|Thursday, September 15, 2005|
Daniel Drezner's unfortunately timed Hurricane porn post is appropriate at this time.
Despite all that is going on in the world, Ophelia has remained the big headline on cnn.com for the past day Websites of the blance of the MSM give the storm similar prominence.
All of them are in Carolina desperately searching for the money shot. Hitherto their efforts have been rewarded with a collapsed canopy (at Kure Beach) and the partial destruction of the fishing pier at Atlantic Beach.
A person unfamiliar with the history of hurricanes would assume from the media coverage that this is some sort of first for North Carolina. Of course, that is not the case. The stretch of coast from Little River Inlet to the Oregon Inlet is quite possibly the most storm battered in the country. Finding examples of recent storms to affect this area in a manner far more significant than Ophelia is an easy task.
- Isabel of 2003 "is considered to be one of the most significant tropical cyclones to affect portions of north-eastern North Carolina and east-central Virginia since Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the Chesapeake-Potomac hurricane of 1933."
- The flooding caused by Floyd of '99 (enhanced by the passage of Tropical Storm Dennis over the same area only a couple of weeks earlier) was the seminal event in the history of many small towns along the rivers of northeast North Carolina and Virginia.
- Fran of 1996 made landfall as a category three hurricane and was responsible for 34 deaths in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The three storms were significant enough for each of their names to be retired.
Lest they feel forgotten, allow me to remind the reader of Bonnie of '98 (made landfall as a borderline category three in Wimington) and Bertha of '96 (made landfall as a category two in the vicinity of Wilimington).
The disparity between the amount of coverage being given to Ophelia and the signifcance of the event is staggering. Hurricane porn, indeed.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:49:48 AM   trackback 
Ophelia continues to crawl her way to the northeast parallel to the Outer Banks. Refer to the National Hurricane Center for the latest on her.
I haven't been able to shake the feeling that Ophelia is like Felix of '95 in that she is a storm existing between bursts of activity in the Atlantic. That is not to say that we will see three storms form on the day that she becomes extratropical (the way that Humberto, Iris, and Jerry all formed on August 22, 1995), but I do think that we will have some more activity as she pushes off to the open sea.
The prime suspect for the next storm is described in the Tropical Weather Discussion thusly:
CENTRAL ATLC TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 45W/46W S OF 15N MOVING
The global models are nearly unaminous in developing this wave into a tropical cyclone (the NOGAPS model hints at one but does not provide a clear depiction). They are also in good general agreement over the positioning of the high in the Atlantic; all suggest that it well be centered well to the east such that the storm would have a clear path to head north (and eventually recurve, rather than being 'trapped' by the high and steered towards Florida or the Carolinas).
The caveat to this is that the global models are sometimes over eager in developing systems and therefore have a tendency to turn them north prematurely (such a tendency was displayed with Emily, when the model runs from before she entered the Caribbean suggested that she was a Florida threat).
In contrast to the global models, the tropical models (such as BAMD and LBAR) suggest that that the system will manage to continue westward into the Caribbean . While on average, the performance of the global models is superior to that of the tropical models (as the global models are vastly more sophisticated), there are situations in which their performance is better, and this may very well be one of those cases.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 9:42:40 AM   trackback 
|Thursday, August 25, 2005|
As problems continue to plague my laptop, I've been forced to alternate means for posting for the near future. For the near future, posts will be at http://eotstorm.blogspot.com . Add to bookmarks and rss feeds as necessary.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 12:15:43 PM   trackback 
|Wednesday, August 24, 2005|
AT 5 PM EDT...2100Z...A TROPICAL STORM WARNING AND A HURRICANE
At 5 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Katrina was at 25.6 North 77.2 West, 185 miles southeast of the east coast of Florida and moving to the northwest at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 45 mph and minimum central pressure is 1002 millibars (29.59").
Katrina has been giving mixed signals today. Pressure fell by four millibars or so, but there hasn't been much of an increase in the wind speeds observed by the recon plane.
