Huge Western Caribbean low bringing heavy rains; Wisconsin levee failing

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:26 PM GMT on September 27, 2010

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Today, for the first day since August 20, the National Hurricane Center will not be issuing any advisories for an Atlantic named storm. Thus ends a remarkably active 36-day period that saw the formation of ten named storms, six hurricanes, and five intense hurricanes--an entire hurricane season's worth of activity, compressed into just five weeks of the six-month season. This season is not done yet, as we still have three more weeks of peak hurricane season left to go, and the Western Caribbean is looking poised to generate a tropical storm sometime in the next ten days.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of the Western Caribbean and Central America, showing the remains of Matthew over Mexico, and a large area of disturbed weather beginning to develop over the Western Caribbean.

A wet week ahead for the Western Caribbean, Florida, and the Western Bahamas
Pressures are falling over the Western Caribbean today as a large area of low pressure develops over the region. This low is bringing heavy rains across a huge area, from the Pacific shores of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, to eastern Cuba and Haiti. All of Central America, eastern Mexico, the western 2/3 of the Caribbean, plus the Bahamas and Florida can expect sporadic periods of very heavy tropical rains over the coming week, with peak amounts of 3 - 6 inches per day possible. In the Western Caribbean, a few hundred miles east of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, a region of concentrated thunderstorms has built this morning, and has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Wednesday. A large trough of low pressure over the Eastern U.S. is producing steering currents that will pull this area of disturbed weather to the north-northeast across western Cuba on Tuesday and Wednesday. The disturbance should move over Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, and over North Carolina by Thursday and Friday. All of these regions can expect very heavy rains from the disturbance, and NHC is giving a 30% chance that the disturbance will develop into a tropical depression by Wednesday. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to investigate the disturbance this afternoon, if necessary.

Once the disturbance moves out of the Caribbean, the GFS and NOGAPS models predict that the Western Caribbean will "reload" and produce another tropical disturbance capable of developing into a tropical depression late this week or early next week. The steering currents are not expected to change over the coming ten days, and Florida and western Cuba can expect to see this second disturbance potentially bring a second round of heavy rain late this week and early next week.

Levee failing in Wisconsin due to rains from Hurricane Karl's moisture
In Portage, Wisconsin, about 25 miles north of Madison, a sub-standard 120-year-old levee is failing, thanks to flood waters 3.5 feet above flood stage on the Wisconsin River. The river was swollen last week by heavy rains of up to seven inches that fell in its watershed to the northwest. The rains were generated by a plume of very moist air associated with what was Hurricane Karl. This moisture was lifted over a warm front draped over Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday and Thursday. These types of rain events are called Predecessor Rain Events (PREs), because they typically precede the actual arrival of the rain shield of a tropical storm.


Figure 2. Rainfall over Minnesota and Wisconsin for the seven-day period ending 8pm EDT Sunday 9/26/10. Heavy rains to the northwest of Portage, Wisconsin led to flooding along the Wisconsin River in Portage. Image credit: NOAA.

Canadian Military responds for Hurricane Igor relief
At least twenty communities in Newfoundland, Canada are still cut off from civilization after Tuesday's rampage by Hurricane Igor. The Canadian military has sent three warships and a number of helicopters into the disaster zone to deliver food, fuel, and medical supplies to those communities still cut off. Igor killed one person and caused over $100 million in damage to the island.


Figure 3. Miniature golf anyone? A house in St. John's Newfoundland now has a very three-dimensional front yard, thanks to Hurricane Igor's winds and rain. Image credit: Zach Goudie.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning.

Jeff Masters

Wisconsin River Flooding in Wisconsin Rapids September 2010 (LadyWriter)
Jackson Street Bridge late Saturday afternoon at cresting.
Wisconsin River Flooding in Wisconsin Rapids September 2010
Wisconsin River Flooding in Wisconsin Rapids September 2010 (LadyWriter)
Taken from First Avenue while looking eastward toward Grand Avenue Bridge/Elks Club when the flooding was at its worst
Wisconsin River Flooding in Wisconsin Rapids September 2010

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NRA - it was 116 degrees in my car when I get out of school today. I thought I was going to fall over.
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I'm afraid Florida Wishcaster will be disappointed about 96L....NOw the thing that may follow behind 96L ......ex. Matthew could be a Stinker near the Mississippi/Louisiana line.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Starting to see deeper convection firing off over the low pressure center. Nothing truly organized yet, but its a start.

