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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Quoting 996tt:


Yep. I made it over on Thursday and left Sat night. I was in Cocoa Beach area though.
Think there wall be anything more than a blown out mess on your side tomorrow?
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2086. scott39
Quoting CC45:
Maybe I've been looking too long, but I don't see the ULL to the west of TS Lee anymore. Seems to be either totally disrupted or eaten by TS Lee?
He ate it
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Quoting scott39:
Hey Kori, Have you looked at Lees COC recently? It looks like, to my untrained eye that there may be a wobble to the NNE? Trying to learn TIA.


It is a bit difficult to judge with the range limitations of doppler radar and without recon fixes, especially with a quasi-stationary system, but it does appear that it might be moving just east of due north.
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2084. CCkid00
Quoting Abacosurf:
Yea the ULL has been absorbed. I no longer see it on the NW quad on the Texas coast. It has morphed together.

I know Levi said this was not a hybrid and I know it is warm cored but it is not a "typical" cyclone by any means.


what does this mean as far as track and intensity, if anything?
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Does Katia look to be having problems?
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 3rd day of the month at 00:28Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 306)
Storm Number & Year: 13L in 2011
Storm Name: Lee (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 4
Observation Number: 02
A. Time of Center Fix: 2nd day of the month at 23:57:00Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 28°15'N 91°19'W (28.25N 91.3167W)
B. Center Fix Location: 141 miles (227 km) to the SSW (213°) from New Orleans, LA, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,430m (4,692ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 31kts (~ 35.7mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 14 nautical miles (16 statute miles) to the ENE (66°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 143° at 39kts (From the SE at ~ 44.9mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 51 nautical miles (59 statute miles) to the NE (54°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1000mb (29.53 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 14°C (57°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,526m (5,007ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 20°C (68°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,522m (4,993ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 9°C (48°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 7 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 39kts (~ 44.9mph) in the northeast quadrant at 23:40:20Z

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Quoting Bretts9112:

let me guess you live up north ? if it goes further north more chance of a recurve IMO but then again thats 7 plus days out no one knows so dont say it wont happen or it will


The models have been showing for days that it is going to curve out to sea. Not every storm is going to hit Florida
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Quoting TexasMariner:



This is odd......


It would appear that the upper level low is acutally combining with Lee. Not the first time I have seen this but no less bizzare.


Also of note, who else thinks the dominant COC of lee is rather far to the north and west of the current estimated location?




Look at this loop as well:

Link
Yea the ULL has been absorbed. I no longer see it on the NW quad on the Texas coast. It has morphed together.

I know Levi said this was not a hybrid and I know it is warm cored but it is not a "typical" cyclone by any means.
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2077. scott39
Quoting TexasMariner:



This is odd......


It would appear that the upper level low is acutally combining with Lee. Not the first time I have seen this but no less bizzare.


Also of note, who else thinks the dominant COC of lee is rather far to the north and west of the current estimated location?




Look at this loop as well:

Link
Click on the tropical points and watch which way the convection is moving with coc. It looks just a little E of N.
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2075. CC45
Maybe I've been looking too long, but I don't see the ULL to the west of TS Lee anymore. Seems to be either totally disrupted or eaten by TS Lee?
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2074. hamla
HPC predicts 23 inches of rain for nola thru tues according to cantorie calls nola bullseye
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
Quoting HurricaneVSafety:


i think you should be in the clear down there. i doubt that you will see any effects from this specific system.

let me guess you live up north ? if it goes further north more chance of a recurve IMO but then again thats 7 plus days out no one knows so dont say it wont happen or it will
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Quoting 996tt:


I think Beaches are pretty much the same here as far back as I can remember. Jelly fish are not a problem here. Pensacola gets them and the Man-o-wars pretty bad, but they seem not to get by the eastern pass. Purple flags out right now, but I saw maybe two for the hour I was in the water. I lived in Beach Club on Pensacola Beach for a while and saw jellies daily. Sometimes, they were every 5 feet and impossible to avoid. See people in the line up itching away. Man-o-wars though get your attention.


man o wars are nasty...make ya get out of the line up...I keep meat tenderiser in the car for when i get hit by one. Seems to work better than anything else.
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Quoting FLdewey:


Nope... should head out to sea.



its not heading out too sea
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Quoting Fishaholic25fl:
So is anyone worried about katia at all........... anyone thinking about a andrew? track that wednesday turn on the cone is a little eairy.


Looks nothing like Andrew
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Quoting hahaguy:


I feel the same way in FL.


i think you should be in the clear down there. i doubt that you will see any effects from this specific system.
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Quoting JLPR2:


VS...

5:00 PM AST Fri Sep 2
Location: 18.4°N 53.5°W
Max sustained: 75 mph
Moving: NW at 12 mph
Min pressure: 989 mb

Interesting 00z location.


