Archive for the ‘Florida Weather’ Category

Tropical Storm Hermine – Tallahassee Alert –



After viewing the graphic below my concerns for the residents of Tallahassee have increased; of course it goes without saying that my concerns are for everyone who might have to deal with this storm – no matter where they might be located.  Mainly, there are three factors involved in my concern for the 7th most highly populated city in Florida and its capital city.  One is that there is a strong chance that Hermine will become a hurricane before reaching the Florida coast.

Another:  The minimum distance from Gulf of Mexico waters to Tallahassee is about 25 miles.  One might consider 25 miles to be an adequate “buffer” to provide friction and thus slow down the winds approaching the city.  I think that assumption would be a mistake.  Furthermore, when surface or near-surface winds leave the water for land the slight slowing that might occur would tend to cause more air to rise.  A similar rising is what causes lake effect snows in certain Great Lakes coastal or near-coastal downwind locations.  In the case of humid winds from Hermine possibly decelerating due to friction over the land when approaching Tallahassee, the net effect could very well be more vertical cloud development (due to a greater amount of rising air) than would have occurred otherwise.  This phenomenon can intensify thunderstorms, the gusts that spill out from them, and the chaos that can generate tornadoes.  The increase in rainfall amounts can be dramatic.  So – be careful what you wish for.  Flooding is typically a bigger issue than the wind velocities in these cases.

Here is the third cause for my concern:  The graphic below from the National Weather Service showing the “cone of uncertainty” (8 PM EST, 8-31-2016) causes me to consider that Tallahassee might very well be under the right-hand leading quadrant of the storm when it makes landfall.  The right-hand leading quadrants of tropical cyclonic systems are usually the quadrants with the highest wind velocities, greatest probability for tornadoes, heaviest rains, and in coastal areas the greatest storm surge height.  The fact that currently the whole storm is beginning to move faster can increase the danger of the right-hand leading quadrant.

I urge residents of the Tallahassee area to be alert during the approach, passage, and departure of what is now Tropical Storm Hermine.  Do not take it lightly just because it is on the low side of the tropical storm wind velocity range at this time (evening of 8-31-2016).  


2016-8-31 8pm EST


Update On Tropical Depression Nine (AL09) 8-29-2016, 10:30 pm EST

Compare this to the previous posting which was 24 hours earlier and you will see some change in the tracking model forecasts – which is to be expected.

I have greatest confidence in the TVCA run which is a consensus of 5 other models which have been good performers over the last few years.  Generally, the TVCA model is very close to the National Hurricane Center’s “official” track that is the basis for the “uncertainty” cones released to the public.  If you are one to pay attention to which models get mentioned or shown in weather reports you have surely heard of the “European model” which is labeled ECMWF.  You won’t find it on these spaghetti illustrations; Data from this model is restricted from being redistributed according to international agreement.   However, the National Weather Service official track runs very close to being the same as the ECMWF.  The BAMM and related models are still useful for long term runs but in this case I think you can pretty much ignore them (the ones that run off toward the west). 

Suppose you lived along the Nature Coast of Florida, (e.g. Citrus County) then you might feel that you have nothing to be concerned about because the tracks seem to be shifting northward.  But please remember, these tracks are merely forecasting the storm’s center.  In most cases the strongest winds are at the right hand, leading quadrant of such storms, which, in this case might cause Citrus County some concerns. 

Please be sure to click on the graphic for enlargement.


2016-8-30 L 0000z

Invest 99L Has Become Tropical Depression AL09


As of late this afternoon, 8-29-2016, Invest 99L has strengthened to a tropical depression.  For up-to-date information on the system, I recommend Dr. Jeff Masters’ weblog (blog).  See link below:

Go to the top of the page and click on News & Blogs.

As of the time of this writing, Dr. Masters expresses reasonable confidence that the system will track in such a way that a landfall will occur somewhere in the Florida coast north of Tampa.  I urge all interested persons to pay close attention to Dr. Masters’ postings, the Weather Channel tropical reports, and your local news.

Here is the most recent version from my favorite spaghetti chart source, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):

2016-8-29 Model tracks


Citrus County Florida and Hurricanes


 Enlarge images in this posting with left clicks.

LakeHenderson ctILLUSTRATION A.  Big Lake Henderson from Inverness, Florida
– Please credit photo to Colin Toney –

Citrus Location Map darkILLUSTRATION B – map of Citrus County showing locations of the Gulf Coastal Lowlands which are subject to storm surges, the sandy Brooksville Ridge occupying more than one-third of the area, and the Tsala Apopka Plain containing the majority of the county’s fresh water lakes  –


I Am Very Happy Living In Citrus County.

 Of course, being retired, being a nature-lover and being relatively healthy helps. All locations have pros and cons but with respect to the latter I have yet to regret the move with my extended family 9 years ago. We had experienced hurricanes and tropical storms through the years. Our house was a total loss in 1992’s category 5 hurricane Andrew; it was at ground zero in Homestead which is located 27.6 miles (as the crow flies) southwest of Miami. The house belonging to my wife’s folks, less than a mile away, had extensive damage. What a terrible mess was caused by the only hurricane to make landfall upon the U.S.A. that season. But when we moved to Citrus County 13 years later we were conscious of the fact that by leaving South Florida we had NOT left “hurricane country.”  I felt that Citrus County would be safer in that respect but certainly not a hurricane-proof location.  It didn’t take long for me to meet people who felt that there was something special about Citrus and other nearby counties that made a serious hurricane event almost inconceivable.

Complacency is a real problem in hurricane country. I don’t claim to be an expert on complacency but there have been times in my life where I might have contracted the disorder I call “terminal uniqueness.” Therefore, I am acquainted with denial, ignorance, procrastination, irresponsibility, and “living in a dream world” because I’ve been there; for all I know, I’m there still.  I believe that every time I point a finger at someone, three are pointing back at me and this is written in that spirit. Thus, I’m not trying to indict anyone here; I’m just trying to state what appears to me to be true.  

As I see it – Citrus County, as a whole, though probably not the “geographical poster child” for complacency when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms, seems to be after the title – in spite of its experience with “The Florida Four in 2004” (see illustration C below).  I’m not speaking of those who vigorously engage in emergency planning and increasing awareness in the community.  And of course I’m not speaking to residents reading this who have engaged in effective advanced planning and preparation.  No, I’m speaking of the average Jack and/or Jill occupying a dwelling in Citrus County; I acknowledge that there are plenty of exceptions. To be sure – this is not a problem exclusive to Citrus County. I believe it’s prevalent in all or nearly all parts of the country susceptible to tropical cyclonic weather.  Please click on this graphic below for enlargement.

4 of 2004 Citrus Y– ILLUSTRATION C –

The four 2004 storm tracks above are dated for your convenience.  For example: Tropical storm Bonnie’s track runs from August 3rd to August 14.

NOTE: For an infrared satellite loop of the majority of the 2004 season, click on the first link below.  Date and time indicators appear along the bottom margin.  Then for an animated loop which is easier to interpret click on the second link.

Some History


 I moved to Florida in 1956 during my high school junior year and I don’t remember a time since when I have not been conscious of the potential for tropical weather to wreak havoc upon lives and property and I have always tried to be prepared. If you were to have simply driven by my house you could have observed elements of hurricane preparedness. That is still true today.  It is a high priority item in my family.  I have been an active advocate of hurricane awareness and preparation for many years. If anything, I hope that illustrations in this weblog posting will increase awareness at least among the few who see it.  So let me call your attention to the illustration below.  Most residents who see such illustrations are, at the very least, surprised.  Naturally some point out that this covers a long period of time.  But really, is 161 years a long time in the whole scheme of things?  My point in showing this is:  TROPICAL CYCLONES ARE A REALITY IN CITRUS COUNTY.  Also, please be aware of the fact that the plot lines show the paths of the centers of storms and that the storms have a width that is not apparent here.  The center of a storm does not have to come within just a few miles for it to be of great concern; the center can be many miles away.

Inverness100mi1852-2012 ILLUSTRATION D -The circle has a 100 mile radius with Inverness, Florida in the center.  Remember, left click for enlargement.

Even before leaving Homestead for good in 2005 – while visiting Citrus County I detected the existence of a notion of immunity to any sort of serious tropical cyclonic weather (e.g. hurricanes, tropical storms). Though I have no scientific evidence to back this – I classify the “no-need-to-be-concerned” feeling as widespread among the Citrus County population. In fact, sometimes  “low-to-no” hurricane probability has been drastically overstated here (I’ve heard it and I’ve heard about it). It seems that “The Florida Four in 2004 ” did very little to squelch the delusion. Still – I would have expected that particular season to have provided a huge “wake up call.”

NOTE:  The “official” Florida Four in 2004 includes hurricane Charley which struck Punta Gorda on August 13 and later moved through South Carolina.  It does not include tropical storm Bonnie.

Just a few weeks ago I overheard a hostess at a popular restaurant in adjacent Marion County telling a booth full of patrons, “We just don’t get hurricanes here.” Recently a friend of mine suggested that there was something about our county’s geography, specifically the Brooksville Ridge, that prevented hurricane visits. That reminded me of Muncie, Indiana where I used to live; it is alleged to be immune from tornadoes because of a particular bend in the river flowing through it. Also, a protective blessing from an Indian chief has been cited.

“The Florida Four in 2004” did not produce the extent of damage or flooding that raised eyebrows all over the nation and, for now, a sense of security from lethal storms seems to cling on. This is not a prediction nor is it my wish, but I do fear that a hurricane coming through this area has the potential to surprise a lot of people and make them wonder what they were thinking.  And such an event could be deadly and most certainly destructive.

Storm Surge Potential


When I was looking for property in Citrus County one of my big concerns was the encroachment of wind-driven sea water with a storm – the so-called storm surge. Upon investigation I found what I expected – that if it was important to me personally to avoid surge potential I should avoid about one-third of the county’s land area – the western third. 

NOTE:  Illustration B, “map of Citrus County” might be useful to you here. 

Most of that western third is undeveloped but there are two noteworthy communities within it, Homosassa and most of Crystal River.  Therefore, early on I decided not to settle on the Gulf Coastal Lowlands but instead chose the Brooksville Ridge. In my opinion, the broad, hilly, sandy ridge is, by far, the safest place for a home or business in the county because of it’s higher elevations and greater ability to handle large amounts of precipitation often associated with a storm. The highest point in the county is within the Citrus Hills Golf Course above a 230′ contour – my Google Earth measurement has it at 235 feet.

Surge chart SmallILLUSTRATION E – Storm surge portion of Citrus County, the western third (color-coded).  T = tropical storm and the numbers represent hurricane categories.  Left click to enlarge or go to the next illustration for more detail.

Citrus New Flood Zones– ILLUSTRATION F – Two independent left clicks result in a significant enlargement.



Other Concerns


To be fair, Citrus county seems not to have been visited by category 5 or 4 hurricanes though at nearby Cedar Key a 1896 hurricane was a category 4 according to some estimates – crediting it with 135 mph winds.

NOTE:  As far as we know, only three Category 5 storms have struck the U.S.A. – the 1935 Florida Keys or Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Camille which hit Mississippi in 1969, and 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.  The records aren’t good enough to say whether any earlier storms were Category 5 by today’s standards and they don’t go back very far with respect to the length of time that such storms have visited the North American mainland.

But lesser tropical cyclones, like tropical storms and tropical depressions, can produce both microbursts and tornadoes and simple straight-line gusts can far exceed the sustained wind velocity of such storms.  Of course this is true for hurricanes too.  Illustration G below shows initiation points of tornadoes spawned by tropical cyclones (e.g. tropical depressions, tropical storms, hurricanes) from 1995 through 2010.  The entire report is available in the PDF format here:

Tornadoes Tropical Cyclones

TC tornadoes Citrus


Please enlarge this with a left click.  This illustration is on page 7 of Roger Edwards’ report which is available to you as the previous PDF document link titled Tornadoes Tropical Cyclones.



