Hermine hanging around off Northeast coast as Newton hits Baja, brings rain threat to Southwest

Early morning visible satellite image of Hermine off the Northeast coast

Early morning visible satellite image of Hermine off the Northeast coast

The story of Hermine has yet to find its conclusion. The pesky, downright aggravating storm is still milling around off the Northeast coast. Fortunately, the environment combined with marginal sea surface temperatures will limit the amount of deep thunderstorms or convection and we won’t be having to deal with a hurricane just offshore.

As it stands, the system that we once called 99L, for a long time it seemed, is still packing 65 mph winds but those are confined to areas out over the open Atlantic. Onshore wind obs are lower but the seas are rough and with each high tide cycle, the beaches from New England south to parts of North Carolina keep getting chewed up. It’s like a slow, agonizing impact instead of in and out and be done with it. Sadly, it won’t come to an end for a few more days.

The complex steering pattern has resulted in Hermine being left behind and not caught  up in the westerly flow that we usually associate with sweeping tropical storms and hurricanes out to sea. Think of it as a rowdy kid who missed the morning bus. Now they are left to hang out in the neighborhood with no supervision – causing mayhem until another bus comes along. That’s Hermine in a nutshell. It missed the bus and now it’s sitting offshore being a pain in the butt.

About all I can say at this point is watch and wait for it to finally take off later this week. The coastal impacts are mounting but it is better than a direct hit from a true hurricane, I think we can all agree on that. Lucky for all of us, nothing is imminent once Hermine clears the pattern and gets out.

NHC track map showing hurricane Newton moving across the Baja, northwest Mexico and then in to the Southwest U.S.

NHC track map showing hurricane Newton moving across the Baja, northwest Mexico and then in to the Southwest U.S.

Meanwhile, hurricane Newton made landfall in the overnight hours along the Cabo San Lucas area of  the southern Baja peninsula. Top winds were near 90 mph and now the hurricane is headed more north with a turn towards the northeast expected. This will bring Newton across the Baja and in to northwest Mexico where torrential rain will likely move across the region and in to Arizona. We saw this twice in 2014 with Norbert and Odile moving out of the Pacific around this same time frame. Areas such as Tucson could see potentially heavy rains with gusty winds Wednesday and in to Thursday as the remnant low of Newton tracks in to the region. As such, a flash flood watch has been posted for parts of southern Arizona in anticipation of this event.

Elsewhere, the tropics are mostly quiet for now. The global models are suggesting a possible uptick in activity over the coming week to ten days but I am skeptical and for good reason. The models have done a terrible job of prediction genesis or the start of any tropical storms or hurricanes in the Atlantic thus far. We need only look at Hermine as a fine example of this. Conditions are just not very favorable overall with considerable dry air still prevalent in the mid-levels of the atmosphere, acting like a cap keeping a lid of developing thunderstorms over the tropics.

I will have a thorough look at everything during my video discussion which will be posted later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 9:15AM ET Sept 6

Hermine still full of surprises but, fortunately for coastal interests, not the bad kind

NHC track map showing the slow movement of Hermie generally away from the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

NHC track map showing the slow movement of Hermie generally away from the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Remember back on August 18 when 99L was designated just off the coast of Africa? The hurricane social media frenzy went in to over drive as it looked as though this could be “the one”. All of the major global models at one point or another showed substantial development with the possibility of a strong hurricane heading towards the Southeast United States.

As the days went by, it became clear that we would have to wait a little while for 99L to reach a more unstable atmosphere, away from the smothering, dry effects of the Saharan Air Layer or SAL. So we waited….and waited. Nothing happened. Still, most of the models, including the much-praised ECMWF, went on to insist that this would eventually explode over the very warm waters of the Atlantic and possibly end Florida’s hurricane drought with a strike on the SE coast. In fact, the track and intensity began to have eerie similarities to infamous hurricanes of the past. People were getting nervous. Yet, nothing happened. The tropical wave moved along, sputtering with periods of convection coming and going but lacking any significant organization. The probability for development went up to 80% and it seemed like it was only a matter of time. And so we waited.

The global and regional hurricane models continued to generally suggest a powerful hurricane could develop once 99L made it in to the Gulf of Mexico. As the system moved through the Bahamas, it still lacked much structure and no signs of developing. It looked like it might never get going. It was a bust for the models as a whole since all of them at one time or another had their moments of over-developing the wave in to something potentially historic. Lucky for coastal residents of the Gulf Coast, it never happened.

