Nicole's precursor moisture dumping epic rains on North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:29 PM GMT on September 29, 2010

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The season's fourteenth named storm, Tropical Storm Nicole, is here, but not for long. Observations from the Hurricane Hunters and satellite imagery show that the storm is being stretched along a north-south axis as it gets absorbed into a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast. A separate extratropical storm is developing along a stalled-out front along the coast of South and North Carolina, and much of Nicole's moisture and energy will begin feeding into this new storm today and Thursday, leading to the demise of Nicole by Thursday. Nicole continues to dump torrential rains on Jamaica, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, South Florida, and the western Bahamas as it tracks steadily north-northeastwards up the U.S. East Coast. Some rain amounts from Nicole since yesterday morning include 9.14" at Plantation Key, FL and 8.47" at Irwindale in western Jamaica. In Southeast Florida, radar-estimated rainfall amounts of 4 - 10" are common across the coast (Figure 1.)

Surface observations don't show any winds in excess of 25 mph near the center of Nicole, and the strongest winds are located several hundred miles southeast of the center. Some of the stronger winds measured today were at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (39 mph, gusting to 53 mph) and Cayman Brac Island in the Grand Caymans (33 mph, gusting to 43 mph).


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation for South Florida. Nicole has brought over ten inches of rain to the Middle and Upper Keys.

Extreme rainfall for eastern North Carolina
In North Carolina, the the precursor moisture from Nicole has generated an epic rainfall event. Wilmington, NC has measured 15.83 inches of rain over the past three days, as of 4pm EDT. This is the city's second highest 3-day total in history, behind the 19.06" that fell in September 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. The non-tropical low pressure system developing along the South Carolina/North Carolina coast today will move northwards, giving North and South Carolina an additional blast of heavy rain tonight, which will be followed by more heavy rain from Nicole (or Nicole's remains) Thursday morning. By the time the rains from Nicole finally clear the area Thursday afternoon, an extra 5 - 10 inches will have fallen, and Wilmington will be looking at a 4-day rainfall total of 20 - 25 inches, the highest in recorded history there. Severe and damaging flooding is likely today and tomorrow from the record rains. Fortunately, eastern North Carolina was under moderate drought conditions prior to this week's rainfall onslaught, so the flooding damage will not be as great as the billions of dollars of damage wrought by Hurricane Floyd.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated precipitation for North Carolina since Saturday shows that the precursor moisture from Nicole has brought widespread rain amounts in excess of eight inches to eastern North Carolina, with over fifteen inches (white colors surrounded by dark purple) near Wilmington.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave a few hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is generating a modest amount of disorganized heavy thunderstorms. The wave is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, and has some dry air to the northwest of it that is interfering with development. None of the models develop this disturbance, and NHC is giving it a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday. The wave is headed into a region of higher wind shear, and is not likely to develop.

Another tropical wave located about 900 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands is more of a threat. This wave is currently moving west at 15 - 20 mph, and is generating a large area of disorganized heavy thunderstorms. Wind shear is 10 - 20 knots over the wave, and shear is forecast to decline by late this week. The latest 2am EDT runs of the NOGAPS and GFS models show some slow development of the wave late this week, and the storm is forecast to pass near the northern Lesser Antilles Islands on Sunday or Monday. NHC is giving the wave a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday.

Disturbed weather will continue in the Western Caribbean for at least the next ten days, and the NOGAPS and GFS models continue to predict that the region could spawn a tropical depression 6 - 7 days from now. However, the models are being less aggressive about such a development than in yesterday's runs, and the models have not been consistent about the timing or location of such a storm.

Next update
I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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1303. kwgirl
2:27 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:
We also just had the Martian sunset reflecting off of what looks light upper level outflow as it's moving opposite the low level clouds.
Pressure here is 29.28 in (Rising). Zip 33042.
pressure in Marathon is 29.34 in (Falling).
In Key West our sunset was normal because the skies were clearing to the West. We had some clouds moving in which created a nice "after glow" in the clouds.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
1302. XLR8
2:26 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
New Blog
Member Since: February 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 205
1301. kwgirl
2:24 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting sammywammybamy:


This was the View of that image 10 minutes ago:



The Whole Sky was that Color
Wow, those colors look like the "end of the world" scenario whenever you see one of those apocalypse movies.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
1300. hydrus
2:24 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Good! Keep those plots far off the SC & NC coast. I got 2.90 inches in my 5 gal bucket on the Isle of Palms and am hoping I don't see anymore for the next week! lol
I have a good question for you or anybody that can answer it....Did ANYONE predict just how strong this trough would be?...Anyway, notice how the trough is removing a lot of the energy from the Western Caribbean and transporting it north..This much stronger than normal trough thankfully spared Floridians from Lisa and whatever spins up in the Western Caribbean within the next few days. This is certainly one of the deepest troughs I have seen for this time of year. What are your thoughts on 97L,s track? It is a big s.o.b..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21239
1299. ShenValleyFlyFish
2:22 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
1290. jasoniscoolman2010xo 9:09 AM EST on September 30, 2010
You would gain cred if you would post link or reference to quoted stuff. Looks like you are claiming it as your own so when you do post an original observation folks dismiss it.

Same deal for caps.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1298. ShenValleyFlyFish
2:19 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
1290. jasoniscoolman2010xo 9:09 AM EST on September 30, 2010
You would gain cred if you would post link or reference to quoted stuff. Looks like you are claiming it as your own so when you do post an original observation folks dismiss it.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1296. Relix
2:16 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting Gearsts:
What you think the shear will stay there forever?Look at the WV loop the TUTT is moving nw very fast.


Another TUTT is moving from the East to West as well. It could aid development but it all depends on timing.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2723
1294. ChillinInTheKeys
2:15 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Post # 406 shows a good photo of last nights sunset. Post 449 & 467 gives my take of it.
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1293. ShenValleyFlyFish
2:14 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting Jax82:


It could be because everyone has flooded due to Nicole, or the fact there are not Hypecanes, Doomcanes or Apocolypacanes to follow at the moment!!!
Hey if it isn't about FL, TX, or LA it isn't of interest to this site. ;P~
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1292. Gearsts
2:11 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting Relix:
97L shouldn't amount to anything thanks to shear.
What you think the shear will stay there forever?Look at the WV loop the TUTT is moving nw very fast.
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1289. Relix
2:02 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
97L shouldn't amount to anything thanks to shear.
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1287. Jax82
1:56 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting CaribBoy:
BLOG IS SLOWWW


It could be because everyone has flooded due to Nicole, or the fact there are not Hypecanes, Doomcanes or Apocolypacanes to follow at the moment!!!
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
1286. CaribBoy
1:54 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
BLOG IS SLOWWW
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6170
1284. stillwaiting
1:54 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
bettes on twc just asked nabb "when we can get high again"!!,oooops,funny stuff......he was" reefering "to high pressure,lol
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1283. Grothar
1:54 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting katadman:


If that figure is in centimeters it would translate to roughly 20.6 inches, I think.


Now that is more like it. The WC said this morning 23 inches and more coming.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26151
1282. fire635
1:51 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:
I hear ya. I've been ready for the leaves to change weeks ago.
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Going to enjoy the dry mid 80's and low 70's the next few days. It's been dog hot this summer, really looking forward to the cool down this year.

Me too! It seems like this summer was a pretty hot one here in Florida... cool weather is welcome ANYtime
Member Since: June 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 485
1277. CyclonicVoyage
1:43 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Going to enjoy the dry mid 80's and low 70's the next few days. It's been dog hot this summer, really looking forward to the cool down this year.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
1276. CyclonicVoyage
1:41 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Good! Keep those plots far off the SC & NC coast. I got 2.90 inches in my 5 gal bucket on the Isle of Palms and am hoping I don't see anymore for the next week! lol


A lot of rain for us too down in SFL, good heading into dry season though. Very fresh this morning, loving it.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
1275. Neapolitan
1:38 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
One final time, an excerpt from yesterday's blog entry:

  • With yesterday's designation (and rapid dissipation) of the very-wet Nicole as a tropical storm, the 2010 hurricane season stands at a pretty remarkable 14-7-5. To put that into perspective, that's just three named storms behind what 2005 (which ended with 27) had on this date, three behind 1933 (21), and just one behind 1995 (20). Finishing up the season at the same distance behind those years would give us, respectively, 24, 18, or 19 named storms. That's assuming a direct linear comparison, of course; if we use to-date ratios instead, we'll finish with—again respectively—22.24, 17.29, or 18.67 named storms. It's safe to say, then, we should end the season with at the very least 17 named storms—and seeing as many as 22 is not out of the question.

  • Further proof that this should be one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons ever: 2010 is eight named storms ahead of 2009—a very anemic year tropical cylcone-wise. yet even 2009 managed to squeeze out three more named storms after this date, and even tying that meager amount would give 2010 a total of 17 named storms...a very busy
  • season indeed.

    Named Tropical Cyclones by Date

  • Igor is the year's ACE champion to date with 42.445. To give a little perspective on that, one Igor equals (that is, accumulated as much energy as):
    —1.53 Earls
    —1.95 Danielles
    —2.99 Julias
    —6.26 Alexes
    —7.32 Karls
    —11.55 Lisas
    —14.44 Fionas
    —21.82 Colins
    —30.87 Matthews
    —33.36 Hermines
    —115.50 Bonnies or Gastons
    —346.49 Nicoles


ACE Contribution by Storm

Lots more here.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
1274. Neapolitan
1:37 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting katadman:


If that figure is in centimeters it would translate to roughly 20.6 inches, I think.


But the figures isn't in centimeters; the radar site itself states:

Max rainfall (in)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
1271. CyclonicVoyage
1:29 PM GMT on September 30, 2010



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1268. CaribBoy
1:27 PM GMT on September 30, 2010



This is Hurricane JOSE, october 1999. Looks like a track like this is very possible with 97L
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1267. CyclonicVoyage
1:26 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Morning All.

Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
1264. usa777
1:25 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
We are getting incredible amounts of rain here in Annapolis Maryland. Alot of street flooding. Hopefully the winds wont get too bad here this afternoon. About 20 mins ago I would say it was raining as hard as it was during my episode with Katrina.
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1261. srada
1:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Well that was weird..I posted pictures of the flooding but different ones came up..
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1260. CaribBoy
1:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Good morning.. interesting invest 97L
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1259. whadat
1:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Pressure rising nicely in Grand Cayman now at 1006.4mb.
Link
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1258. srada
1:22 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
From the Wilmington Star News

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1257. katadman
1:21 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting Grothar:


I normally don't correct anyone, but I think there may be something a little off with that meter. I think that they have had a little more than 15 inches of rain this week not 52. I think we better check. Here is a link:

Link


If that figure is in centimeters it would translate to roughly 20.6 inches, I think.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
1256. srada
1:21 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
From the Wilmington Star News

Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 773
1255. ShenValleyFlyFish
1:20 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Quoting seflagamma:


I see from reading back many also commented on the original post...

and thank you for posting this explanation. :o)

Explanation posted fairly promptly by a member who was apparently ignored. Not as uncommon a phenomenon as folks might think. As a photographer I am a little more in tune to that sort of thing than the average bear. Folks don't pick up on it often times because usually presents as more red tone and blends with sunset. In this case the density of the reflecting storm system absorbed the red without glowing and yellow wavelength was emphasized. This is why people speak of orange/yellow/greenish sky before storms.

Now if we could just learn to ignore the trolls as well as we do posters who appear only rarely . . .
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
1254. Orcasystems
1:18 PM GMT on September 30, 2010
Complete Update


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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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.