Ophelia still stuck

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:19 PM GMT on September 08, 2005

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Long range radar out of Melbourne is showing a much more organized and symmetrical echo pattern today. Ophelia's large 50-mile wide center is surrounded on all sides by strong echoes that are slowly increasing in intensity. Satellite imagery shows a lack of deep convection only on the southeast side of the storm, the result of strong upper-level winds shearing the clouds away. This shear has been oscillating up and down the past 36 hours, and is currently between 5 and 10 knots. As long as the shear stays below 10 knots, slow but steady intensification should result. The latest Hurricane Hunter flight at 8:13 am EDT supports this--the pressure has fallen to 988 mb, and surface winds have increased to 60 mph. Ophelia should become a hurricane by tonight or tomorrow morning.

Although Tropical Storm Warnings have been hoisted for the Florida coast, Ophelia seems stuck in place and tropical storm conditions will likely stay just offshore today. Reports from NOAA buoy 41009 located 23 miles east of Cape Canaveral show winds this morning of 30 - 35 knots--just below tropical storm force. The surface wind field from this morning's NOAA Hurricane Hunter flight showed the the winds of the storm were elongated parallel to the coast, with the strongest winds northwest and southeast of the center.


Figure 1. Surface winds measured by the NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft's stepped frequency microwave radiometer and other sources this morning.


Doppler radar rain estimates show the heaviest rain is falling just offshore, but this will change this afternoon as the storm continues to intensify, bringing spiral rainbands over Florida that will fire off big thunderstorms. The intense afternoon heating of the ground by the hot Florida sun will contribute towards making these thunderstorms heavy rain producers.


Figure 2.Estimated rainfall from the Melbourne Doppler radar.

OK, it's time to play the "where will Ophelia go?" game. The answer: nowhere soon. Steering currents are very weak, and we can expect Ophelia to remain pretty much where she is now the next three to five days. Of course, since she is so close to the coast, just a slight drift westward would bring tropical storm conditions to the coast. However, the computer models pretty much agree that any motion the next three days is likely to be slowly north and then east. After heading east for a few days, all the models except the GFS agree that Ophelia will eventually loop back and hit the U.S. as a hurricane, perhaps even a major hurricane, seven or more days from now. The GFS takes Ophelia out to sea, but the latest NHC discussion notes that the GFS performed poorly in a similar situation with Hurricane Jeanne last year, and is probably on the wrong page this time around, too.

As far as intensity goes, water vapor satellite images show a large pool of dry air to the northwest of Ophelia. Winds at mid levels of the atmosphere are expected to blow this dry air towards Ophelia the next few days, and this should hamper her development. However, wind shear levels 3 - 5 days from now are expected to drop condsiderably, and this will aid intensification. All factors considered, Ophelia wil probably reach Category 2 status and perhaps Category 3 five days from now.

Hurricane Nate and Hurricane Maria
Nate finally got caught up in the westerly winds aloft sweeping across the North Atlantic, and is headed out to sea. Bermuda will escape with just tropical storm force winds. Maria is still a hurricane but almost dead; NHC will issue its last advisory on this storm later today.

Elsewhere in the tropical
A area of disturbed weather in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is starting to show signs of organization. This area will have to be watched the next few days, and is likely to only threaten Mexico if it develops. The ITCA is quiet and there is nothing cooking off of the coast of Africa.

Jeff Masters

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435. weathergy14
4:15 AM GMT on September 09, 2005
I HEARE LEFTY IS CALLING HIMSELF SEXY i ll bet he has ace all over his face and weres pants up to his belly that hangs out lol
434. theboldman
4:14 AM GMT on September 09, 2005
I HEARE LEFTY IS CALLING HIMSELF SEXY i ll bet he has ace all over his face and weres pants up to his belly that hangs out lol
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
433. THEMUFFINMAN
4:13 AM GMT on September 09, 2005
I HEARE LEFTY IS CALLING HIMSELF SEXY i ll bet he has ace all over his face and weres pants up to his belly that hangs out lol
429. Hawkeyewx
8:27 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
I take that back. I did not see that 70 kt surface wind estimate on the latest recon report. I was only looking at the max observed flight level wind that says only 66 kts. 70 kts would certainly make it a hurricane.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
427. Hawkeyewx
8:24 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
I am guessing the NHC might call Ophelia a 70 mph tropical storm at 5pm. I don't think they have yet found wind strong enough to call it a hurricane, even though the 985 mb pressure is typically associated with a minimal hurricane.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
423. Tallywatcher
8:22 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Dr. Masters just posted a new development that it should be a cat 1 by 5 or 11.
422. Hurriphoon
8:22 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Of course nowdays the decision to call a Cat 1 cane may be "politcal" as well as scientific.
421. leftyy420
8:22 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
well if the vortex message was right and they fixed the winds at 70kt like it sayd than it is a cane plus the pressure is 985mb. that is low for ts. morelike a cat1 pressure
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
420. Hurriphoon
8:21 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Lefty, I've been studying buoy data and think it will be a bit longer before it's offcial called a Cat 1 by the NHC. So, I'll go out on the limb and bet another 6 pack that she wond't be a NHC by 5 pm.
419. WillJax
8:20 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Work in san marco live in argyle? agh what a commute!

