Nate almost a hurricane; Maria remains disorganized

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:05 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

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An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft is in Tropical Storm Nate, and has found winds much stronger than the storm's satellite appearance would suggest. At 2:17 pm EDT, the aircraft measured winds at their flight level of 1500 feet of 93 mph, which would ordinarily support upgrading Nate to a Category 1 hurricane. Surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument were about 70 mph, suggesting that Nate is indeed very close to hurricane strength. However, latest visible satellite loops show that if Nate is a hurricane, it's only half of a hurricane. Nate's low-level center is exposed to view, due to northeasterly upper-level winds that are creating a moderate 10 knots of wind shear. This shear is keeping all of Nate's heavy thunderstorms pushed to the south side of the center, and the northern half of the storm almost cloud-free. Sustained winds at Buoy 42055, about 140 miles to the northwest of the center of Nate, were just 28 mph at 3:50 pm EDT this afternoon. Water vapor satellite loops show that there is a large area of very dry air from Texas to the north of Nate, and this dry air is keeping the northern half of the storm dry.

Nate will meander in the Bay of Campeche for several days, and the computer models are sharply divided on what happens early next week to the storm. A ridge of high pressure is expected to build in to the north of the storm, potentially forcing it westwards to a landfall in Mexico. However, our two best-performing models last year, the GFS and ECMWF, predict that a weak trough of low pressure expected to move across the U.S. early next week will be strong enough to turn Nate northwards towards an eventual landfall along the northern Gulf Coast. We will have to wait until the NOAA jet makes its first mission to sample the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico to get a better idea on how probable this northern path might be; their first flight will be tonight, and the data will make it into the 8 pm models runs that will be available first thing Friday morning. As far as intensity goes, the very dry air to Nate's north should begin being less of a problem for it by Friday, when the upper level winds shift more to blow from the southeast, and the shear drops to the low range, 5 - 10 knots. Since the storm is moving very slowly, it will upwell cooler waters from the depths that will slow intensification, though.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Nate.

Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Maria barely survived as a tropical storm today, but is now making a bit of a comeback. Satellite loops show that Maria has been badly ripped up by the 10 - 20 knots of wind shear affecting it. The low-level center has been exposed to view most of the day, and surface arc-shaped clouds have been racing away from the storm to the west this afternoon, indicating that dry air has been getting into Maria's thunderstorms and disrupting the storm. However, the areal coverage and intensity of Maria's thunderstorms have increased a little in the past two hours. Maria is passing close to buoy 41040, which measured sustained winds of 36 mph, gusting to 45 mph, at 2:50 pm EDT.

Wind shear is predicted to fall to the low range on Friday as Maria approaches the Lesser Antilles. In addition, as I noted in this morning's post, Maria will be encountering an atmospheric disturbance known as a Convectively-Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW) that is currently passing through the Lesser Antilles Islands. There is a great deal of upward-moving air in the vicinity of a CCKW, and will help strengthen the updrafts in Maria's thunderstorms, potentially intensifying the storm. None of our models are detailed enough to "see" CCKWs", so we may see more intensification of the storm than the models are calling for. I believe Maria will continue to organize and arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands as a tropical storm with 50 - 60 mph winds. The latest run of the GFDL model predicts that Maria will be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon when it moves through the Virgin Islands, and a Category 2 hurricane Sunday night when it moves through the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is on the high end of what is possible, and I think it more likely that Maria will be a tropical storm with 50 - 60 mph winds in the northern Lesser Antilles, 60 - 70 mph winds in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and a Category 1 hurricane in the Turks and Caicos Islands--assuming passage over Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic does not significantly disrupt the storm. A lower intensity, as forecast by NHC, is certainly quite possible, as Maria may continue to struggle with the dry air and wind shear besetting it.

The latest computer model runs have been trending more southwards, and the Northern Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahama Islands are all at high risk of a direct hit by Maria. The models are split on how strong the steering influence a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast will have once Maria approaches the U.S. East Coast. Most of the models foresee that Maria will turn north before arriving at Florida, and potentially threaten North Carolina, Bermuda, or Canada. The latest run of the GFDL model, though, brings Maria through the Bahamas to a point just 100 miles southeast of Miami as a hurricane on Tuesday afternoon. While this forecast is an outlier, and it is more likely that Maria will turn north before reaching Florida, it will be another two days before we will have a fair degree of confidence on when Maria will curve to the north.

