You are probably asking what a recent marine catastrophe in the Caribbean has to do with aviation weather. Well, I think a lot! A doctor friend, and huge aviation enthusiast, lent me his copy of Into the Raging Sea and it sure captivates the reader. As a meteorologist, commander of an airliner, son of a mariner, and so-so intermediate sailor, it captivated me.
It is based on the sinking of El Faro, a U.S registered roll-on/roll-off/container ship that went head on with a ferocious category three/four hurricane, Joaquin. Many would think this happened decades ago, but the ship plummeted to the ocean floor October 1, 2015. How can that be with accurate weather forecasts and super-fast weather dissemination? How could a sane captain steer right into the claws of this meteorological monster?
The author, Rachel Slade, did a great job researching. As with any accident there are multiple reasons. We pilots are taught the “Swiss cheese model” and learn when the holes of the cheese line up, accidents/disaster ensue. However, the author sided with most non-weather types, and challenged the accuracy of the forecasters. It's so easy. But this was a bloody huge hurricane, so why did everyone get hung up as to where precisely it’s twisting centre lay? It is like a pilot flying into a thunderstorm simply because it’s forecast location was a tad off.
This book is also about CRM (Crew Resource Management) or the lack of. CRM is infiltrating the medical field where surgeons operate with checklists and realize they are not an almighty being. I know of pilots working part time to spread the word of team work in the medical profession. Looks like the marine world needs help as well.
One line from Slade on page 50 quotes a MIT professor dedicated to weather and its understanding, “If the definition of wisdom is understanding the depths of your ignorance, meteorologists are wise.” Looks like I am blessed. LOL
Again, this book is a great read. Of course, Canadian Aviation Weather has a great chapter dedicated to hurricanes.