what i find more intresting is the area of convection to the west of jamaica
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Your right, now they take it towards southern Florida. Cuba? I have yet to see a consistent model saying that. Not saying it isn't possible, it certainly is and they need to be on guard too.


the models have consistently shown a south florida hit the last 2 days and now we are only 3 days out. he is saying that last week when the track for this system was much less relaible because of how far out it was the system was supposedly going to hit the panhandle.

the models have been very consistent and as far as i am concerned south florida is in crosshairs unless something drastic occurs
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1159. NRAamy
Mel....I feel like a piece of limp lettuce....
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Overall by Wednesday, before the system hits FL (or not), I'd give a 60% of this becoming at least a TD, 50% of a TS, 25% of a strong TS and 10% of a hurricane. Don't call me aggressive, I'm just saying this is a possibility.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
hey miami does it look like we may have code red in the next TWO, but for some reason i think the center may relocate further SE
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NRA...you holding up okay in the heat?
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Station 42056
NDBC
Light wind.
1004mb.. falling
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Starting to see deeper convection firing off over the low pressure center. Nothing truly organized yet, but its a start.

Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24018
Roatan, Honduras
(MHRO) 16-19N 086-31W 2M

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conditions at Sep 27, 2010 - 04:00 PM EDT
Wind from the WNW (290 degrees) at 2 MPH (2 KT)
Sky conditions mostly cloudy
Temperature 87 F (31 C)
Heat index 95.7 F (35.4 C)
Dew Point 75 F (24 C)
Relative Humidity 66%
Pressure (altimeter) 29.66 in. Hg (1004 hPa)

Lookie what I found... WNW winds at Roatan, Honduras. Combine that with the N winds at Chetumal... and S winds at Grand Cayman... looks like maybe a closed circulation. Albeit broad, but think it is close to the relocated position by NHC
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I expect 96l to drift either north or maybe even nnw for the next 24hrs,then turning ne,imo from tpa south to the keys need to keep a eye as a suprise could be in store imo
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water...someone get me water...

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1150. afj3
Quoting Twinkster:


i think you are misinterpreting what i am trying to say. I am not blasting your opinion I am saying your reasoning is off on this one. Your claim that it will likely not effect florida had no backing besides one run of the BAMs and I was just saying that because of that your reasoning is completely off.

this is why i don't like coming here everyone takes everything so personally

Well your tone is a little caustic. You do seem to know what's going on, though. More than me...
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Quoting Twinkster:



your are practically contradicting basically what every dyanmical model has shown over the last 2 days based on one run of the BAMs. i'm sorry if you don't like it but your reasoning is completely off on this one
Actually I am thinking the same thing possibly..
The Front/Trough is really strong and has pushed well south. Although the Sat loops show it moving more northwards now it still has an Easterly component. Although at this point it's not looking likely if it pushes through FL. The first batch of storm(whatever it is) could go east and just graze SE FL.
And the upper level winds are Westerly..so a stronger storm would go even more east.
The models have been "evolving" a lot so I would not discount this idea so fast.
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
Quoting Hurricanes101:


how do you know that my reasoning was just based on the BAMMs anyway?

You assume that is my only reason for saying that

take a look at the steering, ENE steering winds are south of this system and with that front moving down further south it will erode the ridge even more.

That is what I am basing my thinking on, I also say it MAY miss Florida; I guess you missed that part


no you said may likely. you modified your post. Looking at steering currents the movement towards the ene will be relatively short lived as it should go in a more n-ne direction
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Rolling Hills, Chula Vista, California (PWS)
Updated: 3 sec ago
100.0 °F
Clear
Humidity: 25%
Dew Point: 53 °F
Wind: 14.0 mphfrom the West

Wind Gust: 14.0 mph
Pressure: 29.57 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 99 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 9 out of 16
Pollen: 5.60 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds: Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 775 ft

Rapid Fire Updates:


I think I'm going to fall over from the heat. I shouldn't complain though - I'm sittin in the a/c but I have workmen outside that are busting up the concrete in my backyard. Keep bringing them cold gatorade. If I were them, I would put this off until tomorrow.
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Station 42057 - Western Caribbean
27mph.. gusts to 32mph
1006mb... falling
very interesting...
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1145. NRAamy
Taz,


"Ouch" is right!! It's 100+ here today in Southern Calif.....

