Thursday, December 01, 2016

November 30: Last Day of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Well my friends here we are again, approaching the end of yet another rather dull year...... on planet Mars. Planet Earth, on the other hand, has had quite an interesting year! By the way, 687 Earth days is how long it takes Mars to circle the Sun. Can you imagine a year lasting 687 days? That's a looong time. Coincidentally, a modern US Presidential race now takes approximately the same length of time as a year on Mars (minus a mere 1-2 months)! Hmm. Perhaps it's time to step that back a notch or two. Luckily for us, the hurricane season is still only ~183 days... and today is the last day. Woohoo! :-)

(Drumroll)... 'Tis time for the 2016 Atlantic Season Grand Reckoning. I know I missed a couple due to some work or travel malarky, including H. Otto - he visited Nicaragua last week. But officially this year we had 15 named tropical storms, of which 7 were hurricanes and 3 were major hurricanes (cat 3 or higher). We even had a category 5 in the Atlantic this year - Hurricane Matthew, who became the first cat 5 storm in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007 with maximum winds officially at 160mph! This year was, as predicted by everyone and their cat and dog, a slightly above-average season (apparently seasonal hurricane forecasts are easier that political forecasts). The long-term average number of storms per year is 12, with a long-term average of 6 hurricanes.

Speaking of forecasts, the NHC are very very good when the storm is one to 1.5 days away from landfall. The intensity forecasting is still not very good in my not-very-humble opinion. But perhaps that will change soon... In case you missed the news, NOAA (with assistance from the lovely NASA) launched a new satellite in November - the GOES-R.

<Final Science Alert of the Season!> The GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) is the first of four next generation weather satellites. GOES-R was launched in November, and along with the others in the GOES-R series (to be launched over the next few years), it will provide weather data (including severe storms) every 30 seconds! How great is that?! :-) If you want to find out more about it, here's a short video. The satellite images that I use are from older GOES satellites (GOES-East/GOES-West). So I'm pretty sure that one of these years we'll have much better intensity forecasts because we have better data and better technology! <End Final Science Alert of the Season!>

I think that's it for a 'most interesting' year. Phew!

Before I run away for 6 months, I'd like to thank Doug M. at CMS/USF (www.marine.usf.edu) in Florida for the listserv, and Chris H. in Georgia and Ben A. for help with the website. I'd also like to thank the NHC for their hard work and for giving me something to rant about every once in a while. Keep up the good work folks! ;-) And of course, Thank YOU dear readers - the wittiest, most beautiful, intelligent people on this planet (well obviously you must be - you are reading this!). I heard from so many of you this year - many I didn't know were reading this - it was a lovely surprise! :-) Thank you also for the jokes, funny photos, and reports from the ground. Because of you, the blog website currently has 136, 177 hits! Last, but of course not least, a big thanks to my family and friends for the usual dose of sanity and laughter. And a very special thanks to my husband, Ben A., for keeping me supplied with wine, ice cream, and cups of tea - the stuff to make a blog go round.

I'll be doing the usual things during the off-season... exploring a new planet, saving the world producing a movie, fixing a leaky sink, locating wormholes in time and space...


(credit: unknown internet source)

Yay... I can cross that last one off the list. ;-)

Speaking of saving the world, big things are happening at XPRIZE next year... Awards, new amazing competitions to change the world, and launches to the moon! Stay tuned for all of those. In the meantime, a quick note for now: If you know any app developers, there is a $100k competition out there for transforming ocean data into useful apps - the Big Ocean Button Challenge. Here's the link for anyone who would be interested in taking part: https://herox.com/bigoceanbutton/overview. (Also, XPRIZE is recruiting Teams for the following full XPRIZE competitions: The IBM-Watson Artificial Intelligence XPRIZE, the Water Abundance XPRIZE, and the Anu and Naveen Jain Women's Safety XPRIZE). 

Maybe I'll pop back and write an update during some of these landmark moments but in the meantime, I will continue to tweet, like any good twit (@JyovianStorm) - about weather, the oceans, XPRIZE, science and science fiction, and of course, my Hollywood lifestyle of the not-rich and not-very-famous-at-all! ;-) Please feel free to follow along.

