Ophelia speeds up

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2005

Ophelia has decided to start moving, and according to the NHC, is now tracking towards the northwest at about 3 mph. The motion appears much faster--closer to 8 mph, looking at satellite images--but the last two center fixes by the hurricane hunters yeild a speed of about 4 mph, and NHC does some smoothing to take out the well-documented wobbles (trocoidal motion) of these storms, which reduced the forward speed estimate to 3 mph. In any case, the outermost rainband has moved about 9 mph towards the South Carolina coast this afternoon, and will spread heavy rain and 20 - 30 mph winds from Charleston, SC northwards to Wilmington, NC this afternoon and evening. Long range radar out of Wilmington, NC has a good view of these spiral bands. None of the computer forecast models quite anticipated this faster motion, but NHC is sitcking with their landfall near Wilmington, NC, with the storm passing up the length of the North Carolina coast and moving out to sea near Cape Hatteras.

The exact landfall point for Ophelia is much less important than for most hurricanes; the dry air that has plauged the storm the past two days destroyed her eyewall today, and Ophelia doesn't have the narrow concentrated area of winds that usually make the precise landfall point such a big deal. There will be a large area of the coast that will receive tropical storm force winds and a storm surge of 4 -6 feet characteristic of a Category 1 hurricane. Tropical storm force winds extend out about 160 miles from the center, an exceptionally large area for a tropical storm.

Intensity forecast
The latest hurricane hunter mission was at 1:19pm EDT, and showed a strong tropical storm with no eyewall, a central pressure of 989 mb, and peak winds of just 69 knots on the northwest side. Ophelia has moved to an area of ocean she hasn't traversed yet where the sea surface temperatures are a little warmer--about 82 F (a minimum temperature of 80 F is needed to maintain a hurricane). However, there are cooler waters of 79 F near the coast and back where she came from, so there is not much warm water to work with. Ophelia continues to pull dry air off of the coast, and this factor combined with the marginal sea surface temperatures will keep Ophelia from attaining anything more than a weak Category 1 status the next three days. Given that her eyewall has collapsed and will probably take 2 - 3 days to rebuild in a best-cast scenario, I believe that Ophelia will remain a tropical storm the next three days.

Figure 1. Surface winds in Ophelia this morning as seen from the NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft.

Computer model forecasts
Now all of the computer model forecasts take Ophelia northeast past Cape Hatteras and out to sea, but at varying speeds. The NOGAPS model indicates that she might linger near North Carolina until the end of the week before finally getting taken out to sea. The Canadian model no longer thinks Ophelia will move southwest across northern Florida, and has joined the chorus of models calling for a northeast turn past Cape Hatteras and out to sea.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Nothing is going on. Large amounts of dry, dust-laden Saharan air cover most of the tropical Atlantic including the Caribbean Sea, and another large cloud of dust just came off the African coast today. The ITCZ is relatively quiet and too far south to spawn tropical disturbances that might grow into tropical storms. The NOGAPS model indicates a tropical storm might form out of a tropical wave east of the Windward Islands late in the week, but this seems improbable given all the dry air around.

Jeff Masters

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524. 8888888889gg
11:00 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

523. bdnh
8:12 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
According to My Premium Weather Radar The following cities are under the gun: Also the latest Gusts:

As Of 4:00 EDT
Myrtle Beach,SC Heavy Rain Mist N. @ 39 mph
Florence, SC Scattered Clouds N. @ 16 mph
Georgetown,SC Rain ENE @ 26 mph
Goose Creek,SC Overcast 17 MPH
North Charleston,SC
Mount Pleasant,SC

Highway 17,31,526,701,41 Will be effected
Member Since: September 11, 2005 Posts: 31 Comments: 4
522. NCRebel
2:36 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Hey leave Perdo outta this. He's only 20 miles south of me.
521. Sheraqueenofthebeach
2:10 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

NEW thread, guys!
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
520. richandcoup
2:10 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

these are the latest
519. pirateotobx
2:08 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
when are the next model runs due....in EST
518. pirateotobx
2:05 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
echo..echo...we got the point let's move on...any thoughts on the center of circulation being west of the forecast track?....seems to be moving more nw..hasn't seemed to start any NE turn..
517. deb1
2:02 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
again, WSI, it wasn't your particular choice of words I was commenting on - it's the language itself. 'Minimum cat 1' is an official way of describing storms, which gets people focused on the wind speed and what damage the wind can cause, as opposed to the potential for water and flood damage. There's plenty of potential for this kind of damage, especially in overdeveloped coastal areas, from Ophelia, a TS which may never make it to landfall.

hookedontropics makes a good point about city engineers. If they don't build adequate flood defence systems for their town or city, they have a lot to answer for.
Member Since: July 18, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2
516. richandcoup
1:57 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

YES!!! read my reply to scott and the vortex i just posted
515. mcwheeler
1:57 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Im a little surprised local businesses in Wilmington arent taking this more seriously. last year during Isabelle, most businesses closed and it only skirted the coast. Ophelia is supposed to be a much more direct blow, yet no closures. I think this could be a mistake making employees come into work, and then have them stuck there when the roads are closed and impassible
514. thelmores
1:56 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
what i want to know, is that an actual eyewall trying to form?



if it is its headed sw..... but i doubt the storm will follow! LOL
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3833
513. richandcoup
1:52 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
URNT12 KNHC 131340
A. 13/13:20:10Z
B. 32 deg 11 min N
078 deg 03 min W
C. 700 mb 2993 m
D. 30 kt
E. 48 deg 125 nm
F. 124 deg 066 kt
G. 051 deg 064 nm
H. 989 mb
I. 10 C/ 3047 m
J. 12 C/ 3082 m
K. 10 C/ NA
M. C18
N. 12345/ 7
O. 0.03 / 3 nm
P. AF300 2116A OPHELIA OB 10
MAX FL WIND 66 KT NE QUAD 13:01:50 Z
512. pirateotobx
1:48 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
the center of circulation is west of the forecast track....

It'll be interesting to see what it does...the bam models are sticking to their guns on the SC landfall...I think it'll be closer to Pedro at South of the Borderon the NC/SC line...just my guess.....
511. richandcoup
1:47 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

your eyes are right, this thing formed an inner core very quickly...well guess reformed is a better term
510. WSI
1:40 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Well that is the way you take it deb1. There is a difference between 74mph winds and 95mph winds. Not one time did I imply any of the meaning you suggested. I simply stated that I thought it would be a minimum CAT1 (ie, barely a hurricane) at most. Now if you want to assign hidden meaning, go ahead. Just put your name at the end of it. I posted earlier in another blog that I have friends down there who boarded up days ago as a precaution. I said that preparing no matter what is always good. I am not taking things personally, but I don't like someone else assigning meaning to my posts when they have no cause.
509. scottinmyrtlebeach
1:38 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
is it me or is there an eyewall forming?..the last few frames from the wilm radar seem to suggest that.....someone more knowledgeable...which is probably everyone...clue me in..also..when are the next model runs and the next vortex message?
508. GZ
1:37 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
deb we are getting spotty showers at best. The attitude around Wilmington has undergone a transformation in the past 24 hours. People are taking this storm seriously. A friend of mine just called from Wrightsville Beach who is riding out the storm there, seems to be much more rain and wind out there. She is going to try and check in with me periodically and I will bring any updates so long as we have power....
507. deb1
1:36 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
hookedontropics, and wasn't Gaston a storm that never quite made it to land, or just crossed over the outer banks?

Member Since: July 18, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2
506. deb1
1:33 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
WSI, get off your high horse and stop taking things so personally.

