Alberto Sunday Evening Update

Not expecting any major changes in the 5pm NHC package.  Rain associated with Alberto had now made its way well in to South Carolina as well as covering southern Georgia and all of Florida:

“Landfall” should be in the morning, but given the wide, diffuse nature of the system, other than for academic purposes it might be hard to tell exactly when and where unless it gets a sudden round intensification or organization, so the impact estimates haven’t changed since this morning.  Flooding continues to be the main worried, some spotty wind damage, and there is some potential for an isolated tornado.

This is neat – it’s an animation of 30 minutes of the “mesoscale” mode scans from GOES East … it’s big so it may take a bit to load before it starts to loop.

Alberto Mid-day Sunday, 27 May

Not that much has changed with the 11am NHC forecast update, with landfall still showing over the Florida Panhandle on Monday Morning, with peak winds (offshore!) of 60mph; over land will be less.  Lots of rain over Florida, now moving in to far southern Georgia with more offshore.  An Air Force Hurricane Hunter found the interior structure is improving, with a shallow warm core (a key element defining a tropical storm) now evident.  So the story is that flooding is the main risk from Alberto, some on the immediate coast, but mostly inland in flood prone areas that are already saturated.

With a broad wind field, hazardous storm surge is always a concern even far from the storm center.  Here is the animation from NCEP’s Extratropical Storm Surge model.  While it’s not really a “Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Model”, it will probably do a better job on this storm because Alberto will still more resemble an extratropical storm at landfall than a traditional tropical storm. Peak water levels in the Big Bend area of Florida could run over a meter (3.5ft) above normal.  Click to load, it’s sort of big so be patient.

Finally, here is an animation from GOES-East of sunrise over the storm.  Note the improved structure as clouds wrap around the center … click to embiggen/animate.

Economic loss estimate didn’t change much, still around $1.1 to $1.2 Billion.  And as noted, much of that will be “secondary” impacts rather than direct damage.  No substantive risk to the offshore Oil and Gas infrastructure, some temporary disruptions due to shut in production and tanker traffic being delayed, but nothing serious.

Alberto Sunday Morning Update; Economic impact forecast $1.1 Billion

Alberto is starting to organize a bit, both on satellite and now radar.  Here’s some views from early Sunday morning (5-6am).  First, the infrared satellite, with the estimated surface pressure isobars based on the NCEP “RAP” model (which integrates data and does a short term forecast every hour) – you can click any image to see at full size …

Here is the radar composite view at 6:45am …

And finally here is the forecasted impacts from my Svarog/Perun model, using the 5am Official Forecast Track from the National Hurricane Center.  Also shown is the previous (11am) track – if you’ve been following this, notice they have shifted the forecast eastward again.  This isn’t so much because the “storm” is deliberately moving that way, but that the center has up till now been somewhat ill defined and keeps reforming.  As you can see on the radar and satellite image, the system is starting to organize a bit better and develop a more traditional tropical structure.  I expect it will lose the “subtropical” and moniker and become “tropical” late today.

If this track and forecast holds the main impacts from the storm will be rain over a very wide area including all of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, as well as parts of adjacent states , but gusty winds and some shallow coastal flooding are likely along the immediate path was well. If you are in the path of the storm, take reasonable precautions, especially if in a low lying area that can flood, or a vulnerable structure like a mobile home.  If you include the costs of disrupted business, government preparations, and so forth, Alberto is shaping up to be a $1 Billion dollar storm.  That’s not a lot these days, and in perspective of the $16 Trillion overall US Economy, no big deal.  Not much consolation if it is your house that is flooded, or a tree falls on your car, but … to put it another way, Alberto likely to cost the equivalent of 48 days of potato chip sales 🙂

Economics Addendum:  It is highly unlikely this storm will have any substantive impact on oil and gas production in the Gulf.  It’s not that strong, it’s not traversing the main fields, so aside from some precautionary shut ins and tanker traffic delays, unless something breaks that shouldn’t Alberto won’t have any impact on energy prices other than giving traders a chance to play with the numbers a little.

Alberto Saturday Evening 26 May Update

As the sun sets over the western Caribbean, Alberto is starting to develop a swirl of clouds, but still isn’t much more than a big “comma” with most of the clouds and rain many hundreds of miles from the center, which is located just off the tip of Cuba … this is (hopefully!) an animation of the storm from GOES-16 this afternoon that you can click to get high res:

As expected NHC continues to shift the forecast track eastward as the storm formation location has moved and the driving forces seem to be pushing it more that way.  Here’s the 5pm EST track and impact forecast from my Svarog/Perun model, based on the official NHC forecast.  While the landfall location hasn’t shifted much, they are showing the storm center shifting much closer to the west Florida coast.  Since the worst impacts are normally on the east side of the storm, that means worse conditions over the state.

