TD 13 intensifying; Katia may pass uncomfortably close to U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on September 02, 2011

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Tropical Depression Thirteen formed last night over the Northern Gulf of Mexico and is slowly intensifying, but isn't in a hurry to go anywhere. What TD 13 will do is dump torrential rains along the northern Gulf Coast over the next three or more days. So far, rain amounts along the coast have mostly been below one inch. At New Orleans Lakefront Airport, just 0.32" inches of rain had fallen from TD 13 as of 10 am CDT. Some coastal regions have received up to two inches, according to radar rainfall estimates. TD 13 is generating a large area of 30 - 35 mph winds over the Gulf of Mexico. At 7:20 am CDT, winds at the Mississippi Canyon 711 oil rig were southeast at 47 mph. This is above tropical storm force, but the wind instrument was 348 feet (106 m) above the ocean surface, and winds near the surface were probably considerably lower, near 35 mph. Latest surface wind observations from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft support leaving TD 13 as a tropical depression. Long range radar out of Mobile, Alabama shows heavy rain showers building along the northern Gulf Coast, but these rain showers are not well-organized into spiral bands. Strong upper-level winds out of the west-northwest are creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear over TD 13, keeping the storm's heavy thunderstorms disorganized and pushed to the east side of the storm. However, latest satelllite loops show TD 13 is becoming increasingly organized, with a respectable spiral band forming on the southeast side, and an increase and areal coverage of heavy thunderstorm activity. This is very likely to be a tropical storm later today.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall from TD 13 from the New Orleans radar.


Figure 2. U.S. drought conditions on August 30. The rains from TD 13 have the potential to bring major drought relief to drought-stricken portions of the coast. Note how Eastern North Carolina is no longer in drought, thanks to the rains from Hurricane Irene. These rains also came close to putting out a persistent fire that had been burning in the Great Dismal Swamp near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Image Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Forecast for TD 13
TD 13's large size, ill-formed circulation center, and the presence of dry air on its west side due to an upper-level trough of low pressure argue against rapid intensification of the storm for the next three days. Also tending to slow intensification will be the slow movement of the storm, which will allow cold water from the depths to rise to the surface, thanks to wind and wave action. Tropical cyclones strongly cool the water's surface when they pass over it, as seen in the time vs. depth chart of sea surface temperatures during Hurricane Irene's passage along the New Jersey coast (Figure 3.) However, the Gulf of Mexico has some very warm waters near TD 13 that extend to great depth (Figure 4), so the surface cooling imparted by TD 13 will be less than that seen for Hurricane Irene. As TD 13 moves closer to the coast, more and more of its circulation will be over land, which will also slow intensification. NHC's 11 am EDT wind probability forecast for TD 13 gave the storm a 23% chance of intensifying into a hurricane by Sunday. Assuming TD 13 does not attain hurricane strength, wind damage and storm surge damage will likely not be the main concern--fresh water flooding from heavy rains will be the most dangerous impact. Also of concern is the possibility of tornadoes. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is currently not highlighting the Gulf Coast in their "slight risk" area for severe weather, due to the lack of enough solar heating to create instability. However, there will be plenty of wind shear in the lower part of the atmosphere that can potentially create spin in the coastal thunderstorms, and it is possible that as TD 13 intensifies, it may be able to generate several dozen tornadoes.

Coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the extreme western Panhandle of Florida will likely receive very heavy flooding rains that will intensify Saturday and peak on Sunday. These rains should be able to put out the stubborn marsh fire east of New Orleans that has brought several days of air quality alerts to the city, but may cause moderate to severe flooding problems in other areas. The latest rainfall forecast from NOAA Hydrological Prediction Center shows that a large area of 15+ inches of rain is expected over Southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi. The region is under moderate drought, so flooding problems will be delayed compared to what we'd normally expect from heavy rains of over a foot. Flash flood watches are posted for New Orleans and surrounding areas, and rainfall amounts of 1 - 3 inches per hour are possible in some of the heavier rain squalls. Ocean temperatures are near record warmth, 88°F (31°C), which will provide plenty of moisture for heavy rains, and plenty of energy to help TD 13 strengthen into a strong tropical storm. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf this weekend and early next week, which will likely make the motion of TD 13 erratic at times.


Figure 3. EPA, in conjunction with Rutgers University and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, has an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV, aka the Glider) deployed off the coast of NJ (since early August) continuously monitoring ocean temperature, density, salinity, sound velocity and dissolved oxygen at different depths. The AUV's path and data are displayed at the following website: http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/auvs/index.php?did =221&view=imagery. The plot of temperature versus time above shows that in the weeks prior to the arrival of Irene, the ocean was heavily stratified, with warm waters of 24 - 26°C (75 - 79°F, red colors) extending from the surface to a depth of 10 - 15 meters. A sharp thermocline existed at a depth of about 15 meters, and ocean temperatures were colder than 14°C (57°F, dark blue colors) below the thermocline. The strong winds and high wave action of Hurricane Irene on August 28 - 29 stirred up cold water from the depths to the surface, cooling the surface waters to 17 - 19°C (63 - 67°F). In the days since the hurricane, surface waters have begun to warm again. Thanks go to Kevin Kubik, Deputy Director of the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment for EPA Region 2, for making me aware of this data.


Figure 4. The total amount of heat energy in the ocean available to fuel a tropical cyclone, in kilojoules per square centimeter of surface area. Tropical cyclones that move over ocean areas with TCHP values in excess of 70 - 90 kJ/cm^2 commonly undergo rapid intensification. Waters that are warm to a great depth have the highest TCHP, and the Loop Current that brings warm water northwards from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico usually has the highest TCHP values in the Atlantic. Currently, we have an eddy that broke off from the Loop Current earlier this summer, now located a few hundred miles south of the Louisiana coast, that also has high TCHP values. Image Credit: NOAA/AOML.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia is continuing its long trek across the Atlantic Ocean today, and will not pose a danger to any land areas over the next five days. Katia is still struggling with dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. Latest satellite loops show surface-based arc-shaped clouds racing to the southwest away from Katia's core, a sign that dry air is penetrating into Katia's thunderstorms and creating strong downdrafts that are robbing the storm of heat and moisture. Katia is over warm ocean waters of 28.5°C, and these waters will increase in temperature to 29°C over the next five days. Katia will pass well north of the region of cooler waters stirred up by the passage of Hurricane Irene last week.

The models are split on when the upper-level trough of low pressure bringing the wind shear to Katia will move away, and the storm may spend two more days battling wind shear and dry air before the upper-level trough pulls away to the north and allows Katia to intensify more readily. It is still unclear how much of a threat Katia may pose to the U.S., but it is becoming increasingly clear that Katia will pass uncomfortably close to the U.S. East Coast. The trough of low pressure currently steering Katia to the northwest will lift out early next week, and a ridge of high pressure is expected to build in, forcing Katia more to the west. This decreases the danger to Bermuda, but increases the danger to the U.S. A second trough of low pressure is expected to begin affecting Katia by the middle of next week, and will potentially recurve the storm out to sea before it hits the U.S. However, the models differ widely on the strength and timing of this trough. Meteorologist Grant Elliot of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology in Perth pointed out to me yesterday that the long-range forecast for Katia has more than the usual amount of uncertainty, due to the inability of the computer models to agree on what will happen to Tropical Storm Talas in the Western Pacific. Talas is expected to hit Japan early on Saturday as a strong tropical storm, then race northwestwards into the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Talas is then expected to transition into a powerful extratropical storm in the waters south of Alaska. This storm will create a ripple effect downstream in the jet stream, all the way to North America, by early next week. The timing and amplitude of the trough of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast expected to potentially recurve Katia out to sea next week is highly dependent upon the strength of Tropical Storm Talas during its transition to an extratropical storm. The computer models are not very good at handling these sorts of transitions, leading to more than the usual amount of uncertainty in the long-range outlook for Katia. It will probably be another 2 - 3 days before the models will begin to converge on a solution for the long-term fate of Katia. Dr. Bob Hart's Historical Tropical Cyclone Probability web page suggests shows that tropical storms in Katia's current position have a 17% chance of hitting North Carolina, a 21% chance of hitting Canada, a 13% chance of hitting New England, and a 55% chance of never hitting land. One almost certain impact of Katia on the U.S. will be large waves. Long period swells from Katia will begin affecting the Bahamas on Sunday night, then reach the Southeast U.S. by Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, the entire U.S. East Coast will see high surf from Katia, and these waves will increase in size and power as the storm grows closer. Given the slow movement of Katia as it approaches the coast, plus its expected Category 1 to 3 strength as it approaches, the storm will probably cause extensive beach erosion and dangerous rip tides for many days.