Here's the model guidance NHC had to work with for this forecast. NHC's forecast is along the lines of that indicated by the track labelled 'CONU', which as mentioned above, is a consensus of the global computer models. The GFS model continues to feature a sharper turn to the north and east. This may be skewing the consensus too far east. We'll have to watch and see how it reacts to the observations from the upper-air flight (which will be incorporated into the model runs tonight that will assist the 5 AM forecast tomorrow).
I continue to be concerned about a significant hurricane (stronger than that currently forecast by NHC) affecting the area between Mobile and St. Marks by early next week. Residents in those areas should be thinking about preparations for that possibility.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:45:32 PM   trackback 
At 11 AM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Katrina was at 24.7 North 76.7 West, 50 miles east-southeast of Nassau, 230 miles east-southeast of southeast of Florida and moving to the north-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph and minimum central pressure is1006 millibars (29.71").
AT 11 AM EDT...1500Z...A TROPICAL STORM WARNING AND A HURRICANE
The season continues its streak of earliest named storms. The previous earliest eleventh named storm on record was Karen of 1995, which formed on August 28th. The earliest 12th named storm also formed on that date. While there exists a tropical wave that has the potential to continue the streak, dry air continues to keep it in check, so it looks like the streak will come to an end.
For south Florida there is not much new here. Everything is progressing as expected, with a strong tropical storm or a minimal hurricane expected to cross the peninsula on Friday. Shear being generated by the upper level high over the southeast should keep Katrina in that intensity range as she approaches the Florida coast.
Of greater concern is the threat that Katrina could pose to the Gulf coast. The degree of the threat increases with the westward component of movement that the storm has. If Katrina turns west relatively soon, she will enjoy a short time over land followed by a fairly long time over the Gulf of Mexico. Favorable conditions would allow it to intensify rather rapidly. Alternatively, if the turn occurs later than forecast, Katrina suffers by being over land longer and gets less time in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a bit soon to rate the probabilities of the scenarios, however, it is worthwhile for residents of the Gulf coast from Mobile, Alabama to St Mark's, Florida to be aware of the possibility of a singficant hurricane affecting their area in six days.
This is the computer model guidance the forecasters had to work with. The one significant outlier in earlier forecasts, the GFS (labeled AEMI in this graphic), has come more in line with the other models. As mentioned yesterday, the NOAA Gulfstream IV jet will be flying today to assist the computer models in their forecasts this evening (since the global models do not start calculating their forecasts until 11 PM or so EDT, any necessary changes to the NHC forecast would not be made until the 5 AM advisory package).
Unfortunately, I am experiencing problems with my primary computer, hence the late update. Am working on a backup, but at the moment, my timeliness in updates is by no means a guarantee. Check with the National Hurricane Center for the latest and greatest on Katrina.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 12:52:13 PM   trackback 
|Tuesday, August 23, 2005|
...TROPICAL STORM WATCH ISSUED FOR PORTIONS OF THE FLORIDA KEYS AND FLORIDA EAST COAST...
At 11 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Depression Twelve was at 23.4 North 76.0 West, 140 miles southeast of Nassau, Bahamas and moving to the northwest at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph and minimum central pressure is 1007 millibars (29.74").
Last observations from recon and current surface observations justify holding the intensity at 35 mph. However, there are indications that intensifcation is occurring now such that the depression would become a tropical storm in the next several hours.
The depression is currently in an area of weak steering currents, hence its slow motion. This motion is expected to persist through the forecast period with a bend to the west in 36 hours or so. This is the forecast offered by most of the global forecast models, with the exception of the GFS model, which more or less stalls the system over Florida.
Given the apparent organization trend, the depression could become a tropical storm by morning. Beyond that, there is much uncertainty. Intensity guidance is widely split, with one model not bringing the storm above tropical storm strength, and another insisting on a hurricane by time of landfall. The official forecast continues to be on the conservative side and brings a strong tropical storm ashore.
