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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3731. TXCWC
Quoting Chicklit:

Yeah, we knew it would.
Interesting that NHC has it going cane in the north Caribbean.


Not just Cane but STRONG CAT 2 at that. IF...IF that verifies then would pretty much guarantee a hurricane staus throughout Cuba passage.
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3730. myway
Crown Weather Discussion has the Euro as the most likely path @ this point. Takes it up west coast of Florida to panhandle.
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3729. LargoFl
Quoting Grothar:
This could slow down as it moves North. This is the GFS at 144 hours



this is the GFS at 156 hours




and at 168 hours


..OMG..if..it DOES take that track..this is doomsday coming for floridians..right up the middle OMG..plse turn away issac
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting Grothar:
Regardless of the strength of this, it is a large system and anyone in the cone should make sure they have all the necessary supplies and secure their hose as much as possible. This could be serious for a lot of people.


Thnaks Gro, but I wound up all my hoses already. :)
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Quoting psuweathernewbie1:
TD9 is more of a US landfall threat than 96L will ever become, given that TD9 will deepen the troughing over the eastern US, breaking the Atlantic Ridge even more and allowing 96L to harmlessly go out to sea, or impact Bermuda. Both systems have extremely large circulations.



96L is not going out too sea
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3725. kwgirl
Quoting Gramma1948:


I hope that does not happen, i'd have to call my grandkids.
Hi Gramma1948. Obviously you live in a threatened area. Here in Monroe County there is a service for people who need help evacuating offered by the County. You just have to register. You may want to check in your area to see if they offer something like this. The County Emergency Management office or Senior Council.
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Quoting seminolesfan:
Its a good thing you live on the Florida east coast, huh? IMO, its a good thing wishes don't cause lowering heights or a bunch of people would be getting blowing rains...


LOL! the turn is what will determine either a eastern Gulf system or a storm riding up or near the east coast of FL.
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Quoting Michfan:


I'd say they are being better safe than sorry.

Why not have a where I have circled???



St Martin, Anguilla and Saint Barthélemy????
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TD9 is showing me signs that the pattern is becoming extremely favorable for rapid intensification. Bursting convective pattern indicates that dry air should no longer be an issue, the convective outflow is developing as convection increases, the pure shape of the convection indicates its taking on the circulation's form and this tells me that its ready to blossom today. I think we see Issac by 11am EDT today, or at the very latest when the HH's fly into TD9 this afternoon. Very impressive circulation, and favorable environment = disaster.
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All Of us here in South Florida needs to watch TD 9 Very closely , truly think this one is going to come rather close or just east of us. what a coincidence hurricane andrew's anniversary is Friday
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3720. LargoFl
Quoting thunderbug91:

We're good if it shaves the East Coast, but what has me paying attention is a recurve in the GOM or a push across the state from the east side. last time that happened I had a 45 foot tree on my house.
yes it has me worried also, MANY tall tree's by me and around my house in the next door houses,well we shall see huh...been a long time since ive been actually worried about a hurricane coming Here
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
3719. Grothar
Quoting icmoore:


Looks more like where's FL? I thought I asked you to clean up this mess by morning? What did I forget to say please? :) This is making me a bit nervous...



Hey, We all tried to move it last night, but people kept wishing it back. What could I do?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
3718. Grothar
This could slow down as it moves North. This is the GFS at 144 hours



this is the GFS at 156 hours




and at 168 hours


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Long time observer..first time this season comment

