Irene's rains heaviest on record in Vermont; Tropical Storm Katia forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:40 PM GMT on August 30, 2011

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Record flooding continues in the Northeast from Irene's torrential rains. Hardest hit was Vermont, where heavy rains in the weeks prior to Irene's arrival had left soils in the top 20% for moisture, historically. Irene dumped 5 - 8 inches of rain over large sections of Vermont, with a peak of 11.23" at Mendo. The reading from Mendo was the greatest single-day rainfall in Vermont's history, according to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt, beating the 9.92" that fell at Mt. Mansfield on 9/17/1999 during the passage of Tropical Storm Floyd. The 13.30" that fell on East Durham, NY during Irene was just shy of New York State's all-time 1-day rainfall record: 13.70" at Brewster on 9/16/1999, from Tropical Storm Floyd.


Figure 1. Wunderphotographer 43BJAGER recorded this image of a house in Sharon, Vermont, that started out the week on the other side of this underpass.

According to the final Hurricane Irene summary from the NWS, the storm dropped 20" of rain in two locations, one in North Carolina and one in Virginia. Here are the highest rain amounts from the hurricane for each state:

Virginia Beach, VA: 20.40"
Jacksonville, NC: 20.00"
East Durham, NY: 13.30"
Freehold Twp, NJ: 11.27"
Mendon, VT: 11.23"
Ellendale, DE: 10.43"
New Hartford, CT 10.15"
Baxter St. Park, ME: 9.91"
Savoy, MA: 9.10"
Lafayette, PA: 8.82"
Pinkham North, NH: 7.33"
Warren, RI: 5.37"

Tropical Storm Katia forms
Tropical Storm Katia formed this morning in the far Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Katia will be in a moist, low wind shear environment with ocean temperature 1 - 2°C above the threshold needed to support a hurricane, and should be able to intensify to major hurricane strength when it passes to the north of the Lesser Antilles Islands 5 - 6 days from now. It is possible that some of the outer spiral bands of the storm might bring heavy rain squalls to the northern Lesser Antilles, but it would be a surprise if the core of the storm passed through the islands. The long term fate of Katia is unknown. Dr. Bob Hart's Historical Tropical Cyclone Probability web page suggests shows that tropical storms in Katia's current position have a 19% chance of hitting North Carolina, a 16% chance of hitting Canada, an 11% chance of hitting Florida, and a 47% chance of never hitting land.


Figure 2. The morning run of the GFS Ensemble prediction. The ensemble prediction was done by taking a lower-resolution version of the GFS model and changing the initial distributions of temperature, pressure, and humidity randomly by a few percent to generate an ensemble of 20 different computer projections of where Katia might go. The operational (highest-resolution) version of the GFS model (white line) is usually more accurate, but the ensemble runs give one an idea of the uncertainty in the forecast.

Katia is the 11th named storm this year, and comes a full twelve days before the half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologically, September 10 marks the half-way point. A typical hurricane season has just 10 - 11 named storms, so we've already had a whole season's worth of storms before reaching the half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 25 named storms, making it the 2nd busiest season on record, behind 2005. Katia's formation date of August 30 puts 2011 in 5th place for earliest date of arrival of the season's 11th storm. Only 2005, 1995, 1936, and 1933 had an earlier 11th storm.

Gulf of Mexico development possible late this week
Several of our best computer models for predicting formation of tropical cyclones, the GFS and ECMWF, are predicting that an upper level pressure interacting with a tropical wave now over the the Western Caribbean could combine to spawn a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico late this week or early next week. The formation location is likely to be off the coast of Louisiana or Texas, but the track of the system is hard to predict at this point.


Figure 3. Portlight volunteer Thomas Hudson clears a driveway yesterday in Hollywood, Maryland.

Portlight disaster relief effort in Maryland
Hurricane Irene heavily damaged the town of Hollywood, Maryland, when a tornado cut off electric power, water, and phone service. Portlight and Team Rubicon volunteers arrived before emergency personnel, after following up on a local tip. What they found was an isolated area whose plight was unknown to the larger community. Most residents were trapped at their homes by heavy debris. Portlight and Team Rubicon worked for two days to clear paths to each address, extract vehicles from debris, and cut down trees that constituted safety hazards. Portlight also instructed local residents how to operate and maintain chainsaws and safely clear debris. No other volunteer organizations or emergency personnel arrived at any time, and Portlight succeeded in meeting the specific needs of the underserved, unserved, and forgotten. Visit the Portlight blog to learn more; donations are always welcome.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday discussing if the evacuations and media hype surrounding Irene were excessive.

