Ophelia lumbering towards the coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:55 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

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Ophelia is lumbering towards the coast at a snail's pace of 4mph, and remains over warm enough water (82-83F) to keep a slow strengthening trend going. Long range radar out of Wilmington, NC shows an modest increase in intensity and coverage of the rainfall, but the inner eyewall of about 20 miles diameter that was trying to form this morning has collapsed. Now that Ophelia is moving, the upwelling of cold water stirred up by her winds is not going to be an inhibiting factor. However, the water temperatures within about 80 miles of the coast cool off to about 78 - 80F, and this should put a halt to Ophelia's slow intensification once she gets close to the coast on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Although NHC has been advertising Ophelia as having peak winds of 70 mph, the actual peak winds measured at the surface by buoys is 50 mph. Apparently the stronger winds at higher altitudes measured by the Hurricane Hunters and by Doppler radar are not mixing down to the surface as efficiently as usual for a hurricane. The NOAA aircraft's SFMR instrument has measured surface winds of 55 kt (63 mph), but this estimate is not supported by buoy measurements, and the SFMR winds are probably too high by 5 knots.

Shear is low (5 knots) and the upper-level outflow good, but there is still too much dry air and cool water surrounding Ophelia to support anything stronger than a 80 mph Category 1 hurricane. The chances of a coastal observation site actually recording sustained winds of hurricane force (74 mph) are probably about 20%. Wind damage from Ophelia should be low, but her winds have had a lot of time to pile up a big mound of water near her center, and the storm surge of 4 - 6 feet will cause most of this storm's damage.



Flooding of low-lying areas from rain could be a problem in some places; areas just south of Wilmington, NC have already received 4 - 5 inches or rain. Another 5 - 10 inches of rain is likely from this wet, slow-moving storm. If eastern North Carolina were not under mild drought conditions, this would have been a much more serious storm.


Figure 1. Surface wind estimates this afternoon from the NOAA aircraft's SFMR instrument show a large area of tropical storm force winds, primarily on the west side.

Jeff Masters

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457. killdevilmax
2:32 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
New thread, Dr. J update
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
456. NCRebel
2:32 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
If it wasn't for all the rain it would be a nice day to fly a kite inland. A few gusts to 30mph and sustained about 20. looks like it might have wobbled a bit north.
455. oriondarkwood
2:25 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
All the fellow bloggee's in NC doing okay, looks like this is going to be a heavy rain event with lots of wind. Still going to be a rough day on the coast of NC. Specially the outer banks. Keep safe
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 41
454. JPinILM
2:13 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
Rain and wind definitely picking up, winds shifting from NE to N, starting to get the effects of the eyewall, barometer down to 29.60 (1002 mb). Winds about 50 mph, gusting to 60+ steadily.

--JP
Member Since: August 6, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 6
453. turtlehurricane
1:39 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
i hav updated my blog
Member Since: July 22, 2005 Posts: 227 Comments: 469
452. JPinILM
1:35 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
Good morning from Wilmington...pressure here has dropped to 29.65 (1004 mb). Not much rain right now, it comes and goes, but the wind is up in the 40-45 mph range, rare gusts to around 50-55 (estimated). A few small branches down, but still have power! Doesn't look like we'll see the eye if it keeps on the current motion. More later...

--JP
Member Since: August 6, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 6
451. weatherguy03
1:07 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
Also watch for developement this weekend N. of P.R.. to the Bahamas, old trough will set up down that way from Ophelia..Latest GFS is starting to hint at some thing near there, we know this routine already. As for wave out in the Atlantic, not sure about that one yet..some westerly shear from trough moving to the north of it, but that should lift out in a few days, so maybe it will then begin to develop
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 589 Comments: 29691
450. NCRebel
1:00 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
May be to early but some of the models are already picking up on it.
449. Weatherwatcher007
12:49 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
I have to say this and go. . .

Is it too early to talk about the other wave around 38 west. If you look satellite images may be starting to show an organized lower-level circulation in the cloud motion. It may be too early to talk about development, for now. . .
448. notwithoutmyprosac
12:41 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
I'm sitting here safelt in fla watching the surfcheck cam.

