Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waterspout spotted near Vilano Beach a reminder that it is also Waterspout Season!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene downgraded and goes hybrid! No Way Jose forms in the Atlantic!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Well here is a once in a lifetime event you see above. New York City officially had the center of a hurricane make a direct landfall for the first time since 1893 close to 8:30 a.m. But wait! We got a later statement from the National Hurricane Center that the center passed over at 9:00 a.m. with 65 mph winds which made it a tropical storm. I had the center over the Big Apple at 8:32 a.m. when it was still classified as a hurricane. So you decide. The picture above is my evidence. Hmmmmm... Either way, this hurricane actually spared New York City the worst and everybody is breathing a sigh of relief. Now there will still be flooding  and power outage issues but the feared storm surge several feet high never materialized. A surge of only 3.5 feet above normal was reported and power remained on near Battery Park! The wind gusts were also not what you would normally see in a hurricane and the radar above shows why. There is no eye wall and the dry air and wind shear that started working into this hurricane overnight really took its toll.

Wind gusts of 30 mph? Wow and the eye of the hurricane is passing overhead! This is why I think Irene was more of a hybrid hurricane as it moved over the Big Apple. Notice the highest wind gusts were far from the center which is  more typical of an extratropical system. Your peak wind was over the Atlantic and up into New England. My friends in New England will have to hunker down today but it will not be anything they have not seen before. It will be like a strong nor'easter with a 4 to 7 hour period of 40 to 60 mph wind with only isolated higher  gusts along with numerous power outages and downed trees. By New England standards it will not be a huge deal. What will Irene's legacy be? I think it will be historic record crests on the area rivers that will in some cases be higher than Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The rainfall map below tells the story!

Notice the purple and deep blues on the map...those are 10-20 inch rainfall amounts or what some areas would normally see in a 4 to 6 month time frame. You combine this with a wet late summer and the news is not good. So I think Irene's real damage will come in the form of river flooding later this week and next weekend which means the wind may have been downgraded but the problems are just beginning. North Carolina really saw the brunt of this storm along with portions of Virginia where clean-up will take much longer due to its very slow movement over land yesterday. This helped folks farther north but was no help for residents from the Outer Banks to Jacksonville and New Bern where they will remember this storm as a monster.

The good news is my relatives in Maryland are safe and sound and the boardwalk in Ocean City is still standing but not before sustained winds of 60 mph were reported last night with a few gusts to hurricane force. The thing that saved us in this enormous hurricane was there really were never any reports of sustained hurricane force winds. Even when the center of Irene made a second landfall just north of Atlantic City overnight sustained winds only reached 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph. Let's take a look at the water vapor or atmospheric moisture located in the mid-levels for a clue as to what happened.

It does look like while this system was large there was enough dry air that was entrained into it by time it move north of the Outer Banks by late yesterday so its transition to a hybrid really began at that time and explains why most folks are breathing a sigh of relief in the Northeast. One other thing to remember is Irene lost its inner core on Friday afternoon so you can even say that it could have been a lot worse in North Carolina. It grew too big too quickly over the islands and it could not maintain itself. If it was a smaller storm it may have been a different story.

Now Irene is so huge it is sending us another surge of dry air today bringing us our second consecutive day of record-breaking heat here in Jacksonville. It hit 99 yesterday breaking the record and today we will at least tie the record of 97 set back in 1959. What is interesting about the picture above is look how quiet it is to the west of Irene. Nature like to keep a balance and since we had pressures near 28.11 inches on the East Coast there is plenty of dry air and higher pressure to the West to make up for it. North America has turned into a ghost town on the weather map! But it is still busy in other parts of the tropics....uh oh!!

Do not be spooked! My slogan with this storm is  NO WAY JOSE!! You can thank Irene's wind shear for keeping this system a weak tropical storm. There is a tropical storm warning for Bermuda but I am still trying to figure out if there is more sunshine or clouds with this system. Either way it should be history in a couple days and not make history like Irene. It has been quite a week and now it is time to count all of our blessings that is for sure. We had one of the five largest hurricanes of all-time move northward and it could have been a lot worse. Here in Jacksonville we just had a few minutes of rain and some refreshing breezes. No rain is expected this evening but when could our next threat in the tropics be and we are not talking Jose. I will have that answer and a cool weather question for you to keep you cool with another hot day on the way. See you soon. Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene makes landfall with 110 mph gusts and lashes us with record heat!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wow! I did not even need the coffee this morning! Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout just before 7:30 a.m. with 85 mph winds and gusts to 110 mph. As it was doing so it took out a pier at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina and our sister city Jacksonville, North Carolina had wind gusts to 94 mph! We can all count our blessings we live in the Jacksonville, Florida area. We woke up with a brief shower in the Golden Isles but that was it! Here are some more Irene facts and yes the streak is over!

The last time a hurricane hit the US was way back on September 13, 2008. Now one thing to not focus on with this storm is the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A lot of folks are under the false impression if the storm is only a category it is not harmful. This cannot be further from the truth. Tropical storms have been known to bring record flooding and this hurricane is not just any typical category one.

Size does matter with hurricanes and this one has cloud bands from Cuba to Canada or about 1,600 miles! Now what this means is a longer duration of wind and rain so by time all is said and done I do expect historic flooding and widespread wind damage. We have already seen 55 mph wind gusts as far inland as Richmond, Virginia. An unfathomable 17" of rain has fallen in New Bern, North Carolina and they are not even close to being done yet!

