Hurricane Irma Still A Cat 3 Hurricane As Outer Bands Hit South Florida

Posted in Commentary, GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Model Forecasts, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 9:54 pm by gmachos

Infrared Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Irma.
Infrared satellite imagery depicts Hurricane Irma, which is still a powerful and large Category Three storm as it moves away from the Northern Coast of Cuba and towards the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida on Saturday evening. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

If Hurricane Irma doesn’t reinvigorate itself over the warm waters of the Florida Straits and Eastern Gulf of Mexico before making landfall by daybreak on Sunday morning, some thanks for that could be due to the rugged terrain of both Hispaniola and Cuba.

Once again the orographic lifting of the tremendous tropical air and moisture from a powerful hurricane over these Caribbean mountains took some starch out. However, Irma remains a powerful Category Three Hurricane, and that speaks a lot to the tremendous structure and resilience of this monster system.

Most importantly though, Irma is back out over water, and very warm water. And, we all know that hurricanes love very warm water, like the bath water of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits, especially this year. With its core still intact, and working with favorable atmospheric conditions, Irma could make a quick turnaround and re-intensify before making landfall.

Keep in mind this thing though. If you recall, Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the monster storm did wind down some before coming ashore in Buras, Louisiana, and then near the Louisiana and Mississippi border on August 29th. The day before, Katrina was in the Gulf as a powerful Category Five Hurricane with 180 mile per hour winds. By landfall, those winds had decreased to only 125 miles per hour.

Despite the weakening though, Katrina still managed to bring ashore a record breaking 28 foot storm surge, the highest ever recorded in North America. It surpassed that of Hurricane Camille in 1969. Much of the reason for that was because Katrina had grown tremendously in size much like Irma has. There are quite a few similarities between these two storms in terms of size and power.

One key difference though was that Irma’s weakening was due to interaction with a rugged land barrier in the mountains of Hispaniola and Cuba. For Katrina, that was not the case. Nevertheless, it is very important to emphasize that just because Irma has weakened considerably over the past couple days, by no means, is this storm not capable of producing catastrophic damage.

The fact that Irma is a very vast storm like Katrina, Rita, Irene, Sandy, and others in recent years, and that it still has a solid core that could re-energize itself in short order. As of the 8:00 PM EDT advisory, Hurricane Irma is located some 45 miles East-Northeast of Varadero, Cuba, or in other words, about 110 miles to the Southeast of Key West in the Florida Keys.

The storm is moving slowly to the West-Northwest at 7 miles per hour. Winds have decreased to 125 miles per hour, which still makes it a major hurricane of Category Three strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Wind gusts are still high at 155 miles per hour. Barometric pressure is still quite low at 932 millibars, or 27.52 inches. The big change is the size of the storm.

Before reaching the Northern Leeward Islands, Irma was about the size of Hurricane Harvey just before it made landfall in Rockport, Texas. Now, the storm is much larger. Hurricane force winds extend some 70 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out about 195 miles. So, for those in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, who believe they are out of danger because they are no longer in the cone of uncertainty, they need to think again.

The storm will cover all of Florida with strong tropical storm force to hurricane force winds. Also, keep in mind that the area to the east of the eye, particularly the notorious northeastern quadrant, or right front quadrant, is where the brunt of a hurricane’s power is. Let’s return to our Katrina example again. Remember, the storm first made landfall in Buras, Louisiana on the southeastern coast, and then a second landfall along the Louisiana-Mississippi border.

Katrina’s track into those areas put the Gulf coast of Mississippi in the dangerous eastern semicircle of the storm, which resulted in the historic, devastating, and deadly storm surge. True, New Orleans was hit hard, but that was due to a man made disaster, i.e., the levee system there failed. Had the storm made landfall to the west of New Orleans, things would have been much, much worse with even more deaths than the 1,800 or so that resulted.

Now, why is Irma still a very dangerous threat even though it has weakened quite significantly by losing over a third of its peak wind speed over the past couple days? Well, due to the concept of the conservation of momentum, particularly angular momentum since we are dealing with the spin of the storm as well. When Irma was a smaller storm it had higher wind speed, but now that the wind speed has gone down, the size and wind field has increased to compensate in order to conserve angular momentum.

If you are wondering what I mean by angular momentum, just think of a figure skater going through his or her routine, and they suddenly begin to spin in the middle of the ice rink. As he or she pulls his or her arms inward, he or she spins faster. When the arms go outward he or she will slow down. Think of the eye of Hurricane Irma to be like that skater. A tighter eye and smaller storm with high winds will expand as those winds decrease.

Reading the most recent forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida at 5:00 PM on Saturday afternoon, Irma is projected to return to Category Four strength within 12 hours, and have 140 mile per hour winds before coming ashore along the West Coast of Florida. Like I mentioned earlier, the storm still has a solid core, and is again moving out into very warm waters in the Florida Straits and extreme Southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Re-strengthening is quite possible.

Looking at the latest forecast track from the NHC, Irma is expected to turn northward, and move over the middle Florida Keys by morning. Then, the storm will hug the West Florida coast during the day on Sunday, and be near Naples and Fort Myers by mid-afternoon, and then be in the area of Tampa, Florida by early Monday morning. Irma will then move inland over Northern Florida, and still be a hurricane in Southern Georgia by mid-Monday afternoon.

Irma is then expected to continue heading to the Northwest into Alabama, Tennessee, and toward Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas by mid-Tuesday afternoon. The reasoning behind this track is due to the fact that the storm is now on the periphery of the subtropical ridge in the Atlantic that has been driving it generally to the west. Now, it is beginning to fall under the influence of another high over Eastern Texas and the Western Gulf, which is serving as a buffer for the Lone Star State.

There is another ridge to the north of Irma that will lift out, and create the opening that is the consensus forecast track from the NHC. Looking at the model runs courtesy of Tropical Tidbits, the European or ECMWF model has Irma in the area of Key West as a 948 millibar low by 8:00 AM EDT on Sunday morning. The storm will continue to track north, and be north of Tampa by 8:00 AM EDT on Monday morning. Three days out, Irma is well inland over Northeastern Alabama as a tropical depression.

Moving on to the GFS, or American model, it has Irma in the Florida Keys as a 911 millibar low by 8:00 AM EDT Sunday morning. The hurricane will then move over the area around Tampa, Florida as a 947 mb low by 2:00 AM EDT on Monday morning, and over Northern Florida as a 959 mb low by 8:00 AM on September 11th. Irma then continues to head northwest and further inland and weakens to a depression by 2:00 PM EDT on Tuesday afternoon.

