Wednesday, August 10, 2005

May surpass Isabel's landfall winds of 105 mph
A major hurricane strike looming for Mid Atlantic?

Irene 1
As the US Navy forecast graphic indicates, Irene is expected to reach hurricane strength by Sunday, and that could be the beginning of a rapid intensification all the way to Category 3. If this happens, it will be the hurricane that came out of nowhere for many people. For most coastal dwellers, it would seem the tropics are quiet, and they are. But Irene may prove to be the ultimate wolf in sheep's skin. Only a depression now, it is off the radar screen for now. Once it couples with an upper level anticyclone off the Southeast Coast this weekend, and the storm will be in 86 F water, we could see explosive intensification that could mean a Category 1 when you went to bed turned into a Cat 3 monster by dawn. With water temperatures at mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at or above 80 F, there is every potential of this storm as a Cat 3 causing similar or greater damage than Isabel IF it follows the same path. The difference between this storm and that one is that nervous property owners and beachgoers alike had a week or more to prepare, hearing about the monstrous Cat 5 Isabel way out in the Atlantic. This time, preparation time will be much shorter. The real rude awakening will come Monday morning, when NHC issues hurricane watches for parts of the Carolinas and southern Chesapeake. And everyone will say, "where did THIS come from."

Monday, August 8, 2005


Atlantic 8-8-05

Looking at the tropics in these dog days of summer, you can say it is both active and quiet. We have 2 weak tropical storms, and 2 areas of disturbed weather. Despite no hurricanes at present makes us think all is quiet on the eastern front. But considering the buildup of convective activity across the Atlantic in recent days, odds are more likely another system will pop out and start the march westward. The important observation to make with Harvey and Irene is they indicate the prevailing winds...Harvey is caught in the westerlies as you would expect of a storm in that part of the Atlantic. Irene is negotiating a high pressure ridge and trying to either cut under it or get reestablished underneath it. This along with varying intensity of shear on the west side has been limiting development...without a strong upper level high pressure above the storm, Irene does not have adequate ventilation to allow moisture rising through the eye wall to exhaust out. Even with relatively warm SST's in the area, absence of the upper level high the difference between a notable hurricane and a forgettable tropical storm. I'm sure coastal populations prefer the latter. The concern is that a weak western Atlantic ridge now will eventually re-strengthen in a few days to a week, and then serve to guide storms toward the East Coast once it does.

SST 8-8-05

The absence of significant storms right now also means the key areas of the Atlantic Basin continue to warm to record levels. This runaway warming, attributed by some scientists more to a decadal cycle than to global warming, is part of the reason behind NOAA's upward revision of storm strength and frequency for second half of the season.


“TO END OF JULY: One perhaps two minor systems. Landfall unlikely to be in the Gulf coast, more likely to be along Eastern Florida, the Carolina coast or even Bermuda.”

RESULT: Two tropical storms…Franklin (70 mph) Atlantic, no landfall. Gert (45 mph) Mexico.

“AUG 1-15: Landfalls shift to the Carolinas. Five named storms, two hurricanes, three tropical storms.”

RESULT: 2 tropical storms so far. (Harvey 60 mph) and Irene (40 mph) No landfalls. To verify, another 3 storms would need to develop between now and Aug 15, which seems possible but not likely. There is concern of a tropical wave that may intensify off the Virginia coast in mid week, and a stalled front in the northern Gulf could become a depression.

I still maintain that the period from AUG 15 to SEP 15, and possibly extending beyond that, will be a very busy time, with landfalls from Carolinas to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Five or six named storms, two major hurricanes. We may have a period when there are 3 or 4 storms going on at once, covering the gamut of possibilities... a major hurricane, minor hurricane, tropical storm and depression all in tandem at different parts of the Atlantic concurrently.

Now that my family and I are safely back in the US, we will be focusing on school preparations. I hope the tropics remain quiet the next 2 weeks, it would be a blessing. Thanks to everyone who posted comments during my overseas trip. The next update will probably not be until we have a more clear picture of what Irene is going to do, so no update before Wednesday 8/10.

Friday, August 5, 2005


Irene Map 1

Greetings from Armenia! It is Friday and we are preparing for our long trip home on Saturday. As I write this, it is midnight along the East Coast, and you are all asleep…unaware that we have our newest tropical depression. I believe this signals the major shift we have been looking for to indicate the next phase of the hurricane season. The name will be Irene, and it is forecast to reach hurricane strength within 5 days or less.

