Archive for the ‘Tropical activity in the Atlantic’ Category

Hurricane Irma Entry – 9-7-2017

NOAA 9-7-17 8P ET

The image above is from the NOAA National Hurricane Center.  It is the 8 PM EDT Intermediate Advisory for hurricane Irma. 

Here is a link to that site:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

I have no particular “feel” for the path that this storm is going to take.  It appears that my “zinger” notion yesterday for a right turn greater than the experts were anticipating might have been about as meaningful as a small rat’s flatulence in a Fujita-5 tornado.  But, I’m still clinging to hope.

The mass migration from South Florida is effecting us here in Citrus County.  Log-jammed I-75 is about 17 miles due east of my home.  Today I took my father-in-law to our “late breakfast” in Inverness where we get together weekly with some other buddies. The drive home northward on U.S. 41 involved extreme congestion.  What was happening is this:  Some northbound traffic on I-75 was exiting at eastbound U.S. 44 and driving on in to Inverness before heading back north on 41 – many probably guided by the GPS features in their vehicles. Sadly, even before that started happening, our gas stations were on empty. 

I understand from television news that lodging in Florida is getting extremely difficult to find.  Even in Atlanta, I-75 has been experiencing overload.  This is one reason why we are not migrating.  I fear we would end up in a traffic jam of monumental proportions.

So, I’m hoping that the morning brings favorable news.  My wish is that this storm goes out into the open Atlantic leaving us all in peace. But, that is most certainly NOT in the forecast.  As each hour passes, such a lucky turn seems more and more like an irrational fantasy.  My heart goes out to all of those who are traveling tonight – not knowing what they will be returning to once this is all over.  Actually, my heart goes out to everyone threatened by this storm.  I remember clearly what it was like returning to our totaled home in Homestead, Florida after Andrew plowed through on August 24, 1992.  That event changed our lives forever.  Driving in we hardly recognized the scene.  Even the street signs were down!  Because of debris we were unable to get down our street in my van.  Paradoxically, only one pane of glass on our house was damaged and that was a mere crack.  It was something that could have been easily taped to prevent air from getting through until I got around to replacing it.  You see, we had storm shutters on every window.  The trouble is, the roof failed!  So much for preparedness.  LOL  I admit that I have higher hopes this time; every window of this Citrus County home is protected also and it was surely built to a higher standard.   We’ll see.

I won’t go into specifics but, as has happened so many times in the past, I was surprised today by a few of the misconceptions about hurricanes that I heard expressed while I was out and about.  For those of you who are interested in common misconceptions about hurricanes, here is a link: 

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/952/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IRMA POSTING – PLUS

– click mouse twice for full enlargement of this image –

 

 

FIRST ENTRY IN MORE THAN A YEAR – 9-6-2017

I apologize to those few of you who have been consulting this weblog. My last posting was August 31, 2016. I’m still going strong and my interest has not waned. I’m still in the learning mode and intend to stay there. But it’s been a long time since I retired from teaching full-time college geosciences in 2003 and a lot has changed. I continued adjunct teaching after I retired but then moved away from South Florida in 2005. From 2006 into 2013 I taught 14 short-term courses at the College of Central Florida. Interest in this weblog seems to have diminished since I stopped formal teaching. However, when I checked this site this morning I saw that it has gotten tons of hits over the last few days, probably due to hurricane Irma. Prior to this current event almost all geoscience questions and observations that have come my way have been from a few family members, a few neighbors, and one buddy at church. It is very rare for me to hear from former students.

In-so-far as weather reporting is concerned, the information available to the public has blossomed since I retired and, for the most part, its quality has improved to the point that there is little if anything I can add (beyond basics). Many of my notions concerning tropical weather events fall into the category of hunches or intuition. I don’t believe that my 37 years of teaching meteorology full-time gives me license to clutter minds with my ideas unless I’m honest about them. Instead, in the comments below about Irma, I will share the four tropical weather resources I consult most often.

I am planning a change of theme and/or purpose for this site soon – more in the realm of discovery, opinions, observations, analyses, experiences, and perhaps some attempts at humor. The “About” page for this site was updated earlier today and if you wish to contact me, you will find my address there.

 

 

MY INPUT ON OUR CURRENT TROPICAL WEATHER

WHICH IS BEING DOMINATED BY HURRICANE IRMA.

My four primary resources are:

  1. Dr. Jeff Masters’ weblog (blog) at WeatherUnderground.com. It can be found here: https://wwwwunderground.com/cat6

  2. The Weather Channel on television and on-line – including apps. There are things about the Weather Channel presentations I don’t like. Nevertheless I appreciate the convenience and their efforts.

  3. The National Hurricane Center. I go to this site to get a grip on what is going on in their world. I consider that they might tend to err on the side of caution, subconsciously at the very least. What an awesome responsibility they have. Http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

  4. The ECMWF Model – commonly referred to as the European Model.

I rely upon it heavily because of it’s premier reputation due to its accuracy over the last few years. It has done well for the “Irma type” storms. To be sure, I don’t ignore the other models. The following paragraph is for those who have been trying to understand that model.