The CMC, or Canadian model has Irma in the area of Key West as a 980 millibar low by 8:00 AM EDT Sunday morning. Within 36 hours, or by 8:00 PM EDT Sunday evening, Irma is a 977 millibar low between Port Charlotte and Tampa. The storm then comes ashore over Tampa into Central Florida as a 979 millibar low by 2:00 AM EDT Monday morning. The hurricane then moves further inland over Northern Florida and Southern Georgia, and then moves to the northwest into Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee by the end of 72 hours.

The EPS ensemble model, and the HWRF model are also showing similar solutions over the next 72 hours as well. Right now, a Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the South Santee River southward around the Florida Peninsula to the Suwanee River including the Florida Keys and Tampa Bay. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for North of the Suwanee River to the Ochlockonee River. A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida Peninsula to Indian Pass.

The Warning area also includes the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, and the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Matanzas, and Havana as well as areas in the Bahamas including Andros Island, Bimini, and Grand Bahama. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for north of Fernandina Beach to Edisto Beach. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for West of Indian Pass to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line. North of Fernandina Beach to South Santee River.

Before I forget, I would like to make note about a couple places in the warned area; Tampa Bay and Lake Okeechobee. These two areas are very vulnerable areas to hurricanes and have not been directly impacted by a storm in a while. Tampa, in particular, suffered its last direct hit from a major hurricane in 1921. Back then, Tampa’s population was only 10,000 people. Today, the area is home to approximately 3 million people according to the NHC from an article by CBS News late Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Lake Okeechobee is home to one of the deadliest hurricanes ever. The area was affected by a major hurricane in 1928. The storm, which is known as either the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane, or the San Felipe Segundo Hurricane produced winds as high as 160 miles per hour at one time, and a minimum central pressure of 929 millibars. The storm caused $100 million dollars in damage in 1928 dollars, which as of 2003 was about $20 billion in damage. The hurricane also killed over 4,100 people from the Caribbean to Florida.

This is a very serious situation. Some 6.4 million people, or about 25 percent of Florida’s residents live in the Sunshine State’s evacuation zones. As of a few hours ago, only 70,000 people were in shelters, and there were still some people on the streets in places like Miami Beach, especially since the forecast track has shifted west. This is very important, the storm may have shifted west, but again, it is a very large and vast system that has the ability to spread hurricane and tropical storm force winds over a large area. Time is running out to stay out of harm’s way.


Hurricane Irma Still A Very Powerful Cat 5 As It Closes in on Florida

Posted in Commentary, GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Model Forecasts, Storm Facts, Storm Footage, Storm History, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 8:47 pm by gmachos

National Hurricane Center Indicates South Florida Landfall Likely

Infrared Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Irma.
Infrared satellite imagery depicts Hurricane Irma, which is still a monster Category Five storm as it stays north of the island of Hispaniola on Thursday evening. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Things continue to heat up in the Atlantic Tropics on this late Thursday afternoon and evening. We now have three hurricanes in the basin for the first time since 2010. Two of those storms are major hurricanes, and the biggest threat of them all is Hurricane Irma, a Category Five storm that is setting all kinds of marks.

The monster storm devastated the islands of the Northeastern Caribbean including Barbuda, which at first was reported to be 90 percent devastated, but then later on Wednesday night, the Prime Minister of Anguilla and Barbuda reported that the resort island in the Northern Leewards was, “rubble” as per CNN.

Nearby on St. Thomas, there was dramatic footage of Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds that was featured on the Greg’s Weather Center and Hurricaneville Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon. In St. Maarten, the historic airport is completely devastated. Over in Puerto Rico, the United States territory that has been dealing with a great deal of economic struggle, the residents there dodged a bullet as the storm stayed to the north and pulled away from the island, but still dealt with gusty winds and flooding rains.

As of this afternoon, CNN reported that 10 people were dead from the storm’s destructive path through the Northeastern Caribbean. Irma was able to maintain its very powerful intensity of 185 mile per hour winds for a record 37 hours. No other hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone on earth has ever maintained that level of ferocity for that long. It is also now third past Hurricane Ivan from the crazy 2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season in terms of duration as a Category Five Hurricane.

To understand what Hurricane Irma has done in terms of maintaining its fury, you have to look at how tough it is to maintain a level of such intensity that is Category Five. Hurricanes are vertically stacked systems since they are barotropic by nature. In other words, the clouds build vertically over the center of low pressure from near sea level to near the stratosphere. Baroclinic storms such as the nor’easters and extratropical systems we normally deal with in New Jersey, and much of the United States, have a slanted cloud structure since it is influenced by wind shear.

As a result, a hurricane, particularly a Category Five Hurricane is a very fragile structure, almost like a house of cards. A thing of beauty as long as it can stand. Once some air blows on it, it is gone. Vertical wind shear is a very hostile atmospheric foe that tears tropical storms and hurricanes apart by blowing off the high cloud tops from the powerful thunderstorms that develop, and are fueled by the warm water. Cat 5 storms follow the Goldilocks principle as Hugh Willoughby, a former long time NOAA hurricane researcher, said, “Everything needs to be just right.”

Category Five Hurricanes at most usually last 30 hours. A storm of that power to usually last that long are quite unusual. Hurricanes Isabel (2003) and Ivan (2004) managed to maintain that level of power for such a duration. Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded that devastated portions of the Philippines, did not last at its peak intensity as long as Irma has. Hurricane Allen, the strongest storm ever in the same region that Irma has affected with 190 mile per hour winds, couldn’t stay that strong as long. Irma maintains its 185 mile per hour winds for 37 hours.

Irma has weakened since that time. Thanks to some interaction with the rugged terrain of the northern portion of the island of Hispaniola, which produced some orographic lifting of the abundant tropical moisture laden air, the maximum sustained winds have decreased to just 175 miles per hour with gusts down to 215 miles per hour while its pressure has risen some 8 millibars to 922 millibars, or approximately 27.23 inches of Hg (Mercury). The eye of the storm is decreased a bit to 20 nautical miles while its hurricane force winds extend some 70 miles from the eye and its tropical storm force winds reach out some 185 miles.

