Pakistan's Katrina; 94L could develop in Gulf of Mexico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:23 PM GMT on August 10, 2010

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The monsoon season of 2010 continues to generate havoc in Asia, as lingering rains from the latest monsoon low continue to affect hard-hit Pakistan, China, and India. At least 702 are now reported dead and 1,042 are missing in China's Gansu province, due to torrential monsoon rains that triggered a deadly landslide and extreme flooding on Sunday. At least 137 died in floods and landslides in the neighboring Indian state of Kashmir over the weekend, with 500 people missing. Monsoon flooding and landslides have also killed at least 65 people in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. But no country has suffered more than Pakistan, where monsoon floods have destroyed huge portions of the nation's infrastructure and killed at least 1600 people. The number of people affected or needing assistance has been estimated to be as high as 13 million people--8% of the nation's population. The disaster is the worst natural disaster in Pakistan's history, and is rightfully being called "Pakistan's Katrina."


Figure 1. The heavy thunderstorms of a monsoon depression lie over northwestern Pakistan near Islamabad in this visible satellite image taken by NASA's MODIS instrument on July 29, 2010. Image credit: NASA.

Monsoons: a primer
In summer, the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This occurs because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean's absorbed heat into a "mixed layer" approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun's heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth--the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. However, monsoons have their dark side as well--hundreds of people in India and surrounding nations die in an average year in floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 - 55 kph (30 - 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Each summer, approximately 6 - 7 monsoon depressions form over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India. Four monsoon depressions originated in the Bay of Bengal in the El Niño-weakened monsoon season of 2009. This year's first monsoon depression formed on July 24, crossed over India, and reached Pakistan on July 27. The rains increased in intensity over the next two days, peaking on July 29 and 30, when a low pressure system that moved across Pakistan from the west enhanced rainfall from the monsoon depression. Over the 3-day period July 28 - 30, torrential rains in excess of 8 inches (203 mm) fell in many regions of northwest Pakistan Rainfall amounts at two stations in the catchment basins of the Jhelum River and Indus River reached 19.49" (495 mm) for the month of July, and 7.56" (192 mm) fell in a single day, July 30, at Tarbela. A second monsoon depression arrived in Pakistan on August 3, and has brought additional heavy rains.

Are the this year's monsoon floods due to global warming?
No single weather event can be attributed to climate change, but a warming climate does load the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased over the past 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, "These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios." We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades.

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, " Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment", Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 - 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Dave's Landslide blog has some great discussions of the flooding and destruction wrought by the terrible monsoon rains this year in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and China.

Donations urgently needed
The massive humanitarian crisis in Pakistan requires a huge response by the international community. Wunderblogger Dr. Ricky Rood, author of our Climate Change Blog, has a friend working in Pakistan who underscored the desperate situation there:

This is the worst natural disaster in the history of Pakistan in terms of number of people and area affected. Although not as many people have been killed as in the 2005 earthquake, we have already nearly 900,000 displaced persons thus far just in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Crops are destroyed; shops, hotels, and other business have simply been swept away in Swat, which had just this year been cleared of Taliban and was on the way to recovery; and districts closer to Peshawar and parts of Peshawar district are still, or perhaps again after yesterday/today, under water. After the immediate emergency response, it will be years of rebuilding to replace what has been lost and to start to develop again. I know you have the power to control the weather, so if you cold give us a week or two without more rain at least we could keep the helicopters flying and give people a chance to go to their homes, recover what might still be there, set up tents if we can get enough to them, and start to clean up."

She gave the following recommendations for charities that do work in the flood-ravaged zone, and are effective at getting aid to those who need it the most:

Doctors Without Borders

The International Red Cross

MERLIN medical relief charity

The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word "SWAT" to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.

She mentioned that it is better to send money to the organizations doing the relief work than to try to organize shipments of goods.


Figure 2. Morning radar image of 94L from the Key West radar.

94L
A 1010 mb low pressure system (94L) near the Florida Keys is generating disorganized heavy thunderstorms over Florida and the adjacent waters, and could become a tropical or subtropical depression as early as Wednesday. Current Key West radar shows the rotation of the storm, but the thunderstorm activity has not yet organized into low-level spiral bands. A few areas in the Keys and extreme South Florida have seen 1 - 2 inches of rain thus far from 94L. Wind shear is currently a moderate 10 - 20 knots over 94L, and water temperatures are very warm, 30 - 31°C. Water vapor satellite imagery shows that 94L is forming beneath an upper-level low with plenty of dry air, and there is a substantial flow of dry, continental air wrapping into 94L. This dry air is retarding the development of 94L, and may force the storm to organize into a subtropical storm instead of a tropical storm. A subtropical storm typically has a large, cloud free center of circulation, with very heavy thunderstorm activity in a band removed at least 100 miles from the center. The difference between a subtropical storm and a tropical storm is not that important as far as the winds they can generate, but tropical storms generate more rain. There is no such thing as a subtropical hurricane. If a subtropical storm intensifies enough to have hurricane force winds, than it must have become fully tropical. It usually takes at least two days for a subtropical storm to make the transition to a tropical storm.

Forecast for 94L
The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will stay in the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, over the Gulf of Mexico this week. The storm's main problem will be dry air, and I don't expect 94L to undergo rapid development. Most of the models bring 94L ashore over Louisiana by Thursday, though the GFDL model predicts 94L could stall off the coast and not make landfall until Friday. If 94L does make landfall Thursday, it is unlikely to be a hurricane, due to all the dry air aloft in the Gulf. However, the GFDL model is predicting that the 1-day delay in landfall to Friday will allow 94L enough time to grow fully tropical and intensify into a Category 1 hurricane. I think this solution is unlikely. Storms that get their start underneath a cold, dry, upper-level low very rarely attain hurricane strength in three days. A 40 - 50 mph tropical or subtropical storm at landfall Thursday or Friday is a much more reasonable forecast.

93L
A tropical wave (Invest 93) in the middle Atlantic Ocean is close to tropical depression status. The disturbance has a well-defined surface circulation, but only a limited amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, thanks to dry air and wind shear of 10 - 20 knots affecting it due to a large upper-level low pressure system to the west. Wind shear is expected to stay in the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, over the next four days, which is low enough that 93L could become a tropical depression at any time during that period. NHC is giving 93L a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Thursday morning. The GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models predict 93L will develop, and the GFDL forecasts that the storm will become a hurricane. A strong trough of low pressure moving across the central Atlantic is recurving 93L to the north, and the system should only be a concern to shipping interests. None of the reliable computer models are forecasting tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic over the next seven days, other than for 93L and 94L.

Moscow hits 99°F again today
Temperatures at Moscow's Domodedovo airport hit 37°C (99°F) today, the 28th day in row that temperatures have exceeded 30°C (86°F) in Moscow. The average high temperature for August 10 is 21°C (69°F). Moscow's high temperature have averaged 15°C (27°F) above average for the first ten days of August--a truly extraordinary anomaly. Smog and smoke from wildfires continued to blanket the city today, with the Russian Meteorological Agency reporting that pollution due to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and hydrocarbons exceeding the safe limit by factors of 1.2 - 2.2. Air pollution levels peaked at 6.5 times the safe level on Saturday. As I reported in yesterday's post, the heat wave has likely killed at least 15,000 people in Russia so far. There is some slight relief in sight--the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures of 31 - 33°C (88 - 91°F) Wednesday though Sunday--still 20°F above normal, but better than the 27°F above normal so far this month.

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question in the comments area on my blog during the show. You can also email the questions to me today before the show: jmasters@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line. Some topics I'll cover today on the show:

1) Invest 94 and 93
2) A look ahead at the coming two weeks
3) Status of La Niña

Today's show will be about 30 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

Jeff Masters

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2086. leo305
Quoting AustinTXWeather:
what would a stall translate to?


boom boom pow
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Katrinas storm surge is not what killed 1500 people. Poor construction of levys and being in a city 10ft below sea level, and bad local govt killed 1500 people
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Quoting IKE:


Did I ever say they couldn't question the NHC?


