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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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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264. Vero1
TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
205 PM EDT TUE AUG 30 2011

...DISCUSSION...

GULF OF MEXICO...
A STATIONARY FRONT CONTINUES TO SIT OVER THE NE GULF FROM NEAR
TALLAHASSEE TO PANAMA CITY FLORIDA TO S OF LOUISIANA NEAR
29N90W. THE FRONT IS SUPPORTING BY AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH THAT
EXTENDS DOWN THE ERN SEABOARD INTO THE NRN GULF ALONG 31N82W TO
23N100W. THE UPPER TROUGH IS ACCOMPANIED BY STRONG DRY AIR AND
SUBSIDENCE WHICH IS SUPPORTING FAIR WEATHER NE OF A LINE FROM
31N82W TO 23N98W. S OF THIS LINE...DEEP LAYERED MOISTURE
PREVAILS EVIDENT IN TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY AND WATER
VAPOR IMAGERY. UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE AROUND THE E SIDE OF THE
UPPER TROUGH ALONG WITH THE ENHANCED MOISTURE IS HELPING
SUPPORTS SCATTERED SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS FROM 24N-29N BETWEEN E
OF 88W. A SURFACE TROUGH JUST W OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA ALONG
22N90W TO 17N92W IS ALSO SUPPORTING SCATTERED
SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS FROM 21N-23N BETWEEN 91W-93W. THIS TROUGH
IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO DRIFT WNW OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF
DAYS. THE STATIONARY FRONT IN THE NE GULF IS EXPECTED TO
DISSIPATE OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS AS THE UPPER LEVEL TROUGH
SUPPORTING IT MOVES TO THE E. SIGNIFICANT MOISTURE IS EXPECTED
TO REMAIN OVER MUCH OF THE GULF OF MEXICO WITH A LIKELY CHANCE
OF SCATTERED SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS.

CARIBBEAN SEA...
HIGH MOISTURE VALUES EVIDENT IN TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY
COVER THE WRN HALF OF THE CARIBBEAN. THIS IS HELPING ENHANCE
SCATTERED SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS WRN CUBA...ERN NICARAGUA
AS WELL AS ISOLATED SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS OVER WATER FROM
13N-21N BETWEEN 79W-85W. CONTINUED SHOWER/THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY
IN THIS AREA HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE FORMATION OF A TROPICAL WAVE
WHICH WILL LIKELY BE ADDED TO THE 1800 UTC ANALYSIS. WAVE
FORMATION AND GROWTH IS ALSO POSSIBLE IN THE WRN CARIBBEAN...AND
CONDITIONS ARE CURRENTLY FAVORABLE FOR THIS TO OCCUR. MODEL
GUIDANCE IS ALSO IN FAVOR OF THIS FORMATION AND MOVES THE WAVE
TOWARDS THE WNW-NW INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO OVER THE NEXT COUPLE
OF DAYS. THIS WILL LIKELY SUPPORT CONTINUED SHOWER/THUNDERSTORM
ACTIVITY OVER THE NW CARIBBEAN OVER THE NEXT DAY OR SO. AN AREA
OF SCATTERED SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS ARE IN THE SW CARIBBEAN FROM
10N-13N BETWEEN 78W-80W. MUCH OF THE CENTRAL AND ERN CARIBBEAN
IS UNDER MOSTLY FAIR CONDITIONS. ALOFT...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE
COVERS THE WRN CARIBBEAN EXTENDING FROM NEAR 17N94W TO THE NW
BAHAMAS AND W ATLC. A WEAK UPPER LEVEL LOW IS OVER HISPANIOLA
EMBEDDED WITH DRY AIR ALOFT. WATER VAPOR IMAGERY ALSO INDICATES
DRY AIR ALOFT OVER THE ERN CARIBBEAN WHICH IS SUPPORTING THE
FAIR WEATHER ACROSS THIS AREA.
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263. Tijer
Quoting hurricanejunky:


UGH, Where is JFV when you need him? LOL!


Sounds like someone's inflatable has a pinhole eye, (leak).
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Hilary may not be too far away in the EPAC. High chance for an area just off the Mexican coast.
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Quoting Katia:


I have to agree with you on that, wait, are we talking about the same thing here?


Where do you want to go??

So many good choices huh?
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
258. jpsb
Quoting laguna2:


So far, it doesn't matter what we ask for (relief from record breaking heat or relief from record breaking drought), we're not getting it. Furthemore, the GFS is backing off from much rain at all much further inland than 50 or so miles from the coast. So, it may be a none issue.

I've lived through both severe drought and major hurricanes. Both can be equally devastating. In Texas right now, the drought is definitely worse. We don't want a major hurricane, but after the last 7 years of mostly drought, a tropical cyclone would mostly be welcome.

