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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1124. Ossqss
Quoting reedzone:
18Z NOGAPS

84 hours


96 hours


Like walking a tight rope :(

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Bill hasn't gone under one yet.


Your right and someone earlier was saying he hasn't done any crazy or unpredictable stuf yet.Maybe it's time.
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if bill dos not turn soon and the movent at 20mph or so it wil most likey be in the Bahamas in 24 to 36hr this will be a vary tight turn and a hard right when he dos or if he dos turn
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114919
Quoting stormpetrol:

EWRC(Eye wall replacement cycles ) I never seen a hurricane go through so many as BILL.


Bill hasn't gone under one yet.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


could it be weakening?

EWRC(Eye wall replacement cycles ) I never seen a hurricane go through so many as BILL.
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Looks like an EWRC is about to take place.
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18Z NOGAPS

84 hours


96 hours
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Quoting Ossqss:
It sure does not look the same as earlier.



Hopefully it is weakening...
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1115. Ossqss
It sure does not look the same as earlier.

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
on the track that bill is moveing it will hit NC in about 3 to 4 days
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114919
1111. amd
Link

well to the NW of Bill, upper level winds are out of the east. Maybe this is why bill has moved slightly to the left of bill in the last couple of hours.
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Quoting pearlandaggie:
if only warming were really occurring......

Did you not read Dr. Masters' commentary at the top or are you a denier?
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Quoting P451:
Ending 2215Z
WV - Seems to be getting eroded on the East/NE quadrant. Still seems to have jogged a bit west in its motion.



could it be weakening?
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Quoting P451:

I wouldn't completely ignore Bill if I lived in the mid-atlantic region however it's highly unlikely he is a threat to us other than high surf (which will unfortunately claim the lives of the reckless this weekend).


I'm more worried about a few friends of mine vacationing in Maine than I am about Bill actually hitting anywhere south of there. They have lived all their lives out here in the SW and tend to laugh at my hurricane stories from FL as being nothing but overgrown monsoons. But I had to comment when I saw the remark about how close the track of Gloria supposedly was to Bill's.
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http://radar.weather.gov/ridge/radar.php?rid=pah&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=no

I live here in paducah Kentucky and u can see the trough pushing the storms to the east
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Due strong storms like Bill have a tendency to jog in different directions?
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


BAHA

Light wind from ESE and a clear sunny day, Bar steady.
CRS
Kewl.
We have been alternating between Sunny and overcast all day due to remnants of Ana.
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Thanks, P451 - excellent information. Looks as though the similarity will lie with the heavy seas and swells that affect beach erosion all along the eastern seaboard into the Maritimes. It's the fishing industry that's going to be hit hard by Bill. Pray the fishermen are heading for port! Those stats about Sable Island were incredible. It would be good to see that history stays as history, and not news.
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1100. hydrus
Quoting coffeecrusader:
The wave exiting Africa is forecast by the GFS and CMC to go out to see ala Bill. Look's like 2009 maybe the year for Fish Storm's. Any thoughts.
I believe that is a real possibility.There have been troughs hanging around for months,however if something huge forms in the Caribbean Sea especially the S.W quadrant ,that could change things dramatically.Water is very warm and no storms have formed there as of(yet).
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20935
Quoting Ossqss:


Thanks, a few hours could make a big difference it seems. If Bill slowed, is there a chance the trough could weaken enough for him to skirt through the bottom portion?



bill would have to be moving fast and wnw to west to miss the trough. He is moving NW so if he slowed he will likely get picked up, but at a eastern more point.
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Quoting SaoFeng:
Nearly all the models i see now are hitting land... so much for a 'fish storm'


And which models are these
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1097. Ossqss
Quoting Weather456:


I was looking at the speed of the deep layer flow and it seems Bill will continue on its fast trek NW until he slows down when recurving which tropical cyclones have to do it these case. The trough is advancing but not as fast as bill, it is likely the 2 flows will meet around 70-75W which will miss the us east coast by the NNE motion could bring close to cape cod.


Thanks, a few hours could make a big difference it seems. If Bill slowed, is there a chance the trough could weaken enough for him to skirt through the bottom portion?
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting reedzone:



Yeah man, looks great for now.. Howd you get all those graphics? I just use paint lol


What I do is use Google Earth for the Storm "track"...which is the yellow line. I use an"Untitled Placemark" and type in each advisories LAT/LON into the lat/lon boxes. Then I use a line to connect all of them. Then I delete the "placemarks" I made. For the next advisory, use a placemark and type the lat/lon, and then go to the lines properties, and extend the line to the lastest lat/lon point. Then delete the untitled placemark. Then, I save the image to my documents, and insert it into Microsoft Powerpoint 2007, and spruce it up from there....using the banner, storm track, path, etc. Use shapes. Hope this helps!!!
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1095. SaoFeng
Nearly all the models i see now are hitting land... so much for a 'fish storm'
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hey, CRS. How's the weather down ur way....


