Bill intensifies to Category 4; globe has 5th warmest July on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on August 19, 2009

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Category 4 Hurricane Bill is now the the fourth strongest tropical cyclone to appear on the planet so far this year, and may grow even stronger. Visible and infrared satellite imagery continue to show an impressive, well-organized, hurricane, with plenty of low-level spiral banding and upper-level outflow well-established on all sides except the west. On Bill's west side, upper-level winds from the west are creating a modest 10 knots of wind shear, which is giving the hurricane a bit of a squashed appearance there.

Wind shear is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5-15 knots, for the next four days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will rise steadily from 28.5°C today to 29°C on Friday. Total ocean heat content is at a maximum today, and will gradually decline over the next four days. Bill should be able to take advantage of these favorable conditions a remain a major hurricane the next three days.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

Water vapor satellite loops show a small "short-wave" trough of low pressure to the north-northwest of Bill, and this trough has turned Bill on a more northwesterly track over the past two days. Bill will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands, and the main impact of the hurricane on these islands will be high waves. The short wave trough (so called because it has a relatively small amplitude and wavelength) is not strong enough to turn Bill due north, and Bill is also expected to miss Bermuda. High waves and sustained winds of 20 - 30 mph are the worst that Bermuda is likely to get from Bill.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Bill's eye zoomed in, taken from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

An unusually strong "long wave" trough of low pressure (called long wave because of its large amplitude and wavelength) is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week. This trough will turn Bill to the north, and also bring high levels of wind shear in the 40 - 65 knot range on Sunday. Exactly where this turn occurs is still not clear. The models continue to be in two camps: an eastern camp (GFS, GFDL, HWRF, and ECMWF) that takes Bill 300 - 500 miles east of Cape Cod, and a more western camp (NOGAPS, UKMET) that bring Bill within 150 - 200 miles of Cape Cod. Both sets of models bring Bill ashore over the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Bill will be weakening rapidly as it makes landfall, and is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane if it hits Nova Scotia, or strong tropical storm if it hits Newfoundland.

Bill's big waves
Large swells from Bill will begin impacting the U.S. East coast from Florida to Maine beginning Friday night or Saturday morning. Seas will build to 5 - 10 feet in the offshore waters from central Florida northwards to South Carolina, and to 10 - 15 feet from North Carolina to Cape Cod. Near shore, waves will be about 40% less. This will cause a significant coastal erosion event along some portions of the coast. The latest run of the NOAA Wavewatch III model suggests that significant wave heights near Bill's center will reach 50 feet on Sunday. Since maximum wave height is typically about a factor of 1.9 greater than the significant wave height (which is the average trough-to-crest height of the top 1/3 largest waves), a few huge waves near Bill's center may reach 95 feet high.

Possible impacts to New England
The current set of computer model runs predicts that the center of Bill will pass Cape Cod, Massachusetts Sunday afternoon or evening. Tropical storm-force sustained winds of 39 mph or greater currently extend out 185 miles to the west of Bill's center, so that if Bill maintains its current wind distribution, Cape Cod could see sustained winds of about 40 mph Sunday night if the models predicting a more westerly path are correct. However, Bill will not keep this same radius of winds. The hurricane will weaken considerably beginning Sunday morning, once the storm gets caught up in the approaching long wave trough. High wind shear of 40 - 65 knots due to strong southwesterly winds aloft will act to compress the hurricane in the east-west direction, keeping the hurricane's strongest winds away from Cape Cod. The highest winds are likely to be no more than 30 mph on Cape Cod from Bill, if the storm follows the track of the western camp of models nearest to the Massachusetts. A few rain squalls may affect coastal Massachusetts, but the main impact of Bill on New England is likely to be coastal erosion from high waves.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The remains of Tropical Storm Ana are bringing scattered heavy rain showers to the Bahamas and Florida today. The remains are disorganized, and are not likely to re-develop. The only model calling for a new tropical cyclone to develop in the Atlantic over the next seven days is the GFS model, which predicts development off the coast of Africa about 7 days from now.

