Claudette hits Florida; Ana approaches Puerto RIco; Bill becomes our first hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:10 PM GMT on August 17, 2009

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Tropical Storm Claudette made landfall at about 1:15 am EDT near the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island, just southeast of Fort Walton Beach in Florida. Claudette's top winds were around 50 mph. A Personal Weather Station in Eastpoint, FL recorded sustained winds of 49 mph, gusting to 66 mph last night. So far, the rain from Claudette has had a tough time penetrating inland (Figure 2). Heavy rains of 3 - 4 inches have been confined to a narrow strip of coast, and Claudette is unlikely to cause any major flooding. Apalachicola received just over 4 inches of rain so far from Claudette. Radar animations out of the Florida Panhandle show that heavy rains continue along the coast in association with a main spiral band of Claudette, and these rains will gradually subside today.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of Tropical Storm Claudette as it approached landfall just southeast of Fort Walton Beach shortly after midnight on 8/17/09.

The tropics featured a rare triple threat the past two days--simultaneous named storms beginning with the letters A, B, and C. The last time this occurred was in the slow-starting 1984 hurricane season, when Tropical Storms Arthur, Bertha, and Cesar were all active on September 1. This year's A, B, and C storms all got their names in just a 33 hour span. This is not a record, since in 1995, three tropical storms--Humberto, Iris, and Jerry--got their names in a 27-hour span (thanks to NOAA's Ryan Sharp for looking up this stat).


Figure 2. Total precipitation estimated by radar for Claudette, as of 3:28pm EDT 8/17/09.

Ana not dead yet
Tropical Depression Ana continues to cling to life, and is now approaching landfall in Puerto Rico. Radar animations from the San Juan, Puerto Rico radar show a surface circulation just southeast of the island, with some low-level spiral banding trying to develop to the south. Recent satellite images also show a rejuvenation of the heavy thunderstorm activity near Ana's center, as the storm regroups from being nearly torn apart yesterday. Ana has already dumped up to 4 inches of rain along the north coast of Puerto Rico, according to radar-estimates.

It is unlikely that Ana will survive past today, however, since the storm will move over both Puerto Rico and the rugged terrain of Hispaniola. The high mountains of these islands should act to disrupt the relatively small and fragile circulation of Ana. None of the computer models foresee that Ana will survive passage over Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic can expect 3 - 6 inches of rain from Ana, and Haiti can expect 1 - 3 inches.


Figure 3. Total precipitation estimated by radar from Ana for Puerto Rico.

Bill becomes the first Atlantic hurricane of 2009
Hurricane Bill continues to gather strength, and is now the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. An eye has appeared on visible and infrared satellite imagery, and Bill is displaying an impressive symmetry, with plenty of low-level spiral banding.

Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is forecast to be in the low range through Wednesday. With Sea Surface Temperatures only 27°C today, substantial intensification may not occur until Tuesday and Wednesday, when SSTs warm to 28 - 29°C and ocean heat content sharply increases. By Thursday, Bill is expected to leave the favorable upper-level wind environment it currently finds itself in, and moderate shear of 15 - 20 knots may limit further intensification.

Water vapor satellite imagery shows that there is a modest trough of low pressure in the upper atmosphere near 50°W longitude, that Bill is currently approaching. All of the computer models except the UKMET predict that this trough will be strong enough to turn Bill more to the northwest so that the hurricane misses the Lesser Antilles Islands. The UKMET predicts the trough will not affect Bill much, and that the hurricane will pass through or just north of the islands on Thursday. For now, the UKMET solution is being discounted, since the trough at 50W appears substantial enough on satellite imagery to be able to turn Bill more to the northwest.

A much larger trough of low pressure is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week, turning Bill even more to the northwest. Most of the models predict Bill will pass very close to Bermuda on Saturday as a result. The HWRF model predicts Bermuda will receive a direct hit at Category 4 strength. Until Bill interacts with the small trough at 50°W, it is too early to be confident of the potential threat to Bermuda. By Tuesday, we should have a much better idea of the threat. Likewise, I would like to see the UKMET model come around in line with the other models before dismissing the possible threat to the U.S. East Coast. It currently appears that Bill will miss the U.S. East Coast, but that a strike on the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia is possible.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning, or possibly this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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2774. eye
There is some SERIOUS westcasting going on tonight in this blog.
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2773. Patrap


Hurricane Bill Viz to Night RGB Loop With Trop Pts Box

Check to Highlight

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2772. Drakoen
Bill continues to move westward

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Im just wondering which one of the models have been spot on so far or have all of them been all over the place or is it still early to tell?
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2768. Relix
Quoting PensacolaBuoy:
Bill has stopped dead in its tracks and is backing up!
Link


I think that's because the image loop ends there =P.