Here at home it is about epic surf and heat! We will likely break the all-time record of 98 degrees set back in 1954. Today is also all about the surfers for autism in St. Augustine. Even though that is a hot west wind it will make for some nice smooth surf. You see the nice 7-10 foot waves at Amelia Island yesterday. I need to learn to surf after seeing this picture sent in by John Adams. Thank you! Keep in mind surf will fall to 1-2 feet by late today so hurry up and catch the wave. Rip currents could still be a bit tricky but they are out of the dangerous range. Just have fun and be careful! Temperatures at 2 p.m. had already hit 97 in St. Augustine and 100 in Orange Park with a humidity of 34%. This is all due to Irene wrapping in dry air and a west-southwest wind being forced to blow into the center of Irene all the while cancelling the usual cooling effects of the sea breezes and storms we normally see this time of year!

Now for our friends and family up north. I think they would rather be having the heat right about now. There are already over a half-million power outages and there have been four fatalities. The track this morning shifted about 30 miles farther west so notice it looks like the eye could in fact be very close to Ocean City, Maryland by midnight. I think the Baltimore/Washington area will still escape the worse but flooding rain of 4 to 8 inches is likely along with 30-50 mph winds with isolated higher gusts. It will be a much different story for Rehoboth Beach Delaware that is in the red zone with 60-80 mph winds with gusts to 95 mph. A storm surge near 6-8 feet is likely with 15 foot waves crashing on top of that. Very scary.

Farther north the latest models show that westward shift and have Atlantic City possibly being grazed by the eye wall by late tonight and then heading right over New York City first thing on Sunday. Notice the large wind fields due to this storm not having a tight inner core and an unusually low pressure for a category one hurricane.

New York could see Isabel's eye and if it holds together as a hurricane it would be the first direct strike since 1938. I think a big concern has to be a storm surge of 6-7 feet with a tidal surge of 5 more feet and then pounding waves on top of that. You combine this with 10 inches plus of rain and you are looking at a disaster in the making. I just hope everybody heeded the warning. New England will see Isabel as a tropical storm but as we now know deadly flooding can happen with tropical storms and record crests will be likely on many rivers. We are looking at a long clean-up. I will keep you updated and I wish I had better news. Here at home we will not get back to any normal late summer weather for quite some time. Make sure to tune in and find out why. Take care and be safe my friends!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene heads north and a sleepless night for many

Friday and wee hours of Saturday, August 26, 2011

Yes, I am sleepless in Jacksonville. I do need to get some rest before Good Morning Jacksonville but it is tough when you are watching over friends and family farther north. Now if there is some good news it is that Irene as of 11 p.m. has 100 mph winds and she will continue to slowly weaken! You see the hurricane hunters reported an eye wall collapse. Here is a cool link showing the microwave satellite of Irene.

It is like an MRI for storms. You can see a distinct eye when it was a major hurricane with 120 mph winds and then it fades during the day today as the storm went under shear and some cooler waters to the north. The bad news is that this hurricane is abnormally large and really the size of Europe. So even though it will hit Ocracoke Island with wind speeds of a strong category 1 storm do not let the number fool you because in this case size means power and lots of it. It is pushing a lot of waves and water around and remember water has 1,000 times more power than air. So do not get caught up in wind speeds. I think flooding will be the big battle with this storm. So even if winds are not as high super-saturated grounds mean a ton of trees down. We also cannot forget there will also be a tornado threat.

But the good news is for points farther north our sustained hurricane force winds chances continue to diminish and the track has also shifted a bit east. Take a look at those red and purple colors showing the best chance of wind speeds at 74 mph or greater. It looks like by time this hurricane does make landfall most of your hurricane force winds will be gusts of 74 mph or higher which will keep devastating damage less widespread. It helps not having to worry about an eye wall! Now you have to keep in mind tornadoes will enhance damage as well and they will certainly be a threat along with deadly flooding. So while the news is more positive this storm will still be one for the books. Already we have had 70 mph wind gusts in Wrightsville Beach, NC a good 12 hours ahead of landfall. Amazing!

So how about my friends in Delmarva and up the Jersey Coast. Here is the latest track I have and I will update this by noon Saturday.

I also put in a few models you cannot find anywhere else that I agree with and you can see EAST is the trend. The trough to the west is not as strong and that will allow this storm to be guided more by the clockwise flow of the high pressure to the East. I do not hear anybody talking about the Albany, New York track anymore that is for sure. I will be back soon. I better get a little shut eye and you do the same!...

Irene brings brief wind gusts to 45 mph but the billion-dollar storm is moving away from the First Coast!

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a morning! I do not call this time of year my Super Bowl for nothing! I have been on the phone with friends from Maryland to New England while looking at the latest weather models, radar images of Irene and snapping shots of those impressive rain bands that drenched many kids going to school this morning. So let's get to it! Irene has passed 250 miles east of the First Coast and is moving away! What a breath-taking view from the International Space Station. The astronauts said it looked downright scary as they passed over it! We did have an official wind gust at St. Augustine of 38 mph with a quick 1.07 inches of rain. Meteorologist Tim Deegan reported a 45 mph wind gust in Jacksonville Beach. But as quickly as the rain came this morning it was pretty much all said and done and as expected most areas west of the river will not see a drop of rain.

I think Irene's clouds will even start clearing out of the area by late today and tonight. I love the tropical breezes and have the screen door open but we are only talking occasional breezes near 20 mph. If you are at the beach you could still see a few gusts of 30 mph but even the wind will start to slacken by late today. You have survived Irene and we are all counting our blessings!

But this is no time to celebrate, especially with our friends to the north in harm's way. I have a ton of family and friends up that way and have been telling my fam and friends in Annapolis, Maryland to make sure to have the flashlights and candles ready because power outages are looking more likely. So how will this storm end up behaving...well I think it will take a track similar to GLORIA like you see above. The year was 1985 and I believe the song Gloria was very popular. Here in 2011 we do not have an Irene song but many have been singing Come on Eileen. I love both of those songs as I am an 80s music junkie! Now good music but bad news! My areas of most concern stretch from Delmarva to Jersey, Long Island and New England. Gloria caused almost 2 billion dollars in damage by today's standards. Irene wil likely have a big impact on millions and will be another billion dollar storm.

With Gloria, wind gusts in Ocean City, Maryland reached 90 mph along with a few spots on the Jersey shore. Like 1985 I expect the eye to pass 50 miles east of Ocean City, Maryland or Marty's Playland on the boardwalk right near Thrashers where I have a ton of wonderful memories. Unfortunately the boardwalk was torn up back then and I am not sure how it will escape Irene's ire this time around.

Long Island had the worst of it with a direct hit from Gloria and it was still a category 2 hurricane with wind gusts of 115 mph reported on Long Island. Damage and flooding were widespread. The storm surge average was 4-7 feet along the coast. By time Gloria made it to New England it quickly weakened to a strong tropical storm but even Rhode Island had wind gusts of 92 mph! The pristine beaches and coastline of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire were spared a lot of damage because of the inland track it took. I think history will repeat itself with Irene and I have some New England friends on standby to update us here on the blog and newscasts this weekend. Yes, Mark in Rhode Island is ready!

So here are my latest impacts: Here locally high tides will run about a foot above average but I am not expecting much in the way of any coastal flooding. Dangerous rip currents will continue at least one more day and surf will build from 6 to 8 feet with occasional 10 foot sets. Enjoy, but be very careful surfers! Over the weekend the best surf day will be Saturday but the earlier you go the better as the surf will quickly fall from 4 feet in the morning to only 1 to 2 feet by late day with a strong west wind. Rip currents will still be moderate so only experienced swimmers should be in the water. Boaters will have improving conditions Saturday afternoon with seas down near 6 feet but still 10 feet well offshore. Sunday looks like the better boating day.

Now farther north: I expect a landfall from Irene in the Outer Banks near Cape Fear, a second landfall near Southhampton on Long Island (where I also love taking boat rides), and a third landfall near Groton, Connecticut.

Jacksonville, FL...20-30 mph winds with gusts to 45 beaches, rain less than one inch.

Outer Banks....80-100 mph winds with gusts to 115 mph, rain of 10-15 inches of rain.

Virginia Beach to Ocean City...50-70 mph winds with gusts to 90 mph, 8-12 inches of rain.

Jersey Shore...60-80 mph winds with gusts to 100 mph, 10-15 inches of rain.

DC, Annapolis, Baltimore...30-40 mph winds, gusts to 60 mph, 4-8 inches of rain.

Philly....35-45 mph winds, gusts to 65 mph, 6-10 inches of rain.

New York City 45-55 mph winds, gusts to 75 mph, 8-12 inches of rain.

Long Island....southern Connecticut and Rhode Island..55-75 mph winds, gusts to 95 mph, 10-15+ inches of rain.

Massachusetts, Central and Northern New England...40-65 mph winds, gusts to 75 mph, 10-15+ inches of rain

I will be back this evening with the timing and latest track of Irene...God bless America and may a more progressive trough coming in from the Midwest kick Irene even farther out to the East! Come on Irene!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Irene greets First Coast with wild skies, balmy breezes and high surf

Irene is officially in control of our weather but do not worry she is still not moving our way and the eye of Irene should pass 240 miles east of Jacksonville. You see the blue skies mixed with bands of dark clouds and brief showers. It is sunny one minute and raining the next and sometimes there is sunshine and rain at the same time. My Mom and Mandarin says this is weird and I agree with her. This is typical of tropical systems known for their wild weather that seems to change with those breezes that have blown in from the northeast.

Between the showers we have also had plenty of reports of rainbows. I was able to capture one but even the rainbows are not lasting very long. If you do not like the weather just wait a couple minutes. The clouds are whizzing by at 30 to 35 mph from the northeast. This is the result of Irene's extremely low pressure. The air is literally being sucked into the eye of the storm. At the same time the outer cirrus clouds or feathery clouds you see in our sky today is the result of Irene exhaling or what meteorologists call outflow. It is much like a human that breathes. What goes in must come out. So remember the fast-moving clouds are Irene breathing in and the cirrus clouds are Irene breathing out.

Now the weather blog question of the day is how do we know it really is going to miss us, after all look how close to home the eye can clearly see it near Elbow Cay and it is only about 410 miles from Micker's Beach. Well you can thank the science of meteorology for advancing quite a bit and the hurricane hunter flying this storm just to make sure several times a day. As I told my first-grader who was also concerned... they are flying in and out of it, dropping parachutes with instruments to see how Irene is behaving and updating billions of mathematical formulas around the clock to keep everybody as safe as possible here in Florida. Yes, Lauren felt a little better and I have been able to settle down a few anxious neighbors. This radar does look a bit scary with Irene staring us down and almost on top of us.

