Monthly Archives: August 2008

Hanna “officially” takes aim on the SE coastline

I’m in the midst of getting ready for Serious Business tonight — lots going on. First, the 5PM track for Hanna takes the storm — with significant uncertainty — just south of Savannah Friday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane. However, it’s far too early to tell exactly where or when or how strong it will be — the cone of uncertainty is gigantic. There’s very little agreement with the models at all right now. Heck, there’s a chance it might actually be sheared apart to nothingness; it’s barely hanging on at 45 MPH, undergoing significantly destructive shear from both an upper-level low (which seems to be weakening and heading away from Hanna) as well as the outflow from Gustav.

Still, the nature of the forecast track means folks from the Florida coastline up to Virginia need to pay close attention to Hanna during the week as it could bring some significant rain to the area at the very least.

I’ll have more on this tonight on Serious Business. I’ll also be simulcasting on Charleston Weather, so check in either of those two locations and you’ll catch the show.

Gustav continues to plow to NOLA; Hanna struggles

Before I hit the sack, I wanted to bring folks up to speed about my latest thoughts on Gustav and Hanna. First, Gustav.

Eyewall Replacement Cycle?

Gustav emerged off the coast of Cuba at roughly 11:30 or so and promptly started trying to get its act back together. It looks like it’s in the middle of an eyewall replacement cycle, which basically means it’s reorganizing a bit at the core and should be ready to start strengthening again. Cuba knocked it down to a 140 MPH system, which is still nothing to sneeze at. I suspect we’ll wake up to Gustav as a Category 5 tomorrow morning.

Official Track and Computer Models, 11PM

The official track takes the center of the storm roughly 50 miles or so west of New Orleans, which is likely to cause tremendous problems not only for the city itself, but for a fairly wide swath of real estate, as the current scenario could push surge up the Mississippi. It’s a matter of wobbles — again, as I’ve said before, five miles to the east or west could be a world of difference. The computer models continue to show a cone of uncertainty stretching roughly from the LA-MS border to the LA-TX border. The track has continued to go eastward as Gustav wobbled right several times during the day. The landfall point is still very uncertain, and we probably won’t really know where it will end up until the hours immediately leading up to the point of landfall.

The good news is that New Orleans is being evacuated. Here’s hoping they can get everybody out this time — I have a bad feeling that because of the position of the center, this could be worse for NOLA. We’ll see what the next day bears out.

Hanna’s future becoming a smidgen clearer…maybe

Hanna’s still struggling in the face of wind shear and some interference from Gustav. It’s hanging in there at 50 MPH, as it has for much of the day. The wind shear is expected to back off just enough to let it strengthen a bit more, but the NHC discussion forecasts the shear to return Tuesday, which should inhibit development.

Model runs on Hanna run the gamut from a landfall at the Florida/Georgia border (NGP) to a brushing of the Outer Banks and eventual recurvature to sea (GFS). I’m seeing some consensus between the GFDL and HWRF models, specifically designed for forecasting tropical cyclones, in a scenario bringing the center onshore in South Carolina; likely somewhere like Bulls Bay, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach. However, two models does not a forecast make. Keep in mind it’s still very early — a week away — and that there is still plenty of divergence in the other atmospheric models. The GFDL is being weird about Hanna, too, somehow developing it into a Category 3 despite forecasted moderate wind shear.

As always, it behooves anybody from Florida to North Carolina to keep a close eye to Hanna as it meanders around in the Atlantic. I suspect Hanna is going to become quite a thorn in our side as the week progresses.

Gustav knocking on Category 5’s door

Hurricane Gustav radar fix in Cuba

Major Hurricane Gustav is closing in on Category 5 status very quickly, raking Cuba and giving Key West quite a blustery time in the process. As of the 5 PM advisory, Gustav’s packing 150 MPH sustained winds, making it an intense Category 4, and is moving to the northwest at 15 MPH. This puts the storm somewhere along the Gulf Coast roughly Monday night. Model guidance agrees well on Gustav’s track at this point; it’s now a matter of wobbles — five miles east or west could change the prognosis for New Orleans, Houston, Biloxi, and other cities along the coast pretty substantially. As it stands, New Orleans may see sustained hurricane force winds on the eastern side of the storm, which is where the worst storm surge will occur. However, a lot can change between now and Monday.

Update: Here’s a map of the official NHC forecast track along with the spaghetti models to demonstrate variability in the landfall locations. Models look roughly at the Texas/Louisiana border all the way to right next to New Orleans, which is a disastrous scenario if that’s the one that comes to pass.

Track and models for Gustav

How I’m Following Gustav

Social media has mobilized throughout the day for getting the word out about Gustav. Twitter is figuring heavily into the mix, as one might expect: I’m following Mark Mayhew, who’s on the ground in New Orleans, as well as The Interdictor Project, one of the several aggregators of information about Gustav being made available this afternoon. (Interdictor may sound familiar to those who followed the Interdictor LiveJournal during Katrina; it was one of the best blogs that was actually on the ground through the duration of the storm.) I’ve also begun following Vanessa (aka iThinkMedia), who’s on the ground in Alexandra, LA, and James Wheeler, who lists his location as the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can get the big picture using this Twitter search. A centralized Gustav Ning site has been set up for disseminating information and also for coordinate efforts to help folks who may be displaced by the storm. Finally, for you FriendFeeders out there, Wayne Sutton is compiling a list of resources for following Gustav.

Gustav is captivating me not just because of the obvious meteorological aspect, but also how folks are mobilizing so quickly using social media tools to disseminate information. This will be quite a study in social media’s maturity, and it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out.

