Archive for the ‘Hurricane preparation’ 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 –
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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/
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.
Part of the image above was done in 2007 and part in 2008. I copied this from Google Earth this morning to give you an idea of the size and configuration of the beautiful British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. Notice the 5 mile long scale at the lower left. Latitude and longitude are also shown at the bottom margin. This view is from an altitude of over 17 miles. I recommend Google Earth for those of you who might be interested in more detail which is readily available. There is a free version available. With practice you can have great fun exploring the earth.
http://www.google.com/earth/explore/products/desktop.html The free version of Google Earth 5 is the one that appears first on the page.
Yesterday Hurricane Hunter aircraft crews found that the inner 23-mile wide eyewall had collapsed during what seemed like a fairly typical eyewall replacement cycle. A very large 92-mile wide eye was the result and, and as usually happens in such events the hurricane weakened. Currently hurricane force winds are now spread out over a larger area but Igor is “down” to a category 1 hurricane. Much of the big eye wall has collapsed and though that is good news, Bermuda is still in for some strong winds of long duration – and intensification is still a possibility. In any event, there is likely to be considerable damage to beaches and some structures. I am under the impression that residents of Bermuda are “hurricane savvy” and probably better prepared than those who live along Eastern coastal U.S. A.
According to a 9-17-2010 posting on Air-Worldwide.com, “Homes in Bermuda are typically one or two stories and constructed of ‘Bermuda Stone,’ a locally quarried limestone, or of concrete blocks. Roofs are commonly made of limestone slate tiles cemented together. Commercial buildings, typically of reinforced concrete construction, rarely exceed six stories. In both residential and commercial buildings, window openings are generally small and window shutters are common. These features make Bermuda’s building stock quite resistant to winds, and homes are designed to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph and gusts of up to 150 mph.”
8-30-2010 10:10 pm EDT.
I’ve watched television weather reporters today trying to explain what mechanism will hopefully turn Earl to the right – the sooner the better. But not one of them mentioned the natural tendency for objects, fluids, and dynamic systems in motion to turn right (in the Northern Hemisphere). I’m referring to the Coriolis Effect. At times like this it is unfortunate that the Coriolis Effect cannot strengthened or weakened at will by those of us who would wish to keep these strong storms from plowing into us.
Here are two links for you if you are interested in the Coriolis Effect as it relates to weather:
I remember so well in late August, 1992, as I, my family, my students, and my friends and neighbors were hoping and praying for powerful hurricane Andrew to turn right and stay out over the Atlantic. It eventually did turn right but not soon enough for us. Our house was a total loss; the eye of Andrew went right over it. We stayed in the community and had the house rebuilt; it was exactly one year before we occupied it again even though it wasn’t entirely finished. I had purchased a 25′ travel trailer which was our palace-in-the-driveway for that year and we spent many Summers thereafter traveling all over the continent with our children.
Bottom line: Lets hope for a drastic right turn on the part of Earl very soon. The computer model tracks do not look promising for that. Things are looking increasingly “ugly” for places like coastal North Carolina and points northward up the coast. Though weakening is expected to occur before a possible visit to Nova Scotia – the prospect is nevertheless of considerable concern.
NOTE: Some depictions of the successive forecast mean positions that you might see on television, your computer, or in the print media might be connected with an arcuate line right down the middle of the “cone of uncertainty.” The National Hurricane Center still provides such a depiction but they favor this one because it has been shown that when people gaze at the midline they tend to either forget or ignore that the storm could fairly easily embark into other parts of the widening cone as it moves along.
Though this is probably not news to you – as predicted in the previous posting – activity is picking up out there. That should be no surprise considering the time of the year. Once again, I urge you to be prepared for the eventualities of tropical weather if you live in hurricane country. Having experienced the destruction and aftermath of hurricane Andrew, I can assure you that it doesn’t always happen to “the other guy (or gal)!”
In my family we find that no matter what plans we make – we must not be surprised or angry or disappointed if Mother Nature decides to inconvenience us. In my opinion it is important to take one day at a time while doing our best to enjoy life and to be of service to others.