The drought has pretty much done it damage for this year. With a little luck (rain) we might be able to get in a fall crop and get some grass growing for our cattle and horses but it sure doesn't look good. Local weather here Galveston/Houston backing away from rain forecast fast. I just grow a garden but can imagine how badly the ranchers and farmers have been hurt. Judging by my garden they are doing terrible. I'm lucky here, the water table is high, so the trees are still alive everything else is either dead or dying. Long range forecast is for months of more of the same. If we get rain by Sept 15, I can plant a fall garden if not, no fall garden for me this year. Come on rain!
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
Getting a lot of rain and gusty winds in Cayman from that tropical wave near us.
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So how much futher west will Katia need to go without a significant northerly turn before the island need to start worrying about her ???
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253. Vero1
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT TUE AUG 30 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
STORM KATIA...LOCATED ABOUT 630 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE
SOUTHERNMOST CAPE VERDE ISLANDS.

A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS ACCOMPANIED
BY DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS. THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO
MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH ACROSS THE YUCATAN
PENINSULA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO...AND HAS SOME POTENTIAL FOR
DEVELOPMENT OVER THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO IN A FEW DAYS. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.


The first steps of future Lee
They saw Levi's Tidbit
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:
Katia looking much better today.



Yeah anyone along the coast might want to start praying for Katia to go out to sea sooner than later as she looks like she's going to be formidable Hurricane before too much longer. A strong circulation with good outflow seen on just about any satellite view now!
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Quoting P451:


Perhaps a little west of west of due west 270.00 true.

Yes.

For a while I think I noticed a wobble to the WestEastWest so we will have to watch to see if that is a course change or a temporary trend.

I think it's a temporary trend, then Katia will go west Reed west
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
The 12z CMC is saying South Texas


Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15666
Just wanted to give an "atta boy" to Portlight and Team Rubicon for their endeavors. Hope there are more like them out there somewhere!
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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.


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! ;-)
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Quoting P451:


It's a good read except for:

"unexpected dry air sucked some of the power out of the storm."


Unexpected? The storm was in a severely dry environment and tapped some very noticeable dry continental air.

How could it be unexpected? Any water vapor image showed that outside of Irene and her outflow to the north and east it was a bone dry environment that spanned most of the eastern US and adjacent Atlantic waters.



If I remember correctly, I think the NHC may have underestimated the *effect* of the dry air, citing the size of the circulation.

But of course, if she had been, what, 50 miles further east things may have been much different.
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Quoting wxobsvps:


Slightly north of wsw, I'd say.


Yes... That works...
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Quoting Elena85Vet:
"I'll have a new post on Wednesday discussing if the evacuations and media hype surrounding Irene were excessive.

Jeff Masters"

That's easy...They were not.

The actual deaths and destruction have proven enough for the alert. Not to mention Irene was an eyewall and a day from it being much worse.


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.
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Quoting Dakster:


Spelled his name wrong too, they put an extra i in it..


at the end right? LOL
Member Since: October 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 269
Anything in the GOM could spin up quickly this time of year with these water temps!

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Quoting laguna2:


So far, it doesn't matter what we ask for (relief from record breaking heat or relief from record breaking drought), we're not getting it. Furthemore, the GFS is backing off from much rain at all much further inland than 50 or so miles from the coast. So, it may be a none issue.

I've lived through both severe drought and major hurricanes. Both can be equally devastating. In Texas right now, the drought is definitely worse. We don't want a major hurricane, but after the last 7 years of mostly drought, a tropical cyclone would mostly be welcome.


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.
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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.


Your showing you age. Seven? I remember 4
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Reading his name annoys me so reading his blog would be out of the question.



hahahahaha...what...can u smell the arrogance.:)
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Quoting 69Viking:


Too much rain after a drought can lead to extreme flooding as there is little in the way of vegetation still alive to hold ground together and help absorb the sudden moisture. In addition the ground I'm sure is hard as cement from being dry for so long and run off could be bad with heavy rains. Be carefull what you ask for Texans, you need a nice slow soaking rain not necessary the 20+ inches that can come from a Tropical System.


As I stated earlier today, we have passed the point where a weak tropical cyclone is beneficial to us. However, if rain fell far enough inland, the copious runoff could at least help the reservoir situation. SE Texas reservoir levels as of last Friday:

LAKE LIVINGSTON 89.7 PERCENT
LAKE CONROE 80.6 PERCENT
HOUSTON COUNTY LAKE 81.4 PERCENT
LAKE HOUSTON 61.4 PERCENT
LAKE SOMERVILLE 46.2 PERCENT
LAKE TEXANA 50.8 PERCENT

At the time of my blog entry about it, ca. 8/12, Lake Somerville was just hitting 50%.
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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?
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS ACCOMPANIED
BY DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS. THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO
MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH ACROSS THE YUCATAN
PENINSULA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO...AND HAS SOME POTENTIAL FOR
DEVELOPMENT OVER THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO IN A FEW DAYS. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