http://www.surfchex.com/


Awesome! I am not going to get a thing done today as long as this camera stays up.
447. NCRebel
12:30 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
All the models are pretty tightly clusted. I think the UKMET starts smoking crake in a couple of days based on it's track. All in all should be one of the milder storms. I just hope this winch doesn't stall again It looks like it will start getting nice here after lunch.
446. fredwx
12:28 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
Over the past 9 hours (03Z-12Z) the heading has been 012 degrees with an avg speed of 5.5 kts
Member Since: June 8, 2005 Posts: 221 Comments: 261
445. pirateotobx
12:25 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
latest runs...
Link
444. pirateotobx
12:24 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
form the wilmington radar it looks almost like a little more ENE..The bamm model has really close with short term...who knows..
443. pirateotobx
12:20 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
maybe it'll stay off the coast and we'll just get lots of rain and TS force winds at most....'course that's what it looks like either way...
442. NCRebel
12:20 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
Based on the lastest vortex message the strongest winds were in the SE quadrant. I agree with the direction but I'm not sure on that forward speed.
441. NCRebel
12:18 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
yep w/80mph winds moving at 6mph
440. pirateotobx
12:18 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
I don't think the wind is as strong as NHC is saying..From reports I've seen it looks to be more in the 50-60 sustained and gust to 75+....It's right near Wilmington and it's staying in the mid 50's...we'll see....I guess right at the "eye" it could be close...but the recon data has been a little fishy this storm....
439. fredwx
12:10 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
NHC now confirms a NNE heading for Ophelia
Member Since: June 8, 2005 Posts: 221 Comments: 261
438. killdevilmax
11:31 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
Good luck saint hang in there.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
437. NCRebel
11:26 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
Interesting note I just found. Both of those came sites are hosted but Surfchex which is owned by a local meteorologist in the Wilmington area who is also an avid surfer. That might explain what the shot are lines up at the waves.
436. SAINTHURRIFAN
11:25 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
you guys stay safe even weak storms can be tragic got to go wife having cancer surgery this morning be out of touch for awhile when i get back the carrib problem will be he maain topic im afraid katrina cleanup is done the best i can so wife can have some of a house to come back to god bless
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 706
435. SAINTHURRIFAN
11:17 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
i see the monster lefty its at 42 long all the models are starting to pick up on it. that will be one for you to watch and maybe experience but it will end up in the gulf im afraid
with this subtropical and the lack of depth of these cold fronts in the mean time enjoy your little nor'easter. have anice day.
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 706
434. NCRebel
11:16 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
lefty I just looked it up on the tide charts and verified with Boat & Beach on weather.com. High tide was at 5:30 so the tide should..LOL..be falling Next high is around 6 tonight. The brunswick beaches had high tide around 4:30
433. leftyy420
11:08 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
just realised its only low tide lol wait till high time in 4-7 hrs.
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
432. NCRebel
11:05 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
my wife just asked if the pressure had dropped because the cats are acting wierd (freaked out). I looked and last night the pressure was 1014 and now it's 1007 and falling
431. NCRebel
11:02 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
What about all the tables on the pier at Wrightsville. Someone was definately not using there head. Both of those piers look like wood do there will more than likely be some damage.
430. leftyy420
10:59 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
wonder if the peir makes it with out any damage
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
429. NCRebel
10:57 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
The need to fix the temp on Kure beach...it's way too cold for a hurricane..-680s LMAO
428. leftyy420
10:56 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
lol was just thinking that
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
427. NCRebel
10:55 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
I'll bet the cam doesn't survive....it was rocking pretty good a minute ago
426. leftyy420
10:54 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
oh no it can't take another hour nc lol. the sand underneath it is being ate away. it will fall ove in due time
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
425. NCRebel
10:52 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
All of the Brunswick Islands were under mandantory evac so I'd assume there. All of the motels here are packed which is highly unusual for mid week.

I'd just about be willing to be the lifeguard chair isn't there at lunch...lol
424. leftyy420
10:52 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
lol no way it makes it. the eye is still 70 miles south. no way lol
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
423. iyou
10:51 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
you're on lefty-i hope it does though-some manmade structure to withstand nature's exuberance ;-)
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
422. leftyy420
10:50 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
nc no its gonna be a long night. i am sleeping all day so i can be awake all night tonight. going to va beach to ride out whats left of this monster.
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
421. iyou
10:49 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
sleep well, if not long, lefty...
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
420. leftyy420
10:49 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
5 bucks says that life guard chair doesn't make it thru the day lol
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
419. killdevilmax
10:48 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
NCREBEL Do you know where they evacced from?
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 322
418. NCRebel
10:48 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
All it needs is sound. get some rest lefty....gonna be a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG day
417. iyou
10:47 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
I thought so!! your wife still remembers what you look like!! ;-)
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
416. leftyy420
10:46 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
yeah i been doing that. thanks for the heads up though. bout to set it to full screen and go lay next to the wife, haven't been to bed yet
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
415. iyou
10:46 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
Kure Beach cam takes a while to load-but it's a different day there to-day than yesterday-it's wild! the water is coming way up beyond the lifeguard chair - try not to get water on your lens-that'll be a feat in itself!!
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
414. leftyy420
10:45 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
is that the lifeguard chair at hure beach? if so man thats some waves
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
413. NCRebel
10:45 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
lefty you can double click on the image and make it full screen. I use a dual monitor setup and had Kure & Wrightsville full screen...now that was awesome
412. leftyy420
10:43 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
wrightsville beach is viewable as well but its darker there. should get betetr in the next 15-30 mins or so
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
411. leftyy420
10:42 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
yeah wind just gusted to 68 wow. thats awsome
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
410. leftyy420
10:41 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
man that eye is looking mean
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
409. NCRebel
10:41 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
Starting to get light enough where you can actually see the ocean on cam...and she's got a bit of a temper this morning.
408. leftyy420
10:35 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
yes got an advantix so iwil get some panorama pics lol. should be in the ramada right on the beach. should not see winds above 50 mphs so i should be fine. but if the track shifts more to the east i won't go. i need a good experience if i am going to spend the money lol. ilive 2 hrs away so i can wait befor i decide not togo but it looks like its on as of right now
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
407. iyou
10:34 AM GMT on September 14, 2005
among all the favourites!! like trying to find a particular grain of sand on the beach ;-)
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219

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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.