What's going on with our weather?
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


right and the models NOW are further EAST then the ones last week that were taking this system up towards the panhandle


Your right, now they take it towards southern Florida. Cuba? I have yet to see a consistent model saying that. Not saying it isn't possible, it certainly is and they need to be on guard too.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24018
Quoting sailingallover:
With this shear don't expect a storm anytime too soon and if it lifts north it's going to have a really tough time


It looks like there is only 10 knots of shear over the Invest area.

20 knots is right off to the NE.

But 10 knots of shear wouldn't inhibit that much.
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Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
Quoting Twinkster:


key word last week. we are now less than 3 days away. models are much more reliable within this time fram. the models have actually remained relatively the same over the last 4 model runs besides intensity


right and the models NOW are further EAST then the ones last week that were taking this system up towards the panhandle
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Quoting Twinkster:


i think you are misinterpreting what i am trying to say. I am not blasting your opinion I am saying your reasoning is off on this one. Your claim that it will likely not effect florida had no backing besides one run of the BAMs and I was just saying that because of that your reasoning is completely off.

this is why i don't like coming here everyone takes everything so personally


how do you know that my reasoning was just based on the BAMMs anyway?

You assume that is my only reason for saying that

take a look at the steering, ENE steering winds are south of this system and with that front moving down further south it will erode the ridge even more.

That is what I am basing my thinking on, I also say it MAY miss Florida; I guess you missed that part
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Thank you for blasting me for my opinion, sorry you may not get your storm, I guess you are wishing for one


We're busted now! Darn us meddling kids!

:-)
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24018
Quoting Hurricanes101:
oh and last I checked these models were predicting this system to get into the Gulf of Mexico last week, they have been trending eastward slowly.

We have to see where the circulation forms first before we can say who is right, but I can seea scenario where this system missing Florida completely


key word last week. we are now less than 3 days away. models are much more reliable within this time fram. the models have actually remained relatively the same over the last 4 model runs besides intensity
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Chetumal, Q. Roo, Mexico
(MMCM) 18-29N 088-18W

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conditions at Sep 27, 2010 - 03:45 PM EDT
Wind from the N (360 degrees) at 7 MPH (6 KT)
Visibility 7 mile(s)
Sky conditions overcast
Temperature 86 F (30 C)
Heat index 95.0 F (35.0 C)
Dew Point 75 F (24 C)
Relative Humidity 70%
Pressure (altimeter) 29.63 in. Hg (1003 hPa)


This is the reason I believe that the NHC had repositioned 96L (notice the pressure and wind direction)
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1136. Thaale
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
NHC relocated AL96


AL 96 2010092718 BEST 0 184N 880W 25 1003 DB




LOL, they relocated the initial point west, and the BAM tracks then shifted even further east.

Looking at the shape of the trough, it naively seems to me that the BAM tracks are more likely than the UKMET, but that's just a layman's obervation.
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Quoting sailingallover:
With this shear don't expect a storm anytime too soon and if it lifts north it's going to have a really tough time


A destructive 10 knots right over the system!

Nah, your right, there is a band of 40 knot shear just in front of it, but I suspect given the stationary movement that the shear could be a lot lower. But the models are showing actually a stronger system than some might expect, 996 mb which translates to about 989 or so (yes I know, the models are junk) in a short time frame too. So, its just a wait and see.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24018
1133. RickWPB
The way this trough is digging down so far south, looks to me like what ever comes out of the Caribbean will go up the east coast of Fl... maybe even miss the coast line. But, we're definitely going to get lots of rain either way.


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1132. Patrap
Quoting AnthonyJKenn:


WOW....that's some deep troughiness for late September. Almost closer to mid- to late October norm.

And, notice how the point of the dry air intrusion almost gets to the S GOM..as well as how fast the NNW windflow aloft becomes all the way from Canada to LA.

Trust me on this one...the NW Gulf Hurricane Shield is locked, loaded and solid.


Anthony




Sure is a Nice Shield for the Northern GOM,,and the Coolth is a welcome relief from a torrid summer.


The deeper the system gets to our East this week,,the more the Northerly flow will continue.

So theres always a trade off in these scenarios ,good and bad.

