TD 13 intensifying; Katia may pass uncomfortably close to U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on September 02, 2011

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Tropical Depression Thirteen formed last night over the Northern Gulf of Mexico and is slowly intensifying, but isn't in a hurry to go anywhere. What TD 13 will do is dump torrential rains along the northern Gulf Coast over the next three or more days. So far, rain amounts along the coast have mostly been below one inch. At New Orleans Lakefront Airport, just 0.32" inches of rain had fallen from TD 13 as of 10 am CDT. Some coastal regions have received up to two inches, according to radar rainfall estimates. TD 13 is generating a large area of 30 - 35 mph winds over the Gulf of Mexico. At 7:20 am CDT, winds at the Mississippi Canyon 711 oil rig were southeast at 47 mph. This is above tropical storm force, but the wind instrument was 348 feet (106 m) above the ocean surface, and winds near the surface were probably considerably lower, near 35 mph. Latest surface wind observations from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft support leaving TD 13 as a tropical depression. Long range radar out of Mobile, Alabama shows heavy rain showers building along the northern Gulf Coast, but these rain showers are not well-organized into spiral bands. Strong upper-level winds out of the west-northwest are creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear over TD 13, keeping the storm's heavy thunderstorms disorganized and pushed to the east side of the storm. However, latest satelllite loops show TD 13 is becoming increasingly organized, with a respectable spiral band forming on the southeast side, and an increase and areal coverage of heavy thunderstorm activity. This is very likely to be a tropical storm later today.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall from TD 13 from the New Orleans radar.


Figure 2. U.S. drought conditions on August 30. The rains from TD 13 have the potential to bring major drought relief to drought-stricken portions of the coast. Note how Eastern North Carolina is no longer in drought, thanks to the rains from Hurricane Irene. These rains also came close to putting out a persistent fire that had been burning in the Great Dismal Swamp near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Image Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Forecast for TD 13
TD 13's large size, ill-formed circulation center, and the presence of dry air on its west side due to an upper-level trough of low pressure argue against rapid intensification of the storm for the next three days. Also tending to slow intensification will be the slow movement of the storm, which will allow cold water from the depths to rise to the surface, thanks to wind and wave action. Tropical cyclones strongly cool the water's surface when they pass over it, as seen in the time vs. depth chart of sea surface temperatures during Hurricane Irene's passage along the New Jersey coast (Figure 3.) However, the Gulf of Mexico has some very warm waters near TD 13 that extend to great depth (Figure 4), so the surface cooling imparted by TD 13 will be less than that seen for Hurricane Irene. As TD 13 moves closer to the coast, more and more of its circulation will be over land, which will also slow intensification. NHC's 11 am EDT wind probability forecast for TD 13 gave the storm a 23% chance of intensifying into a hurricane by Sunday. Assuming TD 13 does not attain hurricane strength, wind damage and storm surge damage will likely not be the main concern--fresh water flooding from heavy rains will be the most dangerous impact. Also of concern is the possibility of tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is currently not highlighting the Gulf Coast in their "slight risk" area for severe weather, due to the lack of enough solar heating to create instability. However, there will be plenty of wind shear in the lower part of the atmosphere that can potentially create spin in the coastal thunderstorms, and it is possible that as TD 13 intensifies, it may be able to generate several dozen tornadoes.

Coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the extreme western Panhandle of Florida will likely receive very heavy flooding rains that will intensify Saturday and peak on Sunday. These rains should be able to put out the stubborn marsh fire east of New Orleans that has brought several days of air quality alerts to the city, but may cause moderate to severe flooding problems in other areas. The latest rainfall forecast from NOAA Hydrological Prediction Center shows that a large area of 15+ inches of rain is expected over Southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. The region is under moderate drought, so flooding problems will be delayed compared to what we'd normally expect from heavy rains of over a foot. Flash flood watches are posted for New Orleans and surrounding areas, and rainfall amounts of 1 - 3 inches per hour are possible in some of the heavier rain squalls. Ocean temperatures are near record warmth, 88°F (31°C), which will provide plenty of moisture for heavy rains, and plenty of energy to help TD 13 strengthen into a strong tropical storm. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf this weekend and early next week, which will likely make the motion of TD 13 erratic at times.


