Saturday, August 20, 2011

"I won't back down..."
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the 1989 single (Youtube)

TROPICAL ZONE Our rapid update portal for Natl Hurricane Center reports 
SOUTH FLORIDA ZONE on facebook with Forecasters Randall and Amanda
LONG RANGE ZONE Analysis of the pattern heading into September (TBA)

8:45 AM EDT 8/21/2011 | Mother Nature gave us plenty of time off, and now she's back on the task. Severe weather is expected along the East coast today, while   Hurricane Watches and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Puerto Rico and portions of Hispaniola. Monitor your local NWS office for the latest watches and warnings, and keep our facebook forecast page buttons hotlinked on your Smartphone menu screen for the latest on-site forecasts from a trusted team in 17 states. Our 10-member Tropical Team is all over this storm and will have up close observations and reports today from our contributors in Puerto Rico.  


10:45 PM EDT 8/20/2011 | Tropical Storm Irene has formed in the Eastern Caribbean. With 50 mph maximum sustained winds in the first NHC advisory, this shows she won't be backing down anytime soon. Our multi-state Tropical Team of meteorologists, college students in Atmospheric Science and high school forecasters collaborated on the scientific data presently available. The team's estimate of the situation points to Irene reaching hurricane strength within 48 hours and affect all of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the US/British Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, eastern Cuba and Jamaica. (Photo by R. Foot from Manzanillo, Costa Rica. Angry skies in the Caribbean ahead of a tropical wave) 


Impacts: By Monday afternoon, it is likely that Puerto Rico and the US/British Virgin Islands will bear the brunt of Irene which could reach hurricane strength or greater by that time. Tropical Storm Warnings are posted for a large portion of the Eastern Caribbean islands, and the San Juan National Weather Service has posted Emergency Preparedness statements as part of the warning for the entire island. Seas are already building to 17 feet in just the past 12 hours as Irene has been rapidly developing prior to reaching any island areas. 

Analysis Given that Irene is forming during a climatologically favored time period of late August to early September, and in an area known for producing strong hurricanes, the possibility cannot be ruled out this storm will have the necessary ingredients to become a strong hurricane within 5 days as it approaches the U.S. mainland. Tropical Team Coordinator Jason Mitchell from Calvert County Maryland said "I think (strong hurricane intensity) isn't out of the question, as it seems that aside from land interaction all other factors are in its favor for steady strengthening." Tropical Team Meteorologist Randall Hergert from St. Petersburg, Florida said, "This storm has good outflow, there is not much to hinder in front of the storm, and sea surface temperatures are warm. I could see a strong hurricane by the time it reaches Haiti."


Research: Reason for worry In the 1970's a National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center meteorologist named Paul Hebert (pronounced AY-bert) discovered a pattern of hurricane tracks and intensity in the eastern Caribbean. His research showed that  strength and track of past hurricanes  passing through a defined region of latitude and longitude was affected by how far north in the box the storm passed. These "Hebert Boxes" as shown in the enclosed graphic, have been used by some meteorologists as a predictor of if a strong to major hurricane could affect South Florida, depending on where the storm "passes through the box." Mr. Hebert's investigations may have uncovered a disturbing trend: The majority of hurricanes which struck South Florida passed through Hebert Box # 1. It is interesting to note that Irene, as of 10:30 PM EDT 8/20/2011, is currently at 14.9 N and 58.5 W which puts the storm just on the southeast corner of the box. 


Clearly, Irene is going to pass through the box.  Mr. Hebert's research gives reason for worry. 


(Forecaster Foot and the Tropical Team)

   

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