Simply put, Hurricane Irma is a beast. It is a very large system, which means even if it weakens, there is still a great threat, especially in terms of its storm surge. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to August 28, 2005. Hurricane Katrina was lurking in the Gulf of Mexico as a Category Five Hurricane with 180 mile per hour winds. Katrina was on a course for New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Right before landfall though, Katrina weakens a good deal to be just a strong Category Three Hurricane with 125 mile per hour winds.

However, Katrina was still a vicious storm since it had been stirring up the waves in the Gulf for several days. Most importantly though, Katrina, like Irma was very vast, which made it very capable of producing a massive storm surge. Along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Katrina did with the biggest storm surge on record in North America at 28 feet, which surpassed that of Hurricane Camille in August 1969, which was 24 feet, 4 inches. Camille, a Category Five storm at landfall over Pass Christian, Mississippi, was a much smaller storm.

As a matter of fact, the storm was misconstrued as a weaker storm based on the satellite imagery at that time. Interpreting satellite imagery at that time was in its infancy, and forecasters didn’t really know how truly potent Camille was until a Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into it. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Andrew (August 1992) were also very small, but potent Category Five Hurricanes. Going back to the large storms, Hurricane Gilbert, another vast storm, was forecast to produce a storm surge of about 25 feet when it came ashore in the Yucatan with its 888 millibar pressure and 180 mile per hour winds in September 1988. Right now, Irma is capable of producing a storm surge of at least 20 feet in the Caribbean.

Looking at the latest forecast track by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has Hurricane Irma is expected to continue on its general westward track through the Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, be in the Southern Bahamas by Friday afternoon, and then hug the Northern Cuban coast on Saturday morning and afternoon before turning northward into the Florida Straits, and into the Florida Keys and South Florida by Sunday afternoon.

Right now, a Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida Peninsula to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo to the northern border with Haiti. In Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to LeMole St. Nicholas. Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, and Villa Clara, Central Bahamas, and Northwestern Bahamas.

Meanwhile, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida Peninsula to Bonita Beach, Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Matanzas. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Haiti from south o Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-au-Prince. Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, and Las Tunas. Other portions in Cuba and Florida should monitor the progress of this dangerous storm.

Taking a look at the models courtesy of Tropical Tidbits, the GFS has Irma hugging the northern Cuban coast for the next 48 hours. By early morning Sunday, the monster storm will begin to come ashore in the Florida Keys and the Southern tip of Florida as a 901 millibar low. By mid-afternoon Sunday, the hurricane is pushing through South Florida as a 919 millibar low. The Euro also has Irma hugging the Northern Cuba coast for the next 48 hours, and then moving over Southwestern Florida and the Florida Keys by 72 hours. Irma is also expected to be in Northern Florida as a 967 millibar low by the end of four days.

The CMC, or Canadian model has the storm in the same general area, but a little bit more in the Florida Straits by 48 hours. By late Saturday night, Irma has about to make landfall in South Florida and the northern and eastern Keys. The storm then comes onshore along the Southern tip of Florida and the Northern Keys early Sunday morning as a 971 millibar low. By mid-Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma will be sitting right on top of Miami, Florida. The storm then skirts the East Florida coast for 24 hours until it moves backs out over water near Jacksonville, Florida early Monday morning. The EPS or one of the ensemble models has a similar look to the GFS.

With the EPS, the storm is just northeast of Havana, Cuba by Saturday morning. By Sunday morning, Irma comes ashore over the Florida Keys and South Florida, and moves north through the Sunshine State to be near Jacksonville, Florida by the end of four days. Finally, the hurricane weakens to a tropical depression or storm near Atlanta by the end of five days. The HWRF model has a similar solution to the CMC model except that after it skirts the East Florida Coast and gets back out over water, the storm comes ashore again near Savannah, Georgia within 90 hours.

Twenty-five years ago, Andrew, which was the costliest storm on record after plowing through Homestead and South Florida in August 1992 with $27 billion dollars, is now second behind Katrina. However, if Irma continues along at a strength bordering Category Four or Five with 150 to 160 miles per hour, it is already estimated to cause some $138 billion dollars in damage according to a leading insurance agency according to CNBC. Remember earlier this month when early damage estimates for Harvey were at $190 billion dollars according to Accu-Weather.

The airlines using some of the airports in South Florida have started to shut down operations. There have been long lines waiting for rental cars in South Florida. Up to one hour for an SUV rental even if you have a reservation. Long lines of traffic are on the road out of Miami Beach according to video footage from WeatherNation. About 90 percent of all the residents of the Florida Keys have already evacuated by taking the only way out of there on U.S. Route 1. There has been a great deal of stress and fear expressed on the internet and social media as well.

Residents along the East Coast of the United States up to the Outer Banks of North Carolina should pay close attention to the whereabouts of this storm over the next several days. People in Florida should be making preparations to protect their home, and to evacuate if necessary. Stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center, local radio, television, internet, and social media outlets for the latest updates and info on this very dangerous storm.


Monster Hurricane Irma Bears Down on Leeward Islands

Posted in GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Model Forecasts, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 11:59 pm by gmachos

Storm Dramatically Intensifies to Powerful Category 5 Hurricane

Infrared Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Irma.
Infrared satellite imagery depicts Hurricane Irma, which is now a monster Category Five storm as it heads toward the Northern Leeward Island. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Last night when I last posted to my blog, Hurricane Irma had intensified into a Category 4 Hurricane with 130 mile per hour winds. Pressure had fallen to 944 millibars. Irma didn’t stop there though. This morning when I headed out to work, I received a message via twitter from a good friend of mine that the pressure with Irma had fallen to 937 millibars, and it was still falling.

While at work, I didn’t get a chance to check the NHC web site for any updates on the storm. Then, when I got home at about 1:30 PM this afternoon, I learned that the hurricane had strengthened to a monster Category Five Hurricane with 180 mile per hour winds. By far Irma had become the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic in 2017. It could actually become the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic ever.

Back during the monster hurricane season of 2005, there were five storms that reached Category Five intensity (Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma). The last three of that wicked bunch surpassed each other for being the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Wilma, the last major hurricane to make landfall in the United States before Hurricane Harvey came ashore near Rockport, Texas about two weeks ago, had a pressure of 882 millibars at one point.

Within a half an hour of getting home, the next advisory on Irma came out at 2:00 PM. The storm had intensified some more to have maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 926 millibars, or 27.34 inches. In addition, Puerto Rico, had joined Florida in declaring a state of emergency. Residents on the island, which is a United States territory, are very scared according to reports on CNN’s Anderson Cooper this evening. Florida has been already under a State of Emergency for over 24 hours, and special needs residents were being evacuated in South Florida.

The storm is already creating financial havoc. As Harvey did to the oil and gas industry in Texas, Irma is causing chaos in the United States Orange Juice market. With Florida’s large Orange crop under threat from Irma, Orange Juice futures were up according to Bloomberg Television. In addition, there were long lines in stores all across South Florida. Residents scrambled to buy such things as propane tanks and bottled water. One person reported that they actually had to buy a pack of bottled water for about $25.00.

The latest advisory, at 11:00 PM EDT, from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, indicates that Irma is still a Category Five Hurricane with 185 mile per hour winds, but the storm is even stronger with its minimum central pressure now down to 916 millibars, or approximately 27.05 inches of Hg. Wind gusts with this storm are in upwards of 195 knots, or nearly 225 miles per hour. The eye of this intense storm is just about 25 nautical miles wide. Hurricane Irma has grown in size as well. Last night, the storm was a little larger than Harvey. Since then, it has become even larger.

Hurricane force winds in Irma are now extending some 50 miles from the eye while Tropical storm force winds reach out some 175 miles. Irma is getting very close to the Northern Leeward Islands at this time. The menacing storm is about 50 miles to the East-Northeast of Antigua or roughly 50 miles to the East-Southeast of Barbuda. Irma is now moving to the West-Northwest at 15 miles per hour. Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, Dominican Republic from Cabo England to the northern border of Haiti, and Guadeloupe.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect from the Northern of Haiti from the border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Southeastern Bahamas, Cuba from Matanza Province eastward to Guantanamo Province. Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Dominica and the Dominican Republic from south of Engano westward to the Southern border of Haiti. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au Prince. Interests in Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, the Northern Bahamas, Florida, and the Florida Keys should closely monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma.

The storm has a classic structure. It has that typical buzz saw look to it with a well defined eye, solid banding, perfect symmetry, and healthy outflow. Hurricane Irma has been a Category Five Hurricane for about 12 hours now. Most hurricanes can only sustain Category Five intensity for about 30 hours at best. Some have managed to surpass that. Experts indicated that this storm could be as powerful at this stage in the Atlantic as Hurricane Allen was in August 1980. There will be likely fluctuations in intensity as the storm goes through eyewall replacement cycles, and continues to re-organize.

According to the latest forecast discussion from the NHC, Irma is expected to go through a gradual weakening phase as it pushes through the Northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. Keep in mind that there are mountains ranging from 7,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and Cuba. Irma’s interaction with these rugged land features will probably take some of the starch out of the storm, and the intensity forecast has the hurricane weakening to a still quite powerful Category Four storm with 140 mile per hour winds by the end of five days on September 11th.

Right now, the NHC consensus track for Irma continues to have it on a more West-Northwest track, which puts it just to the north of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba through Saturday evening, and then taking more of a turn toward the north like Hurricane Charley did in August 2004. The storm will be in the area of Key West by Sunday night. South and Central Florida as well as the Western end of Cuba are currently in the cone of uncertainty.


Hurricane Irma Intensifies to Category Four Storm

Posted in Commentary, GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Model Forecasts, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 8:14 pm by gmachos

Florida Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Potential Hit from Dangerous Storm

Infrared Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Irma.
Infrared satellite imagery depicts Hurricane Irma, which intensified into a Category Four storm as it closed in on the Northern Leeward Islands early Monday evening. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Earlier on Monday, Hurricaneville reported on the growing threat from Hurricane #Irma, which is now a few hundred miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. At the time of my last blog post, the winds with the storm were at 120 miles per hour, or a strong Category Three intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Late Monday afternoon, the ninth named storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season strengthened even further.

As of the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Irma strengthened to have maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour with gusts as high as 160 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure remains at 944 millibars, or about 27.88 inches of Hg. Irma, which is pronounced ER-mah, is located approximately 490 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and now moving more to the west at 13 miles per hour.

Hurricane Irma, which is the fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is a little larger than Harvey was with hurricane force winds now extending some 40 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds now reach out about 140 miles. The eye’s diameter is about 15 nautical miles, and is well defined. There remain numerous watches and warnings out for the Lesser Antilles.

A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélemy. A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Guadeloupe. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica. In addition to all of this, Florida officials have declared a State of Emergency.

The Sunshine State could see a possible landfall as early as this coming weekend according to an article posted this afternoon by CNN. Irma can still intensify even more. The NHC’s late afternoon forecast discussion indicates that Irma is expected to intensify to have 145 mile per hour winds within 12 hours, and reach its peak intensity of 150 miles per hour within 24 and 36 hours. By the time that the storm is in the area of South Florida, the Florida Keys, and Northern Cuba at the end of five days, Irma is expected to weaken, but remain a Category Four Hurricane with 130 mile per hour winds.

Taking a look at the most recent model runs from Tropical TIdbits, the GFS has Irma as a powerful 895 millibar low, or an equivalent to a powerful Category Five Hurricane in the Florida Straits between the Florida Keys, South Florida, and the Northern Coast of Cuba by the middle of Saturday afternoon. Fast forward 24 hours later, Irma is onshore in South Florida as a 920 millibar low. The storm will continue to advance northward, and be in Southern Georgia by next Monday afternoon, September 11th.

Meanwhile, the Euro has the storm a little further to the south and east, and over water off the Central Florida coast near Cape Canaveral as a 937 millibar low by the same time on Monday afternoon, September 11th. This is after the storm is forecast by the model to be situated just off the coast of Northern Cuba as a 946 millibar low by the mid-afternoon of Saturday, September 9th. The Canadian model has the storm further north and east than the Euro by the end of 7 days.

After getting close to the Florida Straits and north of the Northern Cuba coast as a 978 millibar low by the mid-afternoon of Saturday, September 9th, the CMC model has Irma as a 972 millibar low located a couple hundred miles east of Jacksonville, Florida by the afternoon of September 11th. The EPS ensemble model has the hurricane hugging the Northern Cuba coast as a 988 millibar low by mid-afternoon this coming Saturday. Then, the model’s forecast track has it moving into the Florida Straits on Sunday, and be in the vicinity of Tampa, Florida on Monday afternoon, September 11th as a 994 millibar low.

The HWRF model has the powerful storm with a 924 millibar low in the Florida Straits just to the north of the Northern Cuba coast late Saturday evening. So, over the next five days, the models are in general agreement that the storm will be in the area of the Northern Cuba coast on Saturday afternoon. Beyond that, the models vary with an array of solutions once you go six or seven days out. It all depends on if and when the trough advancing into the Eastern United States will pick up Irma.

