Fay Update (AL062020, Friday Morning 10 July)

Tropical Storm Fay is now off the DelMarVa Penensula as a low-end tropical storm.  It is not terribly organized, mostly a comma shaped band of rain with some gusty winds.  Here’s the satellite view  as of 7:20am … Infrared on the left, visual on the right, as always click on any image to expand.  Notice the lack of deep reds on the IR image, indicating a lack of deep convection.

The radar view confirms the picture …

Finally, here’s the damage swath. Landfall is expected tonight, but given shape of the storm that’s just a technicality.   Note the worst stays offshore; while there will be some rain and gusty winds, it is unlikely that Fay will cause much disruption aside from some scattered power outages, isolated flooding in areas that are vulnerable to flooding from a couple inches of rain, and maybe some damage from downed trees.  Given the density of infrastructure and people, economic impacts will likely be in the high tens of millions to perhaps just over $100 Million, which isn’t much for the US.


Tropical Storm Fay (AL062020)

NHC has started advisories on AL062020, Tropical Storm Fay.  The main threat is some localized flash flooding as it skirts the coast and moves inland over the next 36 hours.  Fay probably won’t intensify much – it’s too close to land.  Here is the forecast impact swath based on the 5pm Thursday 9 July official forecast track:

Economic impacts shouldn’t be severe, probably just over $100 Million.  Unfortunately most won’t be covered by insurance due to the named storm deductibles that are now on most homeowner and business policies.   It is unlikely that significant evacuations will be called for, which would play havoc with pandemic social distancing plans.

Possible storm forming on/near SC Coast

The system that meandered up from the Gulf of Mexico over Georgia the last couple of days (ID AL982020)  is now centered on the SC coast, although most of the convection is now well offshore.  NHC now gives it a 70% chance of becoming a depression and maybe even a tropical storm, and has even started a “Key Messages” product on it (link).  Here’s the current (2pm) Satellite view … InfraRed on the left, visual on the right, click to embiggen:

As you can see, not terribly organized. Here’s the obligatory scary 850mb wind and pressure height animation if you need a fix … click to animate.

It is forecast to hug the coast and go inland around the New York City/Long Island area, bringing gusty winds up the mid Atlantic and Northeast Coasts. Biggest problem is likely to be rain, but even that should stay mostly offshore:

Otherwise shouldn’t cause a lot of damage or disruption, so I’m afraid you’ll have to continue to worry about COVID19 and politics.

Atlantic Storms?

Over the weekend the US National Hurricane Center started tracking a system near Bermuda and last night named it Tropical Storm Edouardo.  It’s really not much of a system, at this point just a broad wind field and elongated low. Edouardo may not have a closed circulation (a key requirement to be a tropical cyclone).  But, they named it and are tracking it, so here’s the impact swath map, which will be of interest to shipping concerns and Atlanteans …

Like most of American, NHC seems to be going stir crazy, looking for something to do, and is tracking an invest area that is now on the coast of Florida, on the chances it may get enough organization to become a storm if/when it exits into the Atlantic in a few days.  They place the odds at 40% right now.  Here’s the latest track models …

Most of them keep the low inland and don’t spin up anything significant.  For those in the US Southeast, you probably won’t notice much, just a few days of thunderstorms.  Just like every other July 😛


Enter Sandman

This year is really shaping up to be like the lyrics from an apocalyptic death metal band. Let’s look at the day so far in pictures (which you can click to embiggen of course): the morning starts with a review of the tropics, and three low grade systems that are a harbinger of doom to come, and a scattering of earthquakes in Iceland …

Next up is a look at the new COVID19 stats, which are almost worthless hash from a scientific standpoint but are trending in a doubleplusungood direction.

That was interrupted by a really lovely discussion about <REDACTED>, which you will likely be seeing hitting the news at some point, if you’re lucky.  Here’s a pic of that:

Which was followed by a major earthquake in Mexico:

Did I mention the Giant Deathtongue of Doom has reached the Caribbean?  With another blob off the coast of Africa behind that one?

But despite all these disasters, real (COVID, Mexico, <redacted>) and imagined (dust- although it is causing respiratory problems across the region, I wouldn’t call it a disaster), we always have cats to correct our mistakes …

Giant Sandstorm to hit US Southeast next week

Good thing you guys are all wearing your masks!  Yes, like a giant Death Tongue of Doom, a massive plume of dust is making its way across the Atlantic and will sweep across the US early next week.  Here is the view from GOES 16 at just before 7am Friday morning (19 June), infrared on the left, visual on the right …

Notice anything interesting?  On the IR image you can see the dust as a faint white dusting.  Recall that colder, likely convective tropical clouds are colored with yellow/red/orange being thunderstorms that, under the right conditions, can form the basis for tropical storms.  The dust itself isn’t so much a factor, it is the dry air it is carried in that suppresses formation of these storms, which means tropical systems are inhibited from forming.  This isn’t terribly unusual.  A NASA study estimated that winds over the Sahara pick up and carry around 182 million tons of sand across the ocean and dump it on the Western Hemisphere.  With the newer satellites we get better pictures, so that probably equates to more media coverage.

Here is the visual view of the sandstorm in all its glory.  On the ground  you probably won’t notice much other than the fact that sunrise/sets next week should be especially colorful. You’ll have to provide your own Tuba solo.

The Data Went Down to Georgia …

For anyone seriously trying to figure out what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still hard to get a handle on what is going on.  It’s clearly not at the “people dropping dead in the streets” stage, and given what we know about the disease isn’t likely to get that bad.  But it also continues to do a slow burn through the population, and in many states like Georgia the trends are hard to figure out.

The testing data is still a mess.  Maybe someone has better data sets (although there was a scandal over one of the commercial data sets, so I have my doubts), but from what I have seen various types of tests are being convolved, and the wide range of accuracy/sensitivity between tests on the market means even when tests are grouped appropriately (viral vs antibody), there is a lot of noise.  Reported deaths are still subject to state-by-state (and even county-by-county) criteria differences.  I can’t rant enough that our public health reporting system in the US is just broken.  Individual practitioners are, of course, trying to do their best for individual patients; but the data when aggregated it seems inconsistent so we don’t really know what is going on with the required degree of certainty.

It does seem that the virus continues to spread in Georgia.  The hospitalization trends appear slightly upward this week after a solid downward trend over the previous two or three weeks …

If you break it down by day of week (there is a clear bias in reporting and operations on the weekends), the trend is consistent in that every day the last week the totals were higher than one week prior.  Reported positive viral tests, normalized for testing penetration, are also at ratios similar to early May.  But that’s not really all that much of a “trend”.  Hospitalization rates for those testing positive, along with serious complication rates and mortality rates, appears to be consistent.  I could deluge you with plots and analysis (including a really cool set of linear algebra equations looking at the hospitalization data), but the short version is within the noise levels, it looks like it’s not better, but it’s not getting rapidly worse, either.

So what does it all mean?  Well, it looks like the reopening hasn’t cause a distinct spike in cases or complications.  How much of that is due to the virus not being as deadly for the general population as feared, and now much of that is due to the fact lots of people are paranoid and still taking precautions, is unknown.  In any event, the guidance really hasn’t changed that much, so continue to use good hand hygiene (even though it increasingly looks like surface spread isn’t a major transmission mode with this thing), use masks, and just stay home if you don’t feel good.  If you are in the vulnerable population (over 65, health issues), be paranoid and isolate to the degree you can.  Wish it was better news.  But at least it’s not worse news.  If you want that, we can talk about the economy. Or social unrest.  Or … politics (shudder)?

Doomwatch, Monday 8 June 2020

The now somewhat ill-defined center of Tropical Depression Cristobal is now inland along the LA/MS border.  As expected it caused (and is still causing) some coastal and riverine flooding in places that usually flood, there was a possible tornado in Florida, and scattered wind damage. Here’s the radar view as of just before 7am Monday Morning …

Interestingly, as it merges with another system tomorrow and Wednesday, the remains of Cristobal will enhance that system and likely cause high winds over the great lakes and upper Midwest (especially Michigan and Ontario).