Until next season (or quite possibly before) ... I wish you all a very safe and happy holiday and non-hurricane season filled with much joy and merriment and good TV and films (I'm already a bit skeptical of the new Star Wars though) and glasses of yummy stuff. Have a wonderful and Happy New Year!

Toodle Pip!
J.

Twitter @JyovianStorm
Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.
-----------------------------

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hurricane Nicole: October 13, Update A

Hurricane Nicole hit Bermuda earlier today as a mid-sized cat 3 storm, with winds officially at 120mph (cat 3 range: 111 - 129mph)...

So far the reports are of injuries and damage to infrastructure, power loss etc. I hope everything is back to normal as quickly as possible! 

There is some amazing drone footage taken as the eye was passing overhead... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEhXIbHyty0

Meanwhile, even higher overhead, footage of Nicole from the Space Station.... https://youtu.be/KErMYvcPge4

She is currently at 34.4N, 61.2W, heading ENE at 21mph. Winds are officially still 100mph, central pressure is 967mb, making her a cat 2 at the moment (cat 2 range: 96-110mph). Wind shear has taken its toll and I think she is much weaker than that now, as you can see from the latest satellite imagery...  

No eye, no structure. That little pink island is still there though. There is almost no circulation in the upper troposphere now. Here is the vorticity (circulation) map from 200mb (upper troposphere)... 

No red blob near the storm, just a mild blue blob. I would say she is a strong Tropical Storm at the most - winds around 70mph perhaps. 

It looks like she will peter out in the Atlantic next week...

So unless she does anything weird, I think this will be my last update on Nicole. 

I'll be back when the next one (Otto) pops up (if he does)!

Toodle pip,
J.

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Nicole: October 12, Update A

Ooof. That sums today up. 

Hurricane Nicole is currently at 30.6N, 66.2W, moving NNE at 12mph, directly towards Bermuda:
The eye is pretty solid, so I would agree with the NHC that this is a category 4 storm. They say that the winds are 130mph, central pressure is 950mb. This is officially barely a cat 4 storm (cat 4 range: 129-155mph), but I think that she may be a little stronger, maybe 135-140mph. Her structure is obviously very good! 

By the way, if you are looking for Bermuda... it is that little pink spot NNE of the eye. The wind shear is now beginning to kick in - we can see this because the clouds are streaming off to the north and east by the end of the movie loop compared to earlier. However, it probably won't be fast enough for Bermuda - it looks like they will have at least a cat 2 storm, but more likely a major cat 3 or weak cat 4. 

The eye is also on the Bermuda radar now... 
You can watch the radar loop here: http://www.weather.bm/radar.asp, click on one of the two 'animation' links - the image above is the 250km animation loop. You can also see the wind speed at this weather station on the left side of the page - winds are currently almost at Tropical Storm force at 38mph (Tropical Storm range: 39-73mph), with gusts of 58mph. 

Good luck Bermuda! 
Stay Safe!
J. 

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricane Nicole: October 11, Update A

I have a fuzzy head - from a cold, not from a drink alas - so take this short update with a pinch of salt! :-)

Nicole is now a cat 1 hurricane with winds officially at 90mph, central pressure 970mb. This makes her a strong cat 1 (cat 1 range: 74-95mph). I would more-or-less agree with this assessment because she has an eye but the convection isn't very strong:
I think she may be a border-line cat 2 storm actually, with winds of 95-100mph. The convection isn't very strong though because there is dry air to her north. The wind shear weakened which allowed her to develop, but it looks like she is going to be heading back into a region of stronger wind shear, which should prevent her from getting too big and may even make her weaker before she gets to Bermuda.

She is at 27.3N, 66.6W (oooh... 666... a topical tropical storm, being just in time for Halloweenie! ;-)) and she is drifting westward at 2mph. In fact, she's practically stationary again, which means that her track may change as the pressure fields around her changes, but it seems unlikely that it will change much given that she is about a day away from Bermuda, passing by on Thursday morning. Of course, the outer bands will be felt sooner (if she starts to move)!

I hope everyone is ready! 
Stay safe out there!
J.

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tropical Storm Nicole: October 10, Update A

Super quick update on Tropical Storm Nicole, who is still a Tropical Storm.

She is officially at 26.8N, 65.5W and has picked up speed (as in forward motion, not the street drug!! ;-)) and is moving northward at gentle 6mph now. Her general forecast track strategy is to aim for Bermuda...
... haven't I already told you guys to turn off that Hurricane-magnet device?

