Monday, September 22, 2008

WAS ISABEL THE REHEARSAL?

Isabel's Landfall 9-18-03

Isabel's landfall along North Carolina coast on September 18, 2003

Although this past week marked the 5 year anniversary of Isabel and it's destructive impact on the Chesapeake Bay region, that storm will continue to serve it's main role: reminding us and preparing us for the "real one" which I believe has yet to arrive. The pattern looming before us in the week and month ahead pose a larger question I seek to resolve each year: Is this the year of a "Hazel-like" pattern? The atmosphere has already left behind clues to it's later intentions...Hanna's recurvature through the Mid-Atlantic, Ike and Gustav both following relatively similar tracks, and now the potential for a coastal crawler this weekend.

For those of you receiving this update via the Feedblitz email service, please know so in the procedure I follow developing situations is to first post an initial update, and then add graphics and supporting details throughout the week.

Kyle GFDL projection 1

My line of thinking for this next tropical system: No Escape. The sprawling High pressure ridge parking over the coastal Northwest Atlantic I believe will lock in a landfall between the Delmarva Peninsula and New England. Depending on the speed, this may occur Friday night or Saturday morning. Once Kyle is officially named, there will be little time let before watches and warnings are issued if the GFDL model projection above is to be believed. (Thanks to alert reader Mr. B for reminding me of the link). As you can see from the model map to the right, two of the most reliable models continue to advertise a northwest tracking system approaching the Chesapeake Bay from the southeast. Combine that with the increased pressure gradient that will develop and tropical or not, we will have ourselves quite the gale along Mid-Atlantic from Friday through Sunday. Should the GFDL scenario play out, this storm has huge implications for significant and prolonged surge, major tidal flooding, beach erosion. I know some of you may feel this feels like more crying for the wolf that was not Hanna, but this track is far more dangerous and warrants early notification and constant monitoring by all coastal interests.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"ONLY A CATEGORY TWO..."
Only A Category 2

9/15/2008: As aerial surveys of Ike's wrath are becoming more available, it is clear Ike was monstrous in unimaginable ways. While the surge was less than the 25 feet predicted, please tell me what else exactly would have been left to scour after the 12-14 foot surge was done?

Maybe scenes like this will help forecaster to avoid phrases like "although the storm is 'only a category two.' or " 'it is now down to a 'minimal hurricane.' "

Regardless of how the hurricane center classifies landfall strength, when you include the forward speed of 12-15 mph on top of 110 mph winds, a person standing on their porch will experience Category 3 wind intensity.

Yes the record books will show that Ike was not a "major hurricane" at landfall. It sure was major for the millions of people who are suffering and will continue to do so for many weeks and months ahead. We encourage those in the safety and calm of the Mid-Atlantic to consider giving to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. In the end, we're all Americans no matter where we live, and next time, we could the ones featured in the photo galleries and blogs.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

The Road To Galveston

Visit these links at the Houston Chronicle for more pictures of Ike's wrath in Texas and the long road ahead to recovery. Sure does help me appreciate and be thankful for what we have. A followup on the storm to be posted later.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BEYOND WORDS

Ike in Houston 2

Waves over the Memorial

FRIDAY 9:30 PM. poignant image of waves crashing just below the memorial to the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. With perhaps 20,000 people remaining in the island city right now, it will truly be a miracle if the death toll and final damage bill does not exceed that of Katrina. Consider this: If 8 feet of water has already flooded many densely populated areas, and that is NOT part of the expected 20 foot surge, then this will eclipse the New Orleans Nightmare. Given the catastrophic nature of this entire situation, I think quite likely you are looking at the new Storm of the Century. I believe this image below says it all:

The
Early onset of flooding in the "seawall city" that has survived 108 years of nature's fury, so far.

Flooding begins

FRIDAY 6:00 PM. With the hurricane's center just under 200 miles from shore, waves and surge have already brought some parts of Galveston under 4 to 6 feet of water. For up-to-the-minute reports on Galveston, Houston and Ike's impacts on the Texas Coast, keep an eye on the Chronicle. You can also see the latest pictures and area webcams. Since this is an ever-changing situation, I will not be attempting a constant stream of updates. Now we just wait and pray for the safety of those in it's path.
Ike Radar 7PM

Ike Radar 6PM Friday

Friday, September 12, 2008

"It's the size of Texas, Mr. President."
- Billy Bob Thornton as the Johnson Space Center Director in Armaggedon,
explaining the width of an asteroid poised to strike the Earth.

