Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hurricane Rina: October 26, Update A

With this post, some lucky person is going to be the 20,000th visitor to my blog website!! And that doesn’t include those of you who read this in your email. That is just simply mind-boggling and humbling to me! Thank you all. In honour (with a ‘u’ of course) of this, I shall be extra humble today.

Umm… umm… umm… ok, I give up. As Oscar Wilde said to the New York customs agent: “I have nothing to declare but my genius”. So, being the luminous and brilliant genius that I am, I shall continue with my normal babbling. ;-)

It turns out that Rina was weaker than her official intensity yesterday evening. After getting data from a hurricane hunter plane this morning, the NHC downgraded her at 11.45am (CDT) from a strong cat 2 with winds of 110mph (cat 2 range: 96-110mph) to a mid-level cat 1 with winds of 85mph (cat 1 range: 74-95 mph). Currently she is officially still a mid-level cat 1 storm with winds of 85mph, central pressure of 979mb. I would agree with this estimate. Although she needs a bit of make-up (she’s looking a bit ragged in the visible satellite image below), you can see that the convection is quite strong in the corresponding satellite IR image – lots of red and gray which indicates thunderstorms and stuff (technical term for ‘stuff’ ;-)).

Also, her vorticity (circulation) is good throughout the troposphere, which indicates that she is definitely a hurricane. She doesn’t really have an eye, so I would put her winds at below the ~90mph range. Yay! I agree with the NHC on the intensity… time to break open the champagne! ;-)

I don’t think she’ll get much stronger than she is at the moment. Wind shear is still low for most of the storm, but her northern edge is in an area of stronger shear which you can see in the visible satellite image as the clouds stream off to the northeast. Also, her western edge is interacting with the Yucatan peninsula now, which will help to keep her at a lower intensity. Working against this is the ocean… she is still over some very warm water – the surface temperatures are 28-29 deg C, and the upper 100-125m of the ocean is warmer than 26 deg C! So there is plenty for her to munch on, but I don’t think it will be enough to overcome the wind shear and land impact. It looks like this will be a bigger rain event than a wind event (although it will be windy) for the Yucatan. They will probably get some flooding.

She is currently centered at around 18.5N, 86.5W and is officially moving NW at 6mph. I think she’s actually moving a little more WNW, but it’s difficult to see her center of circulation because she’s a bit messy. Now for her track… oh fratteratterpeggaloomer! (oooh… that’s the first time I’ve used that word. How exciting! ;-)). I don’t have good resolution pressure fields for that area today. What a pickle. Looking at other clues: her forward speed is still on the slow side, which indicates that she is still struggling against a bit of high pressure in front of her – to the north and northwest. The center of the cone track has her making landfall tomorrow afternoon, but she doesn’t look like she’s close enough to the Yucatan yet for that to happen. At the moment it still looks to me like she’ll interact with the Yucatan area more than the center of the cone track indicates, which will decrease her intensity even more and she may just end up fizzling out in that area. For her to follow that center of cone track, she needs to make a pretty sharp NNW turn any minute now – we should definitely see this by tomorrow morning. I know some models are showing tracks as far north as Tampa Bay… “Don’t Panic” (HHGTTG) – it’s far too soon for that! ;-)

If she does anything interesting I might send out another update later tonight, otherwise tomorrow amigos!

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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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