Sunday, August 27, 2006

HEY TAMPA...
THIS COULD BE "THE ONE"

Tampa 1

7:50 AM 8/27 - I discover this morning the forecast track has shifted significantly to the right, as other online forecasters had alluded to last week, and indeed they were right!

The culprit is (or will be) a digging shortwave low pressure system heading southeast from the Dakotas. The south- western flank of the subtropical High steering currents which serve as Ernesto's steering currents will react to this approaching change in the pressure gradient. 

The net effect is a tightening of the isobars in advance of the storm, creating a pressure channel through which Ernesto will travel. In some cases the direction of the northern outflow channel of clouds can be an indication of the future path the storm will take in the near term of 24 hours.
Ernesto 5

Ernesto became a hurricane officially at 5:04 AM this morning, and if the above track hold true, Tampa-St. Petersburg could be looking at "the one" they've been fearing for years...a Category 3 monster with a 12 foot + storm surge that inundates the entire downtown and leaves St. Petersburg an island. 

This scenario has been well-researched and published in Pinellas County papers. I'm sure this will soon be front page news Monday morning if it isn't already. As you can tell, the orientation of this projected path in relation to the coastline is what forecasters would consider the worse case scenario:

1. A strengthening major hurricane approaching a highly populated coast at an angle 
2. A wide mouthed bay which will funnel surge waters far upstream, flooding small inlets already overwhelmed by 6-12 inches of rain that fell in advance of the storm. 
3. A track that travels just north of the affected Bay area, giving it maximum exposure to the dangerous northeast quadrant, the portion of the storm with strongest winds & highest surge.
Tampa 3

A built-in even worse situation could be that frictional effects due to land interaction of the NE quadrant cause onshore winds to weaken slightly
  • Offshore winds end up being slightly stronger, and this drives the storm in a little sooner than expected. 
  • That would result in Ernesto being forced up Tampa Bay. This is exactly the situation that occured with Charley in 2004. 
  • Residents in Punta Gorda were under a hurricane warning, but saw that the projected path was going to take the storm more towards Tampa Bay, a considerable distance NORTH of Charlotte Harbor. 
  • They considered themselves lucky to have survived a near-miss. In the space of just 4 hours, frictional effects of the storm interacting with land changed it's path, and Charley charged right up the Harbor as a Category 4 monster.

Tampa 2

The graphic below is an interactive scenario of the flooding potential for Tampa Bay in Category 3, 4, and 5 land-falling hurricanes, created by environmentaldefense.org.

Tampa Storm Surge

I'll update once more later today as the reality sinks in across Florida of what Ernesto may bring next week.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey mr foot...

i know im getting a head of myself right now, but what are the possible implications for Washington DC and Philadelphia by next weekend? (I'm moving into University in DC on Sat....)

Mr. Foot said...

I think you'll be fine. If anything Ernesto would be on the east side of a front moving across the Mid Atlantic. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of rain, but a direct hit on the I-95 corridor (aka Hazel or Floyd) isn't likely with this storm.

Anonymous said...

RAY- Very interesting stuff about land friction changing the path, you just learned me somethn, guess u really are teacher! : ) I think this new track does 2 things to slightly mitigate the threat.
1) Cuba will take its toll on Ernesto.
2) The right turn will give it LESS time to regenerate in the gulf and it may miss the loop current to the east. We MAY not deal with a major hurricane in the US.

Anonymous said...

RAY- This may not be a big deal.

Mr. Foot said...

Yeah, I'm starting to lean towards Ernesto not being all that. Will update this evening.

WEYTYN said...

MR FOOT-

good and bad to see your at it again, good - glad to see you survived the hot summer bad- for florida they need not another canejob.

hows the family and shall ihead to the store for toilet paper, milk, bread, batteries,

later

Anonymous said...

RAY- Depends on where u live, but I dont think this is gonna be to bad for anyone(too much time over land and too little regeneration time over gulf). As u can see by his comment above, Mr. Foot is leaning in the same direction.

Anonymous said...

i don't know, i don't think you can write Ernie off just yet

a shift slighly to the left would see it strengthen when it emerges in the GOM

a shift slighlty to the right would see it emerge in the atlantic and possibly be a Carolina storm

either way, it does look like it will influence the mid atlantic now, doesnt it mr. foot?

heh i dont know much, so i'll let you experts do the forcast...i'm just throwing some ideas out there.

Anonymous said...

RAY- Everything u said is entirely possible, give urself some credit! : ) Personaly I believe it will traverse a large amount of Cuba and not be too big of a deal for anyone. I'm also keepn a close eye that he doesn't try to sneak up hear to Beantown.

Anonymous said...

BEN - on a completly different note, i'm gonna name myself for these posts as you have done. so from now on, you'll see "Ben"

yeh Ernesto doesnt look too good right now, im going to bed, this thing could v well be dead tomorrow morning

Anonymous said...

RAY- Just startn to regenerate off W tip of Hati.