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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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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Quoting scott39:
Are you looking for a Gulf Coast rider to develope out of the AOI in the Caribbean?


At the very least, an area of disturbed weather appears pretty much inevitable. The GFS has been consistent in bringing it to tropical storm status also.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
1663. scott39
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.
Are you looking for a Gulf Coast rider to develope out of the AOI in the Caribbean?
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1662. BDAwx
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
BDA I found it I think.


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.
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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.


Agreed. Good to see you, Adrian.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
1660. WxLogic
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No eye. As you mentioned, the circulation is to the southeast of the 'warm spot', additionally, recent microwave overpasses suggest that an eyewall has not developed. Dry air appears to be the culprit.


I believe is more due to the cooler waters. Here's the latest SAL:



Not bad... conducive for further strengthening.
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Raw T-number just plummeted to T3.4. Likely due to the scene type changing from a uniform CDO to a shear pattern.

2011AUG31 024500 3.9 993.3 63.0 3.9 3.4 3.4 NO LIMIT OFF OFF -54.57 -56.45 SHEAR N/A N/A 13.28 37.43 FCST MSG2 45.5
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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

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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.
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1655. Bielle
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
I googled James Delingpole and he's an opinion journalist. Nothing wrong with that. It's a legitimate field. But I take my cues for scientific questions from actual scientists.


He is a humourist, I believe.
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Quoting OffshoreRep:


I know but I have a crew out there now. Just wondering when and if you think they will start evacuating personnel from offshore platforms??


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.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
1653. rv1pop
Quoting snow2fire:
TampaSpin - See post earier on OBX - another thing - cell phone service is out on Hatteras and cut off areas.

Right now power is out and emergency ops will want to figure out some way to provide power asap. Then they will try to set up up temp cell phone towers.

So, once they get power and towers up you might be able to reach them on cell phone. You might also try text messages - less bandwidth.
Also --- some carriers can use / are using LEOS for text messaging. If the customer has not run out power they may get texting from those. I have been out of the business since 2006, but heard that this was in test just before Katrina and was actually used then. Supposedly, the carriers wait until they have a full block of messages (do not know the count or size), then bulk page and send them out if they get an ACK. SO, if you can leave a text, do so. If you do not text, but know some one who does, have them send a text - with your name in it - so they know who they are talking to. Just an FYI.
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1652. newbee
the latest run GFS has a major hurricane just south of mobile and pensacola 168 hours out

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:
The "pinhole eye" is actually located just northeast of the official center:



FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 31/0300Z 13.3N 37.5W 50 KT 60 MPH


So is it an actual eye or just a patch of dry air?
No eye. As you mentioned, the circulation is to the southeast of the 'warm spot'. Additionally, recent microwave overpasses suggest that an eyewall has not developed. Dry air appears to be the culprit.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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.


Agreed. However, northern PR may see some higher surf.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
Quoting KoritheMan:


You picked a bad time, then.


I know but I have a crew out there now. Just wondering when and if you think they will start evacuating personnel from offshore platforms??
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BDA I found it I think.
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1647. hamla
years ago the duck hunters used to set the marsh on fire so they cud get back to their duck blinds but this fire is really bad
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
Quoting OffshoreRep:




Tell Me about it--I'm heading offshore out of Venice Friday morning
I'd not handle that ride well, myself. Will be quite rough, I think.
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Delingpole's a twit. Reading Delingpole's column in the Telegraph for information on climate change is equivalent to seeking financial planning information on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. The paper's lead author has stated that this work says nothing about climate change. That it does is all coming from the AGW denialist echo chamber. What they found is that cloud nucleation maybe more sensitive to aerosol type and concentration than previously thought. The real breakthrough is that the authors were able to devise an experimental apparatus that allows them to study condensation nucleation at very low levels of aerosol concentration. Eventually this should greatly enhance meterologist's ability to predict such things as precipitation probabilities and amount as well as the affects of pollution on the weather and climate change. A semi-lay person interpretation of the article can be found at realclimate.org or pick up the paper yourself from your local library.

Regarding development in the Gulf, the latest forecast update from the Houston-Galveston NWS office compared its potential to TS Francis; a slowly meandering storm that hung off the coast and caused considerable storm surge flooding. We had over 6' of storm surge in Galveston Bay, more than most hurricanes.
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Quoting tulsahurrcane:



Both Neopolitan and the "Doc" back up any opinions they may have with facts. They stick with the data rather than conjecture. If you have so little regard for the "Doc" I wonder why you spend so much time on the blog.


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.
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1642. WxLogic
There sure appears to be a weak area of low pressure in the NW Carib. Here're some SFC Obs and I've placed the Low in the most likely spot where it could be, and finally pressures in the area are ranging around the 1009MB on average.



TSTM could also be contaminating some reading but there has been a consistent W component to the wing at the SFC for the past 4 to 5hr or so:

WMO 42056
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Quoting BDAwx:
You're welcome!
It's interesting how the hills work here, a storm in February of 2009 was worse for me than Igor was... But we tend to take hurricanes more seriously than winter storms despite similar impacts.


What were the dates on that?
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1640. 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.
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1639. BDAwx
You're welcome!
It's interesting how the hills work here, a storm in February of 2009 was worse for me than Igor was... But we tend to take hurricanes more seriously than winter storms despite similar impacts.
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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.
Yeah, it's been pretty terrible in the mornings. And our cold front allowing the surface to cool off enough at night for an inversion has been what's made it so bad...traps the smoke close to the surface.

Without the cold front, it wouldn't be so strong.
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1637. scott39
Quoting lottotexas:
like DON !!
I sense a little hostility towards Don. Are you a Texan?
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Orcasystems and twincommanche, googling Delingpole brings up all kinds of stuff. Including insulting one of our World War II veterans, saying he didn't believe his service was real. When someone insults our war veterans that way I count them out.


If you like him, fine. Not a discussion I'm having.




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Quoting TampaSpin:


maybe this is why!



Not gonna lie. I have a new video camera begging to be used. I would like nothing more than to test it on a moderate to strong tropical storm, or possibly a weak hurricane. Nothing too destructive, of course.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
Quoting blsealevel:
WILDFIRE IN NEW ORLEANS EAST TO CONTINUE PRODUCING IRRITABLE
SMOKE...

A WILDFIRE CONTINUES TO BURN MARSH GRASSES IN NEW ORLEANS EAST NEAR INTERSTATE 10 AND INTERSTATE 510. DURING THE FIRST PART OF TONIGHT...LIGHT SOUTH TO SOUTHEAST WINDS ARE EXPECTED. THIS MAY TRANSPORT THE SMOKE NORTHWARD AND COULD CAUSE SOME MINOR IMPACTS
ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE NORTH SHORE...INCLUDING MANDEVILLE...COVINGTON AND SLIDELL. WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO CALM LATER IN THE NIGHT. THIS MAY RESULT IN SMOKE BECOMING TRAPPED NEAR THE SURFACE IN THE VICINITY OF THE FIRE...AND COULD ALSO RESULT IN REDUCED VISIBILITY ALONG INTERSTATES 10 AND 510 AS WELL AS IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS.

SMOKE MAY REMAIN TRAPPED NEAR THE SURFACE THROUGH THE MID MORNING HOURS WEDNESDAY BEFORE WINDS STRENGTHEN AND HELP TO DISPERSE IT THROUGH THE AFTERNOON.

SMOKE FROM THE FIRE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A POSSIBLE HEALTH ISSUE IN THE AREA FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS...INCLUDING THE ELDERLY AND PEOPLE WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASES SUCH AS ASTHMA. PEOPLE IN THESE
SENSITIVE GROUPS SHOULD AVOID PROLONGED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND EXERTION.



I understand Louisiana gets wildfires, but this is the first one I've actually experienced. The smoke is atrocious.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
Quoting KoritheMan:


I don't get Breck's forecasts being closer to Baton Rouge. I hear his expertise is rather notorious, though.


maybe this is why!

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Quoting hamla:
bob breck on nola tv channel 8 just said that the viper model brings a low pressure up to mouth of miss.river and stalls starting thursday and stays /stalls thru labor day weekend if it does we gonna get a lot of rain this week end.lets hope there is no wind and it dont make a hurricane cause the sst is 88-90 and it cud make it serious tropical/hurriane which we dont need he has a lot of faith in viper


Yep and I found it to be pretty accuret at times too
guess well see how this works out
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1630. scott39
Quoting angiest:


Bonnie last year ceased to be a TC just before landfall. ;)
Lets hope we have a replay if there is developement, except for Texas. We need to do a TC rain dance for Texas.
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Quoting hamla:
bob breck on nola tv channel 8 just said that the viper model brings a low pressure up to mouth of miss.river and stalls starting thursday and stays /stalls thru labor day weekend if it does we gonna get a lot of rain this week end.lets hope there is no wind and it dont make a hurricane cause the sst is 88-90 and it cud make it serious tropical/hurriane which we dont need he has a lot of faith in viper


I don't get Breck's forecasts being closer to Baton Rouge. I hear his expertise is rather notorious, though.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
Quoting scott39:
The bad thing about a GOM developement,is that it HAS to hit land!
like DON !!
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BDA 1619 thanks for your account. It's good that it inspired you into weather, but sounds scary as hell. Especially since you were 9 at the time!
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Convection waning considerably. The diurnal maximum should begin in that area of the world around 2-3a.m EDT, so we'll watch for convection to start to re-fire.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
I googled James Delingpole and he's an opinion journalist. Nothing wrong with that. It's a legitimate field. But I take my cues for scientific questions from actual scientists.


Did you happen to google CERN? Where it came from?
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WILDFIRE IN NEW ORLEANS EAST TO CONTINUE PRODUCING IRRITABLE
SMOKE...

A WILDFIRE CONTINUES TO BURN MARSH GRASSES IN NEW ORLEANS EAST NEAR INTERSTATE 10 AND INTERSTATE 510. DURING THE FIRST PART OF TONIGHT...LIGHT SOUTH TO SOUTHEAST WINDS ARE EXPECTED. THIS MAY TRANSPORT THE SMOKE NORTHWARD AND COULD CAUSE SOME MINOR IMPACTS
ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE NORTH SHORE...INCLUDING MANDEVILLE...COVINGTON AND SLIDELL. WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO CALM LATER IN THE NIGHT. THIS MAY RESULT IN SMOKE BECOMING TRAPPED NEAR THE SURFACE IN THE VICINITY OF THE FIRE...AND COULD ALSO RESULT IN REDUCED VISIBILITY ALONG INTERSTATES 10 AND 510 AS WELL AS IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS.

SMOKE MAY REMAIN TRAPPED NEAR THE SURFACE THROUGH THE MID MORNING HOURS WEDNESDAY BEFORE WINDS STRENGTHEN AND HELP TO DISPERSE IT THROUGH THE AFTERNOON.

SMOKE FROM THE FIRE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A POSSIBLE HEALTH ISSUE IN THE AREA FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS...INCLUDING THE ELDERLY AND PEOPLE WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASES SUCH AS ASTHMA. PEOPLE IN THESE
SENSITIVE GROUPS SHOULD AVOID PROLONGED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND EXERTION.

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1622. hamla
bob breck on nola tv channel 8 just said that the viper model brings a low pressure up to mouth of miss.river and stalls starting thursday and stays /stalls thru labor day weekend if it does we gonna get a lot of rain this week end.lets hope there is no wind and it dont make a hurricane cause the sst is 88-90 and it cud make it serious tropical/hurriane which we dont need he has a lot of faith in viper
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
Quoting OffshoreRep:




Tell Me about it--I'm heading offshore out of Venice Friday morning


You picked a bad time, then.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
I googled James Delingpole and he's an opinion journalist. Nothing wrong with that. It's a legitimate field. But I take my cues for scientific questions from actual scientists.
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1619. BDAwx
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:


How bad was Fabian there? What's your Fabian story?


It apparently did $300million in damages over 21square miles. Keep in mind inflation has made a typical Bermuda home now worth about $1.3 mil.

I was 9 when Fabian hit Bermuda and it was probably the storm that got me into weather. It destroyed my satellite dish, put three hairline cracks in my roof and uprooted all the trees in my yard except for one. Fortunately, I lived on a leeward side of a hill so winds were probably sustained around 75mph and gusted around 115mph. It was very disturbing to see the eddies of wind in the back yard and to watch my door bow inward while rainwater was forced in through the frame, or to see trees get flattened in each gust.

A section of south shore road in smiths parish and the causeway in st. Georges parish were washed away along with four people, about 2/3 homes had chunks of roof missing. all low-lying homes on south shore including the airport were gutted. We didn't have power or water for 13 days.



It wasn't too bad for me but a storm of similar strength hitting today could be much worse as my house is older. Some homes on south shore lost their entire roof, parts of their second level, were flooded, and were cut off by fallen trees and power lines. Beach erosion hasn't yet recovered.
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Quoting scott39:
The yellow circle (wave) will be moving into the GOM and possibly develope.

I don't think it's the yellow circle, look towards the end of this Loop and see the weird action of the lows in the Gulf, starting about September 5 or so.
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1616. Walshy
Did anyone notice the NHC fix the phonetic pronunciation of Katia?

Ka TEE Ah
to
KAH-tyah
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1615. angiest
Quoting scott39:
The bad thing about a GOM developement,is that it HAS to hit land!


Bonnie last year ceased to be a TC just before landfall. ;)
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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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