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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Quoting PensacolaDoug:


I'd say the northern GOM is closed for business for 10 days to two weeks. The southeast GOM is so complex, it's just something to observe and ponder. You can't trust any of the model details currently.
I do think southern Florida is gonna get smacked before its over but if its gonna be a "major", the trough will need to lift out.


I'm actually more inclined to believe that our season is closed for the Summer up here in the Western Panhandle. Ike did mention a couple of days ago that 7-14 days more and the season is over here. This front currently not lifting out too fast will just usher in another more powerful cold front. Those usually start entering in around mid October. Therefore, it is very unlikely that we up here will get a storm unless high pressure suddenly decided to break the front/trough cycle. So the permanent shields over the Northern-Central Gulf coast looks like it is successful in deflecting storms away from us. We have been indeed lucky:)
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An AP article that talks about the flooding in central Wisconsin:

PORTAGE, Wis. Some residents in the central Wisconsin town of Portage fled their homes after a levee started to fail, sending water from the rain-swollen Wisconsin River onto a major roadway in one neighborhood and threatening to leave some people stranded in their houses.

It wasn't clear how many of the roughly 300 residents remained in the Blackhawk Park area after the only road into and out of the neighborhood was closed. Officials said part of the levee south of Highway 33 had eroded Sunday and water was leaking out, although the levee had not completely collapsed.

Kathy Matavka said she was taken from her home by boat after she received a second call urging her to evacuate.

"If I didn't sit there and take the boat, I would be stuck. I would not be able to get groceries. I would not be able to get medications I need to take," Matavka told WISC-TV in Madison.

The levee is part of the Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System %u2014 several dikes built mainly out of sand during the 1890s by homeowners living near the river, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Kevin Remus told the Portage Daily Register that he and his wife decided to leave their home with their 17-month-old daughter because they were concerned about being cut off from the outside word. Their house wasn't likely to flood because it's on a hill, but the access road was already covered in 6 inches of water by the time the family was ready to leave.

His wife, Lindsay, said the family planned to stay in a motel for a few days.

"It's kind of a feeling of hopelessness," she said. "The water is out of control."

The Wisconsin River is swollen from thunderstorms last week that dumped several inches of rain in southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin.

The Columbia County Emergency Management Office warned residents in the Blackhawk Park area that emergency vehicles, including police, fire and ambulances, would not be able to reach those who stayed behind.

"The residents down there are used to having high water and dealing with high water a lot but this could be something that they've never seen, with this amount of water," said Kathy Johnson, deputy director of the Columbia County Emergency Management Office.

Johnson said those who evacuated might be out of their homes for up to a week, and the Red Cross opened a shelter at a local church.

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To me it almost looks like to systems trying to form.

Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
103. afj3
Hello everyone. Quick question: Why hasn't the NHC given this Caribbean low an invest number yet? Or has it? Also, when does the NHC decide to give a system an invest number?
Member Since: June 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 349
Quoting dayton:
I'm just checking in here...without going back and reading old posts, could someone answer a couple of questions for me?
~ is "Nicole" suppose to be a hurricane? From little I'm reading, it sounds like it may stay as a TS when/if it hits Florida.
~ is it still the Tampa/St. Pete area as potential landfall?
~ has StormW been on here? I thought that was his area...so figured he would posting about this.
~ am I reading correctly...more for Florida after Nicole in the next few days?

Thank you all for all the information you provide. Much appreciated!!!
Too early to tell on the first two questions. According to rumor, StormW may have been banned from this blog. (don't know what happened so don't ask me). Yes to the last question. Thanks.
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Quoting biff4ugo:
I take it Dr. Masters first # should be Tropical Storms instead of Hurricanes and Hurricanes, right?
Or is that Hurricanes and severe hurricanes?

yes, Florida is getting hit with something!
Canada has been so good to us during disasters, are we helping the cut off communities?


Yes. He ment to say 6 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.
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I take it Dr. Masters first # should be Tropical Storms instead of Hurricanes and Hurricanes, right?
Or is that Hurricanes and severe hurricanes?

yes, Florida is getting hit with something!
Canada has been so good to us during disasters, are we helping the cut off communities?
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98. IKE
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Quoting afj3:

That was my question. I wanted to see that answered....
Yes, it is possible.
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Quoting Chicklit:

Hi Geek. The blob between 80-85 is the biggest obviously. Things have yet to consolidate.


OK I see. Thanks.

Quoting WxLogic:


Correct...


Thanks.
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Quoting dayton:
I'm sorry Neapolitan. I did not mean to imply that it would waste my time to go back and read old posts. These systems change so much and so quickly, I guess I was just wanting the latest consensus in the easiest of terms for me to understand. In the sense that systems change and forecasts change, maybe it is somewhat of a waste to read something that is no longer accurate.
I'm not a regular on here. Just wanted some questions answered. I did not mean offend anyone.


