Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The only area of concern the next 7 days will be that tropical wave at the bottom of the map, as it moves northwest in the Caribbean toward the Yucatan. The swirl in the top right corner is Lisa, moving north and no threat to land. Jeanne is extratropical and spiraling off the New England coast... NOT where the computer models had her going originally.
So it will be nice and quiet for most of the nation over the next week, which is small consolation to the people in Florida who've had their lives smashed apart, but at least no storms.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
WEST VA, WESTERN MD, PA TO GET HAMMERED AS WILL THE BAY
RUMBLINGS OF WINTER PATTERN SWIRLING IN THE PACIFIC
First let me say this: Do not be fooled by the seemingly weak sounding label of "tropical depression." Moral of the story: Ask Richmond what one of those is like. Hence the photo I posted for today.
DESPITE THE WINDS AND HEAVY RAIN, YES FOR SCHOOL WEDNESDAY...
I doubt any Maryland schools will close or delay from this storm. However we may have some power and traffic problems Wednesday morning as stiff north winds blast the area behind Jeanne to the tune of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph.
The remnants of Jeanne are supposed to speed up she heads northeast into the westerlies. However this has not happened yet. The radar clearly shows a decaying circulation center in far western North Carolina heading basically northeast. That track will take it to the west of Richmond but very close to DC and skirting south of Baltimore, possibly over Annapolis.
On Tuesday, the presence of a large high to the north will provide a strong pressure gradient, and moist onshore flow will result in 2-3 inches of rain for the I-95 corridor to Philly. Strong lines of thunderstorms will curl up the bay from south to north, along with southeast winds pushing tides 1-3 feet above normal. Coastal MD, VA, DE and NJ will get heavy surf from onshore gusts near tropical storm force. If Jeanne gets to the Atlantic intact, she may regain tropical storm status, but too late to affect the coast anymore than what is described above.
As for rain, the NWS rainfall projections have lessened somewhat for VA and MD, which is good news for Richmond. Western parts of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (the "Ivan Zone") will probably get hammered again. In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that due to the more inland track, areas from Pittsburgh over to Williamsport, like in Ivan, will get substantially more rain than is forecast. The reason is a stationary front ahead of Jeanne that will work in tandem with the high to pump in moisture. The enhancing upslope effect of the mountains exacerbates the rainfall. Bottom line: Tuesday will be a messy windy day for much of the Mid-Atlantic.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I am pleased to say that once Jeanne is out of the picture, we may get some time off to recoup and allow Floridians an uninterrupted chance to put their lives back together. Lisa in the central Atlantic is moving away, and from here the hurricane season shifts to the Gulf of Mexico and southern Caribbean. And there are signs that show the Gulf coast states do not have the all clear yet.
There are rumblings in the Pacific that portend an interesting winter. Some El Nino patterns that began to appear in October 2002 (leading to the record-breaking snowy 2003 winter) are beginning to sparkle. I have been getting many inquiries about what the winter holds. So here is my early estimate for the Northeast I-95 corridor (Richmond to New YorK) which I will explain in more detail once I get some time later to do so:
OCTOBER: Warm to unseasonably warm the first 15 days. Northeast U.S. cities like DC-Baltimore-Philly might see a stretch of nice days in the 70's or 80's. Second 15 days will be a snapback, with much cooler weather. Finally, one of my rules of thumb: The weather on Halloween night determines what happens until Christmas. In 2003, it was near 70 on 10/31, and MD schools saw a snowday the first week of December.
NOVEMBER: If the late October cold snapback is not cold enough or long enough, November will mimic October, but in reverse. Cold to start, warm on Thanksgiving. Which takes us to...
DECEMBER: Based on the pattern, I think we will see a snowday before the 15th. If Golden October trys to hang on past the 15th, then we might see snow as early as Thanksgiving. This happened in 1989.. it was a cool, wet summer in the East, with a very warm fall to follow, followed by a massive arctic blast that sent the period 11/25 to 12/25 into one of the coldest early winter periods in record-keeping. I think the trend will be similar, with a cold start to the month, a brief warmup, then heading for the deep freeze by end of the month.
SNOWDAY FORECAST: For Baltimore, I am going to predict 5 snow days this year, with one of those before Christmas. As to whether we see another blizzard or major storm, that I can tell you around October 15 when we check the El Nino signals again in the Pacific.
Monday, September 27, 2004
One of many photos from T.D. Gaston that drenched Richmond with 11 inches of rain in 5 hours on August 30. We are not likely to see this repeat performance, but it is a reminder that tropical systems can do unbelieveable things even when far inland.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
AND A DAYMARE IS WAITING AT SUNRISE
MID-ATLANTIC IS WARNED NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE STORM IMPACTS
IVAN HAS NOT DIED EVEN THOUGH THE NWS WANTS YOU TO THINK HE HAS.
As I write this, the outer bands of damaging winds and heavy rain have come onshore in the Frances zone. Thank you to the reader in Polk County, FL for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us just before the storm. I can sense your frayed nerves through the writing, and I am eager for this to be over for you, as I'm sure you are too.
Let me do a quick roundup of the storm situation as it stands for the next 4-5 days. Please read the posts below outlining more details about impacts up the East Coast. If you are a reader in Florida or a storm affected area, in no way do I attempt to use what I write here as a way of hyping the weather. I try to be realistic and pragmatic in what I provide to readers based on my life experience tracking storms.
IMPACTS FOR FLORIDA
1. Catastrophic damage will be observed along the Space Coast and inland to Orlando. Due to Jeanne's faster forward motion than Frances, sustained hurricane force winds will reach Orange County. The NHC expects winds in excess of 75 mph to spread as much as 100 miles inland. As the Polk County reader said in the comments, all the debris from the previous storms have become missiles by the time you read this.
2. Due to the reduced evacuation response from residents, there is potential for a higher loss of life during the storm, and even more following due to the unprecedented amount of debris.
3. Homes that lost their roofs or parts of them in Frances will be partially to mostly destroyed from this storm. This is because the wind does not have to extert as much of a force to rip off a roof, because it is already gone. The result is that the wind can more readily blow down walls that no longer have the roof support. This is why we will see countless more homes destroyed that what was previously anticipated by the residents.
IMPACTS FOR SOUTHEAST AREA... GA, SC, NC
4. Widespread tornadoes very far from the storm center will cause tremendous localized damage. Ivan unleashed 110 tornadoes... perhaps a record for a hurricane in the U.S.
5. Inland flooding will be extensive, but limited to Georgia and South Carolina due mostly to the already strained condition of many streams and rivers from Ivan's recent rains, and not from a 12 inch + rainstorm. The forward speed will increase beyond Monday as the storm gets pulled into the westerlies.
