Archive for the ‘Hurricane preparedness’ Tag

ALL O.K. – Irma Update – Cloudman23’s Florida Family


     We and all family members (including animal members) are O.K.  No damage to our home.  Much debris to clean up but no hurry for that. Helping others is high on the list.  All neighbors and friends are O.K. as far as I can tell.  In this house the comfort level increased significantly about five hours ago and I’ll take credit for it (just joking about the taking credit part).  Here’s the tale:  I felt terrible for not having the American flag on display yesterday especially since it was 9-11.  That date certainly didn’t escape me.  But it was still too windy.  I put it out in all of its glory at 12:37 pm today and our electricity came back at 12:38.  So the air conditioner is on, the refrigerators and freezers are working and we now have water.  And obviously we have an Internet connection.  And most important of all, my father-in-law has Fox News (the only station his television set receives).   I guess I should have put the flag out sooner!

     My oldest daughter and her husband in Lakeland:  All services have been restored.   
      Her daughter in Lakeland with her husband:  Water but no power.  Estimate for restoration is 6-12 days.  Hope that changes!  9:50 pm 9-12-17 update: Power restored.  Amazing! 
      The next daughter in Saint John’s south of Jacksonville with her son:  Everything working.  Her oldest son in Valdosta, Georgia is fine but I have no details.
     The mother of those two daughters (in St. Johns) is in fine shape.  A recent text message indicated that she had services except for Internet.
     My youngest daughter in Lake City with her husband: No damage.  No power, no water – but they have a generator for lights and refrigeration.  9:50 pm 9-12-17 update: I was wrong.  They do not have a generator.   9:50 pm 9-12-17 update: Power restored late AM today, 9-13-17.  Biggest concern now is predicted flooding of the Santa Fe River nearby which will close down Interstate 75 at Fort White, which is near Lake City.  This will freeze their commuting which takes place between Lake City and Gainesville and also interfere drastically with those who are attempting to return from the north.
     My son in Crystal River with his wife.  No damage.  Everything restored.  My wife drove to their future house under construction (6 miles north of here) and it is fine.  The block side walls are up but the roof is not yet on.  She found that the elderly couple living next door were almost out of ice and that he (92) had insulin that must be kept cool.  They now have all of our ice.  If they want, they can come here.
     My father-in-law, nearly 97, who has lived with us for over 12 years handled the storm well.  He is not only a veteran of World War II but also a veteran of hurricane Donna (1960), and hurricane Betsy (1965) – both of which were memorable for him at one time.  But, he doesn’t remember them anymore.  However, he does still remember Andrew in 1992 when we all evacuated Homestead together and then came back to what looked like ground zero for that little twerp in North Korea.  The night of Irma’s visit was very loud but he didn’t hear a thing – slept right through it.  I guess that there are times when it is advantageous to have diminished hearing. 
     We stored a great amount of water prior to the storm specifically for the purpose of toilet flushing and taking spit bathes.  Praise the Lord for that.  It was difficult to school my father in law in the fundamental mandate, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  That was really no problem.  We have lots of water remaining in convenient containers as the two photos below show.  Though my little sailboat has 450 pounds of ballast in the keel, I’ve added a boatload of water ballast to her – plus more in the garage in those 20 pound cat litter containers with the big screw-on caps.
     Now for the first time we are able to see on television some of the devastation caused by this storm.  It reminds me that everything is relative.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering.  Our experience with Andrew taught me that the effects can be far reaching.  The fear, tension, discomfort, and the unknown can really take a toll.  Post traumatic stress disorder is common.  It’s bad enough for those who are healthy and happy; it must be so much worse for those who are not.  Now it’s time to look for those around us who need help.  We have supplies they might be able to use and some energy left.  What’s on my mind right now are the myriad people, many of them volunteers, who are busting their posteriors to help others in need – including those workers who are doing their best to restore services and also for those who are protecting us in so many other ways.  It did not escape me, for example, that the first two Irma-related fatalities in Florida were two law enforcement officers in a head-on crash southeast of Tampa. 
God bless you all.



Karen Is A Gulf Coast Concern

Karen– Click on image to enlarge –

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

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

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

Forecast for Karen

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

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

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.



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

Two left clicks on the image will enlarge it fully.

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

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

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

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

I wish you peace, good health, and happiness.

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.


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  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 –

  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:

Hurricane Irene is now a category 3 storm.



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.


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:



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.


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.





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.