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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Could we just get ONE model to point Nate in Texas' direction? PLEASE
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Quoting Levi32:
Good afternoon.

I must say that given Nate's satellite appearance, I don't think anybody in the world expected a pressure of 995mb and 70mph winds from the recon. We will have to see if Nate can actually hold this up once he starts moving northward, away from the friendly curved coast of the BOC and deeper into dry air and wind shear.
What do you think about Maria?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001
Dakster- how very frightening. Totally.
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Quoting Levi32:
Good afternoon.

I must say that given Nate's satellite appearance, I don't think anybody in the world expected a pressure of 995mb and 70mph winds from the recon. We will have to see if Nate can actually hold this up once he starts moving northward, away from the friendly curved coast of the BOC and deeper into dry air and wind shear.


Wind shear is decreasing isn't it?? It has to be, the National Hurricane Center even says conditions will be more favorable.

Think it will reach major hurricane status? Well...how about this...What are the chances it reaches major hurricane status?
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Good afternoon.

I must say that given Nate's satellite appearance, I don't think anybody in the world expected a pressure of 995mb and 70mph winds from the recon. We will have to see if Nate can actually hold this up once he starts moving northward, away from the friendly curved coast of the BOC and deeper into dry air and wind shear.
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Quoting DFWjc:


wasn't there some deaths related to looting? I heard some home owners had to get help to defend their home. Any truths to that...

Not sure but it wouldn't surprise me.
I drove down from Jax to rescue my father-in-law from Hialeah Hosp- he had major surgery- we went to help, they sent us home w/IV bags, needles, pain meds, wound dressings. The wind was still swinging the stoplights everywhere, it was very scary to see Miami so DARK at 3am.
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Quoting Dakster:


Yep - It did take a long time to get power back. If you were on county water it came back quickly. (a couple of days and a week of boil water before drinking) But a lot of homes are on well water and no power = no water.

Forgot to mention, my mothers apartment at the time on brickell got power back after 2 weeks, we moved in, but the elevators were not working. 34 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. Then when the elevators started working, I got in to leave for the day, the elevator lost all power (totally dark) and it FELL against the brakes all the way to the basement and into waist deep water. Nothing like being in a coffin with water rushing in. It didn't free fall, but it did fall alot faster than normal. To this day, I am not too fond of elevators...

SO, yes, one Andrew type storm in one lifetime is enough.


Always been scared of getting stuck in an elevator.
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Quoting Caner:


Was one of the highlights of my life. I'll never forget it.

Wasn't quite able to pierce the eye though; although i did experience the northern eyewall.

Got a late start and had to stop about 40 miles north of Homestead... Was just too much debris in the air and on the road to keep driving.

My parents had forbidden me to drive there, so i snuck out the house at midnight :) (was only 18 back then)

Got down to homestead shortly before 5 AM... It was just too late to get in position for the eye.

I will always regret not actually seeing the eye on that storm.

Was singularly the most awe inspiring, hand-of-god thing i have ever witnessed.

Imho, if you haven't experienced a good cat 3+ eyewall, you haven't lived.


Take Cantore's job! He's getting old anyways
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Quoting aprinz1979:



Forgot to mention NO WATER....no power for a month. School didn't start for a month (I was 13 at the time) bored in the house doing nothing and then they took away long weekends to make up for the month of school we lost. So pretty miserable. Don't want another Andrew


Yep - It did take a long time to get power back. If you were on county water it came back quickly. (a couple of days and a week of boil water before drinking) But a lot of homes are on well water and no power = no water.

Forgot to mention, my mothers apartment at the time on brickell got power back after 2 weeks, we moved in, but the elevators were not working. 34 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. Then when the elevators started working, I got in to leave for the day, the elevator lost all power (totally dark) and it FELL against the brakes all the way to the basement and into waist deep water. Nothing like being in a coffin with water rushing in. It didn't free fall, but it did fall alot faster than normal. To this day, I am not too fond of elevators...

SO, yes, one Andrew type storm in one lifetime is enough.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Rotating wall tornado lightning rain of doom.


Its an EF10 DOOMnado. :)

Expect winds off the DOOMiscale.
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214. Caner
Quoting aprinz1979:


To each their own but I didn't like Andrew a bit.