IMPACTS FOR THE MID-ATLANTIC.... VA, MD, DE, NJ, PA
6. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT BELIEVE your local TV weather forecaster if they try to make the remnants of Jeanne sound harmless. This is something we just simply do not know yet. Who would have thought that Gaston could have dropped 11 inches of rain in 3 hours as a tropical depression. I say this because many computer models have shifted their inland track to the west, and show Jeanne holding together a circulation center well into Pennsylvania. A depression tracking directly over the MD bay will prompt tropical storm warnings. Norm Lewis of ABC 2 News in Baltimore commented on the Saturday evening news that the remnants of Jeanne would be nothing more than showers for the Balto metro area.
THAT'S WHAT WAS PREDICTED FOR RICHMOND BEFORE GASTON. Those of you in PA who got hammered by the "remnants" of Ivan should keep your guard up for this one.
7. As the storm comes up the coast, the eventual track has been shifting to the west, not to the east. This means the Chesapeake Bay will experience south and southeast winds for 12-24 hours prior to the center crossing the bay. Tides will run 1-2 feet above normal on Monday, and 2-3 above normal on Tuesday, until the center passes and winds back to the north.
8. Later in the season, there is more cold air available to the north. Accuweather indicates that Jeanne will be able tap that colder air to maintain her strength as she becomes extratropical, and turn into a nor'easter. They project the new hybrid storm will be the same or worse than what we saw with Ivan, which was apparently not even a depression at the time, although it really was. The end result is onshore winds in the Chesapeake/Delaware Bays and along the Jersey shore near tropical storm force, in the 35-45 mph range for a period of 6-8 hours. Proof of this is the NHC's projection that Jeanne will become a tropical storm once again off the Canadian maritimes, as you can plainly see in the map above. (unless it is a typo).
The end game of this storm is a long duration, widespread swath of impact all the way to New England.
TROPICAL STORM LISA does not appear to pose a threat to the U.S. at this point.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION IVAN is moving south along the Texas coast and will re-enter the southern Gulf at the mouth of the Rio Grande by Monday. It is not inconceivable that he regenerates into a tropical system. Accuweather has alluded to this several times. If that happens, will it be Matt? Or still Ivan? If this low regenerates over the 87-89 F waters, it will likely become a hurricane and head northeast toward...
Ah, let's not talk about that part right now.
EXTENSIVE DEBRIS WILL CREATE A CATASTROPHIC MAELSTROM
LARGE AREA OF SOUTHEAST AND MID-ATLANTIC TO BE AFFECTED
See the previous post below for more details on the impact to schools and the Chesapeake Bay.
An explanation of the headlines above:
1. FRANCES ZONE: Jeanne is expected to become a major hurricane prior to landfall, as well as impact a wide swath of the eastern Florida coastline that encompasses all of the hard-hit areas from Charley and Frances. Areas in line for a prolonged period of tropical storm and hurricane force winds include the West Palm Beach to the Lake up to Orlando - over to Daytona - and south. Landfall is expected between, surprise... Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach.
Disneyworld will once again be severely impacted by this storm, with another round of considerable tree damage due to the heavy rains just days ago resulting from the remnants of Ivan that crossed the Peninsula. I expect the park to be closed later today, all day Sunday and Monday, re-opening Tuesday.
Aside from downed trees, the power grid problem will become almost unmanageable for a period. Crews trying to repair or rebuild power grids in neighborhoods will be hampered for several weeks not only by the downed lines, but the massive coverage of debris. It is hard to rebuild poles and lines when the area in which you need to work is blocked by a twisted,
mangled, dangerous pile of debris.
2. DANGEROUS, DEADLY DEBRIS. This is a situation probably no community has ever faced. There will be scores of towns coated with the debris of other towns. It becomes a real danger when you consider all the children who will be off school for another long period of time. Neither you nor I can imagine the overwhelming amount of storm debris still on the ground from Charley and Frances. The winds from both storms were not Category 3 when they reached this area, but this one probably will be. Now insert the children into this mess, who have a natural curiousity to want to wander into all of it. This will be an extremely tough time on all parents in Florida trying to keep their children safe from this nightmare.
For all the people who have worked to clean that mess, it is sad to say all that stuff will just get tossed around like toys, and combined with all the new massive debris resulting from this storm. This is going to forever alter the landscape and image of Florida in the public's mind. The state and the tourism will take years to recover.
3. INLAND AND UPLAND EFFECTS. Because Jeanne is moving faster than Frances, and going to turn north as the Accuweather graphic shows, the effects will be felt far up the coast and possibly into New England:
- Coastal Georgia and South Carolina will face 15-25' waves, strong onshore winds and tremendous beach erosion along with tornadoes, 4-6" of rain.
- North Carolina, hammered by the remnants of Ivan and Frances, and ripped by the tornadoes of Bonnie and Charley, will be another heavy dose of strong coastal winds, beach erosion and heavy surf. The rainfall threat will be present, as inland areas sometimes get more rain than the coast.
- Coastal Virginia and the Del-Mar-Va will get a near direct hit according to some computer models. Although Jeanne should be a depression by then, just ask the people of Richmond how deadly a seemingly harmless sounding tropical depression can be. Winds will start southeast on Monday, and then start backing east, then northeast on Tuesday. Tides will be aggravated by the backing winds. Western areas of the Bay will see tides 2-3 feet above normal.
- Delaware and New Jersey will be where the nor'easter aspect of the storm kicks in. Tropical storm force winds will rake those coasts for 12 hours or more as Jeanne approaches from the southwest.
- Coastal New York and New England will also see a strong easterly winds as the pressure gradient between the departing Low and the nearby high will enhance the wind.
THE UPWIND TORNADO THREAT CANNOT BE UNDERESTIMATED for all the areas mentioned above. Ivan spawned over 100 tornadoes in his wake, from eastern Florida to Connecticut. Even central and western Maryland were under persistent tornado watches and warnings for 6 hour period last week.
As of the 8AM advisory, max winds were still 105 mph but pressure has been steadily dropping. The eye is a large 40 nautical miles, which is more than 40 statute miles. If the eye begins to tighten, then the storm will intensify to Category 3 by late today. Landfall should be late tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Our deepest empathy and prayers go out to the families who face yet another test of their faith. It is said that God does not give you more than he knows you can handle, so it must be that the people of Florida have a faith stronger than ours!
To our family and friends in the Sunshine State... hang in there, this will all be over soon and the will shine on you once again.
Friday, September 24, 2004
JEANNE PLANNING AN I-95 SPECIAL FOR EARLY NEXT WEEK
SCHOOL IN BALTIMORE-DC, DELMARVA, SOUTH VA IS IFFY FOR TUESDAY
I am working on a post later this evening to explain the headlines. But here is a preview:
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JEANNE AND FRANCES
1. This storm is similar in that she will rake the Florida East Coast with hurricane force winds, 20-30' waves and a 5-10' surge for 12-24 hours. In fact, one of the sad parts of this endless tale is that Big J will make landfall in the same area Frances did... between Fort Pierce and Cape Canaveral.