The first steps of future Lee
Kudos to Levi32 for articulating as much this morning:
A tropical wave, or what I think is a tropical wave, is moving NW through the NW Caribbean. The NHC doesn't have it analyzed as a tropical wave, but we'll see if they throw it up there once they latch on to its development potential.
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Quoting hahaguy:
Cantore and Bastardi aren't on the same level as Norcross


There is a reason that Cantore still has to put on the helmet and the goggles to report.... LOL
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228. DFWjc
Quoting cmahan:
Re: the Portlight photo, there's also a chain around the tree. Likely Mr. Hudson is clearing smaller branches so the bulk can be drug out of the way.

... the DFW area hardly knows what to do with even the drizzle of rain we got this morning. It's still forecast to hit triple digits this afternoon, though, which just makes everything steamy.


I was driving towards downtown Ft Worth and got about 20+ drops, then it was over....
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Quoting P451:


It might ravage the east coast and hit NYC. Or it might not.



Exactly, and don't you think Katia is moving west of due west?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
As we move into September we tend to see higher probabilities of "home grown" storms as illustrated in these images. With origins in the northwest Caribbean these storms can move quickly up into the GOM and catch coastal residents with their pants down.

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Quoting JGreco:


Hey Miss what is your opinion about the mischief in the Gulf starting and its affect in our part of the Gulf (since we are both in the Northern Gulf Coast). Always value your opinion:)


I believe it's going to be a slow process and I wouldn't expect anything significant development-wise until the latter part of the weekend. It will take a while to get any sort of consolidated area of low pressure to spin up at the surface. However, I believe the potential is there for at least a tropical storm. If the system is already a tropical storm in the Northern or Northwest Gulf by the time the trough passes by to the north, I don't see how it's going to stay in the Gulf and head back SW. Something doesn't make sense there. A lot will depend on strength. Regardless, it looks like a rain-maker for the Northern and Northwestern Gulf Coast.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Reading his name annoys me so reading his blog would be out of the question.


Spelled his name wrong too, they put an extra i in it..
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Quoting vernco11:
I bet the person who has the house in the picture that was taken in Sharon, Vermont has all kinds of worries about getting back on his feet. For one what are is he going to do with the old house, a real headache. I don't want to be an awful person but I think the United States is not all that good a country as most people want to portray it as. You can go ahead and remove my post if you want to.


Poof
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Quoting scott39:
12Z GFS will not let the potiential TC go into Texas! The High is too strong! The Texas coast looks to get beneficial rain fall.
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.
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Quoting ElConando:


That's more than I can do, I can only call up my friends and family on my cell phone.



Funny!
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CIMSS shows a fairly strong and well-organized tropical storm, well ahead of the NHC's intensity projection. On the other hand, its intensification has leveled off over the past couple of hours.

The NHC tends to be fairly conservative in its intensity estimates on storms this far from land. Instead of upgrading the storm just as soon as one or more Dvorak models indicate hurricane status, it tends to wait an additional advisory period, until there's no longer any possible doubt. So we'll probably see Katia become a hurricane, on schedule, sometime tomorrow. But the truth is, it's not far off right now - just over 60mph - and the ADT numbers alone might even justify it by the next advisory.


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Quoting 69Viking:


Too much rain after a drought can lead to extreme flooding as there is little in the way of vegetation still alive to hold ground together and help absorb the sudden moisture. In addition the ground I'm sure is hard as cement from being dry for so long and run off could be bad with heavy rains. Be carefull what you ask for Texans, you need a nice slow soaking rain not necessary the 20+ inches that can come from a Tropical System.


So far, it doesn't matter what we ask for (relief from record breaking heat or relief from record breaking drought), we're not getting it. Furthemore, the GFS is backing off from much rain at all much further inland than 50 or so miles from the coast. So, it may be a none issue.

I've lived through both severe drought and major hurricanes. Both can be equally devastating. In Texas right now, the drought is definitely worse. We don't want a major hurricane, but after the last 7 years of mostly drought, a tropical cyclone would mostly be welcome.
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Quoting WeatherInterest:
Can anyone tell me what Joe Bastardi has blogged about Katia today?


Reading his name annoys me so reading his blog would be out of the question.
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NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT TUE AUG 30 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
STORM KATIA...LOCATED ABOUT 630 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE
SOUTHERNMOST CAPE VERDE ISLANDS.

A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS ACCOMPANIED
BY DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS. THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO
MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH ACROSS THE YUCATAN
PENINSULA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO...AND HAS SOME POTENTIAL FOR
DEVELOPMENT OVER THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO IN A FEW DAYS. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.


The first steps of future Lee
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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.