Wilma steadily intensifying

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:27 PM GMT on October 23, 2005

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Wilma has entered a slow intensification phase the past three hours. The pressure has fallen from 963 mb to 959 mb, the eye has shrunk in diameter from 60 nm to 45 nm, and satellite imagery shows cooling cloud tops in the eyewall region--all signs of an ongoing intensification cycle. In response to this intensification cycle, the Hurricane Center has now upped their forecast of the maximum storm surge from 13 feet to 17 feet over southwest Florida. At the current rate of intensification, Wilma could become a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds by midnight.

This intensification phase should slow down or reverse by midnight, since shear is now increasing over the storm. Shear is now about 15 knots, up from 10 knots this morning. The hurricane hunters noted that strong westerly winds aloft have pushed the top of the storm eastward, so that the area of calm in the eye at 10,000 feet is about ten miles east of the surface calm area. This stretching is also beginning to be evident on satellite images, with the shape of the hurricane appearing less circular. Assuming that the shear begins weakening the hurricane at midnight, only six or eight hours remain for the shear to weaken the hurricane before landfall at 6 am or 8 am Monday morning. This may not be enough time to weaken the storm much, so I am still anticipating a 105 mph Category 2 hurricane at landfall. By the time Wilma crosses the Florida Peninsula and arrives at the east coast of Florida, she should have top winds of about 85 mph.

The remainder of my discussion from noon today appears below, unchanged.

Assuming my forecast of a landfall near Marco, Florida as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds is a good one, we can expect a storm surge of 8 to 14 feet near that city and to the south. The Keys would see storm surge flooding of 5 to 8 feet. Fortunately, the area south of Marco is primarily uninhabited--the Everglades swamp. However, if Wilma comes ashore north of Naples--or further south near the Keys--storm surge flood damage in those areas could easily reach billions of dollars. Storm surge flooding should be only 2 - 4 feet on the east coast of Florida, where wind damage is the primary threat.


Figure 1. Storm surge map for southwest Florida.

Wilma's winds and rain
Wilma will be moving too fast to dump more than 5 - 10 inches of rain. The rain will be concentrated on the north side of the hurricane, since there will be a cold front there that will trigger more condensation. Areas to the north of the eye's passage will see winds a full Category--25 to 30 mph--lower than those on the south. This is because the storm's high rate of forward motion, near 25 - 30 mph, will add to the windspeeds seen on the south side of the Wilma's counterclockwise rotation, and subtract on the north side. Since the storm will be moving so fast, the duration of hurricane force winds will be just a few hours.

After Florida, then what?
After crossing Florida, Wilma should bring 50 - 60 mph winds to the northern Bahama Islands, but not hurricane force winds. Wilma should pass close enough to North Carolina's Outer Banks to bring 40 mph winds there and up to an inch of rain. It now appears that Wilma will bring 40 mph winds and 1 - 3 inches of rain to southeast Massachusetts, along with 20 foot waves. Boston, which has already had its fourth wettest October ever with 7.52 inches of rain, may break its October record. Nova Scotia will probably bear the brunt of Wilma's fury, receiving a direct hit by the center, along with 45 - 55 mph winds and rains of 3 - 5 inches.

Alpha
Tropical Storm Alpha, the record-breaking 22nd tropical storm of this unbelievable hurricane season, has come ashore over Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains of up to 12 inches could cause heavy loss of life in Haiti, where 98% deforestation rates have left the island highly vulnerable to flooding from even ordinary fast-moving tropical storms like Alpha. In the event a major flood disaster does ensue, dictating the retirement of Alpha's name, there are no contingency plans on how to replace Alpha's name on the list. Alpha is moving fast enough that I am hopeful a major flooding disaster will be averted in Haiti, though.

The 10,000 foot high mountains of Hispanolia have seriously disrupted the circulation of Alpha, making it questionable how much will remain of the storm to threaten the Turks and Caicos Islands. In any event, Alpha does not have long to live, as the huge circulation of Hurricane Wilma will overtake it by Tuesday and destroy the storm with high wind shear.

I'll be back with an update in the morning, or later tonight if events warrant.

Jeff Masters

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263. seflagamma
10:38 PM GMT on April 21, 2012
here is a blast from the past!!!
Hurricane Wilma's landfall in Leftyy's blog!


543. seflagamma 6:54 AM AST on October 24, 2005

Just got up again after going back to bed around 4am.
It is almost 7am now and the winds are howling and roaring. Raining. Winds from EAst now and wipping my trees. In gusts they lay flat. It is bad now and the worse is yet to come. One wall of screen in my patio (east side) has blown in. I see it is just now making landfall around Marco (if what is see is correct). Did not have time to read




that was my last post from my home computer for a week! LOL

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40881
262. KS4EC
11:08 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Great Radar - Check out th ewind speeds at the bottom - WOW 132 Kts!
Link
261. leftyy420
10:54 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
lots of us are in my blog. lots of peoplefrom florida as well. tons ofinfo so please stop by

lefty's blog Link
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
260. labsr4me
10:31 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Here in North Naples....

power went out about an hour and a half ago...I still have laptop battery and dialup...gusts here to 60 mph, based on elementary school weather station across the street...winds have been ENE to NE...my weather station anenometer is obstructed in this direction by my neighbor...we are in the eyewall right now, albeit the NW portion...which is the least of the eyewall...pressure is 28.54"....nearly 5 " of rain here...small leaks in the house, but so far so good...I have ss of radar image but will wait to upload until I have started generator in a couple hours..

259. OGal
10:27 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Well, the day has finally come. Here in Winter Springs we are having heavy rain. Several tornado warnings have been out over Central Florida. My cats are wanting in and out (just on the lani) very restless, me too. Hang on everyone, at least we can look forward to cool weather for a short time after this Wilma person is gone. Stay happy, South Florida, our thoughts are with you.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 72 Comments: 19222
258. soflanative41
9:49 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Where's the shear????? I thought the experts said shear would weaken the storm s bit.
257. scribblin
9:43 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Local forecasters are showing a satellite graphic of tornadic rotation in the NW quadrant eyewall of Wilma as it approaches Naples. Rotation is still out over the water.
256. scribblin
9:31 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Eye is about to make landfall on Marco Island.
255. scribblin
9:05 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Substations are out near Marco and just north of me in Immokalee.

Local forecasters are saying this is the first time a major hurricane has hit Naples since Donna in 1960. Approx. 20 percent of the county did not evacuate because they didn't believe it would really happen.
254. Jeremey
9:01 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Soakin wet here, just saw the green flash of a transformer glow.
253. FloridaFamily
8:59 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Power just went out in our south Fort Myers home. Winds only 55 mph.
252. scribblin
8:55 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Nearby weather station has 29 mph winds NE with gusts above 60, but that seems awfully conservative. Local forecasters say the eye is about 14 miles off Marco Island...winds there are around 100 mph sustained with gusts to 125 mph. Marco is 30 miles south of my position.
251. roblimo
8:50 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Bradenton: 20 - 30 Kt winds down in our protected hollow, some gusts higher. Dog sleeping soundly, wife isn't -- more because of frogs gronking outside our bedroom window than because of rain and wind noise, which are still minor. We've had a couple of momentary power outages in the last few hours, but FPL gives us those when it's sunny and calm, so no big deal. (UPS mandatory here.)

It's time to secure my converted-lanai office, including doggie door. Dog and I will go into the main house, try to get some sleep. Maybe make some coffee in my thermal pot coffeemaker so I'll have some if I wake up powerless. Be prepared and all that!
250. scribblin
8:50 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
It's getting interesting here in NE Naples. Power was out from 2:20am EST until about 4:40am. Big wind gusts are making my screened porch scream. Didn't hear that during Charley. Power flickering.
249. dcw
8:01 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
135kt recon, thats 140mph at surface using 90%!
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
248. ansaman
8:00 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Very notable:

track is far further south than previously
forecast.

Eye IS shrinking....

Storm is maintaining strength

My Live Journal Blog
247. njtAINO
7:49 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
whats the chance that Wilma will merge with the Low in the eastern US and hit Southern NE more south and west than Cape Cod...wat would that mean 4 NJ shore, NYC, and Long Island?
246. toddrix
7:45 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
135kt wind on recon
245. Weathered
7:33 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Look at this radar from Key West:Link. What the heck is that eye doing, collapsing? Getting smaller?
244. dcw
7:02 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Where's the 3AM?
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
243. Jeremey
6:54 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
I guess keeywester lost power.
242. Jeremey
6:42 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
I just saw a weatherman from Key West report on TWC with a life jacket on. It also had a chem-light on it. Not a good sign!

It's squalling pretty good here in the Punta Gorda area, I say 25mph sustained with 40mpg gusts.

Thats just guessing though.
241. Jeremey
6:16 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
It's funny that they have Mike Seidel in Key West and he hasn't even seen sustained hurricane force yet.
240. dcw
6:01 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Well, now that Wilma is on her way out...shall we start obsessively watching every model run and tropical wave for Beta?

