Three Atlantic threat areas may develop; a record fire season for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on August 20, 2012

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A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located about 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is headed west at 20 - 25 mph, and is showing increasing organization today. The storm is under light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, and is over waters of 27°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis and water vapor satellite loops. This dry air is interfering with development, and this morning's visible satellite loop shows that 94L's heavy thunderstorm activity is sparse. However, the satellite loops do show that 94L has now separated from the clumps of heavy thunderstorms to its south, and a pretty well-defined surface circulation has developed. Heavy thunderstorms are now attempting to fire up around this circulation center, but are being hampered by dry air. The center of 94L was about 80 miles to the north of buoy 41041 at 10 am Monday morning, and the buoy recorded SW winds of 10 mph, confirming that 94L probably does have a closed surface circulation. The disturbance will have to build and maintain more heavy thunderstorms than it has now to be considered a tropical depression, though. The first hurricane hunter mission into 94L is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. Ocean temperatures will warm from 27°C this morning to 28.5°C by Wednesday morning, and the total heat content of the ocean will increase sharply during that period, as well. The main impediment to development will be dry air to the north, and the SHIPS model predicts the amount of dry air will change little over the next five days. I expect that 94L will continue to struggle with dry air through Wednesday, when it will probably have had enough time to moisten the surrounding atmosphere and protect itself against the dry air. The models have shown increasing unity in taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday, and I expect the storm will be a tropical depression or weak tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds at that time. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 80% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday morning. None of the reliable models predict that 94L will reach hurricane strength over the next five days, and it is unlikely that 94L will be able to organize quickly enough to become anything stronger than a 60 mph tropical storm before reaching the Lesser Antilles, given the storm's current struggles with dry air, and the lack of model support for intensification. However, once 94L enters the Eastern Caribbean, wind shear will be low, oceanic heat content high, and the storm should have had enough time to moisten the atmosphere to allow steady strengthening to occur. The main factor that might prevent intensification into a hurricane late this week would be a close pass by the island of Hispaniola. Our top models for long-range 4 - 5 days forecasts all show a path for 94L very close to the island.

Will 94L hit the U.S. mainland?
This storm is a long-range threat to the U.S., as historically, 16% of storms in 94L's location have gone on to hit the U.S., with North Carolina the preferred target (10% chance.) A trough of low pressure capable of pulling 94L to the north enters Western Canada Thursday night, and the exact timing and amplitude of this trough will determine the ultimate landfall location of 94L. The long range 7 - 14 day runs of the GFS model over the past three day have all predicted an eventual landfall for 94L in the U.S., though these long-range runs are notoriously unreliable. The predicted landfall locations have ranged from New England to Texas--which isn't much help. The past three runs beginning on Sunday afternoon have all taken 94L over Florida during the August 27 - 29 time frame, which I'm sure is making organizers of the Republican National Convention uncomfortable, since the convention is in Tampa August 27 - 30. However, 94L could miss Florida completely, as the average error in model forecasts going out 7 days is in excess of 500 miles. We can't rule out a North Carolina landfall, but the pattern we've seen so far this year is for landfalls in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, so a more southwards path for 94L into the Yucatan is definitely a possibility. Also, we have that huge drought region in the Midwest, which tends to create its own high pressure bubble, which reduces the odds of storms making the turn and hitting the Central or Western Gulf Coast. If 94L makes it to the Western Caribbean, I see the two most likely options as a landfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (and then westwards into Mexico south of the Texas border), or recurvature into the Florida Gulf Coast.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Gordon taken on Sunday August 19, 2012, at 11:55 am EDT. At the time, Gordon was a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Gordon hits the Azores
The eye of Hurricane Gordon passed over Santa Maria Island in the eastern Azores Islands near 1:30 am EDT this morning. Gordon was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 - 80 mph winds at landfall. Winds at the Santa Maria airport reached a sustained 49 mph at 3 am EDT, but the airport did not report winds during passage of the eyewall at 1:30 am. Reuters reported that Gordon caused only minor flooding and power outages. The hurricane is being sheared apart by strong upper-level winds, and the extratropical remnants of Gordon will not bring any strong winds or significant rain to Europe.

Disturbance 95L in the Gulf near the Texas/Mexico border
A region of disturbed weather (Invest 95L) has developed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast, just northeast of Tampico, Mexico. The disturbance is due to a trough of low pressure and its associated cold front which moved off the coast over the weekend, but has been fortified via moisture from Tropical Storm Helene, which made landfall Saturday near Tampico. If 95L were to develop into a tropical storm, it would receive a new name. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 95L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 95L this afternoon. Winds at Tampico this morning were light out of the northeast, which implies that no surface circulation is forming at this time. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico does show some banding to the precipitation echoes, though, which may be indicative of something trying to spin up. The computer models show that 95L should move little over the next few days.