You are likely to have heard many references to the European Model. I admit it is confusing. For example, here is a quote from Dr. Jeff Masters. “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 other major models.” Thus, even though on television or on-line you may see comparisons of the European Model to the myriad other models, you might have noticed that it’s not included in the spaghetti charts that show models from multiple sources. What you will see is either the European “operational” model track or the European Ensemble (a spaghetti graphic). For that spaghetti ensemble the operational model is re-run at a lower resolution (called the control run) and this is then repeated 50 times, each with slightly different starting conditions.

I get my favorite animated European model track from Penn State’s Department of Meteorology at http://mp1.met.psu.edu/~fxg1/ECMWF0.5_0z/ecmwfloop.html

Please note that this link is time-sensitive.

Of the four charts, I focus upon the one on the upper right as I scroll through f24 through f240 ( which means “24 hours into the future” through “240 hours into the future”).

You might fry your brain with the time signatures on the bottom – depending upon your comfort level with time at the prime meridian (Universal, Greenwich, Zulu) and your knowledge of Victor time.

 

THE CORIOLIS EFFECT

I’ve been thinking all day long about the Coriolis Effect as it relates to Irma. If you are my former student you might recall that the steering currents at high altitude are, in part, a function of the Coriolis Effect (the Penn State chart on the upper left) and I’ll bet you remember that the counterclockwise circulation of Irma is due to the Coriolis Effect. If you’re still sharp on the subject you might also remember that the outflow at the top of the storm is likely to be clockwise for the same reason – the Coriolis Effect. I know that sounds like a contradiction to those of you who are unfamiliar with this subject. If you are interested in the Coriolis Effect go here:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/the-coriolis-effect-in-the-real-world-a-tutorial-part-1/

and here:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/the-coriolis-effect-in-the-real-world-a-tutorial-part-2-cyclones-anticyclones/

 

MY NOTIONS TODAY ABOUT IRMA

Here is my zinger that comes from the “gut level” and is therefore probably not deserving of any classification other than “pure speculation.” (That’s the honesty I referred to in the second paragraph of this blog).

I am expecting (or is it hoping and praying for?) slightly more turning to the right than the experts are indicating. The itty-bitty turn last night was encouraging to me. I keep telling myself that the hurricane is a separate entity of its own and that the Coriolis Effect is influencing it’s path independent of the steering currents and the rotational motion. That path is the consequence of what is referred to as translational motion. Furthermore, the further north the storm gets, the stronger the Coriolis Effect will be. The Coriolis Effect is zero at the equator and increases to 100% at the poles. Maybe I’m just overly excited about last night’s noticeable veering of Irma’s path. Perhaps this is merely a good example of wishful thinking. We’ll see.

 

FOR CITRUS COUNTY, FLORIDA

Finally, for those of you who live in my county of Florida, Citrus, you might be interested in this August 2014 posting about hurricanes.

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/citrus-county-florida-and-hurricanes/

 

 

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:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/tag/wind-velocity-relative-to-force/

 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.

BUT DON’T EVACUATE IF THE STORM IS UPON YOU UNLESS YOU FEEL THAT THE MOVE IS ACTUALLY SAFER THAN STAYING.

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.” http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/hurricanes.html

Coming next:  My Christmas Greeting and Reflections.

“GULF OF MEXICO DEVELOPMENT POSSIBLE LATE THIS WEEK” – 8-30-2011

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

Two left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.

Photo Of Irene From Space – 8-28-2011

The photo below is actually from a scan of the “full disk” of earth from the GOES-13 satellite.  I have cropped the original in order to concentrate upon Tropical Storm Irene.  Tropical Storm Jose also shows up in the image; it is very small.  To find it look for a small blob of clouds, bright white (about half the width of the state of Florida and located off the Carolinas  and next to Bermuda).  More information follows after the image.

TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS WILL ENLARGE TO THE FULLEST.

– THANKS TO NOAA FOR THIS IMAGE –

TIME OF PHOTO – 2:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time

DATE – Sunday, August 28, 2011

ALTITUDE OF SATELLITE – about 22,300 miles

TIME NEEDED TO SCAN FULL DISK OF EARTH – about 26 minute

LINK TO MORE INFORMATION ON  SATELLITE IMAGE –  http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/imager.html

OFFICIAL IRENE FORECAST – CONE OF UNCERTAINTY – FRIDAY 8 PM EDT

TWO LEFT CLICKS FOR TOTAL ENLARGEMENT

This is self-explanatory.  If you are anywhere within the cone of uncertainty please do not be careless in your thinking.  Stay alert, keep a clear head, and do not allow that epidemic disease, terminal uniqueness, to cause you to think that “it” always happens to the other guy (or gal).  Do not take any unnecessary chances.  Be patient, use common sense, and remember that this too shall pass.

