Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"S(he's) Got The Look."
- 1988 single by Roxette from the album Look Sharp!

2:00 PM 10/1/15  - TROPICAL TEAM UPDATE
  • LATEST HURRICANE CENTER ADVISORY KEEPS TRACK OFFSHORE AT APPROX. 150 MILES EAST OF OCEAN CITY, MD., IN CONTRAST TO YESTERDAY'S BAY SCENARIO.
  • SUSTAINED WINDS INCREASED TO CATEGORY 4 AT 130 MPH - COMPUTER MODEL GUIDANCE REMAINS SPLIT WITH A THIRD OF MEMBER HOLDING WEST, TWO-THIRDS HAVE TRENDED EAST.
  • SIGNIFICANT SECONDARY EFFECTS WILL BE FELT ACROSS MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL AREAS AND IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY STARTING SATURDAY NIGHT AND EXTENDING INTO MONDAY. 
  • Although the Chesapeake Bay "Hurricane X" projection has reduced sharply in probability, our concern is that some will interpret an east-ward shifting storm track as license to dismiss and ignore. 
  • Hurricane Sandy never made landfall in Maryland, but while 200 miles off shore, the storm produced a 6.8 foot surge in downtown Ocean City, MD. The impacts in New Jersey from a 90 mph hurricane at landfall were no less than catastrophic.
  • This storm will be stronger than Sandy ever was, but will be moving much slower and in turn, will push water for 48 hours up the Chesapeake Bay and other sensitive coastal environments. This may create a major to historically significant flood even if there is no landfall. 
10:50 AM 10/1/15 TROPICAL TEAM UPDATE: PROJECTED PATH SHIFTING EAST, JOAQUIN REMAINS AN UNPREDICTABLE AND DANGEROUS MAJOR HURRICANE WITH WAVE HEIGHTS OF 36 FEET UNDER THE CENTRAL CORE.
As we await the 11 AM NHC update on Joaquin's strength and future path, this is a heads up message that we anticipate a significant shift back to a more Eastward track. This shift would be similar to tracks shown early Wednesday before the "Hurricane X" scenario of straight up the bay was presented at 5 PM at the NHC update.

  • We are also preparing a storm timeline and a wind field analysis graphic to aid those with interests or property along the water - who are seeking information on timing of surge and wind.
  • For example, the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center satellite of Wind & Wave Analysis shows that wave heights are 12-15 feet surrounding the storm, peaking at 36 foot heights under the central core! That is not surge but waves, and those are likely to go higher as the storm intensifies today. 



This storm will remain a complex and changing setup until it departs the region. We caution that regardless of track shift west or east, the slow movement of Joaquin in the next 72 hours will create widespread wind, rain and wave impacts from the Carolinas to southern New England. 

3:00 AM 10/1 - TROPICAL TEAM UPDATE
  • Joaquin reached Major Hurricane status at the 11 PM NHC Advisory with winds of 115 mph, three days earlier than models and forecasters expected. Intensity forecasts now point to winds reaching 140 mph (Category 4) before Saturday.
  • Changes in the official track are anticipated today, as the storm's more southwestern movement may result in edging the eventual path closer to a coastline "grazing" along the Delmarva versus straight up the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Latest computer model projections as compiled into a map presented by the National Centers for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) remain clustered around a mid-Atlantic landfall as early as Saturday night, with the storm slowing once onshore.
  • Our Tropical Team reminds mid-Atlantic readers not overlook 6" or more of wind-swept rain is en route for the region Thursday-Friday, prior to Joaquin's arrival.


8:00 PM 9/30 - TROPICAL TEAM UPDATE
  • 2 PM NHC Advisory shows Joaquin becoming a major hurricane by Saturday morning with winds of 110 mph. By Friday night, coastal areas of NC/VA and Ocean City, MD will begin experiencing swells and with tidal rise, followed by gusts to Tropical Storm force on Saturday, and then hurricane force winds by early Sunday.
  • Our preliminary landfall projection is between Morehead City, NC and Kill Devil Hills, NC by early Sunday morning as a Category 2/3 with winds of 110 mph.