For the residents of New Jersey, the Canadian model, CMC, does have an interesting solution for the end of eight days, or 192 hours. The model proposes that Irma will be in the vicinity of Chesapeake Bay as a 974 millibar low on Tuesday morning. I must emphasize though that the Euro and GFS have been more reliable models than the CMC although the GFS has been having a history of very low pressures with the storm’s intensity and track. It is also over a week out. In other words, a lot can change before that, and it is just something to keep in the back of your minds.

All residents in the Northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico including Culebra and Vieques, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Cuba, the Southern Bahamas, Florida Keys, and South Florida should continue to monitor the progress of the storm, and make the necessary preparations now. Residents further north along the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic portion of the United States should also pay attention on the progress of this system, and be ready in case the storm’s forecast track makes more of a turn to the north.

Long Drought Between Major Hurricanes Contribute to Texas Disaster?

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Intensit, Storm Aftermath, Storm Facts, Storm History, Tracking the Tropi at 3:53 pm by gmachos

Did 12 Year Gap Between Major Storms Cause Complacency?

Earlier this year, I read an article that talked about the State of Florida relaxing its strict building codes, which had been in effect since the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. It was quite surprising to read, but then again, it had been almost 12 years since a major hurricane had made landfall anywhere along the coastline of the United States. Had complacency set back in along the U.S. coastline?

As a matter of fact, it had been over 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the Sunshine State. In July 2005, Hurricane Dennis had made landfall in the Florida Panhandle area. In addition, there had not been a Category Four Hurricane coming ashore in the United States since Hurricane Charley tore through Punta Gorda, Florida in August 2004.

In the run up to the landfall of Hurricane Harvey on the evening August 25, 2017, approximately 50 to 60 percent of the residents of Rockport, Texas, where the storm came ashore as a powerful Category Four Hurricane, decided to stay and ride out the storm. Keep in mind, the last time a major hurricane came ashore in Texas, particularly the middle to low coast of the Lone Star State, was in August 1999, when Hurricane Bret made landfall.

The thing to remember with Hurricane Bret was the fact that it was a very small storm that actually had weakened from a Category Four in the Gulf to Category Three, and it struck a very sparsely populated area along the coast. The last time, the Texas coast had experienced a storm as strong as Hurricane Harvey was Hurricane Celia in 1970. Hurricane Allen had been a Category Five storm at one point, but weakened to a Category Three before making landfall in August 1980.

Hurricane Ike was also a powerful storm, and had strengthened to Category Four at one point in the Caribbean, but by the time it came ashore near Galveston in September 2008, the storm had lost some punch and was downgraded to a Category Two Hurricane. The moral of the story is that it had been quite a while since even residents along the Texas coastline experienced a storm with Harvey’s type of fury. This may have contributed to many of those residents in Rockport staying instead of evacuating.

Public officials did try to drive home the point that Harvey was not a storm to mess with. They had advised people to write their names and social security numbers on their arms in the event that they could not be identified in the storm’s aftermath. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service also clearly indicated that Harvey was going to slow down and linger in Texas for a few days, and that would result in torrential rains.

Despite this, and advice from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, local officials in Houston felt that they were able to handle this problem on their own. The mayor and the local emergency management officials had decided to have residents stay in place. A significant part of the reason for this decision was because of what had taken place during the evacuation prior to Hurricane Rita in September 2005. Back then, officials told people in the Houston area to evacuate since they didn’t know where exactly Rita would end up.

Approximately 3 million people fled ahead of Rita. People got on the roads causing tremendous traffic jams. Due to the tremendous traffic, there were many that took as long as 20 hours to get to their destination. About 100 people had died from various reasons including heat stroke. Among the dead were 24 people in a bus carrying nursing home evacuees that caught fire. In addition, there was chaos and frustration that led to fights on the roadways according to the Houston Chronicle article written in 2015, and ran again on August 25, 2017.

Nevertheless, Houston officials had 12 years to rework the plan. It is true moving some 2.5 million residents in Houston itself as well as several million more in the outlying communities is difficult, but having them stay in place in the face of a storm that wound up surpassing the rainfall totals spawned by Tropical Storm Allison, the only tropical storm on record to have its name retired, was not a very good option either. Even General Russell Honore, who was a key player in helping the City of New Orleans begin the long road back to normal after the chaos following Hurricane Katrina, stated that at least those most susceptible should have been evacuated.

It had been over 16 years since Tropical Storm Allison’s deluge over the Houston area. It had also been almost 9 years since Hurricane Ike pounded Galveston. It had been 12 years since the chaotic mass exodus in response to the threat from Rita. So, what was being done in that time to address these issues? Perhaps the lack of a significant hurricane threat in the Atlantic Basin over the past 12 to 13 years played a small part in all of this. In fairness though, the response by the people of Texas, the United States, and local, state, and federal officials in the wake of Harvey has been terrific. It has been great to see people coming together to help others in need.

Before Hurricane Andrew struck Homestead and rolled across South Florida in August 1992, there had been a period of about 20 years where there was a dearth of activity in the Atlantic Basin as a whole. South Florida had not really been hit with a major hurricane since Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Herbert Saffir, the engineer who joined forces with Robert Sampson to come up with the Saffir-Simpson Scale to classify hurricane intensity, had indicated to the Chicago Tribune back in June 2001, that the building industry had become complacent. Prior to Andrew, it wasn’t being followed, and was getting in the way of builders and contractors, who were “in a rush to get a job finished.”

During that 20 year period before Hurricane Andrew, the population of Florida changed as more and more people migrated south to the Sunshine State from areas in the north that either didn’t experience hurricanes at all, or rarely dealt with them. The same perhaps could be said in today’s Texas, which really hadn’t experienced a major hurricane in some parts of its vast coastline in 18 years, and a Category Four Hurricane on par with the strength of Harvey in 47 years.


The Harvey Saga Continues As Storm Moves Out Over Water Again

Posted in GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Storm Aftermath, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 8:58 pm by gmachos

The Relentless Storm Regaining Strength Again From Warm Waters of Gulf

The City of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is in a state of desperate paralysis as flood waters continue to rise from torrential rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey. Once a Category Four Hurricane prior to landfall down the Texas coast at Rockport on Friday night, has brought about as much as 39 inches to areas in Southeastern Texas.

So far, there have been 2,000 rescues attempted. Earlier in the day, the rain relented as the storm’s rain bands rotated to the east and Beaumont, which had already received over 18 inches of rain. Rain has moved into Louisiana, where it has gone as Far East as New Orleans. The Crescent City, which has also seen its fair share of rain the past two summers, has received 4 to 6 inches from Harvey’s outer bands.

Other areas in South Central Louisiana could receive between 5 to 15 inches. Southeastern Louisiana including New Orleans could receive between 5 to 10 inches before the storm finally heads out. Even areas in Arkansas could receive a foot of rain from this system, which has re-energized and strengthened to have maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 997 millibars, or 29.44 inches of Hg.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, Dayton, a town in Liberty County, Texas, has received 39.72 inches of rain. According to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, this amount represents the fourth highest rainfall ever from a tropical cyclone in Texas. The Houston metropolitan area receives about 42 inches of rain per year. During Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001, there was about 35 inches of rain. Forecasts are calling for Harvey to bring another 10 to 15 inches over the next day or two to these same waterlogged areas.

Since the storm made landfall on Friday, the Brazos River has risen some 35 feet in the area of Sugarland, Texas, and may reach 59 feet there later this week according to CNN. In addition, much of Southeastern Texas, is also still battling with tornadoes. So far, 12 have been confirmed, but there have been at least 60 tornado warnings since the storm made landfall. Tornado Watches have shifted eastward to Beaumont and the Sabine Pass area of Texas into Southern Louisiana.

Harvey continues to be a record breaker by remaining a tropical storm some 72 hours after landfall. According to Klotzbach, which is the longest on record that a Texas landfalling hurricane has remained a named storm. FEMA director Brock Long asked for all hands on deck this morning as he urged all three levels of government: federal, state, and local as well as ordinary citizens to pitch in. Volunteers with boats have been urged by Houston Police to come help.

The Cajun Navy, which was created in response to flooding events in Louisiana, have also stepped forward to assist. As of 7:00 PM EDT this evening, there has been a total of 7 deaths so far from the storms. However, there are only about 5,500 people in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Another 1,000 people have found shelter in nearby Friendswood. People are getting desperate in trying to get help. Volunteers with boats have reported being shot at or being rushed at by people that they are unable to rescue.

The Houston School District has cancelled classes for some 215,000 children, and schools aren’t expected to reopen until at least September 5th. Sporting events such as this coming weekend’s college football game between BYU and LSU at Houston’s NRG stadium is going to be moved to another venue. One of the possibilities is moving the game to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, but that area is also beginning to feel the affects of rainfall from Harvey. The exhibition game between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys scheduled for this Thursday is also in doubt with the Texans practicing in Frisco, Texas.

Another 15 to 20 inches is expected to fall in Houston over the next few days so we could end up seeing a record shattering 50 inches of rainfall from this storm when it is done. The highest rainfall total from a Texas tropical storm or hurricane according to Klotzbach was Amelia in 1978. Hurricane Mitch, which had been a Category Five Hurricane at one point in October 1998, reportedly dumped 75 inches over Honduras and Nicaragua putting portions of those two countries back 50 years according to experts at the time.


Catastrophe Unfolding in Southeastern Texas

Posted in GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Storm Facts, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 6:31 pm by gmachos

As Bands of Rain Continue to Pour In Houston Area, Historic Flood Builds

Over the past several days, I have woken up in the middle of the night, but at about 3:00 AM this morning, there was a different feeling that I had. Once I took a look at my Twitter and Facebook feeds on my cell phone, I saw that many forecasters fears were being realized along much of coastal Texas including the Houston area.

I saw and retweeted or shared information from the National Weather Service office in Houston indicating that some 6 to 10 inches fell in just a matter of about four hours. Some of my Facebook friends that live in the Houston metro area and further east along the coast at Beaumont, and Southwestern Louisiana, were discussing how the flood waters were rising, and how the rain just wasn’t stopping.

Eventually falling to sleep again, I woke up again at about 7:30 AM this morning, and turned on HLN, which was formally CNN’s Headline News, and watched as the morning anchor was speaking with a resident of the Houston metro area as well as someone from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department so that they could arrange some sort of rescue from the rising flood waters in this resident’s home.

Fears have been growing that the rainfall amounts could get as high as 50 inches. Looking at the most recent rainfall amounts from around the Houston area and Southeastern Texas, those prospects are very likely. Some places have already seen close to 25 inches already, and we are only some 43 hours since Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor with 130 mile per hour winds and a minimum central pressure of 938 millibars.

Harvey, which is the strongest Category Four Hurricane to come ashore along the Texas coast since Hurricane Carla in 1961, did make quite an impact to the Texas coast in the area of Rockport. Many buildings were devastated if they didn’t fail completely, roofs were completely torn off homes, and large signs were torn off like sheets of paper from a notebook. The storm remained a hurricane for another 15 hours after that until about 3:00 PM on Saturday.

With the storm’s fury along the coastline now past, the real fear is now setting in, and that is the fact that Harvey has slowed to a crawl, and with its abundance of tropical moisture, and no steering currents to take it somewhere else, the result is what many feared, a catastrophe of enormous proportions with flooding that is likely to easily surpass that of Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001. Allison is the only tropical storm on record, which had its name retired.

Highways are now submerged under many feet of water. The flooding has reached the extent where large Interstate Exit Signs and highway video cameras are almost completely submerged in water. Panoramic views of the city of Houston show significant flooding nearly everywhere around the city. Cable news showing footage of people wading through the high flood waters in order to find refuge wherever they can find it. With the storm forecast to linger in the area for the next several days at least, rainfall amounts around the affected area could easily be doubled.

In addition, the Houston Metro area as well as much of Southeastern Texas has been pummeled by the onslaught of rotational thunderstorms and tornadoes caused by the friction between the landfalling Harvey and the Texas landmass. The National Weather Service in the Houston area has had to issue at least 60 Tornado Warnings since Harvey made landfall on Friday night. Now, usually, these twisters are not of the EF3, EF4, or EF5 variety, but they’ve easily piled on to the misery that is unfolding.

As of the most recent advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Harvey remained a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 1000 millibars, or 29.53 inches of Hg. Tropical Storm Harvey continues to move slowly, and now to the Southeast at 2 miles per hour. Harvey is located some 25 miles to the Northwest of Victoria, Texas, which also received a tremendous amount of rainfall.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Port O’Connor to Sargent along the Texas coast while a Tropical Storm Watch has just been issued from North of Sargent to San Luis Pass. Tropical storm force winds still extend some 140 miles from the center of Harvey. Isolated storm totals could reach 50 inches along the upper Texas coast including the Houston and Galveston area. Residents of Southwestern Louisiana should also be wary of Harvey. The NHC urges residents not to travel in the affected area if you are in a safe place, and not to drive onto flooded roadways.

The Federal Government has been constantly monitoring the situation, and helping Texas officials with search and rescue operations. Texas Governor, Greg Abbott said in a news conference earlier today that the main priority is to save lives. President Donald Trump has indicated that he will be traveling down to Texas to assess the situation on Tuesday. Abbott has been quite happy with the federal response saying that he gives “FEMA a grade of A+.” FEMA director, Brock Long is not only focused on the current situation and getting the proper response out, but also focusing on the long term help as well according to NBC’s Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate.

Speaking of television, Harvey’s rains have also impacted some of the coverage by local TV stations in the Houston metro area. Earlier on Sunday, CBS affiliate, KHOU-TV in Houston had to go off the air after flood waters began to move in on the first floor of their studios. The storm is not done yet, we are still at the very beginning of this weather driven drama.


The Real Problem Begins as Harvey Weakens to Tropical Storm

Posted in GWC News, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Storm Aftermath, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Track, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropi at 2:52 pm by gmachos

The Focus with Storm Now Goes to Heavy Rain and Flooding

Late Friday night, Harvey came ashore as a Category Four Hurricane near the town of Rockport at about 10:00 PM CDT, or about 11:00 PM EDT. Wind gusts in Rockport were as high as 132 miles per hour, and the devastation in the town is widespread and catastrophic with many building and roof failures. The real problem begins though as Harvey transitions to a potentially devastating rainmaker.

Harvey lasted as a hurricane for some 15 hours before just being downgraded to a tropical storm with 70 mile per hour winds as of 2:00 PM EDT, or 1:00 PM CDT. Corpus Christi ended up dodging a huge bullet with the storm moving further to the north, and placing the city on the western, and more weaker side of the storm. The result was winds that were less than half that in Rockport. Peak wind gust at Corpus Christi was 63 miles per hour according to CNN.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott indicated in his latest press conference that rainfall amounts have ranged from 16 inches in Houston well off to the north and east to 20 inches in Corpus Christi. The disaster declaration has been expanded to 50 counties. Approximately 1,000 people are involved in search and rescue operations across the area affected by the storm. The Southeastern portion of the Lone Star State is under a Tornado Watch as Harvey’s circulation continues to move further inland. About 50 Tornado Warnings have been issued since the storm made landfall.

Inland areas such as Victoria, Texas are currently being lashed by strong winds and heavy rains. Many of the rivers in Eastern Texas are either under major or moderate flood stage. According to Robert Smith of Garden State Weather, there are over one million people that are without power at the moment in Texas. Although the storm has weakened, Harvey still contains plenty of tropical moisture, and now that the steering currents over the storm have broken down, and the storm has slowed to nearly a crawl, torrential rains and flooding are becoming a huge concern.

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents along the Brazos and San Bernard River. Harvey came ashore with 130 mile per hour sustained winds and a minimum central pressure of 938 millibars. The low pressure ranks Harvey as among the Top 65 storms of all time in the Atlantic. Harvey’s pressure at landfall makes it stronger Texas hurricane than Celia (1970) with 945 millibars, and Allen (1980) with 948 millibars. Harvey was the first major hurricane to come ashore in the United States in almost 12 years, and the first Category Four system to make landfall since Hurricane Charley in August 2004.

Harvey became the first major hurricane to make landfall in Texas since Hurricane Bret did in 1999. Bret was a much smaller storm that struck a relatively uninhabited area at that time, and therefore didn’t cause much death or destruction. Harvey, which had weakened to a depression on Sunday, and then was downgraded to an open wave shortly afterward, began to get better organized on Wednesday night, and then rapidly intensified with a pressure drop of 65 millibars in about 57 hours.

Reasons for the rapid deepening with Harvey was due to the fact that the upper level wind shear that had been hampering it during the day on Wednesday, had relented. High pressure built up aloft and Harvey’s structure became more symmetric or circular, and fed off the high octane energy from the very warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, which have ranged between 85 and 90 degrees during the course of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Prior to Harvey’s landfall on Friday night, the United States coastline had not endured a landfalling major hurricane since Hurricane Wilma came ashore in Southwestern Florida in late October 2005, which was 4,324 days ago. With the dearth of landfalling major hurricanes over the last dozen years or so, many people living along the coast have not experienced a major hurricane. This fact may have influenced many residents including about 50 to 60 percent of the population of Rockport, decided to ride out the storm according to media reports.

About a couple weeks ago, there was a lot of chatter going around the internet, Twitter, and Facebook about the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season being a disappointment to date, and some didn’t expect much to happen the rest of the season. Harvey is a simple and powerful reminder that large numbers to not always translate into a huge season. All it takes is just one.


Harvey Getting Stronger As It Reaches Finish Line

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Intensit, Hurricane Records, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Track, Tracking the Tropi at 8:38 pm by gmachos

Storm Intensifies to Category Four Intensity with 130 MPH Winds

Hurricaneville continues to track Hurricane Harvey as it continues to ramble toward landfall along the Texas Coast to the north of Corpus Christi. Within the past few minutes, the National Hurricane Center issued another update on the position and intensity of Hurricane Harvey.

The scenario with Harvey is becoming somewhat reminiscent of when Hurricane Hugo slammed into the South Carolina coast just to the north of Charleston in McClellanville in September 1989. If you recall with Hugo for those who were around then, the storm had been a Category Five on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before it went into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Hugo appeared to have been wounded by the encounter with those islands in the Northeastern Caribbean. Winds had decreased to just Category Two strength at about 105 miles per hour. However, Hugo would become a memorable storm as it crossed the Gulf Stream, a warm water current that lies just off the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Once Hurricane Hugo touched those warm waters, it re-energized, and became a marathon runner that was sprinting toward the finish line. Winds grew back to 135 miles per hour and Hugo became a Category Four Hurricane again. The storm ended up causing some $16 to $17 billion dollars in damage. Harvey has some similarities to this storm, another Gulf coast monster in Hurricane Frederic in 1979, and even in some ways to Superstorm Sandy.