Internet access here is very slow, and makes for updating this site quite time consuming, so I will keep this brief and get to the point. I have posted a series of graphics to illustrate where this storm fits in context with other storms which have formed in the “Hurricane Alley” of the tropical Atlantic. The first is an Infrared East Atlantic Satellite view of TD # 9 (soon to be Irene). Cloud pattern is somewhat disorganized, but as TPC notes in today's discussion this system will be moving into warmer waters of near 28 C, and a low shear environment. For fahrenheit reference, 30 C is 86 F, so this water is like "jet fuel for hurricanes" as described by ABC news. With no clouds of African dust to impede development, ( as was the case with other systems over the last two weeks), Irene should have no trouble reaching hurricane status within the time frame expected.

Irene 1

What concerns me about this system are similarities between it's current/forecasted track, and those of storms which are ingrained in our consciousness, such as Isabel 2003, Hugo 1989, and Gloria 1985. For my Armaggedon Weather fans out, this is not to say that Irene will become a catastrophic Hurricane X to pummel the entire east coast. The point to be made is that the formation of Irene in this area of the Atlantic at this stage of the summer may very well indicate that the hurricane season is on fast forward. What we would expect to see in mid September would seem to be occuring in August. While Cape Verde type systems can and have developed in this region this early, historical records as shown below indicate few have followed the traditional paths of classic late August to mid September storms. If Irene follows an atypical path toward the east coast this year, this will be the indicator we are headed into a very busy and destructive phase of the season to last well into September.

Irene Map 2

NOAA's forecast for remainder of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season was recently updated. Ominous and sobering, it includes a straight-forward analysis of why they expect another 11-14 storms, with another 7-9 hurricanes inside that range, and 3-5 more MAJOR hurricanes inside that range. Consider that in 2003, we reached the letter I with Isabel in mid September. Now in 2005 we have reached Irene over a month before the historical mid point of September 10, which is the date tropical cyclone climatology show is when the tropics are most active from year to year. ANOTHER 11-14 storms means that 2005 could go down as one of the three most busy seasons on record, challenging the 19 named storms in 1995, and 21 named storms in 1933.

NOAA 2005 forecast update

Gloria in September 1985 formed a few degrees north of where Irene developed, and this storm went on to just below Category 5 before throttling back to a 2 while coming onshore in Long Island. Compare Gloria's track with computer model projected paths of Irene.

Irene Map 3

Then compare Gloria and Hugo to Irene. Although these storms were September classics, the theory being presented here is that this year, the September pattern will be observed in August. Irene's projected path in the first 5 days looks to resemble Gloria

Irene Map 4


1. This will be a busy month coming up. Over the next 2 weeks, the NAO is forecasted to drift slightly positive and then remain netural, which has been an indicator in the past of East Coast landfalls being more likely. A positive NAO means the Azores High and the Labrador Low are in somewhat of a retreat, moving away from North America, leaving the coast more exposed to wandering tropical systems. A negative NAO can act as a shield, tightening the jet stream across the western Atlantic and redirecting storms out to sea, as we saw with Franklin and Harvey. Both storms occured during a negative phase of the NAO.

2. A major hurricane making landfall this month along the East Coast is highly probable, and concern is focused on the Carolinas. If the Bermuda High / Western Atlantic ridge slackens and drifts east, it will open a channel toward the Carolina coast.

3. Sea surface temperatures continue their upward climb into the record books. A glance at the current SST anomaly map reveals that most of the tropical and western Atlantic right to the East Coast population centers is primed to deliver optimal water conditions for an approaching storm. El Nino continues to be an El Nono as the area of below normal equatorial water temperatures off Peru continues to expand west ward. In the coming month, this will serve to negate any strong regional shear that is usually observed in the westerlies during moderate El Nino events.

THE FINAL WORD(s)? I believe the period August 15-September 15 will play out like last year, with focus on the East Coast instead of Florida. Who would have predicted 4 landfalls in Florida within 6 weeks? Considering that, 4 landfalls on the east coast, with 2 major hurricanes in 1 month appears to be just as possible.

THE NEXT UPDATE will be on Sunday, August 7 once my family and I have safely returned home from Armenia.


Atlantic Basin 7-23-05

This is my last post for 2 weeks as the family and I are heading out to Eastern Europe...Armenia to be exact, until August 6. "WHY ARE YOU GOING THERE?" You might ask? Simple, really. I'm gettin' out of Dodge now before the big storms hit. Actually my wife's parents are working on a U.S. government consulting project with the Department of Agriculture in Yerevan, Armenia. Naturally they've been chomping at the bit to see their grand-daugher, so off we will go. This trip comes at a good time, as it would seem the Atlantic is quieting down for a few hours. Franklin APPEARS to be getting caught up in the frontal boundary, and will be wisked out to sea, I hope. The large disturbance over the Yucatan APPEARS to have lost it's MoJo heading into Campeche. Yes I see the waves coming off Africa and each has the potential to develop. As predicted, I believe we are heading into a 10 day to 2 week quiet period as the Atlantic readjusts to a negative NAO and a weak ENSO signal. Typhoons striking in the Far East will also have fallout in our part of the atmosphere, as Accuweather and Government forecasters have identified teleconnective trends like this in the past. When something major halfway around world happens, like a typhoon, it usually means we will see a mirror image of that occur on this side of the globe. That means 10 days or so from now the tropics will be switching into what may well become the most active period on record... yet to come. I trust you all will watch everything closely and keep the comments alive and kicking. See you next month. Sincerely, Mr. Foot.


