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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Quoting stormsurge39:
Ive noticed on Bills track, that he is going more degrees longitude than latitude. Its confusing that he going more W than N and is on a NW track, seems like it would be the other way around. Oh well just an observation.


A true NW track would mean he travelled the same distance west as north. Most of his track has been roughly WNW, which means 2 miles west for each mile north.
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Looked at it wrong! Sorry folks
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Quoting cajunkid:
if it did hit NY, at least it wouldn't take two weeks to pump the water out



Lol...True!!
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Quoting cajunmoma:



I understand what you are saying. I just NEVER want to see a repeat of what happened in NO. That was a mess. When Gustav came last year they put into effect Contraflow...and it seem to work really well. I guess having gone through so many of these things, it just scares me to think of all the people and no where to go. Take Ike for instance, it just skirted us and we still got really high winds inland here in Louisiana. The surge is a big threat as well, I don't think anyone really expected Ike to have such huge surge with it. It would just be nice if it were some way to get people out of harms way.


You are right, of course. It scares me a bit too--should have put that in my first post! My family still lives on Long Island, near the north shore, but not that close to the coast. Obviously, the north shore doesn't get it as bad as the south shore since the land mass would likely slow Bill down considerably.

If all goes well with the current track, they won't feel more than some gusty winds...but it is something I am keeping my eye on, because it would simply be a monumental task--in my opinion impossible--to evacuate that many people when there are only a few ways off of the island.
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if it did hit NY, at least it wouldn't take two weeks to pump the water out
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Ive noticed on Bills track, that he is going more degrees longitude than latitude. Its confusing that he going more W than N and is on a NW track, seems like it would be the other way around. Oh well just an observation.
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2017. Ossqss
2007. P451 7:32 AM

Don't let them bother you. It is relevant and interesting. If we ignore the current things happening, we would only need to post every 6 hours on the updates and it is sure does break up the monotony :)
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #27
TYPHOON VAMCO (T0910)
15:00 PM JST August 20 2009
=========================================

SUBJECT: Category Four Typhoon South-southeast Minamitori-sima

At 6:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Vamco (945 hPa) located at 18.9N 157.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 90 knots with gusts of 130 knots. The typhoon is reported as moving northwest slowly

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T6.0

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

Gale-Force Winds
===============
200 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
160 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
24 HRS: 21.0N 156.3E - 100 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)
48 HRS: 24.0N 154.7E - 100 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)
72 HRS: 27.8N 153.5E - 95 knots (Cat 4/Typhoon)

Hello and Good Evening/Morning all.
1 question, Why isn't Typhoon Vamco listed as a Super Typhoon? Isn't Cat 4 Cat 5 normally classified as a Super Typhoon?
Cheers AussieStorm
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Morning All.

2007. P451 11:32 AM GMT on August 20, 2009 Hide this comment.

Quoting hunkerdown:
don't analyse every satellite update, click the lat/long tab and look at the average track over the whole loop...you will see a NW track.


With Bermuda being equivalent to a needle in a haystack, every jog does make a big difference. It looks like it is going to jog again to the right of the track this morning. All those jogs bring the storm closer and closer and a jog of a mere 50 miles could have HUGE ramifications on the small island. I think people who pick enjoy it and are merely here to cause problems instead of study the weather. NHC is for sure studying every jog to see if it corrects itself or if the track may need to be adjusted to accommodate. Study away I say and for those that don't like it, simply move on to the next post.
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Quoting NY2FLTransplant:


I am originally from Long Island. You are not the first person to mention evacuating the NY area. I am here to tell you, there is no possibility of evacuating Long Island, for example, and even the island of Manhattan (between the mainland and Long Island) is a huge stretch. There are far too many people and far too few bridges and tunnels off of these two islands. My opinion is that it would take weeks to evacuate, not days.

Having said that, on Long Island, we have been through hurricanes before, because of how it sticks out off the east coast (south of Connecticut, etc.) though not often and nothing as major as a Cat 3 or 4. Still Long Island, geographically, is a BIG island, and not all of it is coastline. I imagine that evacuations would be similar to how they are done in Pinellas County in Florida where I now live, which is a peninsula, smaller than the size of Long Island. The barrier islands and coastline would be evacuated, and those folks would move inland, or in the case of Long Island it's probably more accurate to say that they would pull more into the center of the island.

I was at college in Upstate NY in 1985, when Gloria hit Long Island (where my folks and my sister still lived) with 85 mph winds and a forward speed of 35mph--combined winds of about 120mph if you do the math. They were without power or phones for over a week. But they survived, and the house survived. There was never any concept of evacuation. On a good day, without major traffic, it would have taken my parents 2 hours to get "off of" Long Island. They would have been in stopped traffic, stuck in their cars when the hurricane hit, if there was any attempt at evacuation. It's simply not feasible.