Finally, once 99L moved in to the southeast Gulf of Mexico, it showed signs of living up to some of its potential. All of a sudden, it looked like we might actually have a tropical storm or even a hurricane to deal with for the first time in almost eleven years along the Florida coast.

It took until the afternoon of August 31 for 99L to become tropical storm Hermine. It was now just a day and a half from making landfall in the Big Bend area but it wasn’t very organized and so the threat of it becoming a hurricane was not very high. Wrong again.

It wasn’t until Thursday, just hours before landfall, that Hermine began to strengthen. It did so fairly quickly and managed to become a hurricane around mid-afternoon Thursday. The threat of a significant storm surge for the Big Bend region was looming large. I set out cameras in St Marks and on Cedar Key, awaiting the arrival of the much talked about first hurricane since before the iPhone was invented.

Hermine made landfall roughly 12 hours after it became a hurricane and brought with it flooding rain, damaging surge, power outages and now a new threat: the chance it would strengthen over the Atlantic, just off the coast of Delaware and New Jersey and then hook back, similar to what Sandy did in 2012 but not as dramatic.

All of a sudden it looked like Labor Day weekend, the last big hurrah for beach lovers up and down the East Coast, would be ruined. The threat of “dangerous storm surge” was the headline as the wind field of the now post-tropical storm was expanding and could push water in to areas such as Hampton Roads and eventually the Delaware and New Jersey coasts. It didn’t look good at all and this was the worst time for it to happen as millions of people were flocking to the coast before saying farewell to summer.

I packed up the Tahoe with four live camera units plus my weather station and 5 meter wind tower. I was ready. It looked like 50 to 60 mph winds could be experienced along parts of the Jersey shore accompanied by damaging waves and storm surge, especially during high tide cycles. I departed Wilmington, NC around 5pm yesterday. The signals were beginning to become mixed the further north I drove. It now looked like Hermine would move farther off the coast and in fact it was. The track it was taking was more east than north, putting it at a greater distance away from the Mid-Atlantic. This was not expected but was a good sign for New Jersey especially.

As the night wore on and I got closer to my destination of Vineland, the 00z ECWMF came out. I checked in to my hotel and took a look. East. Hermine was going more east. This reduced the threat of a significant surge event for the Mid-Atlantic. I figured that the 5am advisory package would show a track farther away from the coast. I hit the pillow and logged about 6 hours of sleep.

I woke up to good news. My trip to New Jersey will be more about covering the beach erosion and some high tide effects than anything else. For coastal New Jersey and the people who call it home or vacation here, the news is much better now. The weekend will be salvaged and not a total loss. The forecast track shifted a little more away from the coast on the 11am advisory but the threat of storm surge still remains – for now. All in all, it probably won’t be nearly as bad as feared just 36 hours ago. The guidance changes constantly and meandering storms, hurricanes and anything in between always pose a challenge for forecasters. I just go with the flow and if it looks like a high impact event, I will be there. People want to know what the effects are and that’s what I do best – show the impact.

In this case, I will show the impact from a unique perspective. I am going to place two live cams out in Brigantine later today – one on the seawall and the other on the back bay. Both cams will be low angle shots – close to the water. Any rise or wave action will be easy to see and hear. You’ll also see that overall, it’s not too bad. The surf conditions are not good for swimming since rip currents will be common. Otherwise, Hermine will leave the scene with one final poke at the weather geek community. No one wants to see a disaster unfold but when the guidance suggests one is imminent, everyone pays attention. Hermine gave us glimpses of an alternate future that never came to pass on the scale that it could have been. No hurricane in Miami. No Katrina Part II. No Sandy Part II.

Instead, the reality is we had a hurricane landfall in Florida this past Friday in the early morning hours. It was bad for some, not so much for others. Hermine reminded us once again what hurricanes are capable of even if those memories fade quickly in this ever-changing news cycle world that we live in. For meteorologists it was a massive headache. The public needs to depend on forecasts, even if the forecast calls for complete devastation. Trying to convey risk and uncertainty is always challenging. On the one hand, something obvious like Katrina or Andrew makes people take notice but the end result is awful. It’s the situations like Hermine, where the potential is there for something very bad to happen yet it probably won’t, that pose the biggest challenges. The line between over stating the danger and being caught off guard is razor thin sometimes. At the end of the day, all we can do as mere humans is to try our best.

Hermine will turn away from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast but not before an agonizingly slow drift just far enough offshore to keep the worst from happening. Of course, we’re talking about the next 72 hours or so. Remember what we thought would happen with Hermine just 48 hours ago? Nothing is ever certain with weather. The situation looks markedly better but it’s not done yet. Beach erosion, rough surf, rip currents and some periods of strong winds will make for a less than ideal Labor Day along the coast. As long as no more surprises are waiting to be sprung by Hermine, it will end up being remembered more for its forecast challenges than a legacy of damage and loss of life.

I will be out later this afternoon to set up a pair of live cams in the Brigantine area to show what effects there are. The morning high tide tomorrow could be somewhat dramatic – we’ll just have to wait and see. Either way, it’s great to be back in New Jersey where I have made a lot of friends in recent years….all due 100% to the weather.

M. Sudduth 12:20 pm ET Sept 4

Hermine saga continues with major impacts expected for Mid-Atlantic

Tracking map showing the slow moving path of Hermine off the Mid-Atlantic coast this coming week

Tracking map showing the slow moving path of Hermine off the Mid-Atlantic coast this coming week. Click for full size.

I am back in my office now in North Carolina where I am also gathering more equipment, charging battery packs and getting things ready for another field mission – this time, in New Jersey.

Hermine made landfall as a category one hurricane in Florida in the early morning hours of Friday and brought with it a swath of minor to moderate damage, power outages, storm surge and very heavy rain. The effects were felt from Florida to points north up the I-95 corridor in to eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia. It’s not over yet, not by a long shot.

A bizarre transition is taking place with Hermine that will infuse the storm with energy from the atmosphere combing with the tremendous amount of heat that the storm is releasing due to its tropical warm core. This will lead to a larger storm system off the Mid-Atlantic states that it poised to sit there for several days and send enormous waves and high winds towards the coast. This storm has the potential of rivaling the damage from Sandy back in 2012 but not everywhere along the East Coast. Let me explain.

No two hurricanes are ever exactly alike but we can see similarities between them. Sandy was a unique, late season storm that came from the Atlantic towards the New Jersey coast, pushing unimaginable amounts of seawater ahead of it. We saw the results and will never forget those images.

Hermine is different in some ways but the same in others. First off, it’s early September, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Water temps of the East Coast are very warm compared to late 2012’s season and above normal for ANY season. This will allow Hermine to strengthen back to a hurricane and begin to pile up the water along the coast from the Tidewater region of Virginia up the Delaware and New Jersey coasts and possibly in to southern New England when all is said and done.

The one major and very important difference to take note of is the fact that Sandy ultimately made landfall in New Jersey – Hermine is forecast to stall off the coast but close enough to pound the area with near hurricane-force winds along the beaches, high surf, periods of rain and a relentless on-onslaught of waves and storm surge. Beach erosion and over wash will be a certainty for the barrier islands and as water levels rise, some homes and businesses will be inundated with water. I would not be shocked to see 6 to 8 feet of water rise in some locations. I wish I could pinpoint exactly where that might occur but as the NWS points out in their discussion, even minor changes in track and strength can have huge impacts on the effects.

The bottom line is this: Hermine is not done yet and poses a serious threat to life and property for portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast all the way up in to the Northeast. Unlike Sandy, Hermine is not forecast to come inland. This will mainly be a coastal issue with only limited impacts for inland locations. It could be several days before the storm, which is forecast to become a hurricane again, moves on out in to the open Atlantic and away from the United States.

I am preparing to head up to New Jersey from North Carolina later today. I will bring with me one state of the art weather station to set up along the coast along with four of my unmanned cameras. You may have seen the incredible live video from the one I deployed in Cedar Key on Friday. The storm surge ripped off a huge piece of wooden deck/walkway and sent it crashing in to the camera itself, knocking it off the pole it was mounted to. The battering from the waves eventually caused the cam to shut off but not before revealing the danger and destructive power of storm surge. I went back and recovered the camera yesterday fully intact and operational. The Pelican case it is housed in did its job and protected everything inside. I will bring that same camera with me to New Jersey.

