In an advisory issued on Saturday, the hurricane center said the decision to classify Sandy as a post-tropical storm was intended to "avoid or minimize the significant confusion that could occur" if the warnings changed from tropical to non-tropical in the middle of the storm.
But AccuWeather and others worried the decision might lead to more confusion, not less. Hours before landfall, AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers urged the hurricane center to reverse its decision to not issue hurricane or tropical storm warnings, the company said in a statement.
"What we have is a hurricane becoming embedded in a winter storm. It's clearly unprecedented," Myers said. "But to refuse to issue hurricane warnings clearly can cause confusion."
Moss said not calling the storm a hurricane could lead some to underestimate the power of Sandy, one of the most expensive storms in U.S. history, with up to $20 billion in insured losses and as much as $50 billion in damages.
And he feared the hurricane center was too focused on being technically accurate, and not focused enough on communicating the severity of the risk.
"It got a little too weather weenie," said Moss, noting that the term hurricane conjures up powerful images of destruction that might not be conveyed with flood and high wind warnings.
Many were confused
Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center, declined to comment on AccuWeather's criticisms, but in an interview on Tuesday, John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center said he doesn't "totally disagree" with AccuWeather's criticisms.
"We had a hurricane headed toward the coastline and no hurricane warnings. That confused a lot of people," he said.