U.S. vulnerability to sea level rise

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:04 PM GMT on June 23, 2009

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In the last century, sea level rose 5 - 6 inches (13 - 15 cm) more than the global average of 7 inches (18 cm) along the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, because coastal lands there are sinking. Over 50% of the U.S. coastline is vulnerable or highly vulnerable to sea level rise, according to the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In the U.S., relative sea level rise (the combined effects of global sea level rise plus the fact the land is sinking) is highest along the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, where relative sea level rises of 3.2 ft (.98 meters) have been observed during the 20th century. This is one of the highest relative sea level rises in the world. According to the NOAA Tides and Currents sea level rise interactive tool, the U.S. tide gauges that have shown the highest rates of sea level rise over the past century are at Grand Island, LA (1.8 ft rise since 1947), Galveston, TX (1.1 ft since 1957), and Chesapeake Bay, VA (0.6 feet since 1975). Alaska and some areas along the Pacific Northwest coast are at low risk of sea level rise, because the relative sea level is actually falling at present. Land in these regions is rising as it recovers from removal of the weight of the great ice sheets that covered much of North America during the last Ice Age. For example, relative sea level at Kodiak Island, Alaska has fallen by 1.1 feet since 1975, despite the fact global sea level has been increasing.


Figure 1. Twentieth century annual relative sea-level rise rates in mm/year along the U.S. coast. The higher rates for Louisiana (9.85 millimeters [mm] per year, about 3.3 ft/century) and the mid-Atlantic region (1.75 to 4.42 mm per year, 0.6 - 1.4 ft/century) are due to land subsidence. Sea level is stable or dropping relative to the land in the Pacific Northwest, as indicated by the negative values, where the land is tectonically active or rebounding upward in response to the melting of ice sheets since the last Ice Age. Image credit: Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region (data from Zervas, 2001).

U.S. Coastal Vulnerability
The Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) takes into account six factors:

1) The geology of the coast. Barrier islands, river deltas, and marshes are the most vulnerable to erosion and sea level rise, while steep, rocky cliff shores are the least. Sheltered bays like Galveston Bay and Tampa Bay are less vulnerable than the exposed coasts. (Note, however, that hurricane storm surges are typically higher in sheltered bays, at least for slow-moving storms).

2) How steep the land near the coast is. Gently sloping lands are the most vulnerable. In the Gulf Coast region, the slope variable has the highest risk ranking along the Louisiana coast, the Texas coast north of Corpus Christi, and the southwest Florida coast.

3) The local rate of sea level rise. The sea level is rising faster along the western Gulf of Mexico than the eastern Gulf. The highest rates of sea-level rise in the Gulf of Mexico (and in the United States) are in the Mississippi delta region (10 mm/yr, or 1 inch/2.5 years).

4) The amount of shoreline erosion going on. Most of the U.S. coast is moderately or severely eroding, and very few areas are gaining (Figure 2).

5) The mean tidal range. Shores that have a large difference between low and high tide are less likely to get a significant storm tide--the height above mean sea level of the sum of the storm surge plus the tide. For example, in a region like Maine, which has a 12 ft range between low and high tide, a storm having a 9 ft storm surge will have a storm tide below local high tide for a quarter of a tidal cycle. Shores with a very narrow tidal range (e.g., the 2 ft tidal range common along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast) will get a storm tide of 8 - 10 feet with the 9 ft storm surge in the above example. Shorelines with a narrow tidal range always get high storm tides regardless of when the storm surge hits.

6) How high the waves at shore are. Obviously, shores that experience higher wave heights are at greater risk. In the Gulf of Mexico, wave energy is highest along sections of the Texas coast and on the southern tip of the Mississippi delta.

Figure 2. Shoreline change around the United States based on surveys over the past century. All 30 coastal states are experiencing overall erosion due to natural processes (e.g., storms, sea-level rise) and human activity. If the shoreline is uncolored, no data was available. Image credit: USGS, 1985, and taken from Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region).

The Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) web page gives detailed maps of each section of the U.S. coast, along with specific reasons why each portion of the coast was assigned the ranking it got. A brief summary:

The Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast has 55% of its length in the "very high" or "high" vulnerability range. Fully 41% of the coast falls in the "very high" range, far more than the 28% in that category along the Pacific coast and 23% along the Atlantic coast. The region around New Orleans is the most vulnerable region of the entire U.S. coast. The Florida Panhandle, as well as the West Florida coast, are at low to moderate risk because the land is not sinking much, wave heights are lower, and the slope of the land is relatively steep near the coast. The Texas coast is considered to be at a high to very high risk because of the relatively high mean wave height, sinking land, and shallow coastal slope.

The East Coast
The East Coast has 50% of its length in the "very high" or "high" vulnerability range. The highest vulnerability areas are typically high-energy coastlines where the regional coastal slope is low and where the major landform type is a barrier island. A significant exception to this is found in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Here, the low coastal slope, vulnerable landform type (salt marsh) and high rate of relative sea-level rise combine for a high CVI value. The coastline of northern New England, particularly Maine, shows a relatively low vulnerability to future sea-level rise. This is primarily due to the steep coastal slopes and rocky shoreline characteristic of the region, as well as the large tidal range.

The Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast has 50% of its length in the "very high" or "high" vulnerability range. Areas of very high vulnerability include the San Francisco - Monterey Bay coast and in southern California from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, where the coast is most highly populated. The highest vulnerability areas are typically lower-lying beach areas. The low risk, least vulnerable areas generally occur at rocky headlands along cliffed coasts where the coastal slope is steep, relative sea-level is falling, tide range is large, and wave energy is lower. Examples of these areas are the northern coast of Washington, Monterey, and Cape Mendocino, California.


Figure 3. The Coast Vulnerability Index (CVI) for the U.S.

References
Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region.

National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise: Preliminary Results for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Coast (USGS, 2000).

Jeff Masters

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277. IKE
Even though the image I just posted doesn't show a low with that moisture in the GOM, note how the latest GFS shows Andres at 6 hours.....where is it? LOL.....

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
once the atlantic gets its first name system the pacific will be no longer a concearn then as everyone will focus on home basin


Hey my home basin IS the Pacific hehe =)

My primary focus will also be the Atlantic but if there's a storm threatening land in the Pacific I intend to give it attention. The majority of east Pacific systems never affect land which makes it an easy basin to ignore.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26585
275. IKE
18Z GFS still shows a great deal of moisture in the eastern GOM at 114 hours...

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NEXRAD Radar
Brandon, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

Nice Outflow Boundary..may help trigger some more Showers and storms to the South

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
273. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #10
TROPICAL STORM NANGKA (T0904)
6:00 AM JST June 24 2009
===================================

Subject: Category One Typhoon Overland The Philippines

At 21:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Nangka (994 hPa) located at 12.6N 122.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The storm is reported as moving west-northwest at 9 knots.

Gale-Force Winds
================
150 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity:

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
24 HRS: 15.3N 119.9E - 40 knots (Tropical Storm/CAT 1)
45 HRS: 18.0N 119.5E - 45 knots (Tropical Storm/CAT 1)
69 HRS: 20.9N 119.1E - 45 knots (Tropical Storm/CAT 1)
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272. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Storm "FERIA" has slowed down after crossing Masbate and is now moving towards Batangas - Mindoro area.

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #5
===========================
At 5:00 AM PhST, Tropical Storm Feria (Nangka) located at 12.7°N 122.6°E or 40 km east northeast of Romblon has 10 minutes sustained winds of 75 km/h (40 knots) with gusts of 90 km/h (50 knots).

Signal Warnings
===============

Signal Warning #2 (60-100 kph winds)

Luzon Region
-----------
1.Masbate
2.Ticao Island
3.Sorsogon
4.Albay
5.Camarines Provinces
6.Marinduque
7.Romblon
8.Burias Is.
9.Southern Quezon
10.Mindoro Provinces
11.Lubang Is.
12.Batangas
13.Laguna
14.Cavite
15.Bataan
16.Rizal
17.Metro Manila

Vasayas Region
-------------
1.Northern Iloilo
2.Aklan
3.Capiz

Mindanao Region
----------------
1.None

Signal Warning #1 (30-60 kph winds)

Luzon Region
-----------
1.Northern Quezon
2.Polilio Is.
3.Catanduanes
4.Calamian Group
5.Cuyo Is.
6.Bulacan
7.Pampanga
8.Zambales
9.Tarlac
10.Nueva Ecija
11.Aurora
12.Pangasinan

