Hurricane Felicia hits Category 3; may affect Hawaii next week

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on August 05, 2009

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As is often the case in an El Niño year, there's nothing to talk about today in the Atlantic, but the Eastern Pacific is very active. It has been 17 years since we went this long without a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic--the hurricane season of 1992 didn't start until August 16--but in the Eastern Pacific, we've already had six named storms this year. Hurricane Felicia is the latest addition, and Felicia has put on an impressive burst of intensification this morning by powering up to Category 3 status with 115 mph winds. Recent satellite loops show that Felicia has continued to intensify, with the cloud tops surrounding the eye cooling as they push higher into the troposphere.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Hurricane Felicia.

While Felicia is an impressive hurricane now, its days of glory will be short-lived. Felicia is currently passing over a region of warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of 28.5°C, a full 2.5°C above the 26°C threshold needed to sustain a hurricane. These warm waters also extend to great depth, as seen on the Ocean Heat Content image (Figure 2). Felicia's west-northwest track will take the storm into a region of cooler waters with lower Oceanic Heat Content beginning tonight, which should induce a steady weakening trend beginning Thursday night. By Friday morning, SSTs should fall to 26°C, and decline to 25°C by Saturday. While wind shear is expected to remain in the low to moderate range over the next five days, 5 - 15 knots, the cooler SSTs should be able to significantly weaken the hurricane. By Monday, when most of the computer models indicate that Felicia will be nearing the Hawaiian Islands, the storm will be at tropical depression strength with top winds of about 35 mph, according to the latest runs of the HWRF and GFDL models. Exactly how close Felicia will get to the Hawaiian Islands is a bit tricky to call right now, since the hurricane is interacting with nearby Tropical Storm Enrique. Whenever two storms get within 900 miles of each other, they tend to rotate around a common center in a dance called the Fujiwhara Effect. This sort of storm-storm interaction is a complicated affair not well-handled by the computer forecast models.


Figure 2. Total oceanic heat content (also called the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, TCHP) along the forecast path of Hurricane Felicia. The initial time of the forecast is 06 UTC (1 am EDT) on August 5, 2009. Oceanic heat content of 90 kJ per square cm is often associated with rapid intensification of hurricanes. Felicia is currently over waters with high heat content, but the heat content will steadily decrease over the next two days. Image credit: NOAA/RAMMB.

There are no areas of disturbed weather in the Atlantic worth mentioning today, and no computer models forecast tropical storm development over the next seven days.

I'll have an update on Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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I'm not wishcasting or anything close to it, but when Iniki was approaching Hawaii, forecasters gave an entirely different forecast opposed to what actually occurred. They had less than 24 hours warning that the storm would hit them, much less at the intensity that it did. I know that forecasting has come a ways since 1992 and the track is very different on Felicia, but if I were in Hawaii, I'd be at least a little apprehensive. It's too early to say that it'll impact Hawaii, but it's also too early to say that it won't. Although I guess this blog is comprised of a lot of "It will, it won't, it is, it isn't, etc...".
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Is that a Strong Cat 4, or a weak one?



Strong category 4 hurricane. Category 4 begins with winds at 131mph.
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431. 7544
Quoting clwstmchasr:
hmm looking at this run if anything does from in the atl and with the high in place and hanging around would take most systems right into and across so fla

Looking at what run? Can you provide a link to what you are basing your analysis on? thx


yes sorry Link
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A cat4 ought to be able to fill in that dry slot rather quickly. That is the cause of the reduced convection. If she can't close it up she will risk dry air penetrating the eye wall.
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Is that a Strong Cat 4, or a weak one?



Strong...Cat 4 is 131-155mph

EDIT: actually right in the middle...sorry
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Is that a Strong Cat 4, or a weak one?



Moderate,but Powerful though
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Quoting Patrap:
Atlantic AOI,500 meter rez

That's neat, wich we could loop it. Workin (back to ) & no time to lurk, anyone see outflow boundaries/collapsing T-strms from mid dry intrusion around mid- Atl blob?
BBL
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Quoting StormChaser81:






All other products are showing a loss in convection in the Northwest side of the storm.


Look at the angle of the sun there too.. The area that is the coolest also has had the rising sun on it the longest. That might account for a few degrees of "warming". If you look at the cloud structure, and not temps, it looks mighty healthy.
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.."Wake me Up,when September ends"..
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Quoting Drakoen:
125knots =144mph Category 4 Hurricane


Is that a Strong Cat 4, or a weak one?

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Does a stronger storm at landfall weaken faster than a weaker storm at landfall?
Looks like this year 0-0-0 will last awhile longer with a little bounce towards the peak in September. Not a busy season expected at all!
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Quoting hurricane23:
Maybe we'll get through august without a named storm.


