Ophelia stuck again

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:35 PM GMT on September 11, 2005

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Ophelia seems intent on going nowhere in a hurry, and is stuck some 250 miles south of Cape Hatteras, NC. Steering currents are very weak, and Ophelia is expected to stay stuck through Monday and probably Tuesday as well. Finally, on Wednesday, a trough of low pressure is forecast to push off the East Coast and nudge Ophelia onto a northward track over North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and perhaps on to New England Thursday or Friday as a 50 mph tropical storm. Some forecast models indicate a slow drift towards the coast may occur Monday and Tuesday, which might bring brief heavy downpours to the Carolinas as the outer bands scrape the coast.

How believable is this forecast track? The average forecast track error for a 3-day forecast is 230 miles, which would mean Ophelia could easily make landfall in South Carolina, or completely miss the U.S. The computer models, which were almost unanimously calling for a landfall in South Carolina a day ago, have now switched to calling for a landfall in eastern North Carolina, a shift of some 300 miles in one day! These forecast models do poorly when steering currents are weak, and it would be no surprise if today's official NHC 3-day forecast is in error by 200 or 300 miles. This means that the hurricane could just as easily hit Myrtle Beach, SC as Cape Hatteras, NC--or may even pass harmlessly out to sea. Still, the fact that the models are mostly clustered over eastern North Carolina dictates that I dutifully project that residents there are at highest risk.

Ophelia's intensity remains about the same--the 9am EDT hurricane hunter mission found a central pressure of 978 mb and top flight-level winds of 74 knots, about what they've been the past day or so. Water vapor satellite imagery continues to show dry air on Ophelia's west side, and visible satellite images show a noticable lack of convection on her west side due to the dry air. The Hurricane Hunters found only a partial eyewall on their last fix, a sign that Ophelia continues to struggle with this dry air.

An additional problem for Ophelia is cold water welling up from the depths. She has been sitting in the same area for almost a day, and this has given time for the winds to churn up cold water from deep blow the hurricane. A drifting buoy to the south of Ophelia reported a 3C temperature drop yesterday, and an examination of the latest SST loop from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division shows a number of areas of upwelling cold water from the areas Ophelia has traversed. In particular, a big blue dot offshore from Cape Canaveral is visible, a location where Ophelia sat for two days stirring up cold water.

On the plus side for Ophelia, the upper-level outflow is the best it has looked, and the wind shear plauging her on the west side has dropped to 5 - 10 knots and is forecast to remain low. If Ophelia can drift away from her present location to avoid the cold waters she is stirring up, she may be able to intensity to a Category 2 hurricane. Any intensification beyond that is highly unlikely, and she will most likely remain a Category 1 hurricane through the next two or three days.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The rest of the tropics are unusually quiet in what is usually the busiest week of hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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697. thelmores
2:55 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
11 AM EDT MON SEP 12 2005

LATEST DATA FROM THE AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE INDICATED A PEAK 700
MB FLIGHT LEVEL WIND OF 63 KT. MAXIMUM SURFACE WINDS ARE ESTIMATED
TO BE NEAR 60 KT...ALTHOUGH THIS IS PROBABLY GENEROUS GIVEN THE
LACK OF DEEP CONVECTION TO TRANSPORT MOMENTUM VERTICALLY. THUS THE
SYSTEM IS BEING DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL STORM ON THIS ADVISORY.
OPHELIA HAS NOT MOVED MUCH OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS...SO
UPWELLING AND STIRRING HAS LIKELY COOLED THE WATERS. SHIP AND
DRIFTING BUOY DATA SUGGEST THAT THE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES MAY
HAVE DECREASED TO BELOW 26 DEG C BENEATH THE STORM CENTER. THE
TRACK FORECAST TAKES OPHELIA OVER A SECTION OF THE GULF STREAM...
WHERE A MODESTLY DEEP WARM WATER MIXED LAYER...I.E. HIGHER OCEANIC
HEAT CONTENT...COULD INDUCE RE-STRENGTHENING. THEREFORE THE
OFFICIAL FORECAST SHOWS THE SYSTEM RE-ATTAINING HURRICANE STRENGTH
BEFORE NEARING THE COAST.

AFTER COMPLETING A SMALL CLOCKWISE LOOP...THE STORM IS MOVING VERY
SLOWLY NORTHWESTWARD...315/02. BECAUSE THE STEERING CURRENTS ARE
SO ILL-DEFINED...THE TRACK FORECAST REMAINS A DIFFICULT ONE. SOME
GLOBAL MODELS...NAMELY NOGAPS AND THE CANADIAN...INDICATE THAT THE
BROAD 500 MB TROUGH APPROACHING THE EASTERN UNITED STATES IN A
COUPLE OF DAYS WILL LACK SUFFICIENT AMPLITUDE TO PICK UP OPHELIA
AND ACCELERATE IT NORTHEASTWARD. THEREFORE WE HAVE THE UNPLEASANT
POSSIBILITY THAT THE CYCLONE COULD LINGER NEAR THE SOUTHEAST U.S.
THROUGH 5 DAYS. THE GFS AND GFDL STILL MOVE OPHELIA NORTHEASTWARD
OVER THE ATLANTIC BEYOND 3 DAYS...BUT THEY ARE SOMEWHAT SLOWER THAN
THEIR PREVIOUS RUNS. IN DEFERENCE TO THIS NUMERICAL GUIDANCE...THE
OFFICIAL FORECAST IS A BIT SLOWER THAN THE PREVIOUS ONE IN THE 3-5
DAY TIME FRAME.

FORECASTER PASCH



5 DAYS!!!!!!!!!! THIS THING IS DRIVIN ME NUTTS! LOL
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
696. thelmores
2:14 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=110&tstamp=200509&allcomments=1

this is the blog of Dr. Masters latest update......
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
695. VerticalHeatEngine
2:11 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
thelmores, if you're still here, please forgive my "newbieness" but where is the new blog?
694. thelmores
1:58 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
I ALSO POSTED THIS IN THE NEW BLOG.... BUT FOR THOSE STILL HERE.....

i have just received word that the governor of SC will issue a voluntery evacuation for the coast of Horry county (myrtle beach) this afternoon. This is not official, but i did receive it from a reliable county official.

sounds like fun! LOL

i would believe this would also include charleston,sc as well.....
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
693. VerticalHeatEngine
1:58 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
thanx, thelmores.

i'm so sick of 501 traffic and I'm not even taling bout the tourists. the bypass is pretty bad anymore too. jees, what's going to happen if people freak and try to leave at the last minute?!

maybe the cops where prepping. although you can NEVER rule out doughnuts!!!
692. thelmores
1:47 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
tanger outlet on 501...... saw a bunch of highway patrols, county, etc....... whatever motel that is behind smokers express.....

Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
691. VerticalHeatEngine
1:44 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
thelmores, nice to meet you too. thanks for the info.

is that the Tanger outlet on 501? or the one in NMB?

My 13 yr old daughter is hoping the schools flinch. Especially if it means Ms. O is heading closer to us. She was pretty bummed out when she saw yesterdays tracks to the obx. crazy like her dad.
690. killdevilmax
1:40 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Looks like she is getting squeezed a little from the WSW on visible.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
689. killdevilmax
1:39 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
New thread. Dr. Masters update. All we know is we don't know.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
688. thelmores
1:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
vertical, nice to meet you.....

my information came from the loacl talk radio (99.7fm).

there is certainly nothing official, but i did see several dozen police officers at that motel near the tanger outlet. either they were giving away free doughnuts, or they are getting prepared for something! LOL

there has been some talk of voluntery evacuation IF the westward motion continues into the afternoon, due to the close proximity of the storm, as well as the NHC's inability to nail down the forecast.

guess we will see. seems the schools would be the first to flinch, so we will have to monitor the motion the next several hours. if there appears a turn to the NW, i would assume there would be little action required. But if this westward motion continues, well.........
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
687. killdevilmax
1:28 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Outflow is really expanding. The WV loop is showing the big dynamics, just wish I could interpret them better. She doesn't look to be moving much.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
686. VerticalHeatEngine
1:28 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
thelmores, hello. here in MB as well. Where are you getting your info on the local officials? local TV?? Sun news?? Just curious as I have only sat tv.
685. killdevilmax
1:19 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
I know many other factors play into it but low pressure is akin to path of least resistance wouldn't you say?
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
684. thelmores
1:17 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
man...... sitting here in myrtle beach, i feel like we are playing a game of chicken! LOL

http://radar.weather.gov/radar/loop/DS.p20-r/si.kltx.shtml

the outer bands are approaching the coast, and let me tell you, the local officials are getting a little nervous.

school is in session, but there is talk of a call for a voluntery evacuation if the westward motion continues.

geez, will this storm ever make a run to the coast! LOL

Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
683. VerticalHeatEngine
1:16 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Pressure here in MB is 1015.8 mb if anyone is interested. Been a painfully slow drop since yesterday. Winds about 18 mph gusting to about 24 or so. Overcast again.
682. killdevilmax
1:11 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
This is just a guess but if the barometric pressure starts going up by you would it mean that will trigger the turn to the north if high pressure is building towards the east?? Lefty should be up soon unless he's on the way down here. Not talking evac yet here.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
681. killdevilmax
1:06 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
yea I put that out there to see what everyone would make of it. I think it may indicate that the steering component is coming into play. Cantore's in town uh-oh.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
680. StormJunkie
1:02 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
1017mb here in Charleston Killdevil. Don't know what that means though. I think it explains the continued drift to the W. Having a hard time going W, but a harder time going N.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
679. StormJunkie
1:00 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Not wiht that speed VHE. Won't be til tomorrow if I do. I did not even call the voice exchange to check though. Could show up and no one be there. If schools are open then work is open!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
678. StormJunkie
12:57 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Looks as if she is trying to rebuild some convection. The day time heating may actually help her today. Appears she has been moving a hair N of W also.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
677. killdevilmax
12:55 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Here's a good site I use. The still web cams have a delay but usually stay cleaner, longer than the local surfer sites. The wind and waves have come down some since yesterday to 6'. My barometer has been rising this morning as is now steady at 1026 mb.

Army Corps of Engineers Feild Research Facility, Duck Pier, Duck NC:

www.frf.usace.army.mil/
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
676. mybahamas
12:52 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Good morning from The Bahamas :)
Just glad to be here after some extreme thunderstorms yesterday -- the possible result of Ophelia's reach into our area.
Check this out:
Link

Electricity went out islandwide -- over 100,000 persons estimated to be out of power yesterday!

The area of the island where I live is still out and we heard at least 4 transformers explode in a row :(

Didn't even know about the funnel cloud until I saw that link.

And now I see that we have some more severe weather heading our way from the east ... Ah well :(
675. VerticalHeatEngine
12:49 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Hey SJ. Catch a break with work today?
674. StormJunkie
12:41 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
If this crazy bat takes the Ukmet or Nogaps soultions we could still be dealing with this thing in another week. crazy. It will be intresting to see the next model runs as thoughs are the ones that have shown the shifts. She is nuts. Wait and see now for over a week now!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
673. pirateotobx
12:35 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
reminds me of Bonnie when it went through here...sloooowwwwwwww........this thing needs to pick up speed or down east is going to have a mess....
672. pirateotobx
12:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
I just wish this storm would start moving so I'd know what to do...We went out and bought supplies thinking we were going to see something sunday night or Monday afternoon...now they're talking wednesday....My 3 sons are going to eat all the supplies before the storm gets here...LOL...I ordered 3 cases of MRE's last week and they're supposed to be here today..hopefully..just to have on hand....At this time the eye is suposed to pass over my house in central carteret county...but the thing won't start moving and the way this storm has been there's no telling what it'll end up doing...
671. GZ
12:24 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
thank you kill. Im headed downtown to work, it still seems like people here are passing this off as a wind and rain event. I just dont think thats the case.
670. NCRebel
12:20 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
Well unless my eyes are deceiving me she has stopped again. Just like a woman...can't make up her mind...LOL
669. killdevilmax
12:04 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
From Steve Gregory 9/11/05 421 PM CDT

"the storm surge from this very slow moving storm could be
1 full category above the reported wind speeds due to the very prolonged period of gale and storm force winds."