Figure 3. EPA, in conjunction with Rutgers University and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, has an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV, aka the Glider) deployed off the coast of NJ (since early August) continuously monitoring ocean temperature, density, salinity, sound velocity and dissolved oxygen at different depths. The AUV's path and data are displayed at the following website: http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/auvs/index.php?did =221&view=imagery. The plot of temperature versus time above shows that in the weeks prior to the arrival of Irene, the ocean was heavily stratified, with warm waters of 24 - 26°C (75 - 79°F, red colors) extending from the surface to a depth of 10 - 15 meters. A sharp thermocline existed at a depth of about 15 meters, and ocean temperatures were colder than 14°C (57°F, dark blue colors) below the thermocline. The strong winds and high wave action of Hurricane Irene on August 28 - 29 stirred up cold water from the depths to the surface, cooling the surface waters to 17 - 19°C (63 - 67°F). In the days since the hurricane, surface waters have begun to warm again. Thanks go to Kevin Kubik, Deputy Director of the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment for EPA Region 2, for making me aware of this data.


Figure 4. The total amount of heat energy in the ocean available to fuel a tropical cyclone, in kilojoules per square centimeter of surface area. Tropical cyclones that move over ocean areas with TCHP values in excess of 70 - 90 kJ/cm^2 commonly undergo rapid intensification. Waters that are warm to a great depth have the highest TCHP, and the Loop Current that brings warm water northwards from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico usually has the highest TCHP values in the Atlantic. Currently, we have an eddy that broke off from the Loop Current earlier this summer, now located a few hundred miles south of the Louisiana coast, that also has high TCHP values. Image Credit: NOAA/AOML.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia is continuing its long trek across the Atlantic Ocean today, and will not pose a danger to any land areas over the next five days. Katia is still struggling with dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. Latest satellite loops show surface-based arc-shaped clouds racing to the southwest away from Katia's core, a sign that dry air is penetrating into Katia's thunderstorms and creating strong downdrafts that are robbing the storm of heat and moisture. Katia is over warm ocean waters of 28.5°C, and these waters will increase in temperature to 29°C over the next five days. Katia will pass well north of the region of cooler waters stirred up by the passage of Hurricane Irene last week.

The models are split on when the upper-level trough of low pressure bringing the wind shear to Katia will move away, and the storm may spend two more days battling wind shear and dry air before the upper-level trough pulls away to the north and allows Katia to intensify more readily. It is still unclear how much of a threat Katia may pose to the U.S., but it is becoming increasingly clear that Katia will pass uncomfortably close to the U.S. East Coast. The trough of low pressure currently steering Katia to the northwest will lift out early next week, and a ridge of high pressure is expected to build in, forcing Katia more to the west. This decreases the danger to Bermuda, but increases the danger to the U.S. A second trough of low pressure is expected to begin affecting Katia by the middle of next week, and will potentially recurve the storm out to sea before it hits the U.S. However, the models differ widely on the strength and timing of this trough. Meteorologist Grant Elliot of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology in Perth pointed out to me yesterday that the long-range forecast for Katia has more than the usual amount of uncertainty, due to the inability of the computer models to agree on what will happen to Tropical Storm Talas in the Western Pacific. Talas is expected to hit Japan early on Saturday as a strong tropical storm, then race northwestwards into the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Talas is then expected to transition into a powerful extratropical storm in the waters south of Alaska. This storm will create a ripple effect downstream in the jet stream, all the way to North America, by early next week. The timing and amplitude of the trough of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast expected to potentially recurve Katia out to sea next week is highly dependent upon the strength of Tropical Storm Talas during its transition to an extratropical storm. The computer models are not very good at handling these sorts of transitions, leading to more than the usual amount of uncertainty in the long-range outlook for Katia. It will probably be another 2 - 3 days before the models will begin to converge on a solution for the long-term fate of Katia. Dr. Bob Hart's Historical Tropical Cyclone Probability web page suggests shows that tropical storms in Katia's current position have a 17% chance of hitting North Carolina, a 21% chance of hitting Canada, a 13% chance of hitting New England, and a 55% chance of never hitting land. One almost certain impact of Katia on the U.S. will be large waves. Long period swells from Katia will begin affecting the Bahamas on Sunday night, then reach the Southeast U.S. by Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, the entire U.S. East Coast will see high surf from Katia, and these waves will increase in size and power as the storm grows closer. Given the slow movement of Katia as it approaches the coast, plus its expected Category 1 to 3 strength as it approaches, the storm will probably cause extensive beach erosion and dangerous rip tides for many days.