Lee's rains trigger historic flooding in New York and Pennsylvania
An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49" of rain fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a greater than 1-in-100 year rain event; their previous all-time record was set last September, when 4.68" fell on Sep 30 - Oct. 1, 2010. Binghamton has also already broken its record for rainiest year in its history. Records go back to 1890 in the city. The rain has ended in Binghamton, with this morning's rain bringing the city's total rainfall for the 40-hour event to 9.02". The Susquehanna River at Binghamton has risen to 25.69', its highest level since records began in 1847, and is now spilling over the flood walls protecting the city, according to media reports. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 19' over flood stage, and more than 9' above its record flood crest. Widespread flash flooding is occurring across the entire area, and over 120,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.


Figure 2. Seven-day precipitation amounts from Tropical Storm Lee and its remnants. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 3. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton has crested this afternoon at its highest flood height on record, 25.69'. Records at this gauge go back to 1847. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 4. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 19' over flood stage, and more than 9' above its previous record flood crest. The river is forecast to crest at 27.2' (green lines are the predictions.) Records at this gage go back to 1930. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

The extreme rains are due the the remains of Tropical Storm Lee interacting with a stationary front draped along the Eastern U.S. Adding to the potent moisture mix last night was a stream of tropical moisture associated with Hurricane Katia that collided with the stationary front. You don't often see a major city break its all-time 24-hour precipitation record by a 60% margin, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and he can't recall ever seeing it happen before. It's worth noting that the Susquehanna River Binghamton stream gage, which has been in operation since 1847, is due to be shut off in 3 weeks due to budget cuts. Here's the note at the USGS web site:

NOTICE (03/23/2011)--Data collection at this streamgage may be discontinued after October 1, 2011 due to funding reductions from partner agencies. Although historic data will remain accessible, no new data will be collected unless one or more new funding partners are found. Users who are willing to contribute funding to continue operation of this streamgage should contact Rob Breault or Ward Freeman of the USGS New York Water Science Center at 518-285-5658 or dc_ny@usgs.gov.

I'll have an update in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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1027. JLPR2
But afterwards the NAM moves Maria NW?
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1026. skook
Video of a House hitting a Bridge in PA


hope it works.Link
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1025. JLPR2
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Oh my God Maria is huge!

Do not use the panic button...yet.


We should focus on the rainfall potential. Any more than 5 inches and all that will be visible from satellites will be the mountains. :\
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Seriously, Maria scares me a little.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
GOOD NIGHT North Carolina.

South Carolina...well...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
Quoting clwstmchasr:
If one more local TV met talks about being in a "reverse pattern" I am going to through a brick through the TV (after football season). Here in Oldsmar, we have 8-1 more days of storms coming off of the GOM versus dinner time storms enhanced by the sea breeze. They have to stop living in the past. This has been going on for years! The pattern has changed.

Sorry for the rant guys...



I hear ya. 20 years ago you could set your watch by the afternoon thunderstorms coming in from the East.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


The BOC is a really interesting place for storms with its curved terrain. A system that size in the open Atlantic would probably be a TD.


Yep, a lot of topographic forcing going on down there.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15761
Model predictions changing.....

What about these predicitons? Hope they are Fish predictions...

U.S. sees credible but unconfirmed terrorism threat
ReutersBy Phil Stewart and Mark Hosenball | Reuters – 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered a redoubling of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in the face of a "credible but unconfirmed" threat ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Where'd that come from? My computer doesn't have that button..

LOL
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
Quoting caneswatch:


With the models like that, South Florida will be in the error cone come 11 pm.


Yeppers...but most signs point to a recurve before a strike on south Florida.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Oh my God Maria is huge!

Do not use the panic button...yet.


Where'd that come from? My computer doesn't have that button..
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
Quoting GetReal:
Interesting that NAM is bringing Maria into the central Lesser Antilles, much further south than the other models.


14 N is where I see Maria entering the Caribbean.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15761
Quoting clwstmchasr:
If one more local TV met talks about being in a "reverse pattern" I am going to through a brick through the TV (after football season). Here in Oldsmar, we have 8-1 more days of storms coming off of the GOM versus dinner time storms enhanced by the sea breeze. They have to stop living in the past. This has been going on for years! The pattern has changed.

Sorry for the rant guys...


Where are you going to get a brick?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
1012. Relix
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Oh my God Maria is huge!

Do not use the panic button...yet.


