09.02.19

Tracking the Tropics—September 2, 2019

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, GWC News, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 9:28 pm by gmachos

Labor Day 2019 is a day that history repeated itself in the Atlantic Tropics. Actually it was on Sunday, but again, another Labor Day was overshadowed by the impact and the threat for more impacts from Hurricane Dorian. It was on this date some 84 years ago, another monster storm was devastating the Florida Keys, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

THIS DAY IN HURRICANEVILLE HISTORY

The storm had winds of 185 mph and gusts well over 200 mph. It was a small yet powerful storm that went through the Florida Straits and into the Keys. The monster hurricane destroyed the Overseas Railroad, a brainchild of Florida businessman, Henry Flagler, and left many World War I Veterans that were working on the railroad. The railroad, which linked the Florida Keys with mainland Florida, was then replaced by the U.S. 1 highway, now the only route out of the Keys.

It was the first Category Five Hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States. Only three other storms: Camille (1969), Andrew (1992), and Michael (2018) have ever done that, and Andrew and Michael were re-evaluated and re-categorized as Cat 5 storms in 2002 and 2019. For a very long time, the storm held the mark for the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere for 53 years until Hurricane Gilbert surpassed it in September 1988.

Wilma would then surpass the mark made by Gilbert in the wild hurricane season of 2005. In almost the same location as Gilbert near the Yucatan Peninsula, Wilma’s pressure ended up at 882 millibars as it became the fifth Category Five Hurricane that season. Andrew followed a similar path as the Labor Day Hurricane did, but was just a bit further to the north as it made landfall in Homestead in Southern Dade County, Florida.

A LOOK AROUND IN THE ATLANTIC

Dorian is dominating the scene in the Atlantic. However, believe it or not, there are four disturbances being watched throughout the basin from the coast of Africa to the South Central Gulf. The most immediate concern outside of Dorian is located in the South Central Gulf of Mexico. A tropical depression could emerge from this over the next several days. Currently, the chance for development within the next 48 hours is 60 percent, and that probability will increase to 70 percent in five days.

The next feature that needs the most attention, although it is still a long ways out is in the Eastern Atlantic. What the NHC calls an elongated area of low pressure is located several hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. This system is in the prime area of development during the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and has an 80 percent potential of becoming a tropical cyclone of some kind over the next 48 hours, and a 90 percent chance over the next 5 days.

Further to the east in Western Africa, another wave is about to depart into the Eastern Atlantic, and there is already a 50 percent chance of development into a depression over the next five days. So, the tropical pipeline appears to be firing up just in time for the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which occurs on September 10th. Finally, there is another area of disturbed weather several hundred miles to the south-southeast of Bermuda, which has about a 30 percent chance of formation from 48 hours to 5 days out.

I plan to have another update to the blog on Hurricane Dorian sometime during the day on Tuesday. I also may discuss the severe weather and heavy surf that dominated my Labor Day Weekend trip to Long Beach Island.

Hurricane Dorian—More Thoughts

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics at 3:14 pm by gmachos

On this early Tuesday afternoon, Dorian has basically grinded to a halt in its forward motion while its winds have decreased some 35 miles per hour from its peak on Sunday afternoon. The storm is still a high end Category Four Hurricane with 150 mph winds and a minimum central pressure of 938 millibars, or 27.70 inches of Hg.

The Northwestern Bahamas have been absolutely pounded as the storm as slowed and its eye crawls across the backbone of Grand Bahama Island towards Freeport. There are outer rain bands currently affecting Eastern Florida. All 67 counties in the Sunshine State are under a State of Emergency while portions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are under a State of Emergency as well.

Some 10 million people are under some form of tropical advisory at this time. At this point, the storm is still forecasted to eventually turn north, but Florida is still not out of the woods yet since that turn has not yet started to happen, and it is very possible that Dorian will be much closer to Florida’s East Coast before it does turn northward. It is located about 83 miles from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and about 108 miles from Fort Lauderdale.

Hurricane Dorian is currently going through an eyewall replacement cycle, which is when an outer eyewall forms and replaces the current inner eyewall. This phase is mostly responsible for the storm’s weakening along with the long interaction with Grand Bahama Island as well as some upwelling of colder water. The eyewall replacement cycle usually results with a larger wind field as a result of the conservation of angular momentum.

While the storm is some 500 miles away from the Jersey Shore, the surf has picked up considerably in the past 12 to 18 hours at places like Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island. The surf is much rougher, and more stirred up while the wave frequency and height has increased. There is video proof of this on the GWCHurricaneville Facebook page and twitter feed. Rip tide or rip current advisories are currently in effect for the Jersey Shore through Monday night. Expect the surf and wave action to continue picking up as the storm moves further north and makes its closest approach to the Garden State.

Right now, Southern Jersey is not in the forecast track, but had been in the cone of uncertainty as of Sunday night. Places such as Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, and Cape May could still feel some impacts from Dorian as it heads further north later this week, but areas that are in more immediate danger are along the Southeast Coast from the East Coast of Florida to Southeastern Virginia. Now, let’s discuss some of the things that have been discussed over the last couple of days.

First, there was the talk about the discrepancy regarding the storm when recon detected Category 5 Hurricane winds on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, but was still listed as a Category Four. Here’s the thing: If you have an 18 wheel tractor trailer coming at you, does it really matter how fast it is going at this point? It could be going 50, 65, 70, or 100 mph, it is not really going to matter because if you get in the way of it, it is likely not going to end up well. Then, there is the heavy surf and waves here in Ocean County from Dorian.

Many will say, how is that possible? Simple. It is a ripple effect from the storm. Much like when you drop a stone in a pond. Ripples of water propagate out from where the stone is dropped. So, if you dropped a 200 pound boulder into the middle of a lake, you pretty much have what’s going on in the Atlantic as the result of Hurricane Dorian’s strength, size, and power. I will try to post another blog entry on Tuesday or so. Unfortunately, I am not able to do as much work on the blog and site due to personal commitments such as my work schedule, and other obligations.

09.01.19

Some Thoughts on Hurricane Dorian

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 10:40 pm by gmachos

Monster Storm Slamming the Northwest Bahamas

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been monitoring Facebook and Twitter posts, and one of the things I saw not only then, but for much of the season, was the fact that many people were again already giving up on the season as if the statistical peak of September 10th had already passed.

This mindset was similar not too long ago. In about August 2017, I had seen a post from someone on Facebook that indicated that the Atlantic Hurricane Season was a bust, and there were no signs of anything significant occurring. Within about a month, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria became Category Five Storms in the Caribbean, and eventually pounded Florida and Puerto Rico.

The same thing happened a year later in the Summer of 2018, and then there was Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the fourth Category Five Hurricane to make landfall in the Continental United States. The thing that amazes me is that people just don’t seem to realize how the hurricane season does not end in June and July. Rather, it is only the beginning.

Now, there are some years such as 2005 when you have storms in June and July. In that historic season, there were two Category Five Storms in just the month of July alone, Dennis and Emily. Of course, there would be several more to go in Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. But 2005 was a record shattering season. Not every big year is going to end up like that, but it also doesn’t mean that it won’t be a big season.

More importantly though, many get too caught up with the number of storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes that are projected in the various seasonal forecasts issued by the likes of Colorado State, NOAA, The Weather Channel, etc. Remember, it only takes one. I always say how Hurricane Andrew in 1992 is a classic example of that. Andrew was the first storm of that season, and it did not really come along until the middle of August that season.

Yet, Andrew defied many odds to become the 2nd Category Five Hurricane to make landfall in the Continental United States although originally it was classified as a Category Four Hurricane when it hit Homestead, Florida. The 1992 season ended up being a below average year in terms of activity although it would later contribute to The Perfect Storm in October that year when Hurricane Grace, a Category One storm unlike the Category Five featured in the movie based on the Sebastian Junger book that came out in 2000.

Another example is the storm that Dorian is now being compared to in terms of wind power, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Again this storm occurred in a season that was below average according to the data collected as of this time. Yet, the storm devastated the Florida Keys and the Overseas Railroad that linked mainland Florida with the Keys. It also left many World War I Veterans that were working on the railroad, dead. Several years later, another powerful storm came along in a below average season.