My point was the language itself, that we refer to hurricanes as 'minumum cat 1', 'minimum cat 2' etc, and it is misleading, because it gets people thinking that if hurricanes can be described as 'minimum', then maybe we don't need to worry about tropical storms. Sure, the wind isn't so bad with a tropical storm, but flooding can be as bad to fix up after the event , if not worse, than wind damage.
Member Since: July 18, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2
505. WSI
1:29 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
deb1, don't assign ridiculous meanings to my posts. Minimum CAT1 means just that. A minimum CAT1. Winds 75-80mph. That doesn't mean ignore the storm. That doesn't mean it doesn't cause damage. That means a minimum CAT1 hurricane. I don't know why I bother posting in this blog. Some of you just look for fights and hidden meanings where they don't exist. Point to where I said a CAT1 doesn't cause damage, or where I said this storm shouldn't be taken seriously deb.
1:27 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
been perplexed by this one but since wed. he ha said this storm
would hit nc/sc border the models and nhc has been the joke. i
respect some of the 18h aday bloggers on here but they are grossy mistaken about bastardi he like a lot of the great past
forecasters goes by climatogical history and atmosphric trends
rather the gospel of the model lol. he is referring to 2002 scenario unfortunately for gulf we had 3 landfalling systems from this date to early oct hanna isidore(no inner core like opelia) and lili. so i would pay attention if he insists on it happening.
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 712
503. hookedontropics
1:26 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
GAston was a tropical storm, also let's talk about city engineers.

Richmond builds a floodwall, to keep the river out.. 13in of rain in 4 hours floodwall keeps all water in... HMMM Brilliant!!
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
502. StormJunkie
1:26 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Off to work also.
See ya. Maybe I can get a power outage at work.lol.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
501. hookedontropics
1:25 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Deb, these rain bands look like the ones from Gaston, where we got 13in of rain in 4 hrs. 10 ft of water downtown Richmond.
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
500. StormJunkie
1:25 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
WSI-This girl is primed to catch everyone off guard with some unexpected something. What who knows.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
499. hookedontropics
1:24 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Mexico... hard to believe.
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
498. deb1
1:23 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
....it will probably be a minimum CAT1,...

WSI, "minimum cat1" is such a contradiction in terms. Ophelia could still cause heaps of damage, especially if it continues to move slowly, dumping rain, like Katrina did across Florida. There's a fair bit of rain already falling in the last hour or so around Wilmington, according to their radar.

Member Since: July 18, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2
497. hookedontropics
1:23 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
G'day must work now
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
496. StormJunkie
1:22 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Were you talking stream hooked or Mexico? I responded to Mexico. The stream cna fuel a storm that is for sure.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
494. StormJunkie
1:21 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
hooked, will look at the Gulf when and if we can get rid of O. She has sucked me in.lol.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
493. NCRebel
1:20 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Honestly I think we are all guessing. Pro's included. SJ I see that wsw jog which goes to show NO ONE on the east cost is out of the woods yet.

Joe B is right on the money with the Gulf Stream. Not exactly sure about his track tho.

Time to go work a little. I'll check by in a bit
492. WSI
1:18 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
While the storm needs to be taken seriously, there is no need to 'over do' it either. I doubt 'weather people' down there are taking it lightly. They are giving due caution to the storm. Nothing more, nothing less. Watches are warnings are posted. I think people are aware of what's going on.
491. Sheraqueenofthebeach
1:17 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
When you get smacked thrice, hooked, it's hard not to be obsessed with the safety of those who come here for advice and information who may be in danger.

No "diss" to anyone...I just see alot of new folks in the "range" of the storm posting here.

With that, good day to all.
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
490. hookedontropics
1:17 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
SJ, what do you think about Joe B. and what he is saying about the Gulf?
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
489. StormJunkie
1:13 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Take it easy hooked, at least she did not attack the Master's bloggers this time.lol.

Any thoughts on that radar loop?
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
487. StormJunkie
1:10 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Shera, the local news media is taking this pretty light S of MYB. Maybe just stick with the stay vigilant post as no one knows.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
486. StormJunkie
1:09 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
She appears to have wobbled to the WSW in the last hour or so. Look at the Charleston long range and toggle between the first and last image.

