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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2174. breald
Quoting TropicTraveler:


I hope there really is a wonder trough to keep the storm way offshore. There was a graphic of the GFS model that showed a second storm catching up with Bill forming a super storm off Iceland and then heading for Great Britain. That is an awesome graphic. A few pages back.


I guess it is the the older England's turn to have a perfect storm.
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 38 Comments: 5303
2173. ncstorm
Quoting AllStar17:


That would mean a much closer approach to the East Coast shoreline.


would this mean a brush with NC as well?
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Good Morning everyone.....One thing i have noticed in the Water Vapor loop that i look at first thing is the Low that is to pick Bill up and out has flattend out and not coming much further south in the last few frames....Seems to be moving more in a near due East in the last few frames as it sorta is riding over the top of the High....It needs to keep coming which im sure it will but, its just an observation i think im seeing.
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2170. IMA
Quoting P451:


Good Morning, Storm. Looking forward to your analysis as usual. Thanks again for continuing it this year.


Yes, I keep meaning to say that! I was very glad to see you were with us this year, {{{StormW}}}}. I hope you and yours are doing well. TY so much for all you do.

Now, I have to run and will be having WU withdrawals while I'm gone! :) HAGD, y'all!
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Quoting P451:


Like with every hurricane that makes it to Nova Scotia you can count on the locals to get out there with their cameras and put it on youtube.

Link


That is true
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Quoting iluvjess:
I still think that the recurve in the models and the forecast is too aggressive.


Yes, even the NHC states that
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Pretty well organized, wouldn't be surprised for it to bump back up to Category 4 at 11.
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I still think that the recurve in the models and the forecast is too aggressive.
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Quoting IKE:


True. Looked at San Antonio's forecast....upper 90's to near 100 the next 7 days. Most of the cooler air will be east of there.

Calling for mid 60's here in the inland Florida panhandle for Saturday and Sunday night. High's near 90.
Good Morning Ike. I See that over night Bill has decided to take some gulps of dry air and has been on a 315* heading also been downgraded to Cat 3.
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2163. Ossqss
Bay of Fundy in Action



Big tides in the target area that Bill is pointing to.

Quote

The water level at high tide can be as much as 16 meters (52.5 feet) higher than at low tide.


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting P451:






Certainly does not LOOK like it is strengthening. But the pressure is dropping.
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Quoting StormW:
THE CORRECTED CONSENSUS MODELS CALL FOR A MUCH
SHARPER EASTWARD TURN...KEEPING THE CENTER WELL AWAY FROM NEW
ENGLAND AND CANADA. THE TRACK FORECAST IS BETWEEN THESE EXTREMES
AND DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE GUIDANCE ENVELOPE IN BEST OVERALL
AGREEMENT WITH THE GFDL. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT BILL WILL
PROBABLY NOT TURN AS SHARPLY BETWEEN 72-96 HR AS IMPLIED BY THE
TRACK GRAPHIC...AND THUS IS LIKELY TO PASS CLOSER TO NEW ENGLAND
THAN THE GRAPHIC WOULD SUGGEST.


That would mean a much closer approach to the East Coast shoreline.
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I wonder who TWC will send out to cover Bill. I know they probably won't, but it would be cool if they sent someone to Nova Scotia so we can see how bad the storm is there. They will probably send someone to Cape Cod, maybe Maine.
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2155. Sting13
Quoting KEHCharleston:
2129. KEEPEROFTHEGATE
Good morning, KOG

Are most folks in Canada taking this serious? Preparations under way, etc? Tidal surge will be hide (run from the water)What would be the evacuation process - or will folks ride it out in their homes.


Last night was the first real news report on it, stating hurricane prepairness, but no evacuation is planned, personally ill be putting plywood over the bigger windows in the house just incase.
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Quoting P451:
Looking very healthy again this morning...


Indeed,no Mexican flu on Bill.
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2153. Sting13
Quoting KEHCharleston:
2129. KEEPEROFTHEGATE
Good morning, KOG

Are most folks in Canada taking this serious? Preparations under way, etc? Tidal surge will be hide (run from the water)What would be the evacuation process - or will folks ride it out in their homes.


