Personal Weather

Hurricane Hugo

There’s lots of remembrance in the Lowcountry today in recognition of the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo.

You might be surprised to know that I wasn’t here for it.

My family moved to Charleston (specifically, Goose Creek) in the summer of 1988. But during the summer of 1989, my dad’s job relocated us to Dalton, PA (yes, I lived near Scranton before it was popular). We rented out our house (with the full intent of returning once my father was finished with his assignment in PA), and watched nervously as Hugo made a direct hit on the Lowcountry. Fortunately, just the fence took a bit of a hit, and we only lost one tree (and it evaded the house). We returned in the summer of 1990, and in the winter got a fun snowfall (that has unfortunately yet to really repeat itself).

I was a weather nut before Hugo, but I have to wonder what my attitude toward hurricanes would be today had I gone through it. I remember talking to a lot of my peers when we returned, and most said they slept through it. But others told tales of howling winds and trees snapping and general chaos — and the silence of the eye. The stories of the eye were the most fascinating to me, and are probably a driving force for me to try to experience what it’s like in that eerie calm, on the stage in a stadium of destructive power.

But somehow I might find that what happens prior to and after that calm might dissuade me.


Super Bowl Sunday

For the 43rd time, America is celebrating Super Bowl Sunday, an unofficial holiday of junk food, television marketing excess, the existence of Roman numerals, and football (or is it handegg?). And, for the 22nd time in my life, I have very little emotional investment in the game. Oh, sure, I’ve faked it before: I was rooting hard for the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, but that never worked out. The Super Bowl was first serious business in The Smith Household when Stan-The-Man Humphries sent the San Diego Super Chargers up against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX, during which Steve Young and Jerry Rice made history by turning an NFL team into meatwaffles for the first time. The other time, of course, is when the Carolina Panthers had their hearts broken by Adam Vinatieri and the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was also a historic Super Bowl because no other game so far has had as many letters in its Roman numeral.

So today we get the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers are looking to start blinging out their other hand, while the Cardinals are benefiting from Kurt Warner’s innate ability to somehow will really bad franchises to victory. Of course, when I think of the Cardinals, I’m always reminded of Denny Green:

So who wins? The smart money says the Steelers, but the Cardinals have beaten the smart money three games in a row now. The stage has gotten bigger and the Cardinals have proven that the stage is not bigger than they are so far. Both teams are playing their best football right now, too — I suspect this game has the potential to be much better than most people expect. Prediction? I’m really on the fence here. I think I take Arizona in a colossal upset, which means the Steelers will likely win because I haven’t given them a chance all postseason. (One does have to wonder what the week off does to Arizona’s momentum, after all.) Enjoy the game, folks!


NFL Playoffs: The Divisional Round

This weekend marks the second round of the NFL playoffs. I’ve got a lot of personal pride and fandom running on this weekend (no money, though) as the Chargers and Panthers both play. Here’s hoping they’re not conspiring to make this weekend one gigantic heart attack. (Perhaps I should have rented a defibrillator for this weekend.) Without further ado, here’s what I think of the games. (Yes, I’m paying more attention to the teams that I’m rooting for — this isn’t supposed to be unbiased sports journalism, after all. :) )


Experience The Warmth

We in Charleston have reverted back to October, apparently. If you’ve stepped outside, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the return of warm, mid-70s temperatures, Charlestonian humidity and a familiar urge to dodge mosquitoes. Funk-nasty. This is happening thanks to a system pumping a very warm southerly flow into the area.

Well, this sort of thing doesn’t last too long in December, and typically, these temperature differences resolve themselves with force. A fairly potent storm system is sweeping through the middle of the country, causing plenty of problems with severe weather across Texas and into Mississippi and Alabama. So, as you might expect, we’ve got a slight risk of severe weather tomorrow, which primarily hinges on how much sunshine peeks through before the front arrives. In fact, the outer portions of the storm are showing up on radar.

So, keep an eye out during the day tomorrow — it could get a little rough at times. It’ll be through by Friday, and we’ll get back into upper 50s for highs (though the lows aren’t currently projected to be as low as they have been, which is good for my getting up on time). One thing is for certain, this late fall has been anything but normal; we just can’t seem to figure that out this time around.

In Brief Technology

Windows 7: They might get this right yet

“Windows 7” has made the leap from the codename to official name of the next version of Windows, making it the first version of Windows since NT 4.0 to use the version number in its branding. If the stuff in Paul Thurrott’s FAQ pans out (which I suspect it will; Microsoft won’t [can’t] let the Vista debacle happen again) Windows 7 will be quite a worthwhile release. I just can’t help but wonder how much further they’re going to stunt Vista growth, particularly in the corporate marketplace, by talking up 7 so soon. Regardless, I like this suggestion for a marketing slogan. :)


Fall is in the air, but tropical season isn’t over yet…

Something happened last night that hasn’t happened for several months — I felt cold.

Fall is definitely on the approach. While I won’t rule out one last resurgence of warmth in the next few weeks (this typically happens in Charleston, we can’t transition nicely into seasons here at all), we’re entering the second of the two periods of the year where Charleston’s weather is incredibly gorgeous. I’m talking high 70s to low 80s for highs, and low to mid-60s for lows.