Charleston Long Range Radar
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
485. Sheraqueenofthebeach
1:08 PM GMT on September 13, 2005

Listen to the local news for the latest updates on your local area. If you are in "the cone" and on the coast, "hide from the wind, but RUN from the water". Have an evacuation plan. Board and Shutter as needed. Often times damage is caused by tornados, NOT just the sustained winds.

Most who post here are not professionals, but enjoy following Tropical Weather.

Please all, tune in to the NWS. Be smart and stay safe.
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
484. hookedontropics
1:06 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
sorry about the length of the post but it is pretty informative
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
483. thelmores
1:06 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
call me an idiot, but on a 20 loop radar, it appears there is an eyewall starting to reform, it certainly appears to at least be the center of any organized circulation i see, but it appears this "center" is still meving almost due west, and at this point the BAMM model appears to have nailed this one!

at the very least i almost believe this storm WILL make landfall in South Carolina, as a catagory 1 hurricane......

just call me an idiot! ;)
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3833
482. StormJunkie
1:04 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Latest advisor showed a jog NE.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
481. hookedontropics
1:04 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Joe B. Take this morning


The 12z position on recon is 32.2 north and 77.8 west, some 30 miles east of the 24 hour forecast here. The current intensity at 989 mb is 19mb higher than the 970 forecasted.

As far as my intensification idea before landfall.. I will quote Bruce Springsteen..."Wounded deep in battle I stand like some soldier undaunted ." Translated I still think it will pull it off.

Lets take a look at the forecasted ideas here for the storm from this morning.

New positions: valid times 12z..tomorrow 33.5,77.5 970 mb 90kts Thursday. 37.0,75.5. 990mb 50kts / Friday 40,72 990 mb 50 kts., Saturday inland over maritimes.

First of all, the deepening today, perhaps quite dramatic this afternoon and tonight is based on the following ideas. 1) The storm is over the warm gulfstream the next 12-18 hours. Temps are around 4 degrees warmer here and this is a large ramp up of available heat. 2) The strong winds are pulling into the center with convection. This means we are going to accelerate the wind toward the center, so chances are even with the pressure not lowering, the storm is a hurricane this afternoon. 3) Should the convection finally wrap into the center, the resultant increase in upward motion would a) get rid of whats left of the dry air, and b) allow for pressure falls. By moistening the dry air, the pressure can fall even faster. This in turn allows the wind to rush in quicker, and enhance convergence more. This is a the feedback we talk about. So now its a matter of seeing if all this actually comes out right.

Now, its pretty much established that the storm is going to move north northeast across eastern North Carolina. This will batter the beaches and lead to a very bad flooding situation on the western side of the funnel shaped bays of Pamlico sound where run off from heavy rains is coming down the river, but east winds are pushing water up the inlet. The outer banks get 24-36 hours of gales with hurricane force gusts.

The position Thursday morning is near the mouth of the Chesapeake and here is where some fun can start with the track. Very warm water lays just off shore for one, warmer than normal. The models weaken Ophilia so it cant make the connection with the westerlies in a way to pull them in..instead it stays separate, much like Irene and Emily, so it floats east northeast, until redeepening again and then hooking up and turning back northeast.

Now the assumption on my part is the system stays stronger, feedsback and interacts with the westerlies and comes up. So this allows the center to come in much closer to the coast.

Now there are hints this happens, but the models have problems. They are though showing very heavy rains breaking out across New England and into eastern pa, This is because the model sees the tropical air and interacts it with the northern heightfall center. Meanwhile, Ophelia induced heavy rains turn east off the southeast Va coast. My theory is that Ophilia is strong enough to hand herself off and "hook up" with the northern branch and so heavy rains fall in the area where they are NOT forecasted right now, and the coast experiences high winds from New england to the Delmarva.

Things like this cut both ways. Notable examples of storms that kept coming with no phasing are for instance the energizer bunny and Allison...storms like Bonnie in 1998 did not. But its something to watch for and pay attention too.

