Tropics to remain busy as we enter climatological peak month of September

A Very Busy Atlantic Basin

A Very Busy Atlantic Basin

Isaac is now well inland over Louisiana but it is still causing significant problems for the areas that have dealt with its rain, wind and storm surge over the last few days. There have also been tornadic storms accompanying some of the rain bands as well. It will take a few more days for the remnants of Isaac to finally clear the pattern and it will likely do so by dumping a lot more rain over a wide swath of the eastern U.S. In fact, interests along the entire cone of Isaac’s forecast track need to be on alert for rapidly changing weather conditions over the coming holiday weekend. This is especially true in the mountainous areas that Isaac’s moisture will pass over as it heads east and even south of east.

Elsewhere we have hurricane Kirk and TS Leslie to keep us busy over the coming days. Kirk is of no threat to land areas right now and Leslie will probably turn north within 10 degrees of 60 W longitude, but you never know this time of year.

The next 30 days are the most active of the hurricane season climatologically speaking. This season has proven to be quite a bit more active than earlier thought by forecasters and I think the increase that NOAA indicated in their August update is coming to fruition. Isaac proved once again that much needs to be done to help the general public realize that hurricanes are not points on a map nor do they follow some set of rules laid out by man. Their effects can be far-reaching and extend well beyond the wind seed or category assigned to them. As September arrives, keep preparedness and education on your mind – you never know when that can pay off in helping you to deal with the likes of Isaac.

I am on the road heading back home from the MS Gulf Coast after a very successful field mission with Mike Watkins and Kerry Mallory. Once again, we met a great group of very kind and helpful people, some even in the middle of the wind and rain who just wanted to help us with directions. It is amazing how the Internet connects us now, no doubt about that.

I’ll have regular blog posts again, perhaps many per day. That being said, I plan to write one addressing our iPhone app and what went right, what went wrong and how we plan to make it the success that I know it will be.

I’ll post more here tomorrow.

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Isaac not done, not by a long shot

5 Day Rainfall Forecast from HPC

5 Day Rainfall Forecast from HPC

The field mission to cover Ike along the Gulf Coast is nearing its end. I will write up a more thorough look back at what all we accomplished, and what still needs to be done, in a later post.

Right now, Isaac continues to dump heavy rain on portions of the lower Mississippi Valley. This huge envelope of tropical moisture will spread northward and eventually turn northeast, bringing heavy rain to a large chuck of the eastern United States. Just look at the HPC rainfall forecast and you’ll see what could be coming over the next five days as Isaac leaves the coast and finally moves inland.

For areas that have not seen heavy rain in quite some time, keep in mind the risk of flooding and take the necessary precautions. It mostly has to do with common sense. Follow that, and you will be safe.

As for Mississippi and Louisiana, Isaac will live on long after it moves away from the region. The clean up and recovery phase, something all too familiar in this area of the country, will commence. Some locations were hit harder than others. News reports are full of more sad stories of flooding and loss but the effects, as we well know, could have been far worse. They were far worse exactly seven years ago today.

The rest of the tropics remain busy as we round out August. Kirk is no threat to land and 98L will almost certainly be a depression tomorrow. We’ll watch it and see what its future holds. At least the coming weekend will be nice for coastal areas with no threats from the tropics to worry about.

We had a very successful field mission and I look forward to sharing much of what we learned, the data we captured and some incredible video with you over the coming days. Mike, Kerry and I would like to thank all of the people who watched our live streams and for the support that we received from the great people of Mississippi once again. While it’s tough to see you all have to deal with this on a regular basis, we appreciate you extending a helping hand to us as we do our work to better understand and report about these incredible weather events. I’ll have regular blog posts again beginning tomorrow afternoon.

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Debby going to be a forecast challenge

The latest computer model guidance regarding tropical storm Debby has not helped to paint a clearer picture of where the storm, forecast to be a hurricane, will eventually make landfall. In fact, this could be one of the more complicated storms to deal with in quite some time.

Currently, Debby is experiencing some shear which means the upper level winds are blowing across the top of the storm from a certain direction rather than fanning out in all directions. The shear is keeping the storm from being able to align itself vertically and the deepest convection is displaced well away from the center of circulation. This shear is forecast to relax but as mentioned in the latest NHC discussion, it is not a guarantee, so Debby may have some intensity issues over the next few days. It is important to note that intensity forecasting is where the least amount of skill lies and significant changes up or down are possible. The latest forecast maintains the notion that Debby will become a hurricane as it turns west across the warm Gulf of Mexico.

The track forecast is turning out to be quite difficult. What was once a fairly straight forward forecast that Debby would turn west under a developing ridge of high pressure has turned in to a potential huge change coming up. The NHC mentions the ECMWF model which has shown Debby moving west and even south of west towards Texas for the last several days now has the storm making landfall in Louisiana in about three days. As I mentioned, this is a big change from previous runs and we’ll have to see what happens with each subsequent run. In other words, is this the beginning of a trend of just a temporary “goof” by the model and it will get back on its “west” idea soon. We’ll have to wait and see. Track forecasting is sometimes quite easy, this time, it looks to be just opposite.

HPC 3 Day Precip Forecast

HPC 3 Day Precip Forecast

Let’s talk about rain fall. Taking a look at the HPC’s precip forecast for the next three days, we can plainly see that Debby has a tremendous amount of moisture to dump along its path. The Florida peninsula through the central Gulf Coast could receive several inches of rain as Debby moves quite slowly, allowing the rain fall totals to pile up. This is not to be taken lightly. Fresh water flooding from excessive rains generated by tropical cyclones is a leading killer. Often times flooded roads are accessed by people who think that they can navigate the waters. This is a dangerous idea and I urge people to be mindful of the potential flooding impact from the rain. I would like to point out that you can use weather.gov for a wealth of information regarding your local conditions. Just type in your ZIP Code and the landing page will likely contain all sorts of locally based watch/warning info, hurricane local statements and more. This info is for your area, not a national broad brush forecast. Remember: weather.gov

I am currently in Georgia after wrapping up a project I had with CNN to launch a weather balloon and its payload to high altitude yesterday morning. The prep and launch were spectacular, I cannot wait to show you the video of that. The ascent went very well and we were able to track the payload using APRS. I will post a separate blog about this project later tomorrow, complete with some video of the launch. I’ll also talk about what went wrong and why we were not able to recover a majority of the payload after the balloon burst.

Once I return home from GA later today, I’ll begin preparing equipment for a trip to the Gulf Coast to provide on-scene coverage and info as Debby passes by or perhaps makes a direct impact on the region. I’ll lay out my plans tomorrow as a lot will hinge on what the forecast track is and how strong Debby gets. Meanwhile, everyone along the Gulf Coast should keep close tabs on the latest forecast info from the NHC and your local NWS. I’ll have another post here tonight with frequent updates on Twitter.

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