Track a cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The decision by Royal Caribbean to let one of its cruise ships head into the path of a powerful storm system swirling in the Atlantic Ocean this past weekend has not only come under attack by frightened passengers, but also by a weather expert who was closely monitoring the development of the storm.
Ryan Maue, a digital meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, said it's hard to believe no one at Royal Caribbean had been aware of a storm system that had been forecast — and included in official advisories and warnings issued by the National Weather Service — days in advance.
"The storm was well forecast by many different weather models from every agency. This was not a surprise to anyone watching the weather on a daily basis, " Maue said Monday afternoon. "The extreme impacts were also quite predictable and expected by meteorologists at NOAA OPC (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ocean Prediction Center) and private forecasting companies. Folks all marveled at the extreme intensity of this storm on Twitter."
The strength of this storm, which was technically classified as an "extratropical cyclone, " was on par with that of a low-level hurricane, he said.
"This cyclone was not a hurricane by definition since it did not form in the manner seen with tropical cyclones. The storm was an extratropical cyclone that combined strong upper-level jet stream energy with moisture from the very warm Gulf Stream ocean surface - resulting in a massive size/intensity cyclone, " Maue said.
"The impacts were the same or worse than a Category 1 hurricane at sea, " he added. "Waves of 30-feet-plus and wind gusts above 80 knots were experienced over a very large area" of the Atlantic Ocean.
"This situation is no different in practice to purposely sailing a vessel into the path of a rapidly developing Category 1 or 2 hurricane, " Maue said.
Sailing a billion dollar boat w/4000 passengers into a well-forecast hurricane-force cyclone is negligent & Royal Caribbean should admit it.— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue)
Several people were injured aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Anthem of the Seas, on Sunday when the ship got caught in the storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C. The ship, which sustained some damage, was headed to Port Canaveral, Florida, but ended up turning around and is returning to its home port in Bayonne on Monday.
In a statement sent to USA Today, the cruise line said the "extreme wind and sea conditions" were unexpected. Also, in a statement posted on Twitter Monday morning, the company said this: "Yesterday, Anthem of the Seas encountered an unexpectedly severe storm off Cape Hatteras. Weather has improved & the ship is operating safely."
This image shows the intense strength of the winds that were predicted in the Atlantic Ocean for 7 p.m. Sunday. These wind speeds were predicted Friday morning, about 60 hours prior to Sunday evening. (WeatherBell)
Weather alerts on Twitter prior to the storm
On Saturday, the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C., posted several weather alerts on its Twitter page, including one about a wind advisory that was issued for coastal sections of North Carolina and South Carolina, with the possibility of winds gusting to 45 mph.
A wind advisory has been issued for coastal NE SC and SE NC for Sunday. Winds may gust to 45 mph. #ilmwx #wind— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC)
At 6:12 p.m. on Saturday, the weather service tweeted this update on the storm system:
Low pressure just beginning to develop at this hour. Rapid strengthening forecast for Sunday. #scwx #ncwx— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC)
At 6:55 a.m. on Sunday, the weather service posted this alert, saying the "rapidly intensifying low pressure system will track NE off the Carolina coast today" and gusts of up to 50 mph were possible.
Flood Watch & Wind Advisory in effect until 10 PM EST tonight. For the latest - #ncwx #scwx— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC)
Another alert on Sunday said a storm warning was issued for coastal waters of North Carolina until 10 p.m. Sunday.— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC)
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At sea ships use satellite communications, which does not have the highest bandwidth. For all practical purposes it is enough for basic "surfing" and e-mail. Such things as sending e-mails, photos. It is not something you can rely on for streaming video, Skype, music, live TV..etc.
But not only is it limited it is VERY expensive. You are charged per minute and depending on how many minutes you purchase in advance and what cruise line you are on, you could be looking at anywhere from about $0.33 - $1/per minute. So even if it was practical to do something like stream movies, Your 90 mi…