Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose: September 9, Update A

Another morning cuppa update (8am here). Although having just looked at my social media feed, perhaps I should just jump straight to the wine….

Hurricane Irma
She is now officially a cat 3 storm (hurray! Thank you, Cuba!) with winds of 125mph, central pressure 941mb (cat 3 range: 111-129mph):

Officially she has resumed a more westward track, currently chugging along W at 9mph, and is at 22.8N, 79.8W. This means her track is definitely taking her to the west coast of Florida:

3. She takes a slightly more westward track for the next 2-3 days: In this case, she will cross Cuba and move into the Gulf before connecting with the front, which would mean a possible west Florida hit. Be she will be weaker for having interacted with Cuba. 

So what's next? Here's what I'm thinking:

1.     The longer she interacts with Cuba, the weaker she will get. However, she is almost at the northern end so there isn’t much room for her to weaken further (although she is slow and she is over land, which certainly helps in reducing intensity). I expect her to make that turn to the north in the next few hours – the pressure field maps are showing that too. I would agree with the NHC track on the turn. The question is then where and how will she interact with the west Florida coast and this also greatly depends on the intensity.

2.     I don’t really see a good eye in her at the moment (but there still is one) so I would think she is even weaker and I would actually place her as a strong cat 2 - I’m glad they have downgraded her to a cat 3 at least. I think she will leave Cuba as a cat 2, although officially they may continue to keep her as a cat 3.

3.     However, “the Force is strong with this one” (Star Wars): the structure throughout the troposphere is extremely robust. Once she leaves Cuba, she will be crossing the Florida Straits where the sea surface water temperature is really hot at 30-32 deg C, with the upper 75-125 m of the water column being warmer than 26 deg C. This will give her a lot of fuel, and with that solid physical structure to the storm, I anticipate her intensifying again as she crosses water.

4.     As she moves over to the Keys, parts of her will still be interacting with Cuba, other parts will be over warm water, and other parts will be interacting with the Everglades which, as I said a few posts ago, is not much of a barrier as it is all warm swampy water. There is very little wind shear between her and around Naples/Lake Okeechobee. All the signs point to some level of re-intensification – the level depends on how fast she crosses the Florida Straits. Anywhere from a cat 3 to 4 I would guess as she gets to the southern end of Florida.

5.     But, there is some strong wind shear around that Naples/Lake Okeechobee area and as she gets closer to that, I expect her structure to start to weaken and clouds will start streaming off to the northeast. This will drop her down a notch or two.

The Keys, Everglades area, Naples, and areas south of Sarasota will get the brunt of this before weakening kicks in again. Everyone will get the bands and whatever level of stormy weather they bring with them. For the entire Florida west coast, unfortunately you are on the worst side of the storm and she will be pushing water onto the coast (low pressure systems are counter-clockwise) as she moves past you. I’ll talk about water levels in the next post.

Some more storm tips:
-       Please heed your local Emergency Managers!
-       If your power goes out, eat the ice cream first… actually, eat it anyway just to be prepared in case it goes out.
-       This is serious people, Dunkin' Donuts is closed (thanks Michael D.)

Hurricane Jose
He is still officially a mid-sized cat 4 storm with winds of 145mph, central pressure of 945mb (cat 4 storm range is 130-156mph):

His eye missed the Leeward Islands although they got some of his outer bands. Not what they need. We will see what emerges.

He is at 18.3N, 61.3W heading NW at 13mph and is now heading into the Atlantic where the forecast gets a little stuck:
I haven’t had time to look into this yet, but Bermuda, you should wake up now just in case… I will have a proper look and post later.


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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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