Yes, definitely not moving NW...More like W/WNW.
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2061. ncstorm
18Z DGEX




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2060. scott39
Quoting KoritheMan:


I'm actually in Prairieville, so you're just down the road from me.
Hey Kori, Have you looked at Lees COC recently? It looks like, to my untrained eye that there may be a wobble to the NNE? Trying to learn TIA.
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Newest image...

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So is anyone worried about katia at all........... anyone thinking about a andrew? track that wednesday turn on the cone is a little eairy.
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2057. 996tt
Quoting TravisBickle:
Pretty excited about the prospects for surf here in Jax Fl last weekend was EPIC !!!


Yep. I made it over on Thursday and left Sat night. I was in Cocoa Beach area though.
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Lee just om-nom-nomed the Upper Level Low that was to its northwest.



This is odd......


It would appear that the upper level low is acutally combining with Lee. Not the first time I have seen this but no less bizzare.


Also of note, who else thinks the dominant COC of lee is rather far to the north and west of the current estimated location?




Look at this loop as well:

Link
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Quoting P451:
20 Hours, AL13





________________________________________

24 Hours, Katia


Interesting...for lee looks like the ull is moving away...
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
Quoting reedzone:
Tropical Storm Allison (2001)


Tropical Storm Lee


Similar in structure.. pretty cool.



Hermine, one year ago.
Member Since: August 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3278
Quoting 996tt:
As a side note, the wedge was pumping yesterday. Wow.


I find your surfing comments on this message board during hurricane season to be very off-putting and in poor taste.
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Quoting xXAviatorXx:
lol never took my eye off of it :)




or me
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2050. JLPR2
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
AL, 12, 2011090300, , BEST, 0, 183N, 539W, 65, 988, HU, 64, NEQ, 30, 0, 0, 0, 1013, 275, 25, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, KATIA, D


VS...

5:00 PM AST Fri Sep 2
Location: 18.4°N 53.5°W
Max sustained: 75 mph
Moving: NW at 12 mph
Min pressure: 989 mb

Interesting 00z location.
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2049. 996tt
Quoting jascott1967:


Up until 2000 (when I moved to Minnesota - now back down here in Kemah) the whitest Christmas was the one I spent at my grandparents in Destin. But Hurricane eloise hit and for years the beach was different. The sand was a little darker, more tar, more jelly fish. They lived right on the bluff so their house was virtually destroyed by wind damage.


I think Beaches are pretty much the same here as far back as I can remember. Jelly fish are not a problem here. Pensacola gets them and the Man-o-wars pretty bad, but they seem not to get by the eastern pass. Purple flags out right now, but I saw maybe two for the hour I was in the water. I lived in Beach Club on Pensacola Beach for a while and saw jellies daily. Sometimes, they were every 5 feet and impossible to avoid. See people in the line up itching away. Man-o-wars though get your attention.
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
Quoting Tazmanian:
too me Katia is moveing right a long 18N 54W or 19N 54W wish do you guys think all so Katia is starting too come vary cloes too the Leeward Islands even no it may still be a few 100 ms off too there W but when toy look at it it looks like it is a lot closer then you think it is all so if this keeps moveing W i think a TS watch or hurricane watch could go up for the Leeward Islands if this dos not start turning a little WNW soon


so if you live any where on the Leeward Islands i would keep a vary close eye on this has this may be comeing closer then mode runs are saying



but hey what do i no lol



any commets?
lol never took my eye off of it :)
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we sould have are 1st recon for Katia some time this weekend
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Quoting CCkid00:


I'm actually in Prairieville, so you're just down the road from me.
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Quoting P451:
20 Hours, AL13





________________________________________

24 Hours, Katia



Lee just om-nom-nomed the Upper Level Low that was to its northwest.
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Quoting 996tt:
As a side note, the wedge was pumping yesterday. Wow.
Pretty excited about the prospects for surf here in Jax Fl last weekend was EPIC !!!
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2042. hahaguy
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I don't know about you, but living here in southeastern North Carolina, the fact that models are trending left (west) is a little concerning to me...Of course, things can change, but...


I feel the same way in FL.
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Quoting P451:
20 Hours, AL13





________________________________________

24 Hours, Katia



Wow, watch how Katia's eye is hidden by very deep convection at the end of the loop. That should help tighten up the eyewall...
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
hey drak does Katia look to be a problem for the bahamas and florida ??? just thought


The current atmospheric pattern does not dictate a signifcant hazard for Florida by cape verde hurricanes.. However a System may pose a threat if it forms in the west carribean where it could get picked up by a trough and sent northeast word toward Florida...

all eyes in the northern carribean islands as well as bermuda should monitor further developments with this storm.

It is essential to understand that computer models dont always analyize the current and future conditons correctly.

therefore if i lived in florida i would keep an eye on it. just in case
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Friday night lights in Spring, TX. East wind gusting to about 30 mph maybe more....Just north of Houston
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AL, 12, 2011090300, , BEST, 0, 183N, 539W, 65, 988, HU,
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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.