It's moving slow, to the west, but I trust StormW as much as I trust any meteorologist at NHC. But... those steering layers posted by cchs are a bit shocking.
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Quoting kmanislander:


If I had to give a percentage to it it would be less than 10%. It would take a very strong ridge of high pressure with a nose all the way into the GOM to force BIll this way IMO.

Highly unlikely given where the system is already.
Thanks.
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2766. Dakster
CCHS - Are those all the same layer? Wow. The BH is looking quite strong NOW. Luckily looks like there it is still off East CONUS enough for recurve.
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2765. GatorWX
Quoting StormW:


The one I use comes up on google earth. If you download google earth, and go to the same TCHP website, it will come up on there by clicking on TCHP in Google earth.


wow, that's pretty neat, I'll try it. Thankyou very much for the reply!
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WV loop.

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Evening everyone

What's all the talk about the model shift to the west? What's going on?
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2762. Relix
Quoting java162:


the rain from ana was nothing. weak tropical waves produce more rain and bad weather than that


It was still enough to cause flooding in PR, plus it had been raining days prior. As I said, any mile it gets closer the worse for us.
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Bill has stopped dead in its tracks and is backing up!
Link
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Weather456,

I am off now, best wishes to you and other islanders, lets hope the models have an ace in the sleeve, even we are not out of the woods yet, here in Barbados. Nothing is impossible.

But, keep safe and take care.

I will check the sat loop first thing in the am.

Night all.
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BILL IS MOVING JUST NORTH OF DUE WEST FOR THE LAST THREE HOURS.IF YOU LOOK AT THE ANIMATE WATER VAPOR IMAGERY YOU CAN SEE THAT THE UPPER TROUGH OVER BILL IS WEAK AND HE WILL PASS WEST EASILY.THIS COULD CHANGE THE SCENARIO FOR THE LEEWARDS.MAYBE UKMET IS CORRECT...
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Quoting StormW:


Well, I had been calling for the model shift for a couple forecasts prior. It's still a little tricky, but looking at close up water vapor loop imagery, that shortwave right over him now, in my opinion, is not gonna be strong enough to cause a direct NW motion...I think he's gonna continue on about 280-285 for probably the next 6-12 hours. The trof seems to be flattening out,and almost past Bill to his NNE. Some ridging is apparent on water vapor, however may not be that strong to kick him direclty west. I believe we will see one more model shift left a little more, before he may finally turn.


Hi StormW

I see that we are both looking at the same features. The WV loop is very interesting . The sinking ridge is very clear indicating that it is still building down from the N.
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Beat me to the punch Kman but I have been watching the water vapor all day and thats seems to be what I see. Next trough in mid U.S. may get it but thats a couple days awaw and if high gets directly north of Bill some time they move in tandum I remember the great fish storm called Andrew so as any forecaster would tell you if it hasnt passed your latitude keep an eye on it.
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If Bill missed the first chance to turn and now needs to wait for the 2nd chance moving further west, what does that mean for Florida (all or part)and Georgia?
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You can clearly see the Bermuda High really strengthening and building in over Hurricane Bill in these images.
9 Hours Ago:


6 Hours Ago:


3 Hours Ago:


NOW:
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Quoting Weather456:


calm down, didnt realise I was high
Calm not come but maybe you would be a little more relaxed if you were.
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Gator

I think you missed this
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The fact of the matter is that the NHC knows there stuff, if they didn't then we'd all be working there. Okay maybe just Storm, Dr. Masters, Drak, 456 to name a few and we'd probably still have the same forecast. This storm will follw the cone all the way to where they have it forecasted. Even it if does make it further west it won't hit Florida, Ga. or even NC/SC. It will probably skirt Nova Scotia and worse case scenario is what Reedzone thought, another Gloria. Only time will tell, but the guys at the NHC have it right and we can only hope they don't.
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Quoting stormpetrol:

Somewhat probable, so far Bill has done nearly everything I expected of him, only now is the track be questioned.PS I know the ? wasn't directed to me but if you've been following my comments , felt I had to respond.
I have been following yours and many more and now am starting to get a little worried. Don't like what I am seeing and although he is further north than Ivan still not sure he will turn and miss us.
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Its an eye cchs.
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2748. jdjnola
Quoting Dakster:


I'm not a big fan of that potential track...


