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

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

Share this Blog
2
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 974 - 924

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46Blog Index

Quoting atmoaggie:

But they stopped updating more than an hour ago...grrr.


Check again, latest image I have is 2142
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Bay of Fundy side might get some bad tides, too. I'd at least stock any non-perishables that I didn't already have, including water, before the stores get super busy. Hopefully u won't need it, but better to be prepared.....

The tides are already so high in the Bay of Fundy I can't even imagine them if they got much higher. Watched a tidal bore come roaring up a river and within a few minutes a peaceful stream was absolutely incredible.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What would happen if this hit New York head on? Any thoughts?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
968. VARob
Rita I see that but want to see it sustained.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's becomming more unsettling watching these models shift west every run. I dont recall they have shifted right in quite a few runs. Everyone has their opinions on where this storm is going but based off the continuous westward trend. NC to Maine needs to monitor this storm.

I hope the trough can pull him out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I need assistance, please, from any of you who can lend it. When I click on a link, I get the following: "Message from webpage: The link you clicked is taking you outside of Weather Underground. Click okay only if you trust this link: (in this case it was [http://rammb.circa.colostate.edu/projects/svr_vis/hurricane/irloop.asp].
When I clicked on it, there was the little hand with a 'dynamite explosion' type icon with an exclamation point (red) in the middle of it. Not one link will open. Can you help? (Please send an email - don't want to take up any more space here!) TIA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicTraveler:
Melagoo - Opened the link - gave me a chill when I saw how many ships have gone down there. I know in that one storm in the museum virtually every family in town lost family members in one day.
I was about to ask if Sable Island isn't the area they call the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" because they've had so many ships go down there over the years.... something about a wicked reef in the area comes to mind....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
For those who may have missed it, atmoaggie and phillyrock posted a great link for Bill loops. Some of the images are 1 minute apart.

Link

But they stopped updating more than an hour ago...grrr.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
reedzone,

My projected path from this morning looks pretty good at this hour, especially considering the models have shifted a tad west. I also noticed the NHC now does not have Bermuda in the cone, neither do I.

From 9 am this morning (I'll issue another a little later, likely between 6:30 and 7:30):
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting VARob:
Well I was very comfortable here on the Chesapeake bay but not so any more. Just goes to show you that anything can happen with these storms. Hopefully this west component will not pan out and it will continue on it's merry way east.


This west componet is playing out right now in front of our eyes because of the fast forward movement of 20mph
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting szqrn1:


What does that mean?

The Stadium affect is when the eye is sort funnel shaped like you're looking right down at ocean, about pointing westward well I'm not sure , but I noticed that the "eye" of a hurricane sometimes point North, East, straight down , South and westward, I have noticed that when it point north or east, the hurricane tends to track NW/N , when the eye point west or south it tends to move more W to WNW, don't know if anyone else ever noticed this or its significance regarding a track.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Floodman:


Yep...think about being in the Holland Tunnel when 18-20 feet of storm surge breaks over the end of Manhattan...hell, think about being in the Starbucks at 38th and Lex

38 and Lex would be dry. The Starbucks at 28 and 3 ave,maybe not. Meet me at the one at 34 and Park which has a great view of the river. That would be a sight to behold:)
Quoting GeauxGirl:


There would be no point in trying to evacuate at that point. It would just be deadlock.
No pun intended.

Plans are to evacuate only those areas that are in direct threat of surge. Those evacuated will be moved to one of 56 shelters centered in the non surge areas within each boro. the 3 million on long Island will be evacuated through NYC. The nightmare of a logistical nightmare.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rarepearldesign:
So this is looking more and more unlucky for us Maritimers in Halifax (and the rest of NS).

Time to get prepared before the stores go nuts. During Juan, everybody wrote it off as nothing, and were caught retardedly off guard. I was in New Brunswick that time, I own a home 3 miles from the ocean outside Halifax this time.
Bay of Fundy side might get some bad tides, too. I'd at least stock any non-perishables that I didn't already have, including water, before the stores get super busy. Hopefully u won't need it, but better to be prepared.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tc1120:
even if Bill weakens to a Cat 2 by landfall, a Cat 2 would almost make the bay meet the ocean in long beach, new york where I live. I know Western LI isnt in the cone yet but I am still very worried. I hope this trough gets here at the right time!


Me too! come on trough....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
956. VARob
Well I was very comfortable here on the Chesapeake bay but not so any more. Just goes to show you that anything can happen with these storms. Hopefully this west component will not pan out and it will continue on it's merry way east.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
955. slavp
Loading


Hurricane 03L




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 7.2
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm


Current Intensity Analysis




UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 19 AUG 2009 Time : 201500 UTC
Lat : 19:43:41 N Lon : 57:15:56 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.4 / 939.0mb/124.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
6.3 6.3 6.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.4mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 32 km

Center Temp : +14.3C Cloud Region Temp : -64.9C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

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

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

****************************************************


History File Listing
Satellite Imagery (JAVA movie)
Time Series

Experimental Wind Field Product
McIDAS | MATLAB

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
even if Bill weakens to a Cat 2 by landfall, a Cat 2 would almost make the bay meet the ocean in long beach, new york where I live. I know Western LI isnt in the cone yet but I am still very worried. I hope this trough gets here at the right time!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Melagoo - Opened the link - gave me a chill when I saw how many ships have gone down there. I know in that one storm in the museum virtually every family in town lost family members in one day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
Caribou,Maine....

LONG TERM /SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
-- Changed Discussion --
OUR FOCUS THIS WEEKEND TURNS TO HURRICANE BILL. AS THE STORM
CONTINUES NORTH OFF THE MID ATLANTIC COAST SATURDAY NIGHT SOME
RAIN MAY CONTINUE ALONG A STALLED FRONT ACROSS THE REGION. THE
STORM IS CURRENTLY PROJECTED TO TRACK JUST SOUTH AND EAST OF NOVA
SCOTIA DURING THE DAY SUNDAY.
THIS TRACK MAY BE CLOSE ENOUGH TO
BRING HIGH SEAS...WIND AND HEAVY RAIN TO COASTAL AREAS DURING THE
DAY SUNDAY. THE STORM IS THEN EXPECTED TO ACCELERATE NORTHEAST
INTO THE EASTERN MARITIMES LATER SUNDAY INTO SUNDAY NIGHT AS IT
BECOMES EXTRATROPICAL. THIS WILL ALLOW SKIES TO CLEAR AND WINDS TO
DECREASE OVERNIGHT. A MODERATELY COOLER AND DRIER AIRMASS SHOULD
THEN FOLLOW FOR EARLY NEXT WEEK. DUE TO THE PROXIMITY OF THE
PROJECTED TRACK OF HURRICANE BILL THIS WEEKEND...RESIDENTS OF
DOWNEAST MAINE ARE ADVISED TO STAY IN TUNE FOR UPDATES AND
REVISIONS ON THE STORMS TRACK AS THE WEEKEND APPROACHES.
-



These mets are behind the curve I'm afraid
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
951. JLPR
Quoting Relix:


I was asking for models about this. Last night it was pointing right at the antilles.


interesting =\
gotta go find models to see if they pick up on it now =]
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Does anybody know about the next couple of waves coming off of Africa?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wunderkidcayman:

hello guys this is the new tropical wave that the models are predicting to become 92L/DANNY


Which wave?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For those who may have missed it, atmoaggie and phillyrock posted a great link for Bill loops. Some of the images are 1 minute apart.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Okay, now I'm really out...play nice, kids!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well, never mind. I went to get the link to ask the question again and realized that it was the outer edge of the cone graphic that looked like it shadowed behind the Cat4 graphic. Sorry.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:
The NHC is smart, they want to see more model runs before alerting the Northeast.
I said before, it's still kinda early to be doing general public announcements on this storm.

Betcha the disaster managers are watching and already considering possible plans....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR:
I know Bill is like ...damn =P very impressive

but what is this?

hello guys this is the new tropical wave that the models are predicting to become 92L/DANNY
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
943. IKE
Quoting reedzone:
The NHC is smart, they want to see more model runs before alerting the Northeast.


Or....maybe they don't think it's going to hit the NE USA?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'll have the 5 pm Storm Track, probably around 7 pm. I am on my other computer, which has Microsoft Powerpoint 2004, not 2007, which the computer w/all the graphics has.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
I'm scared of hurricanes, don't want them to hit land or destroy property or life, but Bill is a very beautiful Hurricane on Satelite especially on the visible imagery as perfect as a hurricane can be IMO.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
940. IKE
Caribou,Maine....

