Right after Sandy landed on New Jersey coast on the evening of Oct. 29, the matter of whether it was technically a hurricane appeared to be an esoteric question of some meteorological and historical interest.
But in the weeks since, it has mutated into a brouhaha that by any measure has been handled clumsily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Overall, Sandy was a forecasting triumph for NOAA's National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service, with warnings well in advance, with attendant laundry lists of impacts.
However a decision was made to drop "tropical-storm" and "hurricane" warnings from the mid-Atlantic region on north as the storm tracked up the coast.
Why? Technically, the storm was forecast to interact with a strong system moving eastward across land and transform into a hybrid "post-tropical cyclone."
Some meteorological heavyweights, including private giants Joel Myers of Accu-Weather Inc. and Bryan Norcross of the Weather Channel strongly criticized the decision.
They argued that the distinction was unnecessary and confusing, and that in the court of common sense a storm with hurricane-force winds merited a "hurricane" warning.
This afternoon, Chris Landsea, Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center, and one of the nation's most-respected tropical storm specialists, essentially agreed.
He said in an interview posted on Accu-Weather's site that
"Sandy was not ideal, and the way we handled it was not right. But we're fixing it," Landsea told AccuWeather.com.
"We realize this was not satisfactory and we want to make it better for next year."