I understand what you are saying. I just NEVER want to see a repeat of what happened in NO. That was a mess. When Gustav came last year they put into effect Contraflow...and it seem to work really well. I guess having gone through so many of these things, it just scares me to think of all the people and no where to go. Take Ike for instance, it just skirted us and we still got really high winds inland here in Louisiana. The surge is a big threat as well, I don't think anyone really expected Ike to have such huge surge with it. It would just be nice if it were some way to get people out of harms way.
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2013. WxLogic
Good morning...
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5070
2011. K8eCane
have any 8 am models come out yet?
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3236
Quoting IMA:


AMEN! I think I've found the first person to go on my list this year.

Good morning, y'all :)


Thanks,i always wanted to be on youre list.
What do you think about Bill?Since youre seem to be so smart.Or are you afraid to tell youre opinion?
At least i dear to give mine.
No hard feelings.Amen.
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Nope ..Dropped to a 3. For a while anyway! NY still may get a surprise The city itself is quite low, and a surge can make a serious mess.

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Good Morning All. Just got up and who could i see outside my window, tail end of Bill. Very dark skies, wind picking up. the Northern Range have some pretty heavy rainfall right now. Ok, going to earn a living. Laterz folks.
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 201
2006. IKE
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting cajunmoma:
I just can't help but think about the situation that arrived with Katrina here in Louisiana. I realize that it has been downed to a Cat 3, however, a Cat 3 can cause some major damange. I am worried about the NE area. How will they get all the people out if it hits an area like NY?? I mean, I guess I get nervous because I lived through a situation like that, but if I were those people in the NE I wouldn't take any chances with this storm. Too many glass buildings ya know.

Oh Good Morning to all!!!


I am originally from Long Island. You are not the first person to mention evacuating the NY area. I am here to tell you, there is no possibility of evacuating Long Island, for example, and even the island of Manhattan (between the mainland and Long Island) is a huge stretch. There are far too many people and far too few bridges and tunnels off of these two islands. My opinion is that it would take weeks to evacuate, not days.

Having said that, on Long Island, we have been through hurricanes before, because of how it sticks out off the east coast (south of Connecticut, etc.) though not often and nothing as major as a Cat 3 or 4. Still Long Island, geographically, is a BIG island, and not all of it is coastline. I imagine that evacuations would be similar to how they are done in Pinellas County in Florida where I now live, which is a peninsula, smaller than the size of Long Island. The barrier islands and coastline would be evacuated, and those folks would move inland, or in the case of Long Island it's probably more accurate to say that they would pull more into the center of the island.

I was at college in Upstate NY in 1985, when Gloria hit Long Island (where my folks and my sister still lived) with 85 mph winds and a forward speed of 35mph--combined winds of about 120mph if you do the math. They were without power or phones for over a week. But they survived, and the house survived. There was never any concept of evacuation. On a good day, without major traffic, it would have taken my parents 2 hours to get "off of" Long Island. They would have been in stopped traffic, stuck in their cars when the hurricane hit, if there was any attempt at evacuation. It's simply not feasible.
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2004. 7544
Quoting leftovers:
HURRICANE WARNING N OF 23N E OF 71W FRI AND FRI NIGHT this interest me


isnt that the bahamas
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2001. IMA
Quoting HopquickSteve:


I would love a "don't speak with certainty rule", or a little button that can pop a disclaimer on someone.


AMEN! I think I've found the first person to go on my list this year.

Good morning, y'all :)
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Posting a picture cn be a bit complicated and variable depending on the kind of popup controls on your computer. What I do is click on 'image' above the comment box. I then get a warning and I click allow. Then, I havw to click 'image' again. This causes a box to pop up into which yo paste the url. But you have to get rid of the lettering in the box first. Then you click 'OK'. At this point, it can get a bit messy. It ought to put the code in the box, but you might have to click 'OK' a few times. Maybe it's just mt popup controls making life difficult. Play around with it and you'll get there.
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1999. breald
Quoting islandblow:
How do you put a piture on this blog? Copy and paste does not seem to work. I want to post a pic of Bill's high seas.



right click on the image and then click on send image to. It should pull a link into outlook and then click on the link in outlook to copy. in WU click on image and paste the linki, hit enter and x out of the box. The image will show once you post. I hope this helps.
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Quoting stoormfury:
morning
BILL was a timely reminder that we should have all hurricane preparations in place. we must thank our lucky stars in the islands ,for a hit from bill would have had a catastrophy

Yeah, it's not like you can evacuate to a family member's house 500 miles inland. :)
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Quoting TheDawnAwakening:
Bill's outflow as noted in the 5am EDT NHC discussion is expanding in the NW quadrant and could signify that shear is decreasing. Convection is now allowed in the NW quad allowing Bill to vent further. I believe convection is becoming more symmetrical. This will become a dangerous category four storm once again tonight.


