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 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.
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Quoting kaiden:


My Dad had a remote back in those days, he would say to one of us "get up off your dead Butt and turn the dial to channel 5".


"And while you're up, get me a beer."
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Quoting Levi32:
See....NOW they call it what it is - a tropical wave. They didn't think it was a wave before lol.


They waited for you video!!!:)
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Quoting islander101010:
where is jason? he contributed alot to this blog when things were slow. hang him out in the cold?
I really miss him, WOW!!!!
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311. srada
Hey Everyone!

Made it through Irene! Have friends in Wilmington who still dont have power though. Trees are down everywhere in Wilmington and the County is not picking up debris unless FEMA reimburses them. Just another saga in weather related drama.
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Random question for anyone...is there a ULL sitting over FL right now? Look at the tracks on radar...seems like circulation to me...

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Quoting ncstorm:


but not as much as your Jason man crush..


Yeah I've got such a man crush on Jason that he's on my iggy list about 30 times. And you're right there underneath the latest Jason invocation...
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Quoting ncstorm:


but not as much as your Jason man crush..
where is jason? he contributed alot to this blog when things were slow. hang him out in the cold?
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Quoting P451:


Lloyd Lidsay Young says hello.

Had the priveledge of watching his evening weather broadcast on the local news. You know, back when we had to get up to change the channel but rarely did because there were only seven. Eight if you count the random UHF public channel. Man, that was like Christmas in July when you discovered there was another channel.


My Dad had a remote back in those days, he would say to one of us "get up off your dead Butt and turn the dial to channel 5".
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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.
Especially in areas where people are not familiar with the rainfall potential of Tropical Systems (Irene).

When people hear Storm Warning they tend to think "wind", when in MOST cases it is the rainfall that does the most damage.

More emphasis needs to be put on the dangers posed by rainfall, especially in areas not used to 10-20 inches of it.

10-20 inches of rain is more problems than 100 mph wind in MOST cases.
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Maybe a RADAR from the CVs?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 644
Quoting Vero1:
They saw Levi's Tidbit

that is exactly what I was thinking.
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Has anyone seen Patrap? Wondering if there was a loop on Katia.
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Now if Katia does maintain a wrw heading throughout the forecast period, what kind of impacts might that have along the East coast? Could it graze the outerbanks like Earl from last year?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 644
Quoting hurricanejunky:


Your JB man crush is almost as big as Pensacola Doug's!


but not as much as your Jason man crush..
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I think the AOI in the GOM is going to develope in the NW GOM and then be picked up by the trough. This for now, is the most likely scenerio. IMHO
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Quoting ncstorm:
Joe Bastardi
@BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Not paying attention to blogs, but others should start picking this up. The pattern says this almost has to develop.gulf has 5-7 day window


Your JB man crush is almost as big as Pensacola Doug's!
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Where's Patrap today?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 644
296. 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...
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Quoting DookiePBC:


And of course the 3 Stooges model has it running in circles in the middle of the Gulf saying "Whoop whoop whoop". Honestly though, models at this point are pretty useless other than the fact that SOMETHING may spin up there. Not sure where it's headed or what kinda impact it might have on Katia steering. Wishing I woulda watched Levi's video so I could repeat some of what he said and sound smarter! ;-)


That's one of the funniest things I have ever read!
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Quoting roflcopter:


The evacuation orders were not, however the media hype surrounding the storm somewhat counter-acted the sensible evacuation orders.

There were quite a few Darwin award candidates that received their prize from this storm. I think the "freak factor" due to the media hyping it non-stop caused or intensified it.


Yes there were a few that made poor decisions, but there were those who were killed in their living rooms by falling trees or swept away trying to flee flash flooding. Considering what we're left to deal with now, I can only imagine what we'd be witnessing had Irene met the expectations of some. There were multiple threats involved and reason for the masses to be alerted.

Just because they blow the tornado whistles in Omaha, Ne doesn't mean there is a tornado on the ground chewing things up. Anybody who ignores the next tornado whistles because the last time they went off nothing happened is taking a huge risk.
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Katia certainly looks like she'll be an impressive Storm soon
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Joe Bastardi
@BigJoeBastardi Joe Bastardi
Not paying attention to blogs, but others should start picking this up. The pattern says this almost has to develop.gulf has 5-7 day window
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290. DFWjc
If anyone didn't catch Bill Nye on Fox, here's the Link, the host really peeved me off, he should of shut up and let Bill talk...
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Quoting NavarreMark:


Good call.

Thank you. I believe you were the one to discover WRW, correct?
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Quoting JasonToolManLovesJFV:


YEP! TEH GIRL'S GOT LOOKS!


You are banned sir.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting scott39:
Thats some HEAVY rain!


yes it is..wasnt expecting that on the map.
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Quoting ncstorm:
"Something" will be in the GOM soon..5 day QPF total

Thats some HEAVY rain!
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Quoting SPLbeater:
maybe a bump up in intensity at 5PM? 50 mph seems likely...


Might be even higher than that. Definitely getting its act together quicker than I thought.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
my post-Irene obs.... The media showed all these people hanging out enjoying a day off work and school, playing in streets without traffic.. all leading to the next storm having fewer people evacuating and thinking its a holiday... hope the next storm is a mild one or it oculd really be a bad situation...
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"Something" will be in the GOM soon..5 day QPF total

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Quoting JNCali:


Wait.. are we talking True West or Magnetic West here?


Technical term is "270 Tru Dat West".
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 644
See....NOW they call it what it is - a tropical wave. They didn't think it was a wave before lol.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Interesting the 06z GFS does a counter-clockwise loop & races it off to the NE, the 12 GFS pushes it south into Mexico, both runs hug the coast of Texas like you said. The ECMWF pushes it inland over Houston. Like I said though, I'm not falling for the models that far out like I did with Irene, lets wait a couple more days & until we get some development to be more sure where this is going.
Now that I see that the NHC has it moving W over the Yucatan and 10%developing in the NW GOM, the GFS makes no sense. Unless it is backwards for some reason on the track. The relief for TEXAS will depend on if this AOI can hurry up and develope, and then BeeLine into Texas before the (Door) Slams Shut!!
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maybe a bump up in intensity at 5PM? 50 mph seems likely...
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting LazarusRH:
Where is Patrap?


Now this is just sad.
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HPC 7 Day Sea Level Pressures and Fronts
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Link

So instead of mocking, I ask simply: Should we not be praising the courage of these people who head out into the belly of the weather beast to give us a first-person view of doom descending, all the while dressed meagerly in their flimsy, local-TV-station-issue rain gear?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 644
Quoting TropicalGenesis:
If a storm develops in the gulf and heads into the Midwest as a remnant low what impact would this have on Katia if any?


If it's strong enough, it could try to pull Katia more west. Depends on the strength and location of the low.
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Interesting little swirl to the West of Katia. Wonder if that is pulling her south of the forecast track?

Link
Member Since: July 30, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 388
Quoting wxobsvps:


Slightly north of wsw, I'd say.


Wait.. are we talking True West or Magnetic West here?
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Where is Patrap?
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Quoting wxobsvps:
If you look closely enough you can see the bend back to the west at the very end of the HWRF run



Great... another Isabel??
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting FtMyersgal:

I think it's a temporary trend, then Katia will go west Reed west


West of Westcaster.
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12Z HWRF
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I'll have to disagree with the NHC on movement of the tropical wave, not that it really matters all that much. The flow is clearly out of the southeast, so a WNW to NW movement is more likely until it gets until the Gulf. After that, the flow is questionable as steering currents could be erratic.

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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.