Monday, August 20, 2007

MEAN DEAN...CATEGORY 5


Bomb

As of 8:35 pm EDT Monday, Reconnaissance aircraft has discovered Dean crossed over to the "finger of God" status of hurricane intensity, with maximum sustained winds now at 160 mph, a central pressure of 915 millibars (that's a whoppingly low 27.01 inches of mercury!). Only divine intervention can avert a total catastrophe now, as this storm is poised to be only the 11th Atlantic basin hurricane in recorded history to make landfall in North America as a Category 5. My source for this is a detailed posting on Wikipedia, which I know has had some credibility issues, but being the weather aficinado that I am, I do not see any data out of place on this particular page of that site. If you are as enthralled by hurricanes as I am, (just not by the destruction they cause) take a few minutes to look over this link, it is really very well-done and interesting. Last and most important, remember to hold those in the storm's path in your thoughts and prayers for strength, a speedy recovery and a repsite from future storms this season.

There is a little tropical disturbance near the Leeward islands that looks to be quite a puzzler the next few days, with computer modeling already displaying shades of a loop-de-loop track similar to what Hurricane Jeanne presented in 2004. We should watch this one closely.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

WILL DEAN BE THE KATRINA OF JAMAICA?
(OR THE YUCATAN, OR TEXAS)

Sandals resort in Ocho Rios
Looking north from a Sandals resort in Ocho Rios.


Category 5 for 48 hours? Incredible.


SATURDAY 8/18 UPDATE: In retrospect to Friday's post, I believe it was/is insensitive to overlook the potential catastrophe that looms before Jamaica. While southern Texas is almost certain to feel the effects from this storm, it will pale in comparison to the wickedness to descend on the island nation starting tomorrow. Although millons of residents from the Houston region all the way down to Brownsville are no doubt becoming anxious, we should keep in mind that anyone in this storm's path has a family just like you and me. I also remind myself that the wrong approach to take is by thinking, "well, at least parts of Mexico will absorb the worst, sparing the U.S." Anywhere this storm lands will experience catastrophic loss of property, but hopefully advance preparation and improved forecasting will prevent loss of life. Regarding the projected path, the best scenario is that peripheral interaction with the southern part of Hispanola could produce some frictional effects, thus changing the storm's course temporarily. Several previous hurricanes, most notably Ivan, ended up curving around Jamaica somewhat, sparing the island from widespread destruction that a Category 5 direct hit would produce. The downside to this outcome is that a track north of the island may increase the probability of a U.S. landfall. As the weekend progresses, I will add information, maps and analysis. The best thing we can all do is pray strongly and frequently for the safety of those in the storm's path, and hope they are taking all the precautions they can.

Building into a buzzsaw

View the latest satellite loop, radar and tracking maps here.

Jamaica: Tall mountains and beautiful beaches

Looking north from near Kingston's University of West Indies.

Northern view near Kingston's University of West Indies

Jamaica is a beautiful country, but it's more than just beachfront resorts. There's 3 million people with families, jobs, homes and children. They are no stranger to hurricanes, but they definitely don't need a Category 5 to remind them of the importance of being prepared.

Jamaican residents stocking up on kerosene

Model projections as of 7AM on 8-18.

Model projections as of 7AM 8-18

FRIDAY 8-17-07 POST: WILL DEAN BE THE KATRINA OF TEXAS?

Texas Gulf Coast 1

Computer model projection as of Friday afternoon. Changes in the 5-day track will continue.

The GFDL is an outlier, so hope it's just out "lying"

Category 3, 125 mph. If another round of explosive strengthening occurs, we could be knocking on the door of Category 5 with a day or two. This has been observed several times in recent memory, most notably with Opal in 1995, and Wilma in October 2005. That storm surprised everyone overnight, screaming all the way from 85 mph up to 150 mph in less than 6 hours. That strengthening occured in generally the same area of high ocean heat content that Dean is about to cross in the next 48 hours.

Where this beast goes is the 100 billion dollar question

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"SADDLE UP YOUR HORSES,
WE GOT A TRAIL TO BLAZE..."
- Steve Curtis Chapman

Open waters = stronger hurricane

FIRST DISCUSSION - posted Tue 8/14. The trail to blaze in this case is configuring an accurate landfall forecast for this storm, and whether or not those in the Gulf or Southeast should be concerned. While this map looks ominous for the southern and eastern Caribbean, a lot can change over the next 5 days. My expectation is that influence from the Atlantic Ridge continues to nudge Dean's projected track under the islands. Were that to occur within 5 days, then risk as a landfalling strong hurricane in the Yucatan or central/western Gulf rises considerably. Whether or not that becomes a possibility will be more clear by the time we get to late in the weekend. I've been adding new links and revising the tropical section. Be sure to review The Weather Underground's improved tropical links, they've added a variety of features that give you an almost real-time view of approaching systems. As always, if you have encountered a reputable and quality website for tracking the tropics, please consider posting your info in the comments. Here's an example satellite image showing storm data:

Outflow developing in 3 quadrants

If Dean threatens to fulfill the projection shown above, you can expect this to rattle oil markets somewhat. Futures traders are no doubt already nervously watching to see how shipping companies and Gulf Coast refineries are going to deal with the potential disruptions caused by platform evacuations and facility shutdowns, as reported today by Bloomberg.com.

For at least a day or two, we're going to have two storms to follow, as Tropical Storm Erin, though likely to have a shorter lifespan than Dean, will make landfall along the south Texas coast late in the week.