Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Nicole: October 4, Update A

No time for dilly-dallying!

Hurricane Monster Matthew
As expected, he did decrease in intensity as his eye went over Haiti and he is just crossing the eastern tip of Cuba, which has also taken a toll on him. Although the official winds are 130mph (central pressure is 950mb), which makes him barely cat 4 storm now (cat 4 range: 130-156mph), I think he is actually weaker than that at the moment. If we look at his satellite images, the visible (which is what I look at to see if he has an eye) shows that he is eyeless...

 and backing that up, the infra-red images also show that the eye is not really well formed...
He definitely looks a lot weaker than a couple of days ago, when he was a cat 5 in the Caribbean. I would actually say that he is closer to a cat 2 than a cat 3.  His upper level vorticity (circulation) has also decreased, but not by much, which is why I would still consider him a cat 3 at the most (and really more likely a cat 2), even though there is no eye. 

He is currently at 20.4N, 74.4W, heading N at 8mph. The track has shifted to the west, alas... 
Remember, it's not the center of the cone that you should focus on! His track may be in any part of that cone... and then there are the outer bands. I would really suggest that everyone in the Florida peninsula should be ready... his track is particularly tricky and you may feel some of the outer bands if he is as intense as the NHC is thinking he will be as he leaves the Bahamas. 

So what is next? 

First, his intensity. As he emerges from Cuba in a few hours, he will be over warm water again. It is not as deep to the north of Cuba as south of these islands, but with 'only' the top 100m warmer than 26.5 deg C and weak wind shear, I think these two factors will add up to some steady/slow intensification (starting from around cat 2 though, not cat 4). Countering this is that his outer bands will still be interacting with the mountain terrains of Haiti and Cuba, which will inhibit his development.  

Overall, as he crosses from Cuba to the Bahamas, I think he may get slightly stronger. Once he gets to the Bahamas, if his eye crosses directly over any one of those islands, he will weaken a little more again. If it doesn't, then he may not get much weaker, and may continue to slowly intensify. We really need to watch his entire track through here. 

As he gets closer to Florida, he will start to interact with the Gulf Stream - a region of water where the upper 150m of the water column is warmer than 26.5 deg C... this means there is a chance of additional intensification from whatever category he is in by the time he gets there. 

Second, his track. There is an area of high pressure building up in front of him, which does mean that he will continue to move towards the west. It is difficult to say exactly which path he will take (because I don't have high quality data) so for now, I would go with the NHC (which I think may shift even farther to the west)...  everyone in eastern Florida (including the Keys) should be prepared or getting there! (and it sounds like many of you are from the notes I have been receiving today). 

Something that you should remember - "run from the water, hide from the wind". The reason for this little phrase is because the biggest cause of death in a hurricane is the water, not the wind - storm surge, flooding from heavy rain, landslides etc. This means that if you are in an area that can get flooded - along the coast for example - then please evacuate. If you are on higher ground, and this is not a cat 4 or 5, then you may want to stay put and find an interior room (no windows). Make sure you have enough to get you through a few days without power (including bug spray). The reason for not evacuating if you don't have to is because everyone else and their cat, dog, goat, and pet squirrel, will be trying to evacuate, which is also a risky proposition. 

Speaking of landslides, Haiti may have some. They don't have much vegetation keeping the soil in place, so they are prone to landslides. The other hazard facing Haiti now that the storm is on its way out are diseases, such as Cholera.

More on Matthew tomorrow.

Tropical Storm Nicole
She is at 24.2N, 61.3W, heading WNW at 6mph. Her winds are 50mph, central pressure is 1005 mb. This makes her a relatively weak Tropical Storm (TS range: 39-73mph). 

She has circulation in the lower levels of the troposphere, but although there is circulation in the middle and upper levels, it is actually connected to a front. She is pretty close to the outer bands of Matthew actually...
She doesn't have much convection in her, so I don't think she will amount to too much. She is definitely being swamped by Monster Matthew: 
But maybe we can look at her tomorrow. :-) 

Good luck out there and remember, your local Emergency Managers have the most up-to-date local information on your area so listen to them. 

Stay safe!! 

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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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