While fall is generally more tame than spring severe weather-wise, there can still be elevated levels of severe weather, because the setup is similar to spring: strong cold fronts running into warm air, causing lift and storm formation. Now that we’re seeing fronts again, there could be some decent storms at times.

In the next week, at least, we’ll be keeping some cloudiness around with a chance of showers. There’s a disturbance southwest of here that’s been consistently kicking up some rain on long-range radar.

Hurricane season isn’t over yet: Invest 93L out there

Thankfully, the tropics have been much quieter since Ike roared ashore in Texas. However, a disturbance is trying to get it together in the Atlantic; the Hurricane Center has dubbed this one 93L for now and are watching it for development. As the model spread indicates, there is no shortage of computerized opinion about what this one’s going to do. The HWRF and GFDL models develop it and take it northward; GFDL curves it out to sea, but HWRF seems to keep it hanging around the islands and weakening it. Again, it’s early as heck, and it’s tough to say what will happen. Jeff Masters seems to think that this one will gradually get it together. Again, it’s always worth watching — a tough sell to a hurricane-fatigued populace, for sure.

In the meantime, enjoy the weather out there — it’s pretty gorgeous, if not a bit on the cloudy side.


The final word on Hanna; Ike approaches

Full Path of Hanna, From Genesis to End

After Tropical Storm Hanna gave us some much-needed rain Friday, it turned northeast and hit hyperspeed and has made conditions quite interesting going up the Eastern seaboard, dumping a lot of rain and causing some brief flooding issues from North Carolina up into New Hampshire. It’s lost tropical characteristics now, and the Hurricane Center has issued the final advisory for Hanna, which will go down as a reasonably bizarre, devil of a storm to try to predict.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Hanna actually did have some winds. Francis Shepherd had some videos of some of Hanna’s wind and rain from Deltaville, VA on Saturday morning. While the winds didn’t seem too exceptionally strong in those videos, that’s certainly more than I saw from my humble abode in West Ashley.

Ike Satellite Photo

Hurricane Ike lashed a Hanna-ravaged Turks and Caicos Islands and is going to give the Bahamas quite a ride today before it slams into Cuba, likely maintaining Category 4 strength throughout. Evacuations have been underway in the Florida Keys for the last day or two; first, tourists were asked to leave, and now residents are being evacuated as the Keys are under a hurricane watch. They likely won’t see the brunt of Ike’s fury, but even Category 2 winds can cause severe problems on the Keys.

From there, it’s anybody’s guess where Ike will end up. Here’s the path, which could point it anywhere from south of Texas to just to the west of Pensacola.

Hurricane Ike:  Projected Path, 11am 09/07

The forecast has Ike taking a beating from Cuba, but eventually getting it back together in the Gulf and becoming a Category 3 again. Ike’s got folks along the Gulf Coast worried, and rightfully so; this could be a force to be reckoned with through this week. A lot of the folks I followed for Gustav are watching Ike extremely closely, and making preparations now just in case. While it shouldn’t affect us in the Carolinas, thankfully, we’ll be watching the Gulf Coast closely, hoping folks there get out of harm’s way.


Hanna jogged left

Hanna’s made a very sharp jog to the left which has complicated a lot of things in the forecast. It’s looking more and more that unless the northeast turn happens in the next couple hours from now, landfall will indeed be in northern Charleston County near Awendaw and Bulls Bay. The Hurricane Hunters are in the storm as I type this and there is some really interesting data coming back — it looks like the pressure at the center fix is 978 mb. The fix puts the center about 85 miles to the southeast of Charleston. It’s hauling butt, too, and I’m sure that fix is outdated by this writing.

As I write this, a squall associated with the inner core of the storm — which is rapidly regenerating — is coming ashore. The worst may be yet to come…keep tabs in the Charleston Weather broadcast and chat room. Next advisory at 11…


8am: Increasing divergence ahead of landfall

8am Hanna Computer Models

Here’s the 8am model runs. Note the increasing amount of divergence ahead of Hanna’s landfall. There’s still reasonably strong agreement for the Horry County landfall scenario, but I would not be surprised to see the track jog west a bit more before it’s all said and done.

The 8:00 advisory slows Hanna’s forward motion down ever so slightly (to 18 MPH instead of 20). It’s still headed northwest. Winds are still 65 MPH, but the pressure is down a bit more. Satellite imagery is indicating that the shear has backed off some; note the gigantic plume of convection trying to wrap itself around the center. A hurricane at landfall is reemerging as a possibility.

Stay tuned…


11am: Hanna barely clinging to tropical characteristics

Hanna’s looking rough this morning. It’s back down to 65 MPH winds, and there’s a lot of speculation that Hanna is becoming extratropical. NHC acknowledges Hanna’s struggle to remain tropical in the discussion:


Here’s the latest track, which returns more to the rightward path that we started seeing emerge during the day yesterday before the 11:00 came out:

The wind field is still pretty broad — 310 miles, to be exact — but largely to the north and northeast. We in Charleston still stand a decent chance of seeing tropical storm force winds for a time, and some rain, but with the dry air influencing the storm as well as the continued rightward bias in the models, impacts along our coast will be lessened.

News 2 reports that Gov. Mark Sanford has called for voluntary evacuations of Horry and Georgetown counties; he also said that Hanna might be a “dress rehearsal for a thing called Ike.” Ike is bothersome to me; I’m crunched for time now but will have more later on.