Category Archives: Story

Hurricane Maria continues destructive 2017 hurricane season

The major weather headline for 2017 will undoubtedly go to the devastating hurricane season, which featured three major hurricanes making impactful landfall, and another rolling out to sea with a much lesser imprint on the Caribbean.

Maria is the latest in this litany of destruction, impacting Dominica and Puerto Rico the hardest, while also smacking the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas once again. Dominica, like Barbuda before it, as well as St Barts, St. Martin and the Virgin Islands have been laid waste, while Puerto Rico is said to be entirely out of power. Given this destruction, the fact that there have been only about 200 storm deaths to date with the entire season is nothing less than miraculous.

While Maria’s course took it directly over Dominica and Puerto Rico, which will be very costly in the end,  those islands are  arguably some of the most well prepared to contend for a storm of this magnitude. The joint weather monitoring service for the Lesser Antilles is headquartered in Dominica, while San Juan is home to a NWS office.  Another factor that helped save lives is Maria’s striking terrain of Puerto Rico, which will lead to some flash flooding, but also worked to corrode Maria’s strength and make her weaker in the Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Bahamas. The zealous preparation saved lives.

Maria looks to be done with major land masses, as she has grazed the Dominican Republic and is sliding through the Bahamas towards the open Atlantic. Fortunately, after Maria has shifted into the Atlantic, there looks to be ample time to recover. For the first time in a while, the Atlantic Basin will be quiet.

Irma Takes Aim on Florida, Jose Brings Double Whammy

I’m sure you might be on a bit of Irma overload from this site and everywhere else out there, but this storm is truly a major news story and will cause billions upon billions of dollars in damage by the time the weekend is out. Irma underwent an Eyewall Replacement Cycle earlier this morning, temporarily weakening it down to 140mph winds, however, it’s gotten its act together over the last 3-6 hours and intensified back to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 160mph. Right now, Irma is making yet another landfall as a Category 5 storm, this time over Central Cuba. Irma is expected to kind of ride along the coastline as it finally starts its’ shift to the northwest over the next 12-24 hours and eventually shift back out fully over water in the very warm waters of the Florida Straits. At that point, it will make a sharp turn towards the north and make landfall over far southern Florida, with the main area of impact now looking like it will be somewhere between Everglades City and Ft. Myers after it rolls over the Florida Keys. It’s expected to be a strong Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds around 140-160mph and gusts nearing 200mph in spots.

The entire southern half of Florida is under a Hurricane Warning, with the Northern FL Peninsula under a Hurricane Watch (which will no doubt be upgraded in due time as well), and Storm Surge Warnings are found everywhere from Tampa Bay around the peninsula to Melbourne. Another thing to take away from Irma is how WIDE it is. Of course the most wind-driven damage will be right in the powerful eyewall, but hurricane force winds stretch out 70-80 miles away from the eye. So while Miami/Ft. Lauderdale will escape the worst of it, they’ll still get hefty winds and some storm surge as well. Either way you slice it, South FL is going to get hit hard by a historically strong hurricane. Hopefully everybody who can has evacuated further north, or has boarded up as much as they can.

And as if that wasn’t enough Hurricane Jose is about to take aim on the Antigua/Barbuda area, which has already been devastated by Irma. Barbuda has been completely evacuated in advance of Jose, mainly because there’s almost nothing left on the island for residents to take shelter in. Hopefully it veers just off to the north so they can be spared the worst of a double hurricane whammy. With Irma at 160mph and Jose at 155mph, it’s a new record for strongest simultaneous hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. Certainly a season for the record books this season.

Hurricane Irma, and a brief note on forecaster of the month

At this point, it seems fairly likely that Hurricane Irma will make land fall in the United States. There is a chance that she will make first stop south of Homestead, Florida, near Key Largo before tracking up the coast towards Hilton Head along the Georgia South Carolina Border early next week. With a slight alteration to the track, especially if it follows this morning’s guidance, Irma will instead slide just off shore, maintaining some of her strength before slamming into the South Carolina coast between Hilton Head and Charleston. The Key Largo landfall scenario is the one put forth currently by the NHC.

Looking close, Irma is projected to make landfall near Key Largo by the Euro, and will slide just to the west of town, which is essentially a worst case scenario. Winds around the eye are the strongest in the front-right portion of the eye wall, relative to storm motion, which would be where Miami is, if Irma follows the Euro track. The GFS takes Irma just off the coast, which would be the best case for Miami and the coast of Florida, but might not be as good for the Carolina coast. A look at the spaghetti plot shows many of the tropical models side with the GFS.

To date, Irma has laid waste to low lying tropical islands like Barbuda and St. Martin. She will pass north of the Greater Antilles, which is great news for the populations there, but also means little threat of weakening. The Bahamas, one way or another, are in for some serious issues, ahead of the American impact.

Now, really quickly, I’ll just note that there was a tie at the top of the leaderboard in the month of August, with The Weather Channel finishing strong and drawing level with Accuweather.


Record Floods, Record Heat, Go Away Irma!

The news continues to be dominated by scenes of the destruction Harvey wrought upon the TX coastline as it make landfall near Rockport, and of course the epic flooding in Houston and places further along the Gulf Coast into Western LA. It’s my hope that these areas in Western LA and where Harvey actually made landfall don’t get ignored as most focus on Houston. Areas around Rockport and Port Aransas were mostly flattened by the sustained hurricane force winds that battered them for nearly half a day.