Recently, I looked into the proximity of past storms near my church and created a graphic for those who might be interested.  Since the church is located in Lecanto and near the geographical center of Citrus County, I’m including the graphic in this weblog entry.  Notice that I picked a small radius of 25 miles yet the illustration clearly shows a lot of activity.  Had I picked a larger radius, say 50 miles, the graphic would show many more storms ( for an example of what I mean, see illustration D with a 100 mile radius centered on Inverness).


- left click to enlarge -

– left click to enlarge –


Note:  If you would like to utilize the program I used to derive illustration D and illustration H, here is a link:


The Relationship Between Wind Velocity and Its Potential Force


There is one last point I’d like to make and I have found in my years of teaching that there are many people who do not know this:  One would think that the potential force of an 80 mph wind would be twice that of a 40 mph wind.  But that is not true.  The relationship is not linear – it is exponential.  An 80 mph wind has FOUR TIMES the potential force of a 40 mph wind.  When someone looking at the historical chart above sees mostly tropical storms (green) and category 1 hurricanes (yellow) they typically tend to minimize the dangers.  They don’t realize that an 80 mph category 1 hurricane wind is far worse than a 60 mph tropical storm wind.  I’ve done the math and, as it turns out, an 80 mph hurricane wind has 1.78 times the potential force of a 60 mph tropical storm wind (or close to twice the potential force).  So, in even more simple terms, small increases in wind velocity result in large increases in potential force!  For more discussion on the relationship between velocity and force, click on this link to a previous weblog entry:





My next mission is to discuss this with some people in the area to learn their attitudes and feelings on the subject.  I’m sure I will learn a lot and gain more knowledge and insight.  For example, I’ll bet there are some who just don’t feel it’s worth the effort – that they will just evacuate and let insurance take care of things, or maybe take some losses and leave for good if a serious storm messes things up.    Others must find permanent window and door protection to be “cost prohibitive” and have plans to somehow temporarily protect those openings – maybe at the last minute.  None of those approaches work for me; there are just too many variables.  For example, try buying plywood when it becomes fairly clear that a hurricane is coming your way.  Or – consider what it might be like if you do plan to evacuate but wait too long and are unable to do so.  Being inside a home that is breaking apart during a serious hurricane is no picnic. 

NOTE:  See link below to “Window Protection Is Essential”.

I suspect that there are many who feel they have thought things through and that their apparent inaction is merely a function of our individual differences in thinking.  Perhaps they do indeed have a “plan” albeit different than mine.  What’s the saying – “Different strokes for different folks”?  Regardless, I strongly recommend advanced preparation.

The complacency I’m talking about is defined at as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like.”  I observed complacency among many people in pre-Andrew Homestead and suspect it exists there again because, after all, that was 22 years ago.  So why should I expect a greater awareness and more obvious preparation along the Nature Coast where Citrus County is located? The fact is, I don’t.  But I can dream, can’t I?




Recent FEMA Release:

Citrus County Emergency Management –

Disaster Preparedness (Florida Department of Health – Citrus County)

Hurricane misconceptions:

Saffir-Simpson hurricane categories:

Sustained winds:

Window protection is essential:

The effects of hurricane winds upon a house:

Hurricane focus on Central Florida:

Why is Florida so humid?

Karen Is A Gulf Coast Concern

Karen– Click on image to enlarge –

The graphic above is the Friday, October 4, 2013 10 a.m CDT (advisory #6) from the National Hurricane Center.