We are looking at her passing over Bermuda overnight on Wednesday (her track forecast sped up since yesterday) - 2 days away and the current intensity forecast is that she will be a hurricane. At the moment her winds are slight weaker than 24 hours ago, at 60mph, and her central pressure is 992mb. This makes her a mid-sized Tropical Storm (range: 39-73mph). 

Her vorticity (circulation) is still good in the lower half of the troposphere, but the upper tropospheric circulation is still connected to a front and is not that circular pattern we expect from a tropical system. Here is the vorticity at 200mb for Nicole now, and below that is the vorticity at 200mb for Matthew from a few days ago as an example of what a hurricane should look like that high up... 


See the nice confined circular-ish pattern that is Matthew, the Hurricane? 

The satellite imagery shows that she is still struggling with wind shear, with most of the convection still streaming out over a large area to the south and east of her center of circulation:
(She's the yellow/blue blobette in more-or-less the middle of the image above).

It does look like wind shear is diminishing, so that should change soon, although she still has that dry air I mentioned yesterday to her north to deal with:
We'll know in a few hours whether the dry air is a larger player than the wind shear - if her convection doesn't close around her center of circulation, then the dry air wins... if it does, then the wind shear was a bigger factor. 

Must run but more tomorrow. Get ready with the dark'n'stormies (yum yum) Bermuda!
Ciao,
J.

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Former Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole: October 9, Update A

From what I hear, most people on the east coast are breathing a sigh a relief that Matthew is over and they can get on with life again... is it time for a nice cuppa tea yet? 

Former Hurricane Matthew
He is no longer officially a storm, although there are remnant bits of him floating out there in the Atlantic and some of his convection is now over New England and Canada, it is definitely more of a front than a tropical storm:

He reached the Carolinas yesterday as a very weak cat 1, with winds officially at 75mph (cat 1: 74-95mph). But it wasn't really the winds that were the biggest issue - it was the water. Almost always, it's the water. In looking at the Tidesonline data, it looks like Charleston has had the highest surge on the eastern seaboard, with data showing ~6ft storm surge - that is 6ft above normal tidal fluctuations: 

Add to that the rain, which exceeded 10 inches in some places, and you have a lot of water to wade through - certainly higher than your regular old wellington boots! It looks like North Carolina got the worst of this as far as flooding goes. 

As we now know, the track is not going to loop back around and he won't be revisiting the Bahamas or Florida or anywhere else. There was a huge amount of uncertainty in the models as I mentioned, and the pressure fields were quite complex. However, this also shows that the models have a long long way to go before their 3-5 days forecasts are close to reality! Fortunately, their 1 and 2 day forecasts are much better.

Aftermath Part "I lost count": 
This is the last time you will encounter a Hurricane Matthew (or even a Tropical Storm Matthew) - given the destruction he has caused, I expect that the name 'Matthew' will be retired from the naming list. Any storm that causes this level of damage is removed, otherwise, you see names repeat every 6 years. 

The latest from Haiti: 1000 dead, 1.5 million need humanitarian aid and are in shelters.

The latest from the US: 19 dead, 3000 in shelters, 2 million buildings without power. 

As he is now post-tropical, the NHC stopped giving updates on him. This is also my last update on Matthew. 

Phew... and moving right along, now Nicole!

Tropical Storm Nicole
She is currently at 24.4N, 65.3W, moving N at a whopping 2mph! Still almost stationary because she is still stuck with high pressure all around her - there is no easy path for her to take. The longer she stays stationary, the more unpredictable her future path becomes because the pressure fields around her shift. We can see this because again, her cone of uncertainty is quite large after 2 days... currently, she is scheduled to arrive in Bermuda in 4 days, on Thursday:

Dear Bermuda, I would definitely get the wellies out and dust down the rain jackets and get the wine and ice cream stocked up, but at 4 days out, and with that large cone, don't be too surprised if that forecast track does not quite pan out. Hopefully you can have the day off anyway and play golf or something instead! ;-) 

She is currently at strong Tropical Storm with winds of 65mph, central pressure 989mb (TS range: 39-73mph). The forecast is for her to increase to a hurricane on Tuesday. Her circulation is good in the lower half of the troposphere, but not in the upper troposphere - up there, she is actually part of a front. This is the structure of a Tropical Storm, not a Hurricane, so I agree with the NHC assessment that she is a Tropical Storm. As she moves northwards (eventually), she will move away from this front. 

