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Bill brushes Massachusetts; Nova Scotia gets pounded

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:05 PM GMT on August 23, 2009

The winds and waves are dying down in coastal Massachusetts, which took a glancing blow from Hurricane Bill last night and this morning. Bill's center passed about 200 miles southeast of Massachusetts' Nantucket Island, bringing top sustained winds of 24 mph, gusting to 31 mph, at the airport. A storm surge of 1 foot was observed on Cape Cod and Nantucket at high tide. A storm surge of 0.5 feet was reported at Newport, RI, and Boston, MA. President Obama arrives in neighboring Martha's Vineyard today for vacation, and will not want to go swimming--seas of up to 15 feet will continue to batter the shores of southeast Massachusetts. Significant wave heights at Buoy 44008, about 60 miles southeast of Nantucket Island reached 27 feet early this morning. A rainband from Bill set up over Massachusetts, from Boston southwestward, and several reports of 3 - 4 inches of rain came from stations in the rain band (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Radar estimated precipitation from Hurricane Bill. Kingston, MA, received 3.74 inches of rain from Bill. Western Massachusetts got even heavier rain from an approaching cold front.

Bill's impact on Canada
The Canadian Hurricane Center is predicting that Bill will generate a storm surge of 0.5 - 1.0 meters (1.5 - 3 feet) along the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland today, as the storm races northeast at 30 mph. The surge, when combined with the 5 - 10 meter (16 - 33 foot) waves expected to pound the coast, will cause considerable coastal damage. This is the main threat of Bill to Canada. Bill's highest hurricane-force winds should stay offshore this afternoon as the hurricane passes the heavily populated capital, Halifax. However, winds of 60 - 70 mph will likely impact eastern Nova Scotia, where Bill is expected to make landfall later today, causing considerable tree damage and power outages. Heavy rains of 3 - 4 inches will also cause localized flooding problems. Radar out of Halifax, Nova Scotia shows heavy rain from Bill impacting most of the province, but Bill's center is located well offshore. Buoy 44150 was in the east eyewall of Bill at 9:30 am EDT, and reported sustained winds of 62 mph, gusting to 85 mph, with waves of 40 feet. Bill is expected to make landfall over Newfoundland near midnight tonight, but will have likely weakened to a tropical storm by then.

Links to follow:
wundermap for Nova Scotia
Halifax radar
Canadian Hurricane Center advisories

Elsewhere in the tropics
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic worth mentioning today. Most of the models are calling for the possible development of a tropical cyclone in the waters between the Bahamas and North Carolina on Wednesday or Thursday. There could be two triggers for tropical cyclone formation--the remains of the cold front that pushed off the U.S. East Coast this morning, plus a tropical wave that is currently approaching the northern Lesser Antilles Islands. We will also need to watch the region off the coast of Africa this week.

I'll have an update Monday, when I'll show a remarkable photo taken in the eye of Hurricane Bill by the Hurricane Hunters.

Jeff Masters
After Bill
After Bill
Looking south easterly off St. David's, Bermuda
Waves courtesy of Hurricane Bill
Waves courtesy of Hurricane Bill
East Coast surfers trying their hand at "big" surf.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.