Fifth warmest July on record globally; a cold July in the U.S.
The globe recorded its fifth warmest July since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. NOAA rated the period January - July 2009 as the sixth warmest such period on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated July 2009 as the 2nd warmest July on record, behind July of 1998. For the second month in a row, global ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in July were the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average. This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The record July SSTs were due in part to an ongoing El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific, which has substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. As El Niño conditions mature during the coming months, near-record global ocean and land temperatures will probably continue. Now that El Niño conditions have been well-established for three months, the atmosphere has begun to heat up in response. It typically takes up to seven months for the atmosphere to heat up in response to ocean heating from an El Niño. This may explain why June of 2009, which independent assessments by NOAA, NASA, and the UK Hadley center agreed was the 2nd or 3rd warmest June on record at the surface, recorded only average satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere. In contrast, the July satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere were the 2nd or 3rd warmest on record, in agreement with the assessments that surface temperatures were the 2nd to 5th warmest on record.


Figure 3. Departure of temperature from average for July 2009. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

A cold July for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., the average July temperature of 23.1°C (73.5°F) was the coolest since 1994, and July temperatures were the 27th coolest in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and West Virginia experienced their coolest ever July. Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin recorded their second coolest July in history. A strong trough of low pressure parked itself over the eastern portion of the U.S. in July, funneling down plenty of cold air from Canada. In the western U.S., a ridge of high pressure dominated, bringing unusually hot conditions. Arizona recorded its 3rd warmest July on record, and Seattle, Washington recorded its hottest day in history on July 28, notching a 103°F reading. This was 3°F above the previous record set in 1994.

U.S. precipitation was near average in July, with the month ranking 40th wettest in the 115-year record. U.S. tornado activity was above average in July, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. However, no tornado deaths occurred in July.

At the end of July, 14% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. These extreme drought regions were exclusively in South and Central Texas.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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So I pointed my mouse pointer on the eye of Bill on the ramsdis floater. I clicked refresh to get an updated image and it seems that the eye has jogged due west, most likely a jog then a trend. Though interesting to note that.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
Quoting Orcasystems:


OH oh.. we agree on something...
hmmm something is wrong.


actually, Orca...you and I agree on most things...
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well 3 days before Katrina hit New Orleans, some models had Katrina getting close to New Orleans, even though the center of the model consensus was further east. But now no model brings Bill withing 200 miles of New Jersey. Not one. And most are much further out. Bill won't bring destructive winds to New Jersey. Nantucket maybe.
Katrina also took a last minute jog to the east right before it got us...
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Quoting mossyhead:
nope. i am a historian and he was purging the gene pool. you are not GOD. so you are saying they must die because they had a lapse in judgement.




he didn't say that at all
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1570. Dakster
Quoting Stoopid1:


Agreed. It would be very irresponsible of anyone to venture out off of the east coast in the next coming days, especially in the NE. Don't mean to be rude, but it would take a real knucklehead to do that, and what happens happens.


And this is coming from someone whose handle is "Stoopid1"...

I agree you shouldn't go out boating in a Hurricane, but I still wouldn't wish death to the people that did, regardless of the reason. Also, if I COULD save them I WOULD save them even if it meant putting myself in harms way (to some extent). There are natural events that will prevent even law enforcement and search/rescue teams from going out in. I am sure that a cat 4/5 Hurricane out in the ocean is one of them. Once it is over, the search/rescue/retrieval can begin.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Example.. Galveston.. leave or die... people stayed.. heck they partied on the pier, we watched them on TV.


Like this Bozo...
Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
1568. WxLogic
Quoting HIEXPRESS:

Can't say Iv'e heard that term. Must be something obvious (WxLogical) or they would have put it here.


Lol!!! it is as follows:

DLM - Deep Layer Mean
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5038
Quoting presslord:


Oh for Christ's sake!!!! A 'lapse in judgement' is putting on one black shoe and one brown shoe early in the morning with a hangover...going out into a Cat 4 hurricane in a boat is just stupid...


