Thursday, September 16, 2004



First, an Ivan update:

By Friday morning, Ivan will be a Tropical Depression, but become a massive inland rainmaker. This storm was a hurricane for 11 DAYS, 10 of which it was Category 3 or above. 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. For example, 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. The tornado threat is something that I regret has not been given enough attention by media forecasters 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.


That would be Saturday (or Sunday if you're reading this Friday). 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 another 8-14 inches 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. In some areas of the southern Appalachians, it may be a flood of "epic porportions" as forecasted by Accuweather, thus I have named it the Agnes of the Appalachians, the sequel to the Day After Tomorrow.

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 48 hours, and almost stall between Tennessee and Virginia

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.

MID-ATLANTIC FORECAST: A "surprise nor'easter" will catch many people off guard by the sudden onset of heavy rain and tidal flooding.

The time frame for this starts Friday morning, with heavy rain most of the day and increasing in intensity overnight. It will seem to many people in the Richmond-DC-Baltimore area that Ivan has traveled up the coast, when it reality it is still in Georgia or Tennessee. Winds will increase to perhaps 30 mph sustained along the coast and 25 mph inland. 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.

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 the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley northward to western Maryland and central Pennsylvania.

With a easterly fetch off the ocean and over the Chesapeake Bay 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. The rain will continue in earnest on Saturday, and diminish by Sunday. Although the winds may continue as the eastern high backs south, and winds may veer southeast again.

Elk River Flood Alert: Dad and Jado, please 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. This could mean another silent surge of 2-3 feet above high tide. It is a complicated situation that may lead to an extended period of high water. Be ready to move items above ground level.

Dundalk/Eastern Baltimore County Flood Alert: For my readers in the "Isabel Zone" (those who got flooded last year at this time) The heavy rain, east winds and silent surge threat has the potential to send small streams and estuaries along E. Baltimore County out of their banks and into your backyard. Nowhere nearly as severe as Isabel, but counting the east wind for 2 days, a 2-3 foot rise above mean high tide would not be an exaggeration.


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. Now a tropical storm, Jeanne will regain strength once over open waters. She has already wreaked havoc with NHC's forecast since her birth.

The next 72 hours will feature a lot of wobbling back and forth of official forecasts. However, I believe 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. So I cannot in good conscience take credit for claiming this forecast as my own. The hurricane center has Jeanne aiming for the Carolinas, probably somewhere between Charleston and Wilmington as a Cat 2. However, I see the logic behind Accuweather's totally different forecast. Here is my analogy:

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 have 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.

We will no doubt watch Jeanne closely. I just have a feeling we are going to have to deal with this storm for quite some time as we did Ivan.


Forecasters expect this storm to reach hurricane status in about 2-3 days. However at day 4 (by Monday-Tuesday) the expectation is that a trough in the central Atlantic will influence Karl enough to turn him north away from any land areas.

That's the official forecast. If Karl is able to cut under the trough, and is still moving west after Monday, then the East Coast will be in VERY BIG TROUBLE about 10 days from now.

Getting worn out by the tropics? No wonder... we have had at least one or more active tropical storms or hurricanes on the map EVERY SINGLE DAY since JULY 31. I am not kidding. That is 49 continous days of storms in the news or on this site. My fingers are tired.

A brief morning update around 6:00 AM, then a full update Friday evening.

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