09.13.08

Ike Causing A Great Deal Of Damage From Upper Texas Coast To Southwestern Louisiana

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Warning at 12:24 pm by gmachos

Good morning everyone. I’m going to try and keep this brief since I have to go to work in a bit. However, I was woken up this morning to the sound of my television, which I kept on. It was tuned to the Weather Channel, and I was watching Mike Bettes try and battle the elements as Hurricane Ike was crashing ashore near Galveston Island.

TWC and CNN have blanketed the Southeast Texas area with reporters to cover the storm like both always do. Jim Cantore was on Galveston Island along with Stephanie Abrams, and Cantore was in amazement over the power and fury of Ike’s western eyewall, which appeared to be much stronger in force than the eastern side. Debris was flying everywhere, and even almost got a piece of the longtime TWC reporter, who was in studio when Hurricane Andrew came ashore in August 1992.

Despite the fact that Ike didn’t exactly get up to major hurricane status (technically just one mile per hour away), it still has created a great deal of havoc in terms of just the wind alone. Watching the palm trees swaying violently on television even in the middle of the night told me that this was a very bad storm, and could have been a lot worse had it strengthened as many forecasters indicated earlier this week. Well before landfall, there had already been a great deal of flooding on Galveston Island and nearby beaches along the Upper Texas Coast. Meanwhile, the Southwestern Bayou of Louisiana including Cameron and Lake Charles, which were hit hard by the surge produced by Hurricane Rita in September 2005 were hit even harder this time.

Understanding What Happened With The Forecast Track Of Hurricane Ike

Posted in Storm Track at 12:36 am by gmachos

Note: Some of this was written on Tuesday, September 9th.

Good afternoon everyone. Sorry that I didn’t post to the blog on Monday evening, but I was trying to rest my back. It’s getting better, but it can still be quite painful. Nevertheless, I still managed to update the home page several times with the latest info on Ike. The next several days I’ll have off so I will have some time to update the site and the blog more often. Anyway, I’ve continued to track Ike just like mostly everyone, and the storm’s track is becoming more and more interesting since the storm keeps going west.

During much of Ike’s lifetime, there has been a strong ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic. Two things people need to understand with hurricanes are: 1.) They move like a hockey puck in that they need some other force to push it along, and 2.) They often take the path of least resistance. So, for example, our subtropical ridge that has been dominant in the Atlantic over the past week, and actually was also responsible for the very warm weather in the Northeast last week, has been driving our Hurricane Ike along to the West or West-Northwest. It also was responsible for a bit of the West to Southwest jaunt the storm had late last week.

In addition, there have been shortwave troughs that have been pushing into the Eastern United States over the past several days including one that brought some severe thunderstorms with torrential rains to the Northeast on Tuesday morning. Hurricanes look for these troughs because they erode the strong ridge, and provide those weaknesses that these tropical systems look to exploit. Well, the troughs have kept bypassing the ridge, and not forcing it to relent. It even appeared at one point that Hurricane Ike was going to head west into Northeastern Mexico, and miss the United States completely.

Starting on Wednesday though, things began to change as the models began to show the ridge dominating much of the Southeastern United States, especially East Texas was pushing eastward, which created the alleyway for Ike to come up into the Upper Texas Coast. The storm has turned to the right in the last 24 hours because it is simply moving around the periphery of the ridge. Now, on Wednesday, forecasters had also indicated that the intensity of Ike would be around a Category Three or Four when it made landfall. Unfortunately, forecasting the future intensity of a hurricane is much more difficult than predicting the future track. The dynamics of the inner core of a hurricane are still a mystery to forecasters and researchers, and Ike was a classic example of why.

09.12.08

GWC Time Lapse–September 9, 2008–Cold Front Brings Heavy Rains

Posted in YouTube Videos at 11:28 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone. Here is another time lapse photography video that I put together. It is of some rough weather that came in the form of heavy rain when a cold front crossed the Central Jersey area on Tuesday. There are some more time lapse videos coming. So, keep your eyes peeled.

The Science Of Bathymetry

Posted in General at 3:42 pm by gmachos

Good morning again. The other night, I was watching the Weather Channel, and caught some of Abrams and Bettes: Beyond the Forecast. The show was obviously dealing with the situation around Hurricane Ike as it was back over water in the Gulf of Mexico, and forecasts were beginning to point to a Texas landfall. During the discussion on Ike, the topic of waves and surge came up.

