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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Can some please help me understand how I read this and still come to the conclusion it's not going to hit the North East? I understand the trough, I just don't see how it's going to move Bill out (like the BAMM model is predicting). BTW- I'm starting a "lurkn4years" fan club...
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No need to doubt NHC and their 3 day tracks, and, Bermuda and New England are both in the cone..It will boil down to a matter of degrees and you just have to be prepared either way..I do not expect any surprises outside of the current cone....My main concern is a shift to the western side of the current cone but at least the rapid acceleration/curve would make it a short-term event for New England; less so for Bermuda.
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Quoting Floodman:


Now you've done it...


Flood - We need Keeper of the Gate to join in... KOG should know as the gate keeper.
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Quoting P451:


Likely a very intense tstorm cell.



thanks guys!
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please quit quoting apocolyps2. all he wants is a response to his irresponsible posts.
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Quoting CScyclone:
SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME what exactly the ensemble models are... because they are pushed extremely far west, a few of them are predicting land fall in conn/mass.


Runs of the same model at a lower resolution with different initial starting conditions (parameters pressure, wind, height etc).
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Hurricane Bill is still moving West-Northwest.. Not NNW, North, or West. West-Northwest as it's forecast says.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting apocalyps2:


That would be a surprise to me.But if he does not turn friday all hell is breaking loose.
But still thinking friday he will turn.


Yeah, but I think models will put it up Friday morning or late Thursday night if he is not going to turn.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
No rapid intensification today.
The eyewall has weakened significantly.


A little early to say EWRC, but the last frame or 2 hint at it.
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Quoting TexasWynd:


well duh no one knows only God does .. period
Quoting Floodman:


Now you've done it...
now thats a old school name and hello floodman
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Quoting CloudGatherer:
I'm going to flaunt my ignorance here by asking a question. There seems to be some divergence between the observed and inferred values for windspeeds in this storm.

Bill's satellite presentation is excellent, and his central pressure is low, and getting lower. We've seen T-numbers that are consistently high, and typical of solidly Cat 4 storms. The peak flight level winds in the northeastern quadrant are tremendously impressive, most recently clocking in at 135kts, and the standard reduction factors also imply a Category 4 storm. On that basis, the NHC has been maintaining the estimated speed at 115kts.

But although we're in the third day of hurricane hunter missions, the aircraft have yet to back that up through actual observation. They've been throwing out dropsondes left and right, and using SFMR constantly - and yet the highest reading they've managed to obtain is 105kts. On this most recent pass, it was 103kts. That's consistent with a mid-range Category 3 storm, and not a Cat 4 monster.

I know that SFMR is hardly the most reliable gauge of windspeed, but what's up with this? Is it possible that Bill is weaker than we think, but that its excellent presentation is throwing off the models? Or is this simply strong evidence for the superiority of sophisticated modeling over actual observation?


That is exactly what I am trying to figure out.
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monomania (from Greek monos, one, and mania, mania) is a type of paranoia in which the patient has only one idea or type of ideas. Emotional monomania is that in which the patient is obsessed with only one emotion or several related to it; intellectual monomania is that which is related to only one kind of delirious idea or ideas.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Huh. The last memo I saw says:
"First there will be a comet that falls from the sky,
followed by meteor showers and tidal waves,
followed by fault lines that cannot sit still,
followed by millions of dumbfounded dip-$#!ts.
And some say the end is near.


See, that's the last one I got...you missed too, huh?
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Just been doing some quick analysis and came across something very interesting that could start weakening the hurricane in the very near future. It seems like somehow, Hurricane Bill lost the protective anticyclone which has gone into the NE Caribbean this afternoon as evident by the wind shear analysis map below from CIMSS. It seems like this very same anticyclone that was supposed to protect the hurricane has started to impart shear on the storm, which could explain the weakening eye wall. Don't be surprised to see this weaken at the next update.

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Another 24 hours and there will be no more dry air for Bill to eat. He'll have to start eating hot humid air which could make him a big grouch.
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Quoting Dakster:


You are right, he is actually going NNW not NW... Lookout Bermuda if that trends keeps.


From th last two Hurricane Hunter Vottex Fixes... which is the true center. The Current motion is 309 degrees.
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Yes, and those 94 knot maximum winds are not even cat 3.

Thats from 3:30AM.
Its still a Category 4.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15920
Quoting Dakster:


It is amazing how far we have come in 18 years. That official plotting chart looks ancient. Of course, the "internet" was in its infancy and most of us that were computer savvy were logging on to Prodigy, CompuServe, AOL, or locally run BBS's through 14.4k modems.

No back to the weather - I hope that Bill follows the NHC forecast and all are spared. If it follows the track, let Bill reach CAT 5, upwell cold water, etc.. It is impressive to watch.



And the few sites that had tropical info like FSU blocked all outside traffic. Prodigy,lol, wonder if my email is still out there somewhere.
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Initial 18Z update

AL 03 2009081918 BEST 0 193N 569W 115 947 HU


Maintains intensity at 115 kt. Movement is 305 deg at 20 mph.
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A slight northward shift on the BAMM model runs, however, the NHC will shift left then recurve it a bit more eastward. If not, then we will see at 5 p.m. what the outcome is. There a good chance the cone will cover a tad more of the USA, not by much though.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting apocalyps2:


God does not know either.
God is not a person.