Ill take the good dis time fo sho.

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Quoting clwstmchasr:


However, up until yesterday they were really playing up. Things have changed. A couple of days ago we thought there could be a hurricane in the GOM. Now it looks like a weak TS coming across S Florida.


Even still, it still not wise for them to down play things so much. The only real confidence in this forecast is that something will develop. But we all know intensity forecasts suck and haven't improved in many years. Its just so hard to predict intensity. Its just part of the science of meteorology, something I'm coming to realize as an actual student of meteorology in college.

Also there is not a lot of model agreement or consistency in terms of expected path. Even further, the system hasn't even developed yet...

It is just not very wise at all for local forecasters in tampa bay to be down playing it so much as if there is high confidence. Yes it may turn out to be no big deal, but they just do not know that.
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Quoting BenBIogger:


IMO an ENE movement is very unlikely to happen for the next 24-72 hours. A NE movement will occur once it reaches northern Cuba.


extrapolated movement is towards the ENE
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1129. 47n91w
taken from Preliminary Caledonia-Lewiston Levee Analysis, as posted on the Columbia County, Wisconsin Emergency Management website:

History of the Levees

The Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System consists of 13.8 miles of discontinious sand dikes that were constructed along the Wisconsin River by various groups of landowners that lived adjacent to the Wisconsin River. Most of the levees were constructed during the 1890's. The Caledonia Levee consists of two segments totaling 9.57 miles along the south side of the Wisconsin River, and the Lewiston Levee consists of four segments totaling 4.23 miles on the north side of the river. The height of the levees is typically 8 to 12 feet above the ground surface on the landward toe of the levee. Slopes vary from 6:1 to 3:1

The Levees were built from locally available materials without any engineering design or adherence to any design standards. These levees were intended to protect adjacent lands from periodic flood events of Wisconsin River. Despite their shortcomings the levees have, in fact, withstood frequent floods. A failure occurred in 1938, but since that time the levees have remained relatively intact. However, this is due primarily to the direct result of substantial and timely flood emergency action by the local governments and the WDNR. It should be noted that despite substantial maintenance and emergency actions by local government and WDNR, the continued integrity of the levees has survived because there have been no major flood events that would have damaged them or require major repairs to be undertaken. In short, it could be said that the integrity of these levees has not been tested by any significant flood events.

In their present condition the Caledonia-Lewiston Levees do not and should not be expected to provide any meaningful protection from the Wisconsin River flooding with or without human intervention during flood events. With ever increasing development in the flood prone areas along the Wisconsin River, reliance on these levees for providing flood protection elevates the risk of putting lives and properties in harm's way.
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oh and last I checked these models were predicting this system to get into the Gulf of Mexico last week, they have been trending eastward slowly.

We have to see where the circulation forms first before we can say who is right, but I can seea scenario where this system missing Florida completely
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1127. sngalla
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Florida isn't remotely out of the woods yet. ECMWF, GFS, CMC, GGEM, NOGAPS, ECMWF ensembles, GFS ensembles, show this storm hitting Florida.. and they aren't even 240+ hours out even, some show a hit by Wednesday.

Will hit happen? Eh.. gotta get something organized first. That's key. Every time in the last 3 years we've gotten strong model support like this, something popped up.

Will it be strong? 'Perhaps', given the fact it will be over high TCHP. Record high, but conditions ahead of it in terms of shear and dry air are marginal at best.