Her convection is pretty messy right now (clearly she put her make-up on in the dark!): 

You can sort of see the center of circulation, and pretty much all the convection is to the east of that, which indicates that she is under some very strong wind shear. The wind shear is around 30-40 knots, which is strong (for such a weak storm), and it looks like it will continue at that sort of level for another day - possibly much more. 

There are a couple of things keeping her from becoming a hurricane now. First, of course there is the wind shear. But second, there is a lot of dry air to her north:
The sea surface temperatures are certainly warm enough to keep her going - from her current location to Bermuda, the coolest surface temperatures are 27 deg C. The upper 75m of the water column are also above 26.5 deg C at the moment, which will allow her to intensify. 

I am not sure yet whether that dry air will be enough to keep her in check if the wind shear dies down. Ultimately, it is the shear that I will be keeping an eye on. 

I'll be back tomorrow.
Night!
J.

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole: October 7, Update A

Are we there yet? Nah, I guess there is still Georgia and the Carolina's to go. But Florida is almost through! Terribly sad news from Haiti though... almost 900 died from the storm - and there are still areas that they are looking into. 

Meanwhile, luckily for Florida the storm remained mostly off-shore - a shift of a few miles would have resulted in considerably more damage! Unfortunately at least 4 people lost their lives and it looks like over a million are without power. 

Matthew is at 31.6N, 80.6W, heading N at 12mph. For those of you who are still awake (and have power), you may realize that a due north path against a southwest-northeast sloping coastline might, just, result in him making landfall. First, I don't think he is moving due north - it looks like NNE to me at least. And second, as he does get closer to the coastline, he will interact with land more, and that will make him weaker. His official track still shows that he will do a loop:

But I think as he interacts more with land, his intensity will decrease and he may not make it back to the Bahamas (wouldn't that be nice?). The NHC have already decreased the intensity from yesterday's forecasts. 

He is officially a cat 2 storm with winds of 105mph (cat 2 range: 96-110mph), and central pressure of 955mb. I would perhaps lower the speed by 15 mph and say he's a cat 1 storm at this point. He no longer has an eye, so ~90 mph winds is about right...
... plus, his upper tropospheric vorticity (circulation) is slightly weaker. He is also in a region of slightly higher wind shear, which is also taking its toll. 

The biggest issues are from the storm surge. 24 hours ago, I showed you storm surge data from Trident Pier (Cape Canaveral) which had a surge of just over 2 feet above normal and rising. Now, ~24 hours later, this is what that looks like:
Such a beautiful data set, so clearly showing the storm passing! It looked like the surge high was 4ft above normal, with the sudden drop as the winds changed direction as the storm went past. Just gorgeous! (did I tell you I was a geek? Data is Cool :-)). It also shows that the maximum winds at Cape Canaveral were 45 knots, which is 52mph (1 knot = 1.15mph)... Tropical Storm level winds. 

In Jacksonville, it looks like the surge reached over 6ft above normal, and Georgia and South Carolina are already showing around 4 ft above normal and are still rising. Here is the data from Charleston: 

Tropical Storm Nicole
The NHC have dropped her down to a mid-size Tropical Storm with winds of 60mph (TS range: 39-73mph), central pressure of 997mb. She is at 26.3N, 65.3W and heading S at 7mph. Here she is in the framework of the Atlantic: 

She really doesn't look like a well formed Tropical Storm, and her circulation is now only in the lower half of the troposphere  classic Tropical Storm structure, so I will agree with their 60mph analysis.

She is going to be doing a little back-and-forth thing: 
 She is also in some wind shear, which is why she is weak and elongated and jagged-looking (technical term ;-)) - you can see the effects of the wind shear in her cloud pattern which stretches off to the northeast. Bermuda... you guys should be prepared, although at the moment I don't think she will really amount to much. 

More tomorrow! Stay safe out there... live long and prosper! 
Ciao for now, 
J.  

Blogs archived at http://jyotikastorms.blogspot.com/
Twitter @JyovianStorm
-------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.