Friday, August 12, 2005


Irene 3

Starting Sunday, computer models take Irene on the high road away from the coast and cast her off to the westerlies for a quick journey to the North Atlantic's graveyard of hurricanes. Or so it would seem. The storm is quickly intensifying, and may even cross the Category 2 boundary before all this happens. Looks like an open-and-shut case... hurricane misses east coast, all breathe a sigh of relief and return to their incessant building boom on coastal waters. That is, if you believe everything the computer tells you. These were the same computer models trying to recurve Irene way out to sea before nearing Bermuda, and were also the same models that had Irene developing into a hurricane over a week ago in the deep tropical Atlantic near Africa. So I am skeptical that this storm will not obey expectations exactly the way deer only cross the road where those "deer crossing" signs are posted.

Irene 4

The Hurricane center is also alluding in it's discussion of the storm slowing down, and some forecasters at Accuweather have indicated it may even stall due to "height rises" northeast of the storm. This is increases in atmosphere pressure in the upper levels, at what is called the 500 millibar level. The point is that tropical storms cannot normally punch through an expanding area of high pressure at 500 mb, just like the blizzard of 2003 could not force it's way through a sprawling high pressure over the Northeast U.S. The compromise is that the two systems have to work against each other for a while until one gives way or the other weakens. While the eastward moving cold front in the Midwest will temporarily nudge Irene northeast, the expanding high waiting for it near Labrador may halt any significant movement. What results is a slowing and stalling system, which can send day after day of swells to the shores of Long Island, Jersey, Delmarva and VA/NC. This is bad for beachgoers on vacation as rip currents will increase, beaches will close, and the risk of drowning in rip currents will also increase. My evidence of this is the recent change in the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the fact the NWS is projecting that Irene really won't be going that far out even by next Wednesday.

So what does Irene do? Three scenarios...

1. MAKES LIKE A TREE AND GETS OUT OF HERE. That's a quote from Back to the Future for all you 80's fans. Off to the westerlies like most other storms as shown by climatology.

2. ESTHER REDUX. Hurricane Esther was a storm in September 1961 that got looped around by a similar setup, and made two landfalls in New England. Problem this time is the water is much warmer so the storm could be stronger second time around. Felix in 1995 did a similar dipsy-doodle near the Chesapeake Bay.
3. JEANNE IN REVERSE. Remember Mean Jeanne the dancing wind and rain machine? Irene could do a similar jig and loop around but head out to sea instead of inland.

The reasoning behind options 2 and 3 is that the Bermuda High / North Atlantic ridge is forecasted to expand in the North Atlantic. This will serve to eventually block northward / northeastward motion of future storms in the next 30 days, and send them merrily or not-so-merrily on their way directly at the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. The final word for now is that Irene has plenty of ocean left to pull many more tricks, so I would not bank on one computer model or the other until we see the atmosphere readjusting to the new pattern, and then Irene will show us the way.


E.H. Boston said...

Well, it looks like, with the new 5PM advisory out of the NWS, that Irene will be taking scenario number one...moving well away from any landmass. Heading into Hurricane Graveyard.

All eyes will be on the formation of Jose now. Could this be the one?

If you ask me, UNLIKELY.

Mr.B said...

I don't know the current motion of irene looks like a WNW motion more than a NW. Because of that front looks like it is pushing it more eastward.

Julee said...

Loving your title!
You could write about anything . . . motorcycles . . . and I'd read it.

Mr.B said...

If you look at the current visable satillie loop of irene the close up one it looks like a new circulation center has formed to the west of the storm. Making the storm go way away from the north motion expected to be happening by now.

E.H. Boston said...

mr. b:

Believe me, don't try to wish the storm to come to you. It does not work. I try it every winter with snowstorms, you will just get your hopes up for something big and have them dashed. Irene is a lost cause...Jose could be born this week.

E.H. Boston said...

Tropical Depression 10 has formed