Ike from Space


Galveston Landfall

7AM FRI: This modified and enlarged map from the StormPulse tracking site shows that hurricane force winds of possibly 100 mph or greater will encompass the entire Houston metro area, especially considering the NHC official track has shifted again to the right. This already horrific projection is assuming Ike does not increase in intensity from the current landfall expectation of Category 3 at 115 mph. Gusts may exceed 125 mph. If you're inside this zone, prepare for sustained winds at or above 75 mph for at least 10 hours, with a period of 100 mph or higher for a few hours inside that as the center nears the city. It is looking more likely this storm makes a direct hit on Houston and will not pull a "Rita" and shift considerably in some other direction.

It may sound too doomsday to you, but the graphic headline of "Certain Death" reported in the news this morning is the most focused way to sum up this situation for those staying behind to face a 20-foot storm surge. (This warning originates in the NWS text of a hurricane statement for Houston). We are facing a near-catastrophic event which could become the Katrina of Texas in terms of damage and flooding.

Ike Path and Texas Coast Refineries

Regardless of where you live in the continental United States, this storm will be impacting your life in major ways. I know, you've heard that before. The dire predictions of oil and gas barreling upward in the wake of Gustav did not materialize. This time it is different, and 3 years ago I posted extensive information about the impacts of then-Major Hurricane Rita. Neither Gustav, Rita or Katrina actually took a track that is as potentially destructive to our nation's gas and oil production facilities as this one. That's because coastal and inland areas of the southeast Texas house some of our most important petroleum facilities. Ike is currently mirroring the path followed by that of the devastating 1900 hurricane which nearly wiped Galveston off the map, and is still the number one deadliest disaster in in U.S. history. If you've not read the gripping account of that storm in the book Isaac's Storm, check your local library before someone else snaps up the one copy there. Below is an image of what remained in Galveston the last time a storm of this magnitude struck. Not much, as you can see.
Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Let's break it down folks...we're talking about hurricane force winds that will buffet the entire Texas coastline and western third of Louisiana's coast. Winds 75 mph or greater currently extend outwards 120 miles from the center. At present, the overall wind field is actually LARGER than Katrina was at her maximum strength, and to the chagrin of Houston/Galveston, air force reconnaissance aircraft have observed some of the strongest winds (at or above Cat 3 levels) are far removed from the center...100 nautical miles away, in the right front quadrant. It will not matter where this storm lands, it's nasty jaws are as wide as the state it is about to strike. As reported by the Oil Drum, source for the map shown above, this storm will shut in 20% of all U.S. gasoline refining capacity, (which is 5% of the world total) and 96% of all Gulf oil production is already offline, as well as 73% of Natural Gas operations. Please understand that despite these energy-related concerns, what matters most is the safety and security of every single human life in the path of this storm. Down there in all that crawling traffic is someone's grandmother in and un-air conditioned car, or a single mother with children in diapers, or an elderly father in frail health. Tonight and tomorrow, we should be keeping those and more in our prayers.

Houston 6

ALL THOSE BUILDINGS, ALL THAT GLASS. While we focus on the on-shore landfall dangers, the other huge risk when a storm strikes a major population center like Houston or New Orleans is the hugely complicated cleanup task. Exacerbating the process will be a storm surge possibly 20 feet or more, bringing with it dangerous debris and toxic chemicals from the many refining facilities throughout the region. Below is an image I designed based on an interactive feature published in the Houston Chronicle during Hurricane Rita in September 2005, that illustrates the storm surge potential. Click on the image below to see in greater detail the ironies of this graphic: Ike's projected surge of 20 feet versus the 19 feet hypothesized, the fictious landfall date of 9/11 (as opposed to 9/13), and the nearly identical landfall location.

