Time to head to the Outer Banks

Hurricane warnings are up and it is time for action. People along parts of the North Carolina coast will have to endure a hurricane threat, and possible direct hit, this Fourth of July. It’s a very rare event indeed and not one that people will want to remember the holiday period for. None the less, it is part of living on the coast and this too shall pass – but not without some anxious moments ahead for sure.

My best advice at this point for people in harm’s way is to listen to your local officials. Seek out local information via social media and Web sites. Weather.gov is a great resource with Hurricane Local Statements that give detailed information about what to expect and when. For people who know the drill, they are springing in to action now. For visitors who may think this is exciting, well, it is by the very nature of the beast but it’s a dangerous kind of excitement and this situation needs to be taken seriously. If you’re asked to evacuate, do it. I know it stinks to lose vacation time but you don’t want to get stuck on the Outer Banks for 10 days with no food or water – trust me on that.

Speaking of being stuck, hopefully that won’t happen to me. I’ll be heading out to Hatteras Island tonight. Gotta get there before 5am tomorrow or I can’t get in. I will deploy my equipment and then seek out high ground to ride it out in relative safety. I have enough supplies for 3 days so I will likely be ok – if not, my fat reserves will kick in 😉

Follow along live via Ustream as I travel to the Outer Banks. I’ll stop in Williamston for a couple of hour’s nap later tonight and then it’s on to Hatteras.

Click here for the link to the live Ustream feed. It will be active for as long as I can possibly keep it going.

You may also follow along in our app, Hurricane Impact. I will post video reports often throughout the next few days. The app is a fantastic way to keep up with what is going on and will have the live weather data and web cam image feeding in to by later tomorrow. Search Hurricane Impact in the App Store and on Google Play.

I wish my friends and other folks who follow our work the best of luck with Arthur. Hopefully it won’t be too bad but I am fearful that we are looking at a potential ugly situation for a portion of the NC Outer Banks. I will do my best to provide accurate, non-sensational information for you, thanks for following along!

Mark Sudduh 7:15 pm ET July 2


Every mile counts now

Zoomed in track map showing just how close the center of Arthur may track to the Outer Banks of NC

Zoomed in track map showing just how close the center of Arthur may track to the Outer Banks of NC

Arthur is poised to become a hurricane and a fairly significant one at that. The NHC is forecasting winds to reach at least 90 mph before the cyclone transitions in to a more mid-latitude type storm. This has prompted the issuance of a hurricane watch for portions of the North Carolina coast – specifically from Bogue Inlet to Oregon Inlet. This encompasses all of the Crystal Coast and Outer Banks region. The time to prepare is at hand.

The hurricane watch is flanked on its north and south sides by a tropical storm watch as conditions look to deteriorate over the next day or so moving from south to north.

The storm strengthened overnight and now has winds of 60 mph as the pressure has dropped to 996 millibars. This represents a substantial reduction in air pressure over the last few days considering that the weak low pressure area emerged in to about a 1016 millibar environment. This tells me that the storm has potential to keep on strengthening once it rids itself of the pesky dry air and develops deep convection around its center. Warm water and light winds aloft could allow Arthur to become strong, possibly stronger than the forecast indicates. I always caution people who are dealing with hurricanes to prepare for one category higher – might as well be ready, right?

Right now, the storm is moving northward but the key time is when it makes the turn more to the east.

Even though the effects extend out well away from the center, it is going to be extremely important for the residents and visitors of the Outer Banks, especially Ocracoke and Hatteras, just how close the eye tracks to them. The reason is the storm surge from Pamlico Sound. If the radius of maximum winds moves over the sound then a storm surge exceeding 5 feet is possible on the north side of Hatteras and Ocracoke. This is where every mile will count. The closer the core of Arthur tracks to land, the more wind will push the sound southward, piling up the water against the land. It could mean the difference between “wow, that was close” and “wow, there’s a lot of damage here!”

Since there is no way to know even this close to the event happening, it is best to assume the worst. People in the area who have hurricane experience will know what to do. Visitors and newcomers may think this is a novelty and somewhat exciting. It is but that comes with a price. Storm surge is nothing to mess with. It can obviously be lethal but it also causes damage to automobiles and structures alike. Sound side flooding sneaks in – pours down Highway 12 and fills up Hatteras like a shallow basin. Don’t believe me? This is what hurricane Alex did in 2004.

