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 P451:


It's nice up here. 58 this morning. We're looking at generally an 80/60 split for the week. The city is of course several degrees warmer especially at night.

Weekend could bring some showery weather though.

Westchester North (ossining)

Manhattan

,yea it'll be nice,hoping for zero rain and lots of the late summer sunshine,our splitvhere in sarasotas about 90/75
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2362. Dennis8
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX
539 AM CDT WED AUG 31 2011

FIRST...TROPICAL WAVE IN THE NW CARIBBEAN IS NOT ALL THAT
ORGANIZED AND LOOKS TO POSSIBLY MOVE OVER THE YUCATAN PENINSULA.
HARD TO KNOW WHAT WILL REMAIN OF THE WAVE ONCE IT EMERGES INTO
THE GULF SOMETIME TOMORROW. THE WAVE IS NOT ALL THAT WELL DEFINED
BUT UPPER LEVEL WINDS MAY BE A LITTLE MORE FAVORABLE FOR
DEVELOPMENT EXCEPT FOR SOME WESTERLY SHEAR ACROSS THE NORTHERN
GULF WHERE THERE IS A WEAK UPPER LEVEL LOW. SAID ALL OF THIS TO
SAY THAT THE SYSTEM MAY BE SLOW TO DEVELOP AND LARGELY DEPEND ON
WHERE IT CAN DEVELOP A CORE OF CONVECTION.

SECOND...SINCE THE SYSTEM IS ILL-DEFINED...NONE OF THE MODELS
REALLY HAVE A GOOD GRIP ON HOW TO INITIALIZE IT OR HOW TO HANDLE
ITS EVOLUTION ONCE SOMETHING DOES FORM. THE NAM HAS BEEN THE MOST
CONSISTENT WITH DEVELOPING AT LEAST A TROPICAL CYCLONE OF SOME
SHAPE AND DEEPENING IT OFF THE LA COAST FRI. THINK IT WEAKENS THE
RIDGE TOO MUCH WHICH WILL STRETCH FROM THE S ROCKIES TO THE MISS
RIVER VALLEY. THE GFS AND ECMWF SOLUTIONS MINDS AS WELL BE POLAR
OPPOSITES WITH THEIR SOLUTIONS. GFS HAS A BROAD WEAK LOW ALONG
THE LA COAST AND MOVES IT EAST WITH TIME AND THEN UP THE EAST
COAST EARLY NEXT WEEK. THE ECMWF HAS A WEAK LOW FRI/SAT AND THEN
DEEPENS IT OFF THE LOWER TX COAST SUN. THE SYSTEM REMAINS IN THE
W GULF THROUGH MID OF NEXT WEEK BEFORE TURNING N INTO SE TX.
NEITHER OF THESE SOLUTIONS LOOK VERY REASONABLE AT THIS POINT.
THE SREF AND GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN PROBABLY OFFER AT LEAST SOME
GUIDANCE. THE SREF LIKE THE NAM DEVELOPS A LOW OFF THE LA COAST
BY FRI BUT IS MUCH WEAKER. SAME CAN BE SAID FOR THE GFS
ENSEMBLE. SREF DOES LOOK TO MOVE THE SYSTEM BACK TO THE WEST
SOME LIKE THE NAM AS WELL. THE MAIN TRICK WILL BE TO SEE IF A
STRONG SHORTWAVE TROUGH OVER THE NORTHERN TIER OF STATES WILL BE
ABLE TO PICK UP THE SYSTEM SUN/MON WITH THE UPPER RIDGE OVER THE
S ROCKIES AND WEAKENING OVER THE MISS RIVER VALLEY. THIS MAY OPEN
UP ENOUGH FOR THE SYSTEM TO PULL INLAND SUN/MON. ADD TOO THAT
THAT THE EXTENDED MODELS BRING A FRONT INTO THE REGION MON...THIS
TOO MAY GIVE REASON FOR THE SYSTEM TO PUSH INLAND IN THE SUN/MON
TIME FRAME.

