Remains Of Tropical System To Combine With Frontal Boundary To Bring Rains To Jersey Starting Sunday
Enjoy the nice weather on Saturday because the last half of the Labor Day Weekend could be quite a wet one for South Plainfield and the rest of New Jersey. The remains of Hurricane Isaac will be heading this way, and should arrive sometime on Sunday. The rains are expected to linger around the Garden State until Tuesday.
Labor Day is traditionally a big day around Northwestern Middlesex County. South Plainfield has its annual Labor Day Parade, which brings people from all over the state as well as many political figures with the start of an important election season. However, it appears that mother nature may not cooperate this year.
As of right now, the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly is giving a 20 to 30 percent chance of showers from Sunday into Monday. The probabilities increase to 50 and 60 percent as we move into Tuesday and Wednesday. Isaac was a slow moving Category One Hurricane with 85 mile per hour winds prior to making to landfalls in Louisiana earlier this week. The storm dumped between 10 and 20 inches in some parts of the Northern Gulf states.
After finally moving out of Louisiana on Thursday, Isaac’s remains have spread northward into drought stricken Arkansas and Missouri, and is forecast to head east into more rain thirsty states such as Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Rainfall amounts in the Mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys are expected to run between 3 to 5 inches with some areas getting as much as 8 inches.
Garden State Begins Its Farewell To Summer With A 90 Degree Day
The changes had already gradually become obvious. Days getting shorter, leaves starting to change color and fall from the trees, the sun angle is getting lower, and temperatures have become relatively cooler. Friday marked the end of August, and meteorological summer, and the start of the Labor Day Weekend, which is the unofficial end of summer.
Beaches along the Jersey Shore were plenty busy as the sun made one more comeback for the season as temperatures climbed into the low 90s. The high temperature on Friday here in Northwestern Middlesex County was just above 90 degrees. Thankfully, it was a dry heat as the dew point this afternoon dropped to 58 degrees, and the heat index was not a factor at 93 degrees.
With the lower humidity, skies were mostly blue and clear. Perfect for the Blue Moon, which emerged a little while after sunset. It will be the last Blue Moon until 2015. It was another day without any measurable rainfall in South Plainfield. For the eleventh time in the past 12 days, there was no rain in Northwestern Middlesex County. Despite the lack of rain recently, August has been the wettest month to date in 2012 with 5.70 inches. Year to date rainfall in South Plainfield is 20.91 inches.
The latest forecast indicates that skies will be sunny and temperatures will be slightly cooler on Saturday with a high of 88 degrees in Northwestern Middlesex County. Temperatures will continue a downward trend into Labor Day with highs in the low 80s, and an increased chance of showers and thunderstorms. The rains from the remnants of Isaac will be heading this way by Sunday and linger around into Tuesday.
Ninth Storm Strengthens To Category One Hurricane Before Weakening
While the Atlantic has really picked things up with eight named storms and four hurricanes this month, the Eastern Pacific has waned with only three storms and two hurricanes. Prior to Ileana developing this week, the EPAC went without a storm or hurricane for 10 days after Tropical Storm Hector faded from view in mid-August.
Ileana became the season’s ninth named storm on the evening of August 27th some six hours after emerging as a tropical depression. Forming approximately 330 miles to the southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 530 miles to the south-southeast of Baja California, the storm was no threat to land, but gradually strengthened to become the seventh hurricane of the season.
The storm peaked in intensity on Thursday when it strengthened to have 85 mile per hour winds. However, like most systems in the East Pacific, Ileana began to encounter cooler waters, and has gradually weakened to below minimal hurricane strength with winds of 70 miles per hour. According to the most recent advisory on the storm, Ileana is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression sometime this weekend.
So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has had 9 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Meanwhile, the Atlantic has had 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that has maximum sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour, or minimal Category Three strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Despite early season forecasts indicating that an El Nino would develop making conditions for favorable for development in the Eastern Pacific, and less favorable in the Atlantic, the two basins have had exact opposite seasons.
Isaac May Be Leaving, But Kirk And Leslie Are Keeping Things Busy
The National Hurricane Center issued its last advisory on Tropical Depression Isaac as of 5:00 PM EDT on Thursday. However, there are still other storms churning in the Atlantic. The tropics are far from done.
As Isaac closed in on landfall across Southern Louisiana on Tuesday afternoon, Kirk emerged in the Central Atlantic as a depression, and has grown considerably over the past 48 hours. The latest advisory on the fifth hurricane of the 2012 season has winds increasing to 90 miles per hour making it a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The good news is that Kirk, which is located some 1,065 miles from the Northern Leeward Islands, is not expected to impact the United States.
