UPDATE: Everything below is still current, but right now at about 10PM eastern Aug 31, Dorian is a Cat 5. Just figured you’d like to know
Heed this most important message from the National Hurricane Center:
A tropical storm watch is in effect for a portion of the Florida
east coast. Since Dorian is forecast to slow down and turn northward
as it approaches the coast, life-threatening storm surge and
dangerous hurricane-force winds are still possible along portions of
the Florida east coast by the early to middle part of next week.
Residents should have their hurricane plan in place, know if they
are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by
local emergency officials.
There is an increasing risk of strong winds and dangerous storm
surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North
Carolina during the middle of next week. Residents in these areas
should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.
Heavy rains, capable of life-threatening flash floods, are
possible over coastal sections of the southeastern United States
from Sunday through much of next week.
It now looks more and more likely that Dorian will make a dramatic right turn, far enough away from the Florida coast to menace but not totally destroy things there. But as the storm moves north, the track is less certain. There is no reliable estimate of the location where Dorian would make a real strike on land, but it may be late PM or evening Thursday or later, and it might be North Carolina.
Dorian is now a strong Category 4 storm, and may briefly hit Category 5 over the next day. It will not strike land as a Category 4 or 5 storm. Maybe a 2, maybe a 1.
This will be difficult for the reporters (sorry I keep harping on them, but it is necessary) to describe, because once a storm reaches a certain category, it is forever known as “A Category Five Storm” or whatever, even after it has changed to a lower level of intensity. So, “Category Five Dorian Strikes Jacksonville, North Carolina as a Weakened Category Two Storm” is a sentence you may well see, or something like it.
Meanwhile the Bahamas are in very serious trouble. There may not be a place in this world that is both so vulnerable to major hurricanes but at the same time, most ready for them. But a major, Category 4 or 5 hurricane, moving slowly, is about to rake the north part of that island chain.
Sunday afternoon, the bad part of a hurricane with 150 mile an hour winds will likely be affecting the atolls north of Little Abaco Island. It will take well more than 24 hours for the storm to clear the area and as it does so, it will actually speed up. For the sake of Bahamas, this speed up will hopefully happen faster.
Here is the currently projected track. Each of those dots is a 12 hour interval. The little “M” Means major (Category 3 or above).
There was always a chance that Dorian was going to make a right turn. In fact, it wasn’t just “a chance” but a very high probability. But a day or so ago, it was reasonable to say that Dorian would likely, but not necessarily, make that turn AFTER coming ashore in Florida.It now looks like Dorian may make that turn sooner, while still at sea.
We have already seen major news outlets walking all over their own tongues trying to describe that might happen, and thus quite possibly misleading people in a dangerous way. Here, I’ll focus on a new way of explaining the Dorian dilemma.
First, think of a hurricane as a car. The driver is the eye. Perhaps imagine a car where the driver sits more in the middle, like this one:
Now, imagine this car is coming at you, right at you like it is going to run you over. You are frozen in place in terror and can not move aide. But,at the last second, the car, which was about to hit you head on at 125 miles per hour, turns slightly so it hits you on its right front bumper instead of in the middle.
You are totally fine, because the part of the car that is the driver did not actually run you over. Only the part of the car that is over on the right third. So, no problem, right?
I don’t think so. This is you:
If Dorian turns soon enough, so the outer tropical wind force bands are too far from the coast to come ashore, then Florida will have some high winds, and high surf, and beach erosion. Boats trapped to the north of Dorian’s original course that can’t get out of the way may be trapped in dangerous seas.
This is Dorian driving by all the people in Florida:
If Dorian turns later, stays at sea but not too far at sea, then hurricane force winds and storm tides will affect coastal communities not just where a straight-running storm would come ashore, but over many hundreds of miles as the storm parallels the coast. It would be like when one of those Grand Prix cars takes out the first two rows of spectators in France.
That is a picture of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina standing too close to the ocean.
One major news agency has already messed this up with a headline like “‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Carolinas, likelihood of direct hit on Florida decreases”
That makes it sound like Florida may be out of the woods, and the Hurricane is instead going to hit somewhere else. What could really happen is havoc along the coast of Florida, followed by the storm weakening, then lumbering ashore as a big wet spot at some later time. The last person to get run into by that car taking out all the spectators just got a bruise. That sort of thing.
Or, Dorian could stay far enough off shore to retain its immense power as a hurricane for long enough to suddenly turn left and plow into some harbor in the Carolinas and wipe out all those motels the good people of coastal Florida are staying in because they fled Dorian in the first place.
