Thursday, September 16, 2004



As of 3pm EDT, Ivan is now finally down to Tropical Storm strength, with 70 mph winds, after being a hurricane for 11 DAYS, 10 of which it was a major hurricane. News reports of massive damage and flooding have shown the battering this storm has unleashed on the central Gulf coast. The silver linings are that the storm spared New Orleans, and moved just east of Mobile Bay right before landfall, which despite the extensive wind and flooding, was a blessing for that city.

Pensacola, FL however, appears to have been very hard hit. Part of the I-10 bridge in Escambia County has been washed away. View the dramatic pictures at the Pensacola News Journal. This will be a huge problem for returning evacuees. Damage reports are coming in from all over, and we will likely see much more serious pictures in the coming hours and days.

The tornado threat is something that I regret has not been given enough attention in advance of the storm, and as a result, people very far from the main storm have lost their lives. Tornadoes coming out of a hurricane are especially potent and dangerous because there is so little warning time, if any. The twisters are spawned so quickly that radar and weather observations cannot keep up them, nor inform the public quickly enough.

The next major site update will be Friday morning as we get a better view of what Jeanne will do. I hope that by the weekend, I can upgrade the site in order to show you pictures.

Jeanne has dumped 12-24 inches of rain on Puerto Rico, and will dump even more along the north coast of the Dominican Republic in the next 24 hours. She has also outstripped the NHC wind speed projections, having reached hurricane status with 80 mph winds a full 36 hours earlier than expected. However, since the storm is going to get hung up over the high mountains of Haiti, we may see her decrease back to tropical storm before returning to the open water late today or tomorrow. Once that happens, Jeanne has every opportunity to strengthen further. Recent tropical activity has not affected Atlantic sea surface temperatures, as Frances was long enough ago that waters are starting to rebound to the mid 80's. Check my link to the left for Global SST to discover that the western Atlantic is still running 1 or 2 degrees C above normal. I will do a more detailed analysis of Jeanne's projected path in the next day or so.

FORECAST UPDATE: Jeanne's Journey will mostly like take her through the Florida straits and less likely toward the Carolinas. I have updated my forecast after looking at the long range modeling forecast and reading Joe Bastardi's column I can't take credit for claiming this forecast as my own. The hurricane center has Jeanne aiming for the Carolinas hit, probably somewhere between Charleston and Wilmington as a Cat 2. However, I see the logic behind Accuweather's totally different forecast. Large weather systems do not like to play hardball with each other or Chris Matthews as Zell Miller did after the RNC convention.

Large weather systems (large highs, large lows) do occasionally get hung up near each other, but it is rare. Hence our 2003 blizzard, which was a confluence of a few unusual circumstances. Usually, wouldn't you agree, that fronts and storms all move merrily along in a nice progression following the cue of the jet stream. I think Jeanne will be no exception to that rule. She is going to wait until Ivan gets done playing with the northeast as a nor'easter, will wait until steering currents reestablish themselves from the Atlantic high, and then start aiming for the Keys. Yes, the Florida Keys.

Wouldn't you also agree that the waters between Florida and Cuba has not been adversely affected yet this season. Hurricanes like to stay near warm water, so that region will act as somewhat of a magnet, and if the easterlies coincide, then Jeanne will mosey on through the southern Bahamas, missing or grazing the tip of Florida by Tuesday or Wednesday. By this time, she could easily be near or above Category 3.

If this scenario develops, then it is not out of the realm of possibility that the central Gulf coast would be under the gun again. I am not mongering for New Orleans to get hit, but each time it gets missed, the odds increase for next time. Accuweather points out that the New Orleans Nightmare is the 1947 storm with the strength of Betsy following her 1965 path that moves on a direct northwest track right over the mouth of the Mississippi, or the . Either track would literally mean the end of the Big Easy as we know it. It could be what Ivan might have been. Less likely although meteorologically possible given the current pattern of storm tracks, Jeanne could mimic the path of the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

On the flipside, if things in the northeast magically clear up and all this blocking business goes away, that clears the way for Jeanne to travels north over the Gulf stream. Those warm waters could give it the umpf needed to approach Category 3 strength before coming onshore.

In either scenario, I see the THIRD major hurricane to strike the U.S. this season within a 7 to 10 day time period, not including what Karl may do.


Coastal areas from Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL and eastward received the full force of a 10-1 5 foot surge and waves of 20-30 feet with 110-130 mph winds this morning. Anyone who chose to stay in the mandatory evacuation area south of I-10 gambled with their life, as 12 fatalities have been reported as of 8 am EDT. Hurricane force are spread inland up to 150 miles. Tropical storm force winds extend out almost 300 miles, which makes this larger than Isabel or Frances ever was.

