Sunday, May 27, 2018

Subtropical Storm Alberto: May 27, Update A

A morning cuppa tea and a quick look at STS Alberto for breakfast. Just what every Sunday morning should be like. ;-) 

Officially he is currently at 27.1N, 84.4W and continues to head generally N at 14mph. He got a little stronger (he looks a little more organized in the satellite imagery), but is still in the weak-to-middle end of the Tropical Storm spectrum with winds estimated to be at 50mph (TS range: 39-73mph) and a central pressure of 995m. 

The track shifted eastward with landfall in the Florida Panhandle, perhaps closer to the Apalachicola area:
It looks like NESDIS/NHC still have a glitch on their website because their satellite imagery still shows the data from yesterday morning. But luckily for us, there is precious updated satellite imagery available from the University of Wisconsin-CIMSS (yay!):

You can see his center is approximately west of the Sarasota area, and south of Apalachicola. I think his center may be a little more west than they think it is, but they have sent a plane in to gather data. It also looks like he is heading NNW. 

There are a number of reasons why he isn't too strong. First, he is clearly under some wind shear still, which is why the convection is mostly to the east and north. Second, he is still pulling in dry air from the south. And third, he is about to start moving over a part of the Gulf where only the upper 25-50m of the water column are warmer than 26 deg C. I don't think he will intensify too much and will remain at Tropical Storm strength because it looks like wind shear will continue as he moves north and, although the sea surface temperatures increase (currently around 27 deg C, getting to over 28 deg C as he gets closer to the coast),  the warm water is mostly near the surface. 

Because he is moving along the west coast of Florida, and winds in a hurricane are counter-clockwise, he is pushing water onto the coast so you should see some storm surge. <Rant Alert> Since the last season, NOAA has shut down their beautiful straightforward tidesonline website and replaced it with something that is a lot more complicated and therefore far less user-friendly!! I can't believe they did that!! If I ever get a chance to talk to someone about that, I'll be happy to sit down and tell them what features have vanished that were really helpful (some are pointed out below). It's the same for the NHC site - useful features just gone! GRRRR. <End Rant Alert>

<Technical Alert> How to look up Storm Surge: The new site is no longer the easy to remember tidesonline, but has been replaced by tidesandcurrents ( If you click on this link, you will see an ugly cartoonish bad-suntan coloured map of the US (in shades of orange to represent the land). Click on the state that you are interested in e.g. Florida. This will show you a much nicer colour map with a bunch of pins. These are the locations of the stations. You now have to be careful though (if you are on a Mac especially) because the map is not static so you can accidentally scroll around and end up in the middle of the Atlantic, and will have to zoom out until the map you want re-appears and then zoom back in! There is also no longer a little caption to tell you which station is which, so if I tell you to go to the Fort Myers station, you will have to scroll over all the pins until you find it (and as you scroll, you may have to zoom in, which may result in ending up in the middle of the Atlantic or Gulf again...and repeat). Anyway, should you be lucky enough to find the station you want, Fort Myers in this case, a graph will pop up underneath to show water levels (which you can download if you click on 'export chart' which took me a while to locate - tucked under the map and above the graph on the right). Oh hurray, we have a graph! 

Previously, you could see the water level, winds, sea level pressure etc. on one, easy-to-download, graph. But in order to get to that information now, you have to click on the station name and a bunch of data will pop up. If you scroll down past the numbers, you'll finally get to all the useful graphs. (which you can't download now).

For now, going back to the Water Level graph. Previously, they kindly put the graph of the actual observations, the prediction, and the difference, so you could see at a glance how far above normal the water level was. Now, they just have the predicition (in blue) and the observation (in red) so you have to calculate the difference for yourself. Here's the screen capture: 

You can see that at Fort Myers, the water level is currently ~1.3ft above normal. Clearwater is about 1 ft above normal and so on. You better practice now while you have time. <End Technical Alert!>

More later today! Time for a spot of proper breakfast. 

These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms (my storm blog). If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast. This is not an official forecast.

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