No, but you're pointing out the fact that they did question the NHC. You have questioned the NHC about the percentage of 93L for a week now which is fine. That's your opinion. Other people believe that TD5 could be stronger than just 45mph, which is a fair statement. The best thing to do is for you to have your opinion and everyone else to have their opinion and leave it at that without attacking someone. Like I said, don't come to a tropical blog if you don't expect people to hype the tropics. They are here because they love it and that's just how it works.
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2083. tkeith
2068. PsychicMaria

Hey is that your Voodoo shop on St. Peters in the Quarter?

I want my money back for that Voodoo Doll you sold me...
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Quoting Tazmanian:
a stall from TD 5 would be vary bad
what would a stall translate to?
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Quoting weatherwart:
Because you think the low will move out to the west fast enough to intensify the convection, move the storm north and avoid the shear?
The ULL is obviously moving away from the system as noted on water vapor. When the ULL moves away upper level ridging will dominate aloft. However the high steering 05L will also shear it. But that shear is easterly shear which is basically the "most favorable" type of shear.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
2078. angiest
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm pretty sure that this will be a Louisiana event, however, that can change in a matter of hours.


Caution is the best policy. FL around to the middle TX coast should keep an eye on TD5 just to make sure future-she doesn't pull a fast one.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
2077. aquak9
hey PsychicMaria!!

am I gonna get the job i interviewed for today?
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Quoting muddertracker:
Hey, it looks like this thing fooled quite a few good mets out there....if 94l transitioned faster than expected, is it possible that the models are off? Or does it make no difference to the models (warm core/cold core??)



its TD 5
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114051
Quoting PsychicMaria:
Everyone,

Do not fret about newly formed TD5, for it will bring no more than gusty winds and heavy rain to the Gulf Coast; primarily Louisiana. I have stated this since day one. TD 5 will NOT be a hurricane, only a minimal tropical storm.

Next week, the Tropics will become increasingly active. By the end of August, there will be 3 hurricane landfalls on U.S. Mainland. We have much in store these next few weeks.


Care to tell us where my young Padawan?
Member Since: August 10, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 672
2074. Drakoen
Where is our Subtropical Depression that Jeff Masters said we were suppose to anticipate?????
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
Quoting Patrap:
5 years after K,,most dont know what occurred here, but they can tell ya the last 5 American Idol winners or Survivor.

Pfffth.


From Mobile to Houma was affected by that Historic Storm,..just becase some got wacked by 4 the year before,,some dismiss our impact cuz they saw a Lot of whats wrong still with America.

So the memory pains them seems.

Those of us who experienced her from NOLA to Pascagoula realize that "calamity knows no borders, only men's minds and maps do"...



Never wish for Calamity to strike your State or area..you just may get a tad more than you wished for.



Well said my friend
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Quoting IKE:
1.....2......3......4.....5....6......7....8....9...10...11..12...13....14....15....

# of posts questioning the NHC on highest winds.

16.....17....18...19....20...
come on Ike, and this surprises you, you know better. You should know all of the "kids" on here know way more and could do a better job...the NHC is bashed daily for their decisions.
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000
ABNT20 KNHC 102355
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT TUE AUG 10 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HAS BEGUN ISSUING ADVISORIES ON NEWLY
FORMED TROPICAL DEPRESSION FIVE...LOCATED ABOUT 260 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF APALACHICOLA FLORIDA.

SHOWER ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM LOCATED ABOUT
750 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARDS ISLANDS HAS
DECREASED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS. ALTHOUGH UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE
NOT EXPECTED TO BECOME VERY CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT...AN INCREASE
IN THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY COULD RESULT IN THE FORMATION OF A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION. THERE IS A HIGH CHANCE...60 PERCENT...OF THIS
SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT
MOVES TOWARD THE NORTH AND NORTH NORTHEAST OVER THE ATLANTIC.

SHOWER ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED ABOUT
700 MILES EAST OF THE SOUTHERN WINDWARD ISLANDS IS MINIMAL. THE
WAVE IS MOVING WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH AND DEVELOPMENT...IF
ANY...SHOULD BE SLOW TO OCCUR. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10
PERCENT... OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114051
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm pretty sure that this will be a Louisiana event, however, that can change in a matter of hours.
ok guess that means I'll be z one watching for now here -Thx 4 z update/input
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2069. wxhatt
Quoting BDAwx:
I just saw Brian Norcross on TWC - does he work there now?


Yes he does, and he is a "Hurricane Andrew" veteran.
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Quoting palmpt:


Katrina had 34.9 feet... In Pass Christian Mississippi.... In Biloxi, it was 25 feet.
Regading that 25 feet in Biloxi, that explains the 8 feet of water in my dads house and the people that lived on the eatern side of Biloxi's mainland ended up north of the Biloxi Bay on the roofs of houses that only the had the roofs showing. High water got into places that people never even imagined. Not even as far inland as Camille.
Member Since: July 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
Quoting MississippiWx:


Ike, I'm not against you or anything and I generally like your postings, but this is a blog. Everyone in here has the freedom to questions whatever they want to question. If you don't like it, ignore it. People should ignore you if they don't like the fact that you normally side with a very anti-hype process. It just gets old when people get bombarded for having their own opinion on things. People on this blog love hurricanes and most of them want to see one, like it or not. I don't want to see one because this one is pointed straight at me, but it's the nature of this blog. You can't blame people for having the passion that they do.


There is always that down atmosphere when someone posts.. hmm.. very well said!
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Hey, it looks like this thing fooled quite a few good mets out there....if 94l transitioned faster than expected, is it possible that the models are off? Or does it make no difference to the models (warm core/cold core??)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
a stall from TD 5 would be vary bad
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114051
2062. IKE
Quoting MississippiWx:


Ike, I'm not against you or anything and I generally like your postings, but this is a blog. Everyone in here has the freedom to questions whatever they want to question. If you don't like it, ignore it. People should ignore you if they don't like the fact that you normally side with a very anti-hype process. It just gets old when people get bombarded for having their own opinion on things. People on this blog love hurricanes and most of them want to see one, like it or not. I don't want to see one because this one is pointed straight at me, but it's the nature of this blog. You can't blame people for having the passion that they do.


Did I ever say they couldn't question the NHC?
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2061. aquak9
spathy- I gotta agree- I'm thinking relocation m'self
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2060. wxhatt
NAM precip forcast through the 14th:

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Is it possible that this trop storm will go a little further east?
Member Since: June 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 546
2058. BDAwx
I just saw Brian Norcross on TWC - does he work there now?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah the ridge will likely increase easterly shear, but it isn't as harmful as you may think.
Because you think the low will move out to the west fast enough to intensify the convection, move the storm north and avoid the shear?
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
2055. Drakoen
Quoting MississippiWx:


Ike, I'm not against you or anything and I generally like your postings, but this is a blog. Everyone in here has the freedom to questions whatever they want to question. If you don't like it, ignore it. People should ignore you if they don't like the fact that you normally side with a very anti-hype process. It just gets old when people get bombarded for having their own opinion on things. People on this blog love hurricanes and most of them want to see one, like it or not. I don't want to see one because this one is pointed straight at me, but it's the nature of this blog. You can't blame people for having the passion that they do.


Well said.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
Quoting spathy:
Question about 94s movement from Floridas Space Coast on Sunday to Florida bay on Tuesday.
All day Monday the clouds were moving up the West coast of Florida from roughly S to N.
Fort Myers area.
(I dont care what Sat shows! I watched it all day)
I must have asked myself 20x
Why this direction if the low was N and East of us?
Did 94 cross the state or did it redevelop off the west coast?
And is that considered movement?