2. This storm will be different from Frances in that she turns north and hugs the coast, hitting all the major tourist attractions on her way up... from Kennedy Space Center, to St. Augustine, to Jacksonsville, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Wilmington and on and on. This is due to her track that will travel around the edge of a big high as it edges southeastward.
3. This storm will be worse because she is not projected to slow down and weaken, but speed up and strengthen, possibly reaching the cusp of Category 3 right before landfall. And obviously everything else will be much worse because the same areas are getting pummeled again. Emergency services are strained, hotels have not recovered, the beaches are eroded, many schools just opened on Monday the 20th after cleaning up from Frances. You get the idea, it will be real, real bad.
WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL AND THIS I-95 SPECIAL?
Many computer models, like the graphic you see above, indicate that Jeanne will probably hug the coast all the way to New Jersey and perhaps beyond. Reading the wind chart reveals 35-45 mph sustained winds over the DC-Baltimore metro area daytime on Tuesday. That warrants a tropical storm warning, which if issued Monday night for the Chesapeake Bay, means:
No school on Tuesday for ALL counties bordering the Chesapeake from Norfolk to Richmond...all of the Del-Mar-Va...up to DC, Baltimore and to the PA border.
If Jeanne tracks any closer to the coast that forecasted, school on Tuesday is all but gone. A track farther east obviously eliminates the threat to the Richmond-DC-Baltimore metro areas.
The reason school is at risk is due to sustained inland winds near tropical storm force (30-40 mph) pose a hazard to buses, as well as children waiting for buses because wind gusts can down trees and power lines. That is a risk county school officials will not take, unless they underestimate the storm.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
It is looking more and more likely this will be a southern I-95 special, as Jeanne looks to follow Frances but head north instead of west after landfall. I just can't believe I am writing this.
Unless something drastic changes, we expect the following from Jeanne:
1. She may reach Category 3 in the next 24 hours
2. Hurricane watches for the East Coast of Florida, again.
3. A landfall very close to where Frances came ashore.
4. A prolonged period of rain and damaging winds that will extend UP the coastline toward GA.
5. A track that will take Jeanne on a tour along I-95, battering the coast as she goes.
I wish we could get a break here, I just can't imagine what the people of Florida are feeling about now. A more detailed update later this evening.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
IVAN IS REBORN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO
TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS UP FROM MOUTH OF MISS TO TEXAS
I am not making this up. Here is the latest satellite imagery.
Read the 7:00 PM discussion from the National Hurricane Center:
(Please excuse the caps, that's how the gov't forecasters write)
AFTER CONSIDERABLE AND SOMETIMES ANIMATED IN-HOUSE DISCUSSION OF THE DEMISE OF IVAN...IN THE MIDST OF A LOW-PRESSURE AND SURFACE FRONTAL SYSTEM OVER THE EASTERN UNITED STATES...THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HAS DECIDED TO CALL THE TROPICAL CYCLONE NOW OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO TROPICAL DEPRESSION IVAN.
WHILE DEBATE WILL SURELY CONTINUE HERE AND ELSEWHERE...THIS DECISION WAS BASED PRIMARILY ON THE REASONABLE CONTINUITY OBSERVED IN THE ANALYSIS OF THE SURFACE AND LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION. ONCE THE LOW PRESSURE AREA REACHED THE GULF OF MEXICO IT BEGAN TO GRADUALLY DEVELOP CONVECTION AND A SURFACE CIRCULATION. SATELLITE IMAGES...RECON DATA AND BUOYS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO INDICATE THAT THE SYSTEM IS ORGANIZED ENOUGH TO BE CLASSIFIED AS A TROPICAL DEPRESSION.
THE CURRENT SOUTHERLY SHEAR OVER THE DEPRESSION IS FORECAST TO RELAX A LITTLE...ENOUGH TO ALLOW THE SYSTEM TO REGAIN TROPICAL STORM STATUS BEFORE LANDFALL. THE BEST ESTIMATE OF THE INITIAL MOTION IS 295/12 KNOTS. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE AROUND THE SUBTROPICAL HIGHCENTERED OVER THE UNITED STATES. THE INTENSITY AND TRACK FORECASTS AS WELL AS THE WIND RADII REQUIRE THE ISSUANCE OF A TROPICAL STORM WARNING FROM THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO SARGENT TEXAS.
You just never know what Mother Nature has in store for us next.
So let me make what will seem right now to be a crazy call... but after Ivan gets over the warmer waters of the western Gulf near Houston, this may not seem so crazy in retrospect.
IVAN BECOMES A HURRICANE AGAIN BEFORE LANDFALL. Is that wild or what?
I just have this weird feeling that it will intensify much more rapidly than anyone expects. The Weather Channel reports this is already a tropical storm. I expect winds by morning of perhaps 50 mph, and by Friday morning, the NHC will realize this thing just will not let go, is intensifying, and they will be caught with their pants down having to change the Tropical Storm Warnings to Hurricane Warnings for the Texas Coast. We're only talking Cat 1 here, but still it is history in the making that a storm would die, be written off, then get reborn with the same name and be returned to hurricane status. Now that is a drama.
After landfall on Friday night, Ivan is forecasted to reach the Houston area, then stall for 2 days. That means flooding rains and that part of Texas is infamous for terrible flooding. O god, here we go again.
Most computer models are now leaning towards Jeanne to turn west after completing her southern loop-de-loop. By the weekend, she starts churning toward the Southeast, and probably grazes the Carolinas on Sunday or Monday. After that, another big Canadian high pressure system wants to stick it's nose in things. This high is expected to nudge southeast, and build a ridge that will extend out into the Northern Atlantic... possibly TRAPPING Jeanne,
What that means is Jeanne could very well live up to her infamous name as the Mean Wind and Rain Machine. The fear that some forecasters at Accuweather have is that Jeanne does not exactly make a traditional landfall, but rather rakes the Mid-Atlantic coast for two or three days. The resulting northeast winds push Chesapeake Bay water west-ward into the upland inlets and rivers.
The other problem is a very heavy soaking rain for several days. If the rain gets far enough north, we could be looking at another flooding situation for southern PA, NJ, the Del-Mar-Va and nearby areas.
If the map below comes true, the time frame for all this is Sunday night into Wednesday. Expect the weather to deteriorate by Monday morning, with northeast winds, and more clouds as the day progresses. By Tuesday morning, the Mid-Atlantic should have persistent northeast winds and increasing rain. The track will dictate what risk there is to schools being closed before, during or after this event. If Jeanne hugs the coast as a hurricane, there is potential for a day or two off school in eastern Maryland and southern Virginia.
YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST...Matthew tomorrow, Nicole on Thursday.
Not every system that comes across Africa develops, but this season has been an exception.
Lisa will become a Category 1 hurricane by Wednesday, and a fairly extensive system behind her will become at least a tropical depression on the same day. If that system shows continued signs of strengthening, it will become Matthew. So perhaps by tomorrow night or Thursday morning, we will have FIVE... count 'em FIVE named storms on the charts.
Nicole will be the daugther of Ivan, as the low-level circulation reaches warm waters in the western Gulf, and gets under an upper-level anticyclone which provides the ventilation needed for development. By Thursday night this may be a new tropical depression, and once it reaches maximum winds of 40 mph... Nicole will be it's name. It's target? The Texas/Louisiana Coast. The arrival time? Friday into Saturday.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Monday, September 20, 2004
There is a lot going on in your life, in my life, and the lives of tropical cyclones. So let's get right to it, shall we?
MID-ATLANTIC: Blue skies, nothin' but blue skies.
Great weather all week long, maybe some showers by the weekend, temps popping again near 80 to give all the flooded-out folks in PA, NJ, NY and northern MD a chance to dry out.
FLORIDA and TEXAS: Ivan is strivin' for a revivin'
The upper level remnants of Ivan are, believe it or not, slamming into the northeast Florida coast. Winds of 25 mph and widespread rain accompanied this brief onslaught. Why? The big high parked over the Mid-Atlantic simply shoved what was left of Ivan southwestward. And the influence of the big ridge over the middle of the country will push that piece of energy into the southern and western Gulf. Accuweather believes that by Wednesday or Thursday, this Ivan remnant will, believe it or not, redevelop and become a new named system. If that forecast holds true, the Texas coast may be dealing with a landfalling tropical storm by Friday morning.
Waters in the western gulf have remained undisturbed all summer... so you heard it here first. It is not entirely improbable that son of Ivan becomes a hurricane shortly before landfall
SOUTHEAST: Mean Jeanne the dancing wind and rain machine
The same high that pushed Ivan's leftovers into Florida is blocking Jeanne from going much of anywhere. And Karl is to her east, blocking movement that way. So what ends up happening is a loop dance around the Bahamas and Bermuda. Bad forecast for the cruise industry. By Friday or Saturday, Jeanne should have completed her loop, and be staring the Carolinas in the face again. It is a tough call, but the logical progression of these systems would favor the high moving offshore, and the return flow nudging Jeanne TOWARD the Carolinas by late in the weekend.
So yes, I think it is possible we will see TWO landfalling systems within a day of each other in the United States. Son of Ivan reaching the Texas coast by Friday, and Jeanne chasing after Charleston by Saturday or Sunday. It is also possible that Jeanne could head for Category 3 status, but shear will probably keep her at Cat 2. Folks from Savannah to Hatteras should keep a close eye on this, as they had their share of surprise hurricanes already this season.
ACTION IN THE ATLANTIC: King Karl curving north, Little Lisa lingers.
Karl has taken an awfully long time to do this northwest to northerly turn. The NHC has been predicting this curve to begin since Friday, and only today has it finally begun. The longer this system moves any bit westward, the greater a risk that this storm ends up impacting Nova Scotia or even Newfoundland with strong winds and heavy rain. Karl is the dominant feature in the Altantic, but there is apparently enough tropical moisture and undisturbed warm water to allow Little Lisa to get her act together.
Let me allay fears on the Mid-Atlantic coast of Little Lisa imitating Isabel. All the major weather players in North America over the next 5-10 days are going to prevent Lisa from getting anywhere near the East Coast. First, Karl and Jeanne are in the way. Second, the big eastern high is in the way, and they don't leave easily. Third, all these storms will have stirred up the waters so much that Lisa does not stand a chance to become a major hurricane...
Unless she follows Ivan's path... into the southern Caribbean. Then, we would have a major problem. As we head into October, that part of the Atlantic basin becomes the hot spot for tropical development. For example, deadly Hurricane Mitch in October 1998, that washed Nicaragua and Costa Rica back to the medieval era. Or Hazel in 1954, that started in the southern Carib, and then charged north, slamming into South Carolina as a Cat 3.
So yes, there is some reason to be concerned about Lisa, but that is days and days away. You can expect that your own personal team of experienced meteorologists here at Foot's Forecast will keep a close eye on all the fearsome foursome the next many days.
By Wednesday, we will have THREE HURRICANES going at once, and one tropical storm. By Friday, we may very well have FOUR.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for winter storm season. That's easy stuff... just snow, ice and rain.
If the baby sleeps through the night and I can get up early enough, I'll attempt a morning update on the fearsome foursome. If not, expect a full roundup by Tuesday night.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
It was one year ago this weekend that many of us in the Mid-Atlantic dealt with this devious monster as she kept us guessing on her final destination. Some thought right up the Chesapeake, others thought out to sea. In Maryland, residents of eastern Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and others along the Bay, this was the first significant tropical system to directly affect this region since the 1933 hurricane. We all learned many lessons, about the dangers of storm surge, the risks of not evacuating, or leaving too late, and the importance of flood insurance.
For those of us who were impacted by this storm, (and those who were not), our hearts and prayers go out to all the suffering people of Florida who have had their faith challenged this summer. Many who read this site know what it is like to be faced with starting over after a storm.
As time moves forward, it helps to process our recollections of these community-wide events. You are encouraged to share a story or recollection if you wish in the comments. It can be a memory of Isabel's wrath, or if you are in or know someone in storm-ravaged Florida, your experiences give our readers a perspective on what it is like to survive Mother Nature's worst.
There are signs the 2004 hurricane season may begin to calm down after Jeanne.. let' s hope so, as many Americans need time and peace to put their lives back together.
Once Jeanne regains hurricane status, I see two possibilities:
1. I still think we'll see this pesky storm curve under Florida or graze the southern tip, and end up in the Gulf well after water temperatures have recovered from Ivan. Under this scenario, the eastern High remains strong and easterlies drive the storm into the Gulf. Once there, she can easily strengthen into an Ivan-esque storm and possibly impact an area between, um, uhh I hestitate to say...New Orleans and the Florida panhandle.
2. Or, once completing this dipsy-doodle, will start to head north again and impact the Carolinas, between Mrytle Beach and Wilmington but not until late NEXT weekend. This scenario would occur because the strong high providing beautiful weather to the Northeast this week will likely lift out and allow a channel to the coast. So it is not unreasonable to say that the Mid-Atlantic from the Chesapeake Bay northward to New York City is also at risk for impact from this storm.
SO FOR NOW, THE MID-ATLANTIC GETS A BREAK
Wonderful, refreshing, classic early Fall Football weather will grace the northeast until at least Wednesday and probably to Friday with sunshine and highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's.