Here is the current best estimate from the National Hurricane Center for the what and when on Hurricane Dorian:
As 2:00 AM EDT Tuesday morning, September 03, Dorian will be well into its right turn to the north, far enough away from the coast that the shores near Port St. Lucie will probably not experience hurricane force winds or storm surges. Dorian will be a Category 4 hurricane at that time, with maximum winds of 130 mph, gusting to 160 mph.
Between then and 24 hours later, 2:00 AM EDT Wednesday morning September 04, Dorian will be near Palm Coast, heading more or less north, but probably sneaking closer to the coastline, and probably having nasty impacts on the coast the whole way. It will not weaken much during this period, with maximum winds just a little slower than at the time of the turn (125 mph, gusting to 155 mph)
Over the next day or so, Dorian will probably continue to menace the coast of Florida and Georgia, and weaken to a Category 1 storm. At this point it will be hard to not run at an oblique angle into the bulgy part of the eastern US, near or north of the Georgia-South Carolina border. This could be anywhere in South Carolina, or even southern North Carolina. This is probably one of the hardest things to predict because the exact course of the Hurricane and it’s impact on land depend on so many different factors.
So, instead of saying “Florida is out of the woods, there will be landfall (meaning, the driver/eye passes over the coastline) at a later time” the papers should be saying “Major Hurricane Dorian will menace the coast from the central Florida Atlantic coastline through somewhere in South Carolina to an unknown degree at unknown locations.”
In short, Hurricane Dorian is almost certain to crash into the crowd somewhere, we don’t know where.
UPDATE for Friday 20 Aug AM:
The information below is still pretty accurate for Dorian, except a few important details.
1) The storm is now expected to move more slowly as it gets closer to the Florida coast. This means that the timing is shifted later, possibly by a half a day or more. But, this is not certain, so if you were planning on buying umbrellas don’t put that off. Or, evacuation. Don’t put that off either.
2) For the same reason, the slowdown, Dorian may spend more time in a position to remain strong off the coast but still hitting the coast with severe winds and storm surges, for a longer period of time.
With hurricanes, fast is better, once you know they are coming.
Chances are about even that Dorian will affect the Florida coast as a Category 3 or a Category 4 hurricane. The centerline prediction from the National Hurricane Center has Dorian as just barely a Category 4 as it makes landfall, but as a mid-range Category 4 (i.e., more severe) prior to getting near the coast. This will, of course, cause confusion as reporters spew poorly formed sentences like “Dorian has weakened” instead of “Dorian has made the expected adjustment from a very very very dangerous storm to a very very very dangerous storm because it lost some of its energy scraping your homes and beaches into the sea” or words to that effect.
Best guess right now: Dorian will be a Category 3/4 hurricane as it moves onto land over a several hour long slog centered on about 2:00 AM on Tuesday morning. It will remain a hurricane, but weakening to a Category 1 storm over the next 24 hours as it moves well inland, veering north. Tropical storm force winds will be arriving on the Florida coast early Sunday morning.
The center point for landfall of the eye, with lots of areas to the north and south affected, is West Palm Beach or a bit north of there. 24 hours later, still as a hurricane, the storm may be just south of Orlando.
The norther Bahamas are going to have something very close to a direct hit.
The Hurricane Center has not yet put out information about storm surges, because the possible range of actual landfall is still too uncertain. Indeed, it is still possible that the storm will turn north and hardly hit anything.
It was looking for a while there that Dorian, after moving well inland in Florida, would then stay inland a couple/few hundred miles and find a track across all the states to Maine. Now, it is looking more like it will pop back across the coast and go up the Atlantic, either near the coast nor farther at sea. That would make Dorian’s future very unpredictable, and I suppose it would open up the possibility of reforming as a hurricane.
Most of the models show Hurricane Dorian striking the Atlantic Coast of Florida, though the exact location is not something that can be predicted yet. Somewhere between Palm Coast and Miami, most likely near Melbour, Palm Bay or Port St Lucie. That’s a pretty large area.
This depends, however, on a weather system that is only now forming up north of Dorian, which would cause the storm to not to the usual pull-out where the storms go north and head in the general direction of Bogna Riva.
And, if that weather system forms, some models say its western end will weaken, and that would be an escape door Dorian might use for that northward turn.
So, there is maybe a one in ten chance Dorian will bug out before hitting Florida. There is a small possibility it will come right up to Florida and then bug out, meaning, it would scrape the coast of Florida and Georgia, or just inland, at first as a hurricane then as a tropical storm.