ROFLMAOPM
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1565. centex
Quoting presslord:


it makes no sense because there's very little difference...stupid is stupid..on land or sea...
I blame the category system on that. It had cat 5 strom surge. They did'nt realize wrong choice until surge came in big and early and that was too late. late add to post. The areas hit worst should of known to get out with major storm, Cat 3 or 5 does not matter in those locations. The barrier islands folks should be more conservative with major storms.
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1564. tkeith
Quoting presslord:


Oh for Christ's sake!!!! A 'lapse in judgement' is putting on one black shoe and one brown shoe early in the morning with a hangover...going out into a Cat 4 hurricane in a boat is just stupid...
agreed...
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Quoting presslord:


it makes no sense because there's very little difference...stupid is stupid..on land or sea...


OH oh.. we agree on something...
hmmm something is wrong.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am not sure how to ask this question and it is probably a very silly one, but I was wondering why individual thunderstorms form/develop where they do? I mean why is this cloud building up in this section of town and not the next section of town over? Is it hotter or colder at a certain location? Oh and I am not referring to the highs/lows mixing. I have that general idea down. I am referring to individual clouds. Sorry if this is not making sense I tried to make it as clear as possible.
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Quoting mossyhead:
nope. i am a historian and he was purging the gene pool. you are not GOD. so you are saying they must die because they had a lapse in judgement.


Oh for Christ's sake!!!! A 'lapse in judgement' is putting on one black shoe and one brown shoe early in the morning with a hangover...going out into a Cat 4 hurricane in a boat is just stupid...
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Thanks to all of you. I can tell you that I have looked at the Boston local news and there is very little about Bill. FOX forcast for Sunday is breezy with a 40% chance of rain. Their local CH 7 had the most news and that was "I am more concerned today that yesterday" Even NOAA as of noon EDT has not issued anything unless you read the fine print.
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1558. hahaguy
Quoting presslord:


it makes no sense because there's very little difference...stupid is stupid..on land or sea...


Stupid is as stupid does.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting StormW:


I wouldn't know..LOL!!

Medic since the early 80's. Adrenaline rush is addictive!
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Example.. Galveston.. leave or die... people stayed.. heck they partied on the pier, we watched them on TV.


it makes no sense because there's very little difference...stupid is stupid..on land or sea...
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Quoting PcolaDan:

I agree whole heartedly. I never head to the Gulf with knowing what's going on, but the person asking the question was NOT the person on the boat, but a concerned family member.
Quoting presslord:


"Hitler" is always the first refuge of simple minds...
nope. i am a historian and he was purging the gene pool. you are not GOD. so you are saying they must die because they had a lapse in judgement.
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Quoting centex:
Not even talking about our fish, you when small brain award.

Sorry, I thought what you were showing was a drought chart. My sentiments are with you.I am well aware that Florida receives a good amount of its annual rainfall from tropical systems. I sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding
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Quoting zuglie:
Its Seems as if bill has been moving more west than nw last few frames

just wobble
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Quoting presslord:


I don't say ignorance DESERVES death...but sometimes death is the unavoidable consequence thereof...and many of the folks Portlight helps DID evacuate...though I appreciate the kind words...

Actually from what I saw on the webcam, (yes I watched intently) I think MOST evacuated.
See post 1539 and you'll see why I said the comment was cold.
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Quoting presslord:


this question makes no sense...


Example.. Galveston.. leave or die... people stayed.. heck they partied on the pier, we watched them on TV.
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Quoting lovesdanger:
reedzone whats the latest man on hurricane bill dont tell me he is going to bermuda i would rather see new york get slammed by this monster...


In between Bermuda and USA.. I've been forecasting that since Sunday lol. Bother will be spared most likely though I wouldn't rule out a possible close call landfall in Nantucket. I think we will know what Bill will do tomorrow as it starts a more NNW course. Canadians in NS need to prepare now, get some supplies.. It could be very bad for them. New England still needs to watch Bill, but not worry just yet.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
1547. zuglie
Its Seems as if bill has been moving more west than nw last few frames
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Quoting Chicklit:

Exqueeze me. But it is a mariner's responsibility to himself and those on board to look at weather conditions before he/she leaves port. Very old rule. Recall the NFL guys that were capsized in the Gulf. 2/3 didn't make it.


Agreed. It would be very irresponsible of anyone to venture out off of the east coast in the next coming days, especially in the NE. Don't mean to be rude, but it would take a real knucklehead to do that, and what happens happens.
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Quoting mossyhead:

that what make a coast guard professional.

