Sky watchers across the country will get a special treat this Saturday night. The moon will be full as it reaches its closest point in its orbit around the Earth. Scientists call this a Super Moon because it appears 14 % larger than normal.
Scientists will be capturing numerous pictures of the event. Here in New Orleans, the moon will be full at 10:36 pm. For best viewing, if you’re enjoying a few Cinco De Mayo cocktails, stay up and catch the best show when the moon sets between 3 and 4am.
This weekend is going to be HOT!, especially across the deep South.
The upper Midwest will continue to see stormy conditions as an upper level ridge continues to dominate the forecast for the central and eastern United States.
For your latest television forecast, click here!
After weeks and months of dry weather and drought, rainy relief looks to be on tap for Louisiana and Texas. The United States Drought Monitor currently has most of these two states in at least severe drought.
On the above maps, areas that are in orange are experiencing severe drought, in light red are in extreme drought, and in deep red are in exceptional drought.
That may all come to an end or at least be greatly reduced out by what is now Invest 93l in the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
Rain from the area of disturbed weather, at least initially, will be a good thing for the Central and Western Gulf Coast which has been dealing with wildfires, dying crops, and stifling heat all due to the recently extremely dry pattern. Unfortunately, though, it may be too much of a good thing. Not only will rain fall, heavily at times, beginning on Thursday, but it also could continue on Friday, and perhaps last through the weekend, and even possibly into early next week. Though folks in the Deep South and Texas need the rain, they don’t need it coming down in torrents and they don’t need it coming down all at once and unfortunately, it appears that’s what this batch of tropical moisture is set to do. In fact, government forecasters at NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center are calling for over 6 inches of rain in some parts of Southeastern Louisiana through Saturday, and that’s just potentially only half-way through the event!
The reason for this expected inundation of rain is due to the fact that the disturbance is going to initially move northwest toward the coast, accompanied by plenty of Gulf moisture, but then as steering currents gradually break down over the next several days, the system may meander or just plain stall somewhere south of Louisiana or Texas.
Another potential issue, as you can tell from several of tracks above, is the system will stay over the Gulf of Mexico for a period of time from a couple of days, with the faster models, to perhaps up to a period of nearly a week, taking into account the slower, meandering models. Even at a weaker intensity, the system will bring torrential rains, gusty winds, and possible coastal flooding to the Central Gulf Coast, but should it spend a prolonged period over the near-90-degree Gulf of Mexico, development into a tropical cyclone with more damaging effects could be possible and, in the case of the slower models, the effects could last for days. If it were to become a named system, it would be Lee.
Of course, the tracks are still in a good bit of disagreement and there is talk of some persistent wind shear over the Northern Gulf detrimental to tropical development. Therefore, nothing, by far, is written in stone, but the National Hurricane center now gives this disturbance a high chance of becoming our next tropical depression over the next 48 hours.
When I started this website, part of the intention was to throw attention to the local meteorologists from around the country; especially when it comes to covering major storm events. I have links to all the local TV forecasts right here on my website for that reason. Local forecasters really do the best job of informing the public during day-to-day and major event forecasting.
At the beginning of last week, when it became apparent that the northeast would be bracing for a rare hurricane, I started researching hurricanes that have hit New York City. At the same time, I started linking my website to other TV stations in the line of fire: Wilmington, Norfolk, New York City. I happened to watch Lee Goldberg of WABC in New York. He’s a favorite of my mother-in-law’s–and her son, my husband, is a meteorologist.
Goldberg was taking a look back at the hurricanes that have affected New York City and the northeast. There are a couple noteworthy ones; the 1821 Norfolk/Long Island Hurricane, the 1893 NYC Hurricane, the 1938 Long Island Express and the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane. Then, there are a couple of noteworthy storms of recent memory: Hurricane Donna, Hurricane Gloria and Hurricane Floyd. (For hurricane research, you can also go to the National Hurricane Center website, but storm information only goes back to 1958.)
Goldberg decided the storm that came closest to Irene was Floyd. I applaud him for his bravery. Other national outlets were forecasting Lower Manhattan, Queens and other areas would be under water. He was forecasting major power outages and flooding rains from torrential downpours. He forecast that some low-lying areas would take on water. I can’t quote him on every thing he said, his forecast was very area specific because he knows the area. I don’t. I live in New Orleans. I can look at maps, try and find elevations levels, figure out which areas face the water, figure out all the inlets and outlets, which areas are prone to flooding, which areas are better protected. I can look at the bathymetry of the coastline and try and figure out why certain areas will flood and some won’t. I’ve done it for hurricanes here.
