Friday, September 5, 2008


Hanna satellite image 9-5-08

Formatting note: I realize this is a long post, it's a combo of 2 days. Comments are found at the bottom. Please note your location for more accurate response to your questions.

ABC2 News Hanna Headline 9-5-08

STORM IMPACTS AND PREPARATION. The Red Cross has good details on preparation in the "Spotlight" Box for Tropical-Storm related disasters. The NWS has a list of key actions to take in their official statements. A couple notes about preparation: Make sure tonight you have fully charged all electronic devices, cell phones, little music players. Make sure there is a working phone that does not require AC power. I would also turn your fridge temp down a few notches if you're prone to losing power. Do you have some working light sources? (candles don't count!) Have you checked on elderly or shut-in neighbors? Have you removed all the items from the yard, alley, deck etc that could blow around..trash cans, toys, chairs, umbrellas, tarps? Did or will you park the car away from trees and branches that could fall and blow a hole in your insurance policy? All right, enough said for now on that. Below is a summary of impacts in order of how severe an effect on the Baltimore-DC metro region:

1. RAIN 3 to 6 inches or more in heavier bands that feed off the bay or ocean, all coming inside a 12 hour period. When one of those bands moves over you, it will look like a monsoon and go on for an hour or more. Does your basement flood easily? Are you near a stream that overflows it's banks with every thunderstorm? If so, take precautions today and tonight. Though the ground is very dry, heavy downpours can quickly flood small streams and urban areas. Turn around, don't drown. Stay inside, stay alive. Local storm conditions can change very fast, especially during one of those embedded rain bands.

2. WIND Sustained east to northeast winds of at least 40 mph from late morning until sundown. That's 8 hours of wind-swept rain beating against your house. The kids are going to love it, for the first hour. Then it'll get old real fast. Greater sustained speeds to near 50 mph with gusts near hurricane force in the southern Chesapeake Bay. The entire region will see gusts near 60 mph, but winds will be backing north and then northwest toward evening as the storm passes east of the Bay.

3. DEBRIS The biggest risk to life and property is not going to be downed trees everywhere, but a massive amount of falling limbs and branches which can kill or seriously injure anyone caught underneath. Do I need to post sad but true stories of teenagers who went out to walk the dog during a Tropical Storm to get the point across? Heavy limbs will take out power lines, which end up laying on the ground, covered with other tree debris. Please do not go outside.

4. WATER Unlike Isabel, which sent a constant fetch of southeast wind to pile all the water up the Bay, this will feature a quick hit of wind that may start SE and then back and remain east to northeast. Water will pile up on west side of the bay at first, and then by sundown, as winds shift to the north, it will all be blown out. Inland waterways on the west side, especially in areas that are near to the open Bay will see surges of up to 4 feet temporarily with 2-3 foot waves on top of that.


NWS Advisory Map 9-5-08

Looking only at today's weather across the Northeast, you'd never know the area is about to get slammed with it's first significant tropical system since Isabel in 2003. In my opinion, ABC2 News is the one network in the Baltimore area doing the best job of explaining potential impacts, most notably Justin Berk. His website has valuable information you should review if concerned about this storm. Others might think I'm hyping the storm because their TV news is downplaying it. Well, I remember how poorly the Mid-Atlantic fared in preparation for Isabel 5 years ago, due in large part to the lack of detailed information from the news media and even the Weather Channel. After the storm passed, I was told by students in my school at Dundalk High in Southeastern Baltimore County that they went to bed the night of September 18 thinking a Tropical Storm Warning sounded like "a really bad thunderstorm." I asked why, and they said.. "well that's what the news told us. Just a lot of rain and wind." Some of them awoke at 2AM with water pouring in their first floor windows and coming up through the floorboards. That was from a predicted 2-4 foot storm surge. This website did not exist then, and that storm was the catalyst that led to creating this forecasting venue. I have vowed since that fateful storm that next time, I would get the word out LOUD AND CLEAR.

I hope we've done that, and as family time and children needs permit over the weekend, I will continue hammering away on the importance of NOT UNDERESTIMATING MOTHER NATURE, especially when the HUMAN EXPERTS (National Hurricane Center) have given us fair warning. The latest visible satellite image proves Hanna is getting ready to make her move, as convection is wrapping around the center and winds are gusting at or above 75 mph.


