The address and hosting of the blog is changing … unfortunately that means if you subscribe, you’ll have to re-subscribe on the new site (I tried to make it seemless but that isn’t working out …). Hopefully it will be much faster, secure, integrated, blah, blah. Anyway, the new address is https://blog.enkiops.org. This site will stay active for a while until I’m sure stuff is switched over, but in theory all new posts go to the new site. Note this isn’t about Patreon – only the public blog!
Not too much changed with PTC#9 at the 11am advisory … will do a full update on the blog later today. Here’s the latest TAFB analysis … two things to note if you embiggen is the sort of oblong shape to the system, and the big high pressure system to the north. That high pressure ridge (think of the “H” as the top of a hill) is causing the storm to move around the left hand side – that is what is guiding the storm right now. So at the moment, the thinking is still that the system will stay weak, and should track south of Puerto Rico (but that may not help much if the winds and rain cross the Island). After that, hard to say at this point … stay tuned!
“Rules! We’ve got some rules around here” And so it is with what is and isn’t a Tropical Cyclone (the technical name for depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes). The system NHC is tracking as AL09, “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine,” doesn’t meet the formal criteria to be a tropical storm, even though it is producing tropical storm force winds in places. As of this morning though there are thunderstorms (convection) flaring up near the center, indicating better organization. It will likely be declared Tropical Storm Isaias later today. Here is what it looks like at sunrise … left is infrared, right is visual (still a bit dark). Click to embiggen:
So what does that mean in practical terms? It means the wind field is broader than a typical tropical storm – but not as strong in the core. It is slower to organize even with somewhat favorable conditions. It also makes forecasting much harder because we don’t have a good center fix and motion. Depending on where the center finally coalesces, On the current track across the Greater Antillies (Puerto Rico/Hispaniola/Cuba), the high mountains should inhibit much strengthening. The official forecast keeps AL09 as at best a middling tropical storm. But that can still cause a lot of misery, especially in Puerto Rico, as they have are still struggling to recover from Maria or the recent earthquakes. Beyond that, it is likely the storm will curve north into Florida. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it doesn’t survive the trip over Hispaniola and Cuba intact, or enters the Gulf of Mexico and strengthens. Or something else (yeah, that’s a lot of help). That’s how it goes with disorganized storms …
On this track it would cause upwards of $100 Million in damage across the Caribbean, and maybe $700 million in impacts in Florida. A big question is if it triggers evacuations and shelters – that has major implications for the COVID19 pandemic we will look at later today …
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Hi guys – I wasn’t planning on starting this thing until the first, but storms have their own timetable. Please be patient as I ramp this thing up. On thing to note is that Patreon bills monthly with the first charge the day you sign up. Unfortunately in this case I think that means that you will get hit twice if you sign up this week – for July, then again in August. I’m going to try to do something extra for all who signed in “early” before the first and got the double hit. Again, Thanks!
So … I wasn’t planing on doing this quite so soon, but with Potential Tropical Cyclone #9 threatening the viral encrusted southeast, I’m doing a mega-juggleing act and trying to fire up the Patreon site, as well as do some much needed computer infrastructure rearranging. So please be patient with the chaos … and the brevity of this post. As for PTC9, nothing too much changed since NHC started advisories. Here’s the latest “core” track models that NHC is having to work with. I didn’t put GFS in here because the 12z run was way off and the 18z run isn’t up yet:
As for impacts, the current thinking is that this thing will remain a tropical storm until Florida landfall – but there is a yuge amount of uncertainty in that until it spins up better, so it may not even go to Florida. Way too early to freak out if you are on the mainland US. PR does need to prepare for a tropical storm, as do the USVI and northern Caribbean. More in the morning …
Enki has started a Patreon account to help fund this work – please think about supporting us if you find this valuable.
It probably looks simple, a map showing the projected impacts of a storm in plain English, a discussion of the chances that a given coastal town will face a windy day, or a life changing catastrophe:
But behind this graphic is a huge amount of infrastructure. Yes, government agencies provided the forecast track, but in order to reliably calculate the impacts in easy to understand terms like “Minor Damage, Power Out” takes a bank of computers. The analytical tools take time and money to develop. Just to keep the lights on and run the satellite, network, and computer systems costs almost $5000 a month. Unfortunately, government funding for this kind of work has become increasingly limited, and it’s not in the interest of most news outlets to say you’re not doomed – they need your eyes on their screen, or clicks on their web site. Or, better yet, download their app so they can collect data to support advertising.