THE SOUTHEAST...DIFFERENT STORY
The same high will create easterly winds coming off the Atlantic, and give the Carolina coast into Georgia some fresh to strong breezes, carrying some rain showers and cooler weather. It is not entirely impossible that some remnants of Ivan get re-directed back toward the North Carolina coast.
KARL JUST SPINS OUT HIS LIFE HARMLESSLY IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC
That's probably the best news of the week. Next update Monday morning.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
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.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
JEANNE'S WILD JOURNEY WILL TAKE HER INTO THE GULF
KARL FORMS IN EASTERN ATLANTIC... DESTINED TO BE KING OF ALL?
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.
NEXT, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, PART 2.
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.
MEAN JEANNE AND HER JOURNEY TO THE U.S.
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.
LASTLY, WILL KING KARL LIVE UP TO HIS EARLY NAME?
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.
IVAN SHREDS COASTAL ALABAMA and PENSACOLA and the PANHANDLE
HURRICANE JEANNE DRENCHES HISPANIOLA AND PUERTO RICO
REMNANTS OF IVAN WILL CAUSE THE "AGNES OF THE APPALACHIANS"
AND SIGNIFICANT NOR'EASTER CONDITIONS IN MID-ATLANTIC SAT-SUN
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.
IVAN’S TERRIBLE TOUR MAY SHIFT THE TRACK OF JEANNE'S JOURNEY.
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.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
I have no major changes to the details posted below on expected storm impacts. I am concerned that the northern turn has still not happened. Time is running out for New Orleans, it seems likely that landfall winds will reach or exceed 140 mph. NHC began pointing out last night that Ivan is expected to remain a hurricane for 12 or more hours after landfall.
So that's the sedgway into the headline for the past couple days:
A NIGHTMARE JOURNEY INTO THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
HURRICANE WARNINGS ENCOMPASS NEW ORLEANS TO CENTRAL FLORIDA PANHANDLE... RUMORS OF STRENGTHENING BACK TO CAT 5 BEFORE LANDFALL?
First a general storm update:
As of 5am Wednesday, Ivan is a still a strong Category 4 storm. No one should get hung up on the word "weakened" as tossed around by the Hurricane Center. I think that is a misnomer to use with the general public, for it seems to imply a much less stronger storm, which is not the case at all. Whether the winds are 140 or 150, my house would still get obliterated.
Satellite imagery, which you can view by clicking on the loop link, shows the storm beginning to entrain some dry on it's left flank. This may serve to lower the wind speed a bit, and disrupt the eye, but the unintended consequence of that is we'll see the wind field expand. If the storm loses it's ability to keep those intense winds tightly clustered around the eyewall, then the unraveling begins. Unfortunately that whole process is starting too late for there to be any benefit from it on the Gulf Coast.
This reduction in strength may be temporary, as NHC discussions indicate that the storm will cross a warmer region of surface waters. If anything, the warmer water may serve to negate the "weakening" trend, thus holding the storm at a strong Category 3 or minimal 4.
The purpose of the title is to draw attention to what will happen if Ivan heads for the mouth of the Mississippi. I strive not to be a rabid alarmist, but I cannot underline enough how dangerous a situation this can be for New Orleans and the Sound. The area truly at risk for a major environmental and human catastrophe is Mobile Bay. Storm surge of 10-15 feet will surge up the bay, creating the "Bangladesh Effect" as the bay narrows to a funnel shape farther inland. This forces the water to splay outward, flooding hundreds of square miles of bayside property. Accuweather has a set of graphics to explain the massive impacts of Ivan.
I have found some alarming reports from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Either the hurricane center has upped the ante in the last hours, or someone in the press is gunning for higher ratings. Read this story for yourself. Apparently official forecasters somewhere have alluded to the possibility Ivan could re-strengthen to Category 5 before landfall. Maybe they are "just saying that" to scare enough people to leave the city. At last report, all major highways leading out of New Orleans are jammed bumper to bumper for miles in any direction.
The NHC admits this will be a strong Cat 3 at landfall, if not a 4. The sheer size and strength of the storm is breath-taking, as it is 30% larger and stronger than Frances. Hurricane force winds extend out 115 miles, this is a far wider wind field than Frances ever projected. To top that, tropical storm force winds extend out a whopping 260 miles from the center. Camille and Charley, by contrast, were both very compact storms.
The Tuesday CBS and ABC evening news reports stated that New Orleans, despite being under a hurricane warning, is not issuing a mandatory evacuation because "the city does not possess the resources to enforce such an order." So city officials are being as vehement as they can be in encouraging a voluntary departure from the city.
Despite the fun and intrique in following these fascinating works of nature, they remain a chronic claimer of lives, prepared or unprepared. If you have family anywhere along the Miss. Sound or in New Orleans, I urge you to encourage them to obey evacuation orders and leave as soon as possible.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE MISSISSIPPI SOUND AS IVAN APPROACHES
(Left on the post for archival purposes)
Rip currents will be noticeable along the entire eastern Gulf from the Keys to the LA/Texas border. With many schools closing on Tuesday throughout the eastern Gulf coast, parents should be cautious of their children “going to the beach” one more time as rip currents will be unexpectedly strong. Upper-level cloud outflow will cover most of Florida’s peninsula and reach the northern gulf coast by nightfall. Mandatory evacuation orders will be issued for all coastal areas inside the hurricane watch area. Residents of New Orleans should especially evacuate early, as the Causeway and Route 10 east is likely to be closed due to surge flooding starting on Wednesday
Waves will increase in intensity, and large swells will accompany a slowly increasing wind from the east and southeast reaching 40 mph by noon. Tides Tuesday night were already running 2 feet above normal at the Mississippi Delta. The effect of an easterly fetch over the Sound will slowly begin to drive water into Lake Ponchartrain and into intracoastal waterways and inlets. Storm drains will overflow well in advance of the storm. Thunderstorms and scattered downpours of rain will begin in earnest by afternoon. Swells and tidal surge will begin to flood low-lying areas, with increased wave action throughout the day. Waves of 5-10 feet will begin impacting the Florida panhandle and intracoastal waterways of Alabama and Mississippi.
Winds along the coast will be sustained to tropical storm force first from the southeast, moving to the north, with hurricane force winds arriving by nightfall. Outer rain bands will begin to impact an area 100 miles on either side of Biloxi, MS. With a hurricane wind field of possibly 100 miles in diameter, the extreme northern areas ahead of landfall will experience these winds first. With such a slow northward movement, areas from New Orleans east to Pensacola may be in for a long duration of strong winds, possibly 12 hours or more. Tidal surges of 4-8 feet will begin flooding the coast, with waves of 10-15 feet on top of that. Localized areas inside the landfall zone may see surges near 20 feet.