94L
A well-organized low pressure system with a surface circulation but limited heavy thunderstorm activity due to high wind shear is 450 miles south of Halifax, Canada. This disturbance, (94L), is headed northeast out to sea, and is being given a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression by NHC. 94L is under a high 25 - 30 knots of wind shear, but this shear is expected to fall to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, by Saturday morning. However, sea surface temperature will fall from 27°C today to 25°C Saturday morning underneath 94L, and the storm will have a very short window of time to get organized enough to get a name. At this point, it's really a subjective judgement call on whether or not 94L is already a tropical storm.


Figure 5. A Portlight volunteer works to clear storm debris from Hurricane Irene 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 each morning over the coming holiday weekend; wunderground meteorologists Angela Fritz, Rob Carver, and Shaun Tanner will be handling the afternoon and evening posts. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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3737. MZT
Quoting WeatherInterest:
Crown Weather:
If the remnants of Lee stalls instead, what could happen is that the ridge of high pressure would build back to the west and cause Katia to track westward all the way to the US East Coast. So, the remnants of Lee is a big key in this forecast."

WeatherGuy03 making the same points on his blog. The inducement on Katia very influnced by how long Lee stays over land and his northeast track.

Tropical storms repeal each other - but I suppose a weakening storm over land without much outflow creates an attractive force like a trough does.
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Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
...and another thing... I'm sort of disappointed with the winds/expected winds from this TS LEE so far. As of 10pm last night we in the orange area of tropical storm force winds... and still today we have only received gust to around 30mph or a little higher.... Why would the NHC put us in the tropical storm force winds if we havent received any Tropical Storm Gusts MUCH LESS and Tropical Storm sustained winds? very confusing to me...


I've been under hurricane warnings before and it never even rained and the winds never got over 30 mph.
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Coastal flooding is occurring in multiple locations along the
Louisiana coast. Lee will make landfall near Marsh
Island this morning and worst conditions should be from that point East to Morgan City.

Here in Venice,La. tide level has risen 2 feet and storm totals from radar estimates are near 6 inches.
We are 115 miles or so East of COC and winds are sustained at 30 mph with a peak gust to 51 mph around
4 AM this morning. If you are in a flood prone area,
don't let your guard down.
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NFI
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Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
...and another thing... I'm sort of disappointed with the winds/expected winds from this TS LEE so far. As of 10pm last night we in the orange area of tropical storm force winds... and still today we have only received gust to around 30mph or a little higher.... Why would the NHC put us in the tropical storm force winds if we havent received any Tropical Storm Gusts MUCH LESS and Tropical Storm sustained winds? very confusing to me...


Lol i'm directly North of the center and i'm getting a breezy day basically
Member Since: August 29, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 1352
3732. scott39
Goodmorning, It looks like Lee is going to be a La Coast rider according to the latest GFS and Euro. It will go inland very little for the next 72 hours as the front picks it up and turns it to the NE. It is a N and E heavy weighted storm and will cause flooding across the N Gulf Coast. I believe Lee has slowed down a bit since the last advisory.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6871
Quoting AussieStorm:

Did you give him a tow out or just hand him a paddle.

Neither - he was two blocks in on either side and already had someone helping him push. Looked to be submerged about halfway up his doors, but it was a little car.
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Wow...Lee is huge.
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...and another thing... I'm sort of disappointed with the winds/expected winds from this TS LEE so far. As of 10pm last night we in the orange area of tropical storm force winds... and still today we have only received gust to around 30mph or a little higher.... Why would the NHC put us in the tropical storm force winds if we havent received any Tropical Storm Gusts MUCH LESS and Tropical Storm sustained winds? very confusing to me...
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I noticed that too..
Oh, good Morning!!
Steady rain falling here.
Quoting StormJunkie:
Morning all.

