Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hurricane Barry: July 13, Update A

Apparently Barry found a spot with great ice cream and has made landfall in what appears to be relatively sparsely populated and marshy area of Louisiana (very near/over Marsh Island... which is why I suspect it's a marshy area...;-)): 

This is slightly to the west of his track from a day or so ago. Although he was upgraded to a cat 1 hurricane just before landfall because data showed a few locations with winds near hurricane strength, he is a very weak cat 1 storm - a cat 1 hurricane has winds of 73-90mph; his maximum wind speed is around 75mph. 

The bigger thing to watch out for with Barry is not the wind but the water. LA is (as those of you know) fairly damp in general (marshes etc), so be watchful as he moves inland. At the moment most of his convective activity is offshore, which we can see in the infrared satellite imagery:

This also shows that he's still experiencing some wind shear because his center is north of most of the rainy stuff. Fortunately most of the really heavy rains are offshore and as he interacts with land, the convection will decrease. The other water-related thing to watch for is the storm surge. As I mentioned yesterday, you can look at the storm surge near you on At Eugene Island, which is just east of landfall, water levels are just over 5ft above normal at the moment: 

Good luck to all my fabulous readers in that part of the world! 

Stay safe out there! 

Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tropical Storm Barry: July 12, Update A

Our pal Barry is no longer a Tropical Storm today! Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Tropical Storm Barry...

He is currently at 28.2N, 90.4W and is heading WNW still at a sedate 5mph. His track is taking him into the Louisiana coast tomorrow:
More-or-less on the track they had yesterday. At one day away from landfall, the NHC track is relatively good so I would go with this (but I'd still be ready if you are a little to the west - keep an eye on the entire cone, not just the center part). 

He has been under some wind shear from the north, so it is still a little tricky to pinpoint his exact center of circulation: 

But you can see that his convection (clouds, rain etc) has improved since yesterday -  because of the wind shear though, they are still to the south of the center. This is because he's been loitering mischievously over warm waters where the sea surface temperatures in are over 30 deg C, with the upper 75 m warmer of the water being warmer than 26 deg C. A storm need around 26 deg C and higher temperatures to sustain itself, so he's got enough on the buffet menu to be a happy chappy. And that convection offshore is certainly very strong. We can see this from the InfraRed Satellite imagary (red means very thundery weather):

At the moment his biggest issue though is storm surge because he is pushing water onto the coast to the east, and in this case. To look at water levels for yourself...

<Technical Alert!> How to look up Storm Surge: Go to NOAA's website: tidesandcurrents ( If you click on this link, you will see an ugly cartoonish bad-suntan coloured map of the US (in shades of orange to represent the land). Click on the state that you are interested in e.g. Louisiana. This will show you a much nicer colour map with a bunch of pins. These are the locations of the stations. You have to be careful though (if you are on a Mac especially) because the map is not static so you can accidentally scroll around and end up in the middle of the Atlantic, and will have to zoom out until the map you want re-appears and then zoom back in! 

You can either locate the nearest station by entering the area you are interested in, or zoom into the map. Click on that station, and in the lower left is a button that says 'plot'. Click that on and it will show you a plot of the expected water level (in red) and the actual measured water level (in blue). I went to the New Canal Station in New Orleans (just out of curiosity):

By scrolling your mouse over the plot, the numbers appear showing the actual values (and then you have to do some complicated maths to get to the difference between the two - in the good old days, they did this for you. Sigh.). In this case, water level at that location is currently almost 3ft above normal... because the winds have been pushing water into that area for over a day now. 

If you want to see the corresponding winds, air pressure and other handy-dandy data, you can scroll down. <End Technical Alert!> 

That's it for now as I must run because I've got third dinner in The Shire in a few minutes... 

Ciao for now,

Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Gulf of Mexico Blob and the first post of the Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2019: 11 July, Update A

Good moaning my friends! Mother Nature had a bit of a slow start to the season, so I thought I would sleep in. :-) Truth be told, I was swamped by a deluge of work (versus being swamped by a deluge of rainfall… which we’ll get to shortly).

Welcome to the middle of the 2nd month of the Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2019 and my well-worth-reading-award-winning-yet-very-modestly-written-blog. And I see we have a stormy blob (my highly scientific and technical term for a er... blob of clouds and stuff ;-)) in the Gulf of Mexico. The future Tropical Storm Barry perhaps? (In case you missed Subtropical Storm Andrea - she was a blobette on the horizon back in May, a flibbertigibbet, a will-o'-the-wisp, a cloud - very short lived, very little, and perhaps shouldn't even have been named but we’ll let that one go shall we?). 

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, as the NHC (National Hurricane Center) are officially calling him at the moment ('Potential'???) has been struggling to develop for the last couple of days. He started off the coast of Florida, decided it didn't have enough ice cream, so he is now moving generally westward along the northern Gulf coast at a sedate 5mph – who has the best ice cream? His center is around 27.5N, 88.2W. I think this one should really be a Tropical Depression already as his wind speed is around 30mph (central pressure 1009mb), and he does have some circulation. The definition of a Tropical Depression is circulation with winds greater than 17mph (and less than 39mph). They sent a plane in yesterday, but it couldn’t locate a decent circulation which is why it’s still a ‘Potential’. From the data I am looking at, it looks like there is decent circulation and has been since yesterday evening.

Most of his convection (rainy and thundery weather) is currently offshore as we can see from the satellite images: 

Although no deluge of rain yet, the circulation for a storm in the northern hemisphere is counterclockwise, so there is the chance of him pushing water on shore as he moves by you. For example, water levels are around 1 ft above normal in Mississippi, and about 0.5 ft above normal in eastern Louisiana at the moment. 

From the satellite image, I think his center is a little south of the location that they have him. The current track is for a hurricane to make landfall in LA on Saturday, but he may make it closer to the LA/TX border if they find the center is, indeed, south of that location:

You should all be prepared though because it only takes one (although this is unlikely to be that one). The most famous example was in 1992 which was a quiet season with a below-average number of storms: 7 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and only 1 major hurricane. But that 1 major hurricane was ‘the one’. It was the first storm of the season and formed quite late, in mid-August, and turned into the infamous Hurricane Andrew who hit Miami as a cat 5 causing over $27 billion in damage (in 1992!) and over 60 deaths. So be prepared. My usual hurricane supplies would include: water, wine, ice cream, a good book to read, wine, some candles, ice cream, a radio for setting the mood, batteries, some more wine, mosquito repellent, some gin and tonic (for the quinine of course), and lots of cans of lychees as I'm still partial to lychee martinis or just lychees in general. :-)

And of course, this wouldn’t be my first post of the Season if I didn’t go over my top 10 notes about this blog so you have a reminder of what you are getting into. As I appeared to have gathered a few more very intelligent and good-looking readers last year (current hits on the website is getting close to 255,500), these notes are mostly for you. And for my returning good-looking and very intelligent readers, remember, if you get bored someone, somewhere, is painting so you can always go and watch that dry... ;-)

Top 10 things to note about this blog:

1. These updates are about fun, forecasting, and education... and tropical storms (and whatever else pops into my head that may, with some imagination, fit those three words - possibly after a glass or two of wine (or lychee martinis)). It is just what I think.

2. I have a British sense of humoUr... you have been warned.

3. This is my hobby - sometimes you'll get one update a day, sometime four. If you are really lucky, you won't get any. If you wish to pay me to write, let me know and I'll send out updates as frequently as you like.

4. I hope you like Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, The IT Crowd. And other Funny Stuff.

5. If you have any questions (preferably about tropical storms), please ask. I will be happy to make up the answers for you. I can also cut and paste from previous entries (I’m very talented) so if I say something or use some "scientific jargon" (always thrilling!), please ask me about it (people in the area of any active storm get first dibs).

