River flooding continues in NC, Nicole likely to pass close to Bermuda and western Caribbean becomes area of interest soon

We are getting close to mid-October and the tropics are still very much a major topic of conversation. The aftermath of Matthew from Haiti and Cuba through the Bahamas and in to the Southeast U.S. is the top story outside of the political craziness that has dominated the news cycles for most of the year.

Right now, the clean up process has begun and unfortunately, so have the plans for saying goodbye to those killed in the hurricane. Last I heard from news sources, at least 23 people have died in the United States with hundreds more lives lost in Haiti. This saddens me but it also underscores the need for better hurricane preparedness across the Western Hemisphere. We have so much technology, so much information, yet we still lose people in ways that should not ever happen. I will re-visit this grim topic at a later date and offer some suggestions for doing better in the future.

Hydrograph for Kinstron, NC along the Neuse River showing the slow rise of the river to near record flood stage by Friday.

Hydrograph for Kinstron, NC along the Neuse River showing the slow rise of the river to near record flood stage by Friday.

In eastern North Carolina, the river flood situation continues. Parts of I-40 and I-95 remain closed as flood waters are slow to recede. In places such as Kinston, along highway 70, the flood has only just begun and will not peak until Friday. Other locations are also experiencing record to near-record flooding even as skies are clear and temps are finally fall-like.

I am going to head to Kinston on Thursday to place one or two unmanned cams to monitor the rising water in real time. I will share the link here and on social media so that residents who need to evacuate can still see what is going on in their town. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Nicole is slowly gathering strength south of Bermuda and is expected to become a hurricane again before passing very close to the island on Thursday. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning has been posted for Bermuda in anticipation of this event. It looks as though Nicole could be nearing category two intensity and as such, residents in Bermuda need to be ready for yet another hurricane over the coming days.

GFS model at day-5 showing the first signs of weak vorticity or spin in the lower levels of the atmosphere over the western Caribbea Sea.

GFS model at day-5 showing the first signs of weak vorticity or spin in the lower levels of the atmosphere over the western Caribbean Sea.

Once Nicole clears the pattern later this week, we will need to begin watching the western Caribbean for one last development cycle. All of the major global models are suggesting a large, sprawling area of low pressure will develop between days five and ten. Different models have different solutions for what happens after that so it’s best to just wait and see. For now, know that the western Caribbean is favored this time of year and, perhaps more importantly, the water temps in the region are as warm is it gets right now. Upper ocean heat content is nearly off the chart warm – so any disturbance that gets going in the region will more than enough fuel to become a powerful hurricane. This is an area we will need to monitor very closely as we get in to the weekend and early next week.

I will have my daily video discussion posted later this afternoon covering the latest river flooding info for eastern NC, Nicole and the western Caribbean potential for next week.

M. Sudduth 9:10 AM ET Oct 11

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Inland flooding from Matthew continues as Nicole takes aim on Bermuda

Flooding along the Neuse River in Smithfield as seen from one of our unmanned camera units placed there yesterday afternoon. Watch the LIVE cam here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/C6kGCZ3uJCF

Flooding along the Neuse River in Smithfield as seen from one of our unmanned camera units placed there yesterday afternoon. Watch the LIVE cam here: Smithfield, NC along Neuse River

Matthew is gone, part of hurricane history now but its impacts will linger for days, weeks and even years across many locations of the Southeast. As bad as it was, I cannot emphasize enough how close the United States came to seeing catastrophic damage and likely significant loss of life. Matthew managed to keep the core of the strongest winds just offshore of the Florida and Georgia coastlines and was weakening as it did so. Just a 20-30 mile westerly change in its course would have resulted in massive wind damage, a storm surge like we have not seen since Sandy and maybe even Katrina and power outages that would have boggled the mind. To say we were lucky is putting it mildly but what did happen is bad enough and we are dealing with the effects even as skies have cleared and cooler temperatures have moved in.

The most serious threat from Matthew’s relentless rain will be continued river flooding across parts of eastern North Carolina and northeast South Carolina. Several river gauge sites are in major flood stage with more expected to reach that point in the days ahead. Visit the link below to view gauge data and learn more about the expected impacts from the various river systems that are expected to flood as the week progresses:

Southeast River Forecast Center Website

Latest track map for Nicole indicating a threat to Bermuda late week.

Latest track map for Nicole indicating a threat to Bermuda late week.

The next area of concern will be Bermuda as tropical storm Nicole gathers strength in the wake of hurricane Matthew. Upper level winds are forecast to become favorable and this will allow Nicole to become a hurricane again, probably a category two, as it approaches Bermuda late in the week. It’s still too soon to predict just how close Nicole will track to Bermuda but the models are in fairly good agreement on quite a close call, if not a direct hit, by Friday. I will be keeping a close eye on this and may be planning a trip to Bermuda to cover the impacts if in fact Nicole gets close enough to the island.

Beyond Nicole there are no other areas to worry about for the time being but a robust MJO pulse is forecast by the major global models to set up in the Atlantic Basin over the next two weeks or so. This would favor widespread upward motion and period of favorable upper level winds – mainly across the western Caribbean where climatology tells us to look this time of year. As a result, the GFS and ECMWF models both suggest development between seven and ten days out. Something to watch for but nothing appears imminent.

I am back in the office now in Wilmington, NC after quite a saga tracking down Matthew from the east-central coast of Florida and then up through the Carolinas. I covered a lot of ground and captured some useful wind and pressure data along with compelling live video from our unmanned cams. I will post some of the data soon along with video highlights of the field mission.

I’ll have a video discussion posted early this afternoon followed by a blog update this evening concerning Nicole and what the latest trends are regarding impacts for Bermuda.

M. Sudduth 8:15 AM ET Oct 10

 

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Matthew moving along the North Carolina coast – once it exits, the freshwater flooding event begins and could be dangerous

Updated: 6:45 PM ET Oct 8

I am back in my office and home from a grueling but successful trip to Florida to intercept hurricane Matthew. I will go over the data collected etc. at a later time. Right now, the focus is shfiting to the threat of record inland flooding from excessive rain fall as a result of Matthew interacting with a trough of low pressure. Please watch the video discussion below and for interests in the eastern North Carolina region and parts of NE South Carolina, you need to be ready for this flooding. It will happen over the next few days and has potential to exceed the record set by Floyd in 1999. I will have another video update early tomorrow afternoon.

M. Sudduth 6:45 PM ET Oct 8

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Live cams set up for Matthew in SC

Update: 4:15 AM Eastern time October 8

I have relocated the two live camera stream is from Florida to South Carolina for the arrival of hurricane Matthew today. The links to the two cameras, one of them in Charleston, one of them in Murrells Inlet,  can be found below. Feel free to share these links with anyone you wish.

Charleston SC (the Battery)

Murrells Inlet SC (near Wicked Tuna)

I will have a complete discussion concerning Matthew and what to expect of the next 36 hours around noon Eastern time.

M Sudduth

 

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