There have been 4 "downgrades" of Ophilia to tropical storm status and I did agree with the one yesterday, and in fact did so before TPC with the early morning post. The others though, well they were a little more baffling. If we think about this..an upgrade to hurricane later today, downgrade over land, possible re-upgrade in those very warm off shore waters off the mid atlantic coasts, then downgrade later, this could wind up being a record breaking storm. It has danced around alot slower than I projected, yet is about to add its self to the analog of storms that develop under big highs out of the pattern that hit the Carolinas and/or New England or the maritimes. It is also a possible pre-cursor to the idea that the east coast is just as much the place to watch now, as I am expecting a larger threat later on. See yesterdays post for the thumbnail sketch about that.

A word about the gulf. The increase in convection coming east through the southeast pacific combined with the trof split and overall pattern means the western and central Caribbean will start getting alot of thunderstorms with pressure falls this weekend. There is a chance that if development occurs it would be further north than what we have had before, so that the wave that comes out instead of the genre of Bret,Gert of Jose is one that would be a path north of Emily. Now the very fact that I am laying this out is one of those things that can lead to alot of frustration down the road if something does develop. With Ophilia, in looking at email, I notice that the main thrust of the email is how poor forecasts have been ( too far west, then too fast) which is frustrating because of the fact that such errors were admitted for one, and for two, no one saw this developing like this out of the clear blue except here from a week out and 3) last week a stand was made that it would come back and hit, while it was being pushed out in many circles. Its what I refer to as the totality of a forecast, for the whole life of the storm, not just for the ball in front of the dog at the time. And there is no hiding, the numbers, the forecasts, the errors stay on the archives, so I am aware of them.

So lets be clear... I am aware I defied my own analogs about storms like this by thinking it would come back into the gulf after setting up the north move initially. I am aware I have have been too deep with the storm, but this really is the first landfalling one this year that has not reached the forecasted pressure...yet. and 3 When finally catching on to the end result late last week, that this would hit the southeast coast in that Carolina zone, I was too fast. I just want emailers to know I am well aware of these errors.

I am also aware that even when Peyton Manning gets picked off, or Donovan McNabb makes a lousy toss backwards for a fumble, they know it and get back in the game.

So while I am at the speculation about Caribbean development, watch for atlantic development too..The african wave season is not done, and I believe that this hurricane season, when it ends, is going to do so with a bang.

Ciao for now

Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 128
480. StormJunkie
1:02 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
8am BAMM still persistent on just S of MYB.

Good idea Shera, just please leave out the excess.lol.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
479. StormJunkie
1:00 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Great, they are recentering the floater. Geuss I will be watching radar for a little while.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
478. Sheraqueenofthebeach
12:58 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Looks like a safety post is warranted "over there" Hills.
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
477. StormJunkie
12:57 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
That is a joke right myb? Reliable model with this one.HAHAHA.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
476. StormJunkie
12:56 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Yea WSI the NHC said she moved NW all day yesterday.lol.


GFDL must be run at Surface Pressure and Nogaps must be run at 500mb Vorticity. Everything else at 850mb vorticity.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 18190
12:50 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
folks what we have here is the rebirth of isodore after its innercore was daestroyed over yucatan although the surge was
high for a trpoical storm 8ft in biloxi and all the wind and rain was well before cente made landfall. winds were 70mph they
saaid but never got above 50 on land no inner just like this one once again we learn from history john hope would be proud
p.s keep and eye on the inner core..
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 712
474. WSI
12:48 PM GMT on September 13, 2005
Well you an I must be looking at different buoys StormJunkie. Some are 81 or 82, but many are 80 give or take a little (mostly take). Of course its possible she might be upgraded, but I doubt it. She killed her fuel, and of course the dry air you mentioned. Even the NHC hints that she will have trouble gaining strength. We'll see. If she gains hurricane strength, it will probably be a minimum CAT1, and even then she probably won't be able to hold it for long. Then again, this is 2005, where rules and records are broken unfortunately.

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