for decision-making. It is important not to focus solely on one storm surge product within this window. Storm specific uncertainties are accounted for in the probabilistic storm surge (p-surge) product, while the *MOMs and *MEOWs provide a worst case storm surge estimate at a regional level.  More

For those in danger areas, it is wise to plan in advance of hurricane season.   Be sure you know areas that would be safe when a storm approaches.   You should be able to get to these safe zones quickly so that you don't risk being trapped by road congestion.

Hurricanes usually provide advance warning.  When local officials recommend evacuation, heed their warnings and put your plan into action.   Structures can be replaced, but lives cannot.

We'll continue our Hurricane Preparedness Week coverage by looking at additional hazards next.   Consult the NHC and other websites for additional information about storm surges.

Thoughts on Memorial Day 2015

History of Memorial Day: Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen for Decoration Day because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all across the country.

On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes. In the early days of our country, no regulations existed for flying the flag at half-staff and, as a result, there were many conflicting policies. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the proper times.

You will notice in the collage above, that the flag is flying at half-staff. Those pictures were taken during our visit to the American Cemetary in Normandy, France. It was very moving seeing row after row of graves. For more pictures from our visit to Normandy, see my previous posts on the topic and also our cruise vacations website.

I've mentioned several times in the past about the opportunity to relive history while on a cruise vacation. This is especially true in Europe due to the large battle field from the World Wars. Whether your cruise vacation takes you to Normandy, France or Honolulu, Hawaii, please take some time to visit a historical site and pay your respects to the troops that fought to keep America strong. We have done so on several cruises and of all the trips we've taken, those tend to stand out in my mind. Don't forget to bring you children with you so that they too can learn about war first hand.

As Albert Schweitzer said "... Wargraves are the great communicators of peace ..." Perhaps another more striking quote was by George Santayanan who said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

And who can forget those immortal words of President John F. Kennedy: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. "

To the brave men and women, living and deceased, who have taken President Kennedy's charge to heart, Thank You for your Service. May we never forget the sacrifices you have made.