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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Quoting RussianWinter:


Forgive me, but what's the "family emergency plan" in case of a power outage?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xtremeweathertracker:

According to surface analysis that is a tropical wave that had a 10% chance of developing a day or so ago!!!



Thanks. I must have missed it. I was otherwise occupied at the time. Just trying to catch up.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting RussianWinter:


Forgive me, but what's the "family emergency plan" in case of a power outage?

In SoCal? Rescheduling manicures and Botox treatments, I think.
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Maria is still a TS:

AL, 14, 2011090900, , BEST, 0, 132N, 537W, 35, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 150, 0, 0, 100, 1010, 175, 50, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, MARIA, S,
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Quoting RussianWinter:


Forgive me, but what's the "family emergency plan" in case of a power outage?


For me that would be, go to an area that has power...

and I guess if you knew where you would meet family members you would go there. (If you could, I understand traffic is a little bit rough right now)
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10809
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM NATE INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 5A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL152011
700 PM CDT THU SEP 08 2011

...NATE NEARLY STATIONARY IN THE BAY OF CAMPECHE...


SUMMARY OF 700 PM CDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...19.7N 92.2W
ABOUT 110 MI...180 KM W OF CAMPECHE MEXICO
ABOUT 175 MI...285 KM NE OF COATZACOALCOS MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...70 MPH...110 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...STATIONARY
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...994 MB...29.35 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

NONE.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* MEXICO FROM CHILITEPEC TO CELESTUN

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* MEXICO FROM CELESTUN TO PROGRESO

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 700 PM CDT...0000 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM NATE WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 19.7 NORTH...LONGITUDE 92.2 WEST. NATE IS
NEARLY STATIONARY AND VERY LITTLE MOTION IS FORECAST TONIGHT. A
SLOW NORTHWARD TO NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD MOTION IS FORECAST TO BEGIN
ON FRIDAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 70 MPH...110 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AND NATE
IS EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE BY FRIDAY.

TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 140 MILES...220 KM
FROM THE CENTER. AN ELEVATED PEMEX OIL RIG IN THE BAY OF CAMPECHE
RECENTLY REPORTED SUSTAINED WINDS OF 75 MPH...120 KM/H...WITH GUSTS
UP TO 86 MPH...138 KM/HR.


THE MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE ESTIMATED FROM PEMEX OIL RIG DATA IS
994 MB...29.35 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED ALONG THE COAST OF
MEXICO WITHIN THE WARNING AREA TONIGHT AND FRIDAY.

RAINFALL...NATE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF
2 TO 4 INCHES WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 8 INCHES OVER THE
MEXICAN STATES OF CAMPECHE...TABASCO...AND SOUTHERN VERACRUZ.

STORM SURGE...A STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH AS
1 TO 3 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST IN
THE WARNING AREA.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1000 PM CDT.

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE/STEWART
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Hi Drak...Do you agree with Levi that Maria will be a close call for south Fla....but will make the turn early enough to miss us?


Agree with Levi??? lol

Yes, it is looking that way at the moment.
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Quoting P451:


Or one high tension line touching a tree limb in Ohio, overheating, and blacking out the whole north east and SE Canada.

They said after the fact that they almost did not catch it in time and pretty much the entire east coast could have gone down...and they openly admitted they weren't sure where it would have stopped - or if it would have stopped. LOL



That was so very not fun. It was hotter than Hades with high humidity, power was out for almost 5 full days at my place. Worst part was that about 24 hours before the power came back on for good it came on for about 30 seconds - fans, yay!! - and then went off again.
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Quoting TuMama:


I am so glad you alive but you family need to stop email me with lie.

It was not really his family, Tu. It was a mean person using a fake screen name. A Troll.
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Quoting thesituation:


Please be kind to your fellow weather blogger


That was kind.
Member Since: September 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 616
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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody know what that feature is above Puerto Rico>

img src="">
I think they said it is an ULL.
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Quoting JNCali:
SDG&E home page
"There’s a major power outage in the region. SDG&E crews are working
as quickly and safely as possible. We don’t have an estimated
restoration time. The power could be out through the night and into
tomorrow.
The outage has affected street lights. Please drive safely and treat
the street lights as a four-way stop.
If you have a personal family emergency plan, please activate it now."

Major San Diego problems with traffic..(5:30pm out here) and some folks stuck in elevators.. (and not so smart ones on escalators)


Forgive me, but what's the "family emergency plan" in case of a power outage?
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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody know what that feature is above Puerto Rico>

img src="">
It's an Convectivley Coupled kelvin wave. Read Dr M's post and you'll see more about it.
P.S. nice to have ya back, Gro.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


It's a blob.


