Wilma's forecast highly uncertain

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:41 AM GMT on October 20, 2005

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Just a quick update on the latest model runs: The 18Z (2 pm EDT) runs of the GFS and GFDL models have swung back towards Florida, and predict that the Yucatan may only get a quick (but severe) blow. The amount of weakening that might happen with Wilma over the Yucatan for just 12 hours or so is difficult to gauge. Also, there is the possibility of a threat to New England--the latest GFDL model run has Wilma hitting the Cape Cod area as a Category 2 hurricane on Monday night. I'll wait for the 00Z (8pm EDT) runs of the models that will be available in the morning before commenting more. The degree of uncertainty in both the track and intensity forecast of Wilma remains very high. The remainder of my blog from 5pm is below, unchanged.


Hurricane Wilma continues across the western Caribbean towards Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane. The Hurricane Hunters reached the storm at 2:06 pm EDT, and reported a pressure of 892 mb, ten mb higher than the Atlantic record lowest pressure of 882 mb set this morning. The 3:56 pm EDT hurricane eye report showed the same pressure, 892 mb. Peak winds measured at flight level were 141 knots in the southern eyewall, compared to 162 knots measured this morning. Infrared satellite imagery shows that the cloud tops have warmed a bit since this morning, and Wilma is a weaker storm--but still a Category 5 capable of catastrophic damage. The eye diameter measured by the hurricane hunters was still a very tiny 5 nm, and an second concentric eyewall with diameter 10 nm has formed. This indicates that Wilma may soon undergo an eyewall replacement cycle, and will weaken to a Category 4 storm.


Figure 1. Computer model tracks for Hurricane Wilma.

Where will Wilma go?
There is now a high degree of uncertainty in the forecast for Wilma. NHC has not adjusted the official forecast much with the 5 pm advisory, other than to slow down Wilma a bit. However, a major shift in the model guidance occurred with the just completed 12Z (8 am) runs, that may force NHC to make major modifications to the official forecast if further model runs continue to show this shift. Three of the top models--the GFS, GFDL, and UKMET models--now show that the trough of low pressure that was expected to pull Wilma sharply northwards and then northeast across Florida is progressing slower than expected, and will not dig as far south. If this forecast verifies, it would be very bad news for Mexico. Wilma may not pass east of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel as originally thought, and may instead make a landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula near Cozumel or Cancun Island on Thursday night or Friday morning, probably as a Category 4 hurricane.

However, this would be very good news for Florida. A long encounter with the Yucatan Peninsula would cause a serious disruption of the hurricane, and make it unlikely that Wilma could affect Florida as a major hurricane. A hit on southwest Florida as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane would be more likely, and the arrival of the hurricane would be delayed until Sunday. So, if I lived in Florida and was thinking about evacuating today, I would wait another day and see what the forecast tomorrow brings. Keep in mind, though, that the NOGAPS model, which is one of the top four models for tracking hurricanes, is still showing that Wilma will pass through the Yucatan Channel and a make landfall in southwest Florida as a major hurricane. The Canadian model is showing this as well. And the worst possible scenario, where Wilma makes a direct hit on Cancun but only spends a few short hours over the Yucatan and does not significantly weaken, is also a possibility.

Conditions on the Yucatan
Here's an email I received from wunderphotographer cleo85 , who is in the Yucatan and took the photo shown below. She has promised to post photos and send reports as her situation permits:

"Here is the Paamul [Yucatan Peninsula] update. After a very cloudy morning we did have some blue sky around 11:00am CDT. Now at 2:00pm CDT the Sky is almost overcast with picturesque clouds. There are a few light showers. We have a light breeze from north with winds what feel more and more warmer. The morning [5am CDT] showed 76 Fahrenheit now we have 88. Paamul is boarding up and will evacuate tomorrow. There is a confusion were to go since some of the newest computer models showing landfall on the Yucatan with a turn around and going back to the Caribbean. I was told the mood in the city of Playa del Carmen changed from almost ignorance two days ago to panic right now. There is no gasoline or diesel anywhere between Cancun and Tulum. Groceries seams to be tight. Batteries are out. There is price poaching going on. The Newspapers do their best to bring the panic up."

Jeff Masters

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140. weatherboyfsu
2:13 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
jeff has a new blog.........
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
139. weatherboyfsu
2:12 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Wilma is in a "replacement cycle of the eyewall phase".....but if you look at the IR loop.....it clearly shows dry air moving around the center......most replacement cycles do not have dry air involved.......all you would have is deep red circulating around and around......I agree that she should re-develop a good eye and a general good overall presentation.....and restrengthen......but the winds are down.....they may not acknowledge that big of a drop....because it will probably come back up......so really who would know but them.....
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
138. MandyFSU
2:10 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Dang- they packed him up QUICK after his broadcasts last night then.
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
137. capelisa
2:07 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
If Cantore is going to Fort Myers, I am outta here!
136. taco2me61
2:06 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Good Morning to everyone , I see the storm is still going to South FL and everybody needs to have as much done as possible to be ready for Wilma...

Life is to short to take any chances... You can replace your house but you can't replace your life...
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3247
135. watchingnva
2:04 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
dry air??..umm, think thats the eye itself man... shes just having a difficult time getting the inner eyewall to completely dimminish... should be another 3-4 hours b4 her eye becomes more pradominent...then she may strengthen a bit..
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 1500
134. palmbeacher
1:56 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
get the heck out of Ft. Myers!!
133. FTmyersZ
1:55 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
My firm opinion is that this storm will hit the Yucatan and basiclly die, but I just heard that Cantore is headed to Ft. Myers... so I'm probably screwed.
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 60
132. VeroBeachNative
1:55 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Palmbeacher - it sure is scary...they talked about what could happen more after Katrina then I have heard since Wilma became a threat to the area. Doesn't make much sense to me.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 63
131. weatherboyfsu
1:55 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Just wanted to jump in real quick while I had a second from work.......I just looked at the IR satellite.....the max winds should be down to 120MPH at the next advisory....dry air has mixed in to the center......the winds are down...they are not at 150mph.......the milibars should go up also.....probably around 930...........check back later.......
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
130. LdyAvalon
1:53 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
here's an article about Lake o and what they are saying
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-ppflood20oct20,0,3940566.story?coll=sfla-news-palm
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
129. LdyAvalon
1:51 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
i heard on the radio driving home yesterday that they lowered the levels in lake o and think everything will be fine.. i know all the spillways in port st lucie are wide open..just hopefully we won't have rain like we did yesterday in the days before the storm
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
128. palmbeacher
1:47 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
vbnative, I think the Water management is concerned from what I heard yesterday. It's really scary if you think about what could happen.
127. MandyFSU
1:44 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
telegon- STILL sticking with that Apalachee Bay forecast (I'm honestly wondering since I live up here)

:-)
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
126. oriondarkwood
1:44 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
LdyAvalon ,

check your email
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
125. telegon
1:43 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Does Masters really think Wilma could hit New England as a CAT2?
That's interesting.
124. oriondarkwood
1:42 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
LdyAvalon ,

check your email
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
123. VeroBeachNative
1:42 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Good Morning All!

Palmbeacher - I agree with you, but I really haven't heard much about it...hopefully, someone is thinking about it....
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 63
122. LdyAvalon
1:40 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Tampa Steve,
At least with the extra day I'll have satellite to watc h football lol...Speaking of football they haven't cancelled the dolphins game yet. Wonder when that will happen
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
121. palmbeacher
1:38 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
I may have mentioned this yesterday, but my concern is Lake
Okeechobee. I don't think it can handle a 3 coming over it. Anyone else thinking about this?
120. TampaSteve
1:36 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Looks like Wilma's gonna give FL an extra day to prepare...hey, at least this weekend won't be a total washout!
119. palmbeacher
1:34 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
morning everyone, I am working and trying to keep up at the same time. Ldyav, they are saying we will get tropical force winds Late Sat. early Sunday. At 2 am Mon morning they have it directly over Palm beach co. or in that area. Yipppeee
118. raindancer
1:27 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
dracko - You have a very valid point that the NHC has briefly touched upon. Wilma may be hauling butt when she comes at FL - giving people who waited til the last minute - not enough time to get out of dodge. Kudos to Monroe County for at least getting the evac underway for the Keys yesterday. All the more reason Wilma needs to get over the Yucatan if FL is to stand a chance of being spared.

One last comment though... Wilma is not the strongest hurricane seen by modern man. She ranks only as #10 on the strongest storms in history.
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
117. weatherdude65
1:25 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
wx..I saw that, and i think she will start moving NW and even NNW later today
116. weatherdude65
1:24 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
morning Mandy..and yes she is being difficult!!
115. dracko19
1:23 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Can I make a little point here? No one is talking about how fast Wilma will be moving when she hits FL!!! If you live in FL and might possibly be in the path of this thing, I would emplore you to read my blog.