But most likely, Dorian is going to slam into the Atlantic coast of Florida, then move inland. After moving inland, it is very likely to then stay inland, as a major storm of some sort, dumping rain and blowing winds in inland Florida, Georgia, maybe all the way up to Maine. That should be interesting. Wet, and interesting.
How strong will Dorian be? Don’t believe the hype Major news outlets are suddenly saying that Dorian may be a Category 4 storm. Maybe. But almost every model puts Dorian squarely in the extremely dangerous major-storm Category 3 range, with just a couple of models showing it forming into a Category 4 storm. One model actually shows it becoming a Category 5 storm.
But these categories are felatas. You evacuate and/or batten down the hatches for a Category 3 storm because that is a killer storm. You can save the discussion of whether your house was flattened, flooded, or flew away by a Cat 3 vs a Cat 4 storm felata.
When will Dorian strike?
As you know, “ladnfall” is not when a hurricane strikes. It strikes when the storm’s outer bands come ashore and start making for a lot of rain, some wind. It strikes when a storm surge comes through, and the timing of that can vary a lot. It strikes when the hurricane force bands arrive, which can be hours before, and continue hours after, the eye comes ashore.
The Center of the storm is currently predicted to be in “striking” distance at about sunup on Monday morning. SO, overnight Sunday to Monday is a safe estimate of when Dorian might be “strking.”
By sunup the next day, the storm should be well inland, probably turning north, and very large, wet, dangerous, but probably not really a hurricane any more.
The National Weather Service suggests that tropical storm force winds will arrive on the coast of Florida between nightfall Saturday and maybe midnight.
One more small detail: It is possible that Dorian, if it strikes Florida, will pass into the Gulf. If it does, then that will be interesting.
If you do not understand that this is a valid question, then you do not actually deserve to be breathing our chemically-altered air right now. No excuses.
Dorian is a poorly to moderately organized tropical storm just west of the northern reach of the Leeward Islands, expected to affect Puerto Rico by the end of the day today, then to move into the Southwest North Atlantic, where it will likely become a hurricane between 36 and 48 hours from now.
It is highly likely that Dorian will strike the US 48 this weekend or Monday, somewhere, as some kind of storm. There is a very good chance this will be Florida as a
The full range of spaghetti strands projecting Dorian’s ultimate path include turning north before wandering into the North Atlantic, turning left and passing through the Gulf and making landfall anywhere from Texas to the Florida Panhandle. But most of the pasta is pointing to the Atlantic coast of Florida.
Way to early to say this, but I’ll say it anyway and revise later: The most likely zone of impact of hurricane force winds in Florida is somewhere between West Palm Beach and Saint Augustine. Vacationers in Orlando this coming weekend may expect rain.
UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center is now saying that Dorian will become a Major (Category 3 or 4?) before it makes landfall in, probably, Florida.
The National Weather Service hurricane experts are cautioning that predicting Dorian’s intensity and size are both very difficult. The current estimate from the Hurricane Center is that Dorian will reach mid to low Category 2 strength, and be a moderately sized to small hurricane, prior to landfall in Florida, but with the caution that the full range of models includes a stronger and physically larger storm. The “Experimental late-cycle intensity guidance” for Dorian, as of this morning, has about an 80% chance (my estimate) of the storm reaching Category 3 or above, with a very strong possibility of Category 4 or even 5. But the more traditional models suggest something closer to a 50-50 chance of Dorian reaching Category 3. It is, of course, way to early to say much, but the chance that Dorian won’t be a hurricane as it reaches landfall somewhere in the US is nil.
It is possible that Dorian will intensify and then weaken while out over the Atlantic. This usually causes chaos and dumbosity in the news reports. Once a hurricane reaches a certain category, the news reporters add that category value to the name of the storm and it stick. Any time a storm reduces in strength it is denigrated as a lesser storm no matter what it does later to redeem itself. You know the drill.
Dorian is likely to hit a lot of things, directly or indirectly, starting very soon. This morning Dorian is bearing down on Pueto Rico as a tropical storm. The storm may scrape the Turks and Caicos Islands and will almost certainly affect the Bahamas. This will happen between the wee hours of the morning tomorrow and late Friday.
Some time Saturday morning the outer reaches of the storm may be lashing the Florida coast and landfall could occurover night or the next day, possibly as late as Monday AM, if the current projections, which are VERY EARLY, are proven. Or, as noted above, something entirely different can happen.
