09.10.18

Florence Becoming a Growing Concern for Mid-Atlantic

Posted in Storm Track, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics at 11:02 pm by gmachos

Jersey Shore to Begin Feeling the Effects from Cat 4 Storm Over Next Couple Days

The clouds, rain, and wind around the Garden State on Monday was courtesy of the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, which came ashore west of the Alabama-Mississippi border last week. Gordon’s remains are just the hors d’oeuvre for what is yet to come later this week. Florence is still out there, and it has rapidly grown to a monster major hurricane.

Over the last 72 hours, Florence has undergone rapid intensification. Late Friday night, the storm was a moderate tropical storm with 60 mile per hour winds, and a minimum central pressure of 999 millibars, or 29.50 inches of Hg. Since that time, the barometer has dropped significantly within the storm. Pressure has fallen some 60 millibars, and its maximum sustained winds have increased 80 miles per hour.

Just in the last 36 hours, Hurricane Florence has grown significantly. Winds have increased some 65 miles per hour while pressure has dropped some 45 millibars, or approximately 1.33 inches of Hg (Mercury). The now Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale has increased in diameter from 260 miles across to about 380 miles across. Wind gusts are estimated to be about 145 knots, or around 165 miles per hour.

On top of all that, Hurricane Florence doesn’t appear to have anything in front of it to impede its development other than itself. Sea surface temperatures in that portion of the Western Atlantic are supportive for further development while upper level winds remain light. The only problem that Florence could have is an eyewall replacement cycle that may put the storm through a weakening phase as it tries to reorganize.

There has been some discussion on where Hurricane Florence stands with respect to other storms that were in that portion of the Atlantic Basin. Some have indicated that it could be as powerful a storm to hit the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coast since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Here’s the issue with that: Hugo was a storm that weakened to only a 105 mph hurricane before it hit the Gulf Stream, and re-energized to a Category Four storm prior to crashing ashore in Charleston, South Carolina.

Florence has yet to enter the Gulf Stream, and it is already at 140 miles per hour. It was also as weak as a moderate tropical storm on Friday night. The storm could be comparable to say Hurricane Floyd of 1999, or Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Both storms moved between the Caribbean and Bermuda, and eventually made landfall over the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Floyd was a slow mover, which Florence is forecast to become as it moves close to landfall on Thursday evening.

Floyd caused devastating flooding to areas in Eastern North Carolina along the Tar and Neuse rivers. Florence has the potential to do the same. Gloria had some similarity of the Long Island Express of 1938 in the sense that it moved quite rapidly up the Eastern Seaboard as it moved over Cape Hatteras, and eventually made a second landfall over Long Island, New York. Not as rapidly as the 1938 storm though, which raced from Hatteras to Long Island within 6 hours of time. Gloria only moved at a pace of about 45 miles per hour.

Regardless of the comparisons, and aside from the historical analogies, Florence has the potential to cause a myriad of problems not only for the Carolinas, but also for Virginia, Maryland, and even further up the Mid-Atlantic into places such as Delaware and here in the Garden State of New Jersey. As of right now, four states are under a State of Emergency in anticipation for this storm: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. Rough surf is expected to begin impacting the East Coast from Georgia and South Carolina up into the Jersey Shore and Long Island.

Currently, as of the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is located some 465 miles South-Southeast of Bermuda, or about 1,085 miles to the East-Southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds remain at 140 miles per hour, but the minimum central pressure in the eye of the storm has increased slightly to 944 millibars, or 27.88 inches of Hg. The hurricane is presently moving to the West-Northwest at 13 miles per hour. Interests in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic need to closely watch the progress of this storm.

Hurricane and Storm Surge watches are likely to be issued on Tuesday as the storm is currently forecast to make landfall along the Carolina coast sometime on Thursday evening. The future direction of the storm appears to look like a continuation of its current westward track since a ridge of high pressure will remain to the north and pushing it along with its clockwise flow. As Florence gets to the periphery of the high, it should slow down, and begin a turn to the north. When it does that is not really known.

The latest NHC forecast discussion indicates that Florence will continue to intensify at least for the next 36 hours. Intensity forecasts call for the major hurricane to reach 155 mile per hour winds by Wednesday morning. Category Five strength is not out of the realm of possibility either. Winds could climb to near 160 miles per hour during this period. Everything depends on how long and how well the storm will reorganize during that anticipated eyewall replacement cycle.

Residents of New Jersey, particularly the Jersey Shore, and flood prone areas such as Bound Brook and Manville in Central Jersey need to closely follow the progress of this dangerous storm. While Florence is likely to be a much weaker storm when it moves up into the Garden State area, the forecasted slower forward speed, the abundance of tropical moisture, and the fact that there has already been a good deal of rain in the area over the past several days, brings the potential of significant flooding to the area.

Back in September 1999, Floyd reached New Jersey as a tropical storm, but still produced a great deal of flooding with nearly 12 inches of rain in spots. Here at Greg’s Weather Center in South Plainfield, there was approximately 11.67 inches of rain, and that was after a dry period prior to the storm. Seven years ago in late August 2011, Hurricane Irene produced significant flooding, but it was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back as some areas in New Jersey already had 15 to 20 inches of rain prior to the storm’s arrival. GWC received 5.33 inches of rain from that storm.

Stay tuned to your local radio and television outlets as well as this blog, the National Weather Service, and the National Hurricane Center for updates on this developing storm.

09.09.18

Rainy Start For What Could Be Stormy Week in New Jersey

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, GWC News, Tracking the Tropics at 9:54 pm by gmachos

Remnants of Gordon To Unleash Heavy Rains to Garden State

Monday marks the statistical peak of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and activity has significantly ratcheted up in the region. After the season began with five storms that were subtropical in origin, much of August was rather quiet. There were only two named storms during most of the month.

Then, in the final 36 hours of the month, Florence began to emerge as Potential Tropical Cyclone Six. It would eventually develop into a tropical storm, then a hurricane, and a major hurricane. Early on Florence appeared to be on track to be a fish storm, but that would change, and now it could be a threat for the East Coast as a major hurricane later this week.

During the initial stages of Florence’s development, Gordon began to emerge as Potential Cylcone Seven in the Caribbean near the Southern Bahamas, the tip of South Florida, and Cuba. A little over 15 hours later, PTC 7 became Tropical Storm Gordon. Conditions were hostile toward development, but Gordon still managed to come quite close to becoming a hurricane.

Gordon still fell short of its goal of becoming the fourth hurricane of the 2018 season, but came ashore just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border with winds of 70 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 997 millibars, or 29.44 inches of Hg (Mercury). The storm produced rough conditions over Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach in Alabama. The big story with this storm would be the rain though.

While it brought some storm surge to the Central Gulf Coast, Tropical Storm Gordon produced anywhere from 4 to 8 inches in the Western Florida Panhandle, Southwest Alabama, Southern and Central Mississippi, Northeastern Louisiana, and Southern Arkansas with isolated locations receiving about a foot of rain. This would spread into the Midwestern United States, and eventually into Ohio and Pennsylvania.

By this time, Gordon had weakened to a remnant low, but still was producing copious amounts of rainfall. Earlier this weekend, rainfall amounts across Ohio and Pennsylvania were as much as 4 to 5 inches in a span of 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Garden State has been going through a tumultuous period of weather itself over the past two weeks. Heat and humidity that has not been seen in this area for over five years.

Temperatures soared into the 90s for much of the week before Labor Day with dew points into the 70s. It was a dangerous combination that produced Heat Advisories and Warnings. Heat indices soared over the 100 degree mark as the first games of the 2018 high school football season were taking place across New Jersey. I was at a few of those games and a couple pre-season scrimmages myself on August 29th and 30th. The conditions were quite honestly, very brutal.

There would be a break in the action starting on Friday when clouds and rain moved in. As a front slowly approached from the west, rain fell up north in places such as Morristown where Somerville was taking on Delbarton in its season opener. The rain lingered for a couple more hours, but eventually let up as Highland Park hosted Montclair Kimberley in its season opener on Friday evening in Middlesex County in Central Jersey. The front pushed through, and a cool breeze set in, but it would only be temporary.

The front stalled just off the Jersey coast, and eventually returned as a warm front by Sunday evening. By that time, I had traveled down to Long Beach Island to enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Upon arrival at my hotel, I could feel a nice breeze coming from the ocean, but it would let up, and gave way to heat and humidity that made things very uncomfortable on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in not only Ocean County, but also much of the rest of the Garden State. Temperatures would stay in the upper 80s to low 90s until Thursday.

Another front then came through on Thursday evening, and it pushed into the coastal towns of South Amboy and Old Bridge around 6:30 PM. Large and vast cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds could be seen approaching from Lombardi Field in Old Bridge and Waterfront Park in South Amboy. Gusty winds came through South Amboy as I drove up to Waterfront Park there. However, there was no rain, thunder, or lightning. Only strong winds developed. Stronger storms could be seen further to the north and east over Staten Island, Brooklyn, Coney Island, and New York City.

Rain would eventually come, but not until the late afternoon and early evening on Friday. Week one high school football games, many of which were season openers for schools in New Jersey, were played under a steady rain that began lightly, but increased somewhat in intensity. Clouds lingered through the day on Saturday, but the rain would not resume until Sunday as the remnants of Gordon approached. Gordon’s remains are coming along another cold front, and Flood Watches and Coastal Flood Warnings have been issued in New Jersey.

As of early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a Coastal Flood Warning for Coastal Monmouth and Ocean counties as well as areas along Delaware Bay. Middlesex County was also under threat by the possibility of minor road flooding in places such as Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Old Bridge, and South Amboy. In addition, Flood Watches were in effect into early Tuesday for Northern Delaware, Northeast Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Amounts ranging from one to three inches are possible in the areas under the watch.

The rains and abnormal tides from the remains of Tropical Storm Gordon could be just a tropical hors d’oeuvre for the Mid-Atlantic this week. As mentioned earlier, Florence is lurking in the Atlantic, and it is becoming more and more likely that the storm will not only re-energize into a major hurricane, but also make an impact along the Carolinas or Virginia by week’s end. Florence, which has been the only major hurricane in the Atlantic so far in 2018, has regained hurricane strength with 85 mile per hour winds, and a minimum central pressure of 975 millibars, or 28.80 inches of Hg.

The NHC’s forecast discussion from 5:00 PM EDT on Sunday afternoon indicated that Florence is expected to undergo a period of rapid intensification. By this time on Monday night, Florence is anticipated to become a Category Three Hurricane with 120 miles per hour. The storm is expected to continue strengthening and have 145 mph sustained winds by Tuesday evening. By the same time Wednesday, Florence may have 150 mile per hour winds before tapering off to 140 mile per hour winds some four days from now as it moves toward landfall.

In addition to Florence, there are two other named storms churning in the Atlantic this evening. Tropical Storm Isaac is nearly a hurricane with 70 mile per hour winds and 29.44 inches of Hg minimum central pressure, and is located about 1400 miles to the east of the Windward Islands. Isaac is expected to be a threat for the Caribbean over the next week or so. Further out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Helene, a minimal hurricane, just brought rain and wind to the Cabo Verde Islands, and is heading westward in the Eastern Atlantic. Helene is not anticipated to threaten any major land areas at this time.