Archive for the ‘Hurricanes’ Category
Enlarge images in this posting with left clicks.
ILLUSTRATION 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 –
– TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS ENLARGE THE IMAGE ABOVE TO THE FULLEST –
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.
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.
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.
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.
ILLUSTRATION 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.
FOR STORM SURGE ZOOM CAPABILITIES, click on this link:
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:
– ILLUSTRATION G –
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).
– ILLUSTRATION H –
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.
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?
Citrus County Emergency Management – http://www.sheriffcitrus.org/EM/
Disaster Preparedness (Florida Department of Health – Citrus County) http://www.floridahealth.gov/chdCitrus/disasterpreparedness.htm
Hurricane misconceptions: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/952/
Saffir-Simpson hurricane categories: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php
Sustained winds: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/D4.html
Window protection is essential: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/window-protection-for-hurricanes-is-essential/
The effects of hurricane winds upon a house: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/the-effect-of-hurricane-winds-upon-a-house/
Hurricane focus on Central Florida: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/hurricane-focus-on-central-florida/
Why is Florida so humid? https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/why-is-florida-so-humid/
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: http://www.wunderground.com/
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%.
What concerns me most is the number of people who will not address and act upon hurricane Sandy’s threat maturely. As a man who grew up in an environment where “being a man” meant being able to handle, support, protect, and defend – I can identify with the need to have it “together” in these types of situations. It was hard for me on the morning of 8-23-1992 to “order” my wife, two children, father-in-law, and mother-in-law into my van so that we could evacuate our two homes (separated by less than a mile) in Homestead, Florida to escape approaching hurricane Andrew. But, when we returned 3 days later we were thanking the Great Guy In the Sky that we were not there when the storm hit. It would have been a most traumatic experience and could have been deadly. Our house was a total loss and my in-laws’ house was severely damaged but not beyond repair. There are people today of all ages still suffering post traumatic stress syndrome over that hurricane of 20 years ago. Admittedly, the aftermath and rebuilding processes were extraordinarily difficult but we were together and healthy and I had very good insurance and did not lose my job. Thousands of people lost both their dwellings and their jobs! We had much for which to be grateful.
But, sometimes, in an attempt to handle, support, protect, and defend – people (men in particular, I think) tend to make macho decisions that they later regret – if they live to experience regret. One example is: Failing to evacuate dangerous areas that are subject to flooding, landslides, storm surges, etc. Believe me – there is no disgrace in fleeing in such circumstance. Sure, one wants to stay and protect his/her home and the “things” within it but such a mindset can backfire resulting in fatal consequences. Take my word for it, “things” can be replaced in time but once you lose your life of worse, that of a loved one – there is no going back or rebirth back into this dimension.
Hurricane Sandy is a storm that has it all. Oh sure, it’s not a category 5 storm as was Andrew but it is a huge storm taking up an area more than the size of Texas one and one-half times! And – it has a strong pressure gradient. It has a very long fetch (distance of water over which the wind blows) which increases significantly the potential height of the storm surge.
Just because the winds are within the category 1 range, remember that slight increases can cause exponential increases in the potential force. In fact, doubling the wind velocity quadruples the air’s potential force upon a surface that it strikes at right angles. Early on in my teaching career it because quite apparent to me that most people assume that doubling the velocity simply doubles the force. But that is far from true. For example, an 80 mile per hour wind has FOUR TIMES the potential force of a 40 mile per hour wind. So DON’T think to yourself, “I know I can deal with a 40 mile per hour wind; in fact I and my dwelling can deal with one that is 80 miles per hour because that is just two times that of a “40.” YOU WOULD BE VERY, VERY WRONG! If you are interested in more on this subject, including an equation – go here:
A great deal of precipitation over land is expected with Sandy – so much that many of the drainage systems, both natural and man-made, will not be able to handle it. Trees will be less stable because of saturation of the soil and rock into which their roots are anchored. Combined with the wind force, many will come down. Unhealthy trees will snap. Mother Nature WILL do a great amount of pruning. Electricity will be cut off due to line damage from falling debris and flooding. Water pressure may drop or reduce to zero. Even modern gravity-feed systems require boosting due to the effects of friction and that usually requires electricity. If you have an electric pump with a well and no emergency generator, you could be out of luck. If your toilet is relatively modern you will still need about 1.6 gallons per flush. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” might become your rule of thumb even if you have a lot of water stored (as in a tub that doesn’t slowly leak at the drain).
Since much moisture will be drawn in by the storm from off the Atlantic and much cold air will be drawn down from the north, there is a very strong chance for SNOW with this storm.
The bottom line, in my opinion is – If you are in the path of Sandy and:
- in a storm surge zone – evacuate.
- in a wooded area with big trees so close to your home that upon falling they are likely to do structural damage – evacuate.
- upon a hillside or mountainside where your area or an area above or below you has been stripped of most vegetation – evacuate. Slides are a real danger in these cases.
- in a region that can easily flood – evacuate.
- in a neighborhood where there is a lot of loose matter that could easily become damaging airborne projectiles – evacuate.
- in a mobile home or R.V. – evacuate.
- in a dwelling where, when you look out a front window you are looking down a street that is at right angles to your street – evacuate. The Venturi Effect can channel much higher winds and debris right into your dwelling!
- in any kind of a topographic restriction such as a narrow valley between two hills or mountains – evacuate for the same reason as in item 7.
- NOT prepared for many days without water service and/or electricity – evacuate.
- in an evacuation zone – evacuate!
- one who feels as though fleeing is a cowardly act – engage in a very quick but thorough attitude adjustment and ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.
BUT DON’T EVACUATE IF THE STORM IS UPON YOU UNLESS YOU FEEL THAT THE MOVE IS ACTUALLY SAFER THAN STAYING.