4:00 PM 9/30 -  Discussions within our Tropical Team in the past several days regarding Joaquin's path and potential impacts compels us to raise the following issues concerning preparation and public awareness.

FIRST, the most critical point to understand above all other aspects of this storm: 

Significant and widespread impact from heavy rain, tidal flooding and strong winds is very likely over a large area of the Northeast U.S. even if Joaquin never makes landfall in the Mid-Atlantic. While we recognize it is human nature to avoid conflict and seek an easier solution, in the case of hurricanes, a weakening Category 2 storm is no less dangerous than a strengthening Category 1 storm. 

SECOND, as depicted in the satellite imagery, it is clear to us that Joaquin "has the look" of a powerful hurricane which has the capability to inflict tremendous damage. What does "the look" comprise? It's a storm which has established a stable environment in which to rapidly intensify, according to these observations: 
  • Evenly distributed and consistent upper level "outflow" shield of clouds spreading from the center. This indicates a high pressure system is providing ample "exhaust" of rising heat and moisture away from the center via the top of the eyewall.
  • "Central Dense Overcast" area of rapid thunderstorm bands forming in the eyewall as it wraps around the core. 
  • Stable cloud cover in all four quadrants of the storm and lacking a ragged edge along the western or southern side, thereby preventing dry air entrainment which can disrupt the core. 
THIRD, the multi-hazard conditions that will be in place before the storm's arrival set it apart from Hurricanes Isabel, Irene and Sandy - and under current projections, may produce effects greater than any of those three. Consider the large extent to which probability of tropical storm force winds is already at 30-40% for 5 days from now.




  • Several days of heavy rain has already produced significant flooding in parts of the Mid-Atlantic. This is not a pre-condition that was observed in any of the 3 previous storms.
  • Joaquin is projected to slow down upon approach to the Mid-Atlantic. This is in contrast to the troika of hurricanes since 2003. All three moved through the area at a relatively rapid pace. Isabel picked up forward speed to over 25 mph, Irene at one point was moving 40 mph after grazing Ocean City, and Sandy was averaging 15 mph most of its life cycle. 
  • A slowing storm that is strengthening its sustained wind speed is an even worse combination. Once the hurricane begins to weaken in earnest, the wind field will rapidly expand to encompass a very large area of the Northeastern Corridor. It is not unreasonable to estimate that by Sunday afternoon, sustained tropical storm force winds may extend from New York City to Washington, DC and for a hundred miles inland.
  • Storm surge projections, while not officially available yet, can be estimated in a general sense by comparison to past storms. If Isabel path traveled 50+ miles to the west of the Cheseapeake, and produced 4 feet of surge in the Bay, it is realistic to infer that an equally strong hurricane traveling up the Bay could produce double the surge due to the geographic magnifying effect of water being forced up inlets and small rivers.
We welcome your lessons learned from Isabel, Irene or Sandy as we all look for support from each other in preparation for another major storm that by all accounts, definitely has the look. - Forecaster Foot and the Tropical Team

7 comments:

Butch Dynomite said...

Thanks for heads up Mr.Foot. Checking pumps and battening down.

Butch Dynomite said...

Thanks for heads up Mr.Foot. Checking pumps and battening down.

Westsidehideaway said...

Hi. Westside Hideaway reporting for duty. This is most worrysome.

Carrie said...

So glad you all are here to keep us updated. Will be spending the evening tomorrow checking batteries, sump pump, and other storm prep. This one looks bad.

Amy said...

Greetings fellow weather friends. Hoping people heed the advice to prepare now. Got some provisions yesterday before the forecast turned even more serious.

Pat Abrahms said...

Greetings all, the strong El Ninio has brought us back to the blog a bit earlier than usual this year.
Today it looks like we may have dodged a major bullet but we are completely off the hook with this storm. Looks like we will see plenty of rain and substantial winds that will easily cause power outages. Be prepared; plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Destiny Cruise said...

Hello all,
I appreciate your forecasts. However, I'm curious, does this storm seem to have the same pattern as Floyd (1999)?