The major similarity between those storms and Harvey is that like Hugo and Sandy, Harvey is making his big move as it approaches the finish line or landfall along the middle Texas Gulf Coast. On Sunday, Harvey was struggling to hang on as a depression in the Central Caribbean, and eventually was downgraded to an open wave. It eventually came ashore in Central America, and moved across the Yucatan before re-emerging on Wednesday.

Like Hugo, Harvey was re-energized once it went into the Bay of Campeche and Southern Gulf of Mexico. The difference between these two storms was that Harvey had a much farther way to go in order to get to the point where it is at now. Hugo still had a solid core as it moved into the Gulf Stream in September 1989. Harvey basically went from remnants off the Yucatan to a historic major hurricane with 130 mile per hour winds within a period of only 48 hours.

Hurricane Frederic, which is a storm that might have been forgotten by many since it came on the heels of memorable Hurricane David in September of 1979, but Frederic, like Harvey had its share of struggles before slamming ashore along the Gulf of Mexico. Frederic’s track was further to the north in the Caribbean as it crossed the rugged mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and Cuba and weakening to a Tropical Depression at one point before hitting the Northwestern Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

About 72 hours later, Frederic was heading toward the Central Gulf Coast and Mobile, Alabama with near 130 mile per hour winds. Hurricane Frederic came ashore as a Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 125 mile per hour winds. Superstorm Sandy was a much different storm in terms of its structure. Sandy ended up being more of a hybrid storm in the end, and occurred much later in the season. Occurring during the last days of October, Sandy was once a Category Three Hurricane in the Caribbean, and gradually weakened along the East Coast of the United States.

Then, approximately less than 18 hours before coming ashore, Sandy made the memorable left hook in response to a blocking ridge of high pressure, and moved across the Gulf Stream toward its eventual landfall in Cape May County, New Jersey. Winds in the storm grew to a strong Category One Hurricane with 90 mile per hour winds. Sandy was also a very large storm. One of the largest on record. The storm’s size and momentum brought about devastation along the Jersey Shore, New York City, and Long Island that had never occurred before.

Now, Harvey, Hugo, Frederic, and Sandy came in all shapes, sizes, and strengths, but they have one major thing in common, and that is that these four storms all were like marathon runner’s sprinting toward the finish line. These storms overcame difficult odds at some point in their journey to restrengthen and approach their eventual landfall point with plenty of momentum and power. Harvey and Frederic may be the most similar since they were both Gulf storms and re-energized to major hurricanes after becoming a depression or open wave.

As of the 7:00 PM CDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Harvey was located approximately 35 miles east of Corpus Christi, Texas, or 50 miles to the South-Southwest of Port O’Connor, Texas. Winds again have grown to 130 miles per hour, which is now Category Four on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Wind gusts are near 155 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has fallen off to 941 millibars, or 27.79 inches. Over the last 48 hours, pressure has dropped 62 millibars, or about 1.83 inches of Hg.

Hurricane force winds still extend some 35 miles from the eye of Harvey while tropical storm force winds also still reach about 140 miles from the center of Harvey. The powerful hurricane has slowed down even more with its forward motion to the Northwest at 8 miles per hour. So, in another sense, Hurricane Harvey has some similarities to Hurricane Frances in terms of its slow motion across Florida during the 2004 Atlantic season.

Hurricane Harvey Continues to Close in on Texas

Posted in Hurricane Intensit, Model Forecasts, Storm Facts, Storm History, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Storm Track, Tracking the Tropi at 3:35 pm by gmachos

Pressures Continue to Fall; Storm Becomes First Major Hurricane of 2017

Hurricaneville continues to monitor conditions along the Texas coast from Brownsville to Galveston as Hurricane Harvey, the third hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, continues to edge closer to the coastline in the Lone Star State, and has now strengthened into the season’s first major hurricane.

As of the 3:00 PM EDT, or 2:00 PM CDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Harvey was located some 75 miles to the East Southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, or about 80 miles to the South of Port O’Connor, Texas. Winds have crossed the threshold of Category Three strength on the Safari-Simpson Scale at 120 miles per hour. The pressure has dropped five more millibars from this morning to 943 millibars, or 27.85 inches of Hg.

Harvey is moving toward the Northwest at 10 miles per hour. Hurricane force winds still extend some 35 miles from the eye, which has become even more pronounced. Tropical storm force winds are still reaching out some 140 miles. Harvey is poised to become the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in almost 12 years (Wilma in October 2005), and the first such storm to come ashore in Texas since 1998 (Bret).

The storm, which according to Homeland Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, Tom Bossert, will affect approximately 4.6 million people, could be the strongest hurricane to affect The Lone Star state since Hurricane Allen in August, 1980. Allen, which had been a Category Five storm at one point in its lifetime, came ashore with a minimum central pressure of 948 millibars. Currently, Harvey is a few millibars lower at 945.

The storm is already producing a tremendous amount of rainfall along the coast. Add to that the fact that Harvey is slowing down, and there is a huge fear of a major deluge in Eastern Texas. Some areas of Texas could get well over a year’s worth of rain. According to a rainfall model shown on CNN, some portions of Eastern Texas could see anywhere between 44 and 52 inches. The National Hurricane Center is calling for rainfall amounts between 15 to 25 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 35 inches along the middle and upper Texas coast.

Areas in South Texas, the Texas Hill Country, and Southwest and Central Louisiana could still see anywhere from 5 to 15 inches. Storm surge amounts were ranging from 6 to 12 feet along the coast from Padre Island to Sargent. However, with the pressure fall and increase in wind speed, the storm surge values could go up a little bit. Another problem with the storm is that it is quickly closing in on the coast so the window of opportunity to evacuate is closing if it isn’t closed already. The storm’s expected landfall could be late Friday evening rather than early Saturday morning.

Reading the latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center, the current forward motion with Harvey is expected to slow down as a result of “strong mid-level ridging building over the western United States.” Many if not all of the forecast models have the storm slowing down and hovering over Eastern Texas for anywhere up to a week as steering currents in the area of the hurricane break down. This is the reason why rainfall amounts are going to be so significant since the rainfall total is based mostly on how fast the storm is moving.

Residents in Eastern Texas should pay close attention to their local news and radio outlets for updates on the storm, should have a weather radio handy, and have finished up final preparations for the storm. After a dozen years of no landfalling major hurricanes, the United States is about to experience something it hasn’t been used to in quite a while.

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