Houston 2

What do you suppose a 14-20 feet storm surge will do to a beautiful place like the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston? Rebuilt after being nearly totally destroyed in the 1900 Hurricane, it is possible that today's storm poses the greatest threat to this symbolic and spiritual center since that fateful September day 108 years ago. With most of the island projected to be underwater and flooding to the eaves of many homes, it is not a surprise the mayor finally ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire island city. Those who stay do so at their own peril.


Galveston Sacred Heart Church
As time permits, I will be adding additional details, although I realize folks in Texas aren't reading it right now. For those of us along the East Coast, each day we can knock off the calendar in September is a real bonus, but don't think the danger has passed. I am refining a post that dicusses whether or not our neck of the woods faces another storm this month, and what may lie ahead in October. The premise going forward is this: Hurricane season is NOT over and we follow storms in other areas to LEARN about what to do when our time comes, because someday, it sure will.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

HURRICANE FATIGUE?
Ike at 11:00 AM Wednesday 9-10-08

Ike Vis Satellte 1

If you're a resident of the Gulf coast, I'm sure you can identify with this feeling. The other overwhelming aspect of this feeling is not that so many storms have made landfall recently, it's that today..September 10..is the climatological "middle" of tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic basin. Historically, today's date is when storms most often form or are already in progress across the ocean. While the frequency of tropical systems slowly decreases as we move forward through the calendar, it does not mean that the number of hurricanes or tropical storms will be less severe or avoid land. If anything, the danger to the East Coast and the Gulf coast is generally highest from now until mid October.. as evidenced by September and October storms of note such as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, Hazel (1954), Gloria (1985), Floyd (1999), Isabel (2003) and the double crossers Frances and Jeanne (2004).

In addition to an overview of the factors that will affect Ike's path and his eventual landfall, I am preparing a discussion of how Hanna and Ike may have indicated a pattern change for the East Coast going into October, and what that could mean heading into the Fall and potential for winter weather beyond that. It is written and I will try to post it sometime today.

SITE ADDRESS CHANGE

To all Foot's Forecast readers: The site was hijacked Sunday morning 9-7-08 between 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Thus the footsforecast.net address has been discontinued for now and the entire website can be viewed temporarily on it's original URL: http://footsforecast.blogspot.com/. The permanent URL is being changed to http://www.footsforecast.info/ but make take up to 3 days for the transition to occur. Please update your bookmarks/favorites accordingly.

For the next day or so, web searches for the site will direct visitors to the .net address temporarily until search engines pickup on the change. So if you forward content from the site to others, please inform them of the new address. The culprint is a company called nuseek which has hijacked many other sites, is widely known on the internet as engaging in fraudulent activity, and has been reported to the FBI by other bloggers. Although the other site address was "locked" the procedure used was a "302 redirect" though I should be able to prevent this with some simple HTML code adjustments. Thanks to the alert readers who saw the problem and notified me right away.

Regarding comments: For added security, everyone will have to use a Google identity/login name and complete word verification (including me!) Now back to the weather...

Sincerely, Mr. Foot

Saturday, September 6, 2008

MOVIN' ON UP
SUNDAY AM COMMENT: I am working on a summary of ideas looking ahead to the remaining portion of the hurricane season, and whether or not Hanna was a sign of things to come for the East Coast, or just an isolated event. Check back later today or this evening for the full update.

Hanna Radar 9-6-08 3PM

6PM UPDATE: With the center now crossing the Bay and heavy rain bands subsiding across the area, I think you're looking at the grand finale of Hanna for the Chesapeake region, and conditions have begun improving at least in the Baltimore area. As you can see from the radar, Pennsylvania is getting c-c-c-clobbered with monsoonal like downpours. A recent report from Cecil County indicates remnants of the decaying eyewall have moved just south of the area, with a rapid wind shift to the north. In Maryland, expect the strong gusty (but dry!) winds to continue well into the evening as the storm moves to our northeast. Any water that piled up during high tide may be slow to drain out at first, but once the northwest winds work in conjunction with the waning tide, the water will recede quickly.