A tropical storm warning could be issued tomorrow for areas currently under the tropical storm watch. If intensification goes beyond what is currently forecast, a hurricane watch could be issued.
Forecast is highly uncertain, and that is reflected in an experimental forecast product, which shows equal probabilities of tropical storm force winds throughout the watch area (rather than being concentrated or centered on a particular area).
Well, a fair amount of the uncertainty from earlier is gone now. It appears that the multiple centers of circulation are consolidating, which certainly helps the forecast as it narrows the possibilities.
The downside to this consolidation is that does represent a significant improvement in organization, a necessary step for further intensification. With conditions at they are at the moment, poor organization was the only inhibiting factor in the near term. The storm may manage to get a fair bit in ahead of the National Hurricane Center's intensity forecast, although unfavorable upper-air conditions over Florida may be enough to keep it in check as it approaches the coast. Nonetheless, residents of south Florida should be prepared for high winds (60-80 mph) on Friday.
Uncertainty in the later forecast period will be reduced tomorrow evening when the Gulfstream-IV goes on its upper-air 'surveillance' mission. The data collected should help resolve the questions over the orientation and strength of the mid-upper level ridge of high pressure that will be key to the future movement of the storm.
Elsewhere in the tropics, the tropical wave west of the Cape Verdes Islands looked a little bit better on satellite tonight as it heads out of an area of unfavorable wind shear. Dry air, however, continues to inhibit its progression towards a tropical depression.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:42:43 PM   trackback 
At 5 PM EDT, the center of newly formed Tropical Depression Twelve was at 23.2 North 75.5 West, 175 miles southeast of Nassau Bahamas and moving to the northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph and minimum central pressure is 1007 millibars (29.74"). The government of Bahamas has issued Tropical Storm Warnings for the central and northwest islands and a tropical storm or hurricane watch is possible for south Florida later this evening.
Data from the reconnaisance plane as well as surface observations indicate that the area of low pressure over the Bahamas is sufficiently organized to warrant classification as a tropical depression.
Estimate of inital motion is to the northwest at 8 mph. The low level center is in a state of flux, and as such its exact position is uncertain. However, there is a broad low level circulation. The depression is forecast to move north through a gap in the high pressure ridge that exists over the southeast U.S. All of the global models fill in that gap, which cause their forecasts to feature a turn to the west , bringing the storm across south Florida in 72 hours and into the Gulf of Mexico in 96 hours.
The intensity forecast is challenging due to the uncertainty on how and when the storm will feature a well defined center. All factors are favorable for intensification and provided that the storm becomes organized within the next 24 hours, it would be a hurricane by the time it reached the coast. The official forecast keeps it just under hurricane strength as it crosses Florida, which is slightly more conservative than their model guidance.
Because a well defined feature from Tropical Depression Ten did not persist in a clear manner, NHC decided to classify this as a new storm. This differs from the case of Ivan last year, in which a feature clearly remained from the time it originally made landfall to the time it reentered the Gulf of Mexico and was classified a tropical storm once again.
A very challenging forecast due to the uncertainty over exactly where a dominant center of circulation will form at.
Here is the model guidance that NHC had to work with. The most reliable of the forecasts shown in the graphic is the one labled 'CONU', which is a consensus of particular dynamic models that produced a forecast.
Residents of south Florida will certainly want to keep a close eye on this, because if it were to become become organized, it could intensify fairly quickly (but not so much that it would be a dire threat). For most people, preparation will be limited to bringing inside stuff like lawn furniture that could get strewn about by 65-75 mph winds. Boat owners will want to be mindful of the possibility of hurricane warnings being posted on Wednesday night or Thursday if the storm becomes better organized.
