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2011 September

Texas drought could last 9 years; Ophelia a Cat 3; Cat 4 Nalgae nears Philippines

The devastating Texas drought that has already cost over $5 billion could continue for nine more years, predicted the Texas State Climatologist yesterday. It is possible that we could be looking at another of these multi-year droughts like we saw in the 1950s, and like the tree rings have shown that the state has experienced over the last several centuries. Over 96% of Texas is experiencing the two worst categories of drought, extreme and exceptional.

JeffMasters, • 2:52 PM GMT on September 30, 2011

Ophelia strengthening; Typhoon Nalgae a new threat to the Philippines

Tropical Storm Ophelia is strengthening as it pulls away from the Lesser Antilles Islands. Ophelia will track far enough to the east of Bermuda that the island should see sustained winds below 45 mph, since it will be on the weak (left) side of the storm. Ophelia's closest approach to the island will be late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Ophelia is likely to bring high winds and heavy rains to Southeast Newfoundland Sunday night, as a weakening tropical storm.

JeffMasters, • 1:51 PM GMT on September 29, 2011

Ophelia regenerates; Typhoon Nesat heads towards China

Ophelia is back as a tropical depression, thanks to a reduction in wind shear that allowed the storm to re-organize yesterday afternoon just east of the Lesser Antilles Islands. By Friday, wind shear is expected to fall, and most of the models give strong support to Ophelia intensifying into a hurricane by Saturday. With the models all agreeing on at track for Ophelia just east of Bermuda, Tropical Storm Warnings will probably be required for the island this weekend.

JeffMasters, • 11:39 AM GMT on September 28, 2011

Typhoon Nesat kills 12 in the Philippines; Ophelia regenerating

Typhoon Nesat roared across Luzon Island in the Philippines last night as a dangerous Category 3 typhoon with 120 mph winds. The typhoon likely dumped 12 - 15 inches of rain along portions of it path, according to satellite rainfall amount forecasts. Flooding and drownings been blamed for at least 12 deaths in the Philippines. In the Atlantic, the remains of Tropical Storm Ophelia are re-organizing, and a hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate this afternoon to see if a tropical depression has formed.

JeffMasters, • 1:28 PM GMT on September 27, 2011

Ophelia dies; Philippe, Hilary no threat; Nesat drenching the Philippines

High wind shear and dry air finally managed to kill off Tropical Storm Ophelia yesterday. The storm's remnants continue to fester a few hundred miles east of the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, but dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots should make any regeneration of Ophelia slow. NHC gave Ophelia a 20% chance of regenerating by Wednesday. Typhoon Nesat, a Category 1 typhoon with 90 mph winds, is just a few hours from landfall near Casiguran on Luzon Island in the Philippines.

JeffMasters, • 12:07 PM GMT on September 26, 2011

Ophelia barely alive; Philippe forms; dangerous Typhoon Nesat aims at Philippines

Tropical Storm Ophelia is barely alive today, as high wind shear and dry air continue to take their toll on the storm. Tropical Storm Philippe formed in the far eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa yesterday. Philippe is the 16th named storm this year, tying 2011 with 2008, 2003, and 1936 for 7th place for the most number of named storms in a year. What may be the season's most dangerous storm in the Western Pacific, Typhoon Nesat, is headed west at 10 mph towards Luzon Island in the Philippines.

JeffMasters, • 4:16 PM GMT on September 25, 2011

Ophelia remains weak; TD 17 forms; dangerous Nesat headed for the Philippines

There's not much change to Tropical Storm Ophelia today, which continues to battle dry air and high wind shear. Ophelia is likely only to be a threat to Bermuda. Tropical Depression 17 formed in the far eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa last night, and is likely to intensify into Tropical Storm Philippe later today. The predicted northwest track of TD 17 will put it in a position where historically, very few storms have ever gone on to hit land.

JeffMasters, • 4:54 PM GMT on September 24, 2011

Ophelia weakening; Hilary an impressive Cat 4

Tropical Storm Ophelia is weaker today, thanks to dry air and high wind shear. Satellite imagery shows that Ophelia has almost no heavy thunderstorms near its low level circulation center, which is entirely exposed to view. Most of the storm's heavy thunderstorms are in a band several hundred miles to the east and south, with just a few puffs of thunderstorms occasionally popping up near the center. The combination of shear and dry air will probably dissipate Ophelia on Saturday or Sunday.