94L
A well-organized low pressure system with a surface circulation but limited heavy thunderstorm activity due to high wind shear is 450 miles south of Halifax, Canada. This disturbance, (94L), is headed northeast out to sea, and is being given a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression by NHC. 94L is under a high 25 - 30 knots of wind shear, but this shear is expected to fall to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, by Saturday morning. However, sea surface temperature will fall from 27°C today to 25°C Saturday morning underneath 94L, and the storm will have a very short window of time to get organized enough to get a name. At this point, it's really a subjective judgement call on whether or not 94L is already a tropical storm.


Figure 5. A Portlight volunteer works to clear storm debris from Hurricane Irene in Hollywood, Maryland.

Portlight disaster relief effort in Maryland
Hurricane Irene heavily damaged the town of Hollywood, Maryland, when a tornado cut off electric power, water, and phone service. Portlight and Team Rubicon volunteers arrived before emergency personnel, after following up on a local tip. What they found was an isolated area whose plight was unknown to the larger community. Most residents were trapped at their homes by heavy debris. Portlight and Team Rubicon worked for two days to clear paths to each address, extract vehicles from debris, and cut down trees that constituted safety hazards. Portlight also instructed local residents how to operate and maintain chainsaws and safely clear debris. No other volunteer organizations or emergency personnel arrived at any time, and Portlight succeeded in meeting the specific needs of the underserved, unserved, and forgotten. Visit the Portlight blog to learn more; donations are always welcome.

I'll have a new post each morning over the coming holiday weekend; wunderground meteorologists Angela Fritz, Rob Carver, and Shaun Tanner will be handling the afternoon and evening posts. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting fulltimerver:


I tried to get all my friends in FL to exhale to the west but that didn't work either. Please, we have to be the only state begging for a tropical system.



It ain't over yet..
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Quoting ecflweatherfan:


I just dont see any model pointing it straight west to FL at this point, as they only go out 5 days in most cases. At that point it will still be well to our east, and there is a trough expected to be over the east coast at that point. Now, all things are possible... but there is no evidence as of this point to suggest that specifically Central Florida will be hit hard, seeing that is a very small target on a very large map. Not plausible at this point. Even the experts would not point out specifically which area will be targeted (if any) at this point.


not taking sides here...but have even been hearing on television by the mets that Lee has put a monkey wrench into forcasting Katia...a very large concern is that a high will build over Lee forcing Katia west...way more than the models initially picked up, the word they actually used was disconcerting....they even had a very infront of it...i know it isn't etched in stone as the 10 commandments are but it is a huge change from days ago being certain it would curve out to sea...
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Quoting wolftribe2009:
Now this is NEAT! It shows an upper level low racing out of the North West towards Africa before slamming on the breaks and turning around...

Link


That is a nice graphic. Thanks for posting it!
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884. 996tt
Quoting ecflweatherfan:


I just dont see any model pointing it straight west to FL at this point, as they only go out 5 days in most cases. At that point it will still be well to our east, and there is a trough expected to be over the east coast at that point. Now, all things are possible... but there is no evidence as of this point to suggest that specifically Central Florida will be hit hard, seeing that is a very small target on a very large map. Not plausible at this point. Even the experts would not point out specifically which area will be targeted (if any) at this point.


I can tell you that ASP is probably hoping and praying to mother nature, Gor or whomever that it does not go straight. Otherwise, they will be in for knee high surf for their $ 1,000,000.00 competition in New York. Exciting stuff.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Just for Good Measure, here are all of the Texas storms and all of the Florida storms. There isn't much overlap:





Wow, i knew a lot of storms have hit Fl but that is crazy its completely covered in that map!
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Quoting TXInaSpin:



I already tried that... Sigh! But we can keep hoping. Have Faith Texas..


I tried to get all my friends in FL to exhale to the west but that didn't work either. Please, we have to be the only state begging for a tropical system.
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The surface circulation with Lee is extremely large covering nearly the entire GOM... Link
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8898
Now this is NEAT! It shows an upper level low racing out of the North West towards Africa before slamming on the breaks and turning around...

Link
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Quoting Caner:
I've never seen anything quite like this...

It almost appears as though it is trying to convection wrap that entire ULL...

This is some kind of Frankenstorm here.

