Impressive Bill churning huge waves; New England air pollution episode underway

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 18, 2009

Hurricane Bill has popped out an impressive eye, and continues to gather strength over the middle Atlantic. Visible and infrared satellite imagery show a well-organized, symmetric hurricane, with plenty of low-level spiral banding and upper-level outflow channels to the north and south. The spectacular appearance of the storm is evidence of the light wind shear environment that Bill finds itself in.

Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5-15 knots, for the next five days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will rise steadily from 27.5°C today to 29°C on Friday. Total ocean heat content also rises today into Wednesday, and it is expected that Bill will take advantage of these favorable conditions to intensify into a major hurricane. The Hurricane Hunters make their first penetration into Bill this afternoon. The NOAA Hurricane Hunters will be continuously flying Bill for the next three days. They are flying research missions that will feed real-time radar data into an experimental version of the HWRF model to see if this data can improve the model forecasts.


Figure 1. Wave forecast for Hurricane Bill from NOAA's Wavewatch III model. Beginning Saturday (right panel) large waves from Bill are expected to affect most of the U.S. East Coast. By Sunday, the model predicts waves of 10 - 15 feet may impact the offshore waters of New England.

Water vapor satellite loops show that a trough of low pressure is diving down towards Bill, and this trough will be able to turn Bill more to the northwest over the next two days, and Bill will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands. The main impact of Bill on these islands will be high waves. Yesterday, Bill passed just north of Buoy 41041, which recorded significant wave heights of 28.8 feet. Maximum wave height is typically a factor of 1.9 greater than the significant wave height, so Bill was likely generating waves up to 55 feet high. High waves from Bill are propagating across the Atlantic towards the U.S. East Coast, and will arrive there on Saturday, according to NOAA's Wavewatch III model (Figure 1). The highest waves spawned by Bill will affect the New England coast, where waves of 10 - 15 feet in offshore waters can be expected. The waves will cause significant erosion of beaches, and possible damage to shoreline structures.

A much larger trough of low pressure is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week, turning Bill to the north. Exactly where this turn occurs is still not clear, and both Bermuda and Cape Cod, Massachusetts will be in Bill's 5-day forecast cone of uncertainty. At present, it appears that the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia are at greatest risk from a strike by Bill, but New England and Bermuda cannot relax just yet.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The remains of Tropical Storm Ana are bringing heavy rain to Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas today, and this activity will spread over South Florida tonight. The remains are disorganized, and are not likely to re-develop. No models are calling for any new tropical cyclones to develop in the Atlantic over the next seven days.


Figure 2. Image from NASA's Terra satellite of air pollution haze over the Northeast U.S. on Monday, August 17, 2009.

First major air pollution episode of the summer for the Northeast U.S.
New England is currently experiencing a far more deadly weather event than a direct hit by Hurricane Bill would likely bring--a large dome of high pressure. The reason? The high pressure system camped over the Northeast U.S. has brought hot temperatures, stagnant air, and the summer's first major air pollution episode.

The event started on Sunday, when a high pressure system with light winds moved over the eastern U.S., limited mixing and leading to stagnation and a buildup of pollutants. Mostly sunny skies and high temperatures also enhanced formation of ground-level ozone gas, a dangerous pollutant. Furthermore, southerly winds brought high humidity into the Northeast, which is conducive to particle pollution formation in the atmosphere. Particle pollution is the most deadly form of air pollution in the U.S. The poor air quality led to issuance of air quality advisories and action days on Monday in more than 30 cities, including New York City, NY; Newark, NJ; Providence, RI; and Portland, ME.

Today's air pollution forecast
Today, similar conditions are expected across much of the region, and Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are forecasted to remain in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) range for many areas in the Northeast. For a complete list of action/advisory days and their locations, visit the EPA AIRNow website.

Health Tip: Cut back on strenuous outdoor exercise when air quality is expected to be poor.

How You Can Help: Choose a cleaner commute - share a ride to work or use public transportation. Bicycle or walk when possible. Combine errands and reduce trips.