Figure 3. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico at 9:45 am EDT August 20, 2012, shows some banding to the precipitation echoes in association with 95L.

Disturbance 96L off the coast of Africa
The tropical Atlantic is very busy this third week of August, and this is the week of the year that we typically see a major ramp-up of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic. A new tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa Sunday (Invest 96L) is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This disturbance has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, and is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. This disturbance does not have much model support for development.


Figure 4. The new Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (S-NPP) carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect wildfires in the middle of the night. On August 17, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired this image of the wildfires blazing in Idaho. The images were created with data from the instrument’s "day-night band," which sensed the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. The Halstead Fire, centered about 18 miles northwest of Stanley, was sparked by lightning on July 27, and is burning in an area with large numbers of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had burned 92,000 acres was only 5% contained, according to InciWeb. The fire prompted the evacuation of the town of Featherville on Saturday night. Red flag warnings for adverse fire weather were posted in the region yesterday, and temperatures reached the low 90s with 16% humidity and winds of 10 mph. Image credit: NASA.

A record fire season in the U.S.
Massive fires continue to burn in Nevada, Idaho and California, and fires that are currently active in the Western U.S. have consumed over 1.3 million acres of land--an area approximately the size of Delaware. Thanks to widespread drought and unusually high temperatures over the past month, 3 million acres have gone up in flames since mid-July, and the fire season of 2012 now ranks in first place for the most acreage burned at this point in the year. According to the Interagency Fire Center, 6.8 million acres have burned as of August 19 this year, beating the previous record set just last year (6.5 million acres for the year-to-date period.) The Interagency Fire Center shows year-to-date records just for the past ten years. The 2012 fire season is well ahead of the pace of 2006, which was the worst fire year in the U.S. for total acreage burned in a year (records began in 1960). In 2006, 9.9 million acres burned, and 6.4 million acres had burned by August 19. With drought conditions far more widespread this year compared to 2006, and the latest forecasts calling for little drought relief over the coming two months, 2012 is likely to surpass 2006 as the worst fire year in U.S. history before the end of the year.


Figure 5. Comparison of drought conditions between the previous record fire year in the contiguous U.S. (2006) with 2012. Drought is much more widespread in 2012 compared to 2006, and 2012 will likely finish ahead of 2006 for the most acreage burned since record keeping began in 1960. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Global warming expected to increase fire activity in the Western U.S.
As I blogged about in June, the severe fire seasons of 2012 and 2011 fit the pattern of what we expect to see more of with global warming. Hotter heat waves dry out vegetation more readily, resulting in increased probability of more acreage burned. A study published in the Journal Ecosphere in June 2012 used fire models driven by the output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report and found that while 8% of the planet should see decreases in fire activity over the next 30 years, 38% should see increases. By the end of the century, 20% of the globe should see decreased fire activity, and 62% increased fire activity. In the U.S., the regions most at risk of increased fires are the tundra regions of northern Alaska, and the West, with Arizona and Colorado at particularly high risk.

Jeff Masters

hugh blanket of smoke (got2dogs)
blew in about an hr after my last upload here - I thought I was done for the nite, but this smoke was incredible! made for some awesome light - sooooo eerie!
hugh blanket of smoke
Smoke! What smoke ?? (saltydawgg)
12th Ave road South looking north. Nampa Idaho full of smoke from 7 fires at last count with more dry lightning on the way.
Smoke! What smoke ??
Temecula Fire (photoandy)
This is just two hours after ignition! It quickly became a PYROCUMULUS...
Temecula Fire

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If the models are correct, the situation with 94L is extremely precarious. If the storm misses any of the big islands or just grazes along the coast the storm could become significantly stronger than it would otherwise.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
94L will be renumbered later in the morning, 96L ramping up right behind it. Pandemonium will break loose.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


TS Watches need to go up for the Lesser Antillies and the Leeward Islands once this develops... heck they could issue them for the whole island chain because this thing is massive.

In addition, this is round 3 for them, they had Ernesto, TD 7, and now they will likely be dealing with Isaac.


96L may impact them, too.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
NEAR 100 PERCENT
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Thanks, CRS... I think Largo is going to be a mite surprised.... lol... he was calling 4 94L's chances to be lowered... just as it approached 50W... lol....
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Not officially. TWO comes out soon.
wow near 100%! Isaac here it comes
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Looks like 94L is on the fast track to Isaac. 96L may not be far behind, either, in becoming Joyce.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
Well I don't know what the nhc needs to see. I think we have Isaac.


TS Watches need to go up for the Lesser Antillies and the Leeward Islands once this develops... heck they could issue them for the whole island chain because this thing is massive.