I agree,a hit there would have been a disaster.Luckely it did not happen.
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Bill's outflow as noted in the 5am EDT NHC discussion is expanding in the NW quadrant and could signify that shear is decreasing. Convection is now allowed in the NW quad allowing Bill to vent further. I believe convection is becoming more symmetrical. This will become a dangerous category four storm once again tonight.
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morning
BILL was a timely reminder that we should have all hurricane preparations in place. we must thank our lucky stars in the islands ,for a hit from bill, we would have had a catastrophy
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can someone please give me the links to the steering maps. TIA
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But to be honest, I don't see the trof moving east much since yesterday, but south...isn't this the one meant to catch Bill? Could we be looking at a Bos-Wash landing?

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How do you put a piture on this blog? Copy and paste does not seem to work. I want to post a pic of Bill's high seas.
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Just a quick look. Bill looks to "break" the first trough. (It's a shortwave and filling in anyway.) Now I personally think the high will bend him back towards the wnw/nw for a very short time before the longwave picks him up and takes him to canada. How long the high in between the troughs allows a bend back will be what decides what the northeast sees.
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Quoting HopquickSteve:


I would love a "don't speak with certainty rule", or a little button that can pop a disclaimer on someone.


Oeps,it is a guess offcourse.
But i was thinking that through would be late since thuesday.I am afraid the through will be to late to prevent landfall.
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1989. breald
Quoting Chicklit:
BILL IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR...ANDTHIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED FOR THE NEXT DAY OR SO WITH A TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST BY LATE FRIDAY.

Don't they mean NORTHEAST by late Friday?


I hope so....LOL.

But, the rain and cooler temps we were suppose to get in the NE yesterday, today, Friday and Saturday have all been moved to Saturday and Sunday. Don't know if that means the trough that is kicking Bill out is slower than expected.
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Quoting apocalyps:


Bill will hit land between Virginia Beach and Connecticut.Probably as a Cat 2/3


I would love a "don't speak with certainty rule", or a little button that can pop a disclaimer on someone.
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Our local weather has the trough that is suppose to be taking Bill out coming through on late Friday evening. My concerns are about the timing of this trough?? If anyone can give me some insite to this, I would greatly appreciate. Just trying to understand the timing thing. TIA
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1986. kachina
Quoting Weather456:


they meant what they said, NNW. Bill isnt expected to turn NNE until about day 3-4 when extratropical forces take hold


Ahhh...so that's where the scary part about it getting much closer to the coast than previously thought comes in.

(and to think all my friends back in NY thought I was crazy to move to FL....)
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Quoting kachina:


Wow! I missed that! I certainly hope they meant NNE!


they meant what they said, NNW. Bill isnt expected to turn NNE until about day 3-4 when extratropical forces take hold
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Bills eye is shrinking.
He is ready to strenghten and give us a westernsurprise.
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1983. kachina
Quoting Chicklit:
BILL IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR...ANDTHIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED FOR THE NEXT DAY OR SO WITH A TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST BY LATE FRIDAY.

Don't they mean NORTHEAST by late Friday?


Wow! I missed that! I certainly hope they meant NNE!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
yonza,

There IS a trough there, at about 70W.



Notice it's pretty narrow, and kinked towards Bermuda. By itself it's not enough to bring Bill north.

The trough that's due to turn Bill north is in the upper left hand corner of that WV image....


Thanks, but I still don't see what the difference is between the trough you point out and the weakness in the ridge. So we're now dependent on another trough forming to pull Bill north? The one you're pointing out seems to be quite a long way away, so I'm assuming it has to build some more and move out into the Atlantic. Well, if it all pans out, the modellers can pat themselves on the back.
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BILL IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR...ANDTHIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED FOR THE NEXT DAY OR SO WITH A TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST BY LATE FRIDAY.

Don't they mean NORTHEAST by late Friday?
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Bill still heading WNW.
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I just can't help but think about the situation that arrived with Katrina here in Louisiana. I realize that it has been downed to a Cat 3, however, a Cat 3 can cause some major damange. I am worried about the NE area. How will they get all the people out if it hits an area like NY?? I mean, I guess I get nervous because I lived through a situation like that, but if I were those people in the NE I wouldn't take any chances with this storm. Too many glass buildings ya know.

Oh Good Morning to all!!!
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Good Morning;

Bill churns towards the northwest
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1976. kachina
Quoting BahaHurican:
yonza,

There IS a trough there, at about 70W.



Notice it's pretty narrow, and kinked towards Bermuda. By itself it's not enough to bring Bill north.

The trough that's due to turn Bill north is in the upper left hand corner of that WV image....


Thanks for the image, Baha! It's much easier to understand what's going on and expected to happen when I can look at a picture.
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Quoting JRRP:
Link
Not too bad....
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1974. Engine2
Quoting BahaHurican:
Did any body look at my pretty picture?

OK. Go Here. Underneath the picture, click the radio button beside Animation. Then select 30 from the dropdown menu beside image loop. Press the button that says "Animate image above" and let it load. Watch the movement of the dark lines from NW to E and SE. Those dark lines are the troughs that will influence Bill's movement over the next couple days.

Thanks Baha
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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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