The Long Island Express of 1938 came along during another year of below average activity, but is perhaps the most powerful storm to strike Long Island and New England. It left some 600 people dead. Dorian has generated more tropical activity than the entire 1983 Atlantic Hurricane Season, but there still was Hurricane Alicia, a major hurricane that threatened the Houston and Galveston area that year. A few years earlier, there was Hurricane Allen, which had 190 mile per hour winds in the Caribbean before coming ashore in South Texas in August 1980.

The moral of all of the stories and examples of past hurricanes, is again, my important credo, “It only takes one storm to make a season regardless of how many storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes are predicted.” There are some years, when there are a number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes, but not many of them make an impact in the United States. There are others such as 2004 and 2005 with numerous storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes that do come ashore. Some of those big years like 1969, 1998, and 2004 start off very slow, and then come on very strong.

A couple weeks ago, many commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Hurricane Camille. This storm was only the third named storm of the season, and it impacted the Gulf Coast of Mississippi near Pass Christian with 180 mph winds and a 24 foot storm surge. The 1969 season would then end up with 18 named storms and 12 hurricanes. The only seasons that had more storms were 1933 and 1995, and the only season with more hurricanes was 2005.

Speaking of Camille, there is another thing that I find troubling about some of the discussions I see on social media. Many critique the forecasting of Dorian not only in terms of track, but also in terms of intensity as well. For example, there was a criticism that Dorian was named a hurricane too soon when it was about to make impacts in the Virgin Islands. Even if it was not a hurricane, it was still capable of producing torrential rains resulting in flash flooding and mudslides in the mountainous terrain of these islands.

Going back to Camille, the storm was one of the first systems that was observed with a new tool for forecasters called satellite. Forecasters such as John Hope, who later worked at the Weather Channel, Neil Frank, a future director at the National Hurricane Center, and Bob Sheets, another future director as well as Robert Simpson, the NHC director at the time, did not think Camille was that strong according to the satellite imagery that they had of it at the time. When Hurricane Hunter aircraft got into the storm, they realized that the storm was much worse than thought.

The moral of this story? Is that forecasters can only do the best they can with the tools they have available. True forecasters today have tons of tools, data, and computer power at their disposal. Never in the brief history of meteorology, which has only been around for about a little more than 100 years, have forecasters had such an abundance of information and technology available to them. Yet, there are still issues. Some models don’t work as well as others. Social media is a great way of sharing information, but it can also lead to confusion and misinformation. The public is also more informed as well due to the computer, mobile phone, and internet, and can be prone to second guess the forecaster.

Forecasting the track has improved, but only gradually on a linear scale while population growth, especially in places such as Florida, has grown exponentially. The result, a lot of people in the Sunshine State that have perhaps never really experienced a hurricane before. There was a sense of panic that I observed in Florida this week courtesy of Jim Williams live broadcast at Hurricane City on Friday night that was reminiscent of the chaos that ensued when Hurricane Floyd was off the East Coast of Florida, and lashing the Bahamas with 150 mile per hour winds in September 1999.

There was also the debate over the fact that Dorian had winds measured at Category Five intensity from reconnaissance aircraft measurements late Saturday night, and yet the advisories up and until 8:00 AM on Sunday still had the storm at a Category Four. A Category Five storm is rarified air for a tropical system, and it is also very difficult for such a system to maintain that intensity for a long period of time. Most Cat Five storms stay at that intensity for 24 hours or so, but some have lasted as long as 30 to 36 hours, or even longer. What does that mean? Perhaps the forecasters were trying to see whether the Cat Five intensity would persist. A key factor with tropical systems is their persistence.

So the forecasters might have delayed to make sure that this was a trend, and not something that just happened for a few hours, and then stopped. The NHC waited roughly about 12 hours before upgrading Dorian to a Category Five Hurricane. Then, there is the debate over the forecast track. Originally, Florida was expected to get some sort of impact from this system, especially after the system reorganized north of Puerto Rico, and did not go through the Mona Passage as originally predicted. Then, Friday into Saturday the official forecast appeared to put Florida in the clear as Dorian headed more north toward the Northwestern Bahamas.

