Monday, October 24, 2011

Hurricane Rina: October 24, Update A

No, I have not fallen asleep on the job! I will do that in December (umm… shhh… don’t tell my boss that ;-)). I was traveling (again) and have just done the ‘sea to shining sea’ thing. Now I’m back in sunny Florida after a quick visit to sunny California. By the way, has anyone been to the Getty Center? iPhone photo: ‘Sun over the Getty’:

It’s fabulous. You’ll need about 12 hours to see everything, but it’s nice to have a bit of culture now and again isn’t it? ;-)

Apparently Mother Nature hasn’t quite fallen asleep on the job either. I did manage to get a glimpse of a computer yesterday, just before Rina was officially a Tropical Depression… she looked like she was already a Tropical Storm at that point with good circulation in the entire lower half of the troposphere and a fair bit of convection. I think she was a hurricane by this morning, although she wasn’t officially upgraded until this afternoon when a plane returned data to indicate this. So far, I think the NHC have underestimated her intensity and she has NOT rapidly intensified from a TS to a Hurricane in a handful of hours.

She’s been holding steady at around  75 mph since her (ahem) “rapid intensification” earlier, making her a weak cat 1 storm (range: 74-95mph). Central pressure is 989mb. She is currently located at 17.1N, 83.1W and is officially heading WNW at 3mph.   The official track forecast has her heading WNW, then NW towards the Yucatan peninsula, clipping the Cancun region as a cat 2 storm (range: 96-110mph) before turning NE and back towards Cuba. The intensity forecast makes Rina a cat 3 storm on Weds, before she gets to the Yucatan.

Intensity: I agree that she’s a weak cat 1 at the moment… no eye is visible (yet). It is possible that she will get to a cat 3 because she is going to move over very warm water (29-31 deg C), with the upper 100-150m of the ocean warmer than 26 deg C (lots and lots of yummy ‘food’ for her). This area has some of the deepest warm water in the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico region and we often see storms intensify if they pass overhead. There isn’t much wind shear at the moment and it doesn’t look like there will be too much as she moves over this part of the Caribbean, so I don’t see any real reason for her not to intensify. After the Yucatan her intensity will depend on how much she interacts with Cuba. Too soon to tell.

Track: There is a large range of possibilities with this storm. One of the problems is that she is bumping up against a high pressure to the northwest, which means she’s trying to move ‘uphill’… which is why she has slowed officially to a 3mph crawl at the moment (although I think she’s moving a little faster than that). It is a bit tricky for me to be able to assess her track today (as I only saw a glimpse of a computer yesterday), but I think she may head  a little more to the right of the center of cone. If that’s what happens, she might not clip the Yucatan peninsula at all before she curves to the NE. I hope to have a better idea tomorrow!

There is a chance that she’ll go anywhere from the southern half of Florida to Cuba, and then across to the Bahamas (I’m currently expecting her to pass well south of the Keys). Everyone in this area should watch her just in case, and I’m not traveling this week (well, not far anyway J), so I’ll be ‘here’… standing on the sea wall, blowing the storm away if I can. ;-)

Ciao for now!

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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.

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