12PM UPDATE: Analyzing the track, and noticing that NHC changed the projected path, I am thinking Hanna will travel along a line from East of Richmond, across St. Mary's County, to Cambridge, MD to right over Dover, DE. That's starkly different crossing southern DelMarVa don't you think?

8AM UPDATE: The latest radar makes me wonder if this is going to track up and along the WEST side of the Chesapeake Bay, and not through lower Delmarva as currently projected by the NHC. That would have huge implications for the forecast, especially considering that most waterfront property owners along the Bay right now believe this storm is not a major surge threat. Follow the DC-Baltimore NWS discussions to see if they account for it. Remember now, NWS and NHC project tidal surges of 1-3 feet on the western shore. If Hanna tracks along the Bay or west of it, I am saying now those surges COULD be double... 3-6 feet and may flood homes that were expecting little or no water. Until we turn our attention to Major Hurricane Ike, I will keep the main page short so you can post your observations, thoughts and reactions below, and include your location!

Hanna Radar 9-6-08 Accuweather

Friday, September 5, 2008

NOW WE WAIT AND SEE

Hanna Satellite 9-5-08 IR

From the day-after-day weak satellite presentation and lack of noticeable circulation, to this bowling ball of convection that is about to make landfall in South Carolina... Hanna has certainty demonstrated tenacity. Now we wait to see if the forecasted path holds true, and if she indeed does travel mostly EAST of the Bay and NOT UP the Bay. Not landfalling in Wilmington, North Carolina as many of us thought it would, indicates to me that "frictional effects" are taking place. This also means the downstream track might shift westward, which spells serious trouble for the Mid-Atlantic if that starts to happen.

The concept is simple: Winds blowing onshore from the right front quadrant are usually stronger, whereas winds blowing offshore in the lower left quadrant are weaker. This disparity of wind in opposite sides of the storm can actually drive the entire system closer to the coast, due to the frictional effect of interaction with the land. Charley in 2004 was a great example of this, which is why he made that sudden right turn and hammered Port Charlotte when many (including me at the time) thought it was headed for Tampa.

So I retire for the evening hoping that you've completed your preparations, and that we will all act in a safe and appropriate manner during the storm. Please post your observations and wind speeds if you know or can accurately tell (say by using the Beaufort Scale!). Tomorrow I may post the chat feature just during the main storm period from mid morning to sunset. I'm not staying up for the 11PM advisory, but would not be surprised to hear she went to hurricane status just as landfall occured.
READY OR NOT, HERE SHE COMES

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.

KEEP CHECKING NHC LATEST TRACK MAP, UPDATED EVERY 3 HOURS.

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.

WIDESPREAD SCHOOL CLOSINGS ARE POSSIBLE IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METRO REGION ON MONDAY DUE TO POWER OUTAGES AND BLOCKED ROADS

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.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

HANNA TO IMPACT ENTIRE I-95 CORRIDOR

NHC Hanna 5

TROPICAL STORM WATCHES FOR ENTIRE THE CHESAPEAKE BAY, THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METRO AREA, THE DELMARVA AND DELAWARE BAY.

NWS Advisory Map 9-4-08

The media continues to do the same disservice to you as they did in Hurricane Isabel. I have not seen an adequate explanation yet on what a Tropical Storm Watch/Warning means, other than the official NWS statements. Television meteorologists in the Washington/Baltimore area need to make clear that this is not "just a tropical storm." The public needs to understand that sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph are not something to be brushed off. The last time the Baltimore Metro area was in a tropical storm advisory, many schools were closed 3 days or more. Some people were without power for over a week. Are you ready for that again?

Now that the NHC track and intensity forecast is matching what I've been saying all week, on Saturday the entire Chesapeake Bay region including Baltimore and Washington will experience sustained winds up to tropical storm force (40 mph) for at least six hours, with occasional storm force gusts (near 60 mph). Tornado watches and warnings will be widespread. Plan now to make Saturday a day to remain indoors, and do not let your children wander outside. This will be a fast moving and deceivingly dangerous storm not to be underestimated. Follow this link to view the NHC's current projected path for Hanna this weekend.