Check your ocean tides heights. High tide levels are a little above normal going into a full moon phase on the 18th. The southern sounds are also above normal due to the prolonged NE winds and sloshing effects and the higher than normal high tides. also when the high ocean tides bring more water into the sounds it has a hard time getting back out with the strong NE winds. The northern sounds are extremely low due to this. When the back side of the hurricane passes and the wind switches all the southern water will come north causing widespread flooding around the northern sounds. Add a large rain event to all this and a surge up to 10' and you cannot take this lightly. This last paragraph is my personal opinion based on my own observations.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
668. GZ
12:03 PM GMT on September 12, 2005
makes sense Rebel. I would imagine New Hanover to do the same later today. stay safe down there!
667. NCRebel
11:43 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
Ok I've been lurking and learning for a couple of days. I'm 70 miles from the NC coast in Lumberton but I have a camper at Holden Beach. The reason for the school closings in Brunswick county is due to a voluntary evacuation. They close the schools so that people wanting to leave won't have to worry about students being absent. This happens everytime it looks like landfall may be within a reasonable proximity. For what it's worth I have been watching the NHC website and I think they are using the SWAG method.(Scientific Wild A$$ Guess)
666. watchingnva
11:42 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
hey everyone...noob here...been watching the posts but never saying anything for awhile now...im just SE of richmond...whats the chance of an isabelle impact type from O in my area...we lost power in the area for 1-3 weeks in my area...and had 2 f1's come through my neighborhood...love canes and am interested...but i dont wanna have to deal w/ that clean up again..what do yall think is the chance??
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 1494
665. GZ
11:32 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
if anyone is awake, what should we expect as far as storm surge if Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington area gets a direct hit from a strong one, weak 2?
664. GZ
11:25 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
good call Kill, I think Ive been watching the local news too much. They are starting to cancel schools and evacuate beach areas in Brunswick County just to the south of us here in Wilmington. I would imagine this trend will continue.
663. killdevilmax
11:22 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
GZ,
With the models handling this the way they have be prepared for a cat 2. They are historically not real good with intensity. Factors are in place for rapid intensification before landfall. It looks ragged now but that could changw quick. JMO
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
662. killdevilmax
11:18 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
putting up the plywood Cantore's in town.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
661. GZ
11:16 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
kiw I wouldnt concern myself too much with a loop. its looking more and more like a hit for us here in Wilmington, but I think the question will be, does Ophelia come on shore as a 1 or a strong TS?
660. THEMUFFINMAN
9:41 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
just check the latest advisory and she is moving west a 3 mph
659. kiwisk8er
9:38 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
Hi,

so whats happening with Ophelia, is she still meandering westwards or is she looping the loop?
658. leftyy420
7:11 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
night subtropic
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
657. subtropic
7:00 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
well lefty, I'm not sure who's left on here, but I'm out as well. I have more to do tomorrow than I care to think about. Have a good one!
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
656. leftyy420
6:59 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
night sts
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
655. subtropic
6:57 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
nite stsimons.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
653. leftyy420
6:54 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
lol alright sj goodnight
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
652. subtropic
6:54 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
goodnight stormj.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
651. leftyy420
6:54 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
yeah but she still had flight level winds of 78 kts. thats still 64-66 kts at the surface keeping her a hurricane
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
650. StormJunkie
6:53 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
Alright Lefty and crew I am off to bed. Will be intresting to see what the NHC has to say in the morning. Those next model runs will be intresting too as there is something getting just a little out of wack with the upper air models and the others. Don't know which to trust now. Maybe none of em. Goodnight.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
649. subtropic
6:52 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
goodnight vertical.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
647. VerticalHeatEngine
6:51 AM GMT on September 12, 2005
i'm wrecked! goodnite all. it was fun and informative. thanks for the info, links, etc. monday should be interesting.

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