With the W WSW movement I suspect that TD9 will have a better chance of being stronger than the current forecast suggests...Of course the less interaction with Hispanola will mean possibly bigger headaches for Cuba and Florida. Being in Fort Lauderdale near the beach I'm carefully monitoring the 6-9 days and hope for as little impact as possible. I only think what the Republicans are thinking why they picked Tampa for their convention at the end of August.
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Could end up in the GOM. Who knows.
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Quoting reedzone:
TD9 should get strong enough to move a bit more north, being influenced by the trough/weakness over the Eastern USA. If you go by the pattern, I have to say Florida is right in the path. I personally feel the late model runs are lookin about right. A track up the East coast of Florida.
Its a good thing you live on the Florida east coast, huh? IMO, its a good thing wishes don't cause lowering heights or a bunch of people would be getting blowing rains...
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3714. LargoFl
Quoting islander101010:
no.drought.in.n.e.florida..ponds.are.full
alot more water coming..thats a given
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Way too early to say where,if any U.S. landfall will occur. How many times have we seen this type of situation set up and fizzle. But on the other hand...,
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Quoting LargoFl:
yes im pretty much ready, i do want to buy dry ice later on for my standing freezer, we just may be without power for quite a while if this goes over florida..but IF..this goes up the East side of florida, we may be ok, perhaps tropical storm force winds..we've been thru that before, should be ok

We're good if it shaves the East Coast, but what has me paying attention is a recurve in the GOM or a push across the state from the east side. last time that happened I had a 45 foot tree on my house.
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another.floodfest.coming?
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3710. LargoFl
Quoting clwstmchasr:


If it rides up the East Coast it would not be bad for us in Tampa at all. I remember David in '79. We got nothing more than a nice breeze.
yes thats what im figuring, at the most tropical storm winds because its so huge..but my place came thru that force winds and came out ok..should be the same this time..BUT..if it comes up the gulf coast side..i dunno then
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
3708. icmoore
Quoting Grothar:
Is Florida in the Cone?



Looks more like where's FL? I thought I asked you to clean up this mess by morning? What did I forget to say please? :) This is making me a bit nervous...
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no.drought.in.n.e.florida..ponds.are.full
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Quoting junie1:
lol its not moving south of due west
yes it is

because if we were not and it was going W it would still be at 15.3N which it is not

Quoting Bluestorm5:
TD9 is located North and East of Irene right now. Expect the cone to shift northward. Also, the steering will allow for direct westward path.


the fact that TD9's movement has S componets the Cone will shift S plus it is already S of the next forecast point



we really need HH recon's data
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12147
With what happened to Debbie and its forecast I wouldnt bet the house on one specific area as of yet. The entire SEUS needs to be watching this in the coming days.
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3704. LargoFl
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I always keep my hose close to me.
ty for that laugh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
3703. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #13
TYPHOON BOLAVEN (T1215)
21:00 PM JST August 21 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In Sea Near Marianas Islands

At 12:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Bolaven (975 hPa) located at 18.9N 140.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 65 knots with gusts of 95 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0

Storm Force Winds
==================
60 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
==================
240 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
======================

24 HRS: 20.5N 136.7E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Okinotori waters
48 HRS: 22.2N 132.9E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South Of Japan
72 HRS: 23.9N 129.2E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South Of Okinawa

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #29
TYPHOON TEMBIN (T1214)
21:00 PM JST August 21 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Four Typhoon Southeast Of Ishigaki Jima

At 12:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Tembin (950 hPa) located at 22.0N 125.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts of 120 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north at 8 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

Storm Force Winds
================
45 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
=================
160 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
========================

24 HRS: 23.1N 123.3E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) Ishigaki Jima
48 HRS: 23.1N 121.2E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) Overland Taiwan
72 HRS: 23.1N 118.1E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Taiwan Strait
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Quoting LargoFl:
say reed..if this does go up the east coast of florida..which side of it is the worst side wind wise? or is there no difference

The eastern side of the storm (the Atlantic side) would be the worst in this scenario....
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3700. LargoFl
Quoting thunderbug91:

Largo, this might end up in our backyards before it's all over. Are your plans in place? I'm starting the "preliminaries" just in case...
yes im pretty much ready, i do want to buy dry ice later on for my standing freezer, we just may be without power for quite a while if this goes over florida..but IF..this goes up the East side of florida, we may be ok, perhaps tropical storm force winds..we've been thru that before, should be ok
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
TD9 is more of a US landfall threat than 96L will ever become, given that TD9 will deepen the troughing over the eastern US, breaking the Atlantic Ridge even more and allowing 96L to harmlessly go out to sea, or impact Bermuda. Both systems have extremely large circulations.
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Quoting Grothar:
Regardless of the strength of this, it is a large system and anyone in the cone should make sure they have all the necessary supplies and secure their hose as much as possible. This could be serious for a lot of people.