There is far too much uncertainty tpresent for me to have much confidence in any comments beyond that. People along the gulf coast from Pensacola to the Texas border may need to start paying attention to this system after this weekend, but that is not necessarily a guarantee at this time.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:41:17 PM   trackback 
Tropical Storm Jose went ashore last night and is now dissipating over Mexico.
The Hurricane Hunters are in the air on their way to investigate the system that is currently located between the Bahamas and Cuba. If sufficient organization is found, the system will be declared a tropical depression (and probably will receive a new number as I stated yesterday).
Elsewhere, the tropical wave west of the Cape Verdes Islands continues to persevere in a somewhat unfavorable enviroment. Nevertheless, tropical depression formation is possible within the next two days.
Source: National Hurricane Center's Tropical Weather Outlook
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:21:37 AM   trackback 
|Monday, August 22, 2005|
At 6:15 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Jose was at 19.6 North 95.4 West, 60 miles east-northeast of Veracruz Mexico and moving to the west at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 50 mph and minimum central pressure is 1002 millibars (29.59").
Recon plane recorded 54 knot winds, which suggest 45 knot winds at the surface. Also, the center fix given by the plane indicates that the storm is moving slower than previously supposed. The new forecast track assumes that this motion will continue and indicates landfall occurring tomorrow morning. Intensity forecast has some slight strenghtening happening before landfall. Due to the slow forward speed, the primary threat is flooding and mudslides once Jose goes ashore.
There's no mention of it in the discussion, but it is probable that the 60 knot surface ob was deemed to be unrepresentative of the storm, but was either a gust, or a downburst.
Some people are probably wondering why there was a significant difference between the intensity given in the 5 PM advisory and the intensity found by recon shortly thereafter, some people are probably asking why that happened.
The intensity given in the 5 PM advisory was based off satellite estimates. Those estimates are made before 2 PM EDT (and yes, there is a reason why they are not aligned with the advisory packages, but no, I won't go into it here). Jose certainly did not have the same appearance then that it does now (it was weaker). Also, the position of the center was highly uncertain. If the center is not placed in the right spot, then the intensity estimates will be off. The estimates provided were of reasonable quality given the limitations of the estimation method that are exposed when the exact position of the center is uncertain.
Now the clock starts ticking for the possibility of the 2005 season continuing its streak of earliest named storms. The record for the earliest 11th named storm belongs to 1995. Karen of that year formed at 06Z (2 AM EDT) on the 28th. The earliest 12th named storm, Luis, also of 1995, formed 18 hours later.
So, will the records be broken? Like the ESPN commercials used to say, 'It could happen, so you better watch'.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 7:07:23 PM   trackback 
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:30:05 PM   trackback 
At 5 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Depression Eleven was at 19.6 North 95.7 West, 45 miles northeast of Veracruz, Mexico and moving to the west at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are estimated to benear 35 mph and minimum central pressure is 1007 millibars (29.74").
Cutting this short because recon plane just found 35 knot winds at the surface... which suggest a tropical storm...
Recon plane is investigating the storm at this time. 30 knot estimate was based off satellite image analysis. The storm has an excellent appearance but has only another 12 hours or so over water. Should it become a tropical storm it would be the earliest 11th (sic) named storm on record. Rapid weakening will occur once the storm goes inland. While the GFDL model stalls the storm off-shore, the offical forecast is in line with that of the Beta and Advection models (BAMs), which do bring the storm ashore. If the storm were to deviate to the north, further intensification would occur. Primary threat is heavy rain and flooding.
This would not be the elventh named storm, it would be the tenth. The old record (for earliest tenth tropical storm observed in the Atlantic) ocurred in 1995 when Jerry formed on the afternoon of the 23rd.
And yes I said old... recon just found 60 knot winds at the surface... expect an update very soon...
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:08:20 PM   trackback 
Other highlights in the Tropical Weather Outlook:
Tropical Depression Ten was sufficiently enough destoryed by shear such that anything that forms from this will probably receive a new number. (Although this activity started in the general vicinity of the last position of the low level center of the ex-tropical depression, it is proabably more accurately described as being from the tropical wave that was behind it).
DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS EXTEND FROM EASTERN CUBA AND
While there isn't anything organized, just a loose bunch of thunderstorms, a variety of forecast models are selling the idea of it becoming better organized, with it either heading north through the Bahamas, or west through the Florida Straits into the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the its relative proximity to land, the system will have to be watched closely. NHC has pencilled in recon flights to start early tomorrow afternoon if it looks like the system is developing.
The forecast models were very bullish on this system before it came off of Africa. Since then, however, they have been less enthusiastic. Very dry air to the north appears to be impeding development. This system looks to be a repeat of some combination of Irene and TD 10 as it underperforms against expectations.
A LARGE TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED OVER THE EASTERN ATLANTIC OCEAN
In the eastern Pacific, Hurricane Hilary may be at her peak intensity at 105 mph. Her tropical storm force wind field is very large and caused tropical storm warnings to be posted for the Mexican coast despite her being well off-shore.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 12:30:04 PM   trackback 
At 12 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Depression was near 19.5 North 95.0 West, 80 miles east-northeast of Veracruz, Mexico and moving to the west at 8 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are near 30 mph and minimum central pressure is estimated to be 1008 millibars (29.77").
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 12:04:56 PM   trackback 
Yet another storm of the Bret and Gert variety. Forming over the Bay of Campeche and moving west it will barely have enough time to have a chance of reaching tropical storm status. At the moment conditions seem favorable enough for that to happen before it moves inland.
WONT41 KNHC 221436
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:22:18 AM   trackback 
|Friday, August 12, 2005|
At 11 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Irene was at 29.2 North 68.3 West, 300 miles southwest of Bermuda, 590 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras and moving to the northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 70 mph and minimum central pressure is 991 millibars (29.26").
Irene is not as well organized as it was when the recon plane was in Irene. Because of that, intensity remains at 60 knots. However, due to a drop in pressure observed by a buoy near the center, the minimum central pressure was adjusted downward a few millibars. Best guess at current motion is nine knots on a heading of 310. Data from the Gulfstream-IV jet shows a ridge slightly stronger and more west than that depicted by any of the forecast models. This may cause more westward motion than was previously forecast. Models were in agreement with a turn to the north and then northeast. However, due to the observations from the Gulfstream, there may be a westward shift in the 00Z models. For now, however, the track forecast is essentially unchanged. Brief periods of intensification are expected to occur, however dry air will impede it. Current forecast makes Irene a hurricane in 12 hours, but keeps her as a category one throughout the period.
I said this morning (121500Z update) that if the models were misrepresenting the high pressure ridge then their forecasts could all be wrong. Well, as the discussion states, they've been been depicting it weaker and further east then it actually is. It would not be surprising to see rather significantly different forecasts from the models this evening, possibly bringing Irene closer to land than currently forecast.
Elsewhere in the tropics, the disturbed area east of the Lesser Antilles that the National Hurricane Center has been mentioning in their Tropical Weather Outlook has not changed much in the past six hours (the Quickscat pass did not show a center any more closed than the previous pass). However, development into a tropical depression is still expected during the next day or so.
Next update probably won't be until 5 PM EDT tomorrow. I have drill with the Naval Reserves this weekend, so my availability to post will be limited. If there is no update from me on Saturday, then next will be on Sunday evening. As always, check with the National Hurricane Center for the latest and greatest on Irene and other tropical weather systems (Tropical Depression 10, perhaps).
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:09:30 PM   trackback 
Latest Tropical Weather Outlook :
SATELLITE DATA AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THE WELL-DEFINED
1012 MB LOW HAS DEVELOPED FROM THE TROPICAL WAVE PREVIOUSLY
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:42:25 PM   trackback 
At 5 PM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Irene was at 28.7 North 67.5 West, 295 miles southwest of Bermuda, 650 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras and moving to the northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 70 mph and minimum central pressure is 997 millibars (29.44").