Enki Research has been posting information on a blog and social media in various forms since 1990. There is a huge amount of raw data out there, and a lot of “noise” and agenda-driven reporting. We help cut through that noise and get you solid actionable information. Covering hurricanes (tropical cyclones), earthquakes, pandemics, wars, and other disasters world-wide, Enki is planning on expanding its public outreach and the information available to you directly as well as support for responsible news outlets. Here’s your chance to help support an independent, unbiased, science based source of hazard information, as well as get customized information and insider, Patreon only content. Please consider contributing.
There is a lot of uncertainty in this, but NHC has started advisories because there are some readings indicating the system is already producing near tropical storm force winds … here is the forecast impact swath based on the 11am advisory.
Much more around the afternoon (5pm) forecast cycle … here is an exerpt from the NHC forecast discussion:
It cannot be stressed enough that since the system is still in the formative stage, greater than average uncertainty exists regarding both the short-term and longer-term track and intensity forecasts. A subtropical ridge that extends westward from the central Atlantic is expected to be the dominant steering mechanism over the next several days, and the flow around this ridge should steer the low pressure area generally west-northwestward. However, the details in the track forecast could change depending on exactly where within elongated circulation the center forms. Regardless of the exact track, the system is expected to bring locally heavy rainfall to much of the Lesser Antilles, and tropical-storm-force winds to portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico within the next 24-48 hours. After that time, a general west- northwestward heading should continue but as mentioned before, uncertainty exists as to how close the system tracks to Hispaniola, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida. The NHC track forecast is in best agreement with the HFIP corrected consensus model. It should be noted that a stronger cyclone is likely to favor a more northern track, while a weaker system is likely to remain more equatorward. Users should remember that the long-term average NHC track forecast errors at days 4 and 5 are 140 and 175 n mi, respectively.
First a quick review – Douglas skimmed just north of the Hawai’ian islands, causing much less damage than anticipated as only the weak side of the storm swiped them. In Texas, as anticipated Hanna caused power outages, scattered damage, and some flooding. As for the “investigation area” in the Atlantic, 92L, it continues to move across the Atlantic as an elongated tropical wave. Here is what it looks like this morning, with the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch surface analysis as an overlay. As usual, click to expand and see the details …
NHC still gives the system a 90% chance of becoming a storm in the next 5 days, with a completely unpronounceable name (Isaias) unless you are a fluent Spanish speaker. So of course the usual suspects are sifting the entrails and trying to see where the computer model tracks are going. Here is the track model map as of 6am this morning:
When looking at these maps it is vital to realize that they are lumping together models that probably shouldn’t be put together (like purely statistical models, as well as individual ensemble members). You will hear terms like “ensemble runs” and “ensemble members”. Just what does that mean? Here are two examples. The problem with a storm is that even in a stronger storm the exact position, and the surrounding environment, isn’t perfectly known (much less an invest area – look at the satellite map above and pin the fix on the storm!). What an ensemble run does is start the storm in slightly different positions and intensities (perturbed initial positions is the technical term), and re-runs the model to see what happens. Here is one example, the US Global Forecast System (GFS) run:
Notice the initial position for each track line is different. The blue line is the “main” GFS forecast run, while the brown line is the average of the ensembles. Notice how much variation there is? (Actually, this isn’t bad for a weak system!). Now, let’s look at another example, the Canadian model:
Again, for AL92, these are really rather consistent, which indicates a more stable environment (or, which is possible, they are all wrong in the same way!). The European model looks similar (but because of licensing restrictions I can’t show you that map) as do the Navy’s model and others. The key point is to again reinforce the fact you can’t just pluck one model track – even a good model – out and get terribly excited about it (much less bet your life on it one way or the other). This data has to be properly interpreted, and by far your best bet with respect to publicly available data is the official NHC forecast.
Administrative note: As previously noted, I don’t have funding to do these posts and commentaries. The last couple of months I’ve been trying to figure out how to do them that covers the costs – and even expand the features. I don’t want to run advertising, so on August 1st I’m going to start a Patreon page where those of you who read all the way to the end can contribute to keeping these things running and help support the research work we do here, and get extra information including site specific forecasts from our commercial system. I think we can do some pretty cool stuff, especially trying to get “plain English” no-hype forecasts for hurricanes and eventually other severe weather. I hope you’ll think about contributing.
The TLDR is that Hanna is making landfall in Texas today. May technically be a hurricane at that point but almost everywhere in the impact zone will experience tropical storm conditions. Gonzalo is crossing the southern Windwards, but is barely even a storm at this point, with heavy rain the only threat. Douglas is now aimed at Kaua’i as a hurricane – high surf (not the good kind), wind, rain are all in store – but a wobble puts Maui/Moloka’i/O’ahu in play. There is a storm coming off of Africa that may spin up, or may do a Gonzalo and flare and fade. Here’s the details and pictures …
Tropical Storm Hanna is making landfall in southern Texas today. As always your best source for the official word are the NHC “Key Messages” products: Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Gonzalo (en Español: Mensajes Claves). With Hanna, as with Texas, while much is made of crossing the arbitrary threshold between a tropical storm and hurricane (74 mph, 64 knots maximum winds), it is important to remember that for any given storm, the hurricane force winds may cover only a small area – or, for some storms, a much broader area. The amount of damage depends on lots of variables. So focusing on the track is a bad idea. Here is the damage swath with “plain English” impacts using my TAOS/TC model, based on the official NHC forecast track:
Hanna is looking a lot better organized on both Satellite and Radar. Here’s what it looked like just before 8am ET this morning from the Corpus Christi WSR-88 NEXRAD radar … the left hand side is the reflectivity, the right hand side is the Doppler velocity. If you embiggen and look carefully you can see the winds in the nascent eyewall are on the order of 65-70 knots. HOWEVER: that at 10,000 feet (the further you get from the radar the higher up in the atmosphere you are looking because the radar beam is going straight – but the Earth is curved). So the surface winds are lower.
A third of the world away, Douglas too looks to be a minimal hurricane as it impacts Hawai’i. The track has shifted north a bit since yesterday. Here’s the swath map:
In both cases economic impacts are expected to be under $100 Million USD. Normally, especially for Hawai’i, they would be higher, but the extremely depressed tourist season means many businesses are already closed or reduced operations. Damage is expected to be somewhat light as long as nothing breaks that shouldn’t and the forecast intensities hold true.
Gonzalo has faded to a minimal tropical storm, and unless a flash flood causes some damage, shouldn’t be so bad. There is a system off the coast of Africa that some are talking about, currently with the Invest code AL92. It’s way early to get excited about it – some of the models spin it up, many do not. Here’s the available forecast tracks. A lot of the GFS and ECMF ensemble runs dissipate the thing before it even gets started. So don’t worry about it – plenty of other stuff to keep your BP and heart rate elevated these days …
The tracks and intensity estimates for Douglas still have it headed to the State of Hawaii, making “landfall” sometime Sunday. Here is an animation of the GOES West visual imagery (note Tropical Storm Hanna approaching the Texas coast in the upper right). Also notice the sun reflecting off of the ocean … click to embiggen.
Douglas is starting to weaken, but the big question now is how fast. It will probably be just below hurricane strength as it hits the islands. The worst of it looks to be centered on O’ahu, Moloka’i and Maui, but higher elevations on all of the island could see hurricane force winds. Rain, flash flooding, and mudslides are always a risk on the islands. Here is what CPHC has to say, and here’s my TAOS/TC impact map based on their forecast track:
Speaking of Hanna … NHC now forecasts it making landfall as a minimal hurricane (en Español: Mensajes Claves). I’m not sure I buy that – the impacts for most people will be tropical storm conditions. Here’s the impact map:
If the NHC forecast holds up, Hanna could top $200 Million, but I think it’s more likely that any high winds will be restricted to over water or right on shore. Rain and flash floods, and maybe coastal flooding on the immediate shoreline are the biggest risks. It looks like only voluntary evacuations are being ordered. Shelters are trying to do social distancing, but that’s always iffy. If you are in a sturdy structure and not in a place that floods regularly, best to stay put – but if at risk of flooding, or in a weaker structure like an unsecured mobile home, the virus is the least of your worries: find someplace safer.