Thursday, August 3, 2006


Chris 4

The only relief for many of us in this inferno of a heat wave comes in the form of a fizzling little tropical system near Puerto Rico. Perhaps my dire predictions of an end-times future with a Category 5 Chris approaching the western Gulf states even scared him off. Yeah, that's probably what happened. It had nothing to do with a mid- and upper-level low that spun over the storm and snuffed off the anti-cyclonic outflow, effectively ending tropical cyclone characteristics. So with great pleasure I can announce that Chris will be a non-starter for the next few days until he can move into a more favorable environment and away from land, and there's a lot of land to get in his way between now and early next week.

For now, the tropics are (mostly) quiet and I hear that Dr. William Gray has lowered his final number of named storms for this season. I'm all about that. If Chris decides to rev up his engines again, I'll be back on it but for now I have a lot of paperwork to do and that is WAY more exciting, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 2, 2006


National Hurricane Center beginning to acknowledge in their discussions that official track guidance, denoted below by "OFCL" (last line on the key), is leaning towards a shift to the north and away from interaction with major landmasses such as Puerto Rico, Hispanola or Cuba. It appears the first piece of land Chris will affect in a major way, other than the Bahamas, is south Florida. If he does a Katrina and loop-de-loops somehow under Florida and through the straits, then we will be looking at Rita-redux. The combination of low shear, a strong high ridge dominating Eastern North America into the Atlantic, and warm SST's along with high heat potential in the central Gulf means we could be staring down the barrel of a Category 3 or greater by Tuesday or Wednesday, on it's way to a 5 before landfall along the western Gulf Coast.

Chris models 1

Model guidance has shifted most projected paths north, avoiding the islands. Click on the image to view my source and other tropical cyclone model maps.

Chris 2

To look at this 5-day projection and not see the potential of a major hurricane by Monday, you'd have to be over in Egypt.... that is in "denial." The storm will be entering a very favorable environment late in the forecast period (from 96 to 120 hours), so that's why I expect to see NHC's official intensity increase to borderline Cat 3 for the Tuesday timeframe.

Chris 3

Those of you who remember Andrew in 1992 recall that it was a nondescript tropical storm, which was forecast initially to dissipate or remain weak as it approached Florida. Then, whamo! In just 30 hours, Andrew screamed up to Category 5 and remained a devastastingly strong storm all the way to the Florida coast. Chris certainly looks healthy enough with good outflow in all quadrants and a solid central dense overcast indicated by the consistent "orange ball" associated with strengthening systems. Click on the image above for a current loop.

Chris SST 1

I haven't pinpointed where the infamous "Loop current" is yet, but nevertheless with SSTs at 29 C and above from one end of the Gulf to another, this storm has plenty of time and energy to soak up before it makes landfall. I think this is going to be a rough ride for the Louisiana and Texas coasts, not to mention the Gulf oil rigs and gas refineries trying to get back on their feet from last year. Given the potential of this storm to interrupt the petroleum industry, I think I'll go fill up my 5 gallon gas cans today. Once this thing reaches hurricane strength and it goes on the radar screen of energy traders, you'll see a jump in gas prices over the next week, especially when you consider the triple whammy of oil companies having to shut down operations early to remove personnel, then tankers being diverted to other ports, and lastly the current 12% of shut in production left over from last year. 11:30 midday trading, oil was topping $76 a barrel, too late... traders already see the danger ahead.

GOM rig map 1

A map of offshore mobile and onshore fixed oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, from It'd be a cryin' shame if Chris sliced through the area that was not as affected by either of last year's megastorms.

The next post later this afternoon following the 5PM NHC update.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006


Chris 1

Foot's Forecast is officially back on line after the longest hiatus since... well, ever. No I didn't catch the bird flu or head to my bug out station. I just didn't want to expend valuable brainpower on wimpy little storms, and had to finish our new deck in the backyard before the season got going. So in that sense Chris's timing is good, but as Han Solo would say, "I have a bad feeling about this." My kickoff statement on this storm is that Chris will be unpredictable, confound the experts, and full of surprises right to the very end. He already has thrown a monkey wrench into the NHC official forecast twice in the past 24 hours, and I suspect that is only the beginning. My meteorological gut tells me this has Southern Florida and the Western Gulf written all over it, and I'll explain why soon. Based on the intensification trend thus far, we might be looking at a hurricane by Wednesday evening.

The short list on Chris is:
1. Will be a hurricane in 24 hours
2. Will not dissipate as NHC and models originally projected, due to presence of large Bermuda high and other upper-level factors skewing model initialization of the storm.
3. Will probably enter Gulf by hook or crook as borderline major hurricane (or if crossing Florida, baseline Cat 1)
4. A turn up the SE coast unlikely due to overpowering influence of the heat wave death grip high pressure ridge
5. A landfall along the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane looks likely if the storm limits interaction with land and is able to squeeze through the Florida straits just like our friends from last year, Katrina and Rita.

Who's at most risk?
Based on the analysis above, I would put the landfall zone from west of the Mississippi Delta over to Corpus Christi, Texas. Arrival time: sometime next Wednesday or Thursday.