I always keep my hose close to me.
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Quoting Chicklit:


It's time to start checking on elderly neighbors.
They will need prescriptions and plans in place.



yes, good idea. It has been a while since NOLA was threatened and since then my parents are disabled and medically fragile, so my evacuation plans now require more time and planning. Many elderly folks died in Katrina because no one felt responsible for them or they were too stubborn to go.
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Quoting KatyMan:
Long time lurker and senile old man. I hope to be in St John Virgin Islands the first week of Sept for my daughters beach wedding. What will the Island look like if one of the storms hit the Island.

Thanks


The NHC has it passing just to the south of the Virgin Islands as a marginal cat 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph on Thursday.

Their intensity forecasts tend to be less reliable than track forecasts, but I don't see much more than some flooding for the Virgin Islands. It's a big system, and rain bands will be felt over a wide area.

There doesn't look to be much chance of a direct hit on the islands. By September, things should be pretty normal.
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3694. Grothar
Regardless of the strength of this, it is a large system and anyone in the cone should make sure they have all the necessary supplies and secure their house as much as possible. This could be serious for a lot of people.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
3693. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting LargoFl:

Largo, this might end up in our backyards before it's all over. Are your plans in place? I'm starting the "preliminaries" just in case...
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3691. Michfan
Quoting AussieStorm:
How come they doing have a hurricane watch for PR when they have TD9 as a hurricane predicted before PR? Due to the fact it's still a TD?


I'd say they are being better safe than sorry.
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3689. LargoFl
Quoting NYCyclone86:
Agree or not but I would much rather have this hit along the eastern seaboard.. A system with a large envelope such as TD. 9 would not be a nice sight in the gulf of Mexico.
if it gets into the gulf, with that almost 90 degree water..boom, nah..KaBoom is more like it
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Speculation aside (which is allowed on here as noted yesterday), folks who may be threatened by Issac should make their preparations based upon the Official NHC track and their 3-Day track is the best in the business with the 5 day track getting better.

With that being said, and looking at the current "end" of the 5 day day track as far as the US is concerned, all interests from the Central-Eastern Gulf Coast, Florida, and East Coast-US need to closely monitor this storm. Good idea to get your basic plan in place just in case and folks in Florida need to pay real close attention.

First up however are the Antilles I sincerely hope that their Governments are closely monitoring this storm and getting their folks warned for what may be a devastating hurricane for Hispanola and Cuba (assuming that the core does not come too close to Puerto Rico).

Back to Lurking.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9213
And here's the 00z looking more like GA or SC landfall and then maybe popping back out and continuing NNW. again- It's a long time out.
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3685. LargoFl
Quoting reedzone:
TD9 should get strong enough to move a bit more north, being influenced by the trough/weakness over the Eastern USA. If you go by the pattern, I have to say Florida is right in the path. I personally feel the late model runs are lookin about right. A track up the East coast of Florida.
say reed..if this does go up the east coast of florida..which side of it is the worst side wind wise? or is there no difference
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
plus people TD 9 is not like Irene I mean look at the forecast cone for TD9 and Irene
Irene's Cone was Further N



TD9's cone is Further S



so easly TD9 will not take a Irene track

plus Irene was moving on a N of due W-WNW track

unlike TD9 which is moving on a S of due W-WSW track
TD9 is located North and East of Irene right now. Expect the cone to shift northward. Also, the steering will allow for direct westward path.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8027

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.