Visayas Region
-------------
1.Biliran Island
2.Rest of Iloilo
3.Northern Negros
4.Northern Cebu
5.Samar Provinces
6.Northern Leyte
7.Camotes Is.
8.Guimaras
9.Antique

Mindanao Region
----------------
1.None

Additional Information
========================
Residents living in-low lying, mountainous, and coastal areas under storm warning signals # 2 and #1 are alerted against possible flashfloods, landslides and storm surges.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 a.m. today
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Man killed by heat yesterday in Houston TX, AC was out at home
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KILLER HEAT IN TX

Buena Vista, Crunk Pandaville, Texas (PWS)
Updated: 3 min 39 sec ago
113.2 °F Clear
Humidity: 36%
Dew Point: 80 °F Wind: 5.0 mph from the NE
Wind Gust: 10.0 mph
Pressure: 28.85 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 139 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 7 out of 16
Clouds: Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 1053 ft

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Quoting CycloneOz:


I like your idea. :)

What this country really needs is a Interstate Highway System for Water. For the places that have too much, we pump it to places that don't have enough.

Make it underground, with access points for tunnel inspection...and of course, plenty of pumping stations.

For the rise in sea level, simply create de-salination plants all along the coast. Change the salt water into fresh water and then send it along into the Interstate Highway System for Water.

Problem sol-Ved.
sure why don't we just drain off grt lakes while your at it and have the sea level rise flow back in there
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53446
Quoting Levi32:
Next possible Pacific disturbance lining up south of Costa Rica
once the atlantic gets its first name system the pacific will be no longer a concearn then as everyone will focus on home basin
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53446
Quoting washingaway:
Afternoon everyone,
In regards to Dr. Masters blog on sea level Rise; We simply cover our coast with "SHAM WOWS", problem solved.


I like your idea. :)

What this country really needs is a Interstate Highway System for Water. For the places that have too much, we pump it to places that don't have enough.

Make it underground, with access points for tunnel inspection...and of course, plenty of pumping stations.

For the rise in sea level, simply create de-salination plants all along the coast. Change the salt water into fresh water and then send it along into the Interstate Highway System for Water.

Problem sol-Ved.
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Quoting Dr3w:


really???

how'd u find that out?





Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114910
265. Dr3w
Quoting Tazmanian:
Andres originated from a tropical wave that moved out of the west coast of Africa on June 5


really???

how'd u find that out?
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Quoting Levi32:
Next possible Pacific disturbance lining up south of Costa Rica


Terrific. Now I get to hear the hosts of "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here!" complain about the weather every 10 seconds.
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Next possible Pacific disturbance lining up south of Costa Rica
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26585
Afternoon everyone,
In regards to Dr. Masters blog on sea level Rise; We simply cover our coast with "SHAM WOWS", problem solved.
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Quoting Weather456:
Hurricane Andres, it's not what on the outside but what's on the inside that counts..hmmm..lol



We've been without power or phone service since this morning - just got back on-line and find that Andres is now a hurricane and still heading our way. Nothing but light rain all day - no wind to speak of. Just waiting to see what the next few hours will bring. Any words of wisdom???
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Quoting DDR:
456
Lucky you,we haven't had a decent shower here in more than a week.
The gfs back with the ghost storms again?
Or do you think its possible?


When the 18Z GFS is finished
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Wow somehow we dropped almost 4 degrees around 3PM from 99 to 95 haha. Maybe that is a sign of some relief. Probably not.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
Andres originated from a tropical wave that moved out of the west coast of Africa on June 5


And from the looks of its projected path over the next few days...seems it's trying to get back from whence it came!
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Quoting Weather456:
There's a 70% chance that a classified system will form in July. The majority of hurricane seasons normally have atleast 1 classified named storm in July

2008 - Bertha, Christobal, Dolly
2007 - Chantal
2006 - Beryl & Un-named tropical storm
2005 - Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin and Gert
2004 - Alex
2003 - Claudette, Danny
2002 - Arthur
2001 - Barry*
2000 - No named storm

As long as we don't get another 2005, I'm good. And the cards we have been dealt so far (SSTs, TCHP, possible forming El Nino, NAO), looks like the deck is stacked against it.