Jeff Masters

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1715. Walshy
Quoting KoritheMan:


I... am speechless.


Did that article really just infer Accuweather was better than the NWS?!

lulz
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I... am speechless.


I blogged about that a couple days ago.
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Quite a beast forming in the Gulf after Labor Day. But will it be Lee or Maria? It wasn't there in the run from 6 hours earlier!

That high to the north looks strong.
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Quoting Huracaneer:
OK, here is the link for the GFS Image that has me concerned, I know it's almost a week out, but models have gotten better and it hints at something happening in the eastern GOM



I know it is to early to tell, but if it does go that way it wouldn't surprise me. TX is really having a hard time getting any kind of decent rain. That high just won't leave us.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting NoVaForecaster:
Hate to say this:



PINHOLE EYE!


Yep!

Link
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Quoting flsky:
"Do We Really Need a NWS?" (Fox)

Link


I... am speechless.
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Quoting newbee:
the latest run GFS has a major hurricane just south of mobile and pensacola 168 hours out

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/


The 00z gfs data is just now being displayed. Lets see it what has in mind for that gom aoi, and Katia as well. Still only on hour 9, the whole run will be done in about 45 minutes or so
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1706. centex
K looks like will be a fish tonight for NA. Looks like hurricane tonight which means more rapid NW,NNW, N and NE turn. Wishing and praying for GOM system, you can't overstate our need.
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1705. WxLogic
00Z GFS Init:

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5030
Quoting whipster:


Most of the "data" has been shown to be invented by people who want the money to keep flowing. Science has died as far as purported AGW is concerned.


Sorry about this - I normally try to stay out of these debates because frankly I find them insanely depressing. But to claim that scientists "invent" data to keep grants flowing is absolutely insane. As a scientist myself that idea is loathesome and unpleasant to me as... well, I can't say quite how loathesome and offensive I find it because the analogies would get me banned.

The data is what the data is. There will be data that is more and less reliable in there, and there will be significant uncertainties that mean that a number of different conclusions might be drawn from the same data.

While people claim continually that the scientists are making all the data up, tampering with it, and all the rest, to keep their grants flowing, I've seen absolutely nothing that suggest that. Where I have seen that kind of revisionism is on some of the more bizarre anti-GW sites led by non-scientists.

It is perfectly reasonable to hold different views on this, and to debate it - but in the absence of any strong evidence to shoot down the theory (which, as an aside, is the whole way science works - use evidence to disprove theories), making slanderous comments about the scientific honesty of those involved to try to score brownie points is low and loathesome.

For those who are vaguely interested in good science journalism, by the way, you might find TheConversation.edu.au interesting. I've written a couple of articles on there myself (nothing to do with climate change -- my stuff has been about Solar system astronomy - something I'm better versed to comment on). The whole idea there is to get researchers to write about research, rather than journalists - so the articles on diferent topics are (usually) written by experts in the field unassociated with the work being presented.

The reason it's relevent to mention this here is that they've had an ongoing series of articles for the last few days about the way that the media works. The latest one (which is a fairly whithering piece on the pro-AGW side of the coin) is here, and was written by one of my colleagues here at UNSW, in Sydney. Might be of interest to some of you:)

But as a request - if we're arguing or debating AGW, please can we keep it on the straight and narrow, and try to avoid devolving into petty insults and slander of those involved? Will make the blog much more fun to read for all concerned!
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1703. flsky
"Do We Really Need a NWS?" (Fox)

Link
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Link
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Quoting blsealevel:
National Data Buoy Center

Link

Wind Shear on the increase in the GOMEX
might help keep this in check for a day or two anyway



Yeah, only a slow relaxation of the shear is forecast.
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1700. Grothar
GFS 228 hours

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00z NAM at 84 hours...991mb. If nothing else, the NAM is consistent on position and timing. Gets a little stronger with each run, though.

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National Data Buoy Center

Link

Wind Shear on the increase in the GOMEX
might help keep this in check for a day or two anyway

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Quoting TampaSpin:




Could be one heck of a collision coming.......HUM....WOW

That's the one I have been trying to talk about, a week out it's not outrageous for the same models that we are using to call Katia a possible fish.
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Link
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bob did say it would stall over us for a few days. maybe thats when it will form. who knows?
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Quoting BDAwx:


Yes, born and raised! :)


Well not liking the current model tracks for this one, but it is so far out at this point if it still looks this way say friday I will be worried.
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1693. Grothar
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Could be one heck of a collision coming.......HUM....WOW
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night BDA!
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Quoting newbee:
the latest run GFS has a major hurricane just south of mobile and pensacola 168 hours out

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/
and it forms off louisianas coast? thats kinda weird
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This was noted earlier, but it is good news that the latest discussion bent Katia's track to the right and lessened the threat to the islands.
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11:00pm Advisory
*Click on image to magnify (Images can further be magnified in the Link window by clicking on them)

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Katia will pass well north of all the caribbean islands. Now we can be confident on that. Next!
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Quoting bradbarry27:


I had heard about that over the weekend, but that is a great article.

Not really. Is there somewhere in the article where it proves that CO2 is NOT a heat-trapping gas?
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Ok one more try at posting the image with the strange Gulf development a week out
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Quoting blsealevel:


Yes indeed i live about 70 miles give or take from that area yeasterday morning i could smell it by the afternoon you could see the smoke today wasnt to bad here but i heard on the new orleans news it was thick as fog around that area today


I've accidentally inhaled large quantities of smoke while shooting fireworks. Trust me, it's not fun. ;)
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Katia's convective mass is fairly weak at the moment. The hole everyone is seeing near the center is just that...a hole, not an eye.

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Quoting twincomanche:
Typical liberal argument. Attack the messenger instead of looking at the content. I don't care who reports something. If it rings of the truth then heed the facts. Don't just attack the messenger.


Excuse me? I've voted Republican for president 5 out of 6 times. You read me less well than a fairground fortune teller.


And that concludes my interaction with you.
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1679. BDAwx
G'night blog
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Quoting BDAwx:


Yeah that's the one. Measured a gust at 66mph at my house, a tree fell on my neighbor's truck and I lost power for a day. But was forced to go to school anyway. :|. it was poorly forecast.


The next day the high was only 59. Raw!
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Gaining latitude....

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1674. BDAwx
Quoting JupiterX:


You are from Bermuda as well?


Yes, born and raised! :)
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Quoting BDAwx:


Yeah that's the one. Measured a gust at 66mph at my house, a tree fell on my neighbor's truck and I lost power for a day. But was forced to go to school anyway. :|. it was poorly forecast.


You are from Bermuda as well?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Any development that does occur won't be for another several days at least, so no evacuation in the near-future. As the system starts cranking up though (not necessarily becomes a depression), I'd look out for such statements.



Okay--Thanks
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I understand Louisiana gets wildfires, but this is the first one I've actually experienced. The smoke is atrocious.


Yes indeed i live about 70 miles give or take from that area yeasterday morning i could smell it by the afternoon you could see the smoke today wasnt to bad here but i heard on the new orleans news it was thick as fog around that area today
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Quoting Relix:
Well it seems now Katia will really be a no threat to the NE Islands. I mean... there's no way with the current setup.
are you sure? track history show that Katia is straightening her track..
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Quoting twincomanche:
Because I respect many other people on here. What's your problem? I think Dr. Masters is a great analyst of the weather but his over hyping of storm surges and his doom casting of AGW is way over the top IMHO. I am entitled to my opinion aren't I?



Entitled to an opinion certainly. Support your opinion without attacking the credibility and integrity of others. IMHO that's how your original comment came across. That said, I dont want to start a dispute. Respect and civility cannot be overrated and if I was rude I apologize.
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Quoting DFWjc:


send the link, all i see is black...

Oops, did not know it would do that. I fixed my comment to add the link instead
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um.. eye!

Member Since: August 24, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 620
1666. WxLogic
Quoting hurricane23:
I'd watch the wave behind katia as it may have a decent chance at poseing a threat to the caribbean/southeast based on the pattern being portrayed by the GFS ensembles.


P22L?

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5030
1665. DFWjc
Quoting Huracaneer:
OK, here is the image that has me concerned, I know it's almost a week out, but models have gotten better and it hints at something happening in the eastern GOM



send the link, all i see is black...
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.