But as the Gulf Coast continues to start to pick of the pieces, and in many areas, wait for the floodwaters to recede, a new possible threat emerges, Hurricane Irma. Irma is still way out in the Atlantic, but has sustained winds of 115mph (Category 3) and look to take an odd path over the next few days. Most storms out in the Atlantic head on a more west-northwesterly route, maybe sometimes due west. Irma, however, wants to go west-SOUTHwest throughout the weekend. It’s not very often a storm “loses” latitude, but that’s what it’s expected to do. This could be a problem because the further south it goes, the longer it would take for it to recurve out over the Atlantic as it gets closer to the Caribbean. Models have it going anywhere from the Gulf to New England, so it’s still a WAYS out of being any real threat to land, but they do all agree on it being a major hurricane as it pushes into next week. Irma will definitely be a storm to keep an eye on.

And as if THAT wasn’t enough, another weather story that’s been pushed under the proverbial rug that is Harvey is the epic heat wave engulfing the Western US right now. Downtown San Francisco broke their ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH tonight as they topped out at 106 degrees. San Francisco Airport broke their all-time record as well at 104. Places everywhere baked over 100 degrees and crushed records, with Healdsburg and King City peaking at 111. It should start subsiding over the next couple of days, but meanwhile, the West will continue to roast.

Sun rises on devastated Texas Coast

Hurricane Harvey made his landfall on the Texas Coast near Aransas Pass late last night, bringing with it some of the strongest winds the United States has ever seen from a landfalling storm. Port Aransas was the big ‘winner’ with winds of 132mph.
Harvey has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, which means that the winds have alleviated, and the storm surge is likely abating, but the crisis is not even close to over. Harvey has stalled between San Antonio and Victoria, and is dumping rain throughout eastern Texas. The rain will ultimately be the biggest cause of loss, both of life and property, but before that crisis comes to a head, let’s take a look at some of the imagery of the incredible wind damage in the Rockport and Refugio area.

The eclipse from space

OK, one last post on the eclipse (unless Anthony wants to regale us all with his trip to Missouri), because this is just too cool! Here is the imagery from the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite (making this 100% a weather post) looking at the shadow track across the earth on Monday.

I know Anthony has been dropping some posts in here, but I promise, I’ll get back to actual weather posts soon!

Eclipse forecast update

Tomorrow is a big day for weather people. Of course, we aren’t astronomers or anything like that, but what other day in our lifetime will the entire country be going outside to look to the sky, save, perhaps, for the 4th of July?

Anthony already touched upon the forecast for the eclipse, but I put together this map, with the modeled cloud cover, in which I crudely drew the path of the eclipse’s region of totality.

As you can see, the middle of the country looks to be the most suspect for being able to see the eclipse. Anywhere from Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Paducah, Kentucky might be problematic for eclipse enthusiasts. Through the Rockies and west to the Oregon Coast, if there is no fog, there should be good viewing, likewise for the stretch from Nashville to Charleston.

Of course, the entirety of the eclipse will last for 2 hours, so even in areas with the threat for clouds, there is a good chance for some peeks at this natural phenomenon in progress. And keep in mind, that even if you aren’t seeing a total eclipse, you will see most of an eclipse. Unless, of course, you live in the Upper Mississippi Valley or interior New England, in which case you may not be so lucky.

For those that can see it, enjoy it!

Total Eclipse Forecast First Look

Well, as you’ve no doubt have heard, the Great American Eclipse is just a few days away! On Monday, millions of people from Oregon to South Carolina will be looking skyward as the sun disappears for a couple of minutes in what could probably the most well-documented total eclipse in history. Outside of being summoned to a last minute jury duty, there isn’t much that could ruin this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event! That is unless… it’s CLOUDY. The horrors! Yours truly is going to take his chances and head down to Kansas City the night before and try and then trek just northeastward on Monday morning to get into the path of totality. But will the weather comply? Will I get to see the big event or will some midday clouds obscure it? Here’s an early peek at the GFS model for 1-4pm CDT on Monday

The Upper Midwest looks to be getting widespread rain showers and thunderstorms, so even though the path of totality is well south of there, it’s not optimistic that they’ll get to see any part of the eclipse at all. Afternoon thunderstorm activity developing in the Deep South and FL Peninsula could obscure their portions of the partial eclipse in those areas. In my planned area of attack, there’s some isolated shower activity possible, but as far as cloud cover goes, odds could be higher of some mid- to high-level clouds. Here’s hoping they clear out!

Keep an eye on AL99

Erica swept from Florida and northeast along the coast last week, bringing a tremendous amount of rain over Florida and up along the east coast. We are getting towards the active part of the hurricane, and it looked like there were a couple of features in Erica’s wake that bore watching. The first disturbance is wasting itself in the ITCZ off the South American Coast. The second, feature, presently out by Cabo Verde off the west coast of Africa, is a bit more interesting.

It’s still more than a week and a half from being of serious concern for the Continental US, but initial forecasts suggest that it is something that could have a direct impact on the US Mainland.

There is a lot of time between now and then. The furthest point on this spaghetti plot is 10 days out. The fact that this feature will track over a great deal of open ocean suggests plenty of time for intensification, and there is a definite chance we could be talking about a landfalling hurricane somewhere in Florida later this month.

July forecaster of the Month

It always seems like a slow month here, but once again, we pumped out 12 forecasts, which isn’t bad. Also not bad, the competition. There was a tie at the top, with a half a point separating those two from third place, The Weather Channel. It came down to the very end, but Victoria-Weather was able to catch up to the National Weather Service, and we will both end up having to share this trophy.