Mortality from air pollution
As I discussed in a previous blog post, air pollution is a far more deadly weather hazard in the U.S. than hurricanes. Sure, hurricanes have killed an average of 150 people per year in the U.S., and the "premature deaths" caused by air pollution are only partly attributable to breathing bad air, while drowning in a hurricane's storm surge is entirely due to the hurricane. Nevertheless, a great many children die of pollution-induced asthma attacks who would not have died otherwise, and the mortality due to air pollution in the general population is in the thousands or ten of thousands each year. Outdoor air pollution in the U.S. due to particulate pollution alone was estimated by the EPA in 1997 to cause at least 20,000 premature deaths each year. A 2005 study by EPA scientists (Particulate Matter Health Risk Assessment for Selected Urban Areas) estimated that over 4,700 premature deaths occur each year in just nine cities (Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, and San Jose)--even if those cities all met the current federal standards for particulate matter pollution. Extrapolating these data to the entire nation puts the annual death toll in the tens of thousands--but the EPA has not calculated that total. Some studies have placed the annual pollution death toll in the U.S. at 50,000 to 100,000 (Dockery, D.W., and C.A Pope III. Acute Respiratory Effects of Particulate Air Pollution. Annual Review Public Health, 1994, vol. 15,107-32.) The death toll is much higher in other parts of the world, where air pollution standards are not as stringent. Globally, about 800,000 people per year die prematurely due to outdoor air pollution, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. This represents about 1.2 percent of total annual global deaths.

In the debate over the costs of switching over the cleaner energy sources, the huge costs and deaths attributable to air pollution are often ignored. Sure, it will be costly to move away from fossil fuels, but let's not forget that the price per gallon we pay at the pump does not include the billions in medical costs we pay for the effects of air pollution.

I'll have an update Wednesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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All i can say is WOW. Look at the last hour development rate.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting antonio28:
Watch out below Cuba. Mid to Low level low forming heading to the GOM.


so if this low or "Ana" gets into the GOM - Where at, is it more to go? Stay on the Florida side, central GOM, where?
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The untasked mission found a pressure of 956 MB in the eye.
Member Since: August 10, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 672
Quoting jdjnola:


My guess is Danny because this time she dissipated instead of degenerating into a remnant low.

Sure did. If it is there, I don't see it. Epic Poof!
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1792. jdjnola
Quoting truecajun:


since the last official discussion on Ana ended with "this is the last disscussion on Ana" it seems logical that they would name it daniel - is that the next name?


Danny not Daniel. Not sure if he would take offense to being called Daniel, but I'd rather not find out. Link
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238
Im more concerned about Ana right now. The gulf is a nice warm bed for iniquity.
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1790. GatorWX
ok, maybe not quie 120
Quoting jdjnola:


I think Ana is about to be born again-again-again. Will they name her Ana or Danny?


I think it would still be Ana, but I don't see it redeveloping. There's basically no structure, it'll be moving over land and has been already, shear is up and it doesn't have much time. To even become a depression, it will first need to develop a low level circulation. Not sure since I haven't checked lately, but I'm not sure if the mid level rotation is complete. I think it would still be Ana however since her remnants never completely dissipated, ie never totally loss their mass of convection. I don't know if they will start over since the llc was lost, but my guess is they would stick with Ana. Something to watch, but I wouldn't expect much more than a 5% chance of redevelopment.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 4251


Some soaring cloudtops popping up in the eyewall. Hot towers, perhaps?
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Quoting GatorWX:
I think the models are way off, it's still going west! We'll certainly see a deviation from the official track followed by an updated forecast and a shift in the models. Anyone else see this?


Absolutely not.
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Well, after looking at the water vapor, Atlantic wide view, I now see why the models continued showing east. I actually got to see the high split. That was the element in limbo for a little bit there. Now that the trough has begun its trek to the east, Mr. Bill really doesn't have anywhere to go but between the two highs. Atlantic Canada watch out!
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Is is soup yet?
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1785. 19N81W
nothng in sable but horses...
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1784. amd
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


Yea this is actually getting closer and closer to Cat 4 already too I think Cat 3 for the 11 PM advisory and Cat 4 for 5 AM and Cat 5 for 11 AM


for the size of Bill, pressure is a bit too high for cat 4 status. Needs to get around 940 mb I think before winds will be above 130 mph.

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Quoting LAnovice:

Who knows??? I have seen them do both...not sure why...


since the last official discussion on Ana ended with "this is the last disscussion on Ana" it seems logical that they would name it daniel - is that the next name?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1782. chrisrw
Quoting iluvjess:


REad again sir (boy), I said bill had a less than 10% chance of affecting humsnity whereas a tropical system in the GOMEX has a near 100% chance. Please take the time to read (or have your daddy read and explain to you) before making such claims. Nowhere did I discount any particular landmass.


You said Bill had a less than 10% chance of affecting humanity. We agree on that. Now, numpty, would you agree that it has a more than 10% chance of affecting Bermuda, the NE and Canada? If so, then humanity can't exist in those places. Ask your mommy to explain the laws of probability to you!
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Quoting GatorWX:
I think the models are way off, it's still going west! We'll certainly see a deviation from the official track followed by an updated forecast and a shift in the models. Anyone else see this?


I do think a problem is arising with the models. I said so this morning and now I'm even more convinced......LOOK at this Water Vapor loop. What i see happening is the High located over the GOM is getting stronger and is expanding NE. This could very well looking at this loop pinch off the trough before it gets a chance to pick up Bill. I may be wrong but, it sure looks like that could be happening and that could be the reason why the models keep shifting WEst.
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1778. jdjnola
Quoting LAnovice:

Who knows??? I have seen them do both...not sure why...


My guess is Danny because this time she dissipated instead of degenerating into a remnant low.
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238
1777. GatorWX
Also, he's sure looking great too, consolidated his eyewall and cdo looks to be expanding a a good pace. We may see a cat 4 tomorrow morning. My guess would be around 120 now judging by his appearance. Looking sharp there Bill!
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 4251
Quoting amd:
i have been following the noaa plane currently in Bill, and I am pretty sure Bill is currently a major hurricane.

Flight level winds of 121 knots recorded, and lowest pressure estimated by plane (956.2 mb)


Yea this is actually getting closer and closer to Cat 4 already too I think Cat 3 for the 11 PM advisory and Cat 4 for 5 AM and Cat 5 for 11 AM
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
1775. jdjnola
Quoting Relix:


It's moving WNW/NW dude =P


Sheesh, yeah even I'm on the WNW/NW bandwagon now. I had enough of the "moving west" egg on my face from yesterday.
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238
Quoting jdjnola:


I think Ana is about to be born again-again-again. Will they name her Ana or Danny?

Who knows??? I have seen them do both...not sure why...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1773. amd
i have been following the noaa plane currently in Bill, and I am pretty sure Bill is currently a major hurricane.

Flight level winds of 121 knots recorded, and lowest pressure estimated by plane (956.2 mb)

Also, looking at the IR2 Imagery, the eye of Bill is becoming really well defined.
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1772. GatorWX
Yeah, I'm just kidding, however I do see it finally found the weakness. It seems it's finally moving more north. Maybe just south of a true nw motion. I think this will unnerve many northern island residents. Looks to be doing so right on que. Just wanted to mess with y'all. Hehe
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 4251
1771. jdjnola
Quoting Seastep:
Yucatan buoy:



I think Ana is about to be born again-again-again. Will they name her Ana or Danny?
Member Since: August 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 238
1770. Relix
Quoting GatorWX:
I think the models are way off, it's still going west! We'll certainly see a deviation from the official track followed by an updated forecast and a shift in the models. Anyone else see this?


It's moving WNW/NW dude =P
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Recon has 121 knts flight level winds --- 90% of that is 110 knts
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
1768. Relix
Thank God the islands are safe from this beast =(!! Would be horrible if that ever hit us.
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1767. GatorWX
I think the models are way off, it's still going west! We'll certainly see a deviation from the official track followed by an updated forecast and a shift in the models. Anyone else see this?
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 4251
1766. breald
Quoting iluvjess:


REad again sir (boy), I said bill had a less than 10% chance of affecting humsnity whereas a tropical system in the GOMEX has a near 100% chance. Please take the time to read (or have your daddy read and explain to you) before making such claims. Nowhere did I discount any particular landmass.


So a storm that is, has a 10% chance of affecting humanity. But a storm that may never be has a 100% chance of affecting humanity? LOL. Just giving you a hard time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1765. ch2os
Translating those 129.6 knots into mph equals....a whopping 149.1 mph.

Quoting Tazmanian:
holy we cow

Hurricane 03L

UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 7.2
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm


Current Intensity Analysis




UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 18 AUG 2009 Time : 214500 UTC
Lat : 16:50:31 N Lon : 52:17:18 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.6 / 934.4mb/129.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
6.6 6.9 6.9


Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.2mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 27 km

Center Temp : +8.0C Cloud Region Temp : -72.3C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1718. KerryInNOLA 6:31 PM EDT on August 18, 2009

This has streched the blog! Please fix it or delete it.......PLEASE!
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Update on Tropical Western Atlantic
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Quoting iluvjess:


REad again sir (boy), I said bill had a less than 10% chance of affecting humsnity whereas a tropical system in the GOMEX has a near 100% chance. Please take the time to read (or have your daddy read and explain to you) before making such claims. Nowhere did I discount any particular landmass.


or have your daddy read and explain.... that's funny!
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1760. Seastep
Yucatan buoy:

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1759. Patrap
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I did find a spot with some west winds on the North Central Coast of Cuba.
Could be from downdrafts,etc, or it could be a sign of a weak low to the North.

Cayo Coco / Jardines Del Ray, Cuba Lat: 22.46N, Lon: 78.33W
ICAO Used: MUCC
Current Conditions
Updated: 5:05 PM GMT-5 MON JUN 29 2009 Sun & Moon Information:

Rain
Temp: 23°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind Speed: NNW 10 MPH
Barometer: 1013 mb
Dewpoint: 20°C
Heat Index: 23°C
Wind Chill: 23°C

Civil Twilight: 5:27 AM GMT-5 Moon Phase:
Waning Crescent Moon

Sunrise: 5:51 AM GMT-5
Sunset: 6:42 PM GMT-5
Civil Twilight: 7:06 PM GMT-5

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting chrisrw:


Bermuda, the NE and Canada don't count as humanity? Jees, sometimes I despair of some of the idiots on here ;-(


REad again sir (boy), I said bill had a less than 10% chance of affecting humsnity whereas a tropical system in the GOMEX has a near 100% chance. Please take the time to read (or have your daddy read and explain to you) before making such claims. Nowhere did I discount any particular landmass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1756. Patrap
.."Da Gulf's a Funny Lady chief,..


I'd Keep a wary eye as to her Wanderin's the Next Day or Two"..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1755. Seastep
Pressures are falling in the Keys, similar to pre-Claudette.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Checked out Little Cayman buoy pressure - dropping a little bit - just not sure if it's the time of day for that normal - winds from ese - humm anyone care to explain/comment...
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How come the male B storm name is never Bryan?
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Bill

Bill

AOI
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
holy we cow

Hurricane 03L

UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 7.2
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm


Current Intensity Analysis




UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 18 AUG 2009 Time : 214500 UTC
Lat : 16:50:31 N Lon : 52:17:18 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.6 / 934.4mb/129.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
6.6 6.9 6.9


Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.2mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 27 km

Center Temp : +8.0C Cloud Region Temp : -72.3C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The ULL off the SW tip of Cuba may be trying to make it to the surface. I has now got some voriticity at the 850mb level and a very strong 550mb already....I think it could be coming to the surface in a day or two.
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Bill definitely seems to be making a turn to the NE. I would be more worried if I were on Sable Island than Cape Cod right now.
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Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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