Do you realize that if this was 1999 we would be evacuating a few coastal areas of central and southern Florida because the error 24-48 hours out was twice as much. So we could not see as clearly or really know if this hurricane was indeed going to miss us. Now here in 2011 we are 99.9% certain Irene is heading away and at the same time able to save millions of dollars and keep people safe with no evacuations needed. Our 48 hour error has decreased from 150 to 200 miles in 1999 down to 80 miles here in 2011. Oh and by the way that is why we had mandatory evacuations from Floyd back in 1999. We have a long way to go but at least we are heading in the right direction.

Here is a recent look at what is happening in Nassau, the Bahamas where wind gusts have been near 80 mph. Now here at home we can expect wind gusts possibly as high as 45 mph at the beach and on the bridges with wind speeds mainly between 20-30 mph. The highest wind speed will be during the day Friday and by tomorrow night it will already start to ease a bit. Speaking of the wind the latest mathematical formula I just completed gives us a 1% chance of seeing wind speeds over 60 mph and just an 11.9% chance of sustained wind speeds of 39 mph or greater. Hopefully this can help us all breathe easier. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends in the Bahamas.

Due to Irene's ire the surf has kicked up in a hurry with 4 to 7 foot sets developing and by this time tomorrow we will see 7 to 10 foot sets. The good news is beach erosion should remain on the lighter side with a shift in the wind to the north and northwest Friday. Also there is only a 10-20% chance of a storm surge of 2 feet or greater for Northeast Florida which should also help our precious beaches stay better in tact. I want to thank the FEMA director Craig Fugate who I got to know quite well when I did weather in Gainesville for this link to help us see while we are okay at home things are not so fine farther north with a much bigger storm surge on the way for the Outer Banks. Check it out.

This brings us to the latest track. While it may have wobbled 20-30 miles closer to Jacksonville overnight in the short-term, which will cause no change to our forecast, it will mean much bigger changes farther north which includes the Outer Banks and Northeast. Focus on the two lines snug together in the middle of this model forecast. That is the track I agree with that takes it about 60 miles east of New York City on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Since there still could be a shift we cannot totally rule out a direct hit which would be the first one since 1893. Now those are the folks that need to be worried. A front to the north that was supposed to sweep it toward Martha's Vineyard is expected to stall which would draw the storm more north than northeast. Here is the breakdown on wind and rain impacts.

Jacksonville, FL...20-30 mph winds with gusts to 45 beaches, rain less than one inch.

Outer Banks....80-100 mph winds with gusts to 115 mph, rain of 10-15 inches of rain.

Virginia Beach to Ocean City...60 to 80 mph winds with gusts to 90 mph, 9-12 inches of rain.

Jersey Shore...65-90 mph winds with gusts to 100 mph, 12-18 inches of rain.

DC, Baltimore...35-45 mph winds, gusts to 60 mph, 4-8 inches of rain.

Philly....40-50 mph winds, gusts to 70 mph, 6-10 inches of rain.

New York City..50-60 mph winds, gusts to 80 mph, 10-15 inches of rain.

Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts...55-70 mph winds, gusts to 95 mph, 15-20 inches of rain

Central and Northern New England...40-65 mph winds, gusts to 75 mph, 10-15 inches of rain

These numbers are the worst case scenario and hopefully we can get this track going farther east once again but for now with the front expected to stall it is time to prepare for our Northeast friends. I will keep you updated. God bless.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Irene's first waves washing up on the First Coast

August 24, 2011

The big news today is that Irene has gained strength as expected with wind speeds of 120 mph as it moves northwest at 12 mph. The reports out of the Bahamas is not good with folks saying they have not seen a hurricane like this in decades. Some are comparing it to Andrew on this the anniversary of it making landfall as a category five in South Florida. Although Andrew as a much stronger storm when it went through the Bahamas with wind speeds closer to 140 mph. The eye is 20 nautical miles across. This is an incredible sight to behold. No matter how many hurricanes I have seen I always get goosebumps. You can see the power of nature firsthand.

Here is the good news! This powerful storm is still expected to miss us by at least 250 miles. The bad news is this hurricane is a bit larger than normal. So while we do not have to cancel plans this weekend I still would not go swimming or even boating until at least Sunday. Tropical storm force winds of 40 mph with gusts to 50 mph will be likely only 150 miles east of Jacksonville. Rip currents will be deadly and it is the third leading weather killer in the US over the last 10 years. Enough said.

Here are the main impacts:

1) Offshore boating is off limits

2) Deadly rip currents and beach erosion--while it helps having a north-northwest wind during the peak of our wind gusts, unfortunately this is the time of year for flood tides or high astronomical tides. We are near a new moon phase and the autumn equinox  less than 4 weeks away it exerts more of a pull on our high and low tides. A coastal flood advisory may be needed with tides running about 1 to 2 feet above normal.  The surf of 5 to 8 feet with isolated 10 foot sets will also pound the sand. A high surf advisory will also be needed.

3) Gusty winds will be likely near the beaches which may give us a high wind warning for the eastern portions of the area. While most of us will see wind speeds in the 15 to 25 mph range with gusts to 30 mph. The beaches could see 25-30 mph wind speeds with gusts of 40 mph. Yes, hold onto those kites and even if you do the wind may finish them off.

4) Rainfall still look low impact. I only see a quarter to half inch possible at the beaches and maybe a quarter inch for areas from 1-95 to the river. West of the river I cannot promise you any rain.

You can see the rainfall map and yes it is a little overdone over us but farther north a different story. Speaking of which I do think North Carolina misses a direct landfall by 10.5 miles by my latest calculations, but will see windy conditions. Charlotte will be missed by 330 miles so wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph are possible. Farther north the DELMARVA will have 40 to 50 mph gusts, flooding rain of 4-8 inches, isolated tornadoes, downed trees, and power if you have plans to go North I would cancel them. The major cities should be spared but all bets are off by time you get to Providence, Rhode Island northward where they could see Irene make a beeline north and it would be a stronger hurricane than Bob in 1991 unfortunately. This is one scenario starting to take shape. I will be back this evening to explain why this nightmare could be a reality. Take care and be safe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake Rattles East Coast and Irene battles Hispanoila

Checking in with you with more good news! Yes, we are officially out of the cone of concern and I am going as far as telling you not to cancel plans this weekend. But I still advise you NOT to swim in those deadly rip currents that will move in Thursday and not let up until Sunday. Irene in fact was battling some of those 10,000 foot peaks of Hispaniola and has now weakened to a category one hurricane. But I still think it will strengthen to a category 2, maybe a 3 for a short time before brushing the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Here is the spaghetti model that is quite appetizing!

Notice the average track supports my Outer Banks to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket track we discussed this morning and I was leaning toward yesterday. This is good to see, but we will still watch it carefully. I will be back with some earthquake stories to share. First off to swim practice!

Here is a great link at how the animals reacted to the biggest earthquake to hit the Washington, D.C. area since 1897. The Washington Monument may closed for some time due to cracks that were found and the National Cathedral actually sustained some damage.

Irene not so mean here at home but a different story from Carolinas Northward

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good Morning! I am happy to say with 99.9% certainty since you never say never with nature that Irene will miss Florida. The wind cone which I like showing more than the cone of concern since it gives you a better handle on where the damage impact will really be is still pointing to the Carolinas and points north. In fact it does look like it is curling toward Wilmington and the Outer Banks now which was what I was expecting. Notice here at home which includes our beaches we only have a 33% chance of sustained wind speeds of tropical storm force of 39 mph or greater. Even though Irene is expected to strengthen to a category 3 or 4 as it moves about 200-250 miles east of Jacksonville I do think we will escape the worst effects. Remember the most dangerous side of any hurricane is its north and east quadrant. So here is what I am thinking based on the latest data and if anything the wind forecast for our area has come down by about 5 to 10 mph over the last 24 hours.


1) High offshore seas will cause dangerous conditions for mariners, which could reach over 15-20 feet. Boating will not be advised from Thursday through the first part of the weekend.

2) Dangerous rip currents ( hard to believe this is the 2nd leading weather killer over the past 10 years but it is---you can go to the beach to check out the high waves but DO NOT SWIM)

3) High surf and beach erosion--Wave forecasts of 6-8 feet still holds with the highest surf on Friday. There could be a few 10 foot sets. This will pound the sand causing some beach erosion. The good news is the wind direction will not be northeast but north-northwest when the highest wind gusts hit  which will keep us from seeing a major event.

4) Wind gusts. I have wind speeds at the beach averaging 25-35 mph with maybe a few higher gusts near 45 mph. But you cross the Intracoastal and the wind should be in the 20-30 mph range. Farther inland across the river expect the wind to be in the 15-25 mph range. I am still not expecting any bridge closures. By time you cross the river the wind will be even lighter.

5) We will also have to watch for higher tides than normal but right now it looks minor especially with more of a land breeze winning out due to the hurricane staying to our east.

6) Rainfall---Very disappointing..maybe some brief heavy squalls for the beaches....but do not count on it...and areas near highway 301 may not see a drop of rain from Irene! Rain amounts well under an inch.

*This is a good average of what is likely to happen, but we will continue to fine-tune it as we get closer. But I do feel very comfortable with the big six above!

Next big question is how strong will Irene be. Are we looking at a category 3, 4, or 5? Looking at the  Atlantic water conditions compared to normal over the forecast path the water temperatures are actually normal to slightly below normal temperature-wise but still above the 80 degree threshold which allows hurricanes to develop and thrive. Farther north off New England waters are warmer than normal so if Irene could hold together longer and stronger. When all is said and done the worst effects from this tropical system will likely be felt farther north with areas from North Carolina to Maine and Nova Scotia really having to keep a close eye on this path. I am leaning toward a category 3 hurricane as it moves east of Florida and moves toward North Carolina and a tropical storm by time it moves to the Northeast.

Where is it going? Well let's look at climatology and my favorite model of choice out of the 80 weather models I look at. This morning my golden child of models has Irene making landfall between Jacksonville, North Carolina and the Outer Banks on Saturday and then from there it gets more complicated. I would not be surprised to see Irene make a run over those warmer waters toward Martha's Vineyard by Sunday night and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Monday. Wind gusts should still be near hurricane force with plenty of flooding rain possible. The farther north these systems go they drop heavier rain on their west side with higher gusts to the east. So for now Irene not so mean here at home but I am still concerned about North Carolina and points northward. Even the beaches from Delmarva and Jersey northward will likely see more of an impact from this storm than our Florida beaches. Stay tuned. Have a great day. I am off to OSPREY TV! We will certainly be talking hurricanes this morning.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Irene still expected to miss Florida, but the Carolinas need to stay prepared

Special Irene Update Monday Night, August 22, 2011

I have been showing you the cone of concern or the area where Irene could possibly track but it can be misleading especially if you are looking at the exact track in that cone. Last night the hurricane center had the storm's center tracking right over Jacksonville which I knew was not even close. I like looking at the probability of tropical storm force winds to get a better handle on where these finicky tropical systems are heading. Look at the red and purple shading which show the best chances of sustained wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Notice Florida is not in the red zone when it comes to the more widespread damaging wind and it is still pointing toward the Carolinas. So while our weather team has not given the official all clear here at home, I do think we can by tomorrow for sure. Make sure to tune in for the latest.

