Ophelia, and 3 new threats

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:55 PM GMT on September 16, 2005

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Ophelia
Yesterday, I was trying to imagine a day when I wouldn't talk about Ophelia moving slowly. Today is not the day :-( since Ophelia was still stalled out near Cape Hatteras this morning. However, the past few hours the Norfolk long range radar loop has shown a dramatic increase in Ophelia's forward speed and turn to the north-northeast. There is hope, then--tomorrow I will not have to talk about Ophelia moving slowly! I expect that the trough giving me a rainy day here in Michigan has now nabbed Ophelia and will swing her up the East Coast at a respectable speed today and tomorrow. Ophelia will still generate some trouble on her trek north; expect a 1 - 3 foot storm surge for southeast Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, 1 - 3 inches of rain, and sustained winds up to 40 mph as Ophelia brushes by.

While Ophelia did dump it share of heavy rain--around 5 - 7 inches near Wilmington, and over 10 inches around Cape Fear, south of Wilmington--the rain was mostly confined to the coast, and did not cause widespread flooding problems. Ophelia's winds also did relatively light damage--sustained hurricane force winds (74 mph) were only observed at one location, on Cape Lookout near the Outer Banks. The highest wind gusts measured were 92 mph on Cape Lookout and 83 mph at Cape Hatteras. The storm surge was what caused the main havoc with Ophelia--surges heights of up to 10 - 12 feet were observed along the Neuse River north of Wilmington. Preliminary damage estimates put Ophelia's damage to North Carolina over $10 million, but less than $100 million.


Figure 1. Estimated rainfall from the Morehead City radar for Ophelia's passage.

Wave nearing the Windward Islands
A well-organized tropical wave 600 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands has the potential to develop into a tropical depression in the next few days. The wave's surface circulation is better defined today, and is visible on both satellite imagery and QuikSCAT satellite measurements. Deep convection is limited, but has increased since yesterday. The wave, now located near 10N 50W, has moved away from the equator some, and has a better chance for development as it continues to gain latitude while moving west-northwest at 15 mph. Wind shear has decreased to about 10 knots, and the upper-level winds appear favorable--a small upper-level anticyclone is over the wave, and should provide good outflow if more deep convection starts to fire up.

The early track models are split, withe GFDL disippating the system immediately and the BAMM taking it into the Caribbean. The BAMM solution is radically different from the one six hours ago, which showed the large mid-Atlantic trough turning the system northwestward and missing the Leeward Islands. I expect the new BAMM solution is correct; the system is too shallow and too far south to get caught up by the mid-Atlantic trough, and will cross into the Eastern Carribean Monday. I suspect that the system will organize too slowly to pose a hurricane threat to the Leeward or Windward Islands. Hurricane Emily took a very similar path to this disturbance and developed into a hurricane right when it crossed the Windward Islands into the Caribbean, but was already a tropical storm when it reached 50W longitude, where our disturbance is today.


Figure 1. Early track model runs for the disturbance approaching the Windward Islands.

Blob northeast of Puerto Rico
A concentrated area of thunderstorms northeast of Puerto Rico has developed in the base of a large trough of low pressure. This disturbance will separate from the trough and move westward towards the Bahama Islands the next few days. Strong upper level winds out of the west are creating about 15 knots of shear over the disturbance, down from 20 knots yesterday. The shear should continue to drop the next few days, and may be low enough by Sunday to allow a tropical depression to form. The system should be in the Bahama Islands by then, and could threaten South Florida and Cuba as it continues to track west. Several computer models indicate that the disturbance is more likely to develop once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, and pose the greatest threat to Mexico or Texas. There are no early computer model track points for this disturbance yet, I will post them when they become available.

ITCZ
The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the band of strong thuderstorms between Africa and South America, has historically been the source of many of the severe hurricanes that affect us in September. These "Cape Verde" type storms, so named because they originate from disturbances in the ITCZ near the Cape Verde Islands, have yet to make an appearance during this peak time of hurricane season. The ITCZ has become very active the past few days, and is forecast to continue to remain active the next two weeks. I expect at least one major Cape Verdes type hurricane to form by the end of September.

One candidate might be an area of distubed weather near 9N 36W. The QuikSCAT satellite shows a surface circulation here, and we'll have to watch this disturbance as it tracks westward the next few days.