JeffMasters, • 2:09 PM GMT on September 23, 2011

Ophelia temporarily strengthens

Tropical Storm Ophelia passed just south of a buoy early this morning, and the sustained winds of 60 mph measured at the buoy were a bit of a surprise, given the storm's sheared appearance on satellite imagery. Ophelia is showing the classic appearance of a tropical storm experiencing high wind shear. The low level center of circulation is exposed to view, and the storm's heavy thunderstorms have been pushed to the northeast side of the center of circulation.

JeffMasters, • 1:42 PM GMT on September 22, 2011

Typhoon Roke batters Japan; Ophelia forms in the Central Atlantic

Typhoon Roke hit Japan near Hamamatsu at 14:00 JST Wednesday as a Category 1 typhoon with 80 mph winds. Roke brought sustained winds of 62 mph, gusting to 83 mph to the Tokyo airport at 5:25 pm local time, and a wind gust of 89 mph was reported at Shizuhama Airbase. Damage due to flooding from Roke's heavy rains will likely be the main problem from Roke. Roke brought winds less than 25 mph to the damaged Fukishima-Dai-Iche nuclear plant northeast of Tokyo, and heavy rains of 189 mm (7.50").

JeffMasters, • 1:28 PM GMT on September 21, 2011

Typhoon Roke bears down on Japan; 98L continues to grow more organized

Powerful Category 3 Typhoon Roke is bearing down on Japan, and is expected to hit the main island of Honshu on Wednesday morning, local time. Roke is on a dangerous track for Japan, one that would take the storm over some of the most heavily populated areas of the country. Heavy rains from Roke have already reached the coast of Japan, but Roke is starting to weaken. I expect Roke is most likely to be a Category 2 typhoon at landfall.

JeffMasters, • 6:48 PM GMT on September 20, 2011

98L organizing; September temperatures in the U.S. return to normal

A tropical wave midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles (Invest 98L) continues to look well-organized on satellite imagery, with a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity and excellent spin. The most likely scenario I see at this point is for 98L to be a weak tropical storm on Saturday as it moves through the Lesser Antilles--but there is more than the usual amount of uncertainty in both the track and intensity forecast.

JeffMasters, • 1:29 PM GMT on September 20, 2011

Invest 98L spinning up; outlook for remainder of hurricane season

I predict we'll see 7 more named storms during the remainder of this season, taking us all the way to "W" in the alphabet. With the unusually stable air over the Atlantic showing no signs of abating, I predict that we'll see just 2 of these storms reach hurricane strength. There will continue to be a parade of troughs of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast. This pattern will tend to favor strikes on North Carolina and New England, and discourages strikes on Texas.

JeffMasters, • 2:09 PM GMT on September 19, 2011

Arctic sea ice bottoms out near all-time low; August was Earth's 4th - 8th warmest

Arctic sea ice extent hit its minimum on September 9 this year, falling to its second lowest value since satellite measurements began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. More than one third (35%) of the Arctic sea ice was missing this summer, compared to the 1979 - 2000 average. This is an area about the size of the Mediterranean Sea. The University of Bremen rated the 2011 loss the greatest on record.

JeffMasters, • 6:11 PM GMT on September 17, 2011

Hurricane Maria rushes towards Newfoundland

Tropical Storm Maria is bearing down on Newfoundland, Canada, as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Latest satellite imagery shows that Maria is steadily degrading, with a hole in the storm's southwest eyewall, and the cloud pattern distorted by 30 - 50 knots of wind shear. Maria's very fast forward speed of 45 mph means that only locations on the right (strong) side will experience hurricane force winds.

JeffMasters, • 1:41 PM GMT on September 16, 2011

Maria brushes Bermuda; 24-hour blitz by Climate Reality Project underway

Tropical Storm Maria is roaring past Bermuda, bringing winds near tropical storm force. At 11 am local time, winds at the Bermuda airport were sustained at 36 mph, just below the 39 mph threshold of tropical storm strength. Outer spiral bands of Maria have brought a few brief heavy rain squalls to the island. The core of Maria is now at its closest point of approach to the island, about 150 miles to the west, and the island may yet see an hour of two of sustained winds of 40 - 45 mph.

JeffMasters, • 2:27 PM GMT on September 15, 2011

New floods in Pakistan kill 226; Maria heads towards brush with Bermuda

A year after enduring the most devastating flooding in its history, Pakistan is again experiencing historic floods. Heavy rains in Sindh Province have accumulated to the highest 4-week monsoon rainfall total ever recorded, after a 12-month period where the province received no rain and was under severe drought conditions. As least 226 people have been killed, 1.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed, and 280,000 people made homeless.

JeffMasters, • 1:53 PM GMT on September 14, 2011

Little change to Maria; Extratropical Storm Katia batters the U.K.

Tropical Storm Maria continues to creep slowly to the northwest, and continues to struggle with moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots that is preventing the storm from organizing. Satellite loops reveal a shapeless mass of heavy thunderstorms that don't much resemble a tropical cyclone. Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico does show a few respectable low-level spiral bands, and these bands have brought heavy flooding rains in excess of 8 inches to southern portions of the island this morning.

JeffMasters, • 12:31 PM GMT on September 13, 2011

Maria pulling away from the Antillies; Ex-Katia pounding the U.K.

Tropical Storm Maria continues to struggle with moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots that is preventing the storm from organizing. The center of circulation lies fully exposed to view this morning, with satellite loops showing that all of Maria's heavy thunderstorms lie to the east of Maria's center. Spiral bands from Maria are bringing heavy rains to the Virgin Islands and northern Lesser Antilles.

JeffMasters, • 2:04 PM GMT on September 12, 2011

Nate makes landfall; Maria organizing, but pulling away from the islands

Tropical Storm Nate made landfall at 11 am EDT in the Mexican state of Veracruz, as a tropical storm with 45 mph winds. The storm should not cause significant flooding or damage as it pushes inland and dissipates later today. The remnants of Hurricane Katia will bring winds of 50 - 60 mph to the offshore waters of Northern Ireland and Western Scotland on Monday.

JeffMasters, • 4:15 PM GMT on September 11, 2011

No change to Nate; Maria fizzles; Katia headed to Britain

Tropical Storm Nate in Mexico's Bay of Campeche continues to have trouble intensifying. It is unlikely Nate will ever become a hurricane. Heavy rains of 4 - 6 inches over Mexico will be the main threat from Nate. Tropical Storm Maria has fizzled and is not likely to bring tropical storm-force winds to the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Katia is now Extatropical Storm Katia, and is expected to bring 50 - 60 mph winds to the northern British Isles on Monday.

JeffMasters, • 3:47 PM GMT on September 10, 2011

Little change in strength for Nate and Maria

This afternoon's observations from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft show that Tropical Storm Nate in Mexico's Bay of Campeche has changed little this afternoon. The 4:10 pm EDT center fix found Nate's central pressure remaining near-steady at 998 mb, and winds were near 55 mph at the surface. Latest visible satellite loops show that Nate is having trouble with the dry air to its north, which is getting wrapped into the circulation and interfering with intensification.

JeffMasters, • 8:49 PM GMT on September 09, 2011

Hottest U.S. summer in 75 years; La Niña is back; Nate and Maria update

The U.S. had its hottest summer in 75 years, and Texas smashed the record for hottest summer ever experienced by a U.S. state since record keeping began in 1895. The June - August average temperatures in Texas and Oklahoma were a remarkable 1.6°F and 1.3°F warmer than the previous hottest summer for a U.S. state, set in 1934 in Oklahoma. Texas' summer was 2.5°F hotter than their previous hottest summer, in 1998.

JeffMasters, • 2:32 PM GMT on September 09, 2011

Nate almost a hurricane; Maria remains disorganized

An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft is in Tropical Storm Nate, and has found winds much stronger than the storm's satellite appearance would suggest. At 2:17 pm EDT, the aircraft measured winds at their flight level of 1500 feet of 93 mph, which would ordinarily support upgrading Nate to a Category 1 hurricane. Surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument were about 70 mph, suggesting that Nate is indeed very close to hurricane strength.

JeffMasters, • 9:05 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

1-in-100 year rains cause extreme flooding in NY, PA; Nate, Maria, and Katia

An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49" fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a 1-in-100 year rain event. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at 25', its highest level since records began in 1847, and is expected to overtop the flood walls protecting the city this afternoon.

JeffMasters, • 2:37 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

Tropical Storms Nate, Maria have formed; 2011 season on the heels of 2005's numbers

Tropical Storm Nate formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico this afternoon after Hurricane Hunters investigated Invest 96L and found a well-defined surface circulation. Nate is the 14th named storm this year, and comes three days before the climatological half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10.