Again, Dorian has defied many odds against it to this point. In a way, the storm is somewhat similar to Andrew in terms of surviving many obstacles only to rapidly intensify into this Category Five monster. While some did indicate that Dorian had a good chance to be a Category Four or Five storm, nobody imagined that the hurricane would become this powerful, and the strongest storm to affect the Northwestern Bahamas. It also had a minimum central pressure of 909 millibars, which was just a bit stronger than Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (910 millibars). Storms like these can make an environment of their own, and sometimes go where they want to instead of being pushed by other environmental forces. Forecasters can not always predict that.

Obviously, there is a lot of angst and concern all along the East Coast of Florida, but the Northwestern Bahamas have never seen a storm of this intensity and fury before ever on record. According to sources familiar with the Bahamas, approximately 70 percent of Abaco Islands have homes either destroyed or damaged. Grand Bahama Island including Freeport has never been hit by a Category Five Hurricane. Both of these islands have highest elevations that are only 10 to 15 feet above mean sea level, and the forecasted storm surge for those areas was supposed to be between 18 and 23 feet above normal. In addition, there are also damaging waves on top of the surge.

On top of this, the steering currents around Hurricane Dorian have broken down, or cancelled each other out, which has caused the storm to slow down. The slow motion has prolonged the devastating and catastrophic effects of the hurricane over the Northwestern Bahamas. At the same time, it does give residents along Florida’s East Coast time to prepare if the hurricane pushes further westward, and threatens to make landfall there. Dorian is expected to make a turn to the north by Tuesday, and could then threaten Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina as well as Florida.

States of Emergency have been declared for portions of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The storm is expected to head north and then northeast eventually. South Jersey could feel the effects of the storm by Thursday and Friday. Forecasts for places like Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island are calling for temperatures in the low 70s with rain and wind on both of those days. Residents along Florida’s East Coast need to finalize preparations, and perhaps move westward and even south towards Miami and Dade County to stay out of the western eyewall. Dorian appears to have begun an eyewall replacement cycle, which will cause it to weaken, but also increase its wind field to conserve angular momentum.

Residents in Georgia and Carolinas need to closely monitor this dangerous situation, and get prepared if they haven’t already. Again, the slow forward speed of the storm due to breakdown in upper level steering currents does provide additional time to prepare, and get things in order in the event that evacuation orders are given. Further up the East Coast in the Mid-Atlantic and New England should periodically monitor the progress of the situation.

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.

07.07.18

Atlantic Tropics Heating Up

Posted in Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 10:14 pm by gmachos

2nd Named Storm and 3rd Depression Emerge

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is a little more than a month old, and the Fourth of July holiday has just passed. Still, until a few days ago, the basin had only had one named storm develop, which put it behind last year’s pace, but still was a little more than average. Usually a named storm develops once every two years by July 1st.

By this time a year ago, the Atlantic had three named storms by the beginning of July. Two years ago, there were four named storms by July 1st. So even though, this was the third consecutive year, the Atlantic produced a named storm by the beginning of July, conditions are behind the pace of recent times. This week, however, activity began to pick to up in the Atlantic.

First, a tiny storm system drew attention in the Central and Western Atlantic. Forecasters watching it at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida didn’t give it much of a positive prognosis at the outset. In the first advisory issued by the NHC on Thursday morning, July 5th, the forecast called for then Tropical Depression Two to dissipate into an open wave by the end of this weekend.

Less than 24 hours later, at 5:00 AM EDT on Friday, July 6th, Beryl became not only the 2nd named storm of the 2018 Atlantic season, but also the first hurricane despite only having hurricane force winds extend only 10 miles and tropical storm force winds reach out about 35 miles. Beryl strengthened to have winds slightly stronger than minimal hurricane force at 80 miles per hour with gusts up to 100 miles per hour. The diameter of its eye was only 5 nautical miles, and its minimal pressure fell to only 994 millibars, or 29.38 inches of Hg.