Jeff Masters

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306. cat1cane
9:33 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I'm out...have to feed family. Catch you all later.
305. CoconutCreekFLA
9:31 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
FYI: new NHC tropic updateLink
304. CoconutCreekFLA
9:27 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Subtropic. You aren't far at all. I have a cousin in Smith Farm. When frances hit closer to you, our second story felt like it was swaying alittle and we were way south. It must have been something else up by you.
303. cat1cane
9:25 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Cool pics, subtropic. Are you finally finished with repairs?
302. mybahamas
9:21 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Hiya :)
Just waving, as I just got back from Acklins Island, in the southern Bahamas -- lovely island; but not cable there :( Now, I am watching the PR "blob" today, as it could affect those southern island soon.
301. subtropic
9:17 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
There are 9 right now. You may need to use the "subtropic's Wunder Photos" link to see them all. Dr Masters hs posted new blog.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
300. subtropic
9:13 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Cat1 Lake Worth. I have some pics in my blog if you are interested.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
299. subtropic
9:12 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
He is feeling much better - btw.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
298. cat1cane
9:11 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
What city are you in subtropic?
297. subtropic
9:11 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
ccf that's funny. We did the same with the ice cream, but I was so full of ice cream after 2 days, I ended up giving the last to my neighbor. By then it was more like a milk shake. And not a thick milk shake.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
296. subtropic
9:09 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
ccf. Glad to hear you had minimal damage. We lost the west wall eventually (between Francis and Jeanne). No windows on that part of the house though. The broken window sounds more dramatic than it was really. At that time, I started laughing because I realized that it was "I" who had caused the worst initial damage by not being better prepared. How ironic. Probably the scariest thing was the walls shaking. This is a concrete block house, so that came as a surprise.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
295. CoconutCreekFLA
9:09 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Although I definitely didn't mind being forced to eat all the melting ice-cream after Katrina :)
294. CoconutCreekFLA
9:08 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Breeze: I'd wait. I've wanted to put some trees around my house and decided to wait until after Hurricane season b/c you just know the second I do that a nice storm will come heading my way :). We've also decided not to buy any perishable food from costco until after hurricane season b/c we hate to throw stuff out.
293. gbreezegirl
9:04 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Hi Coconut Creek- We are doing okay up here. Still a lot of blue tarps around. I still have privacy fencing down around my house. Maybe I should wait until after Nov 15 to put it back up. Been blown down twice already this year! We put the plywood back up for Katrina and decided to only take down the necessary windows for light. I do envy those folks with shutters but have some neighbors that did not have those hold up in Ivan.
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 274
292. CoconutCreekFLA
9:04 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
That must have been scary. We've been lucky down here (I'm right in the middle of where Andrew hit and where Frances hit) so we've only had the outskirts of storms. My worst damage was part of a tree down and a mess. Nothing at all really. I can't imagine how scary it would be to have a window break or roof issue in the middle of a storm.
291. cat1cane
9:03 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I'll never see it anyway, CCF (coconutcreekfla). Talked husband into staying for Frances last year (his first storm) and he'll never do that again. He still curses me every time he thinks about it.
290. subtropic
9:02 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
have a good one weatherdude. torm = storm in my last post btw.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
289. CoconutCreekFLA
9:00 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Bye, Weatherdude!
288. subtropic
9:00 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
coconutcreekfla. Talk about panel envy. For Francis I was out there putting up plywood that dated back to hurricane Irene (no excuse for that... btw). Most of it disintegrated in my hands. One of the few peices I got up was eventually pulled off by the wind and thrown back into the window - thus causing the only broken window from that torm. Oh well. I'm here to laugh about it right?
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
287. CoconutCreekFLA
9:00 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
cat: that would be awesome! It's like a cave with them on and it's weird hearing the storms but not being able to see anything. I'm not sure if it would be better or worse to see the stuff flying by.
286. weatherdude65
8:59 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Everyone have a good weekend....by Monday we may have 2 systems to deal with.....bye
285. cat1cane
8:58 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I want that Rhino glass in my next house so we never have to put up shutters (or live in darkness) again.
284. CoconutCreekFLA
8:58 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
gbreeze: how are you all doing up there. I had an aunt in W. Palm who lost who roof in Frances and just got it fixed 2 months ago. Are there still alot of blue tarps by you?
283. CoconutCreekFLA
8:55 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
We have the cheap panel shutters that you have to put up individually and a 2-story house. I have "panel envy" of those with accordian shutters :)
282. CoconutCreekFLA
8:54 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Bye Collins! Have a great weekend.
281. cat1cane
8:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I had to beg my husband to take the shutters down last year. He had to put them up twice and didn't want to do it again. They didn't come down until Thanksgiving.
280. CoconutCreekFLA
8:53 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Yeah. Like I mentioned yesterday, watching this board and other info might give us a heads-up when something is coming. Katrina was supposed to hit Pompano Beach first and then ended up going south. Nonetheless, I was able to leisurely get my supplies the night before the rush. We can't control nature but we can have a certain amount of comfort being as ready as we can be. It's a terrible feeling trying to put up the only plywood you can find (from the attic) when the winds are already picking up.