 Those who follow this web-log know that my primary source of information regarding tropical weather is Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. His blog can be found by clicking on the “community” tab once you open the following page:

 It would be a waste of my time and yours for me to try to explain it any better. Here is his verbatim forecast report posted at 1:44 PM GMT on October 04, 2013

Forecast for Karen

Wind shear for the next three days is expected to stay high, around 20 – 30 knots, according to the 8 am EDT SHIPS model forecast. The atmosphere is quite dry over the Western Gulf of Mexico, and this dry air combined with high wind shear will retard development, making only slow intensification possible until landfall. A trough of low pressure and an associated cold front will be moving through Louisiana on Saturday, and the associated upper-level westerly winds will bring higher wind shear near 30 knots and turn Karen more to the northeast as it approaches the coast on Saturday. The higher shear, combined with ocean temperatures that will drop to 28°C, may be able to induce weakening, and NHC has sharply reduced its odds of Karen achieving hurricane strength. The 5 am EDT Friday wind probability forecast from NHC put Karen’s best chance of becoming a hurricane as a 23% chance on Sunday at 2 am EDT. This is down from the 41% odds given in Thursday afternoon’s forecast. Most of the models show Karen intensifying by 5 – 10 mb on Saturday afternoon and evening as the storm nears the coast, as the storm interacts with the trough of low pressure turning it to the northeast. This predicted intensification may be because of stronger upper-level outflow developing (due to diverging winds aloft sucking up more air from the surface.) We don’t have much skill making hurricane intensity forecasts, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Karen do the opposite of what the models predict, and decay to a weak tropical storm just before landfall, due to strong wind shear. In any case, residents of New Orleans should feel confident that their levee system will easily withstand any storm surge Karen may generate, as rapid intensification of Karen to a Category 3 or stronger hurricane has a only a minuscule probability of occurring (1% chance in the latest NHC forecast.)

Since Karen is expected to make a sharp course change to the northeast near the time it approaches the south coast of Louisiana, the models show a wide range of possible landfall locations. The European and UKMET models are the farthest west, with a landfall occurring west of New Orleans. The GFS model is at the opposite extreme, showing a landfall about 400 miles to the east, near Apalachicola, Florida. NHC is splitting the difference between these extremes, which is a reasonable compromise. Most of Karen’s heavy thunderstorms will be displaced to the east by high wind shear when the storm makes landfall, and there will likely be relatively low rainfall totals of 1 – 3″ to the immediate west of where the center. Much higher rainfall totals of 4 – 8″ can be expected to the east. NHC’s 5 am EDT Friday wind probability forecast shows the highest odds of tropical storm-force winds to be at the tip of the Mississippi River at Buras, Louisiana: 66%. New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, and Pensacola have odds ranging from 47% – 51%.


Cirrus cave

left clicks of mouse will enlarge

I am pleased to announce that the Senior Learning Institute (SLI) of the College of Central Florida in Ocala is providing me another opportunity to present a geosciences topic that is near and dear to me.

IMPORTANT SPECIAL UPDATE (5-10-2015):  The Senior Learning Institute no longer exists.  It has become the non-profit Senior Learners, Inc. and classes are still taught at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.  Here is a link:

IDENTIFYING AND UNDERSTANDING CLOUDS will be presented on Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14 (2013) – from 10 until noon  (for a total of 8 hours).  Click on the following link for my outline which will be distributed at the beginning of the first class meeting.

Clouds 2013

I have presented a dozen seminars at the SLI since 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Since I taught a 12 hour course on clouds in April, 2007 I have received requests from a number of people who missed it and also from others who wished to do it again as a refresher.

SLI is a membership group composed of some terrific people who seem to consider “learning” to be an integral aspect of their life styles.  When I am with them, though my official roll is that of a presenter, I learn so very much.  I learn from them and I learn in the processes of preparing and presenting.  There are some significant differences between these courses and the courses I taught for 41 years at colleges and universities:  1) the SLI seminars are non-credit courses, 2) they are short in duration compared to most college courses, 3) there are no academic prerequisites to the courses, 4) there are no exams to fret over, 5) there are no grades,  6) all who enroll are there voluntarily and, from what I can tell, gladly and 7) many have a great deal of experience acquired through time and by their sharing are able to enhance the quality of the course.


This is the 4 pm EDT advisory for August 30, 2012.

Two left clicks on the image will enlarge it fully.