6. I often write tongue-in-cheek, which sometimes hurts my cheek but what can you do? Gentle sarcasm, irony, and puns are all perfectly acceptable forms of communication. Unfortunately, they don't always translate in writing so please don't be offended - like Planet Earth, I'm "Mostly Harmless" (Douglas Adams). Have a piece of chocolate or a soothing cup of tea instead.

7. I'm sure every cloud in the Atlantic is exciting to some but, unless I'm bored, I'll usually write about those that I think have a chance of developing.

8. Despite what you may have heard, I am not always right. But then neither is anyone else. Forecasting is complicated. Sometimes the crystal ball gets smudges and you are all out of Windex to clean it and the store is closed. So PLEASE pay attention to the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service and your Emergency Managers - especially when a storm is looming because they have the most up-to-date information!!

9. I stopped adding people to the listserve a few years ago so if you have friends who want to get updates, please can you direct them to the website ( This is part of my very complicated top-secret grand plan to take over the world (bwa haa haa = evil laughter in case you were wondering) - which I have been working at for at least 7 years now, but I'm not sure it's going very well really.

10. I confess I am a twit. I am on twitter (@jyovianstorm). Twitter is cool. Just like bow-ties are cool (Dr. Who). I will post these updates on Twitter, but I’ll also tweet about storms in other basins, my job, other people’s jobs, movies (I have a movie 'career' - it's a requirement for anyone living in Los Angeles, where I currently reside), cool science fiction, cooler science, goofy things, etc. so if you want to catch up between updates, that’s the place to lurk.

That's it for now! I'm in rural England and writing from a thatched roof cottage at the moment but I'll be back later/tomorrow with another update. :-) 


Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hurricane Michael wrap-up and Hurricane Leslie: October 12, Update A

It was another travel day yesterday, so catching up today...

As the clean-up begins in the panhandle, I saw this helicopter footage from WXChasing of the devastation that Michael caused:
This looks more like a weak-to-mid cat 5 level of destruction to me - complete houses, block after block, flattened. Unfortunately, the current toll in human lives is 17, and it sounds like a lot more may be expected. I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing another Hurricane Michael as this name will be retired. 

And where is he now? Just like brave Sir Robin, bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat (Monty Python) and is currently in the northern Atlantic - he's that swirling mass to the north and right side of this view of the world: 

He's probably heading to the UK to stock up on jaffa cakes, not realizing that they don't need another batch of dodgy weather as they just had a storm with 70mph winds hit them yesterday/today. 

I don't know why they didn't just go ahead and call this a cat 5 with winds that high - maybe because no-one, not even the NHC, expected it? (including me, sadly!) And definitely not with enough lead time to warn people? This is a real world example of the need for realtime data from within the storm:

On the morning of October 7th, 3 days before landfall, he was forecast to turn and head somewhere in the northern Gulf (which he did - so not too bad on the track forecast), reaching maximum winds of 75-80mph - i.e. barely a cat 1 by October 10th (day of landfall). On the afternoon of October 7th, they flew the first plane into the system and based upon the real data they collected, they revised the forecast winds from 80mph to 100mph - going from a cat 1 to a cat 2 storm at landfall. There was one (just one) model (HRWF) that then, with real data, forecast a cat 4 at landfall at this time, but it was discounted because of other conditions and no other model was showing this (probably because they hadn't ingested the data yet). 

October 8, two days before landfall, after another plane went in and measured the actual data in the storm, the wind speed was increased to 110mph at landfall - essentially a borderline cat 2/3 storm. By that afternoon, with more and more data coming in from the storm and the model forecasts improving because of that data, the estimate at landfall was increased to 120mph - a cat 3 storm. 

Continuing on this, by the end of October 9th, his forecast for the 10th was 130mph at landfall, which is a cat 3 storm, but borderline cat 4 storm.

On October 10th, within 10 hours of landfall, they finally shifted him up to a cat 4 storm with winds of 145mph. Still not 155mph. Finally, at 10.30am on the 10th, just 3 hours before landfall, a plane flew into the system and found winds of 150mph. 

I really think this one was a cat 5 at landfall, but it also goes to show how critical that data is from within a storm! 