By this time, the entire northcentral and northeastern Gulf is bearing the full brunt of this storm, as southerly winds outside the eye push water onshore for hundreds of miles, affecting areas from Cedar Key in the northern Florida’s gulf coast, across the entire panhandle and over the entire Miss. Sound. If Gulfport and Mobile are in the bullseye, then a storm surge of possibly 15 feet or greater will inundate the coast for a mile or more inland. Waves of 20 to 30 feet will accompany the surge, virtually oblitering almost anything in the path of this force. The area affected may be over 100 miles of coastal, and inland for several miles. By contrast, Andrew's greatest destruction in south Florida was confined to an area roughly 25 miles in diameter. That was still catastrophic, but the geography of Mississippi Sound enhances the effect of storm surge.
The hurricane makes landfall as a strong Category 3 with winds just under 130 mph. Hurricane force winds will extend out over a hundred miles to the north and east of the center, and near 100 miles to the west. North winds on the west side of the storm may drive some water in Lake Ponchartrain south towards New Orleans, where we hope the levee and pumping system can withstand the constant pressure over a period of 24 hours or more, plus 5 to 10 inches of rain.
Total catastrophic damage will occur within the radius of the eyewall, which may be 20 or more miles in width. Mobile homes are completely destroyed, roofs blown off most other structures, massive tree blow downs, and major window damage to large buildings. Coastal structures will be nearly destroyed and major structure damage is inflicted on most inland homes within 10 miles of the coast. The worst damage will be on the eastern side, where the combined effect of a south wind, storm surge and waves will just about erase some towns and barrier islands from the map.
Ivan moves inland ever so slowly, as there are no significant steering currents to rocket it north as did Charley. Areas within 150 miles on either side of the storm receive torrential rain for 12 hours or more, with amounts possibly up to 10 inches. It is just frightening writing this stuff. It almost seems like it is more for a fictional script of some Hollywood disaster movie.
The weakening storm will be downgraded to tropical storm by midnight Friday, but it will still pack winds near hurricane force and a broad area of heavy rain encompassing Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. By the time remnants reach the Memphis to Atlanta region, it should be further downgraded to a depression. The terribly sad part is that areas that were hardest hit by Frances will get pounded again. Flooding rains will continue up the Appalachians through Sunday, drenching areas that just received 10-20 inches of rain from Frances. The federal government is starting to realize this could be an inland flood of historic, unparalleled porportions in the southeast. It will be the Tennessee Valley's Agnes for those of you who were in that disaster of 1972. I hope that you are mentally prepared to see one of the largest swaths of total destruction that you have ever seen in your life save for 9/11. It will be difficult to look at the TV for the Friday morning news and see what Ivan will have left behind.
Saturday - Sunday - Monday
The remnants of Ivan will "get stuck" in the Appalachians, as the jet stream is well to our north in Canada, and there are two highs on either side of the storm blocking motion east or west. So it will just sit and meander around Knoxville, TN dropping unholy amounts of rain. We should not discount the effect that eventual south winds will have on Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.
Residents along waterways and tidal areas even in Maryland are encouraged to keep a close watch on tide changes depending on the strength and location of the storm’s remnants. “Silent surges” of 2 or more feet are possible as south winds restrict the outgoing high tide. Rainfall over Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania may equal that which was observed with Frances… 4 to 6 inches is not an exaggeration.
AFTER IVAN’S TERRIBLE TOUR IS OVER….the Gulf Coast has about a week to prepare for… Hurricane Jeanne. And then the East Coast has about 10-12 days to prepare for Karl.
I am not making this up just for ratings sake. By the time you read this, Jeanne will be a hurricane bearing down on Puerto Rico. It is projected to follow a path similar to Frances for the short term, with a turn to the west over the 5 day term. If it gets into the Gulf and crosses the Florida straights between Cuba... LOOK OUT TEXAS and LOUISIANA. It is not over yet.
And behind Jeanne... way over by Africa, is what will become Karl over the next 2-3 days if not sooner. This area of disturbed weather has the look and feel of Gloria from 1985. And she formed right about this time in about the same place. All indications are that the upper air pattern is set up for at least the next 2 weeks to deliver any westward developing storms directly to the U.S. mainland.
You can bet I will be watching that one closely as September 20-30 has historically been prime time for Mid-Atlantic and New England landfalling major hurricanes.
The next update will be later tonight after the 8pm advisory.
Monday, September 13, 2004
- Kenny Loggins, from soundtrack of Top Gun
That was a headline I used once back during winter storm season, but I think it is appropriate now. You've no doubt learned Ivan is back to Category 5, meaning the eyewall replacement cycle apparently completed last night and winds are up to 160 mph. This storm is beginning to take on a "strength of Charley and size of Frances" configuration as labeled by Accuweather.
My major concern is starting to play out. The post from last night said: "If Ivan the monster misses Cuba, travels through the Yucatan channel, and takes a more gradual turn to the north, New Orleans and the Mississippi Sound may well be in the target zone for landfall. A further shift to the west of the "uncertainty" cone to fully encompass eastern Louisiana, with the Appalachee Bay on the very eastern fringe of the cone will be the reality check for city managers of New Orleans. "
Let's put the risk to New Orleans in perspective. You can see that NHC has shifted the cone well to the west, fully encompassing the Lake Ponchartrain area on the left and terminating just above Tampa Bay on the right. It is a known fact that 72 hours is required to fully evacuate New Orleans and surrounding areas. This is because there are only 4 main routes out of town, THREE of which are bridges over water or very close to water:
- The Lake Ponchartrain Causeway proceeds north directly over the lake.
- Route 10 and 55 split near La Place, with 10 continuing west and 55 north. But 55 proceeds in between Lakes Ponchartrain to the east and Maurepas to the west.
- Route 10 East proceeds northeast over the Lake as do two smaller routes, 90 and 11.
With a major hurricane churning northward in the Gulf, swells and wave action will increase well in advance of the storm. What if Ivan continues playing the hard to get game, and keeping everyone guessing as to it's final trajectory right to the end? Imagine the fright and panic of many when there is still 24 hours before the storm's arrival, and major evacuation routes out of New Orleans are flooded due to overwash and swells. This one of the many reasons why this city is at high risk for a major catastrophe someday.
The bottom line for today?
Ivan is going to flucuate right around the cusp of Category 5, which I hope spurns people in the NO, LA to Panama City, FL area including Biloxi, Gulfport and Pensacola to seriously consider evacuation procedures. Every mile it drifts westward, and delays the northward turn, eastern Louisiana is at more and more risk of landfall by a major hurricane. But for it appears the Pensacola area is in the danger zone.
The next update will be late this afternoon following the 5pm advisory.
Continuing checking the tropical links to the left for current details.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
IVAN SEEMS TO SAY "GO WEST"... COULD MEAN HARD GOING IN THE BIG EASY
If you've been following hurricane developments this weekend, then you know that the 'cone of uncertainty' for Ivan's landfall has been drifting slowly westward since Friday. Now New Orleans is just outside the far western edge of the cone, and Tampa in the far eastern side.
If you haven't followed the hurricane as closely, that's okay. It just means you've been able to get out more and enjoy life, whereas unusual types like myself have a tendency to check every sniffle and sneeze of these storms at three hour intervals in between playing with my baby girl.
The 5pm and 8pm advisory indicated winds have leveled out at approx. 150 mph, and pressure has dropped to 915 millibars. The hurricane is continuing a mostly west-northwest motion, and has shown no signs of a turn to the northwest. This is significant for two reasons:
1. The inner eyewall is undergoing a replacement cycle, which means when the intense rainfall and towering thunderstorms in that eyewall spin themselves out, moisture spiraling in from outside the eyewall begins to regenerate the eyewall. If sea surface, pressure and atmospheric conditions are MORE favorable before and during the concentric eyewall replacement cycle, then we usually see a drop in pressure and an increase in wind speed as reported by the reconnaissance aircraft. You also see evidence of this when the colorized banding on the infra-red satellite imagery show the darker reds and purples completing a sphere around the eye.
2. The storm has access to 30c (86 F or higher) surface waters, and steering currents that would have turned it northwest are weaker than anticipated. This spells very bad news for anyone living along the northern Gulf coast from Panama City westward to New Orleans. I It should not be a surprise if the storm regains Category 5 status within 24 hours, perhaps even overnight.
WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE IN TERMS OF THE HIGH RISK AREA?
If Ivan the monster misses Cuba, travels through the Yucatan channel, and takes a more gradual turn to the north, New Orleans and the Mississippi Sound may well be in the target zone for landfall. A further shift to the west of the "uncertainty" cone to fully encompass eastern Louisiana, with the Appalachee Bay on the very eastern fringe of the cone will be the reality check for city managers of New Orleans.
IS THERE ANYTHING TO WEAKEN THIS STORM SINCE IT MISSED LAND?
Another weather blog, Fresh Bilge, has discussed the possibility of dry air filtering into the storm from the north. This is a very plausible notion, as there is a broad area of high pressure moving south from the Plains. The high will serve as a blocking feature, protecting the western gulf, as indicated by Accuweather.
Sea surface temperatures in the northeastern Gulf are slightly below average as indicated by this current map maintained by the U.S. Navy. So there are several factors at work which may serve to challenge the storm's ability to remain intense as it travels north. The NHC is fully expecting a northward weakening trend, and reflecting this in their wind speed projections as listed on the recent discussions. Accuweather's Joe Bastardi is skeptical of a northward weakening trend, as he thinks the storm will challenge Camille's intensity. So the lines have been drawn, we shall see who gets it right.
If the track begins shifting westward to encompass New Orleans, I will prepare a revised analysis of what surrounding areas can expect over the next few days leading up to landfall. If you reading this site from anywhere inside the New Orleans to Panama City, there is no harm in making basic preparations now.
Obviously many, many people are eventually going to have to deal with this storm, so our thoughts and prayers are with those families whoever and wherever they will be.
A brief early morning update on Monday, followed by a full update after the 5pm advisory.
That's where I think Ivan will go in terms of wind strength and central pressure. Already the 8th strongest Atlantic basin storm, it only has 18 mb to go before it equals Camille's lowest pressure of 901 mb. I think the maximum winds may eventually reach 180-190 mph.
The jog around Jamaica on Friday-Saturday has produced changes in the expected track downstream, as all computer models have trended away from the Florida peninsula and toward the panhandle. Now with another southward wobble around Grand Cayman overnight Saturday, the near-term track will have to be shifted a little farther northwest. The trouble that spells is a Category 4 or 5 entering the southern Gulf, with plenty of time to continue strengthening.
Two of the models... the Navy's NOGAPS program and the British UKMET show a extreme
western Cuba crossing, then a beeline toward the Pensacola-Mobile area. If this west-northwest trend continues for the next 12 hours, I expect other computer models will start to shift westward along the northern Gulf coast. That means all coastal areas from Pensacola WEST to central Louisiana should be on alert to start making preparations should the "cone of uncertainty" shift in their direction.
An alert reader asked in the comments if I thought Gulfport, MS and Mobile, AL are in the target zone. Unfortunately that seems more and more likely. The high over the northeast is beginning to weaken, which will take eastward resistance off the storm's movement, allowing it to make an eventual northeast turn somewhere in the Gulf. The other factor is the influence of a broad area of low pressure over Texas and the lower southwestern Gulf. The counter-clockwise flow around this low may provide some weak steering currents which can serve to guide the storm into the Gulfport - Pensacola area. So keep in mind that IF this current trend of aiming west-northwest continues, it will take much longer for the storm to turn northeast. And the UKMET model shows an extreme strengthening once in the southern Gulf with a landfall just west of Pensacola.
This storm continues to defy expectations. The NHC posts a storm status every three hours, so check back often if you want the latest details.
My next update will be after the 11 AM update.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
WILL WE SEE SHADES OF CAMILLE?
All residents of western Florida have chosen to take this storm seriously, as the potential of another landfalling major hurricane on the already ravaged Sun Coast will lead to near total devastation of some towns and communities. It is entirely possible than a landfall occurs between Tampa Bay and Naples... just like Charley.
Overnight Friday, the storm took a job around the southside of the island, which at first glance looks like divine intervention that spared Kingston. The strongest winds may have remained offshore. By Saturday afternoon, we should be able to see what damage was done, especially in higher terrain. The larger danger looms for the Caymans, Cuba and the Keys, as winds have not taken the expected decrease due to interaction with Jamaica's mountains.
As of 8 AM, winds are still 150 mph with higher gusts. So what could have been a 4 or minimal 5 reaching the western coast of Cuba is now going to be a strong 5, as NHC wind speed projections are at least 160 mph. Camille entered the Gulf from this same location as a minimal 3 with winds of 115 mph, Charley came into the picture as a mid-range 2.
COMPUTER MODELS OR NOT... FLORIDA IS IN THE BULLSEYE
Due to recent inquiries on the site about the impact of Ivan on places like Disneyworld, the Carolinas, the Atlantic Beaches, I have continued to update permanent links to reflect viewer interest. There is a link to Disneyworld Information, and the Mrytle Beach NWS forecast.
A full-scale evacuation of the Keys is underway all this weekend, so it is clear Florida officials are gearing up. It is becoming clear to anyone with a TV set that it is close to impossible at this point for Ivan to miss Florida. So let me break down what I expect to happen over the next 5 days.