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.” http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/hurricanes.html
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 WeatherUnderground.com, please use the following link: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/ecmwf-model-run-the-european-model/
NOTE: ECMWF = European Center for Medium -Range Weather Forecast
THIS IS A TIME-SENSITIVE POSTING SUBMITTED 8-22-2011 AFTER 11 PM EASTERN TIME.
Hurricane Irene is now of GREAT CONCERN to the Bahamas. Based upon my observation of the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) model – it now looks as though South Carolina or North Carolina could be the landfall site though the statistical mean mid-line continues to “windshield-wiper” to the east.
Here is Jonathan Vigh’s spaghetti chart effort releases at 8 pm Eastern Daylight Time, 8-22-2011. The numbers along the forecast model tracks are “hours from the forecast release time.” OFCL is the designation for “official.” The OFCL is remarkably close to the ECMWF model track which does not show on this graphic. To observe it, go to my “Tropical Weather” links to the right of this page and click on “Penn. State U. Models Page.”
THIS IS NOW A SERIOUS CAT. 2 HURRICANE WITH POTENTIAL FOR STRENGTHENING.
– LEFT CLICK THE GRAPHIC TWICE FOR MAXIMUM ENLARGEMENT –
THIS IS A TIME-SENSITIVE POSTING SUBMITTED 8-21-2011 AFTER 11 PM EASTERN TIME.
IT IS NOW OUT OF DATE. PLEASE CLICK ON THE BLOG TAB AT THE TOP LEFT OF THIS PAGE AND SCROLL DOWN TO LOOK FOR A MORE RECENT REPORT ON THIS STORM WHICH IS NOW A SERIOUS HURRICANE (posted 8-22-2011 near midnight EDT).
Invest (investigation) 97L (or 97AL) has become Tropical Storm Irene. My concerns for Florida remain and it looks to me as though the east coast is the part of Florida most likely to be influenced by the system. If it does skirt the coast at least that region will be subjected to the left-hand leading quadrant which is almost always less powerful than the right-hand leading quadrant. Based upon my observation of the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) model – it now looks as though South Carolina could very well be the landfall site. Of course many changes can occur over the next few days and much depends upon the movement and strength of a trough dipping down over the Eastern U.S.A. One of my favorite sources, Dr. Jeff Masters wrote yesterday:
“The best model for predicting the timing and strength of such troughs over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). The European Center does not permit public display of tropical storm positions from their hurricane tracking module of their model, so we are unable to put ECMWF forecasts on our computer model forecast page that plots positions from the other major models. Remember that a 7-day forecast by even our best model will be off by an average of over 700 miles, so it is too early to tell what part of the U.S. might be most at risk from a strike by 97L. This weekend would be a good time to go over your hurricane preparation.”
In the future, if you wish to view the ECMWF model loops go to the right of this page and under the heading of “Tropical Weather” click on the link to Penn. State U. Models Page. Scroll down until you find it.
Here is Jonathan Vigh’s spaghetti chart effort releases at 8 pm Eastern Time, 8-21-2011.
THIS IS A TIME-SENSITIVE POSTING SUBMITTED 8-20-2011 LATE MORNING EASTERN TIME.
Though there is more than one system out there today, my attention is east of the Lesser Antilles Islands where there is a system that currently has the status of a tropical wave. However, there is an 80% chance that it will become cyclonic within the next 48 hours. The Spaghetti chart below is courtesy of Jonathan Vigh. His efforts to put the model forecasts together produce my favorite renditions. Notice that the islands between its present location and Florida will be effected if this early visual is close to being correct. The storms ability to sustain itself as it moves over land might be touch and go. Frankly, this one really has my attention.
If you left click the image should enlarge – a second left click might enlarge it even further:
Here is the forecast plot for our first tropical disturbance of the season – released at 1200 Greenwich Time (7AM Eastern Time) June 1, 2011 – the first official day of the season. These are sometimes called spaghetti charts. Please ignore the “straight line” projection into the Gulf which is an extrapolation of movement were there to be no change in course. Already, I’ve detected rightward deflection in its actual track. Two left clicks should fully enlarge this image for you.
By the time you read this, May of 2011 will have ended and the Northern Hemisphere Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico hurricane season will have begun. The following link will take you to a summary of the NOAA outlook for this season:
Please be prepared if you live in hurricane territory.
The loop above illustrates nicely that a tropical system does not have to be a hurricane in order to cause significant problems including fatalities. TO ACTIVATE YOU MUST LEFT CLICK ON THE IMAGE. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the 2008 storm: Tropical Storm Fay was a tropical storm and the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Fay formed from a vigorous tropical wave on August 15 over the Dominican Republic. It passed over the island of Hispaniola, into the Gulf of Gonâve, across the island of Cuba, and made landfall on the Florida Keys late in the afternoon of August 18 before veering into the Gulf of Mexico. It again made landfall near Naples, Florida, in the early hours of August 19 and progressed northeast through the Florida peninsula, emerging into the Atlantic Ocean near Melbourne on August 20. Extensive flooding took place in parts of Florida as a result of its slow movement. On August 21, it made landfall again near New Smyrna Beach, Florida, moving due west across the Panhandle, crossing Gainesville and Panama City, Florida. As it zigzagged from water to land, it became the first storm in recorded history to make landfall in Florida four times. Thirty-six deaths were blamed on Fay. The storm also resulted in one of the most prolific tropical cyclone related tornado outbreaks on record. A total of 81 tornadoes touched down across five states, three of which were rated as EF2. Damage from Fay was heavy, estimated at $560 million.
Here is a link to Wikipedia’s coverage of that storm:
Here is a link to my list of 23 Misconceptions About Hurricanes: