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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1647. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 140159
Quoting Stoopid1:
Conditions in the Eastern GOM are favorable, but ex-Ana would only have a small window to work with. Still, we just saw a similar cyclogenesis a couple of days ago, so it is a possibility.


Yeah thats true, other than that I think all of Florida is going to have some squally and wet weather.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Recon is entering Bill right now

it is an untasked mission


And there's another non-tasked mission dropping whatever those things are called near the antilles and into Bill's projected path.
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1644. szqrn1
Quoting iluvjess:


Difference being... Probiility of Bill affecting humanity - probably less than 10%; Probibility of a tropicam system in the GOMEX affecting humanity - nearly 100%.


Thank you!!
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Quoting Chicklit:
Accuweather? The center of this disturbed area is over Cuba now and the greatest potential for redevelopment will be over the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico or even the Florida Straits

twitch.


Tom Terry in Orlando feels it may redevelop too.
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Dang!


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.3 / 942.5mb/122.2kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
6.3 6.8 6.8

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +2.3mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 24 km

Center Temp : +10.5C Cloud Region Temp : -70.9C

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:
Quoting Adawg14:
So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.



Point is, it could be heading into the Gulf of Mexico. There's data on that showing water hot enough to support a CAT 5; so yeah, people are watching the disturbance around Cuba.
That's a good thing.
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So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.

Im speechless....

And so were the people who said the same thing about Claudette...never underestimate any type of tropical weather...
Member Since: July 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
Quoting Adawg14:
So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.

Im speechless....


Difference being... Probiility of Bill affecting humanity - probably less than 10%; Probibility of a tropicam system in the GOMEX affecting humanity - nearly 100%.
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Quoting Weather456:
What a monster



and its not even major yet! Just wait until this EWRC is over, and it looks close. Eye is shrinking and cloud tops are cooling and wrapping around.
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thats been the story of the summer....trough after trough here in the NE. ATTM, looks like one of these troughs will steer Bill clear of southern new england.
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with all of this talk about this pressure coming through to push Bill more north and eastward, is it possible that bill will be large enough to pretty much tell that pressure system to move and just run its course? I'm just wondering if there is a such thing as a "big enough storm" to make a path of its own without disruption from a pressure system?

Thanks everyone, I've learned a crap ton from you guys on here!! I'm just and insurance adjuster, but I make a living off these direct hits, with following ya'll's comments it really keeps me in the loops!! THANK YOU!!
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Quoting Ossqss:


Perhaps we need some caster oil, for those of you who actually remember that suff, Yuk,, LoL


OMG and then what? Grandma will beat you with a switch for that potty mouth...Caster oil...I actually shuttered :)
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Accuweather? The center of this disturbed area is over Cuba now and the greatest potential for redevelopment will be over the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico or even the Florida Straits

twitch.
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Recon is entering Bill right now

it is an untasked mission
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1631. szqrn1
Quoting tropicfreak:


There does seem to be some rotation, but a low hasn't formed yet, but could happen soon.


What does it look like when a low forms?
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Quoting ConchHondros:
Is Bill in the attempting an eyewall replacement...rather than appearing to tighten??


Possibly, convection looks like it's trying to become more semetrical (sp) around the eye itself as well.
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1629. Ossqss
Quoting ConchHondros:


caster caster...


Perhaps we need some caster oil, for those of you who actually remember that stuff, Yuk,, LoL
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1628. Thaale
Quoting HurricaneKyle:


The models develop said tropical waves off Africa.
We have every right to talk about BOTH.
Which models? I'm looking on the FSU site and none of the models show anything coming from the next two waves.
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Conditions in the Eastern GOM are favorable, but ex-Ana would only have a small window to work with. Still, we just saw a similar cyclogenesis a couple of days ago, so it is a possibility.
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is he now considered WILD BILL or Billy the kid
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Quoting szqrn1:
Okay.. I am only a nurse..not anyone who knows a whole lot about weather related things, but, it appears to my un-trained eye that there is some rotation south of Cuba.. sw of all that convection from old "ANA" (note the one N please). Please dont throw darts at me, but is this correct or just nothing? Thanks for the gentle comments to come.


There does seem to be some rotation, but a low hasn't formed yet, but could happen soon.
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Is Bill in the attempting an eyewall replacement...rather than appearing to tighten??
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One of two things are going on with Bill IMO.

1) An EWRC cycle is occurring, which is why the eye is shrinking. But two issues with that, one Bill hasn't had a fully formed eyewall long enough to even begin to undertake an EWRC. Another is that the Hurricane Hunters did not report two eyewalls as something under an EWRC should.

2) Bill's undergoing rapid intensification as the eye rapidly contracts and the convection grows.
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The timing and extent of this trough is very important in determining whether it will make landfall or turn out to sea. Though many people think that it will turn out to sea, a US east coast landfall is certainly not out of the question. People on the east coast including me, keep your eyes on bill and never let your guard down, for anything can happen.
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Hurricane Bill is getting much better organized. It is now starting the WNW movement. The track looks right on but after 3 days it still gets tricky, most of the models are conjoined together but still it could very more west or more east.
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1620. szqrn1
Okay.. I am only a nurse..not anyone who knows a whole lot about weather related things, but, it appears to my un-trained eye that there is some rotation south of Cuba.. sw of all that convection from old "ANA" (note the one N please). Please dont throw darts at me, but is this correct or just nothing? Thanks for the gentle comments to come.
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Note to S. Texas I think your rain is one the way. Thanks to boc.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3121
1618. JamesSA
Quoting laflastormtracker:


Possibly. But it will certainly pull an Ana. Not convinced this is going up W Coast of FL. The entire Gulf Coast should be on alert regarding this system.


I've been watching that upper level low rotating between Cuba and Grand Cayman. It seems to be pulling in the convective southern remnants of Ana as well as some of the convective stuff north of Cuba.

Visible here... Link

And here on this water vapor loop... Link

I just don't like seeing convective activity and such a healthy counterclockwise spin in such close proximity and on a trajectory into the Gulf. This has my attention.
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Quoting Adawg14:
So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.

Im speechless....


There is a near major hurricane that is not going into the GOM and may not even hit land. Models have ex-ana def having an influence in the conus.
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The convection over and north of Cuba could get better organized, the only limiting factor would be the time. The SST between Florida and Cuba range from 87-90 degrees and over the next day or so there will be less shear. I would give this a 40 percent of becoming a tropical depression.
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Quoting Weather456:
What a monster



The eye has tightened up considerably! Wow! What a difference a couple of hours makes.
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P451: Bill does not spin. The earth spins around Bill.

Great observation.
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I'm not arguing with anyone's thinking but I have a question. If the ridge of high pressure is across the gulf, what would pull anything north?
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


Why are you not convinced of that, if it should form?


You mean a claudette?
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
NEW WORDS:

LousianaCaster -

Person Who WishCasts another Katrina into NOLA..



Texas Caster- A Person who wants a Hurricane to make landfall and cause a catastrophe over texas





CONUS Caster - A Person who wants to take a storm thats a fish into the COnus




MODELS caster- Someone Whos Obsessed with the models when they shift 1 mile..


caster caster...
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What a monster

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Quoting Adawg14:
So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.

Im speechless....


The models develop said tropical waves off Africa.
We have every right to talk about BOTH.
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Quoting cajunstorm:
Please do not bring any storms to Lafayette LA I just got my pool water perfect. It took all summer


We just got back from there today. It was POURING yesterday....
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1607. slavp
Quoting cajunstorm:
Please do not bring any storms to Lafayette LA I just got my pool water perfect. It took all summer
LMAO I'm just south of you in Erath...Still trying to get my pool water perfect!!!
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1606. Adawg14
So we have a near major hurricane in the atlantic...and people are SERIOUSLY talking at LENGTH about a tropical wave that really has minimal change of generating.

Im speechless....
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Please do not bring any storms to Lafayette LA I just got my pool water perfect. It took all summer
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Quoting IKE:
Accuweather take...

"Tropical Rainstorm Ana, or what was Ana, has been ripped up and disorganized by the large, rugged islands of the northern Caribbean. However, AccuWeather.com Meteorologists remained concerned that Ana will regenerate or perhaps a new system will develop in the extensive clusters of thunderstorms.

The center of this disturbed area is over Cuba now and the greatest potential for redevelopment will be over the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico or even the Florida Straits.

Intense, gusty, drenching thunderstorms will pound Cuba, nearby islands and south Florida over the next couple of days due to Ana's influence. These monster storms will bring the risks of torrential rainfall, flooding and mudslides."

I'm starting to think that STORMTOP = Accuweather.
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Quoting IKE:
Accuweather take...

"Tropical Rainstorm Ana, or what was Ana, has been ripped up and disorganized by the large, rugged islands of the northern Caribbean. However, AccuWeather.com Meteorologists remained concerned that Ana will regenerate or perhaps a new system will develop in the extensive clusters of thunderstorms.

The center of this disturbed area is over Cuba now and the greatest potential for redevelopment will be over the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico or even the Florida Straits.

Intense, gusty, drenching thunderstorms will pound Cuba, nearby islands and south Florida over the next couple of days due to Ana's influence. These monster storms will bring the risks of torrential rainfall, flooding and mudslides."


so it has changed to possibly the central GOM? I thought if it became an issue it would basically be another Claudette? (not that I want Florida to get anything else - that is just what I heard)
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Bill looks kind of flat in the NW quadrant.
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1599. BDADUDE
Quoting JupiterFL:


What are the water temps like around Bermuda?

86 degrees.

www.weather.bmLink
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Great weather outside huh?
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1597. Drakoen
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Others here have posted that HE will be "Danny" ... because Ana was dissipated.


If the NHC still considers it remnants then it will be Ana. If it's formation has more involvement with the upper level low then it could be Danny
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 32600

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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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