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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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weatherjr:
Dear colleagues from this blogg: The so called sweet spot at 55 W is not a magical point on the road fot cyclones to increase their "fury". What that mean scientifically? For a cyclone to become stronger atmospheric conditions should favor it... NOT a so called sweet spot!!!!


Well it's been proven over and over again that once storms cross 55 W they have a 50% chance of strengthening and a 50% chance of weakening. There's quite a few scientifically backed articles discussing this phenomenon.
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I wonder if the doc actually sits and laughs at some of our lame jokes.... lol

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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)
Member Since: September 9, 2010 Posts: 5 Comments: 1034
670. 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.
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Quoting Dakster:
It is funny how the NHC will put the cone just up to Florida, but not even on the border...

They really wait until they absolutely, positively HAVE to include Florida in the cone to do so. Or at least it seems this way to me.

Not that I currently expect Maria to hit Florida, it is just funny to watch the NHC and the cone placement!
They don't want FL to have stripes, like some other places I could name.... lol

Quoting Seflhurricane:
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
225 PM EDT THU SEP 8 2011

...SOUTH FLORIDA NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO MONITOR TROPICAL STORM MARIA
THROUGH THE WEEKEND AND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK...

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...

Quoting Dakster:


There are some weather WOMEN I wouldn't mind hanging out in a hot tub with...
Not if they're dead, though... I'm sure.

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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Its saving up for a hypercane.


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)
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Quoting Dakster:


As soon as LA goes dark (Los Angeles, not Louisiana)

Hopefully this doesn't ripple thru the entire country.


CNN says the power is out from San Clemente south to Mexico. That is about 40 mins south of LA (Los Angeles, not Louisiana).

Based on that LA still has power.
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Quoting Dakster:


The Central US had nasty tornados and floods this year too... Try again.


Time to get a boat.
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 946
Quoting prweatherwatcher:
Maria is making an exeptional recovery not looking good for the NE carr...Time to start to make preparations for the second direct hit from a TC in 10 days. Maria can make it to a cat 1 before reach PR. Hope I am wrong..
Un pasito pa'lante Maria un pasito pa tras eh!
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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...


The Central US had nasty tornados and floods this year too... Try again.
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Quoting Dakster:


What does running around like a nutjob have to do with power? Isn't that your normal self? (j/k)



thank god i live in north central CA
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
i live in N CA well kind of
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
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...
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 946
Quoting spinningtop:
no threat to florida at all though will make a sharp hook and miss florida as always


The latest models tend to agree with that statement.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



nop or i would not be on here right now



i would be going a round and a round like a nut head


What does running around like a nutjob have to do with power? Isn't that your normal self? (j/k)
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Quoting Patrap:


.

Nevermind.
Member Since: August 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 35
641. DFWjc
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
THANK YOU iv been say that the whole time, if you dont believe us here.

Link


oops i guess i was wrong because the team doesn't have to kick the xtra point so it would be 33-30....so yeah it couldn't ever be 34-30
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Quoting Dakster:


Isn't that where you are at Taz?



nop or i would not be on here right now



i would be going a round and a round like a nut head
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
Quoting FLdewey:


Let me get this straight. You're "forecast" was that it was 50% going to weaken, or 50% going to strengthen.

You're living on the edge.


What a waste of bandwith. That's like no forecast at all. I give you a 50% chance of winning and 50% of losing.
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Maria is making an exeptional recovery not looking good for the NE carr...Time to start to make preparations for the second direct hit from a TC in 10 days. Maria can make it to a cat 1 before reach PR. Hope I am wrong..
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Quoting FLdewey:


Jess... Southern California Edison says San Onofre nuclear power plant automatically shut down when power went out as a precaution.

also

Nuclear Power Plant in Oceanside been taken off line.

You're going to need a few cans of starter fluid to get those cans running again.


And a hydroplant went offline too. But I bet that is much easier to get cranking again...
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Quoting Tazmanian:
there is a power is out for most if not all of S CA right now


Isn't that where you are at Taz?
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Quoting FLdewey:
Nuke plants in Socal have tripped offline... going to be a long while before power is back.

I wonder when the riots will start.

D'oh!


As soon as LA goes dark (Los Angeles, not Louisiana)

Hopefully this doesn't ripple thru the entire country.
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Quoting thesituation:


I want to have your child


ROLMAO!!!!!!
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good evening

Maria is closing in on the "sweet spot" near 55W and as usual for weak systems that get to this position it is firing up to put on a show LOL
This is one reason why I want to see what happens between the Leewards and PR.... I've seen almost every system that got to that spot this season go into overdrive.
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The floater is being displaying katia, even though i was looking at nate.
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Quoting DFWjc:


yes you can, if the game is 27-27 and the one team score a FG makes it 30-27 then the other team goes down and scores a TD it would be 34-30....1st team to score a TD wins in OT now...
THANK YOU iv been say that the whole time, if you dont believe us here.

Link
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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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