Maryland District closures 2

RATIONALE: Isabel was a stronger storm at landfall, but her track was northwest away from Maryland and through Virginia. The center of circulation never got close to any Maryland county. Virginia on the other hand was pummeled. This time, both states may get equal treatment because Hanna will track through the Bay area counties, and actually closer to Washington than Baltimore. Some districts may be forced to close Monday because road and ground crews will have 24 HOURS or less to clear downed trees, debris and restore power to critical facilities. Isabel caused school closings on Thursday September 16, 2003 when she was making landfall in coastal North Carolina...hundreds of miles away. It wasn't until overnight Thursday into Friday when the bulk of the storm arrived. Then, school and road crews had 2 full days to cleanup. Despite heroic efforts, some districts including Baltimore County remained closed the Monday following the storm. So think about your preparations now... if you lost power or were flooded in Isabel, what would you have done differently? Determine those steps and then implement them today. A lot of people were taken by surprise as to the intensity and widespread damage causes by Isabel. This could actually be worse in terms of wind damage and rainfall. Are you ready?

MARYLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT IMPACT: Text desscription of the Maryland map posted above if you are unable to view it. HIGH RISK (entire system closed) includes all MD counties south of a line from Anne Arundel east to Queen Anne's. MEDIUM RISK (modified closure specifically by individual school or area affected) From Baltimore City and County east to Kent County and North to the PA/MD/DE lines.

FOR COMMENTERS: Please remember to post your location. We would also appreciate having anyone report back on the evening news roundup... or the morning roundup. What are our TV forecasters saying, and do you think they are adequately preparing the public or explaining what precautions should be taken? I hope we do a better job of getting the word out this time.

FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH TROPICAL STORMS: review the Baltimore-Washington NWS official statements regarding preparing your family and property. No need to flip out, just be prepared and take the storm seriously. Tell your children and students not to go and wander about in the storm, the risk of falling trees, limbs and power lines is the greatest and most immediate threat to people unaware of the dangers associated with a landfalling tropical storm.


wvm said...

So far they are calling for rain Friday night and Saturday. Basically a total of 1 to 2 inches and winds 5 to 10 mph. I honestly thougth it would be a bit more. Ofcourse it all depends on how far east the storm moves. My concern is that if the high over the Atlantic moves in quicker it will go further east. What do you think Mr Foot?

Mr. Brisko said...

Mr. Foot Can I come to your house and storm chase with you? LOL

Anonymous said...

Mr. Foot, what tends to be the protocol for colleges? I'm a junior at George Washington University in DC metro area, and while students obviously live on campus, professors still have to commute - albeit most likely through the metro.

What effects, if any, will Hanna have on my college for Monday?

Not that I really want to have off because we would make it up in December, which isn't fun (especially if we have to make up a few snow days on top of that), but with no Friday classes, a 4 day weekend would be nice!


Anonymous said...

Writing from Catonsville; Listening to your rationale regarding Hannah makes tremendous sense. Why are the Baltimore w weather forcasters on TV downplaying the probabilites of damage presented? It seems after Isabel they would be a little more proactive in suggesting people be prepared.
By the way, this blog has been a tremendous teaching tool for my Bio classes, as scientific methodology has been introduced this week. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up as usual! Sent you an email Mr. Foot.......

Anonymous said...

Seems that the local news isn't thinking much of it, or they are afraid of being wrong. Sounds just like rain. Waiting patiently...keep us posted Mr. Foot.


Foot's Forecast said...

Thanks for the input and questions so far, I will get back to you all later this morning after some home business and chores.

I felt Justin Berk did a nice thorough job on the AM broadcast explaining the storm effects, especially the tidal surge potential, winds, etc.

The Weather Channel had a constant scroll at bottom of the screen for a good hour.

I encourage the local TV stations to scroll a condensed version of the NWS text once a TS Warning is issued.

Anonymous said...

So... seriously, what's the rainfall amount, how high the winds and how high will the tide get? We have a boat to worry about.


Mr. Brisko said...

I still think Hanna track near or over DC.

Anonymous said...

Is Hanna making a leftward jog. Not an expert, but I see a FL landfall vs SC. Is the IKE system changing the projected path. I am in the computer business and have facilities in Baltimore, Jacksonville and Brunswick.