In addition, this is round 3 for them, they had Ernesto, TD 7, and now they will likely be dealing with Isaac.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Thanks everyone for the response to post 2751. I know that it is a sad story whenever disaster strikes and I feel bad for those people and can't imagine how hard their life must be to have to live in tents and barely have anything to eat. We should all be thankful for what we have and who we got.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT TUE AUG 21 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A WELL-DEFINED LOW PRESSURE PRESSURE IS LOCATED ABOUT 725 MILES
EAST OF THE LESSER ANTILLES. THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED
AND BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED NEAR THE CENTER DURING THE PAST SEVERAL
HOURS. IF THIS RECENT DEVELOPMENT TREND CONTINUES...THEN A TROPICAL
DEPRESSION COULD FORM LATER THIS MORNING. THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH
CHANCE...NEAR 100 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING
THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT 20 TO 25 MPH. THIS LARGE
DISTURBANCE COULD REACH THE LESSER ANTILLES BY WEDNESDAY...AND
INTERESTS IN THAT AREA SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS
SYSTEM SINCE TROPICAL STORM WATCHES COULD SOON BE REQUIRED FOR
PORTIONS OF THOSE ISLANDS.

A WELL-DEFINED LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE
IS LOCATED ABOUT 380 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS.
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS CONTINUE TO SHOW SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION...
AND FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THIS DISTURBANCE IS POSSIBLE OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...50 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH.

SHOWER ACTIVITY NEAR AN ELONGATED AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED OVER
THE FAR WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO HAS CHANGED LITTLE DURING THE PAST
SEVERAL HOURS. SOME GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS STILL
POSSIBLE IF IT REMAINS OVER WATER DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT DRIFTS WESTWARD.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART
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Quoting bigwes6844:
is 94L a td yet? it looks good since i left off here at 3 today


Not officially. TWO comes out soon.
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NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT TUE AUG 21 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A WELL-DEFINED LOW PRESSURE PRESSURE IS LOCATED ABOUT 725 MILES
EAST OF THE LESSER ANTILLES. THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED
AND BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED NEAR THE CENTER DURING THE PAST SEVERAL
HOURS. IF THIS RECENT DEVELOPMENT TREND CONTINUES...THEN A TROPICAL
DEPRESSION COULD FORM LATER THIS MORNING. THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH
CHANCE...NEAR 100 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING
THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT 20 TO 25 MPH. THIS LARGE
DISTURBANCE COULD REACH THE LESSER ANTILLES BY WEDNESDAY...AND
INTERESTS IN THAT AREA SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS
SYSTEM SINCE TROPICAL STORM WATCHES COULD SOON BE REQUIRED FOR
PORTIONS OF THOSE ISLANDS.

A WELL-DEFINED LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE
IS LOCATED ABOUT 380 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS.
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS CONTINUE TO SHOW SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION...
AND FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THIS DISTURBANCE IS POSSIBLE OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...50 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH.

SHOWER ACTIVITY NEAR AN ELONGATED AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED OVER
THE FAR WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO HAS CHANGED LITTLE DURING THE PAST
SEVERAL HOURS. SOME GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS STILL
POSSIBLE IF IT REMAINS OVER WATER DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT DRIFTS WESTWARD.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
So who's idea was it to deforest the mountains?
The people making $25 a year.... or some similarly ridiculous average annual income...
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
So assuming it stays far enough away from the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, where do you see this system making the turn and do you think it will be a gradual turn or a rapid turn?


Right now I'm kind of liking a Charley path, albeit probably a little farther south along the peninsula. So a gradual turn.
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Quoting bappit:

I don't think the rain washed all those houses off Bolivar peninsula when Ike came through.


KATRINA? RAIN NO DOUBT IS THE BIG ISSUE IN THE MAJORITY OF THE TIMES
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2766. Grothar
OK guys, I can't wait. Even though it's small I am going to declare it a "BLOB" It has a nice "S".

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27090
Quoting GTcooliebai:
So who's idea was it to deforest the mountains?


those people are so uneducated! the govt is stupid and the people know nothing, they were just doing what they needed to do to make a $ or penny in their case! its a sad situation!
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Massive convection flare up over CoC in just 30 minutes...

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is 94L a td yet? it looks good since i left off here at 3 today
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Yeah, but notice Canadian that was way out to sea now showing it skirt the East Coast.


Yeah kind of mirrored GFS track from what I could tell. But continued on inland instead of the east coast. Because timing difference I guess.
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Don't mind me, just passing thru on da late night recap.

Return of Leftyy??

LOL... it'll take either a Cat 3 or a blizzard taking a direct trajectory toward Fredericksburg VA for him to drag his butt outta blog retirement...
;)
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2760. bappit
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Yeah that was more to do with the storm surge, but the rain must have been pretty significant inland considering the size of the storm.

