Sunday, October 10, 2004


As the satellite photo above indicates, the tropics remain busy. This is a month of contrasts across the country weather-wise, as we have snow, tropical systems, and hot conditions all at the same time in different parts of North America.

This is also the month for the October Surprise. Not the sudden capture of Osama shortly before election day, although that would be a welcome relief, but rather those pesky little systems that blow up out of nowhere and catch even the seasoned NHC off guard. Cases in point include "subtropical storm Nicole" whatever that is, and Tropical Storm Matthew. That storm should not have been a surprise to any forecaster who has internet access and looks at satellite imagery. Anyone with eyes could have seen the building system in the SW Gulf.

So we have to remain suspect of any disturbed looking weather because unless a recon aircraft gets in there, you could have a tropical storm hiding in the clouds, and we wouldn't know it until official observations came back to verify, as was the case with Matthew.

Subtropical Storm Nicole is looking to slam Newfoundland with perhaps 50-60 mph gales and a storm surge of several feet. As you can see from the satellite, a lot of tropical moisture is waiting out there to go somewhere, and north is the place it is headed.

The area of disturbed weather at the bottom of a frontal boundary across Florida is looking to lurch into the "Alex and Gaston Zone." This is that region off the GA/SC coast where these two storms were turned into overnight disasters by the Gulf Stream. In both cases, the actual strength of the storm far surpassed that which was officially forecasted.

October 17 is the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel, which ought to bring back a few memories for some. I will do an analysis piece later this week on why I am concerned about another surprise later this week as this new disturbance mentioned above reaches the "AG Zone." Upper air patterns are eerily similar to that of October 1954, which I will show you in a graphic later this week. This is the time of year that tropical systems can more readily morph into hybrid nor-easters due to the larger differences between cold and warm present in the atmosphere as we head toward winter. That's why Hazel could do so much inland damage late in the season back then.

So we cannot write off Florida as being in the clear from another strike (from the west), nor can we say the East Coast is going to escape without major impact. I think October still has a number of surprises left to show us.

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