Foot's Forecast said...

Happy Friday everyone. I am having a quick lunch with the the 2 year old, then it's down for nap, so I can respond to questions around 12.

I see Tropical Storm Warnings are up, but Sterling has not updated the maps.

Hope TV mets take this seriously. Let's not be an embarrassment to the profession by brushing off a TROPICAL STORM WARNING (note: Justin Berk is doing the right thing..what about the others.)

Stormin' Norman's comment last night about "Tropical Storm Watch.. means we'll watch it." was unacceptable.

The NHC does not issue warnings because they are hyping the storm. They are looking to protect lives and property.

Last note before lunch: On the latest visible imagery I see something that looks like an eye, along with a slight left then right jog. Check vis shots and you tell me...

Foot's Forecast said...

Back from lunch. Some comments (and sorry it's long, a complicated storm on the docket)

BOATS: Coming from a family of boaters myself, it was prudent to take out the boat for Isabel. In this storm, the only situation where I might remove the boat is if it was tight against a slip on the west side exposed to the open Bay. I would suspect 90% of the boats tied with the traditional bow and stern lines that cross (can't remember the name of those). Since surge will be less than Isabel, probably the safest place next to on land is securely moored to a buoy in open water. As boaters know, it can turn with the wind and waves, instead of bashing up against the dock and chafing the lines and all. As for tides: I agree with NWS.. 1 to 3 feet, maybe 4 in the more inland waterways, but as Hanna moves east of us, winds will back from east to northeast to north and then eventually northwest. Any water on the west side of the bay will be drained out by that wind.

However if you are very close to the center of circulation as currently projected, I would definitely take out the boat. As NHC and others are pointing out, there is not much difference between a strong TS and a low level Cat 1 Hurricane.

For the leftward jog question: Hanna is joining the prevailing westerlies, so at this point a landfall in Florida is extremely remote. Her outflow is affecting Ike more than the other way around because the direction of flow is eastward toward Ike. Once she gets out of the way, he has free reign to head pretty much anywhere.. and the major influence will be northerly shear later on that could send him spinning toward Florida or even Cuba.

As for your facilities in Jacksonsville and Baltimore, they are A OK for Hanna. Brunswick, NJ (I assume) there could be a pretty hard hit as Hanna will come onshore at 30 mph with winds of at least 40 so near hurricane conditions are possible for a brief period.

On college closings: I am guesstimating that for most colleges and public schools, a TS Warning is about the threshold for automatic closures day of the storm, much like a Winter Storm Warning/Ice Storm Warning would as well (in most cases).

There are going to be non-essential organizations that remain open tomorrow to their peril, and you'll see scrolling on the TV screen many closing early or never opening at all. Public schools will definitely be canceling all Saturday activities.

A place like Villa Julie College for example is on the northwest side of all this.. and technically conditions would be okay enough to remain open. But when you take into account commuters and high winds...they'll likely close out of safety concerns for their commuting students. That's my prediction.

Thanks for the good questions and keep them coming, helps to refine the update.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info Mr. Foot. Just watched the weather channel....still don't understand all that jargon though. Sounds as if they still don't know where it's going yet. Could be SC or NC. what would be worse for us.

Mr. Brisko said...

Mr. Foot I am serious about chasing Hanna. Could I head your way for a visit? E-mail me.

Anonymous said...

Mr. B. where are you from?

Foot's Forecast said...

Hey Mr. B, thanks for that idea, sure would be fun, but with 2 small children in a small house, I need to focus on keeping the fam safe in this. Since Hanna is going to chase us, I'll just let her come on up, but I'm deinfitely not going to go anywhere.

There's probably lots of folks on the site here who would go storm chase with you. Just 1 request.. I don't want to see CNN Breaking News: Storm chaser freakazoids swept away by flooding. Last words were: "But Mr. Foot said we should...."

The Bay can get very vicious very fast, be prudent and don't get in an area that could be surrounded by water.

Photofreak.. a NC hit is worse, less time over land, closer to the Bay. I doubt a SC hit. Now nearing Hurricane strength at 70 mph. It still has a lot of Gulf Stream water to tap before landfall... hmmm. If folks didn't prepare for a TS Warning, just imagine if a Hurricane Watch is announced.

