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NTSB issues recommendations to get better weather information to mariners

Jun 29, 2017 04:07 PM

The guidance stems from the sinking of El Faro as it sailed close to Hurricane Joaquin

The eye of Hurricane Joaquin is visible in the lower left corner of this image taken from the International Space Station on Oct. 2, 2015.

Courtesy NASA

The eye of Hurricane Joaquin is visible in the lower left corner of this image taken from the International Space Station on Oct. 2, 2015.

The following is the text of a news release from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued 10 safety recommendations Thursday aimed at enhancing the availability of weather information to mariners.

The goal of the recommendations, which include improving weather forecasting methods and increasing the frequency of certain advisories and alerts, is to improve the accuracy of hurricane and tropical cyclone forecasts and make them more accessible to voyage planners and at-sea mariners.

“As we enter the 2017 hurricane season we are reminded of the power and devastation associated with these storms,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Storm avoidance is a life-saving skill at sea.  And having frequent, up-to-date and reliable weather information is key to effective storm avoidance – and to saving lives.”

The recommendations stem from the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the October 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro near the Bahamas as the ship sailed close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin. After noting how Hurricane Joaquin and several other major storms had significantly deviated from their forecasts, investigators determined a new emphasis on improving tropical cyclone forecasting was warranted.

The NTSB typically releases safety recommendations at the conclusion of an investigation but can issue them at any point in the investigative process. 

“We are getting these recommendations out as the hurricane season begins so that the work on these safety improvements can start immediately,” said Sumwalt. 

The El Faro investigation is expected to be completed later this year when investigators will present their findings to NTSB members who will determine the accident’s probable cause and contributing factors in a public meeting in Washington, D.C.

The safety recommendations issued to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service and the U.S. Coast Guard are available by clicking here.

The NTSB also issued a safety alert advising mariners of available weather forecast products and alerts that can help in assessing the track and severity of hazardous weather systems. The Safety Alert is available by clicking here.

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