Last night was the first real news report on it, stating hurricane prepairness, but no evacuation is planned, personally ill be putting plywood over the bigger windows in the house just incase.
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Quoting NEwxguy:
I've cleaned up my yard,secured a lot of items,so I feel pretty safe at this point,these storms are too unpredictable to wait for until the last moment.


My prayers go with you NE residents and NS residents as well. Let me tell you by experience. Canned items will become Gold (can opener dont forget) Plenty of water, Gatorade, Batteries, And a weather radio could be a life saver as well. meds need to be refilled if needed. and a first aid kit with plenty of antibacterial stuff such as neosporin. I do not wish to cause panic. I just want people to be prepared. if this make a turn for the worst, please evacuate especially if you have kids or elderly people. Do not forget pets ok... This is for NE and NS as well....
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Either Bill is undergoing EWRC or he just winked at me on the visible sat loop
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The non tasked mission was finding pressures at around 944 MB, I think we have a strengthening system.
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I think these African waves that have emerged bear watching as they head westward. Wave at about 25-30 W shows hints of circulation without any convection. If it can form convection, it may need to be watched.
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Quoting AllStar17:


Uh....I said very much NOT out of the woods!


So,would that not be"IN the woods"lol.
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2129. KEEPEROFTHEGATE
Good morning, KOG

Are most folks in Canada taking this serious? Preparations under way, etc? Tidal surge will be high (run from the water)What would be the evacuation process - or will folks ride it out in their homes.

EDITED: high instead of hide
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Quoting apocalyps:


Actually,they are completely in the woods.
Bill is going more and more to the west.
Interesting to see NHC will save themselves from this.Probably they will say it will be a TS when it hits.


Uh....I said very much NOT out of the woods!
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2143. NEwxguy
I've cleaned up my yard,secured a lot of items,so I feel pretty safe at this point,these storms are too unpredictable to wait for until the last moment.
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Quoting IMA:


So many people are interested only if it might affect them. So many are only interested if it's going to make U.S. landfall. The rest of us are interested in the science of it and realize there are always people affected (shipping interests, other areas besides our own or the U.S., the people who are working their butts off trying to forecast, etc.).


That is not just for storms but for everything in live.People just care if it has something to do with themselves.
Or some "care"only if it is seen by all the others.
And Bill is going WNW.
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Wave heights are projected to exceed 15 feet around Nantucket Island on the 23rd.

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Quoting breald:



Where are they going to send Cantore if this wonder trough is going to keep this off shore? Maybe they will put him on a boat off the shore of Sable island...LOL.


I hope there really is a wonder trough to keep the storm way offshore. There was a graphic of the GFS model that showed a second storm catching up with Bill forming a super storm off Iceland and then heading for Great Britain. That is an awesome graphic. A few pages back.
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:
I feel a bit uneasy about New England based on the latest discussion from the NHC... Please have your stuff taken care of there. You all over NE should be making oreparations better to be safe than sorry. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best... Not saying it will hit you New England, but your odds are increasing exponentially....
Wouldn't say quiet exponentially, but your odds of a strike are increasing. The best plan at this time, like CaneHunter said, would be to simply make sure you have the required amount of canned food, water, etc, and also make sure you have a place to stay inland if the storm does end up heading up that way. By the time Bill makes the northerly turn (wherever that may be) he will be moving very quickly, and there will limited time.
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2138. IMA
Quoting AllStar17:


Which is very sad. Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Newfoundland, the East Coast, etc. are very much not out of the woods.


So many people are interested only if it might affect them. So many are only interested if it's going to make U.S. landfall. The rest of us are interested in the science of it and realize there are always people affected (shipping interests, other areas besides our own or the U.S., the people who are working their butts off trying to forecast, etc.).
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Quoting P451:


We need everything we can get here in Jersey. Growing tired of the muggy weather. Here in central jersey the last few nights the storms died before they got to me here. Some nice wind 2 nights ago though.

Worse off is the air quality. It's pretty tough to breathe this stuff. We need a break!



Yeah, Central Park hadn't broken 90 at all this summer until August 19th; now we've had a whole week full of 90+ temps. Thunderstorms passed just to the north of me yesterday and Tuesday.
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I just don't think people understand the amount of surge this thing is carrying. I hope the NHC, The Weather Channel, and other responsible national media organizations will get the word out well enough and emphasize the size comparable to water rise with these types of storms such as Bill.
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I feel a bit uneasy about New England based on the latest discussion from the NHC... Please have your stuff taken care of there. You all over NE should be making oreparations better to be safe than sorry. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best... Not saying it will hit you New England, but your odds are increasing exponentially....
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Quoting AllStar17:


Which is very sad. Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Newfoundland, the East Coast, etc. are very much not out of the woods.