With multiple storms at the moment, comments like these will be much more valuable if you mention which particular storm it is you're talking about...
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Link

Check out the models on wave heights. The NE coast is not going to be a good place for a boat ride.
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Looking at the Houston NWS radar..rain right out of reach offshore..LEE IS A RAIN TEASE!
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872. MTWX
Quoting yonzabam:


Well, if everyone in Texas faces east and takes a deep breath . . .

the combination of the two should do it...
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Quoting flowrida:
Sorry I offended you, just my opinion. If you look at alot of the models right now, they have high pressure building in and forcing any storm in that time frame straight west


I just dont see any model pointing it straight west to FL at this point, as they only go out 5 days in most cases. At that point it will still be well to our east, and there is a trough expected to be over the east coast at that point. Now, all things are possible... but there is no evidence as of this point to suggest that specifically Central Florida will be hit hard, seeing that is a very small target on a very large map. Not plausible at this point. Even the experts would not point out specifically which area will be targeted (if any) at this point.
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Just for Good Measure, here are all of the Texas storms and all of the Florida storms. There isn't much overlap:



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Hi, all. I am in Cypress, northwest of Houston. The pressure has been dropping and the winds increasing since 11:00 a.m. Any significance? Probably not. Yes, I am wishcasting for some rain. TIA.
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867. Caner
I've never seen anything quite like this...

It almost appears as though it is trying to convection wrap that entire ULL...

This is some kind of Frankenstorm here.
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As a North Carolinian, this run scares the crap out of me.
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12Z ECMWF has Katia do a complete 180 off the NC coast, LOL.
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Quoting Hurlo:


Lee is heading back to Appomattox.
lololOL
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Quoting yonzabam:


Well, if everyone in Texas faces east and takes a deep breath . . .



I already tried that... Sigh! But we can keep hoping. Have Faith Texas..
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I have a question. If Lee meanders longer in the gulf and builds before going inland, will that make it more likely for Katia to go more west (due to low staying longer in gulf?

Hopefully that's not too dumb a question...
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Yesterday, I noticed conversations about the eye for Lee possibly relocating further south. Is that still in the realm of possibility? Why/how/when?
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Quoting yonzabam:


Well, if everyone in Texas faces east and takes a deep breath . . .


honestly wasnt trying to be a smart***...there is no way to control the weather...wish there was, for a lot of people's sake...
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Quoting wolftribe2009:
If you ask me, I think the upper low near Houston is Robbing Texas of any chance of rain from Lee


Perhaps the Upper Low will be Texas' friend and become the storm's center making the entire storm shift to the west. Ok that is wishful thinking but Texas looks like the need a Miracle if they are ever going to get any rainfall.

So bring all the wishful thinkers out!
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Quoting IKE:
Inland over central Alabama at 96 hours...993 mb's....




Is there somehwere I can find these frame by frame runs? I only see the link to the animated loop on the site which doesn't update until the entire run is finished.

Thank you
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Quoting flowrida:
Sorry I offended you, just my opinion. If you look at alot of the models right now, they have high pressure building in and forcing any storm in that time frame straight west


You're entitled to your opinion, whatever it may be. It is a weather blog after all.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Link?
nogaps
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Quoting SavannahStorm:


Methinks you missed a biggy (if you count Key West):


Man I always forget how close my namesake got to Key West! :P
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

These are the only two (if you count Key West and Sabine Pass) that I know about.





1900 Galveston storm came through the Dry Tortugus in the Florida Keys before hitting Texas.. close
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I was just thinking, a really cool product would be a program which could take each storm and based on track and intensity, match it with the closest storm recorded in the past. I know they have the one that takes a bunch of them that are within 2 degrees, but I am talking just one. That way everyone can be like OMG, its XXXXX!
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


i suggest you have everyone in FL take their fans outside, point them to the west and turn them on high then...only thing i can think of to make it stop going west...


Well, if everyone in Texas faces east and takes a deep breath . . .
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Quoting Drakoen:


Of course but this is different. We don't have a big deep-layered ridge advecting off the eastern seaboard prevent the system from moving northward.


True... let's hope some unforeseen steering pattern doesn't catches us off guard.
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Quoting wolftribe2009:
THIS IS COMPLETELY ASTONISHING!

Tropical Storm Lee is the 12th storm of the season.

IF Maria forms from the North Atlantic Low it will put 2011 in a tie with 2005!!!

