Archive for the ‘Atlantic hurricane season’ Category

Sandy Alert – There Is No Shame In Evacuating!

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:

  1. in a storm surge zone – evacuate.
  2. in a wooded area with big trees so close to your home that upon falling they are likely to do structural damage – evacuate.
  3. 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.
  4. in a region that can easily flood  – evacuate.
  5. in a neighborhood where there is a lot of loose matter that could easily become damaging airborne projectiles – evacuate.
  6. in a mobile home or R.V. – evacuate.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. NOT prepared for many days without water service and/or electricity – evacuate.
  1. in an evacuation zone – evacuate!
  2. 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.


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.





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.”


Graphic courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University





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.


97AL – Tropical System May Become a Threat to Florida


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:

Forecast Model Plots for Our First Tropical System of the Season – 2011

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.

Click on Image to Enlarge

The Hurricane Season for 2011 Has Begun

Radar Loop of Tropical Storm Fay's Florida Visit - YOU MUST CLICK ON TO ACTIVATE.

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:



Graphic courtesy of



The “official” hurricane season is 6 months long – beginning June 1 – ending November 30.

An Atlantic hurricane was observed on March 7, 1908.  That’s quite a number of days before June 1.

An Atlantic hurricane was observed December 31, 1954.  That’s quite a number of days after November 30.

The earliest hurricane to strike the United States since 1900 was Alma which struck northwest Florida on June 9, 1966 and the latest was near the end of the day on November 30, 1925 near Tampa, Florida.

Here is a wonderful hurricane season summary by Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground.  Dr. Masters is one of my primary resources when it comes to tropical weather.  At the end of his summary he links to the Klotzbach-Gray report which I have also linked you to below.  But – for those interested in the “season” I recommend reading the Master’s report first.

Here’s the link to the comprehensive summary of the 2010 Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean hurricane season by Philip J. Klotzbach and William Gray.  Gray is the renowned long-term forecaster from Colorado State University and Klotzbach, after a great deal of experience working with Gray, has taken over the primary responsibility.  It is in the PDF format:


Two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.

Though Tomas has weakened to a tropical depression, indications are that intensification to at least a category 1 hurricane will occur in the predicted journey northward.  But, even as a lesser storm (tropical depression or tropical storm) the system can cause severe problems with fatalities.  Just last month 23 people died in Haiti from the results of regular seasonal rainfall events, according to Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog this morning!  The pitiful deforestation of that country allows for rapidly flooding streams and mass wasting events (e.g. mud slides) which can be deadly.

Certain deadly diseases can be spread by contaminated water which is a likely outcome of the flooding that Tomas will trigger.  Cholera is probably the greatest current concern.

I am alarmed by the projected probability path of the storm (see this morning’s cone of uncertainty above) because, if it turns out this way, Haiti will be under the influence of the right hand leading quadrant of Tomas.  That quadrant is typically the one possessing the strongest winds, most prominent storm surges, and greatest probability for imbedded mesoscale tornadic systems.

Of course, Haiti is not the only place that should be concerned.  For example, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Bahamas need to be “ready.”