Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Emily at Mexico Coast

6:35 am, Emily makes landfall and appears to be slowing or stalling near the coast. Although storms like this can have two landfalls, I think it is ironic that Mexico was struck by the same major hurricane....twice. First a Category 4 at Cozumel, then a Category 3 along the north Mexico coast. Near catastrophic flooding will occur in the areas surrounding Monterrey, Mexico as the mountainous terrain is going to enhance rainfall and runoff. This storm has continued exhibited a diverse personality over it's lifespan...with a sharp rise to Cat 4 early on, then faded back to 2, then back to 4, then a slow lessening to 3 before reaching Cozumel. Once in the Gulf, it took the usual 36 or so hours to reorganize, and re-established major hurricane status in the day prior to landfall. Coming right on the heels of Dennis, this storm snagged the claim Dennis just had... that of the strongest July hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin. Kind of makes you wonder what August and September hold?

The futures market is weighing in on this, as MSNBC reports that college professors in Miami have developed a program that allows futures trading on where a hurricane is most likely to strike. If a trader is correct in their prediction, I suppose it is possible to have financial gain from a hurricane landfall. That just makes me uncomfortable thinking about it. This also inserts an element of market forces into evacuation decisions, where people living in an area the futures program has pegged as a "winner" now have more than just the local government saying they should leave. As you would expect, the National Hurricane Center is none-too-amused at this "game" as they see it. Read the full article linked above for a good overview of this latest controversy with the weather.

Emily 2

A view of Mexico bounded by two tropical systems, T.S. Eugene on the left, Emily on the right. Isn't that odd the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic spawned storms on the same alphabet sequence? This is shaping up to be quite the tropical summer for many, from multiple U.S. and Mexico landfalls so early, to a stalled hurricane remnant that's dumped monsoon like rains fro the Midwest to New England. I'm sure many are looking forward to a much needed quiet person in the tropics, which I expect to last for another 2 weeks. Once August gets underway, it is going to get very very busy again. The previous post outlines my forecast for the second half of summer.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Dennis 6

As feared, Dennis intensified to Category 4 shortly before landfall along the Florida/Alabama coastline. The devastation and heartache will far exceed anything we've seen in a hurricane since Andrew. Oil markets this week will react with extreme volatility, sending prices past $70 a barrel. The impacts from this storm will be wide-reaching, affecting everything from the home heating oil market to gas prices surging another 10-15 cents as we approach Labor Day, to a sharp rise in the price of plywood, to an increase in homeowner's insurance premiums next year. A new chapter in history will have been written on July hurricanes. We are likely to see a serious re-examination by insurers on the feasibility of rebuilding in areas twice ravaged by a major hurricane. Some coastal areas will take 5 years or more to recover. The debris will take 2 or more years to remove, and life for some will never get back to normal.

This is my last report on Hurricane Dennis possibly until next Saturday, as I will away with family. I pray that all the families in this storm will be safe, make the right decisions and seek comfort in the everlasting arms.


Dennis 5
This is the final update of the evening. After seeing this picture on Steve Gregory's blog at, I had to post it. By the time we wake up on this soon-to-be fateful Sunday July 10, we may be looking at a Category 5 or nearly so. The destruction and havoc to be wreaked on this date will give new meaning to the numbers "7-11" for the people of Pensacola and the surrounding areas, including Mobile and it's bay. When they wake up on Monday, July 11, it will look and feel to them they just went through their own 9/11.


Brace for Impact


Dennis 3

POST FROM 3:35 pm: The end of innocence has arrived, and words just cannot express how dire the situation is and will be in the north Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Pensacola, over the next 24 hours and in the days and months beyond. With waters running at or above 85 F, and a low shear environment, it seems all but certain this storm will come onshore at least a Category 3 if not a baseline 4. Remember that in the eywall, winds are stronger at higher elevations, so buildings in excess of 50 feet will experience more damage than those at ground level, even if the storm is a weak 2 at landfall. If you look at the satellite image above, you can see the western eyewall has closed in. This indicates there is a favorable environment for strengthening, as the storm is not currently entraining drier air from landmasses to the north. As the Weather Channel has been reporting well, a sign a storm will weaken is when the pressure rises, the false-color image cloud tops lighten, and the western eyewall begins to decay. Landfall may in fact be almost exactly where Ivan came on shore.

Some notable north Gulf coast storm tracks: Compare Dennis thus far to Betsy 1965, Camille in August 1969, Frederick 1979, Elena 1985, Opal 1995, and Georges 1998.

Our storm with the already overused "menace" moniker is gathering steam as you read this. View the current radar loop and current satellite loop. The latest tracking information is available at or at the National Hurricane Center. The Pensacola News Journal, again in the bullseye, is providing up-to-the minute reports on local preparations. The NHC will continue to post updates every 2-3 hours, and their analysis is available in the discussion link.

Tomorrow morning, I will attempt to complete and post my "Similarities and Differences" overview between Dennis and Ivan. This much I am sure: The damage, heartache and recovery will be worse, because of the existing unfinished repairs. Now we just wait uneasily for the clock to tick down.

Friday, July 8, 2005


Dennis 2

I go away from the TV for 2 hours this morning, and Dennis goes from low Category 3 to nearly a Category 5! Absolutely unbelievable. This storm continues to bewilder forecasters with it's abilty to surprise at every turn. Concern is now directed at Havana, because it would appear the storm will make a direct hit from southwest to northeast later tonight. On Tuesday, the NHC predicted that by day 5, the winds would be perhaps 80 mph, but they did indicate this was likely a conservative estimate and long range intensity forecasts are notoriously problematic. But did anyone ever imagine that this thing would knock on the door of Cat 5? In fact, 155 mph+ winds HAVE been observed in the northeast quadrant, but the TPC did not accept the wind speed as valid because the pressure would suggest a slightly lower wind. Now that is it nearly certain a U.S. landfall will occur, some questions remain:

1. How will interaction with the mountains of Cuba weaken the storm? Will frictional effects cause Dennis to meander along the coastline, as Isidore did along the Yucatan in September 2002, weakening it from a 3 to a 1. Will we luck out and have a Cat 4 reemerge as a Cat 1?

2. If Dennis reemerges as a Cat 4 in the Gulf, would it be able to maintain that strength as it approaches the coast? In all of meteorological records, a Category 4 storm HAS NEVER struck the U.S. in July. And there's no evidence of Global Warming? As if.

3. How serious will the population of New Orleans take an evacuation order? Will memories of Cindy be enough to make most people leave? Or will the grazing they received from Ivan be a cause for overconfidence because it is so unlikely for New Orleans to get a southeast direct hit? It would seem city officials are crossing their fingers that luck is on their side again. Escambia County in the Florida panhandle is not counting luck on their side, and has issued an evacuation order to take effect starting at 5:45 PM today, the earliest they say this has been done. If any of these cities were to wait for the TPC for a Hurricane Watch, it would be too late.

4. How will the aftermath of this storm and those the rest of this season affect homeowner policies for those owning waterfront in hurricane alley? Can you imagine the angst and heartache of people in Pensacola who have not even returned to their homes. What about all the debris not still picked up from Ivan?

5. Will the tropical wave that may become Emily follow a similar path? Take a look at the East Atlantic satellite loop and see that this wave is holding together and may develop once reaching the Caribbean by Monday or Tuesday.

Regarding the website format, for some reason the site will only allow one post to view at a time. Otherwise the links get dumped to the bottom of the posts, and it is very annoying to have to scroll down and find a link when it should be right up top. This means if you want to view previous posts, you'll have to go to the July archives.

On a planning note, the family and I are leaving for vacation Sunday, and won't be back until probably Saturday the 16th. I cannot guarantee I will be able to post during this time. Hopefully it will be a quiet period in the tropics, and Lord knows it will be the start of a long road of recovery for those who have or will have faced Dennis by then.

I will continue posting on Saturday, and do a pre-landfall overview of estimated damage, and a final post Sunday morning. Feel free to continue commenting throughout the period I'm away. It will make for interesting reading of everyone's thoughts when this is all over. I know the folks in Pensacola wished all this mess had never started in the first place