Nate almost a hurricane; Maria remains disorganized

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:05 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

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An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft is in Tropical Storm Nate, and has found winds much stronger than the storm's satellite appearance would suggest. At 2:17 pm EDT, the aircraft measured winds at their flight level of 1500 feet of 93 mph, which would ordinarily support upgrading Nate to a Category 1 hurricane. Surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument were about 70 mph, suggesting that Nate is indeed very close to hurricane strength. However, latest visible satellite loops show that if Nate is a hurricane, it's only half of a hurricane. Nate's low-level center is exposed to view, due to northeasterly upper-level winds that are creating a moderate 10 knots of wind shear. This shear is keeping all of Nate's heavy thunderstorms pushed to the south side of the center, and the northern half of the storm almost cloud-free. Sustained winds at Buoy 42055, about 140 miles to the northwest of the center of Nate, were just 28 mph at 3:50 pm EDT this afternoon. Water vapor satellite loops show that there is a large area of very dry air from Texas to the north of Nate, and this dry air is keeping the northern half of the storm dry.

Nate will meander in the Bay of Campeche for several days, and the computer models are sharply divided on what happens early next week to the storm. A ridge of high pressure is expected to build in to the north of the storm, potentially forcing it westwards to a landfall in Mexico. However, our two best-performing models last year, the GFS and ECMWF, predict that a weak trough of low pressure expected to move across the U.S. early next week will be strong enough to turn Nate northwards towards an eventual landfall along the northern Gulf Coast. We will have to wait until the NOAA jet makes its first mission to sample the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico to get a better idea on how probable this northern path might be; their first flight will be tonight, and the data will make it into the 8 pm models runs that will be available first thing Friday morning. As far as intensity goes, the very dry air to Nate's north should begin being less of a problem for it by Friday, when the upper level winds shift more to blow from the southeast, and the shear drops to the low range, 5 - 10 knots. Since the storm is moving very slowly, it will upwell cooler waters from the depths that will slow intensification, though.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Nate.

Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Maria barely survived as a tropical storm today, but is now making a bit of a comeback. Satellite loops show that Maria has been badly ripped up by the 10 - 20 knots of wind shear affecting it. The low-level center has been exposed to view most of the day, and surface arc-shaped clouds have been racing away from the storm to the west this afternoon, indicating that dry air has been getting into Maria's thunderstorms and disrupting the storm. However, the areal coverage and intensity of Maria's thunderstorms have increased a little in the past two hours. Maria is passing close to buoy 41040, which measured sustained winds of 36 mph, gusting to 45 mph, at 2:50 pm EDT.

Wind shear is predicted to fall to the low range on Friday as Maria approaches the Lesser Antilles. In addition, as I noted in this morning's post, Maria will be encountering an atmospheric disturbance known as a Convectively-Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW) that is currently passing through the Lesser Antilles Islands. There is a great deal of upward-moving air in the vicinity of a CCKW, and will help strengthen the updrafts in Maria's thunderstorms, potentially intensifying the storm. None of our models are detailed enough to "see" CCKWs", so we may see more intensification of the storm than the models are calling for. I believe Maria will continue to organize and arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands as a tropical storm with 50 - 60 mph winds. The latest run of the GFDL model predicts that Maria will be a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon when it moves through the Virgin Islands, and a Category 2 hurricane Sunday night when it moves through the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is on the high end of what is possible, and I think it more likely that Maria will be a tropical storm with 50 - 60 mph winds in the northern Lesser Antilles, 60 - 70 mph winds in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and a Category 1 hurricane in the Turks and Caicos Islands--assuming passage over Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic does not significantly disrupt the storm. A lower intensity, as forecast by NHC, is certainly quite possible, as Maria may continue to struggle with the dry air and wind shear besetting it.

The latest computer model runs have been trending more southwards, and the Northern Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahama Islands are all at high risk of a direct hit by Maria. The models are split on how strong the steering influence a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast will have once Maria approaches the U.S. East Coast. Most of the models foresee that Maria will turn north before arriving at Florida, and potentially threaten North Carolina, Bermuda, or Canada. The latest run of the GFDL model, though, brings Maria through the Bahamas to a point just 100 miles southeast of Miami as a hurricane on Tuesday afternoon. While this forecast is an outlier, and it is more likely that Maria will turn north before reaching Florida, it will be another two days before we will have a fair degree of confidence on when Maria will curve to the north.

Lee's rains trigger historic flooding in New York and Pennsylvania
An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49" of rain fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a greater than 1-in-100 year rain event; their previous all-time record was set last September, when 4.68" fell on Sep 30 - Oct. 1, 2010. Binghamton has also already broken its record for rainiest year in its history. Records go back to 1890 in the city. The rain has ended in Binghamton, with this morning's rain bringing the city's total rainfall for the 40-hour event to 9.02". The Susquehanna River at Binghamton has risen to 25.69', its highest level since records began in 1847, and is now spilling over the flood walls protecting the city, according to media reports. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 19' over flood stage, and more than 9' above its record flood crest. Widespread flash flooding is occurring across the entire area, and over 120,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.


Figure 2. Seven-day precipitation amounts from Tropical Storm Lee and its remnants. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 3. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton has crested this afternoon at its highest flood height on record, 25.69'. Records at this gauge go back to 1847. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 4. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 19' over flood stage, and more than 9' above its previous record flood crest. The river is forecast to crest at 27.2' (green lines are the predictions.) Records at this gage go back to 1930. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

The extreme rains are due the the remains of Tropical Storm Lee interacting with a stationary front draped along the Eastern U.S. Adding to the potent moisture mix last night was a stream of tropical moisture associated with Hurricane Katia that collided with the stationary front. You don't often see a major city break its all-time 24-hour precipitation record by a 60% margin, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and he can't recall ever seeing it happen before. It's worth noting that the Susquehanna River Binghamton stream gage, which has been in operation since 1847, is due to be shut off in 3 weeks due to budget cuts. Here's the note at the USGS web site:

NOTICE (03/23/2011)--Data collection at this streamgage may be discontinued after October 1, 2011 due to funding reductions from partner agencies. Although historic data will remain accessible, no new data will be collected unless one or more new funding partners are found. Users who are willing to contribute funding to continue operation of this streamgage should contact Rob Breault or Ward Freeman of the USGS New York Water Science Center at 518-285-5658 or dc_ny@usgs.gov.

I'll have an update in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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1127. Sangria
Quoting Jedkins01:



Me too, I live in north Pinellas County, Ive had 61.23 inches this year now, and most of that falling since when the rain season finally kicked in late June.

Last year I had only 39 inches for the entire year, which is 13 inches below normal. This year I'm already above normal.

Its rain so much, for quite a while now that even on dry days, water is literally coming out of the ground and draining into the drain gutters even if it hasn't rained. Wherever there is grass, it feels like you walk on a soaked sponge lol.

We certainly don't need a hurricane, we never do, and we don't want one. Thank God we haven't had to deal with them in a while. Texas does not need one either, it won't solve the problem, it will bring more destruction than help. Even if it brought enough rain, it would bring devastating floods than return to drought. Texas needs a long term pattern change, it will take a while to get heavy rains falling in an area that parched, just look at the dust bowl, for example.


And as I sit here and read the blog....it begins again. I am in Pasco (NPR), and the rain has just started up..
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1126. Dakster
Quoting SPLbeater:
still waiting...


Yep. Me too...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10572
1125. hahaguy
Quoting Dakster:
We won't have to worry about a 30 - 34 score anymore...



Great game. Good way to start off the season.
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still waiting...
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Wow! did anyone see that kickoff return for a touchdown? One heck of a football game between the packers and saints.
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1122. DFWjc
Quoting TampaSpin:



Maybe 45 - 42 score tho..........LOL! Good game a going!


if it wasn't for that GB td return, and 2 sacks.. my DEF points would be 1.0..
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10:00 PM CDT Thu Sep 8
Location: 19.7°N 92.2°W
Max sustained: 70 mph
Moving: Stationary
Min pressure: 994 mb
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1726
1120. Swede38
Quoting Grothar:


Jeg er ikke så gammel. LOL What state are you in now?
\\

I am Gammal.70+,dont feel like it at all,but still learning every day here. Fascinating.
NC.

Lets both hang in there OK!!!
Tollarp,Skane-Long,long time ago.
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Quoting wxobsvps:


I will be responsible when it matters.


Like I said though, we still don't know for sure that the US avoids either of them. Until there are no outliers amongst the reliable models, we cannot breathe easy. Remember, anytime a model is forecasting something, it is doing so for a reason. Whether or not that possibility is large is irrelevant.
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Quoting Dakster:
We won't have to worry about a 30 - 34 score anymore...




Maybe 45 - 42 score tho..........LOL! Good game a going!
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1115. Dakster
Katia is out. Waiting on Nate and Maria.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10572
Quoting jrweatherman:
The winds the the NHC lists for storms are bullcrap. Find me sustained 90mph in NC when Irene made landfall. Look at these winds at the surface. You tell me that this is a 70mph tropical storm. No way!




Recon doesn't lie.
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Quoting Grothar:


Thanks scooster!. Actually since I couldn't get on the blog, I watched Judge Judy. Felt just like being on the blog. :)


Did you see any of us on there?
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1112. DDR
CaribBoy what island are you on?
Hope you are prepared?
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11:00 PM AST Thu Sep 8
Location: 36.3°N 68.8°W
Max sustained: 85 mph
Moving: NE at 21 mph
Min pressure: 973 mb
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1726
waiting on advisories
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1109. Dakster
We won't have to worry about a 30 - 34 score anymore...

Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10572
Quoting wxobsvps:
Both Maria and Nate are going to be misses for CONUS. We can rejoice.


Ignorant comment.
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Quoting Jedkins01:



Me too, I live in north Pinellas County, Ive had 61.23 inches this year now, and most of that falling since when the rain season finally kicked in late June.

Last year I had only 39 inches for the entire year, which is 13 inches below normal. This year I'm already above normal.

Its rain so much, for quite a while now that even on dry days, water is literally coming out of the ground and draining into the drain gutters even if it hasn't rained. Wherever there is grass, it feels like you walk on a soaked sponge lol.


Really? 61.23"... must be nice to have above normal rain. Over here on the east side of the state, even with a lot of Westerly steering flow this wet season, I have only managed 29.87" on the year so far. Below normal over here. I just dont get it either, westerly flow, you all are getting a lot of rain (typically a very wet pattern for the eastern peninsula, one would think drier for the western side), easterly flow, you get a lot of rain (typically a wet pattern for the western peninsula, dry eastern peninsula)... argh!!! It is driving me bananas.
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Quoting BDADUDE:
Katia passing by.
That camera must have bad delay, because I don't see Her in this picture :)
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
1101. Grothar
Quoting scooster67:
Gro,

It's great to have you back and posting again. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like I've known you more than a year on a blog.

I bet you've been watching "land of the lost" reruns or something :)


Thanks scooster!. Actually since I couldn't get on the blog, I watched Judge Judy. Felt just like being on the blog. :)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26955
Quoting 19N81W:
not sure how maria or whatever it is is going to pass pr at this point...it would have to turn almost 70 degrees....


WHen the NHC is forecasting a turn, they are usually right. Let's trust them ;) They are the experts
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6440
Quoting Grothar:


I think the models are going to change on the next runs. It should begin a turn Northwest then North.

img src="">


Glad your feeling better!!!!! Models should shift more to the West and South on the next run!
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1097. luigi18
Quoting sunlinepr:


Maybe You can have that pina in Tambuktu / Sandy Beach in Rincon....


nice
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Quoting Dakster:


Coming from the Banana Republic (as we are often called), that sounds appropriate.


I used to be in a band called Ba'Nana Republic.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 595
Quoting wxobsvps:
Both Maria and Nate are going to be misses for CONUS. We can rejoice.


Don't be irresponsible. While that's obviously the most likely option, it is still a bit too early in the game to be sure.
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11PM advisories are coming SOON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6440
Quoting BDADUDE:
Katia passing by.
How do you know Her name is Katia?
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Hi folks,
Thought I would chime in with a few thoughts.
Irene and Katia were close to the CONUS for a direct hit, but ended up doing the ole curveball to the Northeast(not withstanding, that Irene did hug the eastern seaboard a little bit too close for comfort).
Maria, has the looks of taking the same course. It is interesting to note Maria has had her share of problems trying to get more organized, when she had the looks of ramping up early off the African coast. If she hangs on, The CCKW aspect that Dr Masters mentioned may play a big role on Maria's initial reintensification once she reaches the NE Carribean. Also, as we all know, weaker storms tend to follow a lower track than stronger storms, which are more poleward biased. Maria is something to definitely be watched for Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Southeastern states up through New England
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1089. Grothar
Quoting Swede38:

Sure am,Gamla van
MVH


Jeg er ikke så gammel. LOL What state are you in now?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26955
1087. 19N81W
not sure how maria or whatever it is is going to pass pr at this point...it would have to turn almost 70 degrees....
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Quoting Grothar:



After all, it is a developing model! What did you expect.
Gro,

It's great to have you back and posting again. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like I've known you more than a year on a blog.

I bet you've been watching "land of the lost" reruns or something :)
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Quoting Grothar:


I think the models are going to change on the next runs. It should begin a turn Northwest then North.

img src="">


Have you heard any news on your house?
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1084. DDR
.
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Kati look good/better then she has in last day or so. Maria looking better. Nate looking better. wtf wrong with intensifying tonight?
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Quoting JLPR2:


Link


Thank you! but did a little effort to find it just before you post it lol
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6440
Quoting Sangria:


WOW.....

I am just 30 miles north of you, and I cannot believe you would say that. We have been inundated with precip for the last few weeks. Not only that, who in their right mind would want, let alone "need" a hurricane. The only State I can think of is TX at the moment...and they truly need some type of storm, short of a Hurricane.



Me too, I live in north Pinellas County, Ive had 61.23 inches this year now, and most of that falling since when the rain season finally kicked in late June.

Last year I had only 39 inches for the entire year, which is 13 inches below normal. This year I'm already above normal.

Its rain so much, for quite a while now that even on dry days, water is literally coming out of the ground and draining into the drain gutters even if it hasn't rained. Wherever there is grass, it feels like you walk on a soaked sponge lol.

We certainly don't need a hurricane, we never do, and we don't want one. Thank God we haven't had to deal with them in a while. Texas does not need one either, it won't solve the problem, it will bring more destruction than help. Even if it brought enough rain, it would bring devastating floods than return to drought. Texas needs a long term pattern change, it will take a while to get heavy rains falling in an area that parched, just look at the dust bowl, for example.
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1079. Swede38
Quoting Grothar:


It should get interesting in the next few days.

(Hei, fetter! Er du svenske?)

Sure am,Gamla van
MVH
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1078. Grothar
Quoting HurricaneObserver:

That really looks like Maria is headed straight for Florida.


I think the models are going to change on the next runs. It should begin a turn Northwest then North.

img src="">
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26955
Kati sure did some upwelling
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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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