Thirty hours later though, Beryl waned again, and dwindled to a tropical storm with only 65 miles per hour. The storm continued to degrade as Saturday afternoon progressed in the Western Atlantic. As of the 8:00 PM EDT Advisory on Saturday evening (July 7th), Beryl’s maximum sustained winds with 50 miles per hour with its pressure rising to 1003 millibars, or 29.62 inches of Hg. Wind gusts have fallen off to 65 miles per hour.

Tropical Storm Beryl is currently located some 550 miles to the East-Southeast of the Lesser Antilles. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Dominica and Guadeloupe. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Barbuda, St. Lucia, Martinique, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy, Saba and St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. Interests in the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic should closely monitor the progress of Beryl.

The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center on Beryl calls for it to head to the West-Northwest through the center of the Lesser Antilles, and then head just to the south of Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last September, and have around 10,000 residents still without power, remains within the NHC’s cone of uncertainty. The intensity forecast indicates Beryl will regress to a depression within 48 hours.

Meanwhile, a new system has garnered attention over the last 24 hours. The third depression of the season formed some 230 miles to the South-Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina as of 5:00 PM EDT on Friday afternoon, July 6th. Winds remained sustained at only 30 miles per hour during the first 24 hours of TD #3’s life, but increased to 35 miles per hour by 5:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. Pressure is still quite high at 1014 millibars, or 29.95 inches.

Nevertheless, Tropical Depression Three is anticipated to intensify to a Tropical Storm either late Saturday night or on Sunday. Interests along the North Carolina coast should monitor the future progress of this depression. The forecast indicates that TD #3 will hover off the Carolinas until Monday afternoon as a tropical storm before heading to the Northeast as a hurricane by the middle of Tuesday afternoon, July 10th. Winds are forecast to peak at 75 miles per hour before beginning to weaken within 4 to 5 days.

07.01.18

The Blast Furnace Fires Up for Pre-July 4th Weekend in New Jersey

Posted in General, GWC News, GWC Severe Weather Report at 4:10 pm by gmachos

Peak of Prolonged Heatwave Has Begun and to Last Thru Monday

Summer has begun in earnest around the Garden State. The graduations are over. Fourth of July is just days away, and the first major heat wave of the season is underway with a ferocity that has not been seen for a few years.

Early last week, conditions were mostly dry, breezy, and pleasant around New Jersey, but by midweek, showers and thunderstorms ushered in a ridge of high pressure and a southwesterly flow of air that has pushed the thermometer upward, and will keep it there at least through this week

Starting on Thursday, temperatures began to creep into the 90s, and by early Sunday afternoon, the mercury was pushing hard toward the century mark. The National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly, New Jersey had issued an Excessive Heat Watch on Friday, which it upgraded to a warning on Saturday.

The warning came into effect at 8:00 AM Sunday morning, and is expected to continue until 8:00 PM on Monday evening. Temperatures during this period arre expected to reach well into the upper 90s and perhaps 100 while heat indices will probably range between 105 and 110 with some isolated areas going even higher than that.

This torrid weather stretch is reminiscent of the heat and humidity experienced during the early summers of 2011 and 2012. Those two years were part of an extraordinary period of extreme weather in New Jersey that began with a series of severe storms in September 2010, continued with the Holiday Blizzard of December 2010 and Hurricane Irene in August 2011, and finished with Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012.

Both the early summers of 2011 and 2012 were remarkable for their tremendous heat and humidity. In July 2011, the Weather Station at Greg’s Weather Center recorded a maximum heat index of just under 121 degrees. The following year, in July 2012, the heat index peaked at 117 degrees. July 2013 even had some similar heat with a top heat index of 117 also that month. During the July 2011 heat wave, the mercury peaked at just under 104 degrees at GWC. The following year, in July 2012, the temperature peaked at a little over 102 degrees.

While the heat index and temperature are not nearly as close to where they were during those two years, the mercury is still forecasted to reach about 100 degrees. Currently at GWC in South Plainfield, the temperature is 98 degrees, and it feels as hot as 106 outside. Dew point is quite high at 69 degrees while there is only a light wind out of the Southwest at about 5 miles per hour.

