June 26--On Sunday afternoon Jeff Masters' Wunderblog blared: "Significant change in the forecast track for Tropical Storm Debby."
The National Hurricane Center had prediced Debby would develop into a hurricane and head toward Texas. Oil rigs were preparing to shut down. Now it looks like a weak but wet Debby will camp out off Florida'sGulf Coast -- and continue to bring lousy weather to Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
The fact it's just June and we already have the fourth named storm of the 2012 hurricane season is another puzzler. The last we'd heard from the experts was that this would be a normal hurricane season -- which in this period of heightened hurricane activity almost qualified as a reprieve. Let's hope the rest of the season sputters.
Given such uncertainty, it would be good if politicians and policymakers at least could could provide counterbalancing steadiness. But that is not happening. Officials at the National Weather Service concealed improper budget transfers and might have to furlough forecasters to make up the deficit. Congressional hearings last week did not clear up what happened or provide a solution.
In Florida, Gov. Scott is giving county-level emergency managers a bogus "assessment" to see if they're prepared. That's in lieu of providing a solution to one of the state's biggest hurricane-related problems: Creating a system of property insurance that protects against losses and encourages storm-proofing of structures without crippling the real estate market.
The Legislature for years has threatened to let rates rise astronomically. Officials running Citizens, the supposed insurer of last resort, still are looking for ways to raise rates on new customers. Gov. Scott, perhaps signaling defeat, recently said he thinks a federal storm insurance program is the solution. Fat chance.
Debby notwithstanding, scientists are getting better at predicting storm. Unfortunately, the political "cone of error" seems to get ever less reliable.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board
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