Flexing its muscle in the Northwest Atlantic, Hurricane Nicole
could make a direct hit on Bermuda on Thursday. As of the 11 am EDT advisory
from the National Hurricane Center, Nicole’s top sustained winds were up to 100 mph, making it a Category 2 storm. Nicole was located 295 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and moving north at 7 mph, but it is expected to accelerate toward the north and northeast tonight and Thursday, bringing it over or very near the island around midday. A Hurricane Warning is in effect, with 3” - 6” of rain, hurricane-force winds, huge surf, and coastal flooding all possible.Figure 1.
Visible satellite image of Hurricane Nicole as of 1437Z (10:37 am EDT) Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Bermuda is visible as the black speck at center top. Image credit: NASA/MSFC Earth Science Office
Nicole weakened from Category 2 to tropical storm strength over the weekend amid strong wind shear, but the shear had relaxed to less than 10 knots by Tuesday. The light shear and a modestly moist atmosphere (mid-level relative humidity around 50 - 55%) allowed for Nicole to regroup. The hurricane is also traveling over near-record-warm waters of around 28 - 29°C (82 - 84°F)
, which is about 1.5 - 2.0°C above average
for mid-October. After it strafes Bermuda, Nicole will continue plowing into the North Atlantic, becoming a somewhat weaker but very large hurricane by Friday and Saturday before it transitions into a post-tropical cyclone.Nicole gives Bermuda its fourth hurricane warning in three years
For being a small island in a big ocean, Bermuda
has had an inordinate amount of bad luck with hurricanes over the past three years. Nicole is the fourth storm in the past three years to put the island under a Hurricane Warning. Last year, Hurricane Joaquin
passed about 65 miles west-northwest of Bermuda on October 5 as a Category 2 storm. Joaquin brought sustained winds of tropical storm force to Bermuda, and caused power outages to 15,000 of the island’s 36,000 customers. Damage was minor, though.
In 2014, two hurricanes hammered the island within a week in a damaging one-two punch. The first was Hurricane Fay
, which hit Bermuda on October 12 as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds, doing at least $10 million in damage. Just six days later, on October 18, a far worse storm made another direct hit on Bermuda--Hurricane Gonzalo
, which made landfall as a strong Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds. Winds at the Bermuda Airport
peaked at 76 mph, with a gust to 96 mph, as the northern eyewall of Gonzalo passed overhead. After a calm lasting about an hour, when the pressure sank to 953 mb, the southern eyewall hit, with stronger winds than the northern eyewall--93 mph, gusting to 113 mph. An unofficial gust of 144 mph was recorded at Commissioners Point at an elevation of 262', a site notorious for recording strong winds due to local terrain effects. The hurricane did an estimated $200 - $400 million in damage to Bermuda, making it the second costliest storm in their history. The costliest was Category 3 Hurricane Fabian of 2003
, the only hurricane to get its name retired exclusively because of its impact on the island of Bermuda. Fabian's storm surge destroyed the causeway connecting the airport to the rest of the island and did $300 million in damage. Fabian also killed four people--the only hurricane deaths ever recorded on Bermuda.
While a direct hit on Bermuda is unusual, many hurricanes and tropical storms
get close enough to cause trouble. In a local survey going back to 1609, the Bermuda Weather Service found that tropical cyclone damage was recorded about once every 6 to 7 years. From 1900 to 2007, the only direct hits cited by the agency were the Havana-Bermuda Hurricane
of 1926, the Miami Hurricane
of 1948, and Hurricane Arlene
(1963). As with Fabian, a storm passing just west of the island need not be a direct hit to produce severe damage.Figure 2.
Hurricane Gonzalo as seen from the International Space Station on October 16, 2014. Image credit: Alexander Gerst.Figure 3.
Gonzalo as seen by the Bermuda radar at 9:43 pm ADT October 17, 2014, when the eye was over the island. Image credit: Bermuda Weather Service.Figure 4.
In hard-hit Lumberton, NC, on Wednesday, October 12, 2016, people look out towards West 5th Street, still covered by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew. Image credit: AP Photo/Mike Spencer.From the Carolinas to Canada, Matthew-related woes continue to mount
Extensive and severe flooding continues to afflict parts of North Carolina near rain-swollen rivers in the wake of Hurricane Matthew
. Thousands of people are still being evacuated, according to weather.com
, including about 9000 people forced out of the Greenville area on Tuesday. At least 19 deaths have been confirmed across the state, and power remained out for more than 140,000 customers
as of Wednesday morning. The Neuse and Tar river basins are two of the areas where rivers are still rising. As of Wednesday morning, the Neuse River at Kinston, NC, was predicted to crest on Friday
near or just above the record set in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd. On Tuesday, the Neuse’s flood crest broke a Floyd-era record by nearly a foot at Goldsboro
Matthew’s indirect effects have made it all the way to the Canadian Maritimes. Moisture from Matthew’s remnants was pulled northward ahead of an existing frontal system near the U.S. East Coast, then fed into an intensifying storm that deluged eastern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Some 50,000 Nova Scotia customers lost power on Tuesday, and thousands of basements were reportedly flooded
. According to Nova Scotia meteorologist Jim Abraham, a preliminary one-day total rainfall of 225 mm (8.86”) reported in Sydney, the province’s second-largest city, is nearly double the city’s all-time one-day record
of 129 mm set on August 17, 1981. Drone footage captured the extent of flooding
on Tuesday. (Thanks to Chris Fogarty, Environment Canada, for background on this event.)Figure 5.
Typhoon Songda as captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite at 0305Z Wednesday, October 12, 2016 (11:05 pm EDT Tuesday). Image credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
.Remnants of Typhoon Songda will be heading for Pacific Northwest
The next tropical cyclone to affect the United States will hit the opposite side of the country from Matthew. Now accelerating to the northeast across the remote North Pacific, Typhoon Songda
will contribute to a very soggy and stormy few days across the U.S. Pacific Northwest and southwest Canada. Songda was still packing top sustained winds of 120 mph as of 06Z (2:00 am EDT) Wednesday, after briefly reaching super-typhoon strength Tuesday at an unusually high latitude--30.3°N--with peak winds of 150 mph. Songda will hitch a ride on a fast-moving segment of the jet stream and slam into the North American coast over the weekend. In his California Weather Blog
, Daniel Swain notes that some recurving typhoons transition into post-tropical cyclones and strike the U.S. West Coast as identifiable storms, while others are absorbed into the jet stream and existing frontal systems. “It appeared that Songda will do a little of both--strengthening the overall storm track and persisting as a powerful remnant surface low as it treks eastward across the Pacific,” Swain wrote.
Widespread rainfall amounts of 4” to 10” associated with the remnants of Songda will extend from British Columbia to northern California. Songda is just part of a series of storms that will drench the region over the next week. All told, some locations between the shoreline and the coastal mountains could receive 15” to 25” of rain. Very little of the heavy rain will extend south of the San Francisco area, but this isn’t too surprising given that we’re just at the start of the wet season.
We’ll be back with another post this afternoon on the U.S. climate roundup for September.
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters