Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Ophelia 4
Maybe, just maybe... according to the NHC, Ophelia will simply MISS the Carolinas altogether. I have reviewed the NWS local forecasts for SE Virginia, the I-95 corridor and New England. Given the track of this storm and placement of the high pressure ridge, I have my doubts that areas north and west of Richmond will see much in the way of heavy rain as is currently alluded to in NWS forecasts. I think the greater risk will be strong northeast and north winds as the hurricane passes to our east, and some brief squalls along Del-Mar-Va. Extreme SE Virginia, especially Norfolk, will see tropical storm force winds, along with southern Chesapeake, but Washington-Baltimore-Philly and Delaware... all in the clear. Expect little in the way of rain from this. My earlier prediction below:

Ophelia 3

The first Carolina hit of the season is now inevitable and expectations are somewhere along the SC/NC border. Some computer models are taking a more northerly track targeting only the NC coast. Landfall intensity would seem stay well within the Category 1 range, maxing out at 85 mph, according to the NHC. But if you look at SST charts for the region this storm will soon be crossing, it will enter a warmer environment of perhaps 82-83 F surface water. (Charts courtesy of a post from the Eastern US Weather Forum). With low shear, minimal dry air entrainment and adequate outflow and a discernible eye developing, I think it is not at all unreasonable this storm reaches Category 2 strength just prior to landfall. The NHC projected path takes Ophelia through eastern SC, eastern NC and into southern Virginia. It is reasonable to expect some tidal impact in the Chesapeake Bay from a southeasterly fetch as the depression approaches on Thursday. It would SEEM unlikely SE Virginia will see a repeat of the flooding rains that accompanied TD/TS Gaston, but we'll see how this depression plays itself out once inland before calling OFF the calvary. Keep tabs on the latest reconnaissance observations, and pay particular attention to letter "D" as it is the best indicator of maximum surface wind gusts, and letter "H" indicates current minimum surface air pressure.

If you live in the coastal zone likely to be impacted, remember the lessons of Katrina in southern Florida when she was a "minimal" hurricane: 11 people died and areas saw 10-20 inches of rain. So much for minimal. Winds in excess of 80 mph can damage roofs and windows, allowing storm rains to get inside homes. A surge of 4-6 feet can arrive within minutes. Heavy rains in advance of the system will also weaken tree root systems, allowing for toppling of trees and braches more quickly than in a fast moving system. The risk of electrocution to people who stay behind is greater, because damage will not be hugely extensive, but standing water and downed power lines sometimes create hidden electrical hazards. Bottom line: A "minimal hurricane" does not mean the effects are minimal, it just means the technical classification of the wind speed is at the low end of the chart. The only thing that should be minimal about this storm is the risks to your family if you are in it's path, because you will have taken appropriate steps NOW to minimize those risks by preparing and getting out of harm's way.


E. H. Boston said...

Hurricane Opelia Concern...

Mr. Foot, look at the 120 hr. GFS and notice how much the track of Opelia has changed. This morning, it had the storm going directly into South Carolina, now it is giving it a track more to the east...near the Outer Banks of North Carolina and continue northward along the eastern seaboard to the Mid Atlantic and Long Island and the south coast of New England.

Should we be concerned that Hurricane Opelia will make landfall in the Carolinas, but further up the east coast?

Looking forward to your response, until then all of us here in New England will watch with an erie eye on Opelia.

What is ironic about this is that thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors have just came to Massachusetts for refuge on Cape Cod, and if the Cape got hit with a hurricane...well, I just do not want to think about that.

Hurricane Opelia...the next New England hurricane???

Nbcweatherman said...

Hey Mr. Foot...I know this is off the subject but this weather wants me to think of Winter and now that and The farmers Almanac have both issued there Winter outlooks they both predict very cold east of the mississippi river to the east coast...what do you think? And could the dry pattern bring less snow this winter or will this pattern change?

Foot's Forecast said...

I have also been thinking ahead to the winter and wondering if we are going to see a repeat of last winter... at least in the Mid-Atlantic: lackluster for snow, overall not very harsh. Why? Because I see cooler than normal SST's builing near Peru. A neutral El Nino or weak La Nina does not bode well for powderhounds. Also a high frequency of tropical cyclones forming in or passing over the same general area (Franklin, Harvey, Irene, Katrina, Ophelia, Nate, Maria) will undoubtedly influence Atlantic SST's. Now with Ophelia lingering off the coast, this is going to upwell water cooling the Gulf Stream a tad in that area. Endgame is that west Atlantic waters will end up normal or slightly cooler than normal heading into winter. Not a good signal if you want lots of snow as Nor'easters heading up the coast need to tap the warm water to create heavy snowfall. Silver lining is that New England could see another record breaking snowy winter like last year due to SST's above normal in their vicinity. That's my first read on winter.

E.H. Boston said...

Mr. Foot, we need your expertise. All the computer models seems to be changing and are now bringing Ophelia closer and closer to New England.

How strong could Ophelia be at landfall? Weak tropical storm? Strong? Minimal hurricane even?

Help us out.

Foot's Forecast said...

E.H. I would not get too worried about Ophelia being another 1938 or Gloria. Dynamics are different and "out to sea" or slight brushing" is more likely than a direct hit. Remember you'll be on the NW quadrant either way, best spot to be in a passing hurricane.