Was one of the highlights of my life. I'll never forget it.

Wasn't quite able to pierce the eye though; although i did experience the northern eyewall.

Got a late start and had to stop about 40 miles north of Homestead... Was just too much debris in the air and on the road to keep driving.

My parents had forbidden me to drive there, so i snuck out the house at midnight :) (was only 18 back then)

Got down to homestead shortly before 5 AM... It was just too late to get in position for the eye.

I will always regret not actually seeing the eye on that storm.

Was singularly the most awe inspiring, hand-of-god thing i have ever witnessed.

Imho, if you haven't experienced a good cat 3+ eyewall, you haven't lived.
Member Since: June 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 179
Quoting Gearsts:
:O I guess it is a tornado

Or rotating wall cloud. Or a random low-hanging cloud.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Rotating wall tornado lightning rain of doom.


That's an introduction before Maria
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6455
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Rotating wall tornado lightning rain of doom.
:O I guess it is a tornado
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001
Quoting marinagal72:



I will add that to the list with Feet. Thanks:)

and if you've had tons of plastic surgery and look like an over-made-up old woman? Don't post it as an avatar.
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Yeesh...

Looking ugly.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



they gone home


There were 3 flights on-going at the same time, one being the G-IV flight in the GOM. Only got recon data for Nate for about an hour, and data for Maria was even more spaced out.
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Doing a great job of keeping herself alive.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001
Quoting Gearsts:
No 1 knows XD

Rotating wall tornado lightning rain of doom.
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Quoting Sfloridacat5:
For a couple days,Florida was right in the middle of the cone for Irene.

So I don't put much confidence in any long range cone.
Just want to say, this is a rather fallacious argument, that is, to extrapolate from one inaccurate cone and apply your results to all of them. The next long range cone could be absolutely correct. Does that mean all of them are to be trusted?

Quoting ncstorm:


I dont think so..I think it depends on where the high is set up in the GOM and the Bermuda high set up for the east coast..If Nate goes west, then you look at having a higher chance of Maria hitting the east coast..I read somewhere that the east coast should be lucky that Lee formed and traveled NE, if not, we would have had a Katia landfall on the east coast..If Nate goes NE as Lee did, then I'm thinking you will see an out to sea scenario with Maria..Has anyone wonder if the models do well with several storms in formation at the same time..might be throwing off the models?
I think we've had several good discussions over the years about flaws in model forecasts because they don't handle a second storm in the basin well. Sometimes a storm specific model like HRWF {?} can show some radically different behaviour of a second storm, simply because it focuses on the "main" storm.

I'm not sure how much the recent "upgrades" to some of the more commonly used models has impacted the quality of forecasts re: storm interactions...

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203. DFWjc
Quoting aquak9:

windows of hospitals broken, local neighborhood folks taking turns directing traffic at major intersections, lotsa outdoor cooking, total damage and destruction, war zone, many dead.

Caner- can I put you down on that wish list?


wasn't there some deaths related to looting? I heard some home owners had to get help to defend their home. Any truths to that...
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Quoting HCW:


rotating wall cloud


Here too Bayamon pr
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Just a note the "crest" at Binghampton is not the true crest but a halt in rise due to the overtoopping of the Flood walls, so any rise in flow rates go down into DT Binghampton not rising the river levels.
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199. 996tt
Late season storms in the BOC usually remain down there and our current weather pattern is mimmicking a late season weather pattern. Kind of had hopes up a little with GFS, but that model looks like it is accepting reality now. Man, the models have been really good 4 days out.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
And recon continues with its Mickey Mouse operations this season. Haven't been able to get any reports from planes in the last hour.



they gone home
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Quoting CaribBoy:


Tornado??? :(
No 1 knows XD
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001
Quoting thedawnawakening3:
What was Hurricane Andrew like?

windows of hospitals broken, local neighborhood folks taking turns directing traffic at major intersections, lotsa outdoor cooking, total damage and destruction, war zone, many dead.

Caner- can I put you down on that wish list?
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Quoting Gearsts:
Take the children and RUN!!


Tornado??? :(
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6455
Starting to actually look like a strong tropical storm...Amazes me how much convection over the center makes the system look so much better. We will probably have a hurricane at 11PM.

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Quoting aquak9:


Just be nice, be yourself. Treat other bloggers as you wish to be treated. Read back aways, before you jump right in and start asking questions...but don't let that stop you from asking questions.

And don't answer any wu-mails that ask about your feet.
lol....thx for the laugh aqua.
.
.There's a wind....from the South!
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Quoting Gearsts:
Dmin?


Good! Continue that way Maria :)
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6455
Nate's going to Mexico, not going to Mexico, now going to Mexico. Hopefully the models will figure something out and have a consensus sometime without all the flip flopping.
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Quoting HuracanTaino:
All I know that thing CCKW is very strong, and is hitting Puerto Rico with torrential rain, strong thunders and electrical storms all over the place, we had a tornado FO in the west side of the Island, thanks

It's dark in my area...very dark. Got some gusty winds and...this.
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Quoting Dakster:


No Apartment, No Power, No belongings, No way to rent anything remotely close to where you 'were' living.

Hot, Humid, bugs galore... Couldn't buy food or drinks locally...

Going through it was scary as all hell breaking loose with transformers exploding, you could tell something was coming your way as the eerily green glow of electrical transformers flared up in the distance. Finally, the one in the backyard of the house you are staying in goes. Power goes out, no A/C, and can't open a window or a door for hours. At least the roof and windows stayed intact in the "safe house" we were in...

Alot of people were no so fortunate as the house they were in went "bye-bye" with them in it.

Ohh and the months upon months of waiting for insurance checks to roll in to help replace stuff...



Forgot to mention NO WATER....no power for a month. School didn't start for a month (I was 13 at the time) bored in the house doing nothing and then they took away long weekends to make up for the month of school we lost. So pretty miserable. Don't want another Andrew
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Quoting Dakster:


No Apartment, No Power, No belongings, No way to rent anything remotely close to where you 'were' living.

Hot, Humid, bugs galore... Couldn't buy food or drinks locally...

Going through it was scary as all hell breaking loose with transformers exploding, you could tell something was coming your way as the eerily green glow of electrical transformers flared up in the distance. Finally, the one in the backyard of the house you are staying in goes. Power goes out, no A/C, and can't open a window or a door for hours. At least the roof and windows stayed intact in the "safe house" we were in...

Alot of people were no so fortunate as the house they were in went "bye-bye" with them in it.

Ohh and the months upon months of waiting for insurance checks to roll in to help replace stuff...


Wow, amazing. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, Maria appears to be reorganizing with hints at a southern spiral band developing as sheared convection develops over the LLC.
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Quoting Dakster:


Or meet men in Mustangs late at night?




I will add that to the list with Feet. Thanks:)
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Quoting louisianaboy444:
I seen what i had to see...Nate's fate is to be buried in Mexico without a trace...good now time for some FOOTBALL...GO SAINTS!


BOO!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
WTF is going on at my house?!



That's a big swirly thing that sometimes makes a tail that comes and pays us on the ground a visit with wind...scary wind.
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I seen what i had to see...Nate's fate is to be buried in Mexico without a trace...good now time for some FOOTBALL...GO SAINTS!
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Quoting thedawnawakening3:
What was Hurricane Andrew like?


No Apartment, No Power, No belongings, No way to rent anything remotely close to where you 'were' living.

Hot, Humid, bugs galore... Couldn't buy food or drinks locally...

Going through it was scary as all hell breaking loose with transformers exploding, you could tell something was coming your way as the eerily green glow of electrical transformers flared up in the distance. Finally, the one in the backyard of the house you are staying in goes. Power goes out, no A/C, and can't open a window or a door for hours. At least the roof and windows stayed intact in the "safe house" we were in...

Alot of people were no so fortunate as the house they were in went "bye-bye" with them in it.

Ohh and the months upon months of waiting for insurance checks to roll in to help replace stuff...
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Convection is slowly expanding over Nate's circulation. Chances are we are beginning to see wind shear calm down some, as the convection spreading over the COC is circular and not showing any more presence of a sheared appearance. We shall see how it goes tonight.
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Look a lil south of Vega Alta's location. I'm in that mess.
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Dmin?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001

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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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