Sunday, October 10, 2004

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As the satellite photo above indicates, the tropics remain busy. This is a month of contrasts across the country weather-wise, as we have snow, tropical systems, and hot conditions all at the same time in different parts of North America.

This is also the month for the October Surprise. Not the sudden capture of Osama shortly before election day, although that would be a welcome relief, but rather those pesky little systems that blow up out of nowhere and catch even the seasoned NHC off guard. Cases in point include "subtropical storm Nicole" whatever that is, and Tropical Storm Matthew. That storm should not have been a surprise to any forecaster who has internet access and looks at satellite imagery. Anyone with eyes could have seen the building system in the SW Gulf.

So we have to remain suspect of any disturbed looking weather because unless a recon aircraft gets in there, you could have a tropical storm hiding in the clouds, and we wouldn't know it until official observations came back to verify, as was the case with Matthew.

Subtropical Storm Nicole is looking to slam Newfoundland with perhaps 50-60 mph gales and a storm surge of several feet. As you can see from the satellite, a lot of tropical moisture is waiting out there to go somewhere, and north is the place it is headed.

The area of disturbed weather at the bottom of a frontal boundary across Florida is looking to lurch into the "Alex and Gaston Zone." This is that region off the GA/SC coast where these two storms were turned into overnight disasters by the Gulf Stream. In both cases, the actual strength of the storm far surpassed that which was officially forecasted.

October 17 is the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel, which ought to bring back a few memories for some. I will do an analysis piece later this week on why I am concerned about another surprise later this week as this new disturbance mentioned above reaches the "AG Zone." Upper air patterns are eerily similar to that of October 1954, which I will show you in a graphic later this week. This is the time of year that tropical systems can more readily morph into hybrid nor-easters due to the larger differences between cold and warm present in the atmosphere as we head toward winter. That's why Hazel could do so much inland damage late in the season back then.

So we cannot write off Florida as being in the clear from another strike (from the west), nor can we say the East Coast is going to escape without major impact. I think October still has a number of surprises left to show us.

Friday, October 8, 2004

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Tropical Storm / Depression Matthew is not going to become a hurricane, but it portends trouble down the road as the Gulf is becoming active and the waters remain warm.

Rainfall from this system surpassed 6 inches in many parts of Louisiana, and the Florida panhandle also got heavy rain and thunderstorms, which does not help much for those trying to clean up.

Here's a perspective... Escambia County Schools of the Pensacola area are scheduled to reopen on Monday, October 11 after almost a month of being closed due to Ivan. That means no Fall Break, little or no Christmas or Easter Break, and possibly extended school days. It's a good thing they don't have to deal with snowstorms, or they would never be able to finish the school year.

Monday, October 4, 2004

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The satellite image shown below is a growing tropical wave that is showing signs of developing.
It may not get named before it reaches the northern Gulf coast, and drench the area from eastern Texas to central Louisiana with several inches of rain and 25-35 mph winds.

That would seem to qualify as a tropical depression, but the NHC does not see evidence of a circulation or a deep enough pressure to classify it yet.

Beware the ghost of Opal, which in 1995 started out in the same area as a weak storm, and literally overnight did a this case going from a weak Category 1 to a strong 3 in the space of 6 hours, catching many in the Appalachiacola area by total surprise. October is the time of year for rapid development in the Gulf since water temperatures are now at their warmest of the entire season.

Otherwise the tropical Atlantic is quiet, only a few minor waves floating here and there.

May see the first frost of the season in PA and northern MD Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Overall, October is expected to remain above normal in temperatures, which portends good things for the powderhounds.