I know because I shot this video. That is 105 mph wind coming across the sound pushing the water on to Hatteras. While no loss of life occurred, damage was extensive, especially to cars and trucks. Take this seriously folks, no two hurricanes are ever the same and comparing Arthur to Alex could be a big mistake. Take Arthur at face value and prepare accordingly.

For interests north and south of the hurricane watch area, the impacts will be less severe but they too should be taken seriously. It’s all about common sense which seems to be lacking more and more these days. The ocean will turn rough, stay out unless you’re an expert swimmer or surfer. Be careful driving in the torrential rains that are certain to fall along a wide swath as Arthur moves by. In short, don’t do anything dumb. Tropical storm conditions can bring trees down and knock power out. Take it easy, respect the storm and you’ll do fine. Take some pictures, share your experience on social media but do so with safety in mind.

Hurricane Impact for iOS and Android - get it today on the App Store or Google Play

Hurricane Impact for iOS and Android – get it today on the App Store or Google Play

I am preparing to head to the Outer Banks later today and plan to meet up with long time friend and colleague, Jesse Bass. We will be setting up one of our high-end weather stations which will feed wind and pressure data to our app, Hurricane Impact. The station also has a camera that sends an image from the site location every 60 seconds. You’ll be able to literally watch the impact of Arthur (that’s why we call it Hurricane Impact).

We will also post video reports to the app on a regular basis. So if you cannot watch our live Tahoe cam feed, you can at least stay up to date via the video reports which get posted minutes after we shoot them.

We will also deploy, if conditions warrant, four storm surge cameras. These are our unmanned camera systems that capture and stream live video from places that we have no business being in. These will feed to our private clients who support our work with their subscriptions to our suite of hurricane information and live video feeds. We will always have the Tahoe cam, also known as the “everywhere cam”, available on our Ustream channel free of charge. We’ll literally take you in to the worst conditions that Arthur brings to the area. Along the way, you’ll learn a lot about how tropical cyclones work, their impacts, history and so much more. It’s like a live science show during a hurricane – nothing else like it anywhere. I hope you can watch the free stream and consider signing up to catch our Surge Cam feeds as well. The mission is to gather data and document the impact. We are as ready as we have ever been in our 15 year history.

I’ll post another update later tonight on this page with continuing shorter posts on Twitter and Facebook.

To follow us on the go on your iOS or Android device – search Hurricane Impact and you’ll be good to go. It’s the only hurricane app that actually takes you in to the storm you’ve been tracking.

M. Sudduth 5:30 AM ET July 2



Christina becomes a hurricane plus we are adding new feature to Hurricane Impact

Hurricane Christina track map from the NHC

Hurricane Christina track map from the NHC

The east Pacific is off to quite a busy season with the second hurricane forming overnight. Fortunately, Christina will remain well off the Mexican coastline and will have very little impact on the region’s weather.

Top winds are 75 mph with more intensification forecast by the NHC. Water temps in the area are running a little bit above the long term average but will eventually cool along Christina’s path, causing it to weaken in a couple of days.

There are no other areas of concern in the east Pacific or in the Atlantic.

New Feature Coming to Hurricane Impact

Today I am introducing a new feature for our iOS and Android app, Hurricane Impact. It came about as a result of my work during winter storms this past season – we kind of stumbled on to it by accident and I believe it will add a valuable layer to our unique app.

I call it “Share Your Impact”. Quite simply, it is a way for users of the app, or anyone else really, to share video with us that we, in turn, post to the app and share with its users. This makes the app more interactive between us and you and allows our users to become contributors to the content of the app.

It was during a powerful winter storm in late January that I was covering in the northeast part of North Carolina – near Elizabeth City. The snow was coming down big time and I posted several video blogs to the app, keeping a chronological log of the winter storm. I was in touch with my colleague in southeast Virginia, Jesse Bass, about conditions there. He told me the snow was beginning to increase in Portsmouth too. I asked him to shoot some video with his iPhone and send it to me via text message. He did just that and within a few minutes, I was able to watch what he was experiencing nearly 50 miles away. Anyone with an iPhone or other Smartphone can do this, it was nothing new. But then it dawned on me, why not save the video to my camera roll and then post it to our app just like it was video I shot myself? This would allow anyone who has our app to see Jesse’s video. I did just that and it worked perfectly.

