Lane falls apart but still dumping rain on Hawaii

Lane is now a tropical storm, and as (nervously!) expected hit a wall of wind shear and what is left of it will begin moving off to the west, away from the Islands today (overnight, Hawai’i time).  If you look at a satellite image like this one from around Midnight Hawai’i time (6am East Coast Time), you might think the storm is directly over the islands …

… but in fact, the center of circulation is well offshore.  Here is the same image, but with the winds from the surface to 5000 feet in yellow, and the winds at about 24,000 feet in blue.

The very strong west to east winds higher up in the atmosphere have pushed all of the stronger thunderstorms and rain away from the center (you will see the phrase “Low Level Circulation Center” or LLCC in the weather service discussions).  Radar is even more dramatic, showing most of the rain still over the Big Island even though the storm is moving away …

Lane should continue to fall apart over the next day or so as it drifts away from the main Islands.  It might become an extratropical storm in a few days.  In any event, rain will continue to fall on the islands of Hawai’i for at least another day, with flooding the continuing danger.

Damage from the storm will likely be mostly from floods, with some scattered impacts from trees down and power outages.  Some of the flooding is already catastrophic, and parts of the Islands (Kaua’i for instance) have been drenched already this year and will likely see further damage.  But if you aren’t in a flooded area this storm probably didn’t seem so bad.  Overall impacts currently estimated in the $100 Million range – but flood impacts are much harder to model than wind, so that’s a pretty iffy number.

CPHC did a good job with this one – difficult scenario, with a strong storm headed towards a heavily populated Island.  Although the metoerology was pretty solid that Lane would not make a direct hit on O’ahu and turn away, still had to be nerve-racking because this is complex stuff with lots of uncertainty.  I didn’t have much of a chance to check any of the media coverage from Hawai’i.  What I did see here on the mainland was mostly of the “their gonna die, lets talk about politics” variety.  Sigh.

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