But a moving blob.


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting twincomanche:
If a hydro plant went off line it was just a safety trip out. Will be back in minutes if the grid is OK.

The San Onofre nuclear plant is offline--
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Quoting BahaHurican:
They don't want FL to have stripes, like some other places I could name.... lol

See? There may be Wunderbloggers who just don't understand, but the NWS has got FL's back ... keep an eye on 'em... just in case...

Not if they're dead, though... I'm sure.




I agree.

I agree.

And Yes, the weather women would have to be alive and would be alive at the end of the night...

Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10809
704. JLPR2
Maria isn't giving up.
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703. xcool
PcolaDan lol
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i live in N CA well kind of
That's what I thought. Not much chance of getting a hurricane up that far...

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Quoting Bielle:


Could you people find a sports blog, please.
some one gotta promotion!!
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Quoting Drakoen:
Seems like shear might be abating a bit over Maria. LLC is covered in convection.


Hi Drak...Do you agree with Levi that Maria will be a close call for south Fla....but will make the turn early enough to miss us?
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Quoting Grothar:
Anybody know what that feature is above Puerto Rico>

img src="">


It's a blob.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Anybody know what that feature is above Puerto Rico>

img src="">

According to surface analysis that is a tropical wave that had a 10% chance of developing a day or so ago!!!

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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Uhhh im kinda confused, are you calling me a troll? Sorry its just im not sure what u mean, if you were talking to my in person i would probably understand what you mean.

No I was just expanding on the hypercane comment that the season could be saving up this year. There are some people (and uninformed children) whom the wunderground calls trolls because they wish cast intensive storms hitting land. To them when that actually happens it tends to be the ultimate thrill!
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I don't think TS Maria is weakening at all.

Who said that Maria was going to weaken ?
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Anybody know what that feature is above Puerto Rico>

img src="">
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting TX2FL:
Hi Everyone,

I'm evacuated from the remnants of Lee, the evacuated us, 65,000 of us in the Wyoming Valley at Wilkes Barre, PA. The river is expected to crest at 40.8 feet and the levee protecting us is at 41 feet. Praying it doesnt go higher, every estimate since yesterday has been higher and higher. My husband and mother in law didn't want to leave, didnt understand that this was a mandatory evacuation. One of the floodgates at a main road is starting to fail, the river is now at 38.9 feet. Hope they fix it. That's all..just an update. Hoping that Maria and/or NATE do not affect us in the end of their tropical lives.

Cheez-n-Rice, dude....are you still there in Wilkes Barre?
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Quoting RussianWinter:


Im actually looking forward to the hypercane. With the waters around florida and parts of the caribbean approaching 90 degrees, there is that chance of us getting the huge, igor-sized, legendary 180 mph monster that comes every few decades. Although such storm causes grave danger to both islanders and mainlanders and it would be rather immature and down right stupid to wish for such storms...

There is nothing like waking up to a similar scenario that people woke up to when they realized hurricanes Wilma or Andrew became category 5. There is just something to that nerve-racking excitement that the hypercane brings to the people who are labeled as trolls.

With the waters being as warm as they are there is no doubt we are going to see another category 4 hurricane in caribbean. The energy has to go somewhere.

Rapid Intensification near land (where the deep 90 degree waters are) is the ultimate thrill for the deathwishcaster. And it's seasons like this where it's likely to happen (this season has been compared to 2005 quiet a bit, and 2005 did have Wilma)
Uhhh im kinda confused, are you calling me a troll? Sorry its just im not sure what u mean, if you were talking to my in person i would probably understand what you mean.
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Seems like shear might be abating a bit over Maria. LLC is covered in convection.
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Quoting Grothar:


Hiya, Baha. I know better than to ask you that> :) I hope Maria misses you all there. You and I know these systems can do strange things when they enter the Bermuda Triangle.
Yeah... just hoping it actually does recurve, since I seriously doubt it'll take a track similar to Irene without arriving at a similar intensity as it nears our waters.... not ready for a repeat.
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Quoting nofailsafe:
Well, blackouts on the west coast, droughts on the gulf coast, and floods on the east coast. Question, out of those three? which is the best coast? I might just stick with the notonacoast.

On a more serious note, I've been up from my desk most of the day, what's going on with Nate? I see that the official track is further north than it was yesterday, the GFS outright disagrees with that track and I'm beginning to wonder what other tricks Nate has up his sleeve at this point...


One of the tricks Nate probably has is the interaction with Maria that we will see later in the week.

Also this year, the Florida coast has been the best. Our drought from earlier this year has been quenched and we haven't been hit by a hurricane just yet.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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