Now you've done it...
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The continuous slight jogs to the west on the models is disheartening. A pattern possibly?
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Quoting apocalyps2:


What does that mean Monomania?
Actually better safe then sorry,so by saying i expect a eastcoast hit they could prepare if you say(like most yesterday)no problem it is a fishy we are all safe.Then you are irresponsible.
The odds for an Eastcoast landfall were obvieus to me since monday.So i may say so.


From Wikipedia:
In psychiatry, monomania (from Greek monos, one, and mania, mania) is a type of paranoia in which the patient has only one idea or type of ideas. Emotional monomania is that in which the patient is obsessed with only one emotion or several related to it; intellectual monomania is that which is related to only one kind of delirious idea or ideas.

In colloquial terms, the term monomania is often attached to subcultures that to the general public appear esoteric. However, the differences between monomania and passion can be very subtle and difficult to recognize.


chuckle -- it's okay to have passion but we got your message several of your posts back -- also, since some of us have to help with cleaning up the mess, emotional, physical, and mental, we'd appreciate your turning the volume down, okay? Besides, it IS the Doc's rules and they're there for a reason.

Take care and stay safe.
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Quoting WaterWitch11:
ok I can't manage to do the pictures right

does ANYONE see the white above the eye and to the right on the infrared? what is it?


Cold cloud tops.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15920
Quoting CloudGatherer:
I'm going to flaunt my ignorance here by asking a question. There seems to be some divergence between the observed and inferred values for windspeeds in this storm.

Bill's satellite presentation is excellent, and his central pressure is low, and getting lower. We've seen T-numbers that are consistently high, and typical of solidly Cat 4 storms. The peak flight level winds in the northeastern quadrant are tremendously impressive, most recently clocking in at 135kts, and the standard reduction factors also imply a Category 4 storm. On that basis, the NHC has been maintaining the estimated speed at 115kts.

But although we're in the third day of hurricane hunter missions, the aircraft have yet to back that up through actual observation. They've been throwing out dropsondes left and right, and using SFMR constantly - and yet the highest reading they've managed to obtain is 105kts. On this most recent pass, it was 103kts. That's consistent with a mid-range Category 3 storm, and not a Cat 4 monster.

I know that SFMR is hardly the most reliable gauge of windspeed, but what's up with this? Is it possible that Bill is weaker than we think, but that its excellent presentation is throwing off the models? Or is this simply strong evidence for the superiority of sophisticated modeling over actual observation?

The only response I have to this off-hand is that few of our remote systems and model are realtime enough for the HHunters to get out there and sample exactly the same thing in the same spot that thoses systems saw.
Plus, the maximum intenisty put together by the multiplatfor wind analysis, below, and others, show a tiny sliver of data over 110 knots. That part of Bill could have ebbed, split, moved, any number of possibilites in between the time it was sampled and the Hhunters arrived on scene.



Addendum: And see post 435.
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SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME what exactly the ensemble models are... because they are pushed extremely far west, a few of them are predicting land fall in conn/mass.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Here is the windfield from 3:30 AM EDT this morning. IKE(0-6) = Wind=3.1 Surge/Waves=4.8




Yes, and those 94 knot maximum winds are not even cat 3.
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444. bcn
Quoting PimpCane:


Depends on how fast it's moving when it starts hitting cold water and high shear. Juan struck Nova Scotia in 2003 as a 100-mph storm, so that's not out of realm of possibility. The latest NHC track has it as a Cat 3 well east of the Maryland coast, then a Cat 1 on the doorstep of Newfoundland, so if that were to hold (and who knows?), a borderline 1/2 would not be an unreasonable thing to prepare for.


Link
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apocalyps2

In a weird way I understand what you're doing I just think you are going about it in an annoying way..

I think some people do need to be feared into actually preparing.. Especially us in S.FLA who have become so use to not getting any storms that people actually think they are being protected by some magical bubble.. That is what happened when Andrew hit no one prepared and were laughing at the storm until it was knocking at their door.. Personally most of the people I know or talk to don't even have the basic hurricane supplies..

You are just over pushing the issue and people are going to do whatever they want regardless.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
No rapid intensification today.
The eyewall has weakened significantly.




EWRC maybe or no?
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Quoting samiam1234:


Bill seems to already have turn NW.. last 10 frames showing him going 325 degrees.. true NW would be 315 degrees.


You are right, he is actually going NNW not NW... Lookout Bermuda if that trends keeps.
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ok I can't manage to do the pictures right

does ANYONE see the white above the eye and to the right on the infrared? what is it?
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Cat 4 winds start at 114 knots (131 mph) sustained surface. Strongest flag I can find is 103 knots (118.4 mph). Those are 10 sec SFMR peak values. I understand that the NHC is using 1 sec values now, but the difference between 1 second and 10 seconds is slight when you consider the scale of things.

Cat 4 minimum surface pressures run from 944 down to 920. So if the vortex was 944, Bill is a marginal Cat 4.

So Bill has Cat 3 winds, barely Cat 4 pressure, unknown on surge. The winds and pressure are based on actual HH data - they are not estimated off satellite.

I'm happy to have my misunderstandings cleared up. What am I missing?


edit to add: "Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 102kts (~ 117.4mph)"
from vortex message posted above. I found 103 knots on one of the 10 sec SFMR flags, so there is agreement between flag and vortex message on wind speed (well below cat 4)
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Quoting KarenRei:


Well, duh. As everyone knows, *that* starts with an earthquake...


well duh no one knows only God does .. period
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No rapid intensification today.
The eyewall has weakened significantly.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15920
Quoting Floodman:


Okaty, well that makes more sense, I guess; the birds and snakes that is...got to make it to the meetings! LOL

Huh. The last memo I saw says:
"First there will be a comet that falls from the sky,
followed by meteor showers and tidal waves,
followed by fault lines that cannot sit still,
followed by millions of dumbfounded dip-$#!ts.
And some say the end is near.
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The loop on the prior page showed some dry air looking to get in on Bills SW side. Is that indeed happening?
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Quoting klaatuborada:
18 years ago today and tomorrow, when Bob came up he started to do the old curve as well, but that stalled and brought him right up into us. He was more West to begin with, but....



...we were hoping he'd keep curving out, which was what forecasters at the time were saying was a possibility. My friend and I looked at the weather map and said, that thing is going to come right up and get us. We went shopping that night, by morning there was nothing left in the stores.

Bob was not fun, and not that strong a hurricane. Bill looks like less fun. Please start turning, Bill, please start turning.


It is amazing how far we have come in 18 years. That official plotting chart looks ancient. Of course, the "internet" was in its infancy and most of us that were computer savvy were logging on to Prodigy, CompuServe, AOL, or locally run BBS's through 14.4k modems.

No back to the weather - I hope that Bill follows the NHC forecast and all are spared. If it follows the track, let Bill reach CAT 5, upwell cold water, etc.. It is impressive to watch.

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Bill's inner core reminds me a lot of Andrew. I'm not making comparisons with the track or anything, but they both have that classic buzsaw look goin on.
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Quoting apocalyps2:


Friday when he turns


Bill seems to already have turn NW.. last 10 frames showing him going 325 degrees.. true NW would be 315 degrees.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Winds speeds are Cat 4 and the pressure is usual cat 4, what are you referring too?


Cat 4 winds start at 114 knots (131 mph) sustained surface. Strongest flag I can find is 103 knots (118.4 mph). Those are 10 sec SFMR peak values. I understand that the NHC is using 1 sec values now, but the difference between 1 second and 10 seconds is slight when you consider the scale of things.

Cat 4 minimum surface pressures run from 944 down to 920. So if the vortex was 944, Bill is a marginal Cat 4.

So Bill has Cat 3 winds, barely Cat 4 pressure, unknown on surge. The winds and pressure are based on actual HH data - they are not estimated off satellite.

I'm happy to have my misunderstandings cleared up. What am I missing?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm going to flaunt my ignorance here by asking a question. There seems to be some divergence between the observed and inferred values for windspeeds in this storm.

Bill's satellite presentation is excellent, and his central pressure is low, and getting lower. We've seen T-numbers that are consistently high, and typical of solidly Cat 4 storms. The peak flight level winds in the northeastern quadrant are tremendously impressive, most recently clocking in at 135kts, and the standard reduction factors also imply a Category 4 storm. On that basis, the NHC has been maintaining the estimated speed at 115kts.

But although we're in the third day of hurricane hunter missions, the aircraft have yet to back that up through actual observation. They've been throwing out dropsondes left and right, and using SFMR constantly - and yet the highest reading they've managed to obtain is 105kts. On this most recent pass, it was 103kts. That's consistent with a mid-range Category 3 storm, and not a Cat 4 monster.

I know that SFMR is hardly the most reliable gauge of windspeed, but what's up with this? Is it possible that Bill is weaker than we think, but that its excellent presentation is throwing off the models? Or is this simply strong evidence for the superiority of sophisticated modeling over actual observation?
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426. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
815
TCNA21 RJTD 191800
CCAA 19180 47644 VAMCO(0910) 13182 11575 12244 255// 90000=

18:00 PM UTC August 19

TY VAMCO (0910)
18.2N 157.5E
Dvorak Intensity: T5.5
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he is already going NW.. just look at the last 10 frames.. put the mouse on the center of eye and see where he ends up he is actually moving at 325 degrees.. true NW is 315 degrees
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Quoting iluvjess:
I hope that the Westward shift in the model guidance is just that and not a new trend. How mant times have we seen one nudge left followed by more and more shifts towards the West.


Ohh no,, I am sure you don't have to be too worried, So far it has followed the models pretty well. Saty vigilant always, but I can tell you that the chances of Bill hitting th East Coast are diminishing by the hour.. If you live in Nova Scotia then you should be worried. My prayers got to them and I am gratefull we did not get it :o)
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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.