Franklin 1

Franklin 1

Jeanne map 1

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Looks like we're in for some rough weather coming up. What are the chances that Franklin flips back around and heads along the same path as Jeanne... or maybe will recurve along the coast like Alex in 2004. Another TPC update at 8PM. I am interested in seeing their discussion on this. With the NAO tanking, Franklin has three choices...spin around then head for Florida, hang out in the Atlantic for a while, or head up the East Coast.
Post from earlier today:

Where's the break

Or maybe the headline should be.. "Where's the BREAK?" modeled after the 1980's Wendy's commercial, "Where's the BEEF?" Concern is growing over this area of disturbed weather near the Bahamas, and the conventional wisdom is that it should develop soon, get named as Franklin, and then either stall, drift slowly toward northwest Florida, or simply north. The North Atlantic Oscillation has turned sharply negative, which may portends a return to cooler weather for the Northeast, and this is playing right into the forecast posted earlier this week. I explain at the bottom of this post that a negative NAO will act as a deflector, protecting the Mid Altantic and points north from landfall. It also means the timing of this is such that when if the NAO stays negative a while, it may flip back to positive by mid August, just in time for a recurving Altantic storm feeding on the above normal waters to take aim for the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic.

2005 Hurricane Map
If you want to know the basis behind this forecast, read on through the analysis section below. Better get some coffee or a soda first though, it might take a while to read all of it.

TO END OF JULY: Tropics quiet down, one perhaps two minor systems, any landfall is unlikely to be in the Gulf coast, and more likely to be along Eastern Florida, the Carolina coast or even Bermuda.

AUG 1-15: Landfalls shift from the Gulf and Caribbean to the Carolinas. Five named storms, two hurricanes, three tropical storms.

AUG 15-SEP 15: Landfalls shift from Carolinas to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Five or six named storms, two major hurricanes. Then a brief quiet period to October 1.


The first Act of the hurricane season is drawing to a close. I am relieved that Dennis did not strike New Orleans as once feared. It is too early to say if the north Gulf is in the clear, but in a tongue-in-cheek way of looking at it, recent odds would suggest they've had their "2-3 direct hits for this year." The dry humor intended here is that 2004 standards, that part of Florida SHOULD be done with storms, right?

I had originally expected Dennis to be the final chapter in the "Early Summer Gulf" stage, but it appears the Atlantic ridge is persisting farther west, stronger and for longer than I thought. This is enabling Emily to stay on it's no-holds-barred west-north-west train to the Yucatan. Looking back, it is obvious to see why this is happening. The interaction of Dennis leftovers in the central U.S. in conjunction with the Atlantic ridge is what has drenched the Southeast, Midwest and Northeast with the monsoon-like rains recently. Anybody with a radar image can plainly see how the remnant Low of Dennis and the ridge are working to feed a constant flow of tropical moisture up the Eastern Seaboard. With El Nino essentially a La Nada, the westerlies which would have sent Dennis and Emily curving out to sea are not there. Nature abhors a vacuum, so the more powerful Atlantic easterlies have taken over the pattern, driving Emily into Mexico.

My concern comes for the next two Acts in this play...the early-mid August stage and the early -mid September stage. Looking at the current SST indicates we have a big hot tub out there in the Atlantic, waiting to be tapped. As you can plainly see, there is this tropical train of warm water extending from west Africa all the way to the U.S. East Coast. As ABC News reported last week, that's the "jet fuel" for hurricanes that is giving rise to multiple Category 3's and above so early this year.

SST 7-18-05

"BIG DEAL", you say. "It's summer dude. Hello Foot? Ocean water is W-A-R-M." Well thank you Captain Obvious. That's just the thing, beevis. If the ocean is tres warm NOW, just think about what it will be LATER. If that water goes undisturbed during our upcoming 2-3 week lull, is 3-5 degrees above normal possible by September? I'm not a climate expert, but I would say it is not out of the realm of possibility. For all my diehard End Times Forecasting Fans out there, the really interesting (and disturbing) thing to consider is a comparison of today's Atlantic SST's to July 2003. Here's how temperature anomalies were reported 2 months before Isabel. Do you see the differences?