Anonymous said...

My family and I are glad we have you for weather reports. I have my sisters in Dover, PA looking at your forecast ans always saying and asking, the news said this or that what does Mr. Foot say? Just wanted to let you know how appreciated you are, especially here in Dundalk. One question, which you prob already answered, will the flooding in the wateredge, bear creek, millers island, fort howard, turners and inverness areas be as bad as Isabel.

Anonymous said...

the most recent update I got said it was further east than they first thought. guess we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Mr. Foot. I'll keep checking back for updates.
This could play havoc with the Ravens game on Sunday if areas are without power.

Mr. Brisko said...

Mr. Foot

I did not mean you go anywhere I would just need a base to come back to for updates. I was just wondering if I could hang around at your house off and on.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore County schools have cancelled all Saturday activities. At least someone seems to be listen to the NWS. For those in the teaching profession that had duties for tomorrow...Have a nice weekend and stay inside.

chocochick said...

Hey Foot! Missing you next door this year. Provided there's power and the wifi is working, tomorrow I'll try to post some front line observations from the beach house we've rented in Fenwick.

Foot's Forecast said...

Hey great to here from you chocochick. Now you don't have to get my annoying daily updates! (Except in your inbox!)

Fenwick would be an interesting place, you'll get to see it coming and going. Watching the wind shift alone will be more thrilling than a Ravens game!

Mr. B..let me check on that with the storm chasing committee. I'll get back to you.

Sharon.. I doubt the flooding will be "as bad" as Isabel, but it could be close. The surge on Bullneck and down Watersedge was easily 8 feet to get all the way across that field, put debris marks at top of the metal fence and flood up to where the new roundabout it.

Those nice houses in Edgemere along the water, and Fort Howard area especially.. they are going to have problems. I'm thinking those across from Ft. Howard Veteran's Park as an example of "right-at-the-water" places.

I see a little eastward jog, but even if that happens, and it strengthens to a hurricane, the track difference will be offset by the stronger winds.

Glad to hear BCPS took the hint. Who's next?

Have you all noticed we are already under upper level outflow?

Anonymous said...

The generator is working in Catonsville, and our good friend at BGE is on storm patrol; I'm sure he's going to be busy for at least the next week. Like Mr. Foot we used Isabelle as a model and have prepared accordingly.
Thanks for the continued updates.

Foot's Forecast said...

I'm very interested to hear how the evening TV roundup goes (in Baltimore)

Can we have one reporter each on Tom, Norm and Bob? Who was most on the ball and talking it like it is?

I will setup a new post this evening so we don't have to scroll to end of the Friday post. Does anyone know how to move comments to the top. They were there a few years ago, and when Google redesigned their templates, comment were pushed to the bottom.
Very annoying.

Anonymous said...

Howard County cancelled all activities for tomorrow. =)

Anonymous said...

Tom T, from WBAL gave the tide times and the 1-3 ft storm surge. I am worried about near Ft. Howard. Our boat is down there. He did say strong winds and possible flooding. But he said things could change. He didn't seem worried to me. Annapolis brought out the sand bags.

Mr. Brisko said...

Mr. Foot I might Actually head to Alexandria, VA. Unless you think it will be worse in your area.

Foot's Forecast said...

Mr. B, if things get bad and you want to bug out, obviously you have a safe haven here at my place always. Just don't drive down streets with trees and limbs fallig everywhere. Better to park your car in an open field and ride it out. Unless of course there is a tornado!

Mr. Brisko said...

Mr. Foot Could you send me your address and phone number?

I will be going to Alexandria, but I might change my mind in the morning. Also I would like to call you from out in the conditions.

Foot's Forecast said...

Sure, I'll email it to you this evening. Just got in from outdoor preparations. Felt first rain drops while I was out.

So it begins. Dundalk, MD

Mr.S said...

So Mr. Foot, it's 10:20 and raining in AA county. How bad do you think it's really going to be?

Foot's Forecast said...

As bad as Isabel in terms of rain and wind, but not water... unless something changes overnight!

terpguy said...


6 September

1915 local

Total of 3.10" of rain. Doesn't appear that we'll get any more. Still quite windy, but my anemometer is on the fritz...maybe Santa can bring me a new one!