Please count on having to be self-sufficient for a while if a damaging/disruptive storm should come through. When the little things we take for granted are taken away – our lives can suddenly undergo a drastic change. For example, after Andrew we had no electricity for over 6 weeks. In spite of the fact that the majority of people who came down to Homestead to help our community were wonderful and extremely well-intentioned – there were some real opportunists too. A case in point: Generators were trucked down and sold from the back of the trailers for more than 5 times their suggested retail price – cash only – on the line! The 25′ travel trailer I bought to live in (our house was a total loss) cost $12,995 in our part of Florida before the storm and $17,995 after the storm. The good news is that my son-in-law found the same model for me from the dealer in Knoxville who sold it to us for $10,000 – and that included delivering it to my driveway in Homestead and showing me the ropes on how to operate the things I knew nothing about. He and his wife told us that when watching television in the comfort of their home they had been hoping that something would come up where they could be of significant help to a family. What special people they are!
Only one window was broken by the storm in our home and that was merely a crack. Why? We had them all protected with storm shutters. But – the roof failed! The shutters don’t protect the contents of a house when the roof comes off – LOL.
A friend of mine who worked at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant had quit drinking a couple of years prior to hurricane Andrew. When I saw him a few days after the storm he told me how happy he was that he had quit because had he been drinking he would have merely sat in his recliner with a bottle (or bottles) and tried to ride out the storm in some state of oblivion. He said that the storm had moved that recliner 8 yards from its spot in his family room. I thought to myself, “8 yards – 24 feet – sure – I can visualize that happening – easily. After all – his family room was the biggest room in the house. BUT – what he meant was 8 “yards!” Yes – the chair had been repositioned 8 houses down the street coming to rest in someone else’s back yard.
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Today, June 1, 2010, marks the official beginning of the northern hemisphere’s Atlantic Hurricane Season. The season is 6 months long, ending at the end of November 30. However, hurricanes can occur outside that officially designated season.
I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to family and friends of the 11 workers who died in the April 20 oil drilling rig explosion and hope for a quick recovery for those 17 who were injured. Sadly, before this is “over” there are likely to be even more casualties.
You have probably been hearing and reading a lot lately about the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current due to the resultant, catastrophic, ongoing crude oil discharge from the sea floor into the Gulf’s waters. The Loop has been described as a potential transporter of much of that oil around the Florida Keys and on up the East Coast of the United States (and even potentially further). The Loop is but a segment of the huge North Atlantic Gyre (sometimes called the Gulf-stream Gyre) and is an essential element in the process whereby heat energy is exchanged between the low latitudes and the higher latitudes. Without it, our climates would be far more severe on both ends of the thermal spectrum.
So – though I wish to emphasize that the Loop in-of-itself is not a bad thing, it has recently been portrayed that way because of its potential to spread the hazardous oil far beyond its source. Furthermore, when it comes to hurricanes, there have been clear examples of hurricane intensification while moving over the Loop. Recent examples are hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both in 2005. Katrina’s movement over the Loop is graphically illustrated above.
If you wish to read a bit more about hurricane intensification from warm water surfaces go to the following link from 2008 in which I am discussing hurricane Gustav.
I doubt it’s news to you that this season is predicted to be more active than usual. I won’t add to the myriad words on this subject already made available on-line within the last few days but here is a link to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration page (NOAA) if you want some detail:
It is my great hope that your life is not complicated or endangered by a hurricane or hurricane’s this year or any other year. If you do live in “hurricane territory” I beg you to address preparation now if you have not already. I hope that you have not “caught” the disorder that seems to be epidemic these days, “terminal uniqueness.” Please know – it doesn’t always happen to the “other guy.” Please don’t become a victim because of that misconception. It’s important to realize that if you do have storm problems – assistance is not likely to be quickly and/or efficiently available. You might have to fend for yourself for quite some time. It is not smart to expect “quick response teams” to rush to your aid. If a strong hurricane visits your area it is likely to be a devastating event if you are not prepared. I’ll tell you this: From my experience with hurricane Andrew (1992), it’s tough enough when you are prepared.
Some of the information on this site is published close to “real-time” particularly as it applies to tropical weather. But it is important to remember that the only “official” source of information is the National Hurricane Center. Decisions concerning life or death, property, and such should not be made based solely on the information found on this site or any other sites that are recommended here. unless they are official. Listen to your local authorities when conditions are life-threatening or there is possible loss of property.
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THE ENTIRE FIRST PARAGRAPH THAT FOLLOWS IS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM DR. JEFF MASTERS (PICTURED BELOW) THAT WAS CUT AND PASTED FROM HIS WEATHER UNDERGROUND SITE; DR. MASTERS IS MY MOST RELIABLE AND DEPENDABLE SOURCE WHEN IT COMES TO TROPICAL WEATHER; HE IS A DEDICATED ‘WINNER:” ONE REASON WHY I DEPEND SO HEAVILY UPON HIS WORK IS THAT HE IS NOT OPERATING UNDER THE CONSTRAINTS OF NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTER BUT HE BENEFITS FROM THEIR INTERPRETATIONS AS WELL AS FROM OTHER NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RESOURCES. HE IS DEDICATED, “UP FRONT,” AND RESPONSIBLE.
The forecast for Ida –
Posted: 10:21 AM EST on November 08, 2009
“The high wind shear of 20 – 25 knots currently affecting Ida is forecast to persist at that level until Monday night. Some slow intensification is still possible while Ida remains over the exceptionally warm water of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico, through tonight (Figure 2). Late tonight, Ida will be crossing over waters of 26°C, which is barely enough to support a hurricane. With shear still expected to be at 20 -25 knots, I expect weakening to begin early Monday morning and accelerate on Monday afternoon. At that time, Ida will encounter 40 knots of wind shear associated with a cold front over the Gulf of Mexico, and begin transitioning to an extratropical storm. Exactly how strong Ida will be when it reaches the coast early Tuesday morning–and indeed if Ida even does reach the coast–is a forecast with high uncertainty. The computer models have a tough time forecasting the evolution of a tropical cyclone into an extratropical cyclone, and the models are all over the place on what will happen. Most of the models foresee a landfall near 1 am EST Tuesday between Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida, then a path northeastward over the Southeast U.S. However, Ida could come to halt before reaching the coast and turn west towards Tampa (the UKMET model’s forecast), or turn south back over the Gulf of Mexico (the NOGAPS model’s forecast). In any case, storm surge and heavy rain appear to be the main hazards from Ida. The GFDL model (Figure 3) is forecasting rain amounts of 4 – 8 inches for a large swath of the Gulf Coast, and there is a risk of tornadoes if the warm air from the core of Ida pushes ashore.” END QUOTE
From my point of view, (this is Cloudman23 writing) everyone on the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to Key West should have a “heads up” mindset while Ida is out there. As Dr. Masters said, the computer models have a difficult time when the tropical to extratropical metamorphoses takes place. Furthermore, the chance of tornadoes (mentioned by Dr. Masters) in association with warm, moist air from Ida and its inherent instability in such situations, this storm should not be taken lightly.
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This image shows no tropical activity 15 minutes into our 2009 season (not surprisingly) but you can clearly see the clouds development with a stationary front cutting diagonally across the image.
The Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean hurricane season “officially” begins on June 1. The fact that Tropical Depression 1 formed about 4 days before the official season’s beginning is not an indication of an active hurricane season this year. There seems to be no relationship between early activity and the “busyness” of that season. In fact, there is a real possibility that an El Niño event will be strong during what we consider the peak activity period of our season (the approximate middle of the 6 month long period). Eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures have been rising steadily for the last several months pointing to the El Niño possibility. That means is that our 2009 season might be less active than usual if the ENSO comes to fruition. ENSO = El Niño Southern Oscillation. BUT, even if a strong El Niño develops it is no time to let down one’s guard if living in “hurricane country.” 1992 was an El Niño year and that was when Andrew occurred. My house in Homestead was a total loss.
I was extremely well prepared back then (August 24, 1992) but hurricane Andrew slammed in as a category 5. However, we did have a plan and it worked to the degree that no one in my family was physically hurt. Only one window had a small crack but – the roof failed and the damage was almost beyond belief for us. Since Andrew was a relatively dry storm our windows holding firm did make it so that we were able to salvage some valuable items afterwards because the wind did not gut the house.
We stayed in the community and helped rebuild. We had great insurance and our house was reconstructed in one year to a higher standard. During that time we four lived in a 25’ travel trailer that I purchased for that purpose but kept for several years afterwards to use for recreational and educational travel.
If you live in “hurricane country” then you have choices. Some of us have more choices than others but you should at least have a plan that is clearly articulated to and understood by each member of your household. Shall you be well prepared or do you choose to become a potential victim who is dependent upon others almost immediately after a storm?
I urge you to follow to the best of your ability those preparation suggestions made by your local and federal agencies. Some of us are more fortunate than others in what we are able to do to protect our dwellings – that is, those of us who are lucky enough to have a place we call home.
In my new post-retirement community and in neighboring communities (Citrus and neighboring counties) I see what I consider to be real paradoxes or, at the very least, some irony. I’m reminded (but to a somewhat lesser degree) of one of my Homestead neighbors who drove a Mercedes while his wife drove a BMW; they owned a very large boat moored at a dock in nearby Biscayne Bay, an ultra-light aircraft and a twin Cessna – yet they had no window protection of any sort for their home. I speculate that it was not a matter of the cost of such protection but more a matter of priorities and life style with perhaps a little measure of denial thrown in.
Some people in my part of Florida feel that by being inland they have some sort of immunity to the ravages of hurricanes. Yes – it is an advantage being inland, especially if on high ground but it does not offer any guarantees. Most deaths in hurricanes (on the average) are due to high water and being away from the storm surge zones and areas prone to flooding from the storm’s downpours makes for a safer situation – generally speaking. But, high winds can play havoc particularly when items become projectiles in the wind. It is a fact that if the wind velocity doubles, the force it exerts upon a surface it is striking at right angles quadruples! People in my part of Florida experienced a lot of activity if they were here in 2004 but the wind velocities were luckily relatively low. Only modestly higher wind velocities would have produced exponentially greater force and far greater damage. Furthermore, tornadoes and microbursts occur within hurricane bands and neither have a preference for locations near the coast.
Come early August we will have been in our new home for four years. Our first major purchase when moving in was window and door storm protection. We had tended to that “need” before we were even set up with a cable connection for our televisions and computers. For the first two years that we were here I participated in a number of hurricane expos as the “hurricane resource person” on site. There were expo participants who were in the business of selling, fabricating, and installing storm protection to homes and businesses. Most visitors were there to learn about hurricane safety and hurricane protection. But one particular type of visitor seemed to come to these expos in order to exercise their debate skills on the pros and cons of storm protection for windows and doors. I was amazed at times by the level of denial and warped rationalization that I witnessed. Some argued that they refused to concern themselves with such matters and would just let their insurance take care of it for them. There was little if any consideration for how they would deal with losses of personal items, safety issues if they were not to evacuate, safety issues if they were to evacuate, where they would go if they did evacuate in time, and how they would handle matters when they returned if things were torn all to hell! I am convinced that some of the men I talked to felt that it was a manly thing to face a storm raw without preparation – even though in some case it meant leaving their house mates far more vulnerable than necessary. To my mind, they had it backwards – a real man takes care of his own and is available to help others as well.
I can testify, by experience, that the trauma of a storm itself often does not compare to the trauma of the immediate aftermath and rebuilding. Looting, for example and other forms of predatory behavior can occur. In heavily damaged areas the majority of those who come to help are good people with good intentions but there is one whole class of “helpers” who are there to take victims for a ride they will never forget. In South Dade County, where Andrew first struck the U.S.A. the divorce rate just about doubled for the next few years. Stress and anxiety were on a very high level.
So – please think in terms of the big picture when a hurricane visits – not simply the weather event itself. Think in terms of what you’ll do if you lose electricity for several days and how you will fare food-wise if you need to go for a week or more without provisions and how you’ll communicate. Cell phones go out of commission when the transmission and relay towers are damaged. Then there are the special needs people who absolutely must make arrangements for care in the event of a serious storm.
Please be prepared to the best of your ability. If you later consider all of that planning and work to be for naught because no hurricane occurs in your region – there will be more seasons to follow for which you will again be ready and if, near the end of the season, you have a box full of “emergency food” there are surely some places near where you live to donate it to the needy. After all, the end of the official hurricane season (November 30) and Thanksgiving (November 26) are pretty darned close to each other.
Here is this season’s list of names; tropical cyclonic systems will receive names in order from this list once they reach tropical storm intensity; tropical storm sustained winds fall in the range of 39 mph to 73 mph; of course they retain their names if they become hurricanes (74 mph or more):
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Target Area = the following Florida counties:
Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough
Event: Coastal Flood Statement Effective:18:38 CDT on 12-10-2008 Expires:09:00 CDT on 12-12-2008 Alert:
…INCREASING WINDS AND SEAS WILL RESULT IN HIGHER THAN NORMAL TIDES AND HIGH SURF ALONG THE FLORIDA WEST COAST THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT…
.AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP OVER THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO AND QUICKLY STRENGTHEN AS IT MOVES NORTHEAST ACROSS THE SOUTHEASTERN STATES TONIGHT AND THURSDAY AND EVENTUALLY UP ALONG THE MID ATLANTIC COAST THURSDAY NIGHT AND FRIDAY. AS THIS SYSTEM MOVES BY TO THE NORTH IT WILL DRAG A STRONG COLD FRONT THROUGH THE GULF WATERS TONIGHT AND THURSDAY.
AHEAD OF THIS FRONT SOUTHEAST TO SOUTH WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE TO NEAR 20 KNOTS WITH SOME HIGHER GUSTS LATER TODAY AND
TONIGHT THEN SHIFT INTO THE WEST AND NORTHWEST AT 20 TO 25 KNOTS WITH HIGHER GUSTS DURING THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT.
INCREASING SOUTHERLY WINDS AHEAD OF A COLD FRONT AND STRONG WESTERLY WINDS IN ITS WAKE WILL HELP TO BUILD SEAS OVER THE ADJACENT GULF WATERS THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT. THE INCREASING WINDS AND SEAS WILL CAUSE TIDES TO RUN SOME 1 TO 2 FEET ABOVE NORMAL FROM TAMPA BAY NORTH TO THE SUWANNEE RIVER…WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR 2 TO 3 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDES FROM HOMOSASSA NORTH THROUGH CEDAR KEY TO THE SUWANNEE RIVER.
THESE ABOVE NORMAL TIDES MAY CAUSE SOME MINOR COASTAL FLOODING AND OVER-WASH AS WELL AS MINOR BEACH EROSION AT TIMES OF HIGH TIDE THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT. IN ADDITION THE RISK OF RIP CURRENTS AND STRONG UNDERTOWS AND LARGE BREAKING WAVES ALONG AREA BEACHES WILL ALSO BE ON THE INCREASE.
RESIDENTS LIVING ALONG THE COAST SHOULD MONITOR WATER LEVELS THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT AND BE READY TO MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND SHOULD FLOODING BE OBSERVED.
STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR LOCAL MEDIA FOR FURTHER UPDATES ON THIS DEVELOPING WEATHER SITUATION.
I personally recommend that residents of the counties mentioned above and also adjacent inland counties pay attention to the weather tomorrow (Thursday). Cyclogenesis is predicted to occur along the front over the Gulf and that could cause it to swing around rapidly – generating a dangerous squall line ahead of it. The radar image above shows a squall currently out ahead of the front itself and I have no reason to believe that it will dissipate any time soon. So – expect squally weather tomorrow and plan accordingly.
Cloudman 23 (Tonie A. Toney)
THIS CHART IS TIME-SENSITIVE,
AS ARE MOST CHARTS PROVIDED IN THIS WEB-LOG SITE.
Vertical wind shear is defined as the change of the wind (velocity or direction or both) with changes in altitude. Vertical wind shear, particularly in velocity, is a significant factor in the probability for tropical system intensification, or weakening. Here is a general rule of thumb on that subject: The probability of intensification increases when vertical shear is 20 knots or less – and when shear exceeds 20 knots there is a decrease in the probability of intensification.
The graphic that I have provided (above) shows the wind shear forecast for tomorrow afternoon – Saturday, November 1, 2008, Eastern Time. I recommend two single left clicks upon the image to enlarge it adequately. I have marked some belts of high shear and low shear and I have also placed a white arrow on the scale at the bottom of the map showing 20 knots which is about 10.29 meters per second.
It is expected that for the first half of the month high wind shear will protect Florida from storms that might develop over the typical late-season hurricane breeding sites. If this forecast pans out, it is not likely that the Gulf Coast states will see tropical action for that portion of the month. However, storm probabilities, with respect to vertical wind shear, may increase during the second half of the month. Of course there are other factors – e.g. – sea surface temperatures. I will address that soon.
Living in Florida, hurricanes are of great concern to me. Members of my family depend upon me to provide as safe a home as possible. Even though a storm threat seems unlikely for at least the next two weeks, and we are well into the period of steady decline in tropical weather activity, I have no intention of letting my guard down any time soon and this is what I recommend for you if you live in a hurricane-prone region. Some very impressive storms have occurred in November.
NOTE: I have tried to help you get your bearings geographically by marking Florida – not because I felt that you couldn’t find it but because the deep color contrast obscure the geographical outlines. I simply wanted to make it as easy for you as possible in the event your eyes are as bad as mine. LOL