*raises glass* To Hurricane Omega!
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
239. globalize
5:55 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Yeah, Schwartz is a good weatherman, and a space cadet!
He cracks me up.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
238. SpyRI
5:52 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Hey, IO reallize this is random and OT, but why has Dave Schwartz not been on The Weather Channel all week? He's my favorite meteorologist, Dr. Masters nothwithstanding, and I miss watching him! Anyone know where/why???
And again, good luck to all in FL!!!
237. SunshineStateFLA
5:52 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Im watching CBS 4 and Norcross...they just reported that all 24000 ppl on key west are without power.
236. iyou
5:49 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
oops!-www.cbs4.com/ also streaming live...
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
235. LeeCountyLocal
5:42 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
http://www.nbc-2.com is streaming live
234. globalize
5:42 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Think Keeywester is gone, unless he's got a generator and uplink. Just saw all power go down in Key West, par CNN reporter Tuchman.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
233. iyou
5:39 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
hey all - www.cbs4.com/ has good coverage of Wilma.
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
232. LeeCountyLocal
5:34 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Yes,it looks more NNE than NE to me as well
that would be bad for my area
231. SunshineStateFLA
5:34 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Hi - I'm a Wunderground newcomer from South Miami, FL. Its beginning to pick up here - the local news is saying that given the size of the eye, if the storm tracks thru marco/broward/palm beach, then Miami-Dade Co. could get the worst winds. (Shutter). at any rate, i just peeked outside. Our wooden fence is blown over and the barometer is at 29.24 and falling. Ill be around so long as Wilma allows...
230. willdd1979
5:25 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
on another's blog the bloggers are saying it's moving more north then ne is this right or wrong? also I was taught that if it moves in a direction and it's not observed for 6 hrs. this is a qualified wobble & if a movement be it north, south, or east is observed for 6 hrs. it's a qualified movement now was I taught right or wrong?
229. wpbwx
4:59 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
My neighbours in west palm did not start putting their shutters up until this afternoon. They thought it would be a 1. With all of you I had everything prepared yesterday. I also told my neighbours most of you thought it would become a cat 3 and put up the shutters.
228. weatherwonderer
4:59 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Time to sign off for the night. wish everybody involved lots o' luck. This monster has been in some ways the most interesting of all, from an observers point of view. But none of them are something to be wished for.

Out until tomorrow.

Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
227. wpbwx
4:52 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Thanks. The hurricane does not bother me. The tornados scare me. Oh that gust moved our shutters
226. willdd1979
4:52 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
when you 1st get on wunderground.com it shows the U.S. map my question is what effect if any will those 2 fronts (the one in Fl and the one in the southern southeast) have on Wilma direction wise?
225. weatherwonderer
4:51 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Tonados occur w/o much warning, so you would go to the strongest part of the house. Thats what I hope those that stayed does for the 'cane. However, given the fact that ample warning is given and the NHC said that it could be a 3, I would of gotten the hell out. It would be interesting to stay and experience one of natures most wonderous creations but...

Then again I have been known to have an adventureous spirit at times. Guess you would have to be there to know what you would do. Common sense doesn't always win.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
224. flvol77
4:49 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
next best thing...have a safe room..small room usually bathroom, because of the plumbing it makes the room even safer....
Member Since: August 1, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
223. wpbwx
4:44 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
West Palm does not have basements. Next best thing?
222. weatherwonderer
4:43 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Head to the basement, of course. And pray that the tornado doesn't have enough mojo to get to ya!
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
221. wpbwx
4:40 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
What do you do in a tornado and how do you know it is coming?
220. Jeremey
4:38 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
My animals are starting to freak out, they feel the barometer dropping probably.
219. ansaman
4:37 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
I am here in West Palm Beach and unless I
get in the car now and drive north, it might be...unpleasant.
Anyone wants any side conversation:

manley20@bellsouth.net
218. DsrtDog
4:34 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Hey Keeywester, you still with us? Anything to report?

Radar looks like a good size band is coming through soon, 30 mins. Stay safe!

Dog
217. LeeCountyLocal
4:18 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Just now starting to get some moderate rains and the winds have been a steady 20mph.
I'll be watching this all night
216. VoirDire
4:16 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Hi everyone - I live in Tampa and just want to say my thoughts are with everyone to the south.

When Wilma finally bids farewell I think most people will realize how utterly amazing it is that the NHC and all the other forecasters hit this complex storm on the head. For days on end Accu Weather and the NHC predicted landfall close to Naples - for days on end the NHC center stated that the storm would be moving at 20 kts at landfall ( a certain Accue Weather forecaster mocked the idea of her forward speed - stating that Wilma would be much, much slower and less intense than NHC forecasts) And for days on end the NHC stated that the landfall intensity would be hard to nail down but that it would likely be a Cat. 2 or 3.
Hey I get frustrated with the NOAA when they call for ideal fishing winds of 5-10 mph and I end up getting battered by 15-20 but I also realize that we make due with the technology in place and after viewing the accuracy of the Wilma forecasts - I'm impressed.

215. weatherwonderer
4:12 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
The eye wall looks distorted with small bands imbedded in it. Who knows, that eye is huge. I agree, it is interesting but I hope that is begging to reduce in strength for the sake of those that stayed and for the properties of those that didn't.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
214. Jeremey
4:10 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Yup
213. dcw
3:58 AM GMT on October 24, 2005
Cool storm. I'm pulling an all-nighter, this is exciting.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3

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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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