This is my last post on Michael. As for the other storms, Tropical Storm Nadine has wilted, so not much on her. 

However we still have the never-ending Hurricane Leslie out there - day 19 and she's still out there. She's currently got 80mph winds, central pressure of 976mb, which makes her a relatively weak cat 1 storm (cat 1 range: 73-95mph). She's at 34.7N, 20.7W, heading ENE at a very brisk 36mph. She's aiming to taste the port in Portugal (John S!):
And is expected to make landfall as a weak cat 1 storm tomorrow. I don't think she will be quite that strong, although she will be windy and bring a lot of surf with her. Her satellite imagery is showing her weakening already over the last few hours:
And she only has good circulation in the lower half of the troposphere now, which indicates that she is a strong Tropical Storm. 

She'll have made landfall by the time I get back to this, so I think this will be my last post on Leslie too. I think it's time to have some ice cream now.

The next names, should we have any more, are Oscar, Patty, and Rafael. 

Toodle pip until then!

p.s. congratulations to Princess Eugenie on her wedding. 

Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hurricane Michael mostly, with a snippet of Hurricane Leslie and Tropical Storm Nadine: October 10,Update A

Oh dear... the Florida panhandle tasted a very different box of cheese today! I haven't seen the full scale of the damage (travel day), but it's gotta be a mess. In case you missed it, he made landfall at around 1.30pm eastern time, just east of Panama City Beach, on Mexico Beach in Florida as a really beautiful storm with a very large and clear eye: 

He was an extremely strong cat 4 storm - actually a border-line cat 4/cat 5 storm with winds of 155mph, central pressure of 919mb (cat 4: 130 - 156mph). And he was the third most intense storm to hit the US - and by intense, I (and everyone who says this) mean the third lowest central pressure of a land-falling hurricane in the US. The only two that were lower are the 1935 Labor Day storm that hit the Keys with a central pressure of 892mb, and Hurricane Camille that hit the northern Gulf in the 1969 with a central pressure of 900mb. Not even Katrina or Andrew had central pressures this low. 

Storm categories are not defined by the wind speed, but by the amount of damage they do, which is why the wind 'brackets' are not equal. A cat 4 is defined as 'Catastrophic damage' which means well-constructed homes have severe damage, including roof loss and wall damage, most trees are uprooted and power lines are brought down (I think I heard over 500,000 people were without power in Florida at the moment), and the area will be uninhabitable for months. And a cat 5 storm is, essentially, 'total annihilation' - complete homes down etc etc. 

So, I guess the little bit of good news is that he wasn't a solid cat 5 and, more importantly, he was a fast moving storm, and continues to be - he is now at 32.1N, 83.8W, heading NE at a pretty brisk 20mph. It was also lucky for Panama City that he made landfall to the east, as the storm surge is on the east side of the eye because the winds push water onto the shore. 

< Cool Data Alert!> You can see the difference between the storm surge at Panama City (from the website) to the west of the eye, where maximum storm surge was 5.62ft above normal: 
And Apalchicola to the east of the eye, where storm surge was 8.26 ft above normal: 
Out of interest (as you all usually are), here are the corresponding wind measurements from Panama City (top) and Apalachicola (bottom): 

64 knots = 74 mph, which is when the sensor in Panama City decided it had had enough. And 54 knots = 62 mph. So, even though the winds were less in Apalchicola, the water was higher simply because it was on the east side of the eye. 

And how do the corresponding pressure measurements look? Panama City - very low: 

Apalachicola - not so low: 

< End Cool Data Alert!>

But he's not gone away quite yet... he is currently over Georgia as very weak cat 1 storm, with winds of 75 mph (cat 1 range: 74-95mph), and is dropping a few buckets of rain as he heads up to South Carolina and then North Carolina, where he will douse the rest of the state! 
There is still a lot of circulation in this one, which you can see in the satellite image:
We'll all see more tomorrow of course, but I'm hoping all of you in that area and in the path are ok! 