Ivan misses Jamaica with winds at or near Category 5. Damage will be extensive. Storm surge will exceed 5 feet in low-lying areas, but thankfully the eye did not make a direct hit. The storm may lose some strength due to interactions with the island mountains, but will regain that loss within 12 hours. Overnight into Sunday, it moves through the Cayman Islands with equally destructive force. Waters in that vicinity are as warm as the storm will ever encounter in it's lifetime. A forecaster in Florida called it "one big long gas stations where he can fill up all day long."
By daybreak, it should not be a surprise to see Ivan at solid Category 5 as he heads for Cuba. Havana will get a direct hit from this, although Castro claims his government will not accept humanitarian aid from the U.S. no matter what happens with this storm. The one monkey wrench aside from expected weakening from impact with Cuba is the introduction of more dry air from the north. This may negate the strengthening effect of the warm water, so Ivan might hold in Category 4 range as a result. Regardless, that is still a major hurricane slicing across the Keys and aiming for the Sun Coast again.
Unless forward motion is slowed unexpectedly, by daybreak Ivan should emerge from the foothills of western Cuba at least a Category 3 with winds around 115 mph or more. Moving north, it will gain strength unless more dry air is able to circulate into the storm. But this time, the amount of moisture inflow and outflow will cause the overall size of the hurricane to grow considerably. On the Monday evening news, you will probably hear forecasters say this one is "the size of Frances with the strength of Charley." That is a wickedly bad combination if there ever was one.
This is the day of waterloo for forecasters. Does Ivan make the right turn into southern Florida like Charley? Or does it buzzsaw along, raking communities like Naples, Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor, Tampa Bay and Clearwater with 100 mph winds before heading toward the St. Marks area? I believe that what happened with Charley may happen again. The sudden right turn everyone talks about with Charley was due to a phenomenon known as "frictional effects" as explained by Accuweather forecasters.
Here's how it may play out: If Ivan's eastern edge of the main storm core has prolonged interaction with land, the winds in that right half of the storm weaken while over land. That allows the left side of the storm, still over open water, to remain stronger. So the storm starts "favoring one side" much like we do in hand or leg motions of sporting activities. The winds of the western side, relative to the overall wind strength, are stronger. The strong onshore flow to around the backside and to the east, has the effect of driving the storm in that direction. Thus the "sudden right turn" which sent Charley into Punta Gorda. Either way, this storm is expected to reach the coast as a major hurricane.
THIS SCENARIO MAY ALLOW IVAN TO FOLLOW CHARLEY'S PATH
If the storm follows a Fort Myers, Kissimme, Orlando, Daytona path, it will no doubt weaken to Category 1 within 6-10 hours, and then down to Tropical Storm force within 12 hours.
Disneyworld, Universal studios, Seaworld and other theme parks are likely to close Tuesday if this path holds true. But understand this... these areas will see unimaginable destruction even if the storm is down to Category 2 like Frances. Because so many structures are unstable or damaged, and so much flooding and debris is scattered everywhere, it will just be absolute pandemoium in terms of stuff flying around in the air.
Slow moving, slow dying Ivan will continue bringing torrentially heavy rains from Georgia to Maryland. If is stays near the coast, eastern cities that did not see Frances' heavy rains will get it this time with Ivan... to the tune of 4-8 inches of rain. With the jet stream far to the north, and a ridge off the coast, remnants of the storm may slow down to the snail's pace first demonstrated by Frances. This would mean another period of damaging flooding to areas that do not need another drop of rain the rest of this year.
This fickle storm will continue to surprise and defy forecasters, so stay tuned to the latest updates. I will be away the rest of Saturday, so the next update will be early Sunday morning.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Many are now aware that Ivan is likely to be the third hurricane to strike Florida within a 30 day period, and news swept quickly it had reached Cat 5 status Thursday, then backed off a bit, but may reclaim that infamous prize this weekend.
Grenada was just about blown to bits, with 90% of buildings damaged or destroyed.
Jamaica is preparing for a full-blown direct hit from this insanely intense storm.
The Caymans and Cuba are next... then the eastern Gulf and probably Florida.
In light of how this hurricane season has changed our perspective about storms, I have modified the blogsite to reflect more useful links and information. If you have a suggestion for a link that should be added to the left column, post a comment to let me know. And take some time to read about the incredible "on the ground" storm and post-storm accounts from Grenada on the StormCaribe site below.
WILL IT BE FLORIDA OR NOT?
The closer we get to the endgame of this hurricane, the more likely it appears that some or all of Florida will experience direct effects of not a direct hit. There are about four factors influencing the final outcome of this storm's path:
1. Strength of the subtropical high pressure ridge to the RIGHT of the storm. Some computer models have a tendency to expect that a high pressure system like the one that will deliver nice sunny weather to the Northeast on Friday.... break down after 5 days or so. Thus, the projected path anticipates this and turns Ivan slightly eastward after crossing Cuba on Sunday. If the high weakens, that allows a force on the LEFT of the storm to exhibit influence...
2. Strength and duration of a low pressure trough in the Gulf. This player would tend to shunt the storm north-northeast as it exits Cuba. If the high does weaken as projected, this give the storm somewhat of an opening, unfortunately over Florida, through which to move.
3. Placement and movement of "dry slots" in the northern Gulf. As pointed out by the author of the Salty Bilge blogsite, dry air can be the first nail in the coffin of a hurricane. We saw this with Frances, although not as much with Charley. It is an interesting scenario to consider that despite very warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf, inflow to the storm from the north would be from land, which has traditionally much drier air. This could serve to weaken the storm as it moves north, provided the northward motion is slow.
4. Overall movement of other weather systems in the region. There are some scenarios setting up that indicate a slowing of forward motion as it nears Cuba. The NHC has projected this and has in turn forecasted solid Category 5 status after Jamaica and toward western Cuba. The concern is that the storm starts to do a Frances, due to the encroaching influence of that high over the Northeast, which in effect begins to trap the storm. So imagine the worst of a horrific nightmare...the trough to the west moves the storm along the FL coast from south to north, but the high in the northeast inhibits northward motion, while the subtropical high prevents eastward motion. The result is a Category 3 or 4 storm raking the western coast of Florida on a snail's pace crawl northward.
Jamaica will see Category 5 winds of 155 mph+ which will utterly destroy most of whatever it touches on the island. It will take years to recover.
The hurricane center expects this to remain a Category 5 to the coast of Cuba as it crosses 85-90 F water in the vicinity of the Grand Cayman Islands.
By Sunday, Ivan is likely to emerge near the Florida keys as a Category 3, and possibly stronger. This means minimum wind speeds of 111 mph, with re-strengthening back to Cat 4 before approaching the peninsula.
It will be difficult for this storm to miss Florida given the track and atmospheric influences in play. We all express our heartfelt empathy for the people of that state who have already had enough hardship to bear this summer. And computer models plainly show western Florida in the bullseye.
This time, a more northerly track closer to the East Coast spells trouble for the Mid-Atlantic later next week.