I'm not a fan either b/c it gets Bill that much closer to the Gulf, but at the same time, the similarities between 1871 Hurricane Four and Bill are kind of creepy. Both formed into a hurricane close to 50W 15N, both on August 17th. They've followed nearly the same track and took the same jog north. The only comforting thing is that weather is unpredictable, and behaves sporadically. I do not want Bill to hit any populated area but I am not going to rule out the possibility based on models which are frequently, flat out wrong.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
You need to calm down and have confidence in yourself. Conditions can and do change just like Bill sped up and slowed down so will other factors. I think most meterologists are probably perplexed by Bill last year but I have noticed the past couple years that systems don't always do what you expect them to.


calm down? didnt realise I was high
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bill losing convection on the east side and another bout of dry air be pulled into it.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Could you give link to your loop?Thanks.


sure

LINK
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
You know I value your opinion. Is it any more possible at this time that Bill might head our way ? I know it's not probable but wondering about possibilities.


If I had to give a percentage to it it would be less than 10%. It would take a very strong ridge of high pressure with a nose all the way into the GOM to force BIll this way IMO.

Highly unlikely given where the system is already.
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2743. java162
Quoting Relix:
Remember guys... any mile to the west means trouble to the antilles. The system is huge! Many northern islands are wet thanks to Ana... plus this so quickly would mean bad flooding.


the rain from ana was nothing. weak tropical waves produce more rain and bad weather than that
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Quoting Weather456:


seriously need ur opinion on Bill motion
You need to calm down and have confidence in yourself. Conditions can and do change just like Bill sped up and slowed down so will other factors. I think most meterologists are probably perplexed by Bill last year but I have noticed the past couple years that systems don't always do what you expect them to.
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Quoting StormW:


Well, I had been calling for the model shift for a couple forecasts prior. It's still a little tricky, but looking at close up water vapor loop imagery, that shortwave right over him now, in my opinion, is not gonna be strong enough to cause a direct NW motion...I think he's gonna continue on about 280-285 for probably the next 6-12 hours. The trof seems to be flattening out,and almost past Bill to his NNE. Some ridging is apparent on water vapor, however may not be that strong to kick him direclty west. Ibelieve we will see one more model shift left a little more, before he may finally turn.


ok, still tricky but not looking as good as this morning


thanks much.
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Interesting

WV

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Quoting eyesontheweather:
People need to remember, Hurricane forcasting is always a challange. At times forcast models are close to accurate and other times not so good. Weather patterns that effect a hurricanes movement are always evolving, weakening/strengthening, and effecting the outcome of a hurricane. many minds far supperior than mine have difficulty knowing where they will end up. In the 2007 season there was Dean & Felix, both forcast to go poleward during the lifespan and both made a very strong westerly track across the Atlantic and Carribian. There are very, very many other hurricanes that have done very unusual tracks. What must be learned and executed from this is that all people living close to the coast must be prepared throughout the hurricane season to take evasive measures within a short period of time. Bill has had numerouos tracks already and will have numerous more before it is exhausted from the map.


Forecasting is, in short, a SWAG (Scientific wild-ass guess)
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
You know I value your opinion. Is it any more possible at this time that Bill might head our way ? I know it's not probable but wondering about possibilities.

Somewhat probable, so far Bill has done nearly everything I expected of him, only now is the track be questioned.PS I know the ? wasn't directed to me but if you've been following my comments , felt I had to respond.
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2736. Patrap

RGB


AVN


WV
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129803
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
kman do you think the high will hold Bill down? For 36-48 hours I think it will.


In the WV loop I just posted you can see the NE flow in the dry air depicting the high pressure sinking to the S. In the short term it should have some impact on the track of Bill, perhaps a jog more to the West. We need to watch how that ridge develops to see how Bill reacts to it. If it continues to come down from the N Bill will have little option but to respond with a more Westerly track, at least in the short term.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Can understand why. To be honest, I can't imagine how you must be feeling watching this continue moving generally westward.


a bit fustrated
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2731. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


MARK
03L/H/C2
MARK
14.8N/47.9W
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I think Bill missed the first trough. Going to head father west looks like a high diving se towards Bill from the north west. Just my take of water vapor loops.
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2729. GatorWX
StormW,

Do you have any links to good TCHP graphics? The only one I have has been out of date since May. I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about. If so, could you please post them. Thankyou and I really appreciate your posts and synopsis's.
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Quoting Weather456:


seriously need ur opinion on Bill motion


Can understand why. To be honest, I can't imagine how you must be feeling watching this continue moving generally westward.
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2725. Relix
Remember guys... any mile to the west means trouble to the antilles. The system is huge! Many northern islands are wet thanks to Ana... plus this so quickly would mean bad flooding.
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2724. Dakster
Quoting jdjnola:
I looked at the WU historical w/in 300 miles and found this map; Bill has followed almost exactly the same path up to this point. This is the scenario if the models are wrong and Bill doesn't recurve when forecast.

1871 Hurricane Four


I'm not a big fan of that potential track...
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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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