Well Zane we'll see if this cane brings some snow in with it ;)

Lefty do you really think a cane by 5pm advisory? I think thats a pretty big deal...
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
415. leftyy420
8:17 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
hurriphoon, she is a cane right now. recon fixed winfds at 70kt at the surface. so call it a minimla cane


scott,the bamm is only good for 2-3 days out at best and is not the best model. if one of the major models shift inline with it than it might be a situation we need to watch even closer
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
412. Hurriphoon
8:15 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
I've just been out and about in Tville and the winds and rain have picked up. The flags were really wipping in the wind. There have been some dark bands of clouds streaking by. I'm trying to decide if I should bet Lefty another 6 pack on Cat 1 development by 5 pm.
411. Hawkeyewx
8:15 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Radar clearly shows the storm continuing to slowly deepen, but it is still in a fight against dry air in the east quadrant. The storms this season have been very resilient. Ophelia has loads of dry air to the north and has had some dry air to the southeast with steady light to moderate southeasterly shear for days, yet all she does is sit there and slowly drop those millibars.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
410. scottyndbfl
8:14 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
lefty, sorry to beat a dead horse, but could the BAMM model be seeing the trof as pushing opelia to the se instead of pulling it to the ne? maybe the small jog to the se is a "push" in advance of the trof?
409. Peff
8:14 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Flemming Island (Clay County)here.... It is a gloomy day, but so far very little rain and wind.
408. HurricaneZane
8:12 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
omigod wil!. it reminds me of that too.. you must not be a native Jax resident--. I work in San Marco.. pretty gloomy.. not a whole lot of rain though. I live in Argyle..
407. leftyy420
8:11 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
maybe slightly. she will wobble and make cyclonic loops of movment. also the last advisory was an estimate. her genral motion is still stationary. she will be moving ne is 12-24 hrs
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
406. icebear7
8:10 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
diurnal thing again?
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
405. leftyy420
8:10 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
yeah u should see a n or ne drift begin tonight or later tomm and an increas in forwards speed for 24 hrs than she will slow again and might even stall for a time befor she loops back to the us
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
404. scottyndbfl
8:09 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
if i am reading the vortex message correctly, did the storm move to the se since the last advisory?
403. leftyy420
8:08 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
she will be a cane at the 5pm advisory. they havene't issue a new adv yet casue the 5pm is going to be out in less than an hour
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
402. weatherdude65
8:08 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
That's what I thought....what do you think...movement by tomorrow afternoon
401. leftyy420
8:07 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
thats the trof in that link u gave. thats what will kick here ne.
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
400. timl2k5
8:07 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Wow 10 degree temp gradient! 70 Knot surface winds. I wonder if the nhc will take that 70 knot value as "characteristic of the storm' now.
399. icebear7
8:07 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
thx Lefty.... those dots on the map and 'cone of inconsistency' don't mean to much to me without some w ords to explain them, and the WS bulletins are hard for me to read.





Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
398. leftyy420
8:06 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
hootie no. the models are computer runs absed on surface obs and weather ballons. they models are not all over the place.they all show a ne movement in 24-36 hours and a loop back to the us landfall in 7-9 days. they just differ on where she will make that loop
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
397. WillJax
8:06 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Zane, where are you located in Jax? I'm in Mandarin and all day it's been feeling like the sky is gonna fall...yet nothing yet.

Actually this weather reminds me of a really gloomy and windy winter's day.
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
396. Hawkeyewx
8:05 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
508
URNT12 KNHC 082001
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
A. 08/19:43:50Z
B. 28 deg 34 min N
079 deg 27 min W
C. 850 mb 1316 m
D. 70 kt
E. 42 deg 015 nm
F. 130 deg 066 kt
G. 041 deg 012 nm
H. 985 mb
I. 19 C/ 1534 m
J. 24 C/ 1528 m
K. 24 C/ NA
L. OPEN NE
M. C15
N. 12345/ 8
O. 0.02 / 2 nm
P. AF300 0616A OPHELIA OB 09
MAX FL WIND 66 KT NE QUAD 19:40:00 Z
MAX FL TEMP 25 C, 36 / 6NM
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
395. weatherdude65
8:04 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
leftyy, take a look at this. What do you make of the push coming from the plains into the SE?

Link
394. timl2k5
8:04 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
I'd love to be on the cape right now.
393. leftyy420
8:04 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
new vortex out. pressure noe 985mb




508
URNT12 KNHC 082001
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
A. 08/19:43:50Z
B. 28 deg 34 min N
079 deg 27 min W
C. 850 mb 1316 m
D. 70 kt
E. 42 deg 015 nm
F. 130 deg 066 kt
G. 041 deg 012 nm
H. 985 mb
I. 19 C/ 1534 m
J. 24 C/ 1528 m
K. 24 C/ NA
L. OPEN NE
M. C15
N. 12345/ 8
O. 0.02 / 2 nm
P. AF300 0616A OPHELIA OB 09
MAX FL WIND 66 KT NE QUAD 19:40:00

Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
392. leftyy420
8:04 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
hooked no thery werent. the gfld and ukmet took her intot he gulf. thats what most people keep forgetting

Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
391. hootiethebooty
8:03 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
A question from a weather layman...Could this major solar eruption that is affecting satellites and high frequency communications also have an impact on the model readings that are all over the place on predicting Ophelia?
390. leftyy420
8:03 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
its looking that way, if not she is close maybe 70mph winds
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
389. hookedontropics
8:03 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
They were also in consensus on hitting the panhandle of FL 4 days out on Katrina..
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 127
388. leftyy420
8:03 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
yeah scott do that man. wouldlove the update
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
387. leftyy420
8:02 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
i have been to soime degree hooked but the gfs is not good with a loop all the time. sometime it is some time it isn't. it shows a loop that takes her intot he outerbanks in 7-9 days. i don't think it will be that far north but i think a loop is looking highley likley
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
386. timl2k5
8:01 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Dare I say we already have a hurricane on our hands?
385. StellarCyclone
8:01 PM GMT on September 08, 2005
Prayers for StormTop and all the others in the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama disaster area especially those who are missing and perhaps dead. Many of us probably know people who have not survived and don't realize it yet. I have learned in the last few days of people I know who continue to be missing. On the northern gulf coast, there are many stories of people who survived through great danger.

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.