Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:04 PM GMT on September 11, 2006
Hurricane Florence has done its worst in Bermuda, and is now headed north towards Newfoundland. The Bermuda airport did briefly record sustained hurricane force winds of 74 mph near 11am local time. The maximum winds reported on their regular observations occurred at 12:55pm local time: sustained winds of 66 mph, gusting to 90 mph. The airport is at the extreme eastern end of the island, and the large eye of Florence passed just to the west of the island. Thus, the western end of the island probably experienced higher winds of 80-90 mph. Florence's winds probably caused relatively minor damage. Bermuda's infrastructure is well able to withstand winds of Category 1 force, since much of the utility lines are buried underground, and the building codes demand that structures be able to withstand 110 mph Category 2 hurricane winds. The primary damage from Florence was probably a result of the expected 6-8 foot storm surge, topped by large battering waves up to 20 feet high.
Florence is expected to gradually weaken as wind shear increases and ocean temperatures decrease, and will pass close or over Newfoundland later this week as a powerful extratropical storm with 60 mph winds.
Gordon on the way towards Bermuda
The Hurricane Hunters investigated Tropical Depression Seven this afternoon, and found winds of 47 knots at their 1500 flight level at 3pm EDT. This implies surface winds of 40-45 mph, and TD 7 will likely be upgraded to Tropical Storm Gordon at 5pm. The satellite appearance continues to improve, with the heavy thunderstorm activity moving over the center of circulation and low-level spiral bands starting to develop. Wind shear has fallen to just 10 knots, the waters are a warm 29C, and some continued development is likely today. Gordon is likely to follow a track similar to Florence, and may be a threat to Bermuda. However, most of the computer models indicate Gordon will pass well to the east of the island.
Bermuda's worry after that: a new African wave
A strong tropical wave with impressive rotation and plenty of intense thunderstorm activity has emerged from the coast of Africa today. Several of the reliable computer models are forecasting that this will develop into a tropical storm or hurricane that heads westward across the Atlantic. Wind shear is a low 10 knots, and water temperatures are warm. If this system does develop, it would likely recurve out to sea and not affect any land areas--expect perhaps Bermuda.
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