Oh, no offense taken. I'm not saying that was a fair evaluation of what you'd done, but it is what often comes across both here and at other forums I frequent. Minor pet peeve, I guess, and if directing it at you was unfair, I apologize. :-)
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Quoting sHaDySrEbElLiOn:
Honestly I do not see the Caribbean system growing into anything more then a strong tropical wave. It will be a rain event for Florida, mix that in with the cold front coming down and you will get Rainy and windy conditions for around 48 hours. That's about all she wrote on this situation, no need to panic.


Rain good....Cooler air better.
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Quoting kanc2001:
KILM is discounting the GFS and going

Its terrible here this morning in Wilmington, they are calling this mess tropical moisture and it has been relentess and non stop..heavy squalls since this morning..we could still be bad off here with the ground being soaked from yesterday, today and tomorrow's rain and then the storm from the caribbean is supposed to come to our area on thursday..we definetly wouldnt need the wind along with the rain..a lot of power outages even with a ts because of the current situation we have now and the loosen soil
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GOES Water Vapor Loop of Gulf and Caribbean
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Mornin' Doug...maybe not for long?


I'd say the northern GOM is closed for business for 10 days to two weeks. The southeast GOM is so complex, it's just something to observe and ponder. You can't trust any of the model details currently.
I do think southern Florida is gonna get smacked before its over but if its gonna be a "major", the trough will need to lift out.
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Nice to see the wishcasting is still in full force
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http://forums.accuweather.com/index.php?act=attach&type=post&id=105866
114 hour gfs model showing best chance for nicole & otto
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I'm sorry Neapolitan. I did not mean to imply that it would waste my time to go back and read old posts. These systems change so much and so quickly, I guess I was just wanting the latest consensus in the easiest of terms for me to understand. In the sense that systems change and forecasts change, maybe it is somewhat of a waste to read something that is no longer accurate.
I'm not a regular on here. Just wanted some questions answered. I did not mean offend anyone.
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Threat of levee failure prompts evacuations along Wisconsin River

Authorities in Portage, Wisconsin, worked Sunday to evacuate residents as a levee along the Wisconsin River approached imminent failure after heavy rainfall soaked the Midwest last week.

An alert sent out by Columbia County Emergency Management on Sunday urged residents near Blackhawk Park to evacuate immediately ahead of the flooding, which is expected to wash out a main road leading to about 150 residences.

"Emergency vehicles including police, fire and EMS will not be able to reach residents," the statement said.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Season still has a surprise or two left in it.
The southern half of Florida has ways to go before its in the clear. Seems too many folks (not all) hang on every model run. I don't take systems seriously untill they develope a solid LLC. Models are intersting but they are not crystal balls.


Yep, if they were we'd have had a Matthew landfall in SWFL already! The models were all pointing to FL in the early runs for Matthew.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


18z = 2 pm Eastern Time?
Thanks.


Correct...
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
I Predict we will have Aa TD By Tommorow Night



Hey Sammy...we need to see an invest declared and an NHC sat floater designated...
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Quoting stillwaiting:
....what's up doug,looking less likely that this will be the" big chase"this year,what possibly follows this weekend????,im ready that's for sure and am now capable of streaming live if I do get the opportunity for a chase this year!!!



Season still has a surprise or two left in it.
The southern half of Florida has ways to go before its in the clear. Seems too many folks (not all) hang on every model run. I don't take systems seriously untill they develope a solid LLC. Models are intersting but they are not crystal balls.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
Which blob is the main one? Or are all of them part of the same system?
Thanks.


Hi Geek. The blob between 80-85 is the biggest obviously. Things have yet to consolidate.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11424
The current status of CONUS and the Gulf goes to show you that numbers mean very little; it's all about track and general steering patterns. First A storm in 1992 was Andrew (in a La Nina Year) and here we are in late September, in a very active year, with the US abnd Caribbean relatively unscathed.......I would have never imagined that this was going to happen given all the gloom and doom at the beginning of the season from experts and amateurs alike. Season not over but so far so good; incredible considering the numbers.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
If somebody would've told me a month ago that we would have zero big storms in the central or northeren GOM thru the end of September, I wouldn't have believed it. Shields are still up!


Mornin' Doug...maybe not for long?
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Quoting FSUCOOPman:


Tell that to hurricane Kate.
There will always be exceptions to the rule. All I know is a cold front is moving thru and temps are going to flirt with the 50's and when that happens it is the first signal our season is closing.
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I'll certainly agree with that Doug.
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Quoting WeatherMum:
Hey, don't knock it!



I'm not knocking it! Just a little incredulous!
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
If somebody would've told me a month ago that we would have zero big storms in the central or northeren GOM thru the end of September, I wouldn't have believed it. Shields are still up!
....what's up doug,looking less likely that this will be the" big chase"this year,what possibly follows this weekend????,im ready that's for sure and am now capable of streaming live if I do get the opportunity for a chase this year!!!
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Quoting breald:
Isn't it ironic that Canada has had the most damage due to hurricanes so far this year. Some amazing pictures from Newfoundland.
I think Mexico, with over US$3 billion in damage would disagree.

Cancun radar shows a circulation off Cozumel:

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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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