Hurricane Leslie and Tropical Storm Nadine
Oh yes, there's a hurricane and a tropical storm in the Atlantic too... one almost forgot. 
Leslie is currently a mid-size cat 1 storm with winds of 80mph, central pressure of 978mb. Nadine is still a Tropical Storm with winds of 65mph, central pressure is estimated to be 997mb.  As they aren't being too much of a bother, and I'm traveling, I'm not going to say too much about them today.

More tomorrow (another travel day though, so it may not be a lot more!). 

Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hurricanes Michael and Leslie, and Tropical Storm Nadine: October 9, Update A

Well double double, toil and trouble! 

We'll jump right in with Monster Michael in the Gulf of Mexico today, shall we?

Hurricane Michael
He is currently at 27.1N, 86.5W, heading N at 12mph. His wind speed is now up to 125mph, central pressure is 947mb. This makes him a strong cat 3 storm (cat 3 range: 111-130mph), so that wind shear didn't have too much of an impact and it looks like it is not as strong as it was yesterday. Combined with the warm sea surface waters (plus the upper ~50m is warmer than 26.5 deg C), this means that he can easily topple over into being a cat 4 storm (he's close enough now) and this is in agreement with the  updated intensity from the NHC. The eye has been pretty solid today and both the circulation throughout the troposphere, as well as the convection is very strong: 

It looks like the outer bands of rain have already reached the Florida coast and will soon be in Alabama and Mississippi too. There will be a small dampening down as he gets closer to land, but given the size of this storm, the rain will have saturated the ground ahead of him so I don't think he'll diminish before landfall. 

I've had a lot of queries from people along the west coast of Florida - you guys should be ok, other than the storm surge and a bit of rain. He's far away enough. It's the northern coast that is going to be the issue. 

I agree with the NHC on the forecast track as we are now less than a day from landfall. It looks like the Panama City area is the approximate area of landfall - the first storm of the season, Alberto, also made landfall in that part of Florida. 
Water levels (from at Apalachicola are almost 3 ft above normal: 
Along the west Florida coast, they are generally around 2-2.5 ft above normal, and to the west of the storm, in Mississippi and Louisiana, they are continuing to rise and are over 3 ft in some places. 

For those on the northern Gulf Coast, I know you have been watching this one carefully and will be ready. Please listen to your local emergency managers though, as they have the best information. And remember, run from the water, hide from the wind - meaning if you are in a storm surge area (or near a river that floods), get out if you can. Otherwise, hunker down in an inside room. The really strong convection brings tornadoes with it. Stay safe and good luck!!

Hurricane Leslie
They upgraded her back to a cat 1 hurricane with winds of 75mph, central pressure of 981mb, which makes sense to me from what I saw yesterday, given her circulation (vorticity). She still doesn't have as much convection, but I agree with the cat 1:
She is currently at 29.5N, 42.6W, heading SSE at 9mph. The track takes her towards Europe. Yes John S.... to the general Portugal area, but it doesn't look like she'll quite get that far so enjoy the surf!: 

Tropical Storm Nadine
The NHC upgraded this blobette from yesterday to TS Nadine. I approve. Winds are currently 45mph, central pressure is 1003mb. She is at 11.6N, 31W, heading NW at 8mph. Although they have her as a weak TS (TS range: 39-73mph), I think she is a bit stronger than that. Her convection is quite good, but more importantly, her circulation is now very good in the lower half of the troposphere. 

XPRIZE News featuring Moi (and the talented Drs. Chris K. and David M. and our rockstar teams)!
With all of these storms, I barely have time to tell you about the news today - we announced the location of the final round of testing for the Grand Prize of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. Here's the lovely new video we released today to showcase the Finalists Teams:

And a BBC article "Seafloor mapping XPRIZE final will be in the Mediterranean, off Greece" (

And an IFLScience article "Location Revealed for the $7m XPRIZE Competition to Map the Ocean Floor next Month" (

Stay safe out there!! 

And as it's been a busy day today, I'll say ciao for now,

Twitter: jyovianstorm
These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.