Stephanie Abrams pointed out that the waves and surge were inversely related. In other words, places that usually get high waves also get lower surge while the converse is true for places that get low waves. She then went on to use the Gulf Coast as an example. Along the Texas coast, waves are usually high, but the surge is low. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, the converse was true. Waves are low, and the surge is high. Abrams, who joined TWC in 2003, and gained notoriety with her coverage during the 2004 and 2005 Hurricane Seasons according to her bio on weather.com, then mentioned the term, Bathymetry.

At that point, I became curious so the following morning, and even a bit today, I looked up the term Bathymetry on Google, and found an entry for it on Wikipedia. The definition of the word according to the site is the following: The study of underwater depth, of the third dimension of lake or ocean floors. Wikipedia goes on further to state that it is the underwater equivalent of Hypsometry, which is the measurement of land elevation relative to sea level. Orignally, bathymetry was the measure of ocean depth. In the early days of this science, pre-measured heavy rope or cable lowered over a ship’s side was a technique that was used, but it was limited in the sense that “it measures the depth only a single point at a time, and so is inefficient. It is also subject to movements of the ship and currents moving the line out of true and therefore is inaccurate.”

Today, a much more efficient method is used, and that is using sonar. According to Wikipedia, which takes this information from a book called Remote Sensing in Air and Space, the data used to make bathymetric maps today typically comes from an echosounder mounted beneath or over the side of a boat, “pinging” a beam of sound downward at the seafloor or from remote sensing LIDAR or LADAR systems.” How does this relate to hurricanes? Well, in the sense that the shape and the depth of the coastline has an impact on how bad the surge will be. There are other factors too such as wave heights, sustained winds, and barometric pressure, but a shallow or deep coastline also plays a pivotal part in how much surge a location will get when the strongest portion of a hurricane comes ashore.

Researching the topic of Remote Sensing a bit more, I discovered that the Meteorology Department at Rutgers offers a course in the study of Remote Sensing in the Oceans and Atmosphere. The description of the course is as follows: Methods, instruments, and their application to obersvations of ocean and atmosphere. Sensing of oceanic parameters such as temperature, salinity, currents, sea state, turbidity and pollutants, etc. I believe that this course was offered as an elective for the Meteorology Minor that I earned when I was at Rutgers, but I never took the course.

Sciences like this, and Paleotempestology are fascinating ones to look at, and investigate. I had planned writing an article on Paleotempestology last year, but as many of you have probably seen at the site, I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. I hope so soon. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the discussion on TWC the other night, and it gave me a better understanding of how the ocean behaves along certain coastlines, and why storm surge values can be so much different depending upon where the storm ends up.

Storm Evacuations Prior To Rita Still Casting A Shadow On Houston?

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety at 1:50 pm by gmachos

Good morning everyone. I have continued to track Hurricane Ike as it heads toward an eventual landfall anywhere from the Central to the Upper coast of Texas late tonight Friday, or early Saturday. Speaking of Ike, I noticed that the City of Houston has decided to hunker down, and take on the storm rather than evacuate. Reading an article that I found on the internet this morning courtesy of Yahoo News, I see that the fourth largest city in the United States has made a bold decision.

With Ike still having the opportunity to strengthen into a major hurricane prior to landfall, this decision does make you wonder. While residents of Gavleston, which is the site for the deadliest United States disaster from a Category Four Hurricane back in 1900, were told by the National Weather Service that they would “face certain death” if they decided to stay and attempt to ride the storm out. Houston residents were told to board up their windows, clear their decks of furniture, tie down any loose objects in their yard, and stock up on water and non-perishable food.

However, officials went on to warn inland residents not to evacuate en masse in order to avoid the gridlock that was created prior to Hurricane Rita. Could that have been a factor in why Houston city officials decided not to evacuate? It was. Back in 2005, when Rita began to make its move, city officials put together an evacuation plan that had the 2 million coastal residents including those in Galveston evacuate first, and then the city residents would follow. However, when Rita became a Category Five storm, and with memories of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath still very fresh in people’s minds, officials did an about face, and ordered residents to get on the road while many coastal residents were still trying to get out. The result was huge traffic jams that resulted in 110 deaths from accidents and tragedies.

However, knowing that there is a possible major hurricane bearing down on this city of some 2.2 million people, it is an awful big risk. Now, there are some experts out there, who believe that this is not an easy decision, or that “elected officials were not elected to be hurricane expertss.” However, isn’t that what we elect these people for? In other words, these people are put in the positions they’re in because they’ve been able to make tough decisions. And, while it is true that they aren’t tropical weather experts, they can consult those who are. To risk a very large population to not only the direct and immediate impacts of the storm, but also the aftermath, could end up being a very costly and deadly decision.

In all fairness, I do not live in the Houston area, and may not know all the facts. So, I apologize if there are those, who might be offended or disagree with my opinion. Many residents may agree with this idea of not evacuating since they want to be there with their property and possessions. It is alright if they want to stay since that is their choice. However, there are those, who may want to leave. The City of Houston had three years to evaluate their plan prior to Rita, and analyze what went wrong. This is the whole purpose behind the idea of preparation, or any implementation of a system. Evaluate what’s wrong, and figure out ways to do it differently the next time. New Orleans did it, and for the most part, they did a very good job in preparation for Gustav.

09.11.08

The Question Of The Moment For Large Hurricane Ike Is–Will It Strengthen?

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety at 9:32 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. Hope everyone is enjoying the new audio reports I’ve put together: The Hurricaneville Storm Report (9.3 MB) and Tracking the Tropics (8.4 MB). Recently purchased a Griffin iTalk Pro voice recorder for my iPod Classic, and so far it is working great. I just record the audio that I want to say, connect the iPod to my computer, and then take the audio file and copy it to my Desktop. From there, I go into Real Producer, and convert it into a streaming format. The quality is quite good. Very clear sound.

Doing the audio reports this way is a lot quicker than trying the other ways I’ve used in the past, and it’s a quick way just to get something up there for all of you to check out. I’ll still try to put up a text version of both reports every now and then. Moving on, we are still dealing with Hurricane Ike, which has been a strong Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 100 mile per hour winds over the past 24 hours. However, despite many prognostications calling for the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane, it has not.

The storm has grown quite significantly over the past few days. Several days ago, Ike had a wind field that consisted of hurricane force winds extending some 60 miles from the eye while its tropical storm force winds reached out some 145 miles. However, since that time, it has grown even more with hurricane force winds now extending 115 miles while tropical storm force winds go out some 275 miles. The vastness of the system coupled with the disparity between the upper level flight winds, lower level winds, and the minimum central pressure is preventing the storm from strengthening to a major hurricane.

According to the latest discussion provided by the National Hurricane Center, Air Force reconnaissance detected two wind maximums of equal length. Peak flight level winds reached about 100 knots, or nearly 115 miles per hour some 90 miles to the east of the center. Low level mean winds reached up to 96 knots. These translate to about 80 knots, or 100 miles per hour at the surface. Unfortunately, those wind speeds are not in sync with the minimum central pressure of 950 millibars, or 28.50 inches of Hg, which is one of a Category Three Hurricane.

Despite the problems that the storm has with its wind structure, forecasts are still calling for Ike to become a major hurricane by landfall. The GFDL model is still calling for the hurricane to be at least a Category Three storm. Although upper level wind patterns to the west of Ike have not been conducive for development in the past day or two. An upper level ridge over Texas has been responsible for that, but guidance indicates that it will move to the east, and the dry air it has been creating will go away in order to give the Western side of the storm an opportunity to get better developed and organized.

With the ridge moving to the Northeast, the upper level conditions will be much more conducive for the storm, which has well defined outflow on the Northeast and Southwest quadrants, to improve its exhaust on the western side, and become more of a well oiled machine. The official NHC forecast is in agreement with the GFDL thinking, and calls for Ike to be a minimal Category Three Hurricane prior to landfall. Speaking of landfall, Hurricane Ike is projected to move around the periphery of the ridge of high pressure extending over the Southeastern United States. Consequently, the storm is expected to turn more to the right, and head anywhere between Central Texas Coast to the Upper Texas coast.

09.08.08

GWC Time Lapse Video–September 6, 2008–Hanna Brings Wind And Rain To Jersey

Posted in YouTube Videos at 1:16 am by gmachos

Good evening everyone. As promised, I’ve put together a time lapse video of the effects from Tropical Storm Hanna as it passed through New Jersey on Saturday. I just happened to get the web cam running again by installing a new network cable after the one I had previously went bad after battling the elements to get you the pictures and video you’ve been seeing. Hanna may have not been the storm everyone had expected, but it did bring its share of wild and wooly weather to Northwestern Middlesex County. In a span of about 8 hours, Hanna dumped three and a quarter inches of rain on South Plainfield. Enjoy the video below.

09.07.08

Hurricane Ike Looms As A Major Threat For Gulf Coast

Posted in Storm Track at 10:50 pm by gmachos

Good evening. Well, it appears that the bulls eye that was on the Central Gulf Coast this time last week will be ready to come out of the closet again this week as Hurricane Ike appears to be headed for landfall there down the road. Pushed to the West-Southwest on Friday and Saturday thanks to the influence of a strong subtropical ridge to the north of it, Ike ended up moving through the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the Southeastern Caribbean while also dumping torrential rains along the Northern Coast of Haiti.

Haiti, which dealt with torrential rains from both Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Hanna over the past two weeks, was hit for a third time along its Northern Coast as Ike’s outer bands brought another deluge. So far in Haiti, there has been a total of 259 people have lost their lives in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere thanks to Fay, Gustav, and Hanna.

At one point during the middle of last week, Hurricane Ike went through a period of rapid intensification, which took it from a strong tropical storm of 65 miles per hour, and 996 millibars to a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds of 145 miles per hour, and a central pressure of 935 millibars. From early Thursday morning on, Ike underwent a gradual weakening phase, where its winds dropped to just below major hurricane strength at 110 miles per hour by Saturday morning before regaining strength quickly to Category Four with 135 mile per hour winds and a minimum central pressure of 945 millibars as of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Sunday.

The roller coaster ride continued for Hurricane Ike late this afternoon as the storm showed signs of weakening yet again as it approaches the rugged terrain of Cuba. As of the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory, the major hurricane’s winds slackened once more to 120 miles per hour while its central pressure has remained steady at 945 millibars, or 27.91 inches. Almost the entire island of Cuba is either under a Hurricane Watch or Warning as of this time. Located some 75 miles North-Northeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, Hurricane Ike is moving off to the West at 14 miles per hour, and it is expected to continue this motion for the next 24 to 36 hours. Consquently, it will move away from the Southeastern Bahamas, and over Eastern Cuba during the night.

Due to the orographic lifting of the very moist and tropical air brought by Ike, there will be torrential rainfall ranging from 6 to 10 inches with isolated areas receiving up to 15 inches. Flash floods and mudslides to the communist country. The lifting will provide a benefit though as it will cause condensation, which will release heat energy that in turn will warm the very cold cloud tops in Ike’s thunderstorms. As a result, Ike will weaken significantly during the next 36 to 48 hours, and be a minimal hurricane prior to returning to more favorable conditions in the warm waters of the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Beyond that though, Ike is expected to regain its strength and be a major hurricane once more by the end of the five day forecasting period. The subtropical ridge that has been driving it, is beginning to weaken, and a trough is supposed to move through the Eastern United States during the week, and that will make Ike turn slightly left, and slow down.

Hanna Was Brief But Brought Some Wild Weather To Jersey

Posted in Storm Track, Storm History, Storm Aftermath at 9:53 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. Sorry that I haven’t posted anything to the home page, or the blog in the past 24 hours or so, but I’ve been busy working on putting together some video from my time lapse photography, and that I filmed at Sea Bright on Friday. I hope to have those up on the site, and in the blog soon. I’ve also been dealing with a bad back that I had mentioned to all of you earlier in the week.

The back problems I’ve had date all the way back to February 2004 when I slipped and fell outside a high school gym after covering a basketball game for my other site, GMC Hoops. The problem didn’t really start to become significant until about a year and a half later in August 2005. Since that time, I’ve had periodic bouts with this problem, but it always eventually gets better. I would have to say that this episode is perhaps the worst since the episode in August 2005. But, I’ve managed to get the home page updated just a little while ago, and plan to do another update after I get this post done, and upload my time lapse video.