SST 7-17-03

I hear your coffee cup clattering on the table now. What are you, nervous or something? You mean you're concerned that Atlantic sea surface temperatures along the East Coast then were a lot COOLER then they are now? Why would that be a problem? It only means that what's happening in the Gulf and Caribbean could shift to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. by Labor Day, and then to New England by late summer. A couple more Category 3 landfalls and we're done, then off to winter storm season. Simple enough, don't you think?

2003 Hurricane Map
Oops, didn't mean to let that cat out of the bag just yet. But, my Armaggedon Weather fans would have it no other way, so let's just take the gloves off and show you what is possible in Acts 2 and 3 later this summer. The map above is the 2003 landfalling major hurricanes, tracks were kind of disorganized and not that memorable, expect for Isabel and Juan, which pummeled Hailfax, Nova Scotia in October with surprising intensity. My family and I really thought that Isabel was going to be "the one." I'm sure many in Nova Scotia feel Juan was "the one" for them. This implies a Cat 3 landfalling right up the Chesapeake or into a heavily populated metropolitan area. For people in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, even a basic Cat 2 with winds of 105 mph were enough to disrupt the lives of millions and many have not finished recovering. It was not catastrophic, but it was definitely a very very bad storm. And for the doomsday analysts out there, I believe Isabel was actually a rehearsal.

2004 Hurricane Map

Then there was the historic and catastrophic 2004 season. See how the landfalls are concentrated over the southeast U.S.? As if you forgot that soon, which I doubt you did. Only Danielle, Lisa, Karl and Otto hung out in the Atlantic. Everyone else took aim for land, or at least formed near it and went for it when possible. Looking at that map would suggest a fairly strong Atlantic ridge was in place most of the summer, directing most storms toward the southeast U.S. Now let's compare to the historic 1995 season, which then led into the notable 95/96 winter storm season with the kickoff Blizzard of January 96.

1995 Hurricane Map

You can probably already see the pattern. The Atlantic ridge mostly lost out over influence of the westerlies because of a strong El Nino in the equatorial eastern Pacific. Although every single depression that formed was eventually named, the westerlies were strong enough to deflect most of the damaging storms out to sea. A couple minor systems struck Florida, but nothing of significance. The importance of this season was that it had the warmest Atlantic ocean water temperatures on record, and thus 19 named storms.

So what's the connection and the End Times Forecast? What I see happening is a combination of the 1995 and 2004 seasons. Imagine how we would deal if we get the kind of landfalls in 05 we saw with 04, but with a frequency like that of 95...and shifted farther north. Who would have thought 2,3, 4 major hurricanes could strike Florida in such a short span of time. Suppose that same ferocity is shifted to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic?

7-17-05 NAO

How do I know this? It's the North Atlantic Oscillation. When a weak (meaning neutral or negative NAO) is observed in the North Atlantic, landfalls along the Gulf coast are more likely. When the NAO shifts into a strong, or positive phase, pressure systems move in such a fashion to allow hurricanes to recurve along the east coast and intensify as they do so. Throw in abnormally high water temperatures, the climatologically favored high time for hurricanes (mid August to mid September), and you have the makings of another 3-4 hurricanes making landfall from South Carolina to New England, with 1-2 of those being Category 3 or higher.

(Posted on 7/18) The NAO is forecasted to dip negative for the next 2-3 weeks, which is the smoking gun for my anticipated quiet period in the tropics. The recent heat we've had throughout the U.S. may not subside a whole lot, but it should ease back to normal somewhat. The danger would be if the atmosphere reverses course, and the second half of July is much cooler than normal. That would set the stage for an above normal August, right when the NAO would flip back to positive, just in time for the tropics to get going again.

So that's the forecast. I will be going back through to add some links in the text to my sources of the background. For the powderhounds laying lazily by the fan dreaming about snow, I can tell you there is a correlation between frequency and location of landfalling hurricanes and the outcome of the winter storm season. But we'll get to that in August.

EMILY WRAP-UP: Many were concerned Emily would strike southern Texas. Hurricane warnings were posted for the southern Texas coast in anticipation of strong winds, which did materialize. But the Atlantic ridge and interaction with the northern Mexico mountains proved enough frictional force to slow Emily and direct her west once nearing the coast. This is not much consolation for those in Mexcio facing torrential rains and catastrophic flooding, but at least we did not have to face a 1980 Hurricane Allen type situation. Due to their experience with 1988's Hurricane Gilbert Cancun and Cozumel were well prepared this time and that limited loss of life.

If you want to read previous posts, please visit the archives section. I am presently unable to have the site display more than one post or the formatting becomes unstable. If you are a blogger or html guru and have a suggestion on how to fix this, please post a note in the comments.