Actually,they are completely in the woods.
Bill is going more and more to the west.
Interesting to see NHC will save themselves from this.Probably they will say it will be a TS when it hits.
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From NWS Philadelphia:

HURRICANE BILL COULD BE A RATHER LARGE HURRICANE AS
IT SLIDES WELL TO OUR EAST THIS WEEKEND, AND PERHAPS THIS MAY CAUSE
THE UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH TO SLOW DOWN SOME
AS IT MAY BE FORCED TO DIG
SOUTH SOME /A POSITIVELY TO NEUTRAL TILTED TROUGH/ BEFORE GOING
EASTWARD. THIS MAY SLOW UP THE COLD FRONTAL BOUNDARY. THERE
SEEMS TO BE MORE OF A MODEL CONSENSUS OF SOME SORT OF LOW/MID LEVEL
CONVERGENCE ZONE BECOMING ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE INCOMING
UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH AND THE HURRICANE
WELL TO OUR EAST. THIS ZONE
WOULD TEND TO BE ENHANCED BY THE LOW-LEVEL FRONTAL BOUNDARY. THE END
RESULT COULD BE NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS SATURDAY, WHICH
POSSIBLY MAY LEAD TO LOCALLY TORRENTIAL RAINFALL GIVEN THE RATHER
MOIST ATMOSPHERE IN PLACE.
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Quoting P451:


We need everything we can get here in Jersey. Growing tired of the muggy weather. Here in central jersey the last few nights the storms died before they got to me here. Some nice wind 2 nights ago though.

Worse off is the air quality. It's pretty tough to breathe this stuff. We need a break!



I'm in north/central NJ too and I'm hoping for nothing other than surf advisories (I live 15-20 miles inland, so it's not really a big deal to me.)

Hopefully after Bill scrubs his way up the coast, he'll drag some of this awful air quality with him. The heat/humidity isn't SO bad, but the haze/pollution is making a lot of people miserable.
Member Since: August 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
2129. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
WOCN31 CWHX 201200
HURRICANE BILL INFORMATION STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE CANADIAN
HURRICANE CENTRE OF ENVIRONMENT CANADA AT 9.00 AM ADT THURSDAY
20 AUGUST 2009.

THE NEXT STATEMENT WILL BE ISSUED BY 3.00 PM ADT

...HURRICANE BILL EXPECTED TO IMPACT ATLANTIC CANADA ON SUNDAY...

1. CURRENT POSITION, STRENGTH, CENTRAL PRESSURE AND MOTION

AT 9.00 AM ADT... HURRICANE BILL WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 22.3 N
AND LONGITUDE 61.3 W... ABOUT 275 NAUTICAL MILES OR 505 KM
NORTH NORTHEAST OF ST MAARTEEN. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE
ESTIMATED AT 115 KNOTS... 213 KM/H... AND CENTRAL PRESSURE AT 948
MB. BILL IS MOVING NORTHWEST AT 16 KNOTS... 30 KM/H.

2. FORECAST POSITION, CENTRAL PRESSURE AND STRENGTH

DATE TIME LAT LON MSLP MAX WIND
ADT MB KTS KMH
AUG 20 9.00 AM 22.3N 61.3W 948 115 213
AUG 20 9.00 PM 24.0N 63.5W 942 120 222
AUG 21 9.00 AM 26.5N 65.7W 942 120 222
AUG 21 9.00 PM 29.4N 67.4W 942 120 222
AUG 22 9.00 AM 33.0N 68.0W 948 115 213
AUG 22 9.00 PM 36.6N 68.2W 952 110 204
AUG 23 9.00 AM 41.3N 66.3W 965 95 176 TRANSITIONING
AUG 23 9.00 PM 44.5N 62.2W 976 80 148 TRANSITIONING
AUG 24 9.00 AM 49.2N 54.7W 987 65 120 TRANSITIONING
AUG 24 9.00 PM 52.0N 43.9W 994 55 102 POST-TROPICAL
AUG 25 9.00 AM 55.4N 25.8W 994 55 102 POST-TROPICAL

3. PUBLIC WEATHER IMPACTS AND WARNINGS SUMMARY
AT THIS POINT IT IS TOO EARLY FOR WARNINGS TO BE ISSUED AS BILL
REMAINS WELL TO OUR SOUTH.