I do think this storm misses Jacksonville by 250 miles. This is important because it means I do think our sustained wind speeds stay between 20-30 mph with isolated gusts at the beaches to 45 mph. As a result I am not expecting bridges to be closed like we saw with Tropical Storm Fay. You need sustained winds of 35 to 40 mph and I do not see that happening.

More good news! Beach erosion will not be as bad with more of an eastward track. There will be some but not nearly as severe. I am leaning more toward a north wind Thursday night into Friday morning rather than a strong northeast wind which will help matters. Surfers should be excited but be careful of those rip currents. Latest surf estimates are still in the 5 to 8 foot range with maybe a few 10 foot sets!

But there is a help for our drought. Latest rain estimates from Irene should remain under one inch with some areas west of the river not seeing much more than a few drops.

Now back to our friends farther North. How will our friends in the Carolinas and farther north fare. Well this morning this storm was more on a Floyd type path but with the latest information I think it may be more Bonnie-esque which is a storm I covered in 1998 while doing weather in Myrtle Beach.

Take a look at its track. I do not expect another Bob for New England like we saw in 1991, but maybe history will repeat itself when we had a hurricane make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina before it heads out to sea. My gut feeling early this evening was this storm could possibly just skirt the Outer Banks but now I am not so sure. I am concerned that Irene is getting so strong so fast that it will have a tougher time making that fortunate turn to the northeast, instead of just making a glancing blow to the Outer Banks. These stronger hurricanes can sometimes create their own atmosphere in some cases and that is why you can never let your guard down. Think of how easy it is to turn a jet ski but Irene is more like a cruise ship so to speak. Those boats take a little more time to turn and if Bonnie starts speeding up, watch out!

Tonight, Irene is cruising along and now has 100 mph wind speeds and is about 15-20 mph stronger than forecasted so this can certainly have an impact on the track. There are two hurricane hunter planes flying around the storm tonight and they will have a whole new set of numbers to feed into the weather models. So by tomorrow morning I do think we will have a much better handle on the track. While I still think we are okay in Florida. I still have to be concerned about South Carolina as well as North Carolina. I do think New England should be spared the worst with a stronger trough in place. Take a look. The big dip in the jet stream is easy to see on this upper-wind chart.

The trough is much stronger than forecasted and I do not see it filling in over the next several days. Another reinforcing disturbance is already being spotted in Minnesota and another one behind that in the Pacific Northwest. So even though we have a monster hurricane it would certainly feel its effects and the big ship should be able to eventually be towed out to sea, hopefully before it creates too much havoc and damage. Another thing to note is the big circle over Texas. That is the high pressure that has brought them relentless heat and even a few heat waves this summer here at home. It is so strong that it is helping the strong trough develop in the East. So thank your friends in Texas. Their historic drought and heat wave is actually our best friends right now. I will keep you posted on Irene and hopefully we can give the official all clear for Florida in the near future! Good night!

Irene the menacing storm machine has Carolina on her mind and will impact millions

Monday, August 22, 2011

There she is and the news is not good for millions along the East Coast.  As expected Irene will end the hurricane drought. Yesterday afternoon I made the call that this system would stay east of Florida and likely head up to the Carolinas and as of 14 zulu (world weather time based on Greenwich Mean Time)  or 10 a.m. local time this morning I am still sticking to my forecast. If you have friends in the Northeast they will also see a big impact from Irene. I have already called relatives in Maryland and Delmarva and told them to batten down the hatches.

You see the convection really blowing up on the north side of this system which is a good sign for Florida, bad news for the Carolinas. These tropical cyclones usually track in the direction where most of the thunderstorm activity blows up. The power of nature and Irene was on display last night.  It was amazing how Irene actually strengthened into the season's first hurricane even though its eye went over Puerto Rico. Conditions are so favorable that there was no denying her hurricane status. Notice the fan shape on the satellite picture. That is a good indication of no wind shear and light winds aloft created by an upper high pressure system.

Irene is now in charge and the atmosphere will now be taking its cues from her. In fact since Irene is becoming so big and strong the likelihood of a hard right out to sea would be even less likely. I call it the bulldozer effect. Irene is like a big machine and once it gets on a roll there is no turning it around.

Latest wind speeds are up to 80 mph and I would not be surprised if it became a major hurricane with wind speeds topping 110 mph as it moves over the bath water and Gulf Stream on its track to the north over the next few days. The thinking all along was if this developed into a stronger hurricane which we said was on the table yesterday that it would move much farther north and east. That is exactly what is happening. Here is the path I showed last night at 6 p.m. and I think it still works although it may be about 100 miles too far west.  Even though it is expected to stay east we will start feeling local impacts by Thursday night into Friday with increasing wind and even rain. I am still worried about a lot of wave action with beach erosion. Surfers will have a choppy time of it with 5 to 8 foot waves on Friday at Jacksonville Beach. It will be tough to stand up on those surf boards with wind gusts topping 40 mph with isolated higher gusts.  Let's take a closer look at what will happen here at home.

We will feel the most impact on Friday with things improving by early Saturday morning. You see the tightly packed isobars telling us we will have to contend with wind. I still have most of our area in the 30-40 mph wind  zone with gusts near 50 possible. Athough areas west of the river will likely be in the 20-30 mph range. Look for some high wind advisories to be issued. It will not take much to topple a few trees that have been ravaged by the drought. Most of the wind should be in a 16-20 hour window starting late Thursday night and lasting through late Friday night. Speaking of the wind it will cause some beach erosion much like a nor-easter because the storm track will turn our wind to the east-northeast. This is not good news for some of our re-nourished beaches and South Ponte Vedra Beach that is already in trouble.

Surf will start increasing Wednesday with 2-4 foot surf. Expect 4-7 feet on Thursday and before it gets real windy that might be the best day, even though Friday the breakers will be wind-whipped and build from 5 to 8 feet. Saturday the surf will quickly fall from 3 feet in the morning to 1 foot in the afternoon due to a strong land breeze being sucked into the center of Irene.

Boaters beware and secure the dingys at the dock! I see waves building to near 15 feet offshore by Friday with even some 6-10 foot seas on Thursday. Get all the good fishing done by Wednesday. Irene is not playing around and I am expecting some 30 foot waves and then some well east of Florida as it moves east of Jacksonville by 175 miles on Friday evening.

Now what we have all been waiting for. How about the rain? Well the news is not so good. Since we are on the weak side or the side of the hurricane with sinking air our rain totals look like they will be held down. Earlier in the weekend we were sitting in the 7 to 10 inch range which I never bought I have downgraded us to the 1 to 3 inch range with much less amounts the closer you get to Interstate 75. But I think I would rather miss out on the rain because if we were still in the 7 inch plus range this would have meant a ton of wind damage, flooding issues, and power outages. No thank you.

So where is the hurricane heading? I think it is taking a Floyd track that we saw in 1999. Floyd caused over 6 billion dollars in damage with over 50 fatalities. Notice how it impacted not only the Carolinas but my beloved boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland and all my good friends in New York and New England. Time to make more calls.

Now keep in mind we are still in the cone of concern but I really think this is the big one for the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Until we can officially give the all clear for Florida make sure to stay tuned for the latest, especially with how strong Irene will become. We also cannot rule out sporadic power outages. As we found out with Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 it does not take much for a tropical system to cause a lot of trouble. Also, swimming at the beaches will not be advised from Thursday through Saturday due to dangerous rip currents.

Last but not least. I have to end this on a positive note. I am so proud of my first grader, seventh grader and high schooler....OMGosh...high school?...this was very tough to type for me....They all made it to school safely. You see Lauren or the baby of the family. Well I guess not a baby anymore. Where does time go?  It was very nice at the bus stop this morning but this afternoon I do expect a few storms to pop so make sure if you have any little ones you pick them up at the bus stop or they have a dry ride home. You stay safe and I will keep you updated throughout the week. Take care, peace!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We are in the cone of concern as Irene continues to gain strength in Caribbean

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here on the blog yesterday we talked about staying prepared as Irene was forming. I was also concerned about the hurricane drought across the southeast United States coming to a screeching halt. This morning it looks like the National Hurricane Center agrees. It has the latest track still moving toward southeast Florida and making landfall as a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 85 and gusts near 100 mph. Right now South Florida seems to be the area with the highest risk of a landfalling hurricane. But keep in mind we still have to see what happens after this system clears the islands.

The models are having a hard time in forecasting its intensity as usual. Some models have this thing with 40 mph winds by Thursday while others have a category three with 120 mph winds.  I am still on board with the hurricane intensity as Irene makes a move on Florida but hope I am wrong. So this is one of many reasons we all have to stay tuned and most of all stay calm and prepared.

While there is a consensus on this system tracking near Miami by Thursday night this could still change. A few models still have it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and even a few more having it skirting Florida and heading up to the Carolinas. This is why I think we should keep the cone of concern extending from New Orleans all the way up the East Coast. These storms can turn in a hurry a la Charley in 2004. Right now I am still leaning to an East Coast hurricane due to Irene repositioning itself overnight about 60 miles farther north.

Speaking of Irene notice the latest wind speeds being reported in the Caribbean. There have already been a few gusts of 30 mph in Puerto Rico. By late tonight hopefully San Juan has the hatches battened down with gusts near 80 mph likely. A hurricane warning is in effect. Notice the wind direction is also shifting more out of the northeast due to the atmosphere taking its cues from Irene. While the hurricane hunters kept the intensity of this storm at 45 mph after their morning flight I think this afternoon could be a much different story. The US Virgin Islands are now under a hurricane watch which includes St. Thomas. They have a brisk northeast breeze near 20 mph and tonight I see wind speeds of 50 mph with gusts near hurricane force. Here is what it looks like at Frenchman's Reef just after 11 a.m. our time.

You can see they have lost the nice clear sunny weather they have had over the last couple of days. Bands of rain and wind are now moving in and they will have to be on the outlook for possible severe thunderstorms tonight. So the blog question of the day is how much wind will we see from Irene? Well as we know things can change but as they stands right now most of the models do agree on it having a local impact in our area. Our entire viewing area including Georgia is now in the cone of concern as of the late Sunday morning National Hurricane Center update. I think it is a good call.

Here is a  map I mustered up this morning showing our South Florida hurricane weakening over land by Friday morning. You see the tightly packed lines of equal pressure or what we call isobars. The more of these you see the more wind due to a tight pressure gradient. The dark shaded greens are over us here at home represent sustained wind speeds that will be near 30 mph based on the track I favor most. The 50 mph winds extend to through Melbourne with the lighter green colors and your 50-70 mph winds are from near Vero Beach southward. Now if you add in wind gusts you can add about 20 mph. So that puts our area in the 30-50 mph wind gusts which can cause damage including downed trees and power outages.

Now a lot of folks have been wishing for a tropical system since we still need a lot of rain to end our ongoing drought. We will take a closer look at this on the news tonight. Be careful what you wish for. The problem is these tropical systems rarely behave according to plan. Usually you do not catch up on rain without flooding and wind damage. You also have to worry about power outages. Even though Irene should weaken as it moves north and will likely be a depression or tropical storm by time it reaches us and that is a BIG ASSUMPTION.....we remember what Jeanne did to us in 2004. Some folks were hit with power outages for 3 weeks. In 2008 Tropical Storm Fay spawned an incredible 81 tornadoes across the country and killed 36 folks. We want those bands of rain but not the tornadoes and of course we do have your two minute advantage to keep you safe if nature decides to go that course.

 So no matter if we are talking hurricane or tropical storm we are going to take Irene very seriously. We will also not focus on the exact storm track because it will likely be a system several hundred miles wide that will have a far-reaching impact on many. If you get a chance today this is a good reminder to go over your Plan B this week. Kids are getting back in school, some are returning from and or going on vacation. It does not look like a routine week by any means. So of course your weather team here at First Coast News has you covered. It looks like the wind, rain, surf and beach erosion will all start to pick up on Thursday with the worst of the storm Friday into early Saturday. Stay safe, plan wisely and I will see you soon.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Alligators not growling yet but tropics are making plenty of noise

Saturday, August 20, 2011
It was another fun start to our weekend on Good Morning Jacksonville! Now that is my scared smile you see there because for the first time ever I held a live alligator. The good news was he was only 2 months old. What I learned is they are strong and that their tails are powerful. I was tail-whipped a couple times. The nice folks from the Jacksonville Zoo came in this morning and I talked about Gators and weather. In one of my bazillion almanacs at home I read that gators growl before the approach of a hurricane. The experts gave this fact a thumbs up because gators can sense a change in air pressure which in turn can make them growl. Well this little guy was not growling but the tropics certainly are making a lot of noise! Chief Meteorologist Tim Deegan was talking about us heading into our busiest six weeks of the year and it looks like nature is right on cue.

I would not be surprised if we average at least one to two new named storms per week from now through the end of September. The conditions are ripe with near record warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures and a La Nina pattern which favors busy tropical seasons in the Atlantic basin. So we know about Harvey moving into Belize in Mexico today, but all eyes are on the tropics for Irene and yes Jose to form this week and at least one of those two will pose a threat to the United States. You can see why. We are in the cone of concern! I think Irene will be named before Jose and that is the one to watch. Jose which is just coming off the coast of Africa will likely remain out at sea. Now here is the latest on Irene. Let's look at the upper-air patterns to get a good handle.

Here is why we need to watch it closely. There is a lot of high pressure to the north of our developing tropical wave still located in the Central Atlantic. The invisible shield in the form of a deep trough of low pressure off the US East Coast that has been protecting us for a good portion of this season and last year is no longer there to protect us. You can see that clearly.

Also, the key to this storm is this storm is not getting its act together until later rather than sooner so with high pressure to its north it is essentially running out of time to curve out to sea. Here are the latest spaghetti models showing the tropical trouble. We are not quite sure of the intensity of this system or how its interaction with land may impact it but all the models have been consistent throughout the week of showing a formidable storm near South Florida by late week. Here is a good look at that below.

Notice we have a storm located near the Bahamas and Cuba by Thursday. It looks like it will be steered north-northeast around a high pressure in the western Atlantic and and a trough of low pressure to the north. This will turn the upper wind flow to the south-southwest and it would likely cause what could be Irene to impact Florida and possibly have a secondary landfall in the Carolinas. We do have to keep this in perspective though. This storm has yet to even form and we have a long way to go. But right now this system could pose the biggest threat we have seen to the United States since Ike in 2008 and the East Coast since Jeanne in 2004! It has been 2,520 days since we have had a hurricane strike Florida. This is too good to be true. This has been one of the quietest stretches in US history without a hurricane and unfortunately this streak of good luck seems to be running out. No matter where this storm ends up is a good wake-up call to double-check your disaster supply kit.

Last but not least a big thank you to Dodie Cantrell-Bickley our general manager who took this shot of the storm that rolled through the World Golf Village on this Saturday afternoon. Yes! It really is a team effort here at First Coast News. Thanks for the great shot Dodie! She did say the raindrops were unusually large and that is telling me there are a lot of ice crystals in the clouds which stuck together before melting. This tends to really electrify these storms. So while I am only calling for 20% coverage of storms today make sure you remember your lightning safety rules and be careful on the roads in those brief heavy downpours. I still think most of us miss out on the rain and by late day the majority of the shower and storm activity will be focused along Interstate 75. Have a wonderful weekend. Now back to burning the mid-day oil. It is way too busy to go home! I look forward to seeing you tonight at 6, 6:30 and 11!