- Pun intended.
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Andres originated from a tropical wave that moved out of the west coast of Africa on June 5
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114910
There's a 70% chance that a classified system will form in July. The majority of hurricane seasons normally have atleast 1 classified named storm in July

2008 - Bertha, Christobal, Dolly
2007 - Chantal
2006 - Beryl & Un-named tropical storm
2005 - Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin and Gert
2004 - Alex
2003 - Claudette, Danny
2002 - Arthur
2001 - Barry*
2000 - No named storm
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DESPITE THE RELATIVE LACK OF DEEP CONVECTION...THE SFMR ON THE
AIR FORCE RESERVE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT MEASURED PEAK SURFACE
WINDS OF 63 KT AND 67 KT TO THE SOUTHEAST AND WEST OF THE CENTER...
RESPECTIVELY. ALTHOUGH THE 700 MB FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS HAVE BEEN
SOMEWHAT LESS...TWO DROPSONDES RELEASED EAST OF THE CENTER ALSO
MEASURED ROUGHLY 65 KT SURFACE WINDS...WHICH SUPPORT THE SFMR
MEASUREMENTS. BASED ON THESE OBSERVATIONS ANDRES IS BEING UPGRADED
TO A HURRICANE AND IT WAS POSSIBLY EVEN A LITTLE STRONGER THIS
MORNING. THE INTENSITY GUIDANCE SUGGESTS THAT ANDRES WILL NOT
STRENGTHEN ANY MORE. THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST CALLS FOR
SLIGHT WEAKENING DURING THE NEXT 12 HOURS...FOLLOWED BY MORE STEADY
WEAKENING AS THE SYSTEM MOVES OVER COOLER WATERS AND INTO A MORE
STABLE AIR MASS IN 36-48 HOURS.



Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 23 JUN 2009 Time : 201500 UTC
Lat : 18:32:20 N Lon : 105:05:59 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.6 / 994.3mb/ 57.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
2.9 2.9 2.5

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.7mb

Center Temp : +9.8C Cloud Region Temp : -25.6C

Scene Type : CURVED BAND with 0.38 ARC in DK GRAY
Maximum CURVED BAND with 1.16 ARC in DK GRAY
at Lat: 18:19:47 N Lon: 106:05:23 W

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : EAST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : FLAG

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53446
253. DDR
456
Lucky you,we haven't had a decent shower here in more than a week.
The gfs back with the ghost storms again?
Or do you think its possible?
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It's only 87 degrees here in ECF today.
Heat index supposedly 101, but that's been goofy all week. Saw it as high as 135...so cannot be right.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
Hurricane Andres, it's not what on the outside but what's on the inside that counts..hmmm..lol

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Quoting DDR:

I was right.
Dry air killed off that strong convection that was just 100 miles east of the windwards.


We got some here
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249. DDR
Quoting Weather456:
Welcome showers hopefully


I was right.
Dry air killed off that strong convection that was just 100 miles east of the windwards.
Theres probably a wave around 45w
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ESL by LSU




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
I was just wondering if there was something NHC had discounted. They just made a subjective decision on a storm at the margin between TS and HU. They do seem to be more conservative this year when they don't have objective data that clearly shows one way or another. I wonder if this is influence from Franklin being named Branch Chief.
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been declared hurricane by NHC updates are out
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53446
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
An important point to remember is that Cat 1's are not always pretty on a satellite. Last night, I thought the storm was a Cat 1, with my amateur eye.


Or like was likly the case here. we had an eye in the lower levels but the CDO covered it up.
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Wow, weather is looking really nasty outside. (Homestead,fl) Another round of storms....here we go!!
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Quoting hurricane2009:


Well that and in all honesty even though Andres looked good last night, it still didnt "look" like a hurricane.


To me it did and didn't lol. The 2 things that made it not look like a hurricane were the lack of outflow and convection on the NE side of the system and the constant renewed bursts of very deep convection that made it seem like the CDO wasn't "stable". Other than that I thought it had the appearance of a Cat 1 with the well-defined tight curved banding and the eyewall that kept trying to form. It reminded me of Katrina east of Florida when I thought she looked like Cat 1 before she got upgraded.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26585
Quoting extreme236:


To a point, I do think the NHC can only do what they can with the data they have, and the dvorak estimates from TAFB and SAB were not exactly supportive of a hurricane. However, looking at the 2am PST advisory, you had those dvorak estimates supportive of a 60kt storm, but objective ADT estimates supported a minimal hurricane. And, based off what recon is finding compared to the current satellite presentation, it was very likely Andres was a hurricane.


Thanks
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Just interested, what objective data do you think NHC missed in not calling it?


To a point, I do think the NHC can only do what they can with the data they have, and the dvorak estimates from TAFB and SAB were not exactly supportive of a hurricane. However, looking at the 2am PST advisory, you had those dvorak estimates supportive of a 60kt storm, but objective ADT estimates supported a minimal hurricane. And, based off what recon is finding compared to the current satellite presentation, it was very likely Andres was a hurricane.
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Current Conditions

Uptown, New Orleans, Louisiana (PWS)
Updated: 4 sec ago
Scattered Clouds

100.8 F
Wind Gust: 7.2 mph
Pressure: 29.85 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 96 F
Scattered Clouds


Active Advisory:
Heat Advisory (US Severe Weather)


Precautionary/preparedness actions...

The excessive heat and humidity will make a dangerous combination
for individuals if proper precautions are not taken. Excessive
heat kills people by taxing the human body beyond its abilities
to cool itself. In a normal year... about 175 americans die from
the heat.

This is a dangerous situation. Children... the elderly... and
people with chronic ailments are usually the first to suffer from
the heat. Heat exhaustion... heat cramps... or in extreme cases...
heat stroke may result from prolonged exposure to these
conditions. Friends... relatives... or neighbors should check on
people at risk.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
Quoting southtexredneck:


Thanks -- We're so dry the cows are givin' dust when we milk 'em.


Lol. Your welcome. Yeah if we had cows they'd be grazing on crunchy grass.
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Noticed that the radius of TS force winds is very small...
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Quoting OSUWXGUY:


You make some good observations...but the one I don't agree with is the 24-48 hour time frame. A disturbance/wave that is getting its act together takes a great deal of time to get going (24-48 or more hours), but a pre-existing tight circulation like this can get going again in a matter of hours if shear were to relax.

I'm not forecasting some massive restrengthening into a major hurricane or anything...but status quo near hurricane strength is certainly possible for at least as long as its over warm water.

I mentioned 24-48 hours because of its current look, and the combination of factors hurting it. Even if the shear backed off, it still has to contend with drier air, and the lack of poleward outflow. It might be able to maintain status quo over that time, but not strengthen within 24-48hr.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Well my local met (TX/LX border) said it would eventually shift to NW new Mexico but its slow going.


Thanks -- We're so dry the cows are givin' dust when we milk 'em.
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Quoting southtexredneck:
Has anyone got any idea when the "Hell High" is going to move east or dissipate! In San Antonio, TX it's so dry the weeds are even crunchy!


Well my local met (TX/LX border) said it would eventually shift to NW new Mexico but its slow going.
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Anyways...I'm just glad to have something in the tropics to talk about other than the possible El Nino or that BoC mess. Time to go golfing and enjoy the nice weather here in Ohio!
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Quoting extreme236:
Probably just covering by the NHC on their part...it was likely a hurricane yesterday and they missed it.


Just interested, what objective data do you think NHC missed in not calling it?
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Quoting Levi32:


Well the European is seeing a possible disturbance in the Caribbean 5 days after the GFS, so it's unlikely that they are seeing the same thing. The mid-Atlantic low on the European looks cold-core to me.


O Ok. See thats why I ask. One blob looks just like the other to me. And I'm really bad with noticing the date/time things. The animations move too fast to keep track of em. Lol. A pair of young eyes comes in handy. Thanks. :)
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Quoting jeffs713:


It doesn't have far to go from much colder waters. With how it looks right now (exposed LLC, entraining dry air, no poleward outflow), it will take 24-48 hours to get its act together. By that time, it will be in colder waters that can't support a TC anyway.


You make some good observations...but the one I don't agree with is the 24-48 hour time frame. A disturbance/wave that is getting its act together takes a great deal of time to get going (24-48 or more hours), but a pre-existing tight circulation like this can get going again in a matter of hours if shear were to relax.

I'm not forecasting some massive restrengthening into a major hurricane or anything...but status quo near hurricane strength is certainly possible for at least as long as its over warm water.
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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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