My thoughts are with you.

For previous reports go to the blog tab near the upper left of the page and then scroll down.

ECMWF MODEL RUN – THE EUROPEAN MODEL

When the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast model is running, here is my favorite site for viewing:

For a lot of different reasons, but mainly because I enjoy the insights of Dr. Jeff Masters in his weather blog, I use WeatherUnderground.com.  For future reference, a link to his blog is under the Blogroll category at the right margin of this page.  In fact, it’s the first listed.

For the ECMWF Model Run, click on the following link and then follow my instructions exactly:  NOTE:  YOU MIGHT WANT TO COPY THE INSTRUCTIONS BECAUSE ONCE YOU CLICK ON THE LINK THIS PAGE WILL BE GONE UNLESS YOU CLICK BACK –

 

http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/

  1. At the upper left of the image, click on the “continent” tab.
  2. Scroll down the menu on the right margin and click in the box labeled “model data”.
  3. Another menu dropped down. Click on the “model” arrow and select ECMWF.
  4. Make sure the “map type” remains on MSL which stands for “mean sea level.”
  5. Click on the “forecast” arrow and wait patiently for the load.
  6. After it has loaded fully it should loop. If you want it to stop click on the button at “forecast.”

Though the European Model is not always right (none of them are) it has done the best job for the last two years in situations akin to this one with hurricane Irene.  The National Weather Service gives credence to this model though you will not see it indicated on the official spaghetti charts and such.  In fact, lately, the NWS official forecasts have been close to that of the ECMWF model runs or, if you please, the ECMWF model runs have been close to the official forecasts of the NWS.  To be sure, there will be times when there is little agreement – at which time I expect to lean toward the NWS advisories.

Forecast for Irene by the European Model – posted 8-24-2011

This posting is time-sensitive and is now out of date.  For step by step instructions on access to an animated loop of the most current ECMWF (“European”) model go to the following link:  https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/ecmwf-model-run-the-european-model/

Hurricane Irene is now a category 3 storm.

IF YOU ARE WITHIN THE PUBLISHED CONE OF UNCERTAINTY IT WOULD BE FOOLISH TO IGNORE THIS STORM EVEN THOUGH YOU MIGHT NOT BE CLOSE TO WHERE IT IS CURRENTLY PREDICTED TO GO.  That is not just my opinion but also the opinion of National Weather Service forecasters.

TO FIND THE MOST RECENT CONE OF UNCERTAINTY DEPICTION, GO TO THE RIGHT-HAND MARGIN OF THIS PAGE AND UNDER “TROPICAL WEATHER” CLICK ON “NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HOME.

The graphic that follows is a 72 hour (3 day) forecast position that originated at 0000 Greenwich Time on the 24th (which is 2000 hours on the 23rd EDT time – or 8 pm).   The path that this European Model predicts correspond closely with today’s official forecast track of the National Weather Service.

On this graphic, and most on this site, two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.  The poorness of the resolution is due to considerable enlargement from the original.

2 LEFT CLICKS FOR FULL ENLARGEMENT

Early U.S. Landfall forecast for Irene by the European Model – 8-23-2011

 

 

 

 

This posting is time-sensitive and is now out of date.  For step by step instructions on access to an animated loop of the most current ECMWF (“European”) model go to the following link:  https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/ecmwf-model-run-the-european-model/

 

 

Mind you, I am not formally trained in forecasting.  I am conveying to you what I am deriving from others and when I include my personal opinion I try to make that clear.  Also, very small changes in course can make a huge change in the location of a storm’s landfall, particularly when it is so far out as is Irene this moment.  For example, I am in West-Central Florida, 17 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico but none-the-less, you can bet your sweet bippie that I’m on the alert.  SO IF YOU ARE WITHIN THE PUBLISHED CONE OF UNCERTAINTY IT WOULD BE FOOLISH TO IGNORE THIS STORM EVEN THOUGH YOU MIGHT NOT BE CLOSE TO WHERE IT IS CURRENTLY PREDICTED TO GO.  That is not just my opinion but also the opinion of National Weather Service forecasters.

TO FIND THE MOST RECENT CONE OF UNCERTAINTY DEPICTION, GO TO THE RIGHT-HAND MARGIN OF THIS PAGE AND UNDER “TROPICAL WEATHER” CLICK ON “NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HOME.

Over the last two years the European Model has done the best at predicting the paths of tropical systems under these particular circumstances.  The graphic that follows is a 5 day forecast position that originated at 0000 Greenwich Time on the 23rd (which is 2000 hours on the 22nd EDT time – or 8 pm).  A lot can happen in 5 days so take this for what it’s worth.  This does correspond closely with determinations made by the National Weather Service today.

I will check the next run (they occur at 0000 and 1200 or twice a day – Greenwich Time) and if there is a significant change I will post it.

On this graphic, and most on this site, two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.