4. MARINE WEATHER IMPACTS AND WARNINGS SUMMARY
GIVEN THE CURRENT CHC TRACK HURRICANE BILL IS EXPECTED TO IMPACT
MARITIME MARINE AREAS LATER THIS WEEKEND, HOWEVER IT IS TOO EARLY
TO ISSUE WARNINGS.

5. TECHNICAL DISCUSSION FOR METEOROLOGISTS

A. ANALYSIS
CURRENTLY FOLLOWING NHC.

B. PROGNOSTIC
FOLLOWING NHC ON BOTH TRACK AND INTENSITY.

BILL IS TRACKING NORTHWESTWARD NORTH OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AND
IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ON THIS PATH FOR THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. AFTER
THAT A DEEP-LAYER TROUGH IS FORECAST TO MOVE OVER THE EASTERN
UNITED STATES WHILE AN UPPER-LEVEL RIDGE BUILDS OVER THE ATLANTIC.
THESE TWO FEATURES WILL STEER BILL NORTHWARD AND EVENTUALLY
NORTHEASTWARD LATER IN THE FORECAST PERIOD. TRACK GUIDANCE IS
TIGHTLY CLUSTERED FOR THE FIRST 2 TO 3 DAYS BUT THEN BECOMES
DIVERGENT ON BOTH DIRECTION AND SPEED.

EARLY CYCLONE PHASE SPACE DIAGRAMS INDICATE BILL WILL BEGIN TO
UNDERGO EXTRA-TROPICAL TRANSITION ON THE 23RD AND WILL BE COMPLETED
EARLY ON THE 24TH.

C. PUBLIC WEATHER
NOTHING TO SAY AT THIS POINT.

D. MARINE WEATHER

PREDICTED WIND RADII (NM)
TIME GALES STORMS HURRICANE
NE SE SW NW NE SE SW NW NE SE SW NW
20/12Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 45 30 45
21/00Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 45 30 45
21/12Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 45 30 45
22/00Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 45 30 45
22/12Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 45 30 45
23/00Z 200 175 100 175 105 90 60 90 75 60 30 30
23/12Z 225 225 120 175 120 120 70 90 75 60 30 30
24/00Z 225 225 150 120 120 120 90 60 60 60 0 0
24/12Z 240 240 150 120 150 150 90 60 60 60 0 0
25/00Z 240 240 150 120 150 150 90 60 0 0 0 0
25/12Z 240 240 150 120 150 150 90 60 0 0 0 0


END MARCH/BOWYER

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there is an area 11N 25W wich at the moment has little convection but has a vigorous circulation.the area is under low wind shear and the sal is weak. this area should be monitored as it moves west next few days
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Quoting P451:


It's a bit early yet. Also when a storm is no longer a threat to the Gulf or the Carribean we lose a lot of posters.


Which is very sad. Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Newfoundland, the East Coast, etc. are very much not out of the woods.
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2126. breald
Quoting TropicTraveler:
According to the Weather Channel we have something called the "Wonder Jet Stream" and "Wonder Trough" that will absolutely and positively keep Bill off shore and out to sea. I believe there was no mention of Nova Scotia and thereabouts as being affected. Most of the models ram all that surge right up the Bay of Fundy. So the Wonder Jet is their theme for the day. So we can all quit worrying. Right? Right???????



Where are they going to send Cantore if this wonder trough is going to keep this off shore? Maybe they will put him on a boat off the shore of Sable island...LOL.
Member Since: May 28, 2008 Posts: 38 Comments: 5303
Quoting AllStar17:
Blog not extremely active today. Have people given up on Bill??


If it's not a threat to Florida you lose at least half the commenters.
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Quoting 21N71W:
Morning All,
Are we safe now in the Bahamas and in the Turks and Caicos.....one more day of worry maybe?
No worrying necessary at this point. Bill would find it impossible to trek due west at this time.
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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.