Further to the south in the Central Atlantic is our latest tropical system. Tropical Storm Leslie developed during the late morning hours on Tuesday, and within several hours became the 12th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Leslie has continued to strengthen too with winds increasing to 45 miles per hour as of the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
The latest forecast discussion on the storm calls for Leslie to strengthen further to a Category Two Hurricane by 72 hours, and remaining at that intensity through five days. Most indications are showing Leslie staying far away from the East Coast of the United States thanks to a trough developing in the Western Atlantic that will force the subtropical ridge to retreat. Leslie is expected to exploit the weakness in the ridge, and turn northward.
With the developments of Kirk and Leslie, we now have 12 named storms and 5 hurricanes. Last week, the formation of Joyce equaled the mark set in 1995 for the earliest forming J storm. Now, the emergence of Leslie was the second earliest forming L storm ever behind Luis from 1995. The number of named storms and hurricanes to date this year have actually equaled or exceeded those in 2005, which was the busiest season on record. Fortunately, none of the hurricanes thus far have become major storms of Category Three strength or better, but as Isaac has shown, minimal hurricanes can cause damage too.
Considering that early seasonal forecasts had indicated a less active season, and no storms fired up during the month of July, it is quite remarkable that this season is rivaling the numbers posted by the 2005 season.
Experts Caution That Storm Rains Are Not Going To Be A Drought-Buster
Slowly, but surely, Tropical Depression Isaac is heading northward. Rains from the storm are moving into the southern part of Arkansas. The storm has been winding down as well with winds finally going below minimal tropical storm force. The Northern Gulf States took a beating from Isaac with a more significant storm surge than expected, especially in Plaquemines Parish and St. John’s Parish. The rains have also caused a flooding problem along the Louisiana and Mississippi border near the Tangipahoa River, where a dam failure occurred.
Despite the devastation that Isaac has caused from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, the depression could bring some much needed rain to the drought stricken Corn Belt in the Midwest. Places in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio are in the midst of their worst drought in over 50 years. It has had devastating effects on the crops there, which has in turn caused a rise in food prices in other parts of the country. The GFS model shows Isaac pushing rains northward into Missouri, and then turning eastward into the Midwest and Ohio Valley over the next few days as it combines with a cold front.
The rainfall could be the silver lining to the storm, but it will not mean an end to the drought. According to a U.S. Today article, the drought in Missouri has been so severe that the rainfall deficit has grown to nearly 20 inches since June of last year. In addition, the storm’s remnants could bring more harm than good with gusty winds knocking down and damaging crops such as corn, rice, and soybeans. The rains could also be too much and too late.
Almost a quarter of the nation is undergoing either a extreme or exceptional drought according to an article from the Washington Post. However, recent rains have helped ease the drought situation a little bit in Iowa and Illinois. Iowa, which is the nation’s largest corn producing state benefited the most from the rain while Indiana and Missouri benefited the least.
A heavy rain wouldn’t really help this drought stricken area. Too much rain in too little time will prevent the rain from being absorbed into the ground. The region is hoping for a good soaking rain from the storm system. Even if it does get that, it won’t be enough to end the drought, and it will be too late to help the harvest of many crops.
Storm Shows That It’s Not Your Typical Category One Hurricane
At first glance one wouldn’t think that Isaac is worth comparing to Hurricane Katrina. With its tremendous size, significantly lower pressure, and higher wind speeds and seas, Katrina was able to devastate the Northern Gulf coast like no other storm to a region of the United States. It was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928, and the costliest natural disaster in the country’s history. The storm is among the top six strongest on record in terms of pressure.
Then, there is the images from the suffering in New Orleans following the storm. People standing on roof tops, pleading for help in front of the Convention Center, the state of anarchy that existed throughout the Big Easy, and the mass exodus from the city in the days and weeks after the storm. With all of this to consider when comparing Katrina to Hurricane Isaac, one would think that it would be a no brainer. However, with some thought and closer inspection, people may have a different idea. There are several things to keep in mind when looking back on Katrina. The path of the storm, decrease in intensity just prior to landfall, and short duration prevented this historic storm from being even worse.
Exactly several years ago to the day (Imagine the irony of that!), Hurricane Katrina took a path that put it to the east of New Orleans, which put the Crescent City on the weaker western side of the storm. Some people forget that it was the Mississippi Gulf Coast that bore the brunt of Katrina’s vicious right front quadrant. New Orleans only had winds of 90 miles per hour, and there were initial thoughts that the Big Easy had withstood the blow from the storm. It was only after the levee system had failed and the flooding began in the Lower Ninth Ward that a catastrophe was unleashed. This time around, Isaac traveled along a path that took it to the west of New Orleans and much of Southeastern Louisiana took the brunt of the right front quadrant.
Consequently, there was more of a storm surge factor for places such as Plaquemines Parish, which may have suffered worse flooding from Isaac than Katrina. Levees were breeched in a couple locations, and residents that stayed behind were caught by surprise after thinking the storm wasn’t going to be as bad. Another factor that may make Isaac worse than Katrina in some respects is its duration. Due to its very slow forward motion, Isaac is doing two things: 1.) Dumping tremendous amounts of rain over a long period of time, and 2.) Bringing in more and more surge and that is putting pressure on the levee system, especially in Plaquemines and St. Bernard’s Parishes. Many of these levees stand outside the area fortified by the Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of Katrina.
Issac is also not your typical Category One storm. The hurricane only had winds of minimal hurricane force at 80 miles per hour. However, around the times of its two landfalls, Isaac had a minimum central pressure that dropped to 968 millibars, or 28.58 inches of Hg, which was a pressure more typical of a solid Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Combined with the large size of the storm, the pressure gave the storm energy that took a long time to wind down because of the vast expanse of it. Throw in the slow forward speed, and you had a relentless storm that pounded the coastline of the Northern Gulf. Over 24 hours after landfall, Isaac was still generating storm surge of 6 to 7 feet in some places.
The slow motion of Isaac is also helping to bring tremendous amounts of rain to Louisiana and Mississippi. Rainfall amounts are ready in the area of a foot or more in some places, and could end up between 20 and 30 inches. Meanwhile, Katrina was a relatively fast mover. The massive storm was out of the area within 24 hours. Isaac is expected to linger around Louisiana for another day after pounding it for about 30 hours now. One thing that could help prevent more substantial flooding from Isaac is the fact that the Mississippi is at very low levels due to the drought throughout much of the Midwestern portion of the country. The Mighty Mississippi was at more normal levels at the time of Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina will forever be embedded in our minds thanks to the power and fury its winds and surge possess as well as the heartbreaking images from its aftermath. However, for some along the Northern Gulf coast such as Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, Hurricane Isaac will be remembered as the little train that could, and was more devastating.
Latest Gulf Storm Shares Similarities With Memorable Storm From 2011
During the course of the day on Wednesday, I listened to the Weather Channel, and heard a storm surge analyst from the National Hurricane Center say that no two storms are the same. However, two storms can have some parallels. Isaac has shown that it is not your typical Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. While it may only have had winds of minimal hurricane force, its pressure, size, and duration have made it a very memorable storm for those who are dealing with it in the Northern Gulf states. Moreover, this latest storm of 2012 shares some interesting commonalities with a memorable storm from 2011.
Isaac has brought back some recollections of Hurricane Irene, a vast storm that was the first storm to make landfall in New Jersey since 1903 a year ago this week. Both storms were very vast storms with large wind fields. Isaac grew to have hurricane force winds extend some 60 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 185 miles. Irene was actually larger with hurricane force winds extending 125 miles while tropical storm force winds stretched out some 240 miles.
These large circulations produced a good deal of surge and wave action. Isaac’s was much bigger because of the shallow coastline that exists in the Northern Gulf. Storm surge amounts with Isaac have been as high as 11 feet above normal in places just outside of New Orleans. The surge has been reported to be worse to the southeast in Plaquemines Parish, where parish President Billy Nungesser indicated that the flooding there was worse than during Hurricane Katrina.
Another similarity shared by these two storms is that they were both Category One storms with very low pressures at landfall. When Irene came through New Jersey last summer, its pressure was as low as 970 millibars or 28.63 inches of Hg. Prior to making landfall, Isaac bottomed out at 968 millibars, or 28.58 inches of Hg. These pressures were much lower than the usual threshold for a minimal Category One Hurricane. Usually pressures for minimal Cat One storms are about 985 to 988 millibars. The central pressures of Isaac and Irene were more characteristic of a Category Two storm.
The problem that these two storms had was the fact that they were so vast that they had a tough time trying to tighten up and get stronger. Isaac dealt with this problem throughout almost all of its storm life while Irene was plagued by it after it had gone through the Bahamas and trekked north toward the Carolinas and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic. A big difference between these two storms was that Isaac was like a marathon runner that sprinted his way to the finish line while Irene was one that limped her way to the finish. Another issue that both of these storms had to contend with was dry air entrainment.
Isaac battled dry air for just about its entire life while Irene began dealing with the dry air a little while after it moved through the Bahamas. Irene had indicated signs of strengthen after moving out of the Northern Bahamas, and emerging into the Gulf stream, but then the eye faded, and gradually, dry air began to take the life out of the storm, which was the saving grace for the East Coast. The Northern Gulf were also spared a worse fate from Isaac thanks to the dry air. Without ample water vapor in the atmosphere around it, Issac struggled to generate the thunderstorms needed for better organization and strengthening.
In addition to these similarities, and the obvious common trait they share as the I named storm for their respective years, they were both storms that made double landfalls in a state. Irene made two landfalls in New Jersey at Cape May and Little Egg Harbor while Isaac made two landfalls in Louisiana at Grand Isle and just west of Port Fourchon. There are differences though between these two storms. Irene was a major hurricane at one point in its lifetime having winds as high as 120 miles per hour while Isaac never got as strong as 80 miles per hour. Although both produced a lot of rain, Isaac generated much higher rainfall totals since its forward motion was much slower than Irene.
Isaac could end up putting down some 20 to 30 inches of rain in some parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. In terms of its size and duration, Isaac is quite similar to Hurricane Frances, which grinded its way through Florida back in 2004. Frances was a much bigger wind producer though.
Here is a slideshow of photos taken of a couple approaching thunderstorms in Edison, New Jersey on August 27, 2012. The approach of these storms brought about some interesting cloud formations. Eventually, there was a late morning downpour that brought 0.86 inches to South Plainfield as rainfall rates during the brief deluge reached 7.02 inches per hour. Down in Mercer County, storms produced an inch of rain in just a half an hour.
Storm Continues To Flirt With Intensification, But Still Shy Of Being A Hurricane
Despite all of the fanfare and the numerous opportunities, Tropical Storm Isaac remains just that…a tropical storm. The system has undergone some slight strengthening since this time last night. Minimum central pressure has fallen about 14 millibars including two with the last advisory at 11:00 PM EDT, or 10:00 PM CDT on Monday night while maximum sustained winds have crept up to just below minimal hurricane force at 70 miles per hour.
However, Isaac is still not quite there. The overall circulation remains lopsided. Now, the bulk of the convection is in the southern half of the storm. Last night, it was in the northern and eastern side. Isaac is still battling a lot of dry air. Quite similar to what happened with Hurricane Irene last year after it pass through the Bahamas, and then showed brief signs of strengthening. As with Irene, the dry air could be the savior here for the Big Easy and the rest of the Northern Gulf Coast.
Now located some 200 miles or so from the mouth of the Mississippi River, and slowing down to only move at a forward speed of just 10 miles per hour, Isaac still has a good deal of time to strengthen, especially over the very warm waters of the Gulf. The NHC is calling for the storm to intensify to a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 90 mile per hour winds. There could be an outside chance of it reaching Cat Two, but that opportunity is fading.
Isaac is still a very vast storm system with tropical storm force winds extending some 200 plus miles from the center of circulation. Feeder bands from the storm have been even pushing rain ashore in parts of South Carolina and Georgia up to 750 miles away from Isaac’s center. Pressure is also very low for even a strong tropical storm like Isaac at 979 millibars. Pressure like that is often seen in Category Two Hurricanes. There are other indicators that point to the storm getting better organized. Hurricane Hunter aircraft is indicating that the mid-level low is now moving over the top of the surface low making the storm more vertically stacked, which is a sign of strengthening.
Thunderstorm activity is again developing around the center of circulation, but we’ve seen this before with Isaac. All through its lifetime, it has been teasing us with these signs of strengthening, and then leveling off, or even weakening. The storm appears to be moving in a westerly direction, but forecast models and forecast analysis indicates that a trough over the Midwestern United States should push eastward, and cause the ridge off the East Coast of the United States to retreat, which will create a weakness over the Northern Gulf states that Isaac will exploit.
Storm Appears To Be Trying To Form An Eye; Pressure Falls Five Millibars This Morning
Hurricaneville continues to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico. The storm has had a long history of teasing the experts and the rest of us by having flare ups during the course of its day only to level off, and even in some cases wane. Isaac has been battling dry air throughout most of its lifetime. Most recently, the dry air is being fed into the storm from an upper level low over the Yucatan Peninsula.
On Monday morning, however, there appear to be signs of intensification finally taking place in the storm. The latest radar imagery courtesy of the Weather Channel is showing an eye trying to form in the circulation. In addition, the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center indicates a pressure drop to 988 millibars. Less than twelve hours ago, the pressure had increased to 993 millibars. Could this be another tease by the storm. All depends on how much moisture can begin to get into the southern side of the circulation.
The storm is now within optimal conditions for strengthening with the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico ranging between 85 and 87 degrees, which is well above the required 80 degrees for intensification. In addition, upper level winds are relatively light. The problem for Isaac has been that it has not been able to form a well defined core, and get that rapid intensification engine going because it has been constantly plagued by the dry air. Since the storm has not been able to strengthen into a hurricane, the NHC’s latest forecast discussion (5:00 AM EDT on August 27th) has backed off its projection of a Category Two storm by landfall.
Will Isaac get its act together this time? This is the question of the day for those tracking the storm.