By the time you see this posting, the forecast graphic for what remains of Isaac (above) will probably be obsolete. Here is where to go to get a comparable update (however, the advisory above might be the last):

 In spite of modern technology the tasks of the National Hurricane Center’s forecasters are not easy and I guarantee they burned the midnight oil as this event unfolded. They have so many variables and unknowns to deal with.  I think they do a wonderful job.

Where I live, in west-central Florida about 18 miles inland from where the tiny Crystal River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, there are long-term concerns about our fresh water supply. So I had hoped that Isaac would provide just the right amount of water WITHOUT damaging and costly winds and flooding. Like most humans, I want all of the good but none of the bad that can come from Nature’s wonders.  At this time, Thursday evening, 8-30-2012, we are still getting some rain directly related to Isaac even though its center is about to move into Arkansas.  Hopefully the system will provide needed rain to drought stricken areas in it’s predicted path.  My retired-farmer uncle in Indiana indicates that it’s probably too late for the field corn but could be helpful to the soybeans.  As I write, flooding and potential flooding in certain areas of Louisiana are creating real headaches there.  There are some places claiming to have more water than with Katrina, albeit for different sets of circumstances.

There is so much information available today and I understand the great value of our acquired knowledge about tropical weather since I first began studying it formally (over 50 years ago) but sometimes, I confess, I think fondly of the days when we had little notion of what was going on until much later in a tropical cyclone’s life cycle. Now, it seems that the media devotes an inordinate amount of time telling us about the negatives and potential negatives that are going on all over the world and I can no longer bask in my ignorance as I used to because I haven’t the will-power or inclination to ignore the resources that are available. But, I concede, there are limits to the notion that ignorance is bliss.

I wish you peace, good health, and happiness.

Debby Does the Gulf

– two left clicks will fully enlarge –

For the last few days, weak tropical storm Debbie has been slowly working her way northward keeping residents of the Gulf coastal states on alert.  A huge volume of warm, moist air, some originating all the way from the eastern Pacific (see image above), has been racing northeastward and northward into the storm’s core generating numerous alarming situations conducive to tornadic development.  The environment around her has made it very difficult for forecasters to interpret the numerous computer tracking models because there has been little agreement.

At this moment, (6-25-2012) about 2 pm Eastern time, it looks as though she will extend her stay over the Gulf well into the week and eventually work her way eastward to cross Florida and then enter the Atlantic.  Where I live in Citrus County, Florida that means we could experience the right-hand leading quadrant of the system.  It is that particular quadrant of northern hemisphere tropical systems that usually has the highest wind velocities and the greatest probability for tornadoes and significant sea surges upon the shore.  However, I am optimistic that upwelling of cooler water in the Gulf below the storm will further diminish the strength of the storm.  Typically, when strong winds skim over warm water and push it aside, that which takes its place is cooler water that “wells up” from below.

There are many factors that can cause a tropical system such as Debby to strengthen and/or weaken – the sea surface temperature changes being but one.  However, it is my hope that she does provide us more much-needed rain in a slow and steady manner so that it infiltrates into our groundwater zone instead of  traveling as surface runoff.   I hope she does decide to take that trip across Florida and that she will be sufficiently mild-mannered to be a great benefit to the region.

Enjoy the satellite view above which shows the extent of Debby’s influence this morning (6-25-2012).

2011 Hurricane Season Comments – Tonie Toney (Cloudman23)

left click image to enlarge

Since I began this site on August 24 2008, it’s been averaging about 12 “hits” per hour. So, I’m not setting the Internet world on fire. I’m sure that many of my “followers” are either friends and neighbors, family, or former students.  Of course a number of people reach this site as a consequence of a search term that blends with something I’ve discussed.

 This is my first posting in over three months. That might be strange for a site devoted mostly to tropical meteorology but those who know me understand that I devote most of my tropical weather attention to those systems that cause alarm to folks in Central Florida where I now reside.

The six month long official hurricane season whose last day was November 30 was an active one but not for Central Florida. There were some storms in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf that caused concern but, if you have been following this site you have no doubt noticed that I ignored most of them. I choose to refrain from alarming anyone unnecessarily when I deduce that a storm in question is not likely to bother us.  On the other hand, the National Weather Service errs on the side of caution and consequently the “coverage” was vigorous and reports were easily obtained through the media.  Though I think that the media does a good job, generally speaking, I am inclined to suspect that they are spectacularizing their reports. There were times when it appeared that a storm would be coming our way here in West-Central Florida but my information and gut-level feelings indicated a very low probability.  SPECIAL NOTE: It appears that in using “spectacularizing” I’ve used a word whose acceptance is debatable; it appears to be a mere colloquialism but that fits me well.

This year’s hurricane season was very active! An average northern hemisphere Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico season has 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.

 For the 2011 season there were 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes.

But for the U.S.A. specifically – the season was unusually timid. In his summary of the season, Dr. Jeff Masters (one of my important sources) wrote: “Only two named storms made landfall, Tropical Storm Lee, which hit Louisiana with 60 mph winds, and Hurricane Irene, which hit North Carolina on August 27 with 85 mph winds, and made two additional landfalls in New Jersey and New York the next day.” By the time tropical storm Don reached Texas it had weakened to a tropical depression.  There seems to be general agreement that favorable steering currents were the principle reason for our good fortune in the U.S.

I made no entries concerning Irene, in spite of the scare in New York because we were being flooded with media information and for those with cable or satellite, the Weather Channel was right on top of things. Since it wasn’t threatening our Central Florida region I held back in the wake of such comprehensive coverage.

The way our season luckily turned out has indeed caused me some considerable concern over the tendency that we humans have toward complacency. In the 6+ years I’ve lived in Citrus County, Florida there have been no tropical systems of any severe nature but the year before I arrived, 2004, was a busy one with Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, and Charlie. None of those named storms were strong enough to create a county-wide wake-up call. Some people were without power for a few days but the storms did not create events comparable to those which reverberate in our heads for years to follow – like Andrew, for example, which destroyed my home (in Homestead, Florida) in 1992.

I have heard tales of real estate agents in the area boasting that Citrus County possesses some sort of special immunity for whatever reason. I refute that notion absolutely. There is nothing about the environment that affords it the luxury of special protection other than the high sand ridges that minimize storm surge potential for those who live far enough inland from the Gulf. For example, my house sits at an elevation of 55′ above mean sea level so I don’t anticipate storm surge events. However, high water from heavy rains is a distinct possibility.

In any event I urge you who live in my area to NOT ignore the fact that you live in hurricane country. There are so many things about hurricanes that should not be discounted. For example, doubling the wind velocity actually quadruples it’s potential force. So a 60 mph wind has four times the ability to do harm compared to a 30 mph wind. Here is a link to a site which I put together regarding “hurricane misconceptions.”

Coming next:  My Christmas Greeting and Reflections.


Shortly before noon Eastern Daylight Time today (8-30-2011) Dr. Jeff Masters published this statement:

“Gulf of Mexico development possible late this week”

“Several of our best computer models for predicting formation of tropical cyclones, the GFS and ECMWF, are predicting that an upper level pressure interacting with a tropical wave now over the the Western Caribbean could combine to spawn a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico late this week or early next week. The formation location is likely to be off the coast of Louisiana or Texas, but the track of the system is hard to predict at this point.” (end quote) –

 Though this is far too early to tell, here is a six day look into the ECMWF model’s “take” on our tropical weather. It was released at 8 pm EDT, 8-29-2011 and projects out six days (144 hours).

Notice, in addition to the system in the Gulf of Mexico, the position northeast of Puerto Rico of what is currently Tropical Storm Katia.  Some are predicting that she will be of hurricane strength by the time 6 days pass.

 The error 6 days out can be enormous so take this for what it’s worth. I recommend your being mindful that the ECMWF has been doing well for the last couple of years. For instructions on viewing the model in animated form on, please use the following link:

  NOTE: ECMWF = European Center for Medium -Range Weather Forecast

Two left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.