Shear and Sea Surface Temperatures are favorable for strengthening, but since guidance does not bring Irene above category one strength, not much intensification is forecast. Movement is to the northwest (310) at 9 knots. Irene has been steered by a strong mid-level ridge. As the ridge shifts eastward, Irene is expected to turn to the north-northwest and then north into an area of light steering currents. She could meander for awhile before westerly flow takes Irene away from the U.S. "The official track forecast has been gradually shifting eastward in agrement with guidance. This lessens the potential threat to the United States East Coast".
Not much to say here as things are playing out as expected so far.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 5:05:00 PM   trackback 
Just after I sent out the last update, recon recorded flight level winds of 75 knots... reduces to approximately 70 mph at the surface. Pressure unchanged at 997 millibars.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 4:48:53 PM   trackback 
Well, it's decision time for the NHC forecaster. Flight level winds of 60 knots suggest surface winds of 55-60 mph. However, the flight meteorologist seems to be observing sea state that suggests 65 knot winds , (which would make Irene a hurricane). Given that the two intensity estimates that are public (from AFWA and SSD) are under hurricane strength, it is doubtful that NHC would go with 75 mph winds this advisory. 70 is a possibility... 65 more likely. We'll find out soon.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 4:24:50 PM   trackback 
First VORTEX message was just sent out by the hurricane hunter. It indicates a minimum central pressure of 997 millibars and places the center at 28.4 North 67.1 West. It hasn't sampled the northeast quadrant yet, but (presumably on the basis of sea-state observation) they are estimting surface winds of 60 knots (70 mph).
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 2:49:05 PM   trackback 
From the morning Tropical Weather Outlook:
SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT A LOW PRESSURE AREA ASSOCIATED
From the morning Tropical Weather Outlook:
SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT A LOW PRESSURE AREA ASSOCIATED
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 12:35:21 PM   trackback 
At 11 AM EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Ireen was at 28.3 North 66.8 West, 300 miles of south-southwest of Bermuda and moving to the northwest at 13 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 65 mph and minimum central pressure is estimated to be 994 millibars (29.35").
Cloud pattern is better organized then yesterday. There is a low level center in the deep convection . All three agencies (Air Force Weather Agency, Satellite Services Division , and Tropical Analysis and Forecasting Branch) agreed on an intensity of 55 knots. However, a recon plane is scheduled to enter the storm this afternoon so that NHC is no longer relying solely upon satellite-based estimates. Upper-air enviroment is favorable for development, however, with Irene passing over the waters recently occupied by Tropical Storms Franklin and Harvey, intensification past a category one hurricane is not expected. Irene is currently moving around the edge of a mid-level ridge. As the ridge shifts east-ward Irene is expected to turn to the north-northwest and a decrease in forward speed is anticipated. Eventually, a westerly steering flow would become established that would send Irene to sea. "That is too far in the future to be certain".
As mentioned yesterday, today's big event is the recon flight and the upper-air flight. One will let us know what Irene's true intensity is and the other will help the computer models with their forecast. If the computer models do not shift much in their runs this evening (after taking in the observations from the upper-air flight) then confidence in the current forecast will be significantly higher. As it is now there is almost unaminouts support for the 'turn to sea' forecast. However, if they are all mis-representing the size and placement of the high pressure ridge, then their forecasts are all wrong and Irene could come in closer to land than currently forecast. That is why the upper-air flight is so important: it will take the observations that will give the models accurate data. In the case of Hurricane Isabel, the accuracy of the GFS model increased by as much as 40% after it started receiving observations from the Gulfstream-IV.
Observations from the hurricane hunter will start coming in after 1 PM EDT. The upper-air observations will be taken late this afternoon and evening and will be fed into the models when they start their 'runs' at 11 PM or so this evening.
2005 Hurricane Season, Weather comment 11:50:51 AM   trackback