Just have to remember Katrina. Forecast to hit as a TS and reved up at the last minute to a cat 1.
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Quoting rmbjoe1954:
This is from ImpactWeather:
Our Forecast
Model guidance continues to indicate some development from the broad low pressure area over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. Once a well defined center forms, we think it will track northward across Cuba, then north-northeast across the southern Florida Peninsula. By the end of the week it should be merging with a cold front just east of the Carolinas. It could become a tropical storm by the time it reaches southern Florida on Wednesday afternoon. The steering flow will not allow this system to get into the central or western Gulf. Our confidence in the track forecast is about average.
Broad areas of low pressure can be slow to consolidate. Furthermore, land interaction, the entanglement with the approaching cold front and the limited window for development make the forecast intensity tricky. We think that there is a fair chance that it will be a low to moderate strength tropical storm by the time it reaches southern Florida on Wednesday afternoon. After crossing Florida, it could strengthen some as it starts to become entangled with the cold front. By Thursday night or Friday, it should merge with the front.
Locally heavy rain is expected to continue for at least the next couple of days across the northwestern Caribbean. About 4-6 inches of rain with isolated totals to 8 inches are possible over the next 48 hours in the Cayman Islands. Flooding is likely and mudslides are possible in areas with high terrain. The combination of the front and the tropical moisture from this system will bring heavy rain across the Florida Peninsula beginning tomorrow. From Tuesday through Thursday, 5-7 inches of rain with isolated totals to 10 inches are possible across South Florida. Central Florida could see 4-6 inches with isolated totals to 8 inches. Coastal areas of the Carolinas could see 3-5 inches of rain from Wednesday through Thursday, in addition to the totals from today's frontal passage.
Development Potential
We think the chances of Disturbance 55 becoming a tropical storm over the next 48 hours are around 40 percent. We do not expect this system to become a hurricane over the next 48 hours. It has a low chance of becoming a hurricane, around 10 percent, beyond 48 hours.
Our next update will be issued by 10PM CDT.
Meteorologists: Jim Palmer/Steve Lizon


Just askin, is it wise to post something from a pay site? They might not take to kindly to that.
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Good afternoon everybody.

Quoting LakelandNana:
A gentle reminder that this blog is comprised of folks from many different walks of life. Some are highly educated, while others are not- the commonality is an interest in weather. Please have the decency to respect the differences among us.


I got the "not" covered.
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Here's the current steering setup (obviously this will change, but for now..)

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Quoting Hurricanes101:


expected movement is ENE, models have been trending stronger which also in this kind of scenariou means further east. That is the trend I am seeing and would not be surprised if this were to hit Cuba and the Bahamas and miss Florida alltogether

Saying I am wrong was highly uncalled for


IMO an ENE movement is very unlikely to happen for the next 24-72 hours. A NE movement will occur once it reaches northern Cuba.
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
Quoting Twinkster:



your are practically contradicting basically what every dyanmical model has shown over the last 2 days based on one run of the BAMs. i'm sorry if you don't like it but your reasoning is completely off on this one


Thank you for blasting me for my opinion, sorry you may not get your storm, I guess you are wishing for one
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With this shear don't expect a storm anytime too soon and if it lifts north it's going to have a really tough time
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
Quoting Hurricanes101:


expected movement is ENE, models have been trending stronger which also in this kind of scenariou means further east. That is the trend I am seeing and would not be surprised if this were to hit Cuba and the Bahamas and miss Florida alltogether

Saying I am wrong was highly uncalled for



your are practically contradicting basically what every dyanmical model has shown over the last 2 days based on one run of the BAMs. i'm sorry if you don't like it but your reasoning is completely off on this one
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


expected movement is ENE, models have been trending stronger which also in this kind of scenariou means further east. That is the trend I am seeing and would not be surprised if this were to hit Cuba and the Bahamas and miss Florida alltogether

Saying I am wrong was highly uncalled for


One word you said pointed to me that you are reliable.. "may". You could be right, it may miss Florida all together, yet it may not. Can't wait to see all of the model consensus when I get home tonight.
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Quoting Patrap:


WOW....that's some deep troughiness for late September. Almost closer to mid- to late October norm.

And, notice how the point of the dry air intrusion almost gets to the S GOM..as well as how fast the NNW windflow aloft becomes all the way from Canada to LA.

Trust me on this one...the NW Gulf Hurricane Shield is locked, loaded and solid.


Anthony
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Quoting afj3:

"Please explain to me your thinking." Sounds like a strict elementary school teacher. Hope you don't flunk Hurricanes101!!!! LOL


I don't even want to know what happens if I flunk lol
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
This system may not even affect Florida now


Florida isn't remotely out of the woods yet. ECMWF, GFS, CMC, GGEM, NOGAPS, ECMWF ensembles, GFS ensembles, show this storm hitting Florida.. and they aren't even 240+ hours out even, some show a hit by Wednesday.

Will hit happen? Eh.. gotta get something organized first. That's key. Every time in the last 3 years we've gotten strong model support like this, something popped up.

Will it be strong? 'Perhaps', given the fact it will be over high TCHP. Record high, but conditions ahead of it in terms of shear and dry air are marginal at best.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24018

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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.