Saturday, September 18, 2004

IVAN NOT AS IMMOBILE AS WE THOUGHT

JEANNE LOSES HER MOJO... BUT POISED FOR A COMEBACK IN THE GULF

KARL GETS KNOCKED NORTH... COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF ON EAST COAST

First, an update on this multiple personality storm:

1. Ivan the Nor'easter has dropped tremendous amounts of rain from New York state all down through the central and southern Appalachians. Our trusty loyal observer in Altoona reported Friday morning he was getting "Ivaned" on. Observations verify that 4-6 inches of rain has falled in a swath from Pittsburgh to Williamsport. The Mid-Atlantic will get into the action Saturday, as east and southeast winds bring moisture in from the ocean and lay in a blanket of heavy rain for better part of the day.

2. Ivan the Monsoon did his dirty work in the southern Appalachians as expected. Horrific scenes of flooding on the news indicate the hype was not an exaggeration. Some areas in the Carolinas and Georgia blasted by Frances have been re-blasted by Ivan, to the tune of 10 or more inches of rain.

3. Ivan the Drifter. Computer models continue to show that the low pressure center will drift southwest and eventually end up near Texas or the Gulf. It's center is somewhere in southern Virginia or North Carolina. Friday night I said that the center would drift off the Mid-Atlantic coast, instead of being pressed southwest as the computer models projected. The cold front lining up along the Appalachians shoved what is left of the depression . . . out into the Altantic.
I wonder if the depression has the chance to reorganize a little under the nook of the high building south in it's wake. It would seem that easterly winds would prevent this from escaping into the North Atlantic. Perhaps we will see this storm regain moisture, and even weak tropical storm status before getting re-routed back into the Carolinas.

4. Ivan the Tornado. I think the media and weather services have underestimated the tornado threat from the fallout of the unraveling hurricane, as probably close to 50 twisters on Friday alone associated with Ivan have been reported as of 8 pm EDT. I don't remember a hurricane ever having this many bonafide outbreaks of severe weather. That would bring the total tornado outbreaks from this hurricane to over 100.

5. Ivan the Inflicter. The damage I've seen on the news and shown my students is just absolutely Andrew-esque. Some areas of Pensacola look completely destroyed, and the devastating reports keep coming in... portions of I-10 closed indefinitely, a 6-12 month time frame for cleanup, possibly more than $10 billion in insured losses alone. The loss of life is terribly sad, and as a parent I have that hurt feeling inside when I hear of a child dying in a storm like this. But perhaps the message from Mother Nature is to make a choice not to put your family in harm's way if you can help it. I hope this is a wakeup call to those who would be lured to live on the seemingly tranquil waters of the northern Gulf.

WILL JEANNE JOIN THE PARADE OF STORMS?

This seems hard to fathom, but you watch and see where Jeanne end up going. I think she will eventually chug UNDER Florida, south of the Bahamas, and re-emerge in the Gulf, or perhaps graze the southern part of the state. The high pressure ridge will build over the Mid-Atlantic as forecasted, giving them beautiful weather on Sunday through Wednesday. The high will also act to block Jeanne from moving any farther north than parallel with Orlando a couple hundred miles offshore. Then, I think the northeasterly influence of this high will shunt her toward the Keys by Wednesday.

Then, a variety of complex interactions will take place between this high, the moisture remnants of Hurricane Javier streaming in from the Pacific, the upper-level Ivan-inducted trough, and the jet stream. All this may serve to provide Jeanne a corridor through which to travel WNW into the gulf on Wednesday. I know it seems outlandish, but given the right environmental conditions of low shear and warm water, this storm can regain strength, possibly to a Category 2 or even minimal 3.

The scary part? Hurricane Betsy and a storm in 1947 followed similar paths.
Betsy roared to life once in the Gulf and then slammed into the south central Louisiana coast with 175 mph winds, sending 8-10 feet of water into New Orleans. Some of our loyal readers even witnessed that storm first hand. However, it does not take a Cat 5 to end the life of the Big Easy. A slow-moving, moisture laden minimal hurricane coming into Lake Ponchartrain from the southeast can in principal do as much long term damage as a fast-moving strong hurricane.

Both situations would seriously jeopardize the survival of the Gulf's crown jewel. So our storm-battered, bleary-eyed friends in Florida will have to be watching yet another tropical system threaten it's shores in the coming days.

The bottom line: though Jeanne has weakened to a depression, it has the ability and the atmospheric resources to rebound to a hurricane. If undisturbed from this point to it's final landfall, this may well be a major hurricane when it gets to that point. Residents of the Gulf Coast from Appalachiacola to Galveston need to monitor this closely. If you live in the southern Louisiana area, apply lessons learned from the Ivan evacuation and update your emergency plan. You might need it again real soon.

KARL KNOCKED NORTH BY LOW PRESSURE TROUGH

Unless something bizarre happens in the next 3-4 days, we should not have to worry about Karl as it seems that a trough building southeast in the Atlantic will curve Karl to the north and then northeast. This may be the beginning of the end of the Eastern Atlantic storm parade.

As we approach the end of September and into October, eyes must turn to the Gulf and southern Caribbean for more mischief to brew. There are still 72 long days left in hurricane season.

Hats off to TBH for the great lesson that hurricanes have taught us as posted in the comments. Very humorous indeed and there are many practical things we can learn from Mother Nature.