If you are looking for any relief, there might not be any at least until the latter portion of the week here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. High on Monday is expected to be about the same while Tuesday will be only a bit cooler at 94 degrees. The July 4th holiday may have some fireworks courtesy of Mother Nature with a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms with a high of 91. Thursday and Friday’s forecast shows an increased chance of rain and thunderstorms with temperatures dropping into the upper 80s.

However, that forecast may be just a bit more optimistic. Larry Cosgrove of WeatherAmerica indicated that the cold front that is forecast to come in around the period of July 6th to July 8th, may not bring the relief that the East Coast will be looking for. Areas further to the north such as those above Interstate 70, but it will not bring the kind of relief we will be looking for. Temperature are also expected to rebound back into the lower 90s by July 10th and 11th according to long term forecasts provided by The Weather Channel.

On a personal note, I went out for a walk twice yesterday as well as a couple on Friday. While conditions were getting uncomfortable then, both days were more pleasant than what is being experienced outside GWC on Sunday. I walked for just under an hour around my neighborhood and several other neighborhoods nearby. It was brutal outside. True, I went out for a walk around 11:30 on Sunday morning, but I went out at around the same times on Friday and Saturday, and it was more comfortable, or bearable depending how you would like to look at it.

I believe that this heatwave could be part of another prolonged period of extreme weather in New Jersey similar to that from September 2010 to November 2012. This new period had its origins back in the latter stages of this past winter with the four strong Nor’easters that rocked the Garden State throughout March and early April. Then, there was the period of 9 weeks from mid-April to a couple weeks ago, where there were rainy conditions during all or part of the weekend. There was also an outbreak of severe weather in New Jersey on Tuesday, May 15th that brought high winds and heavy rains.

Conditions have also noticeably gone from Winter to Summer without much of a Spring here in New Jersey. Whether or not these severe events become part of an actual prolonged period of rough weather for the Garden State true remains to be seen. The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is only a month old, but by this time last year, the region had already seen at least three named storms come and go while this year there has only been one. Nevertheless, we are still very far from the climatological peak of the hurricane season, which usually occurs in early to mid-September with the statistical peak falling on September 10th.

One thing is for sure, and that is this week’s heat could be the most severe New Jersey has seen in about 5 years.

09.24.17

Watches Issued for North Carolina Coast for Maria

Posted in Storm Track, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 8:54 pm by gmachos

Storm Still at Category Two Strength; Pressure down to 941 Millibars

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season continues to chug along, and it is reaching historic heights. According to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, the season’s Accumlated Cyclone Energy, or ACE, is now up 180, which as of right now is the third highest for this date behind that of the 1933 (220) and 2004 (207).

Those two seasons were memorable ones. The 1933 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the benchmark in terms of the total number of storms with 21 before 2005, and the 2004 season had the terrible four for Florida with Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. It is even higher than that of the 2005 season as of this date even though that season by this point, had four Category Five Hurricanes.

Thirteen years after that memorable 2004 season, which was the last time a Category Four Hurricane made landfall in the United States before Harvey and Irma did this season, we have ourselves the most active and devastating hurricane season since 2005. The latest monster storm, Hurricane Maria, which destroyed Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico last week, is now moving up the Eastern Seaboard.

Maria, which has weakened to a Category Two Hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds, had the lowest barometric pressure at 941 millibars with that kind of wind speed in the Atlantic since Hurricane or Superstorm Sandy. Ironically, the storm is moving up the East Coast like Sandy did. The question is, will it affect New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic like Sandy did. Already Watches are up along the North Carolina coast.

As of the 8:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Maria was located approximately 410 miles to the South-Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds with the storm remain at Category Two strength at 105 mph with gusts in upwards of 125 mph. The barometric pressure has risen a bit to 947 millibars, or about 27.96 inches of Hg (Mercury). The storm continues to move to the north at a meager 9 miles per hour.