DOOOOM!
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2653

Oh my God Maria is huge!

Do not use the panic button...yet.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
1010. txjac
Quoting kmanislander:


For now I am thinking near Tampico or just to the South of there


Have friends in Veracruz so I was kind of worried about them
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2475
1009. GetReal
Interesting that NAM is bringing Maria into the central Lesser Antilles, much further south than the other models.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8806
Quoting moonlightcowboy:



That's too bad. I'm wondering what will eventually end the tragedy going on there with the all the drought and fires. Maybe they'll get a couple of good TS's before season ends. Precip is off the chart low.

Glad I caught you. Was just peeking in this evening. Appreciate the comments. Hope the family and the golf game are all well! :)

Catch up with you soon! Have a good evening, Kman and all. :)


Great seeing you back on the blog. Stop by again soon
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15761
Link

Just looking at this steering map, Maria better undergo some RI soon in order to make that WNW, then NW turn. This link is for the 400-850mb steering flow for a tropical cyclone of 970-989mb, 60-90kt... as of 00z. Personally, I believe the better models of choice are the farther south/west for now, until she really begins to deepen, as I do not see the storm turning WNW/NW before about 70W at this point.
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1004. BDADUDE
Quoting Tazmanian:



doing well am geting my new Acer on friday
Will your Acer be powerful enough to run weather underground. :)
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1003. WxLogic
Quoting Drakoen:


Nate within the COL



We know that means erratic movement.
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Quoting txjac:
Kman ...where in Mexico do you think it will go in at?


For now I am thinking near Tampico or just to the South of there
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1000. WeatherNerdPR
2:14 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Nate is...skinny.
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998. GetReal
2:13 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8806
997. Some1Has2BtheRookie
2:13 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


My eyes were playing ticks on me with that post. I went to put on my glasses to see it and then it got HUGE. Maybe I need new glasses?

Post #947
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
996. WeatherNerdPR
2:12 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


LOL

Just being honest here, xD
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995. DontAnnoyMe
2:12 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


I don't like being in a cone.


Gro, you can always Photoshop yourself out of it. ;-)
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
994. HrDelta
2:12 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting Grothar:
These models are moving further South on each run





Haven't been posting in a while, decided to start again.

Anyway, don't like the look of this. We don't need another disaster. This year has already been (probably) worse than 2004.

And, with the models, what's causing the Maria Track line to go batty?
Member Since: October 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 451
993. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:12 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting MississippiWx:


Just a little disbelief...lol.


mhm...You wanna go? lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
992. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:11 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

I think I'm on my right mi- Oh who am I kidding, no I'm not XD I still think fish storms are better to track. Less danger.


LOL
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
991. wunderweatherman123
2:11 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
have marias models shifted further north and east or south and west?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1368
990. MississippiWx
2:11 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


What was that?


Just a little disbelief...lol.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
988. Dakster
2:10 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Uh Ohhh... Politics are back...

Pass the popcorn Dewey.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10034
986. Grothar
2:10 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


They're migrating home, to South Beach.


I don't like being in a cone.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25421
985. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:10 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting MississippiWx:


Ehh...

You got something to say Mississippi? lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31537
984. DontAnnoyMe
2:10 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting Jedkins01:


I only put those on ignore whom Ive seen that have specifically come here to cause tropical.


disturbances, waves, or storms? ;-)
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
983. JNCali
2:09 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Anyone catch this warm breeze in DC earlier??
"I want the American people to know: the American Jobs Act will not add
to the deficit. It will be paid for. And here’s how: The agreement we
passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over
the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an
additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking
you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the
American Jobs Act. " ...huh?
Member Since: September 9, 2010 Posts: 5 Comments: 1034
982. WeatherNerdPR
2:09 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I think I'm in my right mind :)

I think I'm in my right mi- Oh who am I kidding, no I'm not XD I still think fish storms are better to track. Less danger.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5630
981. PRweathercenter
2:09 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Blog Update
Member Since: July 21, 2010 Posts: 60 Comments: 1011
979. MississippiWx
2:09 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
00z NAM started off like it wanted to take Nate north, but it's looking like another Mexico run.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
978. Dakster
2:09 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
If maria's model keep trending south, it is possible Texas could get relief from her...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10034
977. PrivateIdaho
2:08 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
Quoting Grothar:
These models are moving further South on each run





They're migrating home, to South Beach.
Member Since: August 29, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5236

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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.