For Ike, not really a rain event.
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we got about 10-20 mins for 2pm TWO
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
So who's idea was it to deforest the mountains?

King Louis XIV-XVI... 1700s back when Haiti was Saint-Dominigue.
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Quoting bappit:

I don't think the rain washed all those houses off Bolivar peninsula when Ike came through.
Yeah that was more to do with the storm surge, but the rain must have been pretty significant inland considering the size of the storm.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Faster than the GFS but still...



Looks like a Floyd.
Member Since: September 2, 2006 Posts: 110 Comments: 6878
Quoting mcluvincane:
If they do declare it a td or ts will the NHC have a special advisory or wait till 5 to post their forecast

they could do either one
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Quoting Grothar:


You couldn't possibly remember Cleo?


No, just remember the track that was posted and how it resembled a more recent Ernesto in 06.

Cleo.


Ernesto 06
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Do you think Isaac will be this size, smaller, or bigger?



Hurricane David was a category 5 hurricane, one of the deadliest storms ever in the caribbean. Thousands died in 1979 mostly in DR.
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Quoting Grothar:


I wonder how long it would take you. Boy, Baha, in the old days you would have picked right up on that. Actually I was on here in 2005 but under another name.
LOL... I'd like to be able to claim old age, but they make you wait till you're over 50 out here... lol

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Quoting stormchaser19:


Well,this is the reason why haiti is in danger the topsoil is less in haiti, they deforested the montains and now they are paying for that,pray to god for haiti is the only we can do
So who's idea was it to deforest the mountains?
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What I fear this storm doing could do is pull a Charley, sneaking up from a 2 to a 4, or some of the sort.
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2749. bappit
Quoting stormchaser19:
Definitly is feeling the Warm water and the heat content,and is a masive storm remember the principal damage in a storm is the rain, i�m nervous with haiti thousands of people living outdoors

I don't think the rain washed all those houses off Bolivar peninsula when Ike came through.
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so good morning everyone what did i miss while i was at work anyone?
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Not much variance in the models. Erie at such a long range.


Yeah that's what I was thinkin'.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Faster than the GFS but still...

Yeah, but notice Canadian that was way out to sea now showing it skirt the East Coast.
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Quoting Altestic2012:
I see Gustav v2.0 with this storm, remember it was also a 94L going W to WSW into the Caribbean and originally forecast to hit Eastern Cuba and such. Isaac may clip the southwestern tip of Haiti and then be steered westward for awhile before being lifted to the northwest by the trough.

yep I agree with you I see 94L/TD9 as Gustav the 2nd
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Quoting hunkerdown:


while that scenario may leave the center intact, it will most certainly cause another bout of devastating flooding and landslides/mudslides for the mountainous area of Haiti.


Well,this is the reason why haiti is in danger the topsoil is less in haiti, they deforested the montains and now they are paying for that,pray to god for haiti is the only we can do
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If they do declare it a td or ts will the NHC have a special advisory or wait till 5 to post their forecast
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Faster than the GFS but still...



Not much variance in the models. Erie at such a long range.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
2741. will40
Quoting BahaHurican:
Didn't Randrewl get tossed out of the blog???

Heh heh...

Gotta say, those were the times... :o)



prob tossed 2 or 3 times lol
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4266
Can someone please explain the gro dying story
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I see Gustav v2.0 with this storm, remember it was also a 94L going W to WSW into the Caribbean and originally forecast to hit Eastern Cuba and such. Isaac may clip the southwestern tip of Haiti and then be steered westward for awhile before being lifted to the northwest by the trough.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
I wonder if they'll do this at 2am. No doubt now this is a td.

they may plus have TS watches for the lesser antillies as well
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2737. Grothar
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Just as long as they don't hastily dump the lake again. Man that ruined the eco in the Indian river for several years.


You couldn't possibly remember Cleo?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27090
Quoting Grothar:


Yes, that is what I am afraid of. Even if it were not a hurricane, a depression or a TS could do more harm. They just cannot take it.


The rains from the "blobs" are usually much worse than for an organized storm, as they linger more.

Would hate to see that over Haiti, what misery.
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Quoting AllyBama:
Lefty and Rand...what a pair - lol
Didn't Randrewl get tossed out of the blog???

Heh heh...

Gotta say, those were the times... :o)
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This is looking more like a TC with every new frame. TD this morning at least.
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Faster than the GFS but still...

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2732. Grothar
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Merci!


Wenn ich raten müsste, würde es natürlich sein, Florida. Aber die Modelle sind noch bedenkt das Land Interaktion. Es sieht sehr schlecht für Haiti.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27090
I wonder if they'll do this at 2am. No doubt now this is a td.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452

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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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