Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:54 PM GMT on September 14, 2005
The Cape Lookout CMAN station on the tip of Cape Lookout measured a sustained wind of 65 knots, gusting to 78 knots, at 8pm EDT. These sustained winds are exactly minimal hurricane force, so Ophelia has qualified as a hurricane strike on the U.S. I'm not sure why NHC extended the hurricane warning all the way to the Virginia border; the odds of anyplace besides Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras getting sustained hurricane force winds is pretty low.
The north eyewall of Ophelia is pounding the North Carolina coast, and has knocked out power to the NWS Newport/Morehead City office. Their backup generator has also failed, so the Wakefield, VA NWS office will be assuming service backup duties. Apparently the Morehead City radar still has power, since we are still getting radar images from there.
For those of you who can handle a 1.6 Mb animation, the 40-frame radar animation from Morehead City, NC during the time Ophelia's northern eyewall passed over the city is fascinating. The turbulence created by having part of the eyewall over land and part over water created some smaller vorticies along the inside edge of the eyewall.
Elsewhere in the tropics
A large tropical wave near 9N 43W or about 1000 miles east of Venezuela and the Windward Islands was very disorganized this morning, but has become quite well organized this evening. Upper level wind shear is 10 - 15 knots and falling, and some upper level outflow has developed on the north side of the disturbance. Winds observed by the QuikSCAT satellite show two circulation centers associated with the disturbance, one near 9N 43W and the other near 11N 46W. This disturbance has the potential to develop into a tropical depression as early as Friday. Another disturbance south of the Cape Verde Islands, near 8N 28W is also starting to develop some impressive deep convection. However, this disturbance lies at the south edge of a large area of dry, dust-laden air which will slow any development that might occur.
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