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 ncstorm:
12Z NOGAPS Loves Texas..

Link
What are the chances of that happening? I would say slim
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The last GFS run looked like a TC ran to the WNW in the GOM towards central Texas stopped, and then went back to the NE . Looks like ONE of the scenerios that Levi said COULD happen in his video.
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Quoting LightningCharmer:
Hate to quote Bastardi but he's predicting a tropical system forming in the GOM within the next five days. Not that I dislike him or really like him but he's seems to stir emotions when mentioned but guess Cantori does as well.


C'mon, Bastardi, Cantori, and Norcross are the 3 legends! You know anything they say will stirr emotions.
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Quoting Dakster:


Why was Rick Scott spotted on the West Coast??


He's busy cutting the budget for the Tampa Bay Hurricane Shield.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Bite your tongue. I don't want that joker anywhere near me! Looks like something wants to get organized though. Lots of tropical moisture. Welcoming the rain!


You either huh?

Are you in the rain eveyday category now too? I don't think a morning or an afernoon goes by without rain...

Having said that, I would rather HAVE rain than not... Although I wish I could send TX some of it!
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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.
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Quoting ncstorm:
12Z NOGAPS Loves Texas..

Link


How can you tell what strength storm that is? TIA
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Quoting hurricanejunky:
Looks like some funny business off the west coast of FL:
Hate to quote Bastardi but he's predicting a tropical system forming in the GOM within the next five days. Not that I dislike him or really like him but he's seems to stir emotions when mentioned but guess Cantori does as well.
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Quoting Levi32:


Brisingr!

See - I can call up fire....but that's about it.


That's more than I can do, I can only call up my friends and family on my cell phone.
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Quoting ncstorm:
and player number 3 enters the game-300 hours

Yes, notice that "player #3" has been in several of the last gfs runs. Thought it was just weird "ghost storm" , but given what's been going on, I just don't know. I guess we will find out in a few days.
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oh I know Levi, no prob. I did not take it wrong. I know you put a lot of work into the videos.

Actually, I do not have audio capability here at work but when I get home, I will certainly watch it
thanks!
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Any chance the tropical system brings rain further into Texas or will it move south into Mexico? We had rain in the forecast here until this system was forecasted to develop. An open wave would have brought moisture over Texas but a developing storm doesnt unless it moves your direction. Thanks and a great job as always.


There's a good chance of rain for at least coastal Texas. I think the wave, whether it's a storm or not, will get close enough to give that region some water. Whether it moves inland into the core of the state or not remains to be seen.
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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.


Let's hear what the post has to say. There is a growing recognition that some of the weather gurus misunderstood Irene's structure when approaching and over North Carolina. Second, the hype from The Weather Channel was a little too over the top for my tastes. But NHC, Weather Underground staff, and others were most excellent at predicting massive inland flooding, which seems to be a problem persisting even today Tuesday. So "fair and balanced" is what I'm predicting, with opinion landing on both sides of the issue.
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Quoting Dakster:


Why was Rick Scott spotted on the West Coast??


Bite your tongue. I don't want that joker anywhere near me! Looks like something wants to get organized though. Lots of tropical moisture. Welcoming the rain!
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Quoting JGreco:



So Basically the more intense the storm is, the more likely it would feel the NE component from the front. The weaker, the more likely it would sneak to the West into Texas. That is what the models are having problems with right??


Probably, but the models will have issues with a system that isn't developed yet anyway, and for which the timing is complex. We could even have the system sneak right up to the Texas coast near Houston and then stall out for a while not wanting to go anywhere. That would be wonderful for rainfall.
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Quoting NavarreMark:
Katia appears to be moving slightly west of due west.
????????
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Quoting hurricanejunky:
Looks like some funny business of the west coast of FL:


Why was Rick Scott spotted on the West Coast??
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Quoting Levi32:
Our tropical wave in the NW Caribbean is going to have all of the available energy to itself due to the monsoon trough being pretty far north over central America, meaning that the East Pacific will be giving no competition to the Gulf of Mexico anytime soon. This gives an ideal setup for home-grown tropical mischief that could have days to try to gradually wind up, likely not amounting to anything significant until this weekend.
Any chance the tropical system brings rain further into Texas or will it move south into Mexico? We had rain in the forecast here until this system was forecasted to develop. An open wave would have brought moisture over Texas but a developing storm doesnt unless it moves your direction. Thanks and a great job as always.
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Quoting ncstorm:
12Z NOGAPS Loves Texas..

Link


interesting....
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Quoting Levi32:


If the high is right to the west of potential Lee then it would be hard for him to move into Texas, but we don't know what the exact alignment will be. He could still sneak underneath it into the TX/MX border. The trough in the east would eventually leave, shutting off the northeastward pull, and if he was still sitting in the gulf then his only option would be westward. Obviously, which pull on him wins would be very dependent on his strength at that time if he develops.
The Ne scenerio is almost something like what you would see in the end of Sep/ October. This is another strange season to me.
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Quoting Levi32:


If the high is right to the west of potential Lee then it would be hard for him to move into Texas, but we don't know what the exact alignment will be. He could still sneak underneath it into the TX/MX border. The trough in the east would eventually leave, shutting off the northeastward pull, and if he was still sitting in the gulf then his only option would be westward. Obviously, which pull on him wins would be very dependent on his strength at that time if he develops.



So Basically the more intense the storm is, the more likely it would feel the NE component from the front. The weaker, the more likely it would sneak to the West into Texas. That is what the models are having problems with right??
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12Z NOGAPS Loves Texas..

Link
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Looks like some funny business off the west coast of FL:
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Quoting scott39:
Thanks, Do you see MORE of a NE track if developement is there in 7 days. Of course this is based on everything lining up. My thinking is if the trough picks up Katia, and there is that death high to the W of potiential Lee in the GOM....then it has to go more N and NE. Right? I know we are speculating based off of models and maps, but I want to know if Im way off or am I getting it.


If the high is right to the west of potential Lee then it would be hard for him to move into Texas, but we don't know what the exact alignment will be. He could still sneak underneath it into the TX/MX border. The trough in the east would eventually leave, shutting off the northeastward pull, and if he was still sitting in the gulf then his only option would be westward. Obviously, which pull on him wins would be very dependent on his strength at that time if he develops.
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140. 900MB
Ahhh, I feel much better now that we are on to another storm. At least Katia will give me a few does to not obsess and I can check in from time to time. I just hope she does not threaten the Eastern seaboard. We could use a little (mental) recovery time!
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Quoting Dakster:


WHAT?!?!?!? You are not???



Brisingr!

See - I can call up fire....but that's about it.
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11:00am Advisory
*Click graphics to magnify (graphics can be further magnified in the Link window by clicking on it)

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Quoting kshipre1:
sorry Levi. didn't mean to waste your time


You didn't. I'm just trying to point you to the fact that the answers to your questions were right in the video that you just watched, and the one yesterday.
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Quoting Levi32:


We can't really talk about intensity 7 days out before we have a developing system. It really depends. Both tracks have their ups and downs. The NE track probably implies more shearing, and the westward track probably implies dry air and subsidence around the northern part of the storm. These would be limiting factors, but storms in the western gulf have a reputation for being able to spin up very very quickly, which is why it would be of concern if we actually get Lee to develop.
Thanks, Do you see MORE of a NE track if developement is there in 7 days. Of course this is based on everything lining up. My thinking is if the trough picks up Katia, and there is that death high to the W of potiential Lee in the GOM....then it has to go more N and NE. Right? I know we are speculating based off of models and maps, but I want to know if Im way off or am I getting it.
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NOGAPS really south. Almost brushing the N Leewards. Link
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6417
Quoting Levi32:


We'll know more once it starts developing lol. I wish I was a magical wizard, but I'm not.


WHAT?!?!?!? You are not???

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132. jpsb
Quoting RitaEvac:
Already sounding like hype on a GOM system. Not good to get TX residents up in a frenzy of soaking rains when everything fizzles out and nothing happens. Don did it, and I'm not about to jump on the bandwagon until I see actual evidence of a system! (that doesn't exist yet!)
Agreed, first the TC in the Gulf was going to come from a cut off troff, now it is going to come from a TW in the carb. FYI I have been watching that Blob in the WC for two days, but ever time I mentioned it I was told "it's nothing" now all of a sudden it's gonna become a TC in the gulf? WTF. I guess the bottom line is conditions in the gulf are favorable so maybe something develops, but it better be quick because that Texas high from hell doesn't look like it's going anywhere (for long) either.
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sorry Levi. didn't mean to waste your time
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Hey Levi,
would a stronger GOM system be more likely to be pulled NE by trough?
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Quoting Levi32:


We'll know more once it starts developing lol. I wish I was a magical wizard, but I'm not.


lol...I know Levi. But it does get frustrating. :)
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Good afternoon everyone.
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127. JLPR2
Quoting CaribBoy:


I wouldn't call that fantasy given climatology... September is the busiest month after all.


I dont trust the models after 200hrs. They start getting creative. But if we see persistence even in the long range then I could get a bit more interested.
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Quoting ncstorm:
186 Hours 12z GFS



That would drive everybody in Texas crazy if that storm continue to tease us like that.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
Thanks Levi..so frustrating on the waiting.

Can't we just know where it will go, how strong or not it will be and when. Is that so much to ask.....sigh...


We'll know more once it starts developing lol. I wish I was a magical wizard, but I'm not.
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"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.
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Quoting scott39:
If Lee is sitting over the NW in 7 days and is drawn NE, how strong of a TC are we looking at for the Central/N Gulf Coast?


We can't really talk about intensity 7 days out before we have a developing system. It really depends. Both tracks have their ups and downs. The NE track probably implies more shearing, and the westward track probably implies dry air and subsidence around the northern part of the storm. These would be limiting factors, but storms in the western gulf have a reputation for being able to spin up very very quickly, which is why it would be of concern if we actually get Lee to develop.
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Quoting JLPR2:
GFS 300hrs(fantasy)
Has a system east of the Lesser Antilles after Katia's exit.



I wouldn't call that fantasy given climatology... September is the busiest month after all.
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6417
Quoting scott39:
If Lee is sitting over the NW in 7 days and is drawn NE, how strong of a TC are we looking at for the Central/N Gulf Coast?
NW GOM
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Thanks Levi..so frustrating on the waiting.

Can't we just know where it will go, how strong or not it will be and when. Is that so much to ask.....sigh...
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Quoting Levi32:
Our tropical wave in the NW Caribbean is going to have all of the available energy to itself due to the monsoon trough being pretty far north over central America, meaning that the East Pacific will be giving no competition to the Gulf of Mexico anytime soon. This gives an ideal setup for home-grown tropical mischief that could have days to try to gradually wind up, likely not amounting to anything significant until this weekend.
If Lee is sitting over the NW in 7 days and is drawn NE, how strong of a TC are we looking at for the Central/N Gulf Coast?
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Quoting kshipre1:
great update levi. thanks for keeping us informed. two quick questions if I may. First, looking at the upper air pattern in the coming days and Katia's forward speed, do you see the possbility that she misses the trough all together?

Second, remember the upper air pattern you were speaking off a week or so ago (strong high setting up along the eastern seaboard)? Has this changed? Or coming soon? thanks!


Well if you actually watch my videos I think you'll find that those kinds of questions get answered when I talk about the long-term track. Yesterday I spoke of the upper pattern over North America, and the possibilities of Katia recurving east of the U.S. or coming farther west.
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360 Hours..

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Quoting ncstorm:


NOGAPS..
Link



Thank you! :)
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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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