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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1097. IKE
Quoting SeVaSurfer:

Maine has a Cape Cod also? lol


No...Cape Cod and Maine.
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Haven't seen a sStorm more FISH than BILL!

FISHes have it then!

Please stop posting misinformation on here, and NO, BILL IS NOT going to the Carolinas...at best Nova Scotia might get a nice breeze!!
Those of you who are WEST-casters on here might want to book a ticket to Nova Scotia..HAPPY BILL HUNTING!! LOL
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Quicksat doesnt see whats going on land in Cuba....thats where the weak surface low is... then again...this really isnt worth talking about until the 850mb moves offshore later tonight!
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
If this has shown up already - sorry... it is not showing on my end. From what I have seen. If Ana does reform, looks like it could do another Claudette route and go to Florida. Is this what others are seeing??


Afternoon Tex,all. Last I heard the remnants of Ana are supposed move NW into S FL then west to west nortwest in the gulf.
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1093. IKE
Quoting TexasHurricane:
If this has shown up already - sorry... it is not showing on my end. From what I have seen. If Ana does reform, looks like it could do another Claudette route and go to Florida. Is this what others are seeing??


If anything develops at all.
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Quoting chevycanes:

keep fighting the good fight Ike.

i don't see any westward shift either.


WESTWARD!! Gosh some people really need to check their glasses. you telling me there are people already saying bill is going to the west? Bill is right on track Thank God for that and the NHC is right on the money on this one.
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only place i see with a chance to get a glancing blow is Cape Cod in the US.

Nova Scotia could get hit.

no chance for FL or the Outer Banks.
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...I wish the ants would board up here, so that I can get them all in one spot and get rid of them for good!!....ugh!!!....we have to constantly spray for ants....
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Quoting canesrule1:
so for right now we have a CAT 3 (Major Hurricane)


Not yet, need 97kt for cat 3.
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Recon going back into the northeast quadrant of the eye wall right now. Currently finding Maximum Sustained winds of 114 MPH.
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Quoting IKE:


The only small threat I see is for Cape Cod...Maine, but all of the bad part of the storm is east of the coast.

Maine has a Cape Cod also? lol
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Quoting P451:
A lot of wind but no definition:




Next Image to the EAST




Next Image to the SOUTH




Strong winds, we should monitor that for any changes or evidence of a circulation forming.
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Highest surface speeds in NE quadrant so far around 82 mph ... but still approaching eyewall.
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If this has shown up already - sorry... it is not showing on my end. From what I have seen. If Ana does reform, looks like it could do another Claudette route and go to Florida. Is this what others are seeing??
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Need to see the AHI start climbing, so far it has just passed the screening test.

Also, they updated the 18Z model initialization data:

AL 03 2009081818 BEST 0 162N 517W 95 962 HU

Up to 95 kt.

Subject to change
so for right now we have a CAT 3 (Major Hurricane)
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1077. IKE
Quoting reedzone:


IKE, you may be right.. Though models change, patterns change, Hurricanes tend to do things differently. I'm calling it out to sea, but New England needs to watch it. Again I'll say YOU MAY BE RIGHT ;)


Just don't see much for the USA right now. Maybe it will change. If it does I'll eat crow.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Need to see the AHI start climbing, so far it has just passed the screening test.

Also, they updated the 18Z model initialization data:

AL 03 2009081818 BEST 0 162N 517W 95 962 HU

Up to 95 kt.

Subject to change


You have another Best Track posistion on the remnants of Ana's MLC? If so, what way is it moving?
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1075. eddye
excuse me guys where do you think the rest of ana will go into south florida?
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One evidence on the model shift.. Bermuda has no model hitting the Island anymore.. westward shift.. Then "some" models sharply recurve the storm out to sea.. While other like the NHC models have a weaker trough curving it out to sea, near New England.
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Quoting TightLines305:


Ants in my backyard are boarding-up the mound… should I be concerned about this?
same here in Miami.
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The Track on Bill Doesnt matter..its not going to the U.S.... only threat is to Bermuda in the next few days..after that..maybe Nova Scotia.....

Ana's remenants are the only possible florida impact...and we arent expecting a Tropical Storm right now if at anytime...
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1070. IKE
Quoting chevycanes:

keep fighting the good fight Ike.

i don't see any westward shift either.


The only small threat I see is for Cape Cod...Maine, but all of the bad part of the storm is east of the coast.
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...thanks for everyone's opinions....I wonder if the people at the nhc debate about what to do with the cone...lol ;)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Bill might be an annular hurricane. Interesting.


Need to see the AHI start climbing, so far it has just passed the screening test.

Also, they updated the 18Z model initialization data:

AL 03 2009081818 BEST 0 162N 517W 95 962 HU

Up to 95 kt.

Subject to change
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Quoting P451:
Bill 1821Z


nope.

that was from 5:09am this morning.

quikscat passes 2 times a day. the ascending pass is in the early morning and the descending pass happens late afternoon early evening.

the time of the pass is in purple. the buffer time means nothing.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


NHC sure doesn't think much of it.


Then there is not much to it then.
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Quoting mossyhead:

i went out this morning and tried to put them out of their misery by spreading ant bait for them. had a lot of ant beds.


Ants in my backyard are boarding-up the mound… should I be concerned about this?
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Quoting IKE:


Isn't going to happen...sorry.




It won't happen.


IKE, you may be right.. Though models change, patterns change, Hurricanes tend to do things differently. I'm calling it out to sea, but New England needs to watch it. Again I'll say YOU MAY BE RIGHT ;)
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1061. jdj32
P451, how are you able to post images from Google Earth HH Recon? I cannot figure it out. Thanks.
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Quoting IKE:


Isn't going to happen...sorry.




It won't happen.

keep fighting the good fight Ike.

i don't see any westward shift either.
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1058. IKE
12Z ECMWF....
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Quoting IKE:


Isn't going to happen...sorry.




It won't happen.
just my opinion.
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Quoting IKE:


Haven't seen him around.

Not your cats name is it?
He said something about computer problems and that he wouldn't be around for a while.
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Reconnaissance aircraft is now going towards the northeastern eye-wall, we could expect winds to be over 110+.
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Quoting IKE:


From the 11am EDST discussion....

"THE NEW TRACK HAS BEEN SHIFTED EASTWARD...BUT REMAINS
TO THE WEST OF THE MODEL CONSENSUS."


They won't be shifting any further eastward after looking at the latest ECMWF
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1053. MrSea
Quoting IKE:


From the 11am EDST discussion....

"THE NEW TRACK HAS BEEN SHIFTED EASTWARD...BUT REMAINS
TO THE WEST OF THE MODEL CONSENSUS."


That was at 11am, the models have shifted west since then
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1052. IKE
Quoting NRAamy:
where's taz?


Haven't seen him around.

Not your cats name is it?
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Quoting IKE:


From the 11am EDST discussion....

"THE NEW TRACK HAS BEEN SHIFTED EASTWARD...BUT REMAINS
TO THE WEST OF THE MODEL CONSENSUS."


West, east.. We'll find out the new path by 5 p.m. That's for sure ;)
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Bill is a fish
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1048. IKE
Quoting canesrule1:
NOGAPS, CMC, UKMET, HWRF and a numbered others have shifted west. I think the North Carolina/Virgina coastline will be in the cone.


Isn't going to happen...sorry.


Quoting bluewaterblues:


WOW...that would be a major shift


It won't happen.
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Quoting Walshy:



I don't think it will be that big of a shift to the left. That's just me though.

I agree, maybe an outter band of clouds, but no direct impact for the Mid Atlantic- trust the NHC it's all we have.
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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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