Hanna the Headache

There’s a lot of eyes on Hurricane Gustav this weekend, and rightfully so — it’s become a Category 3, 125 MPH beast, and the forecast just does not look good for Texas and Louisiana around, unfortunately, New Orleans. Gustav appears to be in position to make this Labor Day weekend a very memorable one for all the wrong reasons. Here’s hoping folks are heeding the call to leave the coast early; the last thing anybody wants to see is a duplication of the tragedy of Katrina three years ago yesterday.

Here in Charleston, we may have a tropical issue of our own to deal with by the end of next week. I’ve been spending a showery morning in West Ashley playing with computer model runs for Tropical Storm Hanna and the end result has been a little heightened concern for our neck of the woods. Continue reading

Hanna (Is Not Headed To Montana)

A very ragged Tropical Storm Hanna was classified at 11am by the National Hurricane Center. Hanna — aka Tropical Depression 8 and Invest 95L — has never been a great-looking storm as it’s been fighting some shear, and it’s definitely been torn to shreds even more as the day goes on. But Hanna’s been a fighter, and it’s forecast to hang in there and gradually become a hurricane over the next several days.

Hanna’s on a west-northwest track right now; it’s expected to make more of a northerly jog. That much is reasonably certain; but then things get really dicey later in the week as there is significant disagreement in the models as to what is going to happen. Right now, the official forecast slows it down and turns it toward Florida. (Bliss.) Historically speaking, storms near this location at this time of year almost always recurve to sea (with the exception of a certain Category 5 beast named Andrew). However, there are some exceptions, and some storms have gotten pretty close…so, as always, got to keep an eye to this one.

Be sure to swing by Jeff Masters’ blog at Weather Underground. There’s a whole string of waves chugging their way off the coast of Africa. Things could get simply CRAZY in the tropics in the next week. That’s the peak of the season for you, though…

95L Becomes TD 8, Hanna Soon?

I woke up, went scrolling through my Twitterstream and caught this post by Brian Neudorff — it looks like Tropical Depression 8 has been classified from the former Invest 95L, and this is definitely one for us in Charleston to watch. Models seem to have it taking a southerly dive (!) but again, models have not been the most accurate thing in the world these days, and these can and will change at a moment’s notice. For now, NHC guidance follows the models and sees TD8 becoming Hanna later today, and then gradually develops a minimal hurricane by the weekend. It’s early yet, and a lot can and probably will change, so as my broken record (entitled “Hurricane Preparedness Techno Remix”) likes to play, definitely keep an eye on this one if you’re anywhere from Florida to North Carolina.

Riffing on Gustav and 95L

The last time I spoke of Gustav, it was a rapidly intensifying tropical storm at 60 MPH; it eventually became a hurricane and made landfall on Haiti as a high Category 1 storm. Haiti’s terrain has subsequently torn the storm apart. As of 11:00PM, it’s only packing 45 MPH winds. Pressure’s up significantly to 999 millibars (29.49″ of mercury), and is a total shadow of what it was a day or so ago.

While it’s fairly weak now, Gustav’s going to move back over the water soon — some very steaming hot water to be exact. That, combined with a fairly favorable upper-air setup, will help Gustav get its act back together. The official NHC forecast has it reaching Category 2 and hitting somewhere along the Gulf Coast by Monday night.

These long-range forecasts are tricky. The cone of uncertainty in the five-day in particular is an incredible spread that takes up most of the Gulf. A lot of buzz is being generated because the path currently takes the center extremely close to New Orleans; this, combined with the upcoming three-year anniversary of Katrina, has a lot of folks really worried. Louisiana has already declared a state of emergency well in advance of Gustav’s potential arrival.

If you’ve got interests along the Gulf Coast, it definitely behooves you to watch this thing closely. It really could end up anywhere along the coast at this point.

As for Invest 95, it’s started to flare some convection up, but it’s still awfully hard to identify a circulation and it seems to be a fairly hostile environment at the moment. It’s just drifting around; it’s starting to turn a bit more northwest, but it’s tough to say exactly what it wants to do. Models seem to want to develop it into a Category 1 in a few days and recurve it out dangerously close to Bermuda, but other models also turn it more southward and send it toward Florida. This is, of course, all depending on whether it actually survives. 95’s been in and out of the NHC’s radar, so it’s hanging in there, but it’s still too early to say exactly what it will do beyond bring some rain and wind over the islands.

Oh, and the tornado outbreaks over the last two days in the upstate of SC and into North Carolina? Those were all from the Ghost of Fay. Gotta love systems that overstay their welcome. :)

The End Begins

After one of the more interesting and eventful summer “breaks” (and by “break” I mean “I’m not in class”) I’ve had in recent years, today marks the first day of the fall semester at the College of Charleston. Most notably, it’s my last semester as an undergraduate. This day’s come about two or three years later than I would have liked, but it’s here and I’m happy. Needless to say, I’m ready to be done; the proverbial light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is increasing in brightness, etc. I could throw a thousand cliches at you — and in fact, I had several queued up here — but I’ll spare you.

What a long, strange trip it’s been to get here. Over the course of the semester, I’ll probably be quite reflective here and on Twitter. These last several years certainly have altered my entire outlook and path, and thus demand the respect of documentation for at least my own records.

So with apologies to Tantric, the end begins today and goes right up to December, when I’ll walk across a stage and receive a blank piece of paper that LOOKS like a diploma (the actual thing will show up later). Until that final walk, I’m happy to have you all along for the ride, and I’m thankful to those of you who have stuck with me since I restarted this journey back in 2006. Your support — most notably the “it’s never too late to go back” pep talks — really have helped me through.