Tropical Storm Maria formed on SEPT 2, 2005 to become 2005's 13th storm.




thanks, I just put this on my blog.. very interesting!!!!

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847. 996tt
Quoting tiggeriffic:


nope...finishing... :P

this blog use to be full of respectful, insightful and caring people...wondering what happened


Yep, ha, ha, nothing has changed here since I been a member. Even good people like Storm left due to all the respect back then in the good ole days. Just meant to be fun times. Jeez.
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Quoting nash28:


With each models run, the models continue to bend further westward with Katia. This could get a little hairy for the SECONUS.


UKMET from the beginning was the outlier on all the models and now slowly they leaning more towards the west. What are your thoughts about the UKMET model and should take notice?
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Katia's pressure down two mb:

AL, 12, 2011090218, , BEST, 0, 179N, 527W, 65, 989, HU, 64, NEQ, 30, 0, 0, 0, 1013, 275, 25, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, KATIA, D,
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Quoting Levi32:


My track remains between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda. That doesn't mean that the east coast shouldn't watch the system, because again, this pattern is dangerous and fragile, and thus these recurving storms are fuzzy things. As long as we have at least some models hinting at the possibility of Katia affecting the east coast under this pattern, then she is worth keeping an eye on.
This is what I am thinking as well. Though I think this is gonna be a nail biter and closer than I like to have. Might even get as close as Earl did last year. Models are gonna be screwy with 94L, Lee, and as per Dr. M's post even the typhoon around Japan. I think model consensus is not going to be too good for the next couple days.
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If you ask me, I think the upper low near Houston is Robbing Texas of any chance of rain from Lee
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Recon flying out of Virgin Islands ?
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Quoting ecflweatherfan:



What is up with these stupid a-- trolls on here! With no meterological evidence to support their theories. Poof, troll! Go back under the bridge where you came from.
Sorry I offended you, just my opinion. If you look at alot of the models right now, they have high pressure building in and forcing any storm in that time frame straight west
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

These are the only two (if you count Key West and Sabine Pass) that I know about.





Methinks you missed a biggy (if you count Key West):

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Oh boy.... Look at Lee's convection waning. DMin soon, dry air, AND shear?

ALSO
Are y'all ready to retire another K name from this list?
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Quoting nofailsafe:


There's a bit of a breeze out of the east, nothing else though really. I'd be worried about elevated fire danger up north of here especially if Lee's sucking in a bunch of dry air.

HOUSTON NWS AFD

GOOD CALL ON YOUR PART OBVIOUSLY..
FIRE WEATHER...
AN ELEVATED FIRE WEATHER DANGER CONTINUES FOR TODAY. THE BIGGEST
CONCERN WILL BE FOR WINDS GENERATED BY THE PRESSURE GRADIENT
BETWEEN TROPICAL DEPRESSION THIRTEEN SOUTH OF LOUISIANA AND THE
HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE OVER THE INLAND COUNTIES OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS.
BECAUSE OF THE HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE...WINDS ARE ONLY EXPECTED TO
REACH TO AROUND 15 MPH TODAY WHERE THE HUMIDITY LEVELS FALL TO
BELOW 35 PERCENT. HOWEVER...THERE IS A CHANCE THE WINDS WILL
INCREASE AND THE HUMIDITY WILL FALL FURTHER. DRY AIR IS EXPECTED
TO BE ENTRAINED INTO THE AREA AROUND AN UPPER LOW THAT WAS LOCATED
JUST SOUTH OF THE SABINE RIVER.

CONDITIONS ON SATURDAY LOOK TO DETERIORATE FURTHER AND ISSUED A FIRE
WEATHER WATCH FOR LOCATIONS GENERALLY NORTH OF A LINE FROM
CORRIGAN TO HUNTSVILLE TO COLUMBUS. DEPENDING ON THE EVENTUAL
STRENGTH AND TRACK OF THE DEPRESSION...STRONGER WINDS AND DRIER
CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY.
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Quoting 996tt:


Are you serious? Rhetorical so don't answer, but seriously. You guys say this over and over like some wierd OCD superstitous thing. We get it. You guys need rain and you guys WANT a hurricane or tropical storm.


Pardon me, please point out any post in which I specifically stated I WANT a hurricane to hit me here in Texas. You keep putting words in my posts that simply are not there. I wrote yesterday I have property and family here with me in Kemah and that I did NOT want a hurricane but a good soaking all over Texas.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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