In the past 24 to 36 hours, Hurricane Ike has become more of a menace in the Tropical Atlantic. Being the only show in town now with the exception of the remnants of Josephine, which are still hanging on in the Central Atlantic albeit by a thread, Ike has re-intensified as projected, and as of the 2:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, was a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds back up to 135 miles per hour. It has since weakened to 120 miles per hour.

We’ll have more on Ike in a little bit, but our focus right now is on Tropical Storm Hanna’s trip through the Garden State on Saturday. Hanna, if you recall, made landfall along the United States coast at the border between North and South Carolina at 3:20 AM on Saturday morning as a strong storm, and almost a minimal hurricane. It then rapidly moved up the East Coast of the United States with a forward speed to the Northeast at 28 miles per hour. It rolled through North Carolina during the morning hours, and was just Northeast of Williamsburg, Virginia at 2:00 PM EDT, and then at 5:00 PM EDT, the storm was just east of Cambridge Maryland.

Hanna finally started moving through New Jersey at about 8:00 PM EDT as it was located near Atlantic City, and actually increased slightly in strength to have maximum sustained winds of 55 miles per hour. As you will see in the time lapse video that I’m putting together, the weather in Central Jersey began to get wild and wooly at about 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM in the afternoon. A feeder band from Hanna had already passed through during the night, and humid conditions had prevailed early Saturday morning, but things were calm until the early afternoon.

According to the data compiled from the GWC WX Station, the high temperature reached 79.5 degrees at 12:30 PM. Rainfall amounts tallied up to 3.25 inches including 0.33 inches that fell in just a ten minute span. Winds gusted to about 13 miles per hour, but keep in mind that the weather station is in an area obstructed by houses and trees. The barometer dropped some .61 inches from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening as pressure bottomed out at 29.34 inches of Hg, or about 994 millibars. Aside from the .33 inches of rain that fell in just ten minutes during the day on Saturday, there were other intervals that saw well over a tenth of an inch of rain. The data collected from Hanna on Saturday revealed that there were 12 intervals with a tenth of an inch or more of rain.

Tropical Storm Hanna brought power outages, flooding, gusty winds, and beach erosion, but it wasn’t as bad as earlier indicated. The forecast on Friday had called for 4 to 8 inches of rain for portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but actual amounts ended up between 2 to 4 inches due to the rapid movement of the storm. Rainfall amounts could have been much worse had Hanna slowed down. One of the big reasons why Floyd was such a damaging storm was the fact that it moved more slowly through the region. Sunday brought pleasant weather to Central Jersey as well as the rest of the Northeast, and you wouldn’t have known that a storm blew through a day earlier.

09.06.08

Hanna Coming Up This Way!

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety at 12:33 pm by gmachos

Good morning everyone. Did you notice how humid it was this morning? Here at the GWC WX Station here in South Plainfield, the dew point was about 74 degrees at 5:30 AM! And, a feeder band from Hanna, yes, Tropical Storm Hanna passed through the area during the overnight. So, there was some rain in the form of 0.10 inches.

As I went out for my walk after 6:00 AM, I noticed windows fogged up all over even at the South Plainfield Municipal Building, which gives you a good idea of how tropical the air is at the moment. The humid air is just an indication of what is to come on this Saturday. Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall early this morning at around 3:20 AM according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is already moving rapidly to the North-Northeast at 22 miles per hour, and the center of circulation is some 40 miles to the East-Southeast of the capital of Raleigh in North Carolina. Winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour, but the storm is still going to pack some tropical storm force winds for the New Jersey area, especially in the form of wind gusts. Due to the rapid motion of the storm, rainfall amounts, I believe will be lower. Probably likely to be between 2 to 4 inches, but that is nothing to sneeze at. The real heavy weather should start to come into the area at about 11:00 AM this morning.

A Tropical Storm Wind Warning remains in effect for the Central Jersey area until about 11:00 PM this evening. A Flood Watch also remains in effect for the area until 11:00 PM. While the rainfall amounts forecasted have lessened, you have to take into account the fact that the ground has fairly saturated due to the wet summer we’ve had here in New Jersey.

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