From Gulf Shores, AL we will hear that stronger winds observed at higher elevations has peeled off roofs of large seaside condominiums and sent tremendous debris cascading onto the smaller dwellings below. There will be enough structural damage to some of these buildings that literally hundreds upon hundreds of these expensive, high rise condos will be condemned from the Gulf Shores to Pensacola area. Based on insurance industry estimates I have heard and read recently, I predict the final price tag in insured losses alone may rival Andrew's $25 billion if the expected flooding in the Appalachians is counted into the total. This hurricane season will go down as the most expensive in history.

By the time Jeanne starts screaming at the Bahamas, what was Hurricane Ivan will become Monsoon Ivan. Areas that just received 10-15 inches of rain from Frances will get 1-2 feet of rain. I am not making this up. It has been forecasted by the National Weather Service. Even areas in the Mid-Atlantic will see 5 day rain totals over 8 inches. This will be a flood of "epic porportions" as forecasted by Accuweather, thus I have named it the Agnes of the Appalachians. Given my new forecast on Jeanne's path, I do not think the moisture associated with it will be able to link up with Ivan's remnants. Gosh, don't let those two get together.

Ivan's remnants become a "monsoon" due to four factors:
1. Ivan is projected to slow down over the next 24 hours, and almost stall north in Tennessee.

2. The stalling is caused by the lack of steering currents, the westerlies, that usually traverse the mid-latitudes which would usually lift the storm away from the area very quickly.

3. A blocking high pressure ridge on the EAST AND WEST of the storm will prevent major movement in either direction.

4. The jet stream is very far to the north, in Canada, so the highs and the hurricane are all "cut off" from the main flow of air. The result will be a endlessly spinning maelstrom that will be given ample opportunity to dump it's entire load of rain on an already severely strained region.

The Mid-Atlantic will probably be caught by surprise by a sudden onset of heavy rains for Saturday and Sunday. Many people will think that Ivan has traveled up the coast, when it reality it is still in Georgia or Tennessee. There are two high pressure systems that will work in tandem to enhance rainfall and stormy conditions along the coast from Norfolk to New York. Winds will increase to perhaps 30 mph sustained along the coast and 25 mph inland.

The first high is parked over eastern Canada, the second is moving into the Newfoundland Sound. The second high will act similiarly as the one which blocked the 2003 eastern blizzard from moving out to sea. The effect is a strong easterly to southeasterly fetch from across the ocean onto the coast, linking up with moisture being drawn in from the Atlantic to Ivan. This is why NWS predicts near 8 inches of rain for areas from Baltimore north to eastern Pennsylvania by Tuesday. With a easterly fetch over the bay, we will probably see some tidal flooding on the western bay by Sunday as the high tide cannot get out due to blocking from the wind.

DAD: take note... if winds shift to the southeast, then three days of blocked tides could lead to a significant upstream flooding problem on the Elk, not including the 4-8 inches of rain coming down from up above.

And as if we were pouring salt in the wound, a tropical disturbance off the African coast is showing signs of life. God does it ever end? Is this starting to feel like the movie "Day After Tomorrow" or what?

This system will probably be a tropical depression by sundown today, and then become Tropical Storm Karl by tomorrow. For those of you who remember Gloria in 1985, it formed in roughly the same location at about the same time of year. This map reviews the track and history of that storm, which eventually pummeled Long Island, NY with 110 mph winds. The NHC is beginning to pick up on this next possible cyclone in their recent tropical weather discussion. I will also do a detailed overview of the situation with Karl once we get Jeanne figured out.

The early indications are this... the combination of Ivan getting stuck in the Appalachians, the slower movement of Jeanne, and the position of the Atlantic high pressure ridge all will work in tandem to clear a channel for Karl. If a trough in the central Atlantic fades and gives way, the easterlies will take over and allows uninterrupted westward movement of Karl staring tomorrow. Given this arrangement, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast may be facing a 1985 Gloria type situation in about 10-12 days. Let's hope that the westerlies forecasted by Fresh Bilge will kick in prevent Karl from being King of them all.

In conclusion: If you have friends or family who are in the affected areas from Ivan, or are in contact with any of them, it would be valuable for all our readers to read about what really happened. Reading "real stories" from people who have witnessed this storm would be very intriguing. I encourage anyone reading this site to post a comment if you have a storm observation to report about Ivan's impact over the next 5 days.

Changes in blog coverage from this point:

- Because we will have three systems to report on (four if you include Javier which may recurve into the Baja peninsula, delivering tropical moisture to Phoenix), I will not be posting links inside the report. I will simply encourage you to the link list.

- I am working on adding pictures to the site just for visual effect.

- If you encounter a weather site of particular interest or value dealing with hurrican season or winter storm season, please recommend it to me for posting in the link list. The next update after daybreak and once I get a chance to view the morning news. I will aim to get my full analysis on Jeanne and Karl online by Friday night.