See current models:

Julee said...

Is it POSSIBLE to have LESS snow than we had last year? That would make it -10 inches!
If I remember correctly, I was ready to move to Boston sometime last February.

Could conditions change enough in the next few months to give us PH's some accumulation?

And what does that Carolina landfall bode for Maryland?

E.H. Boston said...

All of you should move to Boston. The Farmers Almanac and accuweather are calling for a SNOWY AND COLD winter again...

Boston...the place to be winter 05-06.

E.H. Boston said...

About Ophelia, I don't want her wind, just the rain. My lawn is as brown as it is in the middle of January.

I'm just speculating though because every January my lawn is under about two feet of snow. hahahaha

Just kidding, you Mid Atlanticans will get your snow in due time.

Terpboy said...

Am I a minority here?

Am I the only person who thinks that the only value the Farmers Almanac has is if you run out of something to use to light your fireplace???

And before you tell me how it predicted the "Storm
of Fill-in-the-Blank', check out how many times it was completely wrong!

Don't get mad eh, the Sox are in first place...and hockey is back...

Julee said...


You could be my NEW hero!
I'll let you know in March.

Nbcweatherman said...

Accuweather said that a cold and Ive heard also they said a Snowy winter for Washington DC northward to Maine. Along with a lot of snowstorms. (The most snow is likely as of now to fall west of the Albany, New York City, and Philadelphia region.)

Some people are comparing this year to be like the 02-03 winter which brough a lot of snow to central PA and some also compare as it could be like the 95-96 winter which as you know brought a lot of snow with a Blizzard. All I know is that the Accuweather forecasters believe it will begin to cool down in November and to be a severe cold throughout the winter. 1 to 3 degrees below normal.

E.H. Boston said...

I'm with you nbcweatherman...bring on the snow.

Farmers Almanac thing, they said we'd see a hurricane on threatening the Atlantic coast anywhere between the 3-7th and eventually affect New England as a tropical storm. They were a week off. Forecasting the weather to a tee, months prior is IMPOSSIBLE. Old Farmers Almanac is not perfect, but it does guide and depict patterns in the long term.

I'm not a big hockey fan, but I'm glad to have it back...brings back thoughts of winter.

By the way, is it me, or does Hurricane Opelia look like she is falling apart right now? She looks sick!!! Dry air all the way into the center of circulation.

Tom said...

Dry air plus upwelling.

That's what you get when you sit and spin in the same spot for two days.

The models seems to be trending Ophelia more west and the GFS/GFDL ensembles are calling for a 'coastal-type' event with a Carolina landfall and a movement up along or parallel to the coast. They've held pretty firm to that scenario for the last three or four runs and the other models seem to now be inching west as well.

Foot's Forecast said...

I agree with you all on the weakening trend. I can't see how this will come onshore as anything more than a Cat 2, if that. Probably barely Cat 1. Sitting there for several days... lots of upwelling, tapping dry air from that high is taking a toll. I can see how the coastal run will occur though, as the high transitions from a cool, dry air mass to a warm humid dirty high.

As for winter, staying optimistic is the best you can do. I'm going to stay on the low end of snowfall for Mid-Atl and NE because like it or lump it, a La Nina signal is historically a bad sign for powderhounds.

Nbcweatherman said...

But Mr.Foot...there forecasts are calling for a neutral...non El Nino and La Nina season. Where are you getting the La Nina signal from???

Go to for the winter outlooks from different forecasting networks/almanacs.

Foot's Forecast said...

A neutral El Nino "gentle La Nina" is much worse for powderhounds hoping for a snowy winter. The best scenario is a neg NAO setup in October that repeats in Dec and Feb, coupled with a weak El Nino of .5 to 1.0 C above normal.

View the current ENSO report:

I see neither, and if we have any more tropical hits on or near the East Coast, the upwelling trend from those storms will be hard to counteract once the fall pattern sets in with offshore winds and the increased westerlies.

Bottom line: ANYTHING resembling La Nina in anyway will put a damper on coastals having the ability to tap deep tropical moisture and do the beautiful
'exploding along the coast' thing we love to see but rarely do.

Time for diehard PW's to start packing for Boston. (oop, gotta go, the U-Haul van just arrived!)

Julee said...

Mr. Foot,

I'm sorry, this is not acceptable.

You'd better FIND a way for a weak La Nina to mean lots of snow, or I'm moving in right NEXT to you in Beantown. And I have a vorpal lop-eared bunny.

Are you SURE there is no way???????????????????

Nbcweatherman said...

So you think that this winter will be dry, and you dont agree with the forecasters at Accuweather and the almanacs?

E.H. Boston said...

All move to you're hinting that you agree that us Bostonians will have a snowy winter?

Uncle Rico - Oklahoma said...

I think that you all are nuts.

-this is uncle rico

Foot's Forecast said...

Yes nbcwx: I disagree with Accuwx and the Almanac, and I'll explain why in a post sometime before the season is over. I see a dry, cold winter with a few storms but not a prolonged snowy winter for the Mid-Atlantic. NE will probably get clobbered as usual.

Uncle Rico! Welcome back. Did Katrina sideswipe you?

Nbcweatherman said...

Look at these storms above!!! Aint it amazing the possiblity of these storms could bring snow to the northern sections of country by second week of october!!