You saw the film The Day After Tomorrow. This is that. Not like in the movie, but still…
Warming causes melting of ice, adding fresh water into the North Atlantic, which interferes with a major current system that at present warms Europe.
Consequence: The planet warms dangerously, while at the same time, large parts of Europe become much cooler, to the extent that people may not be able to live there in the manner they do now, or produce very much food there. Gibraltar would have a climate similar to the coast of Maine, and Berlin would have a climate similar to the Northwest Territories or northern Hudson Bay.
The models have predicted this, but it now seems that they’ve under-predicted it. It appears to be happening faster, and more furiously, than expected.
Chantal is the next name in line to be use for an Atlantic tropical storm or hurricane name. I’m going to go out on a limb (where I will be duly chastised by my friends and colleagues who are tropical storm experts or meteorologists), and say that a storm currently brewing in the Caribbean has a very good chance of becoming Chantal.
Right now the National Hurricane Center is saying that [al952019], sitting right now leewaard of the Lesser Antilles, has a 10% chance of formation into an actual named storm over the next two days (i.e., it won’t) and a 20% chance of doing so over the next 3 days.
About half of the usual Atlantic hurricane models have not put out estimates of intensity or location, but the few that have show a pretty good chance of this storm reaching an intensity of about 40KT or more at 48+ hours. After that, the models vary as to whether the weather flat-lines, declines, or goes up in intensity. To become a “named storm” (and that matters, especially to insurance people) the storm has to get to 35KT. SO, I’m thinking this system is our Chantal.
More importantly, the various models all agree on this. As a giant wet spot, an annoyingly vigorous low pressure system, or as a named storm, Chantal (or would-be-Chantal) is going to affect the Caribbean islands. Might go through Puerto Rico, might stay south of the Greater Antilles (but look out Jamaica) and hit the Yucatan on the way to the Gulf, or something in between. I don’t think this is an anything-can-happen situation. I think this is your-Great-Aunt-Tillie-is-going-to-get-soaked situation.
I post this here our of bravado. I will follow the course of the storm and revel in the greatness of my prediction over the next 10 days or so. Or, possibly, delete this post like nothing happened if, indeed, nothing happens.
Here is Chantal now. Note the big giant blob comming off the coast of West Africa. Dorian?
If the current large wet spot in the norther Gulf does develop into a named storm, it will end up being one of the stranger storms we’ve seen.
This feature began as a depression over land, not over the sea. It then moved south over the Gulf, where it sits off the coast. Several different models have it developing to something wind wind speeds of 60 knots or more over the next several hours. The National weather service has it as a Category 1 hurricane by mid day Saturday. That is also when it is expected to push over the coast west of New Orleans.
Continue reading ALERT: Hurricane Barry May Hit Gulf Coast Very Soon
The year 2018 was warm, but since previous years had been super warm, it may have seemed a bit cooler. There was indeed a downswing, but only a little one.
However, 2019 is looking like an upswing year. It will not be as warm as the recent El Nino year, but it will be close, and it will follow the predicted upward course of global warming caused by our release of greenhouse gasses and the effect of those gasses on delicate and critically important atmospheric chemistry.
Climate Central has a a State of the Climate report here.
Note that the various predictions for the activity level of the 2019 hurricane season suggest an average year. The most common midpoint of estimates for the number of actual hurricanes is five, with 2 major ones, in the Atlantic. The long term average for those numbers is 6.4 and 2.7. However, the estimate for the total number of named storms is a bit higher than the average of 12.1, suggesting between 10 and 14 or so. We have already had one, before the official start of the season, but the Atlantic has been relatively quiet since then.
This Spring’s unprecedented flooding is of course directly related to climate change, and there isn’t a sane person on the Earth who doesn’t accept that as truth. You will have a harder time finding people accepting a link between tornado activity, which has been very high this year, and global warming, but it is also true that a) there has been a very well entrenched and active non-acceptance of that relationship for years in the meteorological community and b) it seems that having a few bad years in a row, as we have had with hurricanes, is required before enough people put their thinking caps on and think. So, I await a possible shift in position on tornadoes and global warming.
Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective by Benjamin (Ben) Cook is the book you’ve always needed handy when the dry side of climate or climate change comes up in conversation.
The relationship between rainfall, groundwater, evaporation and transpiration, vegetation, bodies of water, animal distribution, agriculture, humans, and atmospheric conditions (not to mention oceanic factors and topography) underlie many different realms of academia and policy. Almost nothing I’ve ever done in my anthropological research didn’t include