SO UNTIL THE MODELS COME IN TO MORE AGREEMENT ON THE
DETAILS...BEST COURSE SEEMS TO BE TO GO WITH PARTS OF MODEL
SOLUTIONS THAT MAKE THE MOST PHYSICAL SENSE WHICH REALLY IS NOT
MUCH. ALIGNED POPS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK AND WEEKEND KEEPING
IN MIND LOTS OF UNCERTAINTY BUT THAT THERE WILL BE SOME TROPICAL
DEVELOPMENT IN THE N GULF FRI. SYSTEM LINGERS IN THE N/NW GULF
THROUGH SUN WHEN STRONG SHORTWAVE ACROSS THE NORTH BEGINS TO PULL
IT INLAND SUN/MON. FRONTAL BOUNDARY THEN PUSHES INTO THE REGION
MON/TUE WHICH CLEARS EVERYTHING OUT AND MAY ACTUALLY



BRING TEMPS
DOWN TO CLIMO NORMS WHICH WILL BE ABOUT 10-15 DEGREES COOLER THAN
TEMPS FROM THIS PAST WEEK. AGAIN...WILL REALLY HAVE TO WATCH THIS
SYSTEM BECAUSE QUITE POSSIBLE FOR THERE TO BE RAINBANDS TO AFFECT
THE AREA WHICH COULD BRING VERY HEAVY RAINFALL. STRONG EAST WINDS
THAT DEVELOP WOULD ALSO BUILD UP SEAS AND COASTAL FLOODING
THREAT. WHILE SE TX COULD USE THE RAINFALL...STILL LOTS OF OTHER
IMPACTS THAT WILL DEPEND ON THE DETAILS IN THE FORECAST WHICH
UNFORTUNATELY ARE SKETCHY AT BEST. GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTY AND THE
POSSIBILITY OF EXTREME IMPACTS TO THE AREA...BEST TO MONITOR
FORECAST TRENDS CLOSELY.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Well how did Irene get into the East Coast? It certainly didn't go out to sea.


I believe hurricane was refering to the entire year not just one storm. One storm does not a trend make.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 613
Quoting ackee:
SEEM like KATIA will be historic FOR Bermuda if the models are right lot time for them to watch this thow has for GULF that where think could be intresting think any that form in the gulf could Ramp up quicly shear is low water temp are in the 80


Breathe!
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6876
2359. SLU
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Quoting P451:


Yep,



Could this slow strengthening? If it does then I'm starting to think that the CMC, GFDL and UKMET are more plausible scenarios than the GFS.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6876
2357. ackee
SEEM like KATIA will be historic FOR Bermuda if the models are right lot time for them to watch this thow has for GULF that where think could be intresting think any that form in the gulf could Ramp up quicly shear is low water temp are in the 80
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2356. GetReal


Precipitation coverage increasing over the Yucatan Channel.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Its even making the Canadian Weather channels.



Let the hype begin!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 613
huh..another irene track maybe. no please!



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2352. Drakoen
The UKMET Office text indicates a significant cyclone to form in the Gulf of Mexico:

NEW TROPICAL STORM FORECAST TO DEVELOP AFTER 72 HOURS

FORECAST POSITION AT T 72 : 28.2N 91.4W



VERIFYING TIME POSITION STRENGTH TENDENCY

-------------- -------- -------- --------

00UTC 03.09.2011 28.2N 91.4W WEAK

12UTC 03.09.2011 28.5N 91.2W WEAK INTENSIFYING SLIGHTLY

00UTC 04.09.2011 28.5N 90.1W MODERATE LITTLE CHANGE

12UTC 04.09.2011 29.1N 90.1W STRONG INTENSIFYING RAPIDLY

00UTC 05.09.2011 28.8N 90.8W MODERATE WEAKENING SLIGHTLY

12UTC 05.09.2011 28.0N 91.5W STRONG INTENSIFYING SLIGHTLY

00UTC 06.09.2011 27.5N 91.2W STRONG INTENSIFYING SLIGHTLY

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sometings tryn just north of ne tip of yucatan
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I sure hope that GFS model on the FSU site changes ... OBX doesn't need even a little waves/wind right now (end of run)
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Quoting hurricanehanna:
I'm seeing people post about Irene being "overhyped"....after seeing photos of the damage and the flooding, I'm not sure how this can be true. Granted, you didn't see catastrophic damage and huge numbers of lives lost, but isn't it better to be over-prepared than caught off guard? If the storm had been worse, and the NHC "under-hyped" it, then people would really be complaining. Just my two cents worth this AM.


Not to be contrary, but the pix and video I have seen of Vermont,parts of New Jersey,the Outer Banks, upstate New York, and Connecticut easily qualify as catastrophic. The death toll now exceeds 40. Both the media and emergency workers will be blamed either way-too much or not enough warning.
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2348. Jax82
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This is what I use for the consolidated models

Less confusing I think ;)
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2343. vince1
Quoting tristanh72:


To be fair, the ruling PSoE in Spain IS socialist, and just a little corrupt.

The problem with all these 'studies' is everyone's side is right, and the other side is full of lying bastards. One side is led by evil oil companies trying to maintain power, the other side is led by evil governments trying to increase their power, or by other capitalists trying to make money off a changing climate.

Neither side will notice their own flaws, but will bring out the slideshow to point out where the other is lying to you.

1000 - I believe public trust in any institution has reached all-time lows (certainly rings true for Congress and I know the Rothschilds are nonchalantly positioning themselves to profit from the carbon credit racket, not to mention BP along with all their crony capitalist partners were universally smashed after least year's Gulf spill debacle).
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That Pacific storm now forming off Mexico's coastline is going to be one negative factor for anything being able to get too terribly orgainized in the Gulf of Mexico, especially the western Gulf.

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however my nyc trip in a week could be cool and crispy mon,lol
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Quoting hurricane23:


Bring on some cool weather..
,gonna be another month atleast,any early suprises are certainly welcome though
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I think i will make my own named storm predictions lol. lets see how far off i might be...i am predictiong anywheres from 18-22 named storms. (now watch there be a sudden halt or things speed up into hyperdrive)
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting tropicfreak:


Well how did Irene get into the East Coast? It certainly didn't go out to sea.


In terms of cv storms in general.

I posted this article on irene on my twitter page earlier this morning.
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Quoting Drakoen:


The pattern hasn't changed much but this is certainly very deep for August:



Bring on some cool weather..
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Quoting hurricane23:


2011 is very similar to 2010 thus far in terms haveing of a weakness in the subtropical ridge near the East Coast, which helps steer storms out to sea.



Well how did Irene get into the East Coast? It certainly didn't go out to sea.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6876
2335. Drakoen
Quoting stillwaiting:
,impactwise,ewhere would you place your bets for most significant impacts from a gom tc,west,north or east gom??


That is still to be determined. The model tracks ranged anywhere from Texas to Florida.
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2334. Drakoen
Quoting hurricane23:


Acutally the pattern really has not changed all that much this season. Positive PNA over the west with a pretty deep trough over the east. Its gonna recurve with that pattern unless this all changes.

I feel very confident that the only question here is will the storm hit Bermuda and/or Nova Scotia and/or Newfoundland


The pattern hasn't changed much but this is certainly very deep for August:

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Quoting WxLogic:


Wasn't expecting to be that strong:



2011 is very similar to 2010 thus far in terms haveing of a weakness in the subtropical ridge near the East Coast, which helps steer storms out to sea.

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Quoting Neapolitan:

If you truly wish to be objective, have a look at the NREL's "Response to the Report 'Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources' from King Carlos University (Spain)" (PDF). Now, if you're the type that thinks all government people are corrupt socialists, and that only the fossil fuel industry is truly looking out for the best interests of everyone, you'll probably choose to disregard the NREL response. OTOH, if you believe the fossil fuel industry is capable of deceit, you'll find it enlightening.


To be fair, the ruling PSoE in Spain IS socialist, and just a little corrupt.

The problem with all these 'studies' is everyone's side is right, and the other side is full of lying bastards. One side is led by evil oil companies trying to maintain power, the other side is led by evil governments trying to increase their power, or by other capitalists trying to make money off a changing climate.

Neither side will notice their own flaws, but will bring out the slideshow to point out where the other is lying to you.
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Quoting Drakoen:
The global models show varying solutions to handling the trough that may recurve Katia. The GFS shows what could potentially be Lee sharpening the upper level trough over the Eastern United States allowing Katia to recurve far east. The ECMWF has a rather complicated solution by keeping Lee farther west (in the GOM) than the other models and developing an area of low pressure associated with a 500mb shortwave trough off the Mid-Atlantic states allowing Katia to recurve. The models that keep Katia farther west such as the NOGAPS, UKMET, and CMC depict Lee not sharpening the upper level trough enough (UKMET), or keeping Lee far enough west, (CMC), or not developing Lee much at all NOGAPS.

At this point, i'm much more worried about the potential for Lee to develop and impact the Gulf Coast States as a significant tropical cyclone.
,impactwise,ewhere would you place your bets for most significant impacts from a gom tc,west,north or east gom??
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2324. SLU
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2323. WxLogic
Quoting hurricane23:


Acutally the pattern really has not changed all that much this season. Positive PNA over the west with a pretty deep trough over the east. Its gonna recurve with that pattern unless this all changes.

I feel very confident that the only question here is will the storm hit Bermuda and/or Nova Scotia and/or Newfoundland


Wasn't expecting to be that strong:

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Its even making the Canadian Weather channels.

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Quoting WxLogic:


Now that you mention it... GFS depicted a quite deep TROF across C/E CONUS. Definitely not the depth you would expect in August.


Acutally the pattern really has not changed all that much this season. Positive PNA over the west with a pretty deep trough over the east. Its gonna recurve with that pattern unless this all changes.

I feel very confident that the only question here is will the storm hit Bermuda and/or Nova Scotia and/or Newfoundland
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Quoting ringeaux:


I'd love to discuss our coastal erosion and land loss problems, but would need a new blog for that. Isle de Jean Charles is almost gone. Probably will be with the next few storms.


I grew up just up the road from Isle de Jean Charles. Rita did a number on that road :( I'm a Naquin by birth and have blood ties to the Indian population. It was sad seeing the cemetary where my great, great, great grandfather (one of the first settlers in the area) was buried under a lake of water. Point-Aux-Chenes road itself is eroding. The store at the end where we used to grab pop and ice-cream as kids is just a shell and falling into the bayou. Anyway...back to the Tropical systems :)
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2317. hydrus
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2316. bwi
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Re: 3.. Do you ride a bicycle everywhre?


Yes. I've got over 4k miles on my commuter bike since January. But I don't ride to prevent CO2 emissions or other pollutants necessarily -- I do it because it's so dang much fun!

Plus, it's kind of cool for somebody my age to be able to eat 2k more calories per day than my staff (most of whom are in their 20s and 30s -- mere babes).

Ultimately people will drive less when they realize how annoying driving has become compared with using their own power. We simply don't have enough money to keep building more and more highways and parking spaces to meet the potential demand for "free" roads and "free" parking. Congestion will continue to worsen unless we make a major move toward widespread tolls and higher parking fees. Either way, more people will eventually get out of their cars and demand that their local government shift some of the public resources away from car-dominated planning. In the end, I predict drivers will be grateful that fewer people are clogging the roads when they actually need to use a car to get somewhere!

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2315. hydrus
The wave train is in full swing..
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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.