That's what makes the job interesting! The adrenaline rush, the feeling of,pardon the cliche "going where no man has gone before"(except maybe the shortsighted ones that got themselves in such a desperate situation in the first place).
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Quoting bassis:
Been lurking for a few years, never posted. Is Bill going through an eye wall replacement or is the dry air effecting it

Both, and the anticyclone has moved south, therefore the shear is affecting it more. So that's four things. But I am no expert...
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1542. centex
Quoting medicroc:

After looking at that chart you have a license to wishcast! Good luck
thanks
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Quoting Orcasystems:


The difference between this and the people who intentionally stay in harms way would be??


this question makes no sense...
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1540. tkeith
Where's that poster with the inside info, with the NHC tonight? The New York hit...

I wonder how many New Yorkers bought those cheap seats to Bermuda on his "inside Info"...
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Quoting Chicklit:

Exqueeze me. But it is a mariner's responsibility to himself and those on board to look at weather conditions before he/she leaves port. Very old rule. Recall the NFL guys that were capsized in the Gulf. 2/3 didn't make it.

I agree whole heartedly. I never head to the Gulf with knowing what's going on, but the person asking the question was NOT the person on the boat, but a concerned family member.
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Quoting mossyhead:
thats what hitler said.


"Hitler" is always the first refuge of simple minds...
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well 3 days before Katrina hit New Orleans, some models had Katrina getting close to New Orleans, even though the center of the model consensus was further east. But now no model brings Bill withing 200 miles of New Jersey. Not one. And most are much further out. Bill won't bring destructive winds to New Jersey. Nantucket maybe.


Agreed, who's saying ti will hit New Jersey? lol
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
That 590dm ridge to the north of Bill isn't going to give ground willingly. I think it pushes Bill to 67°W before we go the other way on the compass. Close call for the Northeast US but depending on how fast it gets there, Nova Scotia may see another Juan.
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1534. bassis
Been lurking for a few years, never posted. Is Bill going through an eye wall replacement or is the dry air effecting it
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Quoting PcolaDan:

So ignorance or stupidity deserves possible death. This from a person who helps people who didn't evacuate. I'm sorry, I've always respected your comments and applaud your efforts, but that was uncalled for and may have scared the person asking a question about someone they care about.


I don't say ignorance DESERVES death...but sometimes death is the unavoidable consequence thereof...and many of the folks Portlight helps DID evacuate...though I appreciate the kind words...
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Quoting presslord:


furthermore...it's morally repugnant to me to ask the Coasties to go out in that sort of thing to fetch someone who ought not be in the gene pool anyway...


The difference between this and the people who intentionally stay in harms way would be??
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Quoting presslord:


sometimes the gene pool needs to be purged...

Darwinism... usually takes care of itself...
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Quoting presslord:


sometimes the gene pool needs to be purged...
thats what hitler said.
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Quoting primez:
crap i just found out that my aunt went on a several day cruise to canada today, namely nova scotia.

this isn't looking good. also, i live on long island. i hope we dont get hit here in the northeast.
If Cruise ships are aware of a storm in their vicinity they change their itinery happened to me in the Mediterranian in nov. found hurricane force winds in an area and went around them and skipped a port believe me they know how to manuver but kind bumpy we encountered 28 Ft Waves
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Quoting centex:
We want a tropical system to stall over us? These things only break with a flood and while it does cause problems it's better to have flood than continue drought. You don't understand if you think wrong to wish for flood, it's how we survive. Common knowledge in these parts.

After looking at that chart you have a license to wishcast! Good luck
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Quoting presslord:


furthermore...it's morally repugnant to me to ask the Coasties to go out in that sort of thing to fetch someone who ought not be in the gene pool anyway...

that what make a coast guard professional.
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Quoting presslord:


sorry dude..but I'm a blue water mariner...anyone with keys to a boat anywhere north of DC who doesn't know about Bill deserves what they get...

So ignorance or stupidity deserves possible death. This from a person who helps people who didn't evacuate. I'm sorry, I've always respected your comments and applaud your efforts, but that was uncalled for and may have scared the person asking a question about someone they care about.
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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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