I was so excited about the prospects that I jumped on my laptop and began interacting with several subscribers to our Client Services site. We have a live chat that our members use to post back and forth between each other and us in real time. I told them about the discovery and asked anyone who had the app to check. Low and behold, they were watching Jesse’s video from Portsmouth – only minutes after I had initially received it myself. We were on to something.

I asked one of our members, who also lives in southeast Virginia, if he wouldn’t mind sending me a video clip of his own to add to the app. Again, within a matter of minutes, I had another 45 second clip, shot by a user this time, added to the app. I put the word out to other subscribers and asked them to do the same – text me a short video clip of their conditions and I would add them to the app’s video section. Within an hour, I had several user generated video clips from over four locations around North Carolina and Virginia. This meant that the app was no longer one way. Now our user base could contribute their experience, their impact. It was obvious, we had to take this mainstream and open it to anyone, anywhere.

Fast forward to the Nor’easter that blasted Cape Cod and Nova Scotia in late March. I was in Chatham working the storm, posting my own video clips to the tune of 3 or 4 per hour. I got in touch with another one of our subscribers who lives in Nova Scotia. I knew he had an iPad and asked him to take a longer video clip, about 90 seconds, and email it to me as an attachment. The storm was pounding Nova Scotia with hurricane-force winds and blinding snow. In less than a half an hour, I had exclusive video, shot by someone who was being affected by the storm, posted to the app. I knew we had something special in the making and what it could mean for hurricane season.

Hurricane Impact Video Page

Hurricane Impact Video Page

The idea is to share your impact with us and we will share it with users of our app. You don’t even have to own Hurricane Impact yourself, though it would probably be more fun if you did. The plan is simple enough. Starting June 15, we will have a special Gmail account set up for anyone to send a short video clip to that gives us a look at how a hurricane or tropical storm is impacting them. Now I realize that user-generated content is nothing new. However, we’re not talking about the Web, we’re talking about exclusive content for our mobile application and it’s all hurricane related. I think it will be a big hit with our user base – especially as it continues to grow.

Here’s how it will work:

Anyone with the ability to record a short video clip, using pretty much any device, can record about a minute of video and send it to us. Tell us what you’re doing to prepare for a hurricane that is coming your way. Ask questions that we can answer in a video post of our own. Show us how your are getting ready for the storm. Keep it short and to the point, and no funny business. No video will be posted without it being vetted by one of our staff. So forget about sending something that you wouldn’t show your mother or grade school teacher – it won’t make it to the app. Tell us where you are, what is going on and how you feel about the situation. And always, always, always shoot in 16:9 landscape mode, do not hold your iPhone or other device vertical – hold it horizontal so it looks like a Hollywood movie or TV show playing on your computer. Once you have shot the clip, email it to us, give a brief description of what we’re looking at and where you are located and we’ll add it to the app for anyone else who has our app to view.

Think about this for a moment. Hurricane Impact now becomes a portal for sharing your experience. It is a window in to your world and how the hurricane or storm is impacting you. That’s the bottom line, right? How is the situation impacting you? This takes it right down to your location, your home, business or where ever you may be. Having a hard time evacuating due to traffic? Send us a video clip showing that. Hunkered down with the family all set and ready to safely ride out the storm? Share that! Once it’s all over, take us outside and show the aftermath when safe to do so. Yes, cell service may be spotty afterwards but we will take what ever we can get and share it with our user base. It is a great way to add utility to Hurricane Impact that brings the experience full circle. You’ve tracked the hurricane all the way to your doorstep – now share the impact with the rest of us. I believe this will catch on and be a big hit.

So, if you don’t already have our app, get it. You won’t be disappointed. The app is focused on the impact and has features that no other weather or hurricane app does. We have a daily video blog called the Hurricane Outlook and Discussion, live weather data coming from our own meteorological equipment set up just for the storm or hurricane, live web cam images coming from our own cameras, video posts from the field, tracking maps and links to live video during our field missions. And now, the ability for you to share your experiences with us and other app users.