WIND IMPACTS: By midnight Friday into Saturday, tropical storm force winds will extend out from the center at 300 miles or more. That means by sunrise winds reaching 40mph will reach Washington, Baltimore, and the entire DelMarVa peninsula. Southeastern Pennsylvania and central/southern New Jersey will see those winds by Saturday mid-morning. Surface winds combined with the storm's accelerating forward speed of 25 mph or greater could produce gale to storm force wind gusts (39 to 63 mph) along the I-95 corridor from Richmond to Boston on Saturday. Numerous tornadoes will occur within embedded rain bands that spiral in from the ocean, and total storm rainfall may exceed 4" but just over a 6 hour period. Divorce yourself right now from the thought that, "Oh, she's going to miss us to the east."

BASICS ON IMPACTS AND PREPARATION.. check back for additions later today.
1. A hurricane watch has been hoisted for portions of the Carolinas. As I suspected, Tropical Storm watches have been extended this evening to include the entire Chesapeake Bay. NWS Baltimore is calling for a 2-4 foot storm surge along the western shore.
2. Sustained winds to 40 mph and occasional gusts above 60 mph for at least 4 hours will down many trees and create hundreds of thousands of power outages throughout the coastal Mid-Atlantic. That includes the Washington and Baltimore metro areas along and east of U.S. Route 1.
3. If you live in an area prone to power outages or small stream flooding, start your preparations now. Though the ground is dry and will soak much of the 3-6" of rain, heavy downpours will create flash flooding along easily flooded areas. Overall, the farther south or east in MD or VA you are, the more direct effects you will experience, and the greater wind/rain damage is possible.
4. Where will your car be parked this weekend? Not under lots of trees, branches or neighborhood power lines I hope. Move it into an open area if possible. Your insurance company will thank you.
5. Teachers, administrators, coaches: If this storm resembles Isabel's impacts, then it becomes more likely that disruptions to the school calendar occur for the early part of next week. For example, in Isabel, Hereford High School in northern Baltimore County was out of commission longer than the county system itself due to an overwhelming number of downed trees. That was well over 100 miles from the actual center of the storm. If Hanna intensifies suddenly prior to landfall, the "weakening trend" will be masked by her fast forward motion, hence a greater potential for wind damage, even though landfall wind speeds will be weaker than Isabel. If you are inside the "cone of uncertainty" on this map, I would plan on taking extra work home this weekend. Interscholastic sports on Saturday is a washout, and expect many community events to be canceled or rescheduled.

LET THERE BE NO DECEPTION ABOUT THE PHRASE "MINIMAL HURRICANE." Ask the residents of South Florida how they felt about minimal Hurricane Katrina when she made her first landfall there before becoming the Louisiana Lasher. I personally have been in two "minimal hurricanes" over the past 25 years, regarding wind speeds at my location. Gloria in September 1985 followed a similar path as is projected for Hanna though farther offshore and produced sustained 70 mph northwest winds in the northern Bay for hours. Gloria was not minimal in any way, making landfall in Long Island with winds of 110 mph. In September 1999, residents from North Carolina to New Jersey will never forget Hurricane Floyd. I can recall like it was yesterday the mad scramble some Pennsylvania school districts went through when students were sent home at the height of the storm. All this from a minimal hurricane that tracked across the DelMarVa, a good 180 miles from Philly. In suburban Philly, we had sustained 50mph winds with gusts to 70 mph for at least six hours and stinging rain blown sideways all day long. In North Carolina is was one of the most destructive storms on record there in terms of catastrophic flooding. In less than 2 weeks, we will be marking the 5th anniversary of the Potomac Prowler.. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isabel. Memories of that horrible experience alone should make any coastal resident take this storm seriously. Isabel will be the closest comparision to Hanna in terms of the inland wind field, but thankfully not in terms of the massive flooding along the Chesapeake Bay.

Wednesday evening's map from stormpulse.com (uses same info as NHC)

StormPulse Hanna 1

NHC Projected path as of Wednesday evening

NHC Hanna 3

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"BUSY, BUSY, BUSY"
- Professor Hinkle, the fussy magician from Frosty the Snowman

Atlantic Basin 9-1-08

TUESDAY AM UPDATE: With all school districts now back in session, or just about to resume, I realize that many of you have limited time to wade through extensive posts, and just want the basics on the next storm. We will be returning to the format employed during busy winter storm season, which is as follows:

1. SUMMARY: The next 10 to 12 days may prove to be the most active period we've seen in the Atlantic basin for quite some time. By Friday there could easily be 3 moderate hurricanes on the docket all generally heading toward the Eastern Seaboard: Hanna to strike the Carolinas on Saturday (if she survives the 'shear onslaught' going on 2 days now), Ike could thread the Florida straits needle and enter the Gulf by next weekend, followed by soon-to-be Josephine which could follow a traditional Cape Verde track and approach the East Coast by the middle of next week. Gustav's remnants will continue bringing heavy rains along the Mississippi Valley and into the southern Ohio Valley.

2. ANALYSIS: Over the next several days, maps and discussion of the upper air flow will be posted in this section. The feedblitz email service will not automatically resend this post, so please check back in for an update. Let's start with the Atlantic 24 hour 500mb forecast.

Atlantic 500mb 9-3-08

Very briefly, notice the main 3 upper systems currently hampering Hanna's ability to organize: (dm is decameters.. how thickness of the atmosphere is measured at different levels)

(a) Counterclockwise air flow moving south from the 564 dm Low off the Mid-Atlantic; (b) Clockwise flow also moving south around the 590 dm Ohio Valley high pressure ridge; (c) weakening but still present outflow from Gustav. The ridge is going to continue building east all day, and Gustav's outflow is not slackening all that fast. If Hanna does not overcome these influences in the next 12-24 hours, then I suspect many forecasters will have to throw their predictions out and start over.

3. FORECAST: Once the analysis is posted and the short-to-long range projections complete, this section is moved to the top of the page. With so many storms to track, a time saver all of us will be that adjustments can be made to the overall forecast without cluttering your inbox with continual mini-posts and little updates.

Monday, September 1, 2008

GUSTAV: NOT REAL GONE
then there's HANNA SAVANNA

Gustav landfall radar

Although Gustav continues to warrant full attention of the media and weather outlets, those of you in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic are understandably concerned about the next tropical threat. I have even seen the cable network meteorologists say on air, “everyone who’s calling or emailing is asking not about Gustav but Hanna…” It is almost as if the weather producers had to hastily ramp up their programming because the public is become ravenous about the next big storm. But you don’t have to wait for CNN, Fox or MSNBC to get it together. You have your very own personal team of eyes on the sky right here. As busy as the tropics can get, I’m sure that if I miss something brewing out there, one of you will catch it and together we keep a close watch on it all.

Gustav came ashore just west of where I expected, on the southwest side of Houma, LA not just to the east as I forecasted. The intensity, though very dangerous, was not the home crushing 130 mph or greater I was fearing. The biggest story still unfolding with this storm is the water.. how much, how long and where. I submit that catastrophic flooding (while I don’t wish it to be right!) is likely to happen all through the riverside Louisiana, because a combination of downstream surge waters meeting upstream rainfall will make for a horrific one-way flood in the next 72 hours.

StormPulse Hanna 1

HANNA SAVANNAH: THE HISTORICAL LANDFALL? (There I said it, wonder if I'm the first one to make the reference).The very presence of this storm concurrently with Gustav is going to push the media to it's limits of natural disaster coverage. You, the viewer are probably going to think there is no other news in the country, as networks will be flipping back and forth between the Gustav flooding and speculating on whether or not Hanna will devastate the giant live oak trees in Savannah. That would be a terrible thing of course, but I believe climatology may spare the beautiful southern belle city just yet, because a turn toward the north is in this storm's future. Eastern North Carolina, the Virginia tidewater, and even southern Maryland/DelMarVa may be involved in this eventual recurve, and they won't have a lot of time to prepare for it. The good news is that unless Hanna moves very quickly at landfall and turns north/northeast, most coastal school districts in Maryland and Virginia will likely be able to squeeze out a full day on Friday, except for the districts that border the southern Chesapeake Bay area. A more detailed look on the track and impacts Tuesday.

Savanna oak trees
That mental picture you've always had of the Spanish moss gracing Savanna's live oaks.