LONG TERM /SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
-- Changed Discussion --
OUR FOCUS THIS WEEKEND TURNS TO HURRICANE BILL. AS THE STORM
CONTINUES NORTH OFF THE MID ATLANTIC COAST SATURDAY NIGHT SOME
RAIN MAY CONTINUE ALONG A STALLED FRONT ACROSS THE REGION. THE
STORM IS CURRENTLY PROJECTED TO TRACK JUST SOUTH AND EAST OF NOVA
SCOTIA DURING THE DAY SUNDAY.
THIS TRACK MAY BE CLOSE ENOUGH TO
BRING HIGH SEAS...WIND AND HEAVY RAIN TO COASTAL AREAS DURING THE
DAY SUNDAY. THE STORM IS THEN EXPECTED TO ACCELERATE NORTHEAST
INTO THE EASTERN MARITIMES LATER SUNDAY INTO SUNDAY NIGHT AS IT
BECOMES EXTRATROPICAL. THIS WILL ALLOW SKIES TO CLEAR AND WINDS TO
DECREASE OVERNIGHT. A MODERATELY COOLER AND DRIER AIRMASS SHOULD
THEN FOLLOW FOR EARLY NEXT WEEK. DUE TO THE PROXIMITY OF THE
PROJECTED TRACK OF HURRICANE BILL THIS WEEKEND...RESIDENTS OF
DOWNEAST MAINE ARE ADVISED TO STAY IN TUNE FOR UPDATES AND
REVISIONS ON THE STORMS TRACK AS THE WEEKEND APPROACHES.
-

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bill is a powerhouse
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So this is looking more and more unlucky for us Maritimers in Halifax (and the rest of NS).

Time to get prepared before the stores go nuts. During Juan, everybody wrote it off as nothing, and were caught retardedly off guard. I was in New Brunswick that time, I own a home 3 miles from the ocean outside Halifax this time.
Member Since: August 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 145
937. Relix
Quoting JLPR:
I know Bill is like ...damn =P very impressive

but what is this?


I was asking for models about this. Last night it was pointing right at the antilles.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The NHC is smart, they want to see more model runs before alerting the Northeast.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Interesting to note from the 5PM Wind Speed Probabilities Bermuda has a 10% probability of hurricane force winds, Nantucket Ma has 7%.


So, from a pretty close hit on Bermuda to literally splitting the difference...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting stormpetrol:
Bill"eye" has that Stadium affect but it is pointing in westward angle in last frame.


What does that mean?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting redwagon:
Ike, that's the exact same verbiage NY used?

That which you bolded.


They dont want a panic, and I agree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
damn, I missed Jerry by 3 minutes!!!!!


No you didn't...I caught a few minutes and thought I'd look back in. How are you, Amy?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ike, that's the exact same verbiage NY used?

That which you bolded.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bill"eye" has that Stadium affect but it is pointing in westward angle in last frame.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KimberlyB:
Question. I was just looking at the 5 day forecast map and the 2am tomorrow looks like there is a faint cat5 shadow behind the cat4 icon. Is anyone else seeing this or do I need to go get my glasses checked?


I should have mentioned I was looking at the 5 day forecast map on WU.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tiggeriffic:
flood!


Tigger! I just stuck my head back in for a sec...how are you?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
927. JLPR
I know Bill is like ...damn =P very impressive

but what is this?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicTraveler:
Melagoo - Isn't sable island where all the fishing fleet got wiped out by an unexpected storm (I think around 1926 or 1927 - no satellite service then. There's a memorial in a museum in Nova Scotia (I think in Halifax) My fish logo comes from the Fisheries Museum there. It's a very moving memorial about what happened before we had good weather forecasting.


Ship Wrecks Sable Island

Big chart of all the ship wrecks
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicTraveler:

Look at the nexrad (It's on the bar at the top of the blog - it's just about there. I also just heard there was just a tornado in Minneapolis. Unverified as yet by me.


Ya. I'm just north of the tornado watch, but close enough that it still counts. I have about 30 - 45 mins before it hits here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 974 - 924

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.