Never seen recon fly in that many circles before. They must be having some sort of issue.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


I know, but right now I'm just so happy that someone in Texas is getting some much needed rain. Especially Jasper who has had four fires, the last three all at the same time in three different places. If there was someway to push Lee more west, I would.


We have been getting light rains and wind this morning in Orange. It is enjoyable, I hope I don't see the sun all day! I hope Jasper and the lakes get some nice rains today too.
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3725. LBAR
Looks like Katia is starting to be able to breathe again on her south side. What are those clouds called that look like "fans" coming out of the circulation?
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And if it stays over water longer that might not be good because it looks like its starting to finally wrap that moisture off to its west day time heating alone will help the East side fire back up
Member Since: August 29, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 1352
Quoting mojofearless:
Well that was exciting - my eggs and hot sausage run. Some guy in a little sports car tried to drive through a superpuddle that I know better than to take my SUV through.
It was an epic fail on his part.

Did you give him a tow out or just hand him a paddle.
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Morning all.

Never seen recon fly in that many circles before. They must be having some sort of issue.
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Quoting MZT:
I'm more inclined to think Lee will come ashore. The storm seems to have been worming his way north for a few days now and doesn't have far to go.

Be interested to know how accurate the "shoreline" is for south LA - it is very marshy in that area and there have been years of erosion.
Looks like Lee is bumping into something and not sure he wants to go there....
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Thats what i just stated...

Link


lol just means we are seeing the same thing
nice job and keep it up cause im not allways that accurate :)
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It looks like lee might do a loop-de-loop..6.32 inches of rain in Destrehan,La.
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Well that was exciting - my eggs and hot sausage run. Some guy in a little sports car tried to drive through a superpuddle that I know better than to take my SUV through.
It was an epic fail on his part.
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Crown Weather:
"I think Katia will struggle today due to the shear and dry air, however, shear levels will drop off once we get into Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and Katia should be a Category 2 hurricane on Tuesday. I think we will see Katia track west-northwestward to near 28 North Latitude, 73 West Longitude before it turns to the north on Thursday. From there, I think Katia will track north-northeastward moving just east of the outer banks of North Carolina and then tracking extremely closely to eastern New England on Friday followed by a possible impact into Nova Scotia next weekend.

The future track of the remnants of Lee is a key part of the forecast for next week. The difference in some of the models is that they track Lee much quicker to the northeast, which breaks down the ridge of high pressure and causing Katia to turn much quicker into the open Atlantic. If the remnants of Lee stalls instead, what could happen is that the ridge of high pressure would build back to the west and cause Katia to track westward all the way to the US East Coast. So, the remnants of Lee is a big key in this forecast."

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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

It may try, but I don't think Lee will close it before landfall.


I hope not.. If it stalls and closes the loop that may set up a bad flood scenario for parts of LA and MS and AL..
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
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Recon is going to be interesting....For one we can see if it strengthened and two we can see if it has indeed turned more westerly
Member Since: August 29, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 1352
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
ACE so far: 40.3. Below average, but rising.

North Atlantic = 43.9025
Current Storms
KATIA = 7.0275
LEE = 0.6075
TALAS = 9.6775

Eastern Pacific = 62.4925
Western Pacific = 165.75
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Quoting blsealevel:
welp looks like lee is drifting alittle west
or is just spreading out some rain bands looks to be forming in my area once again at least i got a break
so the water could drain off some

Link


Thats what i just stated...

Link
Member Since: August 29, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 1352
Quoting wxobsvps:
That dry air from TX is no joke....completely choking off the southern side of the LLC.

Spigot should turn off soon in NOLA


That dry air, bad for Texas, is most likely the only thing preventing another Allison outcome.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
Raining a lot North of NOLA.
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welp looks like lee is drifting alittle west
or is just spreading out some rain bands looks to be forming in my area once again at least i got a break
so the water could drain off some

Link
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its amazing to me to see this horrible drought airmass even get sucked into LEE as he gets closer to shore... wow... pretty potent airmass. This will probably help the rainfall not be as high especially in deep south Louisiana IF the dry continues to affect LEE... in fact, most of the models show the most rainfall from LEE occuring between Slidell, LA to Mobile, AL... interesting...
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3702. aquak9
Quoting chicagowatcher:
mmmmm eggs and sausage. I think you've just answered the burning question for me this morning...