But honestly, that kind of research can take years. When you are forecasting for a local TV market, you take the time to look up all that information, so you can give an accurate and meaningful forecast. You live in the area you are forecasting, amongst the people you are forecasting to. When you broadcast for a national outlet, you’re just trying to get viewers.
I rarely comment in this blog. But watching the misinformation provided by national media outlets made me turn the cable TV off this week, and rely on my online TV forecasters. The ones from the local markets, the ones who actually care what speed the winds are, how much rain they get, how high the storm surge will actually be. They try and give an accurate forecast because they are personally relying on it.
To track Irene, go to MWL’s hurricane tracking page. Latest track available from National Hurricane Center. You can check out expert weather bloggers on the links to your left. I’ll have more analysis of Hurricane Irene later in this post.
I’ve been researching land falling hurricanes close to the track of Irene and it appears Hurricane Floyd (1999) may be the storm with the closest track and intensity to estimate the damage residents along the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast can expect.
Floyd made it’s first US landfall in Cape Fear, North Carolina on September 16th as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds. (Hurricane Irene currently has maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. It is 265 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.)
With maximum sustained wind of 105 miles per hour, storm surge along the southeastern portion of the state was 9 – 10 feet. This caused significant destruction along coastal communities. Most of the damage from Hurricane Floyd occurred as a result of inland flooding. Rainfall totals from 15-20″ of rain fell across portions of the state. River levels were high as a result of Hurricane Dennis passing through North Carolina weeks earlier, dumping 15″ of rain. (Coincidentally, another Hurricane Irene passed by North Carolina weeks after Floyd, dumping even more rain on the state.)
Floyd continued to move north toward Virginia, crossing the Delmarva Peninsula, briefly entering the Atlantic Ocean once again before making another landfall as a tropical storm in Long Island, New York. Torrential rainfall was reported in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and other portions of the Northeast and New England. Floyd produced a storm surge of 2.8 feet in Philadelphia. The greatest threat from Floyd was widespread power outages ( close to 1.3 million people in three states) due to strong winds and heavy rains. Mudslides occurred along bluffs overlooking the Hudson River due to heavy rains.
Irene tracked due north for the past 12-hours, but as of the latest advisory has made turns to the north-northeast.
Dry air is being pulled into the storm from the south and southwest weakening the storm slightly as it makes its way toward the Carolina coast. It is still a powerful storm.
Damage impacts include 10 – 15″ of rainfall. Storm surge along the North Carolina coastline could be anywhere from 6 – 11′, similar to Hurricane Floyd. The National Hurricane Center is also warning:
"STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY AS MUCH AS 4 TO 8 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER NORTHWARD TO CAPE COD INCLUDING SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AND ITS TRIBUTARIES. NEAR THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE...DESTRUCTIVE...AND LIFE-THREATENING WAVES."
Storm surge is dependent on many factors; including the shape of the coastline, the terrain of the earth underwater, the shape of the inland waterways. Storm surge can wash over barrier islands if its higher than the elevation. Persistent winds can drive water up tidal bays and rivers such as Chesapeake Bay and and the Delaware River and cause inland flooding due to rising river levels.
Other storms of note for the New York area with a similar path include the 1821 Long Island/Norfolk Hurricane, the 1893 New York Hurricane, and the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane. However, when I looked back at the history and strength of the storms on their path toward North Carolina, the storm that best estimates the possible impacts from Irene is Hurricane Floyd.
My previous post has links to local TV forecasters in the impacted regions.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans.
Irene appears to be strengthening over the open water of the Western Atlantic south of the Carolinas. The first US landfall is expected near Morehead City, North Carolina. Tonight, I’m doing a little research on major hurricanes that have shared the same path as Irene up the East Coast. I’ll publish my research tomorrow.
You can track Irene from my website at MYL’s Hurricane Tracking page. Or go to the National Hurricane Center. You can also check out the local forecast in Wilmington, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; New York City, New York or Boston, Massachusetts.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans
On Saturday, when the NHC issued its first advisory on what was then Tropical Storm Irene, the Turks and Caicos Islands were not within the National Hurricane Center track forecast. Five days later, the island chain was squarely in the most dangerous section of a major hurricane.