Elsewhere, pretty quiet – no other tropical systems, no recent earthquakes, only pestilence, economic collapse, and social unrest stalking the land.  So that’s nice …

Cristobal makes landfall (Sun 7 June 2020)

Tropical “Storm” Cristobal should make landfall in a later today.  I put “storm” in quotes because it really is more like a broad sub-tropical cyclone or nor’easter than a traditional tropical storm.  The main impacts right now are over Florida, although an area of convection near the center is about to make landfall near New Orleans.  Here’s the 7:30am Infrared satellite image (click to embiggen) …

IR images show temperature.  In this case, the bright orange/reds are coldest cloud tops, below -60 Celsius.  That matters because for thunderstorms, the colder the cloud tops the more intense the storms.  For a real tropical storm, you can even estimate the wind speeds pretty well just from cloud top temperatures.

Here is the estimated impact swath, but the damage estimate in the interior is overblown.  The reason is that NHC, by their own admission, is overestimating the intensity of Cristobal.

It’s not likely this storm will cause much damage aside from some rain-induced flooding (storm surge should be minor), maybe a few trees down.  A tornado or two isn’t out of the question, but as of 8am the only warnings (aside from the general Tropical Storm Warning) are for flash floods east of Tallahassee.  Still, all that could reach $100 million here in the US, added to the $100 Million or more (due to mudslides and associated rain) in Central America.  Because this is a “named” storm, unfortunately catastrophe deductibles apply.  It isn’t fair, but it’s the system your elected state insurance commissioners (both D and R) created.  Maybe you ought to see about that come November …

Cristobal caused a fair amount of damage in Mexico and Guatemala.  In past years, damage to the PEMEX oil fields in the Bay of Campeche would have triggered spikes in oil and gas prices, along with breathless reports of shortages.  But Cristobal is barely even a blip in global oil/gas futures compared to all the other factors.  My how times change …

Tropical Storm Cristobal, Saturday 6 June 2020

Before discussing Cristobal … I’ve re-established the link to Facebook because so many get their information that way.  While it is a problematic platform in many ways, the simple fact is many people use it.  I would again caution that for real time hazards and news, Facebook can even be dangerous because it does not show you things chronologically.  It also does not show you every post, because it aggressively wants corporate and even non-profit users to pay them to “boost” posts.  So if you really want live data from Enki, bookmark the blog directly.  Another thing I dislike is people profiting from disasters.  As I get time I’m considering options like creating an app,  but I may have to set up a Patreon type thing to sponsor that.  Either way, I really appreciate everyone who has contacted me with well wishes and ideas for how to sort through this.  Note going forward I am not reading or responding to comments on FB.  This is purely an echo of what goes on to the site as a convenience for FB users.

Cristobal has re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico, and tropical storm force winds should make landfall on the Louisiana coast tomorrow morning – but the impacts will be felt starting later today/tonight.  NHC’s key messages are pretty straightforward, and there are tropical storm warnings up for the Louisiana/Florida Coast, including New Orleans.  Here is the forecast damage swath …

Two things about Cristibal:  first, it isn’t likely to get very strong.  It has a very broad structure, and is dragging in dry air, limiting how intense it can get.  Here is a water vapor image from this morning, you can see the dry air in orange … as always, click any graphic to embiggen.

The second (related) thing is how large the system is.  Normally tropical cyclones get smaller as they get more intense.  It’s a lot like an ice skater who spins faster as she draws her arms in, and slows down when they are extended.  The circulation of Cristobal is quite large.  That means the area of winds and somewhat elevated water is also large – but it also means the storm won’t intensify as fast, even given warm water.  There is also some shear (winds moving in different directions in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere).  Here’s the 850mb (about 5000 feet up) wind speeds … so even the Florida coast might see gusty (but not dangerous) winds.  Water elevations will run a bit above normal across the Northern Gulf Coast – but only structures right on the coast are at risk.  However, soil moistures are high, and there will likely be a lot of rain, meaning there will be river/creek flooding, so if you live near one along the Gulf Coast beware.  Aside from the odd tree down and scattered power outages, that should be about it for Cristibal.