That would be nice for a change.
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Quoting StormChaser81:






All other products are showing a loss in convection in the Northwest side of the storm.


K, I'd put my money on dry air intrusion.
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Quoting winter123:


What do you mean 0,0,0. Remember the 90L (unnamed tropical storm striking north gulf coast in may) and TD1 in june.

0,0,0 as in:
0 named storms
0 hurricanes
0 major hurricanes

Sorry for the confusion...
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418. 7544
hmm looking at this run if anything does from in the atl and with the high in place and hanging around would take most systems right into and across so fla
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Quoting hurricane23:
Maybe we'll get through august without a named storm.


We should be able to squeeze out 1-2 named storms.
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125knots =144mph Category 4 Hurricane
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All other products are showing a loss in convection in the Northwest side of the storm.
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Maybe we'll get through august without a named storm.
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Quoting IKE:
12Z ECMWF shows nothing significant through August 15th....

0-0-0.


Hey Ike.........Just more time for the SST's to keep warming up...
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Looking at the ECMWF, one of the most reliable models this season, we could be 0,0,0 thru 8/15/09. Pretty AWESOME if you ask me.


What do you mean 0,0,0. Remember the 90L (unnamed tropical storm striking north gulf coast in may) and TD1 in june.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes it does. I use and the dvorak to determine whether cloud tops are warming or cooling. They are very useful for that.


Maybe I need to change how I make forecasts then.
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ECMWF 12z is too far north with Felicia.
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


It tells you about the strength, and cloud tops, but apart from that it doesn't tell you how much.


Yes it does. I use and the dvorak to determine whether cloud tops are warming or cooling. They are very useful for that.
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Atlantic AOI,500 meter rez
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I see
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Quoting Drakoen:


Yes Water vapor does tell a lot about convection. It is very useful for determining the height of the cloud tops.


It tells you about the strength, and cloud tops, but apart from that it doesn't tell you how much.
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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


Sorry BAP - problem is that some people use these blogs to find out infomation, so you have to get it right. Despite the fact that you should use the NHC for all offical information.


He did get it right, 11am EDT is the same as 8am PDT, either way that is when the advisory was issued

So in the end he was right
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 05 AUG 2009 Time : 183000 UTC
Lat : 14:12:00 N Lon : 129:20:33 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.4 / 940.6mb/124.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
6.4 6.4 6.4

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +3.0mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 22 km

Center Temp : +4.5C Cloud Region Temp : -68.2C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

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

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

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Quoting AllStar17:


No 11 am PDT, there is an 11 am EDT one, though


yea they completely misread what he said, he was actually right in what he said
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It looks like the temperature in Felicia's eye is warming which is an indication the eye is clearing out.
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


Wow you are nitpicking then geez


Sorry BAP - problem is that some people use these blogs to find out infomation, so you have to get it right. Despite the fact that you should use the NHC for all offical information.
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Quoting StormChaser81:
There's no 11am.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
200 PM PDT.

That's really what I was getting at.


No 11 am PDT, there is an 11 am EDT one, though
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Near-Real-Time Level-2 Browse
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Quoting StormChaser81:
There's no 11am.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
200 PM PDT.

That's really what I was getting at.


??? 11am EDT is the same at 8am PDT, that is what he meant

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Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


No offence StormChaser - but that isn't the right product to use. Water Vapour tells us next to nothing about convection and its strength. Try Rainbow, Funktop, RGB and Dvorak.


Yes Water vapor does tell a lot about convection. It is very useful for determining the height of the cloud tops.
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NHC is going to have to shift their track to the south and up the winds some at the 5 pm update.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Quoting IpswichWeatherCenter:


No he is not.

Felicia was upgraded to a Cat 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds at 8 am.


Wow you are nitpicking then geez
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Losing some deep convection on the northwest side of the eye.


No offence StormChaser - but that isn't the right product to use. Water Vapour tells us next to nothing about convection and its strength. Try Rainbow, Funktop, RGB and Dvorak.
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There's no 11am.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
200 PM PDT.

That's really what I was getting at.
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MODIS Rapid Response System

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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


I saw nothing wrong in what he said, he is right


No he is not.

Felicia was upgraded to a Cat 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds at 8 am.
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387. IKE
This "season" seems to be turning into a typical El Nino type year. A hyperactive Pacific Season and a not so active Atlantic. Even though the one that forms in the Atlantic could be the "monster".

If Felicia were to become an "Annular" Hurricane do you think it will still weaken to TS Strenght when it gets to Hawaii??
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Losing some deep convection on the northwest side of the eye.
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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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