Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and Extratropical Storm Tony: October 25, Update B

<rant alert> “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it!” (from that fabulous, classic song, ‘Star Trekkin’ by The Firm: That pretty much sums up what the NHC are trying to tell me about Hurricane Sandy today… a category 2 storm with NO EYE!!!!! Really?!? Just because she doesn’t have an eye doesn’t mean WE don’t have eyes. And forecasting a cat 2 storm doesn’t mean she actually is a cat 2 storm. Dear NHC, “It’s worse than that, it’s physics, Jim.” (also from Star Trekkin’). <end rant alert>

Sigh. Sigh.

<rant alert 2> There are at least two big problem with overestimating the category of a storm. First, people who go through this think they have experienced a cat 2 storm, so when the next real one comes along, they will think this is what it was like. And second, scientifically I disagree with this. I don’t know how they expect to improve intensity forecasting skills if they don’t have the approximate correct intensity!  <end rant alert 2>

Hurricane Sandy
Although large, she is such a poorly formed storm that it is tricky to see where her center is… I estimate it to be around 25N, 75.3W and she looks like she’s heading kinda sorta NNW, which was expected given that high pressure ahead of her. It does look like she’s still slightly east of the forecast center of cone track. Officially she is at 24.8N, 75.8W, a little south and west of my estimate, heading NNW at 17mph.

Winds are still officially 105mph, which keeps her at a mid-to-strong cat 2 storm (cat 2 range: 96-110mph)… and here is an infrared satellite image of her:

She has some strong convection – the red and grey areas are very very strong thunderstorms, but nothing like she had when she really was a cat 2 storm! We shouldn’t be surprised by the convection. That happens even in summer thunderstorms when the surface water is warm – and it certainly is warm under her with sea surface temperatures of 28-29 deg C with the upper 50-75m of the water being warmer than 26 deg C. As I said before, there is some wind shear which will increase as she heads northwards and there is dry air to her west. Also, of course, as she moves north, the water temperatures will start to cool. The circulation is slowly weakening in the mid-to-upper troposphere, but there is still a signal of circulation up there, which suggests she’s still a weak cat 1.

I think they have a pretty good handle on her track for the next two days. There is still some high pressure ahead of her, but she will head NNW/NW tonight/tomorrow, and then should turn to the N/NNE on Saturday.  The problem with the track beyond that is that high pressure. It hasn’t shifted yet and until it does, the track forecast is tricky. The current forecast track curves her back to the US eastern seaboard – somewhere between North Carolina to New Hampshire on Monday/Tuesday as a hurricane. This really depends on where she is when she makes that N/NNE turn on Saturday because that indicates where that high pressure is giving way and allowing her a path forward. For now, I will go with the NHC on the long-term track, but I don’t think she’ll be as strong as they think.

Meanwhile, back in Florida… a bit breezy, but not too much rain so far. I’m sure the surfers were out on both coasts! The storm surge may be something to keep an eye on, on the east coast. From tides online, the water is already about 1 foot above normal along a portion of the Keys at the very southern end of the peninsula, but not too much yet along the east coast. If you want to check on water levels along the coast, I use tides online… instructions in this entry:

Extratropical Storm Tony (the tiger)
(Or post-tropical if you prefer the new jargon). Last seen at around 31.2N, 34W, he was heading ENE at 22mph. Winds were 40mph, making him barely a TS (range: 39-73mph), central pressure 1001mb. The NHC issued their last advisory on him, and so shall I! Hopefully the Detroit Tigers last a little longer!!

That’s it for today, so...  see ya ‘noles! (especially for Jeff D. from Florida ;-))


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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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