JeffMasters, • 11:25 PM GMT on September 07, 2011

TD 14 likely to become Maria; new Gulf of Mexico system brewing

Tropical Depression Fourteen formed yesterday from a strong tropical wave, and is headed west-northwest towards an encounter with the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands. Satellite loops show a large a steadily organizing system with plenty of heavy thunderstorm activity, good upper-level outflow, and some respectable low-level spiral bands. TD 14 is probably a tropical storm now, and is very likely to be named Tropical Storm Maria later today.

JeffMasters, • 1:32 PM GMT on September 07, 2011

Texas fires will diminish today; Lee's rains set all-time records

East Texas' dangerous fires continued to rage out of control yesterday, thanks to gusty north winds associated with the passage of a cold front and the remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Lee. Since Saturday, wildfires have torched over 500 homes in East Texas and killed two people. At Austin Bergstrom Airport, sustained winds of 20 - 25 mph, gusting to 30 - 35 mph blew much of the day yesterday. Tropical Storm Lee's remnants didn't bring any clouds or moisture to Austin yesterday.

JeffMasters, • 1:27 PM GMT on September 06, 2011

Lee's winds fan deadly Texas fires; a dangerous day for Lee's floods and tornadoes

Texas' unprecedented heat wave and drought turned deadly yesterday when fires fanned by Tropical Storm Lee's gusty winds swept through East Texas, torching 300 homes near Austin, and killing a woman and her 18-month old daughter. The summer of 2011 now holds every major heat record for the city of Austin, including most 100° days (67), hottest month in recorded history (August, by a remarkable 2.1°), hottest summer (by 1.1°), and hottest day in history (112°F.)

JeffMasters, • 4:43 PM GMT on September 05, 2011

Lee drenching the Gulf Coast; Katia a Cat 2

Tropical Storm Lee made landfall on the southern coast of Louisiana near 4 am CDT this morning, and continues to inch slowly northward and dump very heavy rains. At New Orleans Lakefront Airport, 8.85" inches of rain had fallen from Lee as of 9 am CDT this morning. Top winds this morning hit 46 mph, gusting to 57 mph, at 6:28 am CDT, when a heavy squall blew in.

JeffMasters, • 3:31 PM GMT on September 04, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee lingers off Louisiana coast

Tropical Storm Lee continues to bring heavy rain, moderately strong wind gusts, and the risk of tornadoes and Gulf Coast states east of Texas. Lee is 55 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana, and is drifting almost due north at 4 mph. Lee's central pressure dropped to 988 mb since this morning, but has maximum sustained wind speeds that have decreased to 50mph.

JeffMasters, • 1:16 AM GMT on September 04, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee moving ashore; Katia continues northwest

Tropical Storm Lee is marching steadily northwards towards landfall in Louisiana, and continues to slowly intensify. The storm's central pressure is now down to 993 mb, as measured by an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft at 7am CDT. However, the center of Lee is now very close to the coast, and the storm doesn't have much time to intensify further before the center moves over land.

JeffMasters, • 1:53 PM GMT on September 03, 2011

TD 13 intensifying; Katia may pass uncomfortably close to U.S.

Tropical Depression Thirteen formed last night over the Northern Gulf of Mexico and is slowly intensifying, but isn't in a hurry to go anywhere. What TD 13 will do is dump torrential rains along the northern Gulf Coast over the next three or more days. So far, rain amounts along the coast have mostly been below one inch. TD 13 is generating a large area of 30 - 35 mph winds over the Gulf of Mexico

JeffMasters, • 3:28 PM GMT on September 02, 2011

Tropical Depression Thirteen Forms in The Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Depression Thirteen has formed south of Louisiana and is expected to slow strengthen into a tropical storm on Friday. The eventual track is uncertain, but the track takes it into Louisiana Saturday evening. This system could produce significant precipitation through the Southeast after it makes landfall.

JeffMasters, • 4:59 AM GMT on September 02, 2011

Gulf of Mexico disturbance 93L a Lousiana flood threat; Katia a hurricane

Surface winds over the northern Gulf of Mexico are rising, pressures are falling, and heavy thunderstorms are building today thanks to a tropical disturbance. At 8:35 am CDT, winds at the Mississippi Canyon 711 oil rig were south-southeast at 38 mph. This is just 1 mph below tropical storm force. Long range radar out of Mobile, Alabama shows heavy rain showers building along the northern Gulf Coast, but these rain showers are not organized into spiral bands and show no signs of rotation.

JeffMasters, • 3:28 PM GMT on September 01, 2011