Like Irma before it, Maria is a vast storm system with hurricane force winds extend some 60 miles from the center while tropical storm force winds reach out some 230 miles from the center, or a total diameter of 580 miles. A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for north of Surf City, North Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border including Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. In addition, a Storm Surge Watch is now in effect along the North Carolina coast from Cape Lookout to Duck. Meanwhile, High Surf and Rip Current Advisories are in effect for the Mid-Atlantic including New Jersey, Delaware, and Long Island.

Could we be looking at a situation similar to Hurricane Irene or Sandy? It is possible. The National Hurricane Center has urged residents along the Mid-Atlantic, which includes New Jersey to continue to monitor the situation with this large storm. The most recent forecast discussion from the NHC at 5:00 PM on Sunday afternoon, Maria is expected to remain a Category Two Hurricane for the next 24 hours, and then weaken to a strong Category One Hurricane through 72 hours. The storm is expected to stay a hurricane through the five day forecast period.

Looking at the latest forecast track from the NHC, the hurricane is expected to continue heading mostly in a northward direction over the next 48 to 60 hours and be parallel to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina sometime between Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning. Then, Maria is expected to make a right turn out to sea, and stay away from the Mid-Atlantic coastline of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Nevertheless, the storm is still expected to create rough surf, waves, and rip currents along the Mid-Atlantic coastline including the Jersey Shore and the South Shore of Long Island.

The models are showing a general turn to the east after four or five days. Both the Euro (ECMWF) and CMC (Canadian) global models have the storm staying close to the North Carolina and Virginia coast before turning to the east by Friday afternoon. The GFS has the storm clearing out much faster. The EPS and HWRF show a similar trend to the GFS. Looking at these tracks, the storm is more or less expected to take a track similar to Hurricane Emily did in August 1993. Get very close to Hatteras before turning away out to sea.

We will just have to wait and see. Things can change. Remember, the five day NHC forecast has an average error of 160 nautical miles so far in 2017. And, model forecasts can be wrong. Residents along the Jersey Shore, Delaware Beaches, Long Island, and the Maryland and Virginia coastline should continue to monitor the progress of the storm while those in North Carolina should be prepared for at least some tropical storm force winds.

09.21.17

Maria Lashes Northern Portion of Dominican Republic

Posted in Storm Track, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 10:32 pm by gmachos

Storm Re-Strengthens to Have Winds of 125 MPH: Still Potential Problem for East Coast

After pounding Dominica, St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico with Category 4 and 5 intensity winds between 140 and 160 miles per hour, Hurricane Maria had some of the starch taken out of her by the mountains of Puerto Rico, which only go up to 4,000 feet. Winds had decreased to below major hurricane status this time Wednesday night.

However, on Thursday, despite lashing the northern coast of the Dominican Republic including the majestic beach locale of Punta Cana with gusty winds and torrential rains, Maria intensified back to major hurricane status as its winds gradually grew throughout the day to 115, 120, and then 125 miles per hour. Wind gusts are now back up to 150 mph. Barometric pressure has fallen off to 955 millibars, or 28.20 inches of Hg as of 8:00 PM EDT on Thursday night.

Now, the hurricane is setting its sights on the Turks and Caicos Islands near the Southeastern Bahamas. Hurricane Hunter aircraft have found a flight level wind of 126 knots, or about 145 mph. The eye, which a couple days ago was very small and narrow at 11 miles, has grown very large to be about 34 miles after being as wide as 36 nautical miles in diameter. Irma’s eye had been as wide as 23 to 25 nautical miles in diameter.

Hurricane Maria has slowed some over the past 24 hours to just Northwest at 9 miles per hour. The storm is presently located about 85 miles North-Northeast of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, or about 80 miles East-Southeast of Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Looking at the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Maria is expected to move to the Northwest and North-Northwest, and stay east of the Bahamas over the next 48 to 60 hours.

By the end of the five day forecast period, or about 8:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, the NHC projects Maria to be several hundred miles east of the Carolina coastline. Keep in mind though that the NHC’s five day forecast has had an average error of about 160 miles so far this season. There is also still a great deal of uncertainty of what the storm will do beyond the five day forecast point. Earlier today, CNN depicted the GFS (American) and ECMWF (Euro) as keeping Maria offshore from New Jersey, New York City, and the Mid-Atlantic by this time next week.

