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FEMA, DHS looked at different weather forecasts?

This completely unconfirmed post says that FEMA and the DHS might have been looking at different weather forecasts: one from the National Weather Service, and the other from Accuweather. Developing:

The Senate Commerce Committee held hearings this afternoon on Katrina. The House Science Committee will be holding hearing Wednesday morning (9/21). Sen. Ben Nelson (Florida) asked Max Mayfield whether it was true that Secretary Chertoff (the head of homeland security) & Department of Homeland Security (DHS) used Accuweather for hurricane forecasts of Katrina and he confirmed it. The National Infrastructure Command Center in DHS prepared an "overnight summary" for Secretary Chertoff on Katrina that was based on Accuweather hurricane predictions rather than hurricane forecast information from the National Hurricane Center. This dates from when former PA. Governor Ridge was Secretary of homeland security.
What's even most shocking is that the "NOAA Desk" in the DHS Ops Center, staffed by a primary & two backup NWS meteorologists, prepared forecasts for Secretary Chertoff based on the National Hurricane Center; however, it is unsure that this ever made it to the Secretary. To make matters worse & even more confusing, FEMA relies solely on NWS products, which includes those issued by the National Hurricane Center. So FEMA (which only uses NWS) and the DHS (which uses Accuweather) are not even looking at the same forecasts! The NWS NHC's track for Katrina was significantly different & more accurate than Accuweather's. Just recently, Accuweather's track for Ophelia brought it across Florida & into the Gulf. In both cases, Accuweather's forecast was dead wrong. The end result is that the head of homeland security & DHS & FEMA received conflicting forecasts.
Sen. Bill Nelson also asked Max Mayfield about consolidation and downsizing of WFOs and Max Mayfield unequivocally said it was a very bad idea, and that he hopes that it doesn't happen and that the local WFOs are an essential part of NWS. Senator Nelson also trashed Accuweather and, without naming Santorum, blasted those who would try to take NWS off the air and off the internet to help commercial interests.

Here's the hearing site, and here's a video. See also this.
10/19/05 UPDATE: Someone left the following comment on another blog:

Uh - I have video tape of night's news on CNN between 6pm ET and 12am ET from Wed before the storm hit through Wed after the storm hit. Are people saying that AccuWeather or the DHS got this wrong?
They were BEGGING people to leave N.O. and the Gulf area beginning on Wed night. Its right there on the video tape. And yet, the morning after the first PLEA by Chertoff to leave N.O. comes on the GOVERNOR or L.A. telling people to stay put and "hang tight" because there is NO MANDATORY EVACUATION PLAN IN EFFECT.
...No one, NO ONE but those two dimwit twits (mayor and governor) are to blame for all those deaths.

Will investigate and report...

Report on weather forecasts sneaks in snark

The MSNBC article "Katrina forecasters were remarkably accurate" (subtitled "Levee breaks, catastrophic damage predicted, contrary to Bush claims") has an overview of the weather-related timeline and warnings. Plus, it manages to sneak in some anti-Bush asides:

For all the criticism of the Bush administration's confused response to Hurricane Katrina, at least two federal agencies got it right: the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.

Here are some of their points:
- Aug. 28: while in Crawford, Bush watched a Max Mayfield presentation
- Aug. 29: National Hurricane Center issued warning with "SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED". (MSNBC points out that was in capitals, but I guess they all are)
- Sep. 1: Bush says, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees"

Mayfield and Paul Trotter, the meteorologist in charge of the Slidell office, both refused to criticize the federal response.
But Mayfield said: "The fact that we had a major hurricane forecast over or near New Orleans is reason for great concern. The local and state emergency management knew that as well as FEMA did."


Mayfield also did something he rarely does before a hurricane hits: He personally called the governors of Mississippi and Louisiana and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin two days ahead of time to warn them about the monstrous hurricane. Nagin has said he ordered an evacuation because Mayfield's call "scared the hell" out of him.

Also, for you Rick Santorum fans:

AccuWeather Inc. senior meteorologist Michael Steinberg said emergency managers and the public could have been given an earlier warning of Katrina's threat to New Orleans. He said the private company had issued forecasts nearly 12 hours earlier than the hurricane center warning that Katrina was aiming at the area.

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