My plan will be to deploy the four cams along the coast of New Jersey from the Cape May area north to include Brigantine for sure and then two other locations that I will work on as I make my way north. I want to be able to show you the immediate coast where the waves will be but also have a camera or two in the back bays of the region to capture the rise of the water with each high tide cycle. All of the cameras will be available to view at no cost right here on the HurricaneTrack.com site. I will post the links once they are operational beginning tomorrow morning.

The weather data will feed in to our app, Hurricane Impact. The data updates in real time every minute with wind speed and gust info plus the air pressure. There is also a pressure sensor that sends the air pressure reading each minute as well. And to top it off, the weather station set up has its own camera to send a picture to the app every minute, giving you a look at the area where the station is deployed.

I will be posting updates from the road to the video section of the app so be sure to check that often as I will be keeping the information updated several times per day.

I will post an in-depth video discussion on Hermine and what to expect in the Mid-Atlantic through the Northeast by Noon ET today.

M. Sudduh 10AM ET Sept 3

Hermine to affect large portion of the Southeast over next 48 hours

 Most recent tracking map for Hermine

Most recent tracking map for Hermine

Hermine  is slowly strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest from the in HC indicates that the pressure is down to 996 mbar. Winds are still near 60 mph. The forecast  indicates that the storm will strengthen to hurricane intensity later today.

The forecast track takes the center of the would be hurricane into Apalachee bay.  Most of the worst weather is likely to be experienced to the east of the center. This includes fairly substantial storm surge all along the Big Bend area.  Please consult National Weather Service local statements for specific information on storm surge forecast for your area.  Some locations, such as St. Mark’s,  could see storm surge flooding above ground level two as much as 7 feet. This poses an obvious life-threatening situation.

Hurricane force winds are also possible that I am not as concerned about that as I am with the storm surge.

The other major issue will be extremely heavy rain for portions of Florida spreading up into much of the Southeast near the coastal plain. It would not surprise me to see rainfall totals exceeding a foot across a wide swath  of the region.

The current forecast takes the storm along the coast of the southeast United States and out into the Atlantic off the mid Atlantic coast.  We are going to be dealing with this system for the next several days and it will affect a lot of people during a busy holiday weekend.

I am currently working to set up the first unmanned camera and St. Mark’s, Florida. Once it is operational I will post the link on a special edition of this homepage.

I will work to place the other camera systems in areas throughout the Big Bend area throughout the day.

After sunrise I will begin posting video blogs to our app, Hurricane Impact. Be sure to check the video section frequently throughout the day.  I will also be able to post pictures and short observations to Twitter which is also part of our app.

M. Sudduth 5:30 am ET  September 1

Latest intensity guidance nudges up a little with Hermine – could become a hurricane before landfall

Hermine intensity guidance from the 00z set of intensity models. Here we see a slight overall increase in several of the models which might be enough to bring Hermine to hurricane strength before landfall tomorrow night.

Hermine intensity guidance from the 00z set of intensity models. Here we see a slight overall increase in several of the models which might be enough to bring Hermine to hurricane strength before landfall tomorrow night.

Wanted to post this graphic – it shows the latest intensity guidance from most of the reliable (and not so reliable) models for Hermine. Notice the fairly quick ramp up by several, inducing the consensus IVCN (red line mixed in there) which appears to be just  in to category one hurricane strength.

I think it will all come down to whether Hermine can stop shedding energy away from itself and instead, pull it in and bundle it around a solid core structure. So far, it has not done so very well and as such the pressure is not falling very quickly. Until and unless we see it consolidate better, it will only slowly intensify which would minimize the wind impacts overall.

On the other hand, storm surge from Hermine will be there no matter what. The storm is pushing a lot of water towards the NE Gulf – in the direction it is moving generally speaking. This will pile it up against the shallow coastline and allow several feet of inundation to take place in some areas. I urge you to consult your local NWS office at weather.gov for the latest hurricane local statement put out by that LOCAL office.

I am in Lake City, FL and will be heading out early tomorrow morning to begin deploying a series of unmanned live camera units. Once they are up I will post the links on a temporary new homepage set up just for the storm event. If you are following along in our app, Hurricane Impact, be sure to check the Twitter tab often as I can easily post pics and comments on what is going on where I am. I’ll also post video updates to the video section throughout the day tomorrow and in to tomorrow night.

M. Sudduth 10pm ET Aug 31