National Hurricane Center forecasters are emphasizing the error and uncertainty in their discussion today. Currently, the NHC is uncertain whether Irene will affect the most populous area of the United States once it starts its trek northward, turned by steering currents over the United States and the Atlantic Ocean basin. The current track has landfall on the far outer edge of the Outer Banks and then a second landfall in Montauk, New York, the most eastern point of Long Island, before moving through coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, coastal New Hampshire and then Maine. The track has been nudged farther east but hurricane forecasters aren’t confident in that forecast.
This storm is gaining strength over the warm waters of the Bahamas and the East Coast of the United States will have to continue to monitor Irene.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled metro Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and other East Coast cities at 1:51 EDT this Tuesday afternoon. The quake’s epicenter was located 84 miles southwest of Washington D.C.. The closest town to the epicenter was Mineral, Virginia which is 5 miles south-southwest of the epicenter. The earthquake occurred 3.7 miles beneath the earth’s surface. The last earthquake of this magnitude to occur in Virginia took place in 1897 in Blacksburg Virginia, near the Appalachian Mountain Range. The 1897 quake was felt from Georgia to Pennsylvania and from Indiana to the Atlantic Coast.
This map from the United States Geological Survey shows the areas that experienced shaking near the epicenter. The shaking ranged from weak to very strong with moderate damage occurring. As you can see from this map, people in and around the D.C. metro area felt light to moderate shaking as a result of the quake. The US GS received close to 9000 reports from 17 cities.
Earthquakes in Virginia are rare. However, there are fault lines in the bedrock that formed hundreds of millions of years ago from continental collisions. These collisions formed the Appalachian Mountain Range, west of the earthquake epicenter.
According to the United States Geological Survey, “Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast.”
The US GS website also states that the largest damaging earthquake (4.8M) in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone occurred in 1875. Click here for more information on Virginia’s earthquake history.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans
Visible satellite imagery showed a better defined eye and eyewall for Hurricane Irene this afternoon. Since then, the eye has become obscured. Irene is bearing down on the Turks and Caicos with 90 mile per hour winds. In the last 24-hours, Irene’s interaction with the island of Hispaniola has had an impact on the developing storm, maximum sustained winds were at 100 miles per hour for the last 18 hours. There was also a small amount of wind shear over the island. It’s possible that wind shear has played a part in the storm not undergoing a rapid intensification.
National Hurricane Center is reporting in its latest discussion that wind shear may limit rapid intensification for the next 24-hours. Wind shear is expected to relax near the Bahamas.
The track continues to shift east. Now, the Outer Banks of North Carolina and metro areas of New Jersey and New York need to prepare for a possible landfall.
However, if you look at the latest computer tracks from Hurricane Irene, I’m starting to wonder if this storm is going to be steered away from the East Coast of the United States by a deepening trough along the East Coast.
The official track from the National Hurricane Center continues to be the outlier or the track on the edge of the computer model forecasts. Usually the National Hurricane Center track line follows the consensus of the forecast guidance from the models. The model consensus now takes the storm toward Massachusetts and New England. The storm would weaken if it moves into the far northern Atlantic because of the cooler water and interaction with the strong winds of the mid-level trough.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans
Hurricane Irene blew up into a category 2 hurricane with 100 mile per hour winds north of Hispaniola tonight. It missed the island is now poised to develop into a major (category 3 or stronger) hurricane as it makes its way toward the Bahamas.
At least one computer model previously forecast Irene missing Hispaniola and developing into a major hurricane. That computer model has Irene on track toward the border of South Carolina and North Carolina between Charleston and Wilmington. Most of the computer models have developed the storm into a major hurricane off the East Coast of the United States. For at least three more days, it’s going to be in a favorable environment for intensification. There is the possibility that due to the trough developing off the eastern United States, it may weaken slightly before landfall.
This same trough is expected to draw Irene north toward the Carolinas. Computer models and the National Hurricane Center continue to shift east. If you look at the latest models, there is even a possibility that Irene could miss both North and South Carolina. This scenario is not forecast at this time by the National Hurricane Center.
The National Hurricane is urging residents along coastal United States to be aware the the forecast error for the 5-day forecast is from 200 to 250 miles. (The forecast error is how they develop the “cone of error or uncertainty) that you see in the graphic below.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans
Hurricane Irene is forecast to strengthen to a category 3 hurricane packing 115 mile per hour winds before making landfall in South Carolina. That is the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. The landfall in South Carolina is five days from now. There may be some adjustments to that forecast track, as the hurricane center continues to edge the track farther east.
The eastward movement is now sparing Florida and a major portion of the Dominican Republic.
For the latest tracking information and analysis, go to MYL’s Hurricane Tracking page.
Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans