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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Savannah, Grand Cayman winds SSW to SW with gust to 32mph, highest gust 45mph.
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363. LBAR
Katia looks devastatingly beautiful already. Those long sprial bands are stunning.
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Link

Winds SW to WSW End End, Grand Cayman
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361. DFWjc
Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Hi everybody. A quick drive-by here.  This from Houston just clears everything up. Lol. See y'all later. :)




If you made that, good job AtHome, nice work!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Allyson00:
This may be old news since I'm not on the blog often but check this out.

Double Yuck! Reporter covering Irene confuses sewage for sea foam !


http://www.khou.com/video?id=128587803&sec=54 8547


poor guy..... But you gotta laugh
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Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14674
Quoting marknmelb:


Where's my cheez whiz boy ??


I'm on a mission from God!
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Hi everybody. A quick drive-by here.  This from Houston just clears everything up. Lol. See y'all later. :)


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Quoting AllStar17:
Hilary may not be too far away in the EPAC. High chance for an area just off the Mexican coast.


Seems a shame that we can't have Hillary and Monica in the Atlantic at the same time then they could Fujiwahara, or whatever that dance is called.
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Quoting DFWjc:


Not sure how i sure reply to that..with an ouch or....
You're right; it was unnecessarily harsh. I was just trying to make the point that this board correctly forecasts 57 of every 3 major hurricanes making CONUS landfall.

That, and that every storm is unique. Once it's formed, and we have model guidance and a track, it's worth cracking open the historical records for comparison and guidance. But saying it's "just like X" is generally unhelpful, because it never is. It's much more interesting (at least to me) to find specific points of comparison - another sprawling cyclone like Irene that lost its eyewall and never found a replacement, another storm like Katia strengthening so far east and south at this point in the season, another stretch of several weeks in the GOM with conditions ripe for formation and nary a cloud in sight.

But there are nicer ways of saying all of that. And I apologize.

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Quoting JNCali:

The problem lies in the fact that the warnings cannot be definitive.. 'there might be flooding'.. 'there might be strong winds'.. folks will tend to think that it won't happen to them especially if they are going to be inconvenienced in any way... You can provide some folks with all the information in the world and they will just say, 'well, I don't think so!' Better safe than sorry used to be a common paradigm, not so sure about that anymore

Good point.
But it is precisely those people that I am thinking need to be warned that A FLOOD IS LIKELY IN YOUR AREA or some such thing.

Perhaps I am assuming that there are more Intelligent people than there really are....
Maybe not.
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345. DFWjc
Quoting FLdewey:


What is it with people who have "cloud" in their handle?

They all seem very angry, either that or they're all the same angry person.


Nope, just alot of know-it-alls that think they are superior than anyone else. Knowledge should be used to teach and help, not to slam or hurt anyone..
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Quoting 69Viking:
Anything in the GOM could spin up quickly this time of year with these water temps!


Note arguing with you or anything, just elaborating on your point:

Anything that forms in the Gulf has to fight the dry air over all of Texas. Any storm that forms in the gulf will pull air from the west, which will keep it in check. It was this same dry air that saved us during Ike and kept the Eyewall from condensing and kept it from being much worse than it already was.

And it was dry air that has hampered the formation of most storms this season and which weakened Irene as it crossed over NC.

My general (and non-scientific) observation this year has been the under-estimation of the impact of dry air regions on storms.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This may be old news since I'm not on the blog often but check this out.

Double Yuck! Reporter covering Irene confuses sewage for sea foam !


http://www.khou.com/video?id=128587803&sec=548547
Member Since: April 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
Quoting WxBlogAddict:


What might west of due west be? Uber-West?

I know! I know!... ADAM WEST!
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Quoting ncstorm:


but not as much as your Jason man crush..




LOL!
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340. srada
Quoting FLdewey:
hey srada... glad you made it through gust front Irene. ;-)


I tell ya Dewey, it was touch and go there for a minute, but thank goodness my cheetos got me through it:)
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Quoting JasonToolManLovesJFV:


RIGHT HERE SIR!!!
worried about that chronic cough
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Quoting WxBlogAddict:


What might west of due west be? Uber-West?

Now you have it! Uber-West or wrw
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Quoting pottery:
I have been thinking that the terms Hurricane Warning/Storm Warning etc need to be qualified by NHC and the News chanells in many cases to read FLOOD WARNING......

The problem lies in the fact that the warnings cannot be definitive.. 'there might be flooding'.. 'there might be strong winds'.. folks will tend to think that it won't happen to them especially if they are going to be inconvenienced in any way... You can provide some folks with all the information in the world and they will just say, 'well, I don't think so!' Better safe than sorry used to be a common paradigm, not so sure about that anymore
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Quoting WxBlogAddict:


What might west of due west be? Uber-West?
I was thinking Mae West, but you knocked it outa' the ballpark with that one. lol
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Quoting nofailsafe:


Yeah, it's been pretty dry here for as long as I can remember. One summer, I think 2007 was exceptionally wet up in north texas. I don't think we broke 100 until late in the summer.
I'm pretty sure it was 2007. I was taking care of my mom's yard for her while she was out of state, and between the rain and the astronomical growth of the grass from said rain, I was really, really glad to turn the yard over to a service when she got home!!!! No such problems this year.....
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I see we have a yellow circle in the Caribean...

Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting kaiden:


That too, and a bag of Cheetos.


Where's my cheez whiz boy ??
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Quoting WxBlogAddict:


What might west of due west be? Uber-West?


Super Duper Ultra West
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Exactly, and don't you think Katia is moving west of due west?


could be ,,,could not,,,
maybe Katia will hit USA between TX & CT.
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327. DFWjc
Quoting CloudGatherer:
Sure. Because the first thing that should pop into your mind when you see an area of interest with a 10% shot of development is that it'll probably be a major hurricane when it makes landfall.

For the record, not only is this misleading, it's flatly wrong. Hurricane Alicia developed from a frontal trough extending from New England down into the gulf, and formed an area of mseoscale low pressure along the Alabama and Mississippi coast. (Note what's not present in that narrative? A front moving west off of Florida.) She was a very unusual storm, in that pressures in the rest of the Gulf remained quite high throughout her life, and Alicia spun up as a small and intense storm confined to a restricted area.

In other words, neither the specific cyclogenesis nor the broader environmental conditions bear the slightest resemblance to Alicia. But thank you for playing.


Not sure how i sure reply to that..with an ouch or....a simply no would have been nicer, guess some people forget how to be alittle nicer on here..
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Quoting CloudGatherer:
Sure. Because the first thing that should pop into your mind when you see an area of interest with a 10% shot of development is that it'll probably be a major hurricane when it makes landfall.

For the record, not only is this misleading, it's flatly wrong. Hurricane Alicia developed from a frontal trough extending from New England down into the gulf, and formed an area of mseoscale low pressure along the Alabama and Mississippi coast. (Note what's not present in that narrative? A front moving west off of Florida.) She was a very unusual storm, in that pressures in the rest of the Gulf remained quite high throughout her life, and Alicia spun up as a small and intense storm confined to a restricted area.

In other words, neither the specific cyclogenesis nor the broader environmental conditions bear the slightest resemblance to Alicia. But thank you for playing.


Another Hurricane caster..... disaster.... So I guess we could call this a failedcaster?? or an incorrectcaster????
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According to
the highest rainfall total in Vermont (at least due to a tropical system or its remnants, from 1950-2010) is 11.53 inches from Floyd (this may not be a single-day rainfall total.)
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Exactly, and don't you think Katia is moving west of due west?


What might west of due west be? Uber-West?
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Getting stronger.

30/1745 UTC 12.6N 34.3W T3.0/3.0 12L -- Atlantic
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:


"And while you're up, get me a beer."


That too, and a bag of Cheetos.
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Quoting DFWjc:
You realize that front that's in the gulf coming off of west Florida is almost like what happened when Alicia was born in 1983....kinda of scary...


The steering is toward the West Coast of Florida.
Alicia went to Texas.
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Quoting NavarreMark:


I believe that would be Spuds. LOL

Ok, I stand corrected. I believe in giving honor where honor is due
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Quoting DFWjc:
You realize that front that's in the gulf coming off of west Florida is almost like what happened when Alicia was born in 1983....kinda of scary...
Sure. Because the first thing that should pop into your mind when you see an area of interest with a 10% shot of development is that it'll probably be a major hurricane when it makes landfall.

For the record, not only is this misleading, it's flatly wrong. Hurricane Alicia developed from a frontal trough extending from New England down into the gulf, and formed an area of mseoscale low pressure along the Alabama and Mississippi coast. (Note what's not present in that narrative? A front moving west off of Florida.) She was a very unusual storm, in that pressures in the rest of the Gulf remained quite high throughout her life, and Alicia spun up as a small and intense storm confined to a restricted area.

In other words, neither the specific cyclogenesis nor the broader environmental conditions bear the slightest resemblance to Alicia. But thank you for playing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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