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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Dmin?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1419
Quoting youngw3ath3rman:
has anybody ever heard of the CCKW before? Convectively-Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW)..thank you!
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
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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.



Thank you. I will keep my feet info to myself.
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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME AMERICAN FOOTBALL!
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what waters temps do you need at least for a cat 3 or higher to stregnthen?
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171. DFWjc
Quoting aprinz1979:


Ever been through a CAT 5?


yeah



not really fun at all....
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Quoting Caner:


If it doesn't 'come' to me, i will go to it, of that you can be sure.

I'll take off work for another Andrew.


To each their own but I didn't like Andrew a bit.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
WTF is going on at my house?!



Hard to see, doubt it's a tornado though, you're in PR right? No signs of rotation on the radar there....
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The GFS was pretty much the only reliable model hanging on to a Northern Gulf solution with Nate. It appears that the 18z GFS has buried Nate in the Bay of Campeche once again.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
The winds at my house sound awfully familiar...
Take the children and RUN!!
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1419
166. Caner
Quoting aprinz1979:


So you would like another Andrew to come?


If it doesn't 'come' to me, i will go to it, of that you can be sure.

I'll take off work for another Andrew.

I drove down to Andrew that time, i was living in Savannah, back then.
Member Since: June 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 179
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.


Or meet men in Mustangs late at night?

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Quoting Caner:


Yup, Andrew.


So you would like another Andrew to come?
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GFS 18z 72hrs.

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What was Hurricane Andrew like?
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Although preparing, I am hoping the NHC forecast of Maria being "only" a Tropical Storm when it reaches the Turks and Caicos, prevails rather than Jeff Masters thinking it will be up to Hurricane strength... time will tell.
I'm not ready for another round yet... though I have to admit I did expect Maria to come this way. I sure hope we don't get more than TS impacts in the archipelago; there are lots of people just beginning to recuperate from Irene.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Something for our Texas friends:

Scorching Texas summer heat trumps Dust Bowl record

This year's scorching Texas summer heat, in a dubious honor, broke a national record once held by Oklahoma that had stood since the Dust Bowl changed the face of the country in the 1930s.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service confirmed what Texas climatologists and residents already suspected: The Texas months of June through August were the hottest three months ever recorded in the history of the United States.

- - - - - - - - - -

The 12 months ending on August 31 were the driest 12 months in Texas history, with most of the state receiving just 21 percent of its annual average rainfall.


For those that need translating, that's horrible news. We don't even want to think about the return of La Nina.

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Quoting spinningtop:
THEN TURNS OUT TO SEA



Alot of people live in the NE Carib

*POOF*
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The winds at my house sound awfully familiar...
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I hate to keep bothering folks but have the chances of South Texas getting rain from Nate improved?
I am in Corpus Christi
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155. Caner
Quoting aprinz1979:


Ever been through a CAT 5?


Yup, Andrew. Though it was only classified as a cat 4 when i was there.

They later revised it to cat 5.
Member Since: June 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 179
Quoting P451:


There wouldn't happen to have an underlying cause in mind would you?

No, not really. What would you say it is?
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Quoting Caner:


Some people like storms. I do.


Ever been through a CAT 5?
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Quoting marinagal72:
For four years, I have read this blog. Good stuff majority of time.I like when people post model runs too. I also find myself laughing at the little quips that go back and forth between the posters. But, honestly I have been scared to death to ask any questions for fear of being Poofed as you put it.(just got my nerve up) I feel like the minute someone says Florida or Fish anything,they get ignored or Poofed. I want to do this right. So, If anyone has any suggestions for me on how not to Offend,Please let me know. I mean this is the most respectful way possible. :)Besides the "F" words


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.
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151. HCW
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
WTF is going on at my house?!



rotating wall cloud
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Something for our Texas friends:

Scorching Texas summer heat trumps Dust Bowl record

This year's scorching Texas summer heat, in a dubious honor, broke a national record once held by Oklahoma that had stood since the Dust Bowl changed the face of the country in the 1930s.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service confirmed what Texas climatologists and residents already suspected: The Texas months of June through August were the hottest three months ever recorded in the history of the United States.

- - - - - - - - - -

The 12 months ending on August 31 were the driest 12 months in Texas history, with most of the state receiving just 21 percent of its annual average rainfall.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol..that's called a tornado. I'd run if I were you...

