Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cape Lookout is our benchmark

6:15 AM EDT 8/24/11: The current advisory from the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Irene has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and is moving WNW at 9 MPH. Tropical Storm force winds of 40 mph or greater extend 205 miles from the center and hurricane force winds of 73 mph or greater extend 40 miles from the center. Irene is expected to reach major hurricane status later today and begin turning toward the northwest by nightfall. 

At last report by the Ocean Prediction Center, waves under the storm's center were 30 feet and building with waves of 15 or more extending 100 miles. Areas of highest impacts this weekend include the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas, including the southern Chesapeake Bay and lower Eastern shore of Maryland. Strongest effects from Irene in these areas are likely to include waves of 10-20 feet, tropical storm force to hurricane force winds, torrential rain and isolated tornadoes, as well as 12+ hours of tidal flooding. 

Our team has identified  Cape Lookout, NC as our benchmark for the storm's path. In order for the effects described above to increase no further to areas west of the Chesapeake Bay, we will be looking for Irene to have a north-northeasterly component prior to reaching  the longitude of Cape Lookout.   

The next NHC update is at 8:00 AM with our team report to follow shortly thereafter. (Forecaster Foot)

Prepare instead of panic

4:00 PM EDT 8/23/2011 |  In early September 2003, high school students in southeast Baltimore County, Maryland began tracking a far-off hurricane in the Eastern Atlantic. After a few days, they became more curious, and more nervous. One of them said to their teacher: "Is this going to hit us?"  The class studied and tracked the storm, and developed a set of worksheets for what to do "Before, During and After." 

The storm was Hurricane Isabel. Five days later, at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, a third of those students in that classroom were scrambling for their lives. Water was pouring in the first floor windows of their homes in Dundalk, Maryland. It was storm surge from then-Tropical Storm Isabel, the center of which was a full 100 miles southwest of them at that time. Needless to say, Isabel became a life lesson.

The point? We took the National Hurricane Center's 2 PM advisory map and removed the dot and left the hashed area. There will be a lot of talk about landfall for Hurricane Irene. Landfall is important, but awareness of the effects a large hurricane can produce is knowledge that can save your life. In a down economy, careful preparation now for those effects could potentially save lives during the storm, and after.  Hurricane Irene may go out to sea, or she may not. But not before producing waves of up to 40 feet in the Bahamas, possibly up 20 feet along the Carolina coast, and a wind field of tropical storm force conditions extending 300 miles from the center. 

Where the center of circulation is located, or whether Irene is a Category 2, 3 or 4, matters less than your acceptance this is a life-threatening storm that should be taken seriously if you are inside the "cone of effects." If emergency officials ask for an evacuation, guess what? Your tax dollars pay them to help keep you safe, so if it was us being asked to evacuate... we would, because we are not emergency specialists. They are.  

Eight years later, some of those same high school students who were flooded out of their homes are adults on our Forecast Team right now, working help keep you better informed. We'd prefer you to be prepared, collaborate not confront your family about this storm, and make the decision so you can avoid the life lesson some of us had to endure. (Mr. Foot and Diandre Williams*, Director of Strategic Media)

*Diandre was 14 years old when the storm surge from Hurricane Isabel flooded his home and many of his 9th grade classmates in Dundalk, MD. He and his grandmother lost most of their possessions. Tough lesson to learn at 14 years old.


Andy, Southern York County, PA said...

It takes a lot to wake a beast from his summer slumber.  A list of things that will do the trick:

1) Volcano
2) August snowstorm
3) Major Lottery Victory
4) Being served with an arrest warrant for an unreturned library book from 1991
5) 5.8 earthquake in Baltimore area

Category 5 has been satisfied, and considering there is a possible hurricane on our horizon, what better time to jump out of the cave?  All we need is a volcano and we will be bating the cycle.  What a crazy day.  I almost lost my flat screen monitor at work from the shaking and was along with other humble employees thrown out of the building for safety reasons. 

I know, I know, I should be used to being thrown out of buildings by now, but for me this was a new reason!  I haven't had this much excitement since the twin blizzards of 2010, and the 4 hour whitoute snow storm of this year.  What will mother nature bring this weekend? 

Time will tell ;)

Cathy in Bel Air said...

Andy,  I was hoping to see a comment from you even though the events of today and the pending events for the weekend don't involve SNOW!!  Do you follow and predict hurricaine happenings too?  I hope so.  Will check back later.

Andy, Southern York County, PA said...

I think our area will end up with a 2-4 inch rain and some wind.  It seems that the storm is trending more east keeping us free from the brunt of the force.  The storm has weakend some but is expected to intensify.  If it gets too strong too fast it will likely trend even further east.  I am not too worried about major storm damage here at this point.  However, I would not close my eyes to any hurricane this far out.   I live at 1000 feet elevation so flooding is never a concern here, but if you are near the bay I would pay close attention as forecasts and TRENDS can change.  Right now the clear trend is to the east and a LESS SIGNIFICANT event for us. :)

nafinegar said...

okay,  not looking to over react, but I am looking to make sure that we are somewhat prepared for this storm. What things should we be doing to get ready. Hubby is going to inspect gutters, I was thinking about filling some canning jars with some water, we have a solar/crank flashlight radio combo, and I have  ton of canned food that we can heat on the gas grill or a camping stove.

Any other things we should be thinking of for our dear Irene?

Andy, Southern York County, PA said...

Always good to be prepared.  I still have 15 pounds of beef jerky I purchased at Pace Warehouse Club back in 1996, 3 bottles of Vodka (to be used as an antiseptic in case of emergency of course ;) ), and an annotated edition of War and Peace in case I develop amoebic dysentery from contaminated ground water and have to park for extended periods of time on the latrine as the pathogen takes its course.

A Huricane is an unpredictable storm and any number of variables can change its course.  With something this large it is good to be prepared.  Bottled water, batteries, charged lanterns, gas for you chainsaw, etc.  If you do it and nothing happens then no big deal RIGHT?  If you don't prepare and something DOES happen, then BIG DEAL.  Preparation is key, at least that is what they taught me in Boy Scouts before the church kicked out my Troop.

BioPat said...

  Well, well, well; aren't we having an interesting week to start the school year.  What more could a science teacher want! 
  I am watching this storm trend to the west; I know it is still a couple days away, but we all are going to need to complete some home prep.  CLEAN OUT YOUR RAIN GUTTERS!  if you plan to cut your grass make sure any clippings stay out of the streets and sidewalk where they may block storm drains.  Get your emergency supplies in order; I need to get 5 gl of gas for my generator. 

juleew said...

Greetings All!

You are correct, Bio! Quite the week!
Yesterday I was putting up a bulletin board at school when I started to sway to the left. Grabbed the wall and thought, "Wow! I need to make an appointment for a check-up!"
THEN teachers started running out into the hall asking WHAT had just happened.
Whew! I DON'T need a check- up, it was just an earthquake!
Andy, you make me laugh in EVERY season. But I'm thinking that you won't be around for the winter after ingesting Pace Warehouse Jerky, ca. 1996!

This comment section is NOT iPad2 friendly.

Julie Ray Smith said...

was wondering where ya'all were a few days ago. Checking in :)  SMITTYWA