BAHA

Light wind from ESE and a clear sunny day, Bar steady.
CRS
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Quoting coffeecrusader:
The wave exiting Africa is forecast by the GFS and CMC to go out to see ala Bill. Look's like 2009 maybe the year for Fish Storm's. Any thoughts.


if you look at 12Z gfs it shows storm heading out to sea and then high building back in and pushing it due west
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Quoting Ossqss:


456, everyone has talked about the speed of the trough, what about the speed of Bill? Is there any chance it could pick up speed,or slow down, hence having the same negative impact on the timing of the expected turn?


I was looking at the speed of the deep layer flow and it seems Bill will continue on its fast trek NW until he slows down when recurving which tropical cyclones have to do it these case. The trough is advancing but not as fast as bill, it is likely the 2 flows will meet around 70-75W which will miss the us east coast by the NNE motion could bring close to cape cod.
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I wonder what conditions caused the 1938 Long Island Express to be travelling at 70 MPH??
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So at this point it would be best if Bill slowed down?
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Quoting Weather456:
The NE USA should monitor Bill closely.
I was looking at that and if for some reason Bill does not turn from SC right up the entire east coast would be vunerable.
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1086. Ossqss
Quoting Weather456:
The NE USA should monitor Bill closely.


456, everyone has talked about the speed of the trough, what about the speed of Bill? Is there any chance it could pick up speed,or slow down, hence having the same negative impact on the timing of the expected turn?
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
...yet another "page read" recorded by Google Adds for payment purposes:

ERROR
There was a problem opening this user's Wunder Blog files. Please try again later.


I don't see ads, but I do get that occassionally. I think it's just because the blog is busy.
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1082. HadesGodWyvern 6:37 PM EDT on August 19, 2009

Hey HGW. What's ure thinking about Vamco getting as strong as Bill in the long term?
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1082. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #24
TYPHOON VAMCO (T0910)
6:00 AM JST August 20 2009
=========================================

SUBJECT: Category Four Typhoon South-southeast Of Minamitori-sima

At 21:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Vamco (965 hPa) located at 18.4N 157.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts of 120 knots. The typhoon is reported as moving north slowly

RSMC Dvorak Intensity:

Storm-Force Winds
================
50 NM from the center

Gale-Force Winds
===============
180 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
140 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
24 HRS: 19.5N 157.2E - 95 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)
45 HRS: 21.9N 156.5E - 95 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)
69 HRS: 25.4N 155.0E - 95 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)
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The NE USA should monitor Bill closely.
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1013. RitaEvac "There wont be evacuations, everybody will be on their own.
It'll be Uncle Sams way of disposing the poor and low class population without having to do anything but let mother nature take care of the situation.
"

That's always been pretty much FEMA's purpose. Thanks to massive collusion with state and local government by way of building codes, anyone poor enough to actually need a FEMA loan to rebuild cannot qualify for a FEMA loan.
Land speculators and property developers vulture out on post-hurricane condemnations and foreclosures.
And a couple or three years after that hurricane, median local property values are up well above the inflation rate. In the most devastated areas, they're quite often WAY UP.
And the state and local governments are happily collecting a LOT more in property and sales taxes.
Also pretty much the same case for massive fires and floods.
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Hey, CRS. How's the weather down ur way....
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The wave exiting Africa is forecast by the GFS and CMC to go out to see ala Bill. Look's like 2009 maybe the year for Fish Storm's. Any thoughts.
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Quoting Weather456:
Bill reminds me of Bertha just by how the models predicted him in advanced. the ECMWF was outstanding this year.
That similarity to Bertha has been comforting me all week....
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1075. BDAwx
guys take a look at long range radar out of Bermuda tomorrow evening to Sunday evening that should be interesting...
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
...yet another "page read" recorded by Google Adds for payment purposes:

ERROR
There was a problem opening this user's Wunder Blog files. Please try again later.


Page read for payment purposes? ??

Edit: And when I sent this

I got -
ERROR
There was a problem opening this user's Wunder Blog files. Please try again later.

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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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