Miles from my house, though. Still raining a lot here.
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148. Caner
Quoting aprinz1979:


Would you like a CAT 5 in your area? You keep repeating the same thing over and over


Some people like storms. I do.
Member Since: June 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 179
And recon continues with its Mickey Mouse operations this season. Haven't been able to get any reports from planes in the last hour.
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Quoting CaribBoy:


AT LEAST THE WEATHER AT YOUR LOCATION IS NOT BORING!!


Would you like a CAT 5 in your area? You keep repeating the same thing over and over
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Quoting Caner:


I find billion dollar natural disasters to be more and more passe with each passing year...

Largely because i have been alive long enough to remember when this same damage would only have been a 300 million dollar disaster.

Soon, it will take a trillion dollar price tag to really impress me, if things keep on the present course.

Remember when you could buy a pack of cigarettes and a coke with a dollar, and get change back?

I do, and it was only 30 years ago.

The official records, of course, are adjust for inflation and other factors. But I know where you're coming from...
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Quoting OneDay:
This feels weird saying, but I really, really hope Nate hits SE TX straight on. If it doesn't and makes landfall in northern Mexico or LA east that would be bad, bad, bad for us. Winds will increase because of the tighter gradient between Nate and our stubborn Texan high pressure system but we won't get much (or any) rain, a la Lee. That would cause our fire situation to become exponentially worse.

I'd much rather see Nate come on shore around Matagorda as a slow moving TS, but it doesn't look like that is in the cards...
A Texas landfall is just about the least likely scenario on the table right now. The Texas death ridge will either force it into Mexico, or the forecast deep-layer trough that will be digging southeastward into the northern Gulf of Mexico in a few days will draw it northeastward into the Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama/Florida Panhandle region lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For four years, I have read this blog. Good stuff majority of time.I like when people post model runs too. I also find myself laughing at the little quips that go back and forth between the posters. But, honestly I have been scared to death to ask any questions for fear of being Poofed as you put it.(just got my nerve up) I feel like the minute someone says Florida or Fish anything,they get ignored or Poofed. I want to do this right. So, If anyone has any suggestions for me on how not to Offend,Please let me know. I mean this in the most respectful way possible. :)Besides the "F" words
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
WTF is going on at my house?!



Lol..that's called a tornado. I'd run if I were you...
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Quoting Murko:
We still have no power after the eye of Irene passed directly over us in North Eleuthera, Bahamas, 2 weeks ago today. We do not need Maria, thank you!
I thought you guys were supposed to be back on last Friday??? They have been telling everyone in the city that power has been restored!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
WTF is going on at my house?!



AT LEAST THE WEATHER AT YOUR LOCATION IS NOT BORING!!
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5927
I rarely make predictions. However, I predict Nate will sit in BOC while the Saints clubber the Packers.
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Quoting P451:



Station 42055 - Direct Link

AL, 15, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 197N, 923W, 60, 997, TS

Readings within 250 miles of AL15



Your computer skills are amazing. I don't agree with you a lot, but you can certainly make some pretty neat graphics.
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Quoting P451:
Unfortunate...GOES dropped out of Rapid Scan for a bit there at the end so we miss seeing the convection advance over the surface feature.

Very cool ... I didn't even know there was "rapid scan."
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Quoting CaribBoy:


and a more healthy Maria. Go away upper low


Precisely.

Really MSwx, your 23, I'm 22
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sorry i mean the video :(
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


But, that was so like 12 hours ago.

LOL.

Hey- I had to earn a paycheck today! :)
can't watch the videos from work.

Nea- I gotta co-worker, her early-twenties sons live in the Schuylkill (sp?) area. She knew nothing of the flooding, and when I told her, she called'm.

Seems that all the roads are closed or too congested to move. They're in a two-story house, so I guess they'll be ok.

she was so glad, I had told her.
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128. DFWjc
Power plant threatened near Lake Whitney in Texas has two 15,000-kilowatt generating units. #txfires #txwildfires
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127. Caner
Quoting Neapolitan:
It appears as though Lee and his remnants will likely become the eleventh billion-dollar weather disaster of 2011. And here with hurricane season not even half over...


I find billion dollar natural disasters to be more and more passe with each passing year...

Largely because i have been alive long enough to remember when this same damage would only have been a 300 million dollar disaster.

Soon, it will take a trillion dollar price tag to really impress me, if things keep on the present course.

Remember when you could buy a pack of cigarettes and a coke with a dollar, and get change back?

I do, and it was only 30 years ago.
Member Since: June 27, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 179

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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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