The Birthday Hurricane

Arthur Brings Unwanted Present For 4th of July Holiday and Birthday

With the fast start in the Eastern Pacific, and nothing happening for much of the first month of the season in the Atlantic, many wondered if the El Niño was kicking in as predicted it would this summer.  Ending the month of June, the EPAC already had 5 named storms in the books including two major hurricanes while the Atlantic was just to even have a tropical depression.  Everything changed earlier this week when a disturbance off the Southeastern United States, began to become more organized and eventually became Tropical Depression One.

The disturbance began getting attention over the previous weekend that ended the month of June.  Forecasts were already hinting at rough weather come the middle to end of the holiday week.  There was already a couple storm systems moving through the country that brought severe weather to the Plains, and even a derecho like MCS on Monday into Tuesday.  Heat and humidity was already building up in the Eastern half of the country with 90 plus degree temperatures in New Jersey on Tuesday and Wednesday with heat index values shooting well over 100 degrees thanks to a dew point that was just under 80 degrees.

A cold front began approaching from the Midwest on Wednesday, and it brought severe weather to Eastern Pennsylvania and much of New Jersey.  Storms produced gusty winds, several rounds of heavy rain, and dangerous lightning.  GWC was out in the storms on Wednesday.  There was a lot of ponding of roads and some flash flooding around South Plainfield.  Approximately 2.17 inches fell on Wednesday followed by 1.82 on Thursday for just under 4 inches of rain in just 27 hours.  The front would be a saving grace though.   Although it combined with Arthur to produce to heavy rains along the Jersey Shore and jeopardize Fourth of July celebrations in Long Branch and Point Pleasant, the front prevented Arthur from going over the Garden State like Irene and Sandy did two to three years ago.

The forecast models were having a field day with Arthur.  First the 12z HWRF run earlier this week showed Arthur becoming a very strong hurricane with a well defined eye moving over the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Independence Day.  Then the Euro model followed suit.  Arthur eventually became the Atlantic season’s first hurricane on Thursday, July 3rd, and didn’t stop there.  The storm system continued to feed off of the warm, moist air rising from the Gulf Stream, and intensified further into a Category Two Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 100 mph winds, and a minimum central pressure of 976 millibars, or 28.82 inches of Hg (Mercury) at 9:00 PM on the third.  Within two and a half hours, Arthur made landfall over Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

The storm forced mandatory evacuations along many of North Carolina’s barrier islands including Hatteras Island.  Much of Route 12, the only way in and out of the Outer Banks, and which suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011, did receive some minor damage.  However, by morning, the southeastern beaches in North Carolina such as Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington had sunshine while further north in Cape Hatteras, the skies were still cloudy, but the brunt of the weather from Arthur had moved on.  According to state officials in North Carolina, Route 12 was back in business by Saturday morning (July 5th).  Arthur still emerged from the Tar Heel State as a Category Two Hurricane, but gradually began to weaken as it moved into more cooler waters off the Jersey Shore and Delaware coast.  Feeder bands from the storm combined with the cold front that had pushed through much of New Jersey on Thursday to bring heavy rains to those coastal areas.

Although staying well offshore in the Mid-Atlantic, Arthur came up the East Coast to bring tropical storm conditions to Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard before going into Eastern Maine and the Canadian Maritimes before losing its tropical characteristics.  The storm wound up being an unwanted guest at GWC, which was not only celebrating the holiday, but also the birthday of its president, Greg Machos.  Things did clear out in time for the Fourth of July Fireworks in Jersey City, New York City, and Long Branch.  Nice weather is expected for the rest of the weekend as high pressure pushed in to bring in clear skies, less humidity, breezy conditions, and cooler temperatures.