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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Quoting Tazmanian:



am not him but he did say it could be are 1st cat 4 so i woud say there is a vary high ch of that yes
That's not the real Levi, Taz
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Do you think cat 5 is possible.


this is not the real levi?
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It is really amazing how often this blog reverts back into the Fish Storm debate. Who really cares. If your offended by something posted on Jeff Masters Wunderblog, you have big problems.
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Quoting JupiterX:


Excuse me, do you think this could still be a major hurricane when it is in the general vicinity of Bermuda?



am not him but he did say it could be are 1st cat 4 so i woud say there is a vary high ch of that yes
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1010. Oct8
@ E46Pilot

The ability to count Hurricanes has been verified by Vecchi & Knutson (2008). They basically say that TS counting is valid back to 1900. Pre-1900 is where you get into trouble carefully counting storms per season.

Vecchi, G.A. and Knutson, T.R. 2008. On estimates of historical North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. Journal of Climate 21: 3580-3600.
Member Since: August 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
Quoting JupiterX:


Excuse me, do you think this could still be a major hurricane when it is in the general vicinity of Bermuda?



You mean florida
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Quoting levi33:
It looks like Katia can we our first cat 4 of the 2011 hurricane season.


Do you think cat 5 is possible.
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Quoting levi33:
It looks like Katia can we our first cat 4 of the 2011 hurricane season.


Excuse me, do you think this could still be a major hurricane when it is in the general vicinity of Bermuda?
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1003. Patrap
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Wow....a national story about THIS BLOG. Thanks Pat.


Dr. Masters was also interviewed today on the MSNBC show Dylan Ratigan.
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Quoting weatherjr:
Philosophically speaking all storms (NO exception) are fish storms in the sense that they like the water. They can not live without the water, specially "hot" sea water. They forms in the water , they grow in the water. When they left the water then they become dead, like fishes.


Heh heh, I like that.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




you miss my point sir plzs read back


I read it. You said we shouldn't use fish storm any more because it might hit land. Well, if it doesn't hit land, then it's a fish storm. Then it's OK to use. And certainly it's good to hope that a storm doesn't hit land. Even if some posters here would love it.
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Quoting JupiterX:


Thanks a lot for giving some love for Bermuda, everyone seems to forget about us.



your welcome
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Quoting Patrap:
Hurricane Irene: Jeff Masters' Must-Read Irene Blog

He may be nearly 1,000 miles from the storm's center, but few people in America have as good idea of what Hurricane Irene is doing -- and is about to do -- as Jeff Masters.

From his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., Masters has kept a calm and methodical account of the status of Irene on WunderBlog, a blog that's part of the Weather Underground network. As Irene bears down on the Atlantic Coast, his site has become a must-read source of information for weather junkies and nervous East Coast residents alike.

"I don't use the word dangerous often, and if I call something dangerous, you'd better pay attention," Masters said by phone Saturday afternoon. "I started doing that back when this first formed as a tropical storm. ... There's a lot of uncertainty in meteorology, but let me tell you, this storm scared the bejesus out of me."

On a normal day in the hurricane season, Masters says, his blog gets 80,000 page views. On Friday, with the storm bearing down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he got 630,000 views
Excellent Read Patrap, thanks for posting the link.
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Going to start boarding up the windows tommorow for Katia
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Quoting weatherjr:
Philosophically speaking all storms (NO exception) are fish storms in the sense that they like the water. They can not live without the water, specially "hot" sea water. They forms in the water , they grow in the water. When they left the water then they become dead, like fishes.


No one likes a pedant, though.

Nah, I'm kidding. That's actually a really valid point.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
18z GFS in the Gulf reminds me of a game of air hockey. Don't like Texas? Hit it towards Louisiana....wait...let's go to Florida....wait, let's go back to Mobile.....

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Quoting Tazmanian:




you miss my point sir plzs read back


Thanks a lot for giving some love for Bermuda, everyone seems to forget about us.
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The current southern edge of the NHC cone is always my outlier.

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Quoting Patrap:
Hurricane Irene: Jeff Masters' Must-Read Irene Blog

He may be nearly 1,000 miles from the storm's center, but few people in America have as good idea of what Hurricane Irene is doing -- and is about to do -- as Jeff Masters.

From his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., Masters has kept a calm and methodical account of the status of Irene on WunderBlog, a blog that's part of the Weather Underground network. As Irene bears down on the Atlantic Coast, his site has become a must-read source of information for weather junkies and nervous East Coast residents alike.

"I don't use the word dangerous often, and if I call something dangerous, you'd better pay attention," Masters said by phone Saturday afternoon. "I started doing that back when this first formed as a tropical storm. ... There's a lot of uncertainty in meteorology, but let me tell you, this storm scared the bejesus out of me."

On a normal day in the hurricane season, Masters says, his blog gets 80,000 page views. On Friday, with the storm bearing down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he got 630,000 views
Wow....a national story about THIS BLOG. Thanks Pat.
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991. hamla
one thing about fish storms,in the GOM when a storm gets in the fish bowl the inland fishing is great pre storm and after storm as long as it aint a hurricane ts small ones are welcome cause with the east/s.e winds brings in the fish,and mixes the salt water with all the fresh water that goes into the gom fyi
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 166
I think Florida better keep a very watchful eye on this storm
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Those temps look normal, it is only 103 here today not 112. One thing the High Pressure is not strong any more. It is kind of strange hearing people talk about decent cold fronts late in August and early in September. I am not complaining but it seems a little early to hear that in this part of the world.


These temps are water temps...
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Quoting jascott1967:


I'm tired of both ends of the spectrum - from fish storms to "OMG, this thing is going to be a MONSTER for (insert city/region/state here)".

It is the arrogance of humans.


But but but... it's going to be an Andrew!
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
Caribbean Hurricane Update August 30th 2011

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Quoting E46Pilot:
My point being, how do we really know what an "average" or "above average" season really is when 10 years ago these systems might not have been named, and 50 years ago they would not have even been known of.


If a tree falls in a forest..... Well you know the rest. If no one records it...it did not happen. LOL
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Quoting MysteryMeat:


If it doesn't hit land, it's a fish storm. That's a good thing. You don't need to be offended.




you miss my point sir plzs read back
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I agree taz, some people tend to think that the islands are no big deal, but people live on these islands, and they could be affected by a hurricane.

As for a US impact, worst case scenario for now would be an earl-like situation, but we'll see.





yup
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Quoting Tazmanian:



i wish you guys would stop uesing the word fish storm if even if this dos go out too sea it could hit Bermuda all so if it hits Bermuda it wont be called a fish



same thing with any other kind of land same thing with the Islands if a storm hits them or do major or severe damg too one of the Islands and still go out too sea later on or keeps going in tell it gets too the USA or MX it wont be call a fish storm



the work fish storm sould olny be ues if the storm fully gos out too sea with out any thing other then that the if it hits one of the Islands or Bermuda 1st then gos out too sea then its not a fish storm sorry


sorry if i may be sounding rude here but am geting sick of this that evere time we get a storm evere one going too think that they will be fish storm with out looking too see if there any land in the way 1st


Bermuda needs too watch this storm may be even the USA but will see


If it doesn't hit land, it's a fish storm. That's a good thing. You don't need to be offended.
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Quoting E46Pilot:


Even just 10 years ago, they would have just been depressions.



No they would not have. Just because they were weak and did not hit land has nothing to do with it.

I am glad somebody on a blog would like to decide what should be named over the people that get paid to do it.

Poof
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Quoting Tazmanian:



i wish you guys would stop uesing the word fish storm if even if this dos go out too sea it could hit Bermuda all so if it hits Bermuda it wont be called a fish



same thing with any other kind of land same thing with the Islands if a storm hits them or do major or severe damg too one of the Islands and still go out too sea later on or keeps going in tell it gets too the USA or MX it wont be call a fish storm



the work fish storm sould olny be ues if the storm fully gos out too sea with out any thing other then that the if it hits one of the Islands or Bermuda 1st then gos out too sea then its not a fish storm sorry


sorry if i may be sounding rude here but am geting sick of this that evere time we get a storm evere one going too think that they will be fish storm with out looking too see if there any land in the way 1st


Bermuda needs too watch this storm may be even the USA but will see


I'm tired of both ends of the spectrum - from fish storms to "OMG, this thing is going to be a MONSTER for (insert city/region/state here)".

It is the arrogance of humans.
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Quoting aquak9:


You're not kidding. We've sold outta EVERY weather station we had in stock- even all of the top-of-the-line Davis models. Luckily we get re-stocked tomorrow. This has NEVER happened before, even at Christmas. It's crazy.

The CoCoRAHS rain gauges are going like hotcakes, too.
That's great to hear and it shows that every black cloud has a silver lining(I guess it does...sounds good anyway).
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Quoting Tazmanian:



i wish you guys would stop uesing the word fish storm if even if this dos go out too sea it could hit Bermuda all so if it hits Bermuda it wont be called a fish



same thing with any other kind of land same thing with the Islands if a storm hits them or do major or severe damg too one of the Islands and still go out too sea later on or keeps going in tell it gets too the USA or MX it wont be call a fish storm



the work fish storm sould olny be ues if the storm fully gos out too sea with out any thing other then that the if it hits one of the Islands or Bermuda 1st then gos out too sea then its not a fish storm sorry


sorry if i may be sounding rude here but am geting sick of this that evere time we get a storm evere one going too think that they will be fish storm with out looking too see if there any land in the way 1st


Bermuda needs too watch this storm may be even the USA but will see


I agree taz, some people tend to think that the islands are no big deal, but people live on these islands, and they could be affected by a hurricane.

As for a US impact, worst case scenario for now would be an earl-like situation, but we'll see.
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fish fish fish fish fish fish fish fish fish fish fish
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Wow! The 18z gfs has a little something for everyone.
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Quoting midnite02:
If, big if, Lee becomes a hurrricane will to be the time we a male and femmale hurricane at the same time?


No. IIRC, Bonnie and Charley in 1992 were both hurricanes for a short time.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
If Katia moves a bit slower but the time she reaches the Central Atlantic the trough will begin to lift out to the northeast. In that scenario, Katia could be force westward by the time she reached the longitude of the Lesser Antilles. It is just too early to tell how far west she will come at this point in time.
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Hurricane Irene: Jeff Masters' Must-Read Irene Blog

He may be nearly 1,000 miles from the storm's center, but few people in America have as good idea of what Hurricane Irene is doing -- and is about to do -- as Jeff Masters.

From his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., Masters has kept a calm and methodical account of the status of Irene on WunderBlog, a blog that's part of the Weather Underground network. As Irene bears down on the Atlantic Coast, his site has become a must-read source of information for weather junkies and nervous East Coast residents alike.

"I don't use the word dangerous often, and if I call something dangerous, you'd better pay attention," Masters said by phone Saturday afternoon. "I started doing that back when this first formed as a tropical storm. ... There's a lot of uncertainty in meteorology, but let me tell you, this storm scared the bejesus out of me."

On a normal day in the hurricane season, Masters says, his blog gets 80,000 page views. On Friday, with the storm bearing down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he got 630,000 views
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Tropical Depression 12 quickly developed into Tropical Storm Katia (pronounced KAY-tyah) at 5AM Tuesday. The tropical storm is located in the far eastern Atlantic more than 2,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It is still more than 5 days away from the longitude of the Lesser Antilles. However, Katia appears to be a classic Cape-Verde type storm that will become a Category 3 hurricane in 4 to 5 days. The steering currents will continue to move Katia to the west-northwest through at least 3 to 4 days. After that there is some divergence in the developing weather pattern. An upper air trough of low pressure is currently moving off of the East Coast of the U.S. If Katia moves fast enough and makes it into the Central Atlantic at the same time as the trough, Katia would recurve. If Katia moves a bit slower but the time she reaches the Central Atlantic the trough will begin to lift out to the northeast. In that scenario, Katia could be force westward by the time she reached the longitude of the Lesser Antilles. It is just too early to tell how far west she will come at this point in time.

The graphic below is 500 MB heights (the approximate mid-point of mass of the atmosphere) forecast valid Thursday at 8:00 AM. The Atlantic trough that may turn Katia to the north is visible. If the trough is not deep enough, Katia could miss the trough and it will come westward.



The enhanced satellite image below shows the circulation of Katia, as well as, the remains of Invest 91L and a new tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa. Katia’s satellite presentation is typical for an immature tropical storm but conditions are favorable for intensification over the next few days. Invest 91L shows no signs of strengthening and is far enough north to be in cooler waters. The GFS does develop the next tropical wave into a depression in 4 or 5 days.



The models shown below are in fairly good agreement for the next few days. The white line curving to the north is the GFS consensus model, which shows recurvature west of Bermuda. Again, it is just too early to say the eventual track of Katia into the western Atlantic.



Another tropical wave has increased in convection today in the western Caribbean. Several models shows this system spinning up in the Gulf of Mexico over the Labor Day Weekend with a potential threat to Louisiana or Texas. Once again, it is too early to say the final path but conditions will become more favorable for development over the next few days, especially after the system crosses over the Yucatan Peninsula and emerges in the Gulf of Mexico.



The image below is output from the GFS model valid Sunday at 8:00 PM EDT showing surface pressure. The GFS shows a strong hurricane northeast of the Lesser Antilles and a tropical storm or hurricane (Lee) in the Gulf of Mexico.



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August 30, 2011
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Quoting muddertracker:
'

so Katia's found her sweet spot already..great.I hope she puts on a great show and then swims with the fishes



i wish you guys would stop uesing the word fish storm if even if this dos go out too sea it could hit Bermuda all so if it hits Bermuda it wont be called a fish



same thing with any other kind of land same thing with the Islands if a storm hits them or do major or severe damg too one of the Islands and still go out too sea later on or keeps going in tell it gets too the USA or MX it wont be call a fish storm



the work fish storm sould olny be ues if the storm fully gos out too sea with out any thing other then that the if it hits one of the Islands or Bermuda 1st then gos out too sea then its not a fish storm sorry


sorry if i may be sounding rude here but am geting sick of this that evere time we get a storm evere one going too think that they will be fish storm with out looking too see if there any land in the way 1st


Bermuda needs too watch this storm may be even the USA but will see
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Quoting bluenosedave:


You folks are aware that for nearly 2 centuries now the oceans have been full of ships, all equipped with barometers and all having a life-or-death interest in the weather? The notion that we've only just begun to really see the oceans since the start of the space age is simply false. The difference today is that we can see in real time, not just after the fact.


Agree. Storms have even turned the tides of war, destroying war fleets and military important ports.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
One unexpected part of the aftermath of IRENE is that it's raised public awareness of the things we follow here....cyclogenesis and the evolution of tropical cyclones. I expect more traffic(good for you Dr. M..$$$$) from the heavily populated northeast, especially during Cape Verde season.


You're not kidding. We've sold outta EVERY weather station we had in stock- even all of the top-of-the-line Davis models. Luckily we get re-stocked tomorrow. This has NEVER happened before, even at Christmas. It's crazy.

The CoCoRAHS rain gauges are going like hotcakes, too.
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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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