The main risk from Alberto no matter if it technically becomes a tropical storm or not, is rain and flooding.  The Southeastern US is saturated from over a week of wet weather, and another 4-8 inches doesn’t really have anywhere to go.  That said, saturated soils make it easier for trees to blow over, so that’s not so great either even if the winds are not that strong. Here’s the radar composite from just before 5pm …

I hope this new format works better for everyone  It’s certainly much easier for me, and I think lets me put more stuff in (like the higher res animations) that FB just doesn’t seem to permit.

Florida declares “state of emergency” over Alberto

There was a time when a “state of emergency” (SOE) meant something.  Nuclear war.  Major natural disaster.  Riots.  Devastation on a grand scale.  Dogs and cats sleeping together, that sort of thing.  But not any more, at least in modern America.  Election years seem especially prone to SOE’s and sober pronouncements by Those In Power that while the situation is dire,  under their beneficent leadership, It Will All Be Ok 😛 .  Politicians running for higher office love them – they get to “show leadership”.  But snark aside, what are some of the factors here?

Declaring SOE in advance of a potential disaster has become a normal way of doing business. It supposedly allows preparations for the disaster.  If the event actually happens, then a “disaster declaration” is made triggering further actions.  In one sense I get it, because the normal workings of bureaucracy have become so slow, convoluted, and constrained, that getting things done in a timely manner (or even at all, given the hyper-partisanship rampant in America these days) is difficult, and a streamlined process for preparing and ordering preparations is perhaps needed.  But there are also down sides.  For one thing, “emergencies” become the normal way of doing business.  In most states, an SOE allows the Governor to suspend the normal budgeting and contracting process, and this encourages abuses. It allows order preventing Price Gouging (which is a good thing, but I guess is OK the rest of the year, given Disney prices!).  It also often has civil rights implications with respect to Police powers and private property, something the US already has problems with.

Another issue is that over time it causes disaster fatigue – most of these “disasters” are  ultimately localized events, or events where there are widely scattered impacts but, in the great scheme of things, while they do hurt those immediately impacted, the events are really not that bad from a wider perspective. I worry that people don’t react with the urgency they should in cases where there really is a threat, when every inconvenience is treated as an “emergency”.

The economic impacts of SOE, watches, warnings, and disaster declarations go far beyond government operations. We are likely at a point where we spend more on preparing and anticipating disaster than if we did nothing except protect lives or when something truly catastrophic was imminent, and cleaned up later.   Many private firms are forced (either for the avoidance of liability, or other reasons) to follow the status of Government, which can be highly disruptive.  A major factor here is the insurance industry.  Now that Alberto is a “named storm,” many onerous insurance restrictions kick in such as restrictions in writing new policies, much higher deductibles, and so forth.  While linking insurance provisions to disaster response may seem to make sense at first cut, in fact it has had a significantly negative impact on consumers.

On the surface, it may seem that declaring an SOE for an incoming storm makes sense, but as with so much in the area of disaster planning, response, and mitigation, it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.

Alberto Update

As of 11am today (Saturday 26 May) “Subtropical Storm” Alberto is still pretty disorganized. There is no real center, certainly the satellite presentation isn’t much, although there are indications of a center trying to form between Cuba and Yucatan. Here’s the current (11:00am) satellite view:

I think the main reason NHC is even tracking it is that it is a holiday weekend, and they want to make sure folks are paying attention in case it really spins up into a real storm.  Tropical Storm watches are now up for the west coast of Florida. Note the subtle shift in the forecast track, it may shift further east (towards Florida) later today. The main risk from the storm is heavy rains across Florida and the Southeast, which have been drenched over the last week from a moist tropical air mass.  There may also be coastal flooding, and rip currents across both Florida and the GA/SC coasts. Here is the latest NHC forecast map, with the damage swatch from my new Svarog/Perun hazard model:

Admin note: Sorry it took a while to post this, it is an experiment with a new integrated social media approach, which is a fancy way of saying I’m only posting on my blog, and it is echoing to Facebook and Twitter. The main reason is to try to reduce my work load during real time events.  Does it work? No so far, I’ve spent all Saturday morning working on it 😛