TD5
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114051
Quoting AustinTXWeather:
sorry if this has been covered but did't c it.. how certain is the track heading to LA coast (vs TX)? Trying to figure out who to update to watch this :)
I'm pretty sure that this will be a Louisiana event, however, that can change in a matter of hours.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
2049. Drakoen
Quoting Hurricanes101:


I had noted how much a of a downcaster IKE has been the last few weeks

I understand wanting to combat some of the so-called "wishcasters" on here, but he never posts a forecast model if it develops a storm, and never says anything about the positive aspects of development. You rarely saw him post during Alex because the storm had nothing negative against it. If their is only 1 negative factor that may prohibit development of a system, he will focus on that one thing and completely ignore everything else.



It seems to be a new tactic he is trying this year. Very unbecomming.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
Quoting MississippiWx:


Ike, I'm not against you or anything and I generally like your postings, but this is a blog. Everyone in here has the freedom to questions whatever they want to question. If you don't like it, ignore it. People should ignore you if they don't like the fact that you normally side with a very anti-hype process. It just gets old when people get bombarded for having their own opinion on things. People on this blog love hurricanes and most of them want to see one, like it or not. I don't want to see one because this one is pointed straight at me, but it's the nature of this blog. You can't blame people for having the passion that they do.


very well said
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Gulf Of Mexico - Water Vapor Loop. Nuff said.
sorry if this has been covered but did't c it.. how certain is the track heading to LA coast (vs TX)? Trying to figure out who to update to watch this :)
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Before I go...

Dr. Masters thought this would be sub-tropical.

Nuff said.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
Quoting weatherwart:


What are you seeing? I'm seeing some easterlies already affecting the northern most part of TD5. And I think, from seeing Levi's blog earlier, is that the ridge building in from the north will increase that easterly shear. Am I correct?
Yeah the ridge will likely increase easterly shear, but it isn't as harmful as you may think.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting IKE:
1.....2......3......4.....5....6......7....8....9...10...11..12...13....14....15....

# of posts questioning the NHC on highest winds.

16.....17....18...19....20...


Ike, I'm not against you or anything and I generally like your postings, but this is a blog. Everyone in here has the freedom to questions whatever they want to question. If you don't like it, ignore it. People should ignore you if they don't like the fact that you normally side with a very anti-hype process. It just gets old when people get bombarded for having their own opinion on things. People on this blog love hurricanes and most of them want to see one, like it or not. I don't want to see one because this one is pointed straight at me, but it's the nature of this blog. You can't blame people for having the passion that they do.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
5 years after K,,most dont know what occurred here, but they can tell ya the last 5 American Idol winners or Survivor.

Pfffth.


From Mobile to Houma was affected by that Historic Storm,..just becase some got wacked by 4 the year before,,some dismiss our impact cuz they saw a Lot of whats wrong still with America.

So the memory pains them seems.

Those of us who experienced her from NOLA to Pascagoula realize that "calamity knows no borders, only men's minds and maps do"...



Never wish for Calamity to strike your State or area..you just may get a tad more than you wished for.

Let em have it!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


60 mph TS to 80 mph Hurricane
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Gulf Of Mexico - Water Vapor Loop. Nuff said.


What are you seeing? I'm seeing some easterlies already affecting the northern most part of TD5. And I think, from seeing Levi's blog earlier, is that the ridge building in from the north will increase that easterly shear. Am I correct?
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 884
Quoting Drakoen:


Except that has not occurred yet.


I had noted how much a of a downcaster IKE has been the last few weeks

I understand wanting to combat some of the so-called "wishcasters" on here, but he never posts a forecast model if it develops a storm, and never says anything about the positive aspects of development. You rarely saw him post during Alex because the storm had nothing negative against it. If their is only 1 negative factor that may prohibit development of a system, he will focus on that one thing and completely ignore everything else.

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Quoting HurricaneKyle:
Its a wait and see, could be like the NHC is predicting, could be stronger. Never know, intensity is hard to predict. 85-87 degree SST's nothing to sneeze at.

I think the NHC has this dead on though.


Try 90 degree SST's!
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.