My Weather Blog
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/dracko19/show.html
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 310
114. raindancer
1:23 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
wx - I noticed the ellipitcal shape, also - but was wondering if my eyes were playing tricks. A strengthening storm is certainly possible over the next 12 hours or so. Though, at this point, I'm still thinking a landfall on the Yucatan.
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
113. weathergirl05
1:21 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Wish she would just make up her mind!
112. wxfan
1:21 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Link

In the last two frames, Wilma appears to be englongating towards the North and South. This could mean a turn to the NW, NNW or N is imminent.

The Yucatan may well be spared the worst of it. This is probably a good thing, since the eyewall phase is finished and a new eye is showing up. The colder cloud tops are plentiful on the South side of the storm, as well. When that wraps around we could be back up to CAT 5.
Member Since: August 23, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
111. LdyAvalon
1:21 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
thanks orion
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
110. oriondarkwood
1:19 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
LdyAvalon,

Nice Alias
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
109. watchingnva
1:18 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
looks like shes slowing down a bit to me the last few hours...what do you guys think??..hmm
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 1500
108. weatherdude65
1:17 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
weathergirl....no one will know exactly where she will go until she starts to make her turn
107. MandyFSU
1:16 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Hi all... my she's being difficult today!
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
106. seflagamma
1:14 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Additional, if it were up to me entirely, I would shutter every time, but I need my husband to do it (with help from grown Son or neighbor) and I have to pick my battles for these things. He would not shutter at all if I did not throw a fit about these things. We have prepared for so many storms over the years never get more than tropical force winds (which can be very messy) and he is convenced Broward County will never have a really bad hit. I on the other hand, totally prepare each time I need to do so.
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40891
105. LdyAvalon
1:13 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
thanks gamma.i think we'll go ahead and shutter today.better safe than sorry right.plus we've been getting afternoon thunderstorms anyways this week.up here in port st lucie we already have yards half under water
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
104. weathergirl05
1:11 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Thank you weather dude. I live in Venice south of Sarasota but pretty close to Pt Charlotte. We had planned our vacation this week. WE just dont know if we should go or stay. Its hard to sit here and not know. If it is nothing for our area than I want to go on our vacation!
103. LdyAvalon
1:11 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
thanks palmbeacher..what's the last you've heard? TCpalm news said to expect cat 3 winds by saturday with squalls by tomorrow afternoon
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
102. coastie24
1:11 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
The storm is still too far out to make a reasonable prediction. The "cone of doom" is is still too large. We'll know a lot more when she starts to make the turn.
101. stormydee
1:10 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
ok gotta work, check in later :-)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 39 Comments: 517
100. seflagamma
1:10 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
LdyAvolon, I'm in Broward County, south of your question area. I am going to want to shutter up, if it even looks like a Cat2 or higher hitting the west coast. Even if it hits north of me, the south side is the dirty side. If it is in the South, the Everglades does nothing to really slow down a storm (i.e. Irene). If it hits below the Keys as a 1 or 2, I will be on the good side and probably will not shutter.
Hope this helps.
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40891
99. weatherdude65
1:10 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
morning stormy...I guess we are playing the 'wait and see what Wilma wants to do' game
98. palmbeacher
1:09 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
ldyav, shuttering going on, I will get most of it done by Sat. morning. Have several houses to take care of.
97. LdyAvalon
1:06 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
morning all..
so my question to all the east coast floridians from palm beach county through treasure coast.. to shutter today or not to shutter? what do you guys thinks
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
96. weatherdude65
1:06 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
weathergirl, the red represents the high pressure that is in control right now. That high is expected to break down, thus allowing Wilma to make her move to the NW and eventually to the NE
95. raindancer
1:04 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
I personally would settle with a western movement into Mexico, meander a bit, weaken, then slide over Cuba on its way NE - bringing nice rainshowers to FL. Sorry to the countries to the south, but my vested interest is in FL at the moment.
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
94. seflagamma
1:03 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Orion, thanks for your input. good to know nothing more for the immediate future. Gamma
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40891
93. seflagamma
1:01 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Punk, check the link Dude just sent. If you put a mark where the loop starts and see where it ends you will see it is almost a NW movement now, not as much west as yesterday. I hope it is starting to make the turn. A few extra days of this will be very tiring! I want it to make it's move, do what it has to do, and move on!
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40891
92. weathergirl05
12:59 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
Morning,
Stupid question. Im new at this. On the wv will the red dry air protect most of fla or will the storm push up thru it?
91. stormydee
12:59 PM GMT on October 20, 2005
well, I can play cause the boss is away...
suppose to do payroll...but he hid the timecards...goofball..
Now we play the wait and see when she will come our way...while I wait... :-)
Goodmorning everyone. I hope everyone had a nice night. I was worried she do a number last night like she did the night before, but she didn't (thank goodness...)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 39 Comments: 517

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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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