It is available for iOS devices as well as Android. Your support of the app helps to make it better. If you own it now and have enjoyed the content it provides, leave a review so others can have a guidepost of what to expect. It is easy to remember the name too: Hurricane Impact. Search in the App Store or Google Play and then share your impact, questions, etc. with us starting June 15!

I will have a special blog post on June 15 with the Gmail address that we will use. I want to test the feature at that point too by inviting users, or anyone who can record video, to send us a quick clip with a question about hurricane season or anything you ever wanted to ask us. I’ll post them to the app along with a video response to follow. You’ll see quickly how this will be a very unique feature and one that will add value to what is already an innovative hurricane app.

M. Sudduth 8:52 AM ET June 11


East Pacific close to having another depression form while Atlantic remains quiet

NHC is watching invest area 94-E off the Mexican coastline

NHC is watching invest area 94-E off the Mexican coastline

The east Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 and we are likely going to have the third named storm of that area’s season before too long.

A well defined low pressure system to the southwest of the Mexican coastline, not too far from Zihuantanejo, is gradually becoming better organized as conditions for development are improving across the region. Water temps are quite warm and in fact, are running above the long term average. It won’t take much for this system, designated as invest area 94-E, to become a tropical depression.

Most compter track models indicate that the system will move away from Mexico as the week progresses

Most compter track models indicate that the system will move away from Mexico as the week progresses

Most of the computer guidance suggests that a track generally to the west-northwest will be the rule over the coming days. This will gradually allow the system to pull further away from Mexico, reducing the chance for localized heavy rain. So if you have plans to visit that region this week, no worries about this feature. It should have very little impact even as it develops in the next named storm.

In the Atlantic, all is quiet as we start a new week. None of the long range global models show any believable signs of any development. Sometimes we see phantom storms form within the computer models beyond the 5 day time frame, especially after about day seven. Unless there is a well organized tropical wave with a lot of potential already, I tend to dismiss long-range “model storms” and not worry too much about it until more of the guidance begins to jump on board. So far, I have not seen that happen and it looks like June will continue on without much chance of seeing anything form in the Atlantic Basin.

In other news, it has been a week since we tested our Hurricane Research Balloon (HURRB) in Oklahoma. Everything went as well as we had hoped. I have prepared a 2 1/2 minute video clip from the downward facing GoPro cam that was attached to the payload. It is really impressive to see the earth from 80,000 feet up! The balloon had reached an area of the atmosphere where the winds were light – allowing the payload to be about as still as it could be. This resulted in spectacular, clear video looking down on the Oklahoma countryside. This is important since we want to launch HURRB in the center of a hurricane or tropical storm at landfall. I can only imagine what the view will be looking down 40,000 to 60,000 feet above the clouds. The test shows us that we can expect to see about 100 miles in any direction which will give us perhaps some of the most incredible video of a hurricane ever seen – all in stunning, crystal clear HD. Will this season afford us the opportunity to put HURRB to work? Time will tell. I’ll have more on the results of the data we collected in a later post.

M. Sudduth 9:55 AM ET June 9


Small window for small system to develop in extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

Invest area 90L slowly trying to organize in the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

Invest area 90L slowly trying to organize in the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

The only area of interest in the Atlantic Basin is 90L, situated way down deep in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

It is a small weather feature but has a chance, perhaps due in part to its small size, that it could become a tropical depression later today. Upper level winds are not especially favorable but it appears that some deeper convection is developing near the center. Water temps are quite warm and so it won’t take much for it to acquire enough organization to perhaps become the first tropical depression of the 2014 season.

The main issue has been and will continue to be rain. Fortunately, with the area being quite small, the impact to land will be limited. Nevertheless, heavy rain over portions of Central America will be something to contend with as this system festers in the Bay of Campeche.

Most computer guidance suggests that it will eventually move inland over southern Mexico, probably well south of Tampico. Even if it is able to attain tropical depression, or even become a tropical storm, it will not have much time to strengthen before upper level winds become too hostile and land interaction becomes a factor. Again, the main impact will be heavy rain and this can cause loss of life and damage due to mudslides and flash flooding.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic and east Pacific are nice and quiet as we enter the first full weekend of the hurricane season.

I will have an update here early this evening once more data becomes available on 90L – including the chance that recon will fly in to investigate.

M. Sudduth 10:11 AM ET June 6