279. gbreezegirl
8:51 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
still have my plywood up from Dennis on my garage windows and the spare bedroom. The rest is piled up on my back porch. Can't be too careful in the panhandle you know!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 274
278. collinsfarm
8:51 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
good evening all. headed home for the weekend. back monday to see what has been born over the weekend.
Member Since: September 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1354
277. cat1cane
8:50 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
My mom tried to get out during Jeanne also and spent 90 min in car and got about 12 miles. She finally had to turn around and go home because there was no gas in the area and she was afraid of running out on the road.
276. JupiterFL
8:49 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I don't remember him telling me but I will ask him next time I talk to him.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
275. collinsfarm
8:48 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
hey fellow floridians,
let's face it. for all practical purposes, we live on an island. best to be prepared with supplies, keep a diligent eye on developments and have a couple of evac routes planned if you are in a vulnerable location. hey, i got laughed at last year for putting up my storm shutters when charley was hooking around the keys. two days later i had neighbors begging me for plywood!
Member Since: September 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1354
274. CoconutCreekFLA
8:47 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Did your friend have any trouble with gas? Someone mentioned last night the issue of running out of gas and all the stations being out b/c of so many cars.
273. JupiterFL
8:46 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Took a friend of mine 17 hours to get from Jupiter to Orlando when Andrew was coming. We stayed and got lucky as he turned south at the end. Best bet is no matter what direction you are going take the state highways like 60, 74 etc. Most Northerners that now reside down here have no idea about them. They usually have decent speed limits as well.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
272. CoconutCreekFLA
8:44 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
FYI: the 5 p.m. for ophelia is posted. nothing listed for TD 17 yet.
271. Weathermandan
8:44 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Ophelia strengthened a little...winds are now up to 65 mph instead of 60......
270. CoconutCreekFLA
8:43 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I don't know why either. Maybe it's for emergency vehicles or a turn around for those that are going north and realize they are going to ride out a storm in their car so they go home to their mattress which is safer. They should leave one south lane open and turn everything else north.
269. cat1cane
8:40 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
I still don't understand why they don't open southound lanes to northbound traffic during evacuation...that is suposed to be the plan, but I don't remember it ever happening. I would almost rather ride it out in my closet with a mattress over my head than spend 9 hours on the road with a carsick toddler. Almost.
268. CoconutCreekFLA
8:40 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Bills: I agree. I feel much more confident knowing that her eye is on it. Maybe she can give it the evil eye and make it go away.. lol

Is this the woman that talks really really fast and flaps her arms? I don't know her name but she is reallly annoying.
267. collinsfarm
8:38 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
cat1cane,
you make a good point. I95 and the turnpike would be a zoo. best advice for anyone is to monitor any storm and if you are gonna leave, do it early!
Member Since: September 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1354
266. CoconutCreekFLA
8:37 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Catcane... wow! You should have been around last night. I don't know if west would help because it isn't really very far and the storm would just go right across. I'm going to collins :)
265. billsfaninsofla
8:37 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
CoconutCreek... we should keep an "eye" on it.. local mets are not very useful when a system is this far out... the girl on Channel 10 said she's keeping an eye on it.......Boy do I feel better...
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5528
264. cat1cane
8:33 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
coconut creek...took family members 9 hours to get from St. Lucie to Ocala during Jeanne last year. What a nightmare!! I drove across the state to Bradenton and it only took 3 1/2 hours. My advice is to go west, not north
263. 147257
8:29 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
why until tommorow the should be faster...
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 68
262. collinsfarm
8:28 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
coconutcreek,
i read the discussion last night. the scenario is very scary. se florida is packed with folks and few highways out. i hope and pray you don't have to ever do it. but, come on up, we'll find you a place!
Member Since: September 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1354
261. cat1cane
8:27 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Hispanola is very mountainous. If blob follows that track it may be not much of anything on the other side.
260. CoconutCreekFLA
8:23 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Good to know, Collins, cuz when the "big one" comes, I'll be knocking on your door :)

We had an interesting discussion last night about how South Florida would evacuate if a monster storm was coming. My thought is we couldn't.
259. collinsfarm
8:21 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
coconutcreek,
yep, looks like it comes over you. that's why i was hoping you would check it out. i'm up in central florida...mount dora...nw of orlando.
Member Since: September 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1354
258. CoconutCreekFLA
8:20 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Blob... starts to sound like a sci-fi movie...

Monster Shear vs. The Blob!!! Can the Blob survive?
257. napleswx
8:17 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
Models for the "Blob" lol.
Link
256. weatherdude65
8:16 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
They don't go out untill tomorrow

2. DEVELOPING SYSTEM (LESSER ANTILLES)
FLIGHT ONE FLIGHT TWO
A. 17/1800Z A. 18/0600Z
B. AFXXX 01XXA CYCLONE B. AFXXX 22XXA CYCLONE
C. 17/1500Z C. 18/0300Z
D. 12.5N 58.5W D. 13.5N 60.51W
E. 17/1700Z TO 17/2100Z E. 17/0500Z TO 17/0900Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT F. SFC TO 10,000 FT

3. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY: CONTINUE 12-HRLY FIXES ON THE
SYSTEM IN THE CARIBBEAN.

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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.

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