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.