However, yesterday (Wednesday), CNN indicated that both of the models had Hurricane Maria very close to New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island. Taking a peek at other models, the CMC or Canadian model has Hurricane Maria as a 980 millibar low right over Cape Hatteras by next Tuesday morning. The storm will then go further inland into Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Chesapeake Bay by next Wednesday morning. The NAVGEM has Maria a couple hundred miles off the North Carolina coast by next Wednesday morning. Then a couple hundred miles off Cape Hatteras as a 960 millibar low by next Wednesday afternoon.

The EPS ensemble model has Maria staying offshore through Wednesday and Thursday of next week much like the GFS and ECMWF. The HWRF hurricane model keeps the storm offshore by the end of the five day forecast period. Reading the latest forecast discussion from the NHC at 5:00 PM EDT on Thursday, have Maria remaining a major hurricane for 36 hours, and weakening to a Category Two storm by 48 hours, and a Category One Hurricane by the end of five days.

Currently, the NHC has a Hurricane Warning in effect for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Warning in effect for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from west of Puerto Plata to the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Central Bahamas.

Residents in the Bahamas and the East Coast of the United States should monitor the progress of this still dangerous storm over the next several days. Hurricaneville will continue to monitor this storm, and provide daily updates.

Well Above Average Temperatures in New Jersey for Next 5 Days

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, GWC News, Storm Warning, Tracking the Tropics at 12:40 pm by gmachos

Warm, Humid Weather Resulting from Tropical Storm Jose

Checking the temperatures this morning for the next five days here in Central Jersey, I discovered that they will be almost summer like. Over these next five days, the mercury is forecast to climb into the low to mid 80s for highs and low to mid 60s for lows. The average high temperature in Newark, New Jersey for this first day of fall, or September 21st, is 77 degrees while the average low is about 60.

So what is the cause for this? Simple. The reason for this August like weather is because of what was Hurricane, and now is Tropical Storm Jose, which is still churning in the Atlantic and bringing gusty winds and rains to Southeastern New England while still providing rough surf and rip currents to much of the East Coast. You may is how does a hurricane cause temperatures and humidity levels to go up, especially this time of year?

The reason hurricanes can produce this kind of change is that despite the destructive, deadly, and devastating powers of these storms, they actually serve a beneficial purpose to our planet. Like all storms, hurricanes and tropical storms come about to bring balance to the earth’s atmosphere in some way. In the case of tropical systems, they are responsible for the transfer of heat and moisture from the tropics to the poles. This is why temperatures will be about 5 to 10 degrees above normal here in New Jersey over the next five days. Jose’s trip up here made the dog days of summer like weather return to our area despite the calendar saying it was the first day of fall.

Jose still hasn’t left the scene yet either. As of the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, which was at 11:00 AM on Thursday morning, the tropical storm was located some 145 miles to the Southeast of Nantucket Massachusetts. The storm is also stationary meaning there is no air mass or front that can kick it out at the present time. Maximum sustained winds are still at 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure with Jose is up to 984 millibars, or 29.06 inches, which is still equivalent to a Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the Massachusetts coast from Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach including Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. The Jersey Shore will still feel the effects from the system. As of this morning, places like Manasquan Inlet in the southern portion of Monmouth County, were still dealing with rough surf and rip currents from the storm. With the storm not moving much and still spinning away, it is very likely that the Jersey Shore as well as the rest of the Mid-Atlantic will continue to see rough surf and rip currents for the next several days.

The National Weather Service still has Tropical Storm Warnings out for the West Central North Atlantic continental shelf and slope waters beyond 20 nautical miles to 250 nautical miles offshore. Meanwhile, the rest of New Jersey will see great weather for this time of year with temperatures at places like GWC in South Plainfield, NJ, between 81 and 87 degrees over the next five days under mostly sunny skies. Winds will be out of the north at about 6 to 11 miles per hour during the period.

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