I had some burning questions too, but I think it was the jalapenos they snuck into my chicken salad.
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Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI





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Quoting IKE:
Landfall is soon with Lee....




Cant be too sure it looks to be stalling are moving erratically
Member Since: August 29, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 1352
3699. tkeith
3693. Orcasystems 7:55 AM CDT on September 03, 2011

They wont use much fuel on this mission.
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Quoting Pirate999:


On the latest vapor and ir loop it looked like Lee was fighting the injection of NW dry air and trying to close the loop. Thoughts?

It may try, but I don't think Lee will close it before landfall.
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3697. MZT
I'm more inclined to think Lee will come ashore. The storm seems to have been worming his way north for a few days now and doesn't have far to go.
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Quoting lhwhelk:

We are going to have just enough wind in TX to spread any fires that get started. The problem is that it's not just grass that is dry, but bushes and trees. We were so hoping for at least some rain from Lee. I'm happy for Jasper, but it's so far east it might as well be in La.


I know, but right now I'm just so happy that someone in Texas is getting some much needed rain. Especially Jasper who has had four fires, the last three all at the same time in three different places. If there was someway to push Lee more west, I would.
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3695. IKE
Feeder band from Lee moving in here now....inland Florida panhandle...


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Hurricane Katia Advisory 21
Issued: Saturday, September 3rd 2011 4:13am CDT

Current Location: 19.3N/55.1W
Geographic Reference: 460 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands
Movement: Northwest at 10 mph
Max Winds: 75 mph gusting to 90 mph
Organizational Trend: Steady
Current Hurricane Severity Index: 10 out of a possible 50 points (5 size /5 intensity)
Peak Hurricane Severity Index: 20 out of a possible 50 points (10 size /10 intensity)
Forecast Track Confidence: Average, due to reasonable model agreement.
Changes to Our Previous Forecast
We have decreased our intensity forecast. We are forecasting Katia to reach category 2 status by the middle of next week.

Our Forecast
Katia is expected to continue moving to the northwest and will pass well north of the Leeward and Virgin Islands this weekend. A turn to the north is still forecast to occur by the middle of next week, followed by a turn to the northeast by the end of next week. At this point, we still expect Katia to remain offshore the U.S. coast. However, there is still a chance that Katia could continue to move closer to the U.S. coast if it remains a weaker system. At the very least, the outer edges of this cyclone could bring rainfall along the Mid-Atlantic coast by the end of next week and to the northeast coast by next weekend.

Katia remains a category 1 hurricane this morning. Not much strengthening is expected today, but Katia could begin to intensify on Sunday and reach category 2 strength by late Monday or early Tuesday. The confidence in the intensity forecast remains about average.

Expected Impacts on Land
High waves will affect the north facing beaches of the Virgin Islands and northern Leeward Islands this weekend. These high waves will then affect the Greater Antilles early next week and the southeastern U.S. coast by the middle of next week.

Our next full advisory will be issued by 10AM CDT.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Link


Check this link. Looks like Katia is back down to a TS again.



Sorry, my mistake. Just realized that is old.
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3690. IKE
Landfall is soon with Lee....


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Whatever happened to the ridge over Texas moving out?
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3688. lhwhelk
Quoting aislinnpaps:
Good morning, everyone! We are getting RAIN!! And it's starting to rain over towards Jasper, TX which has had a lot of problems with fires.

We are going to have just enough wind in TX to spread any fires that get started. The problem is that it's not just grass that is dry, but bushes and trees. We were so hoping for at least some rain from Lee. I'm happy for Jasper, but it's so far east it might as well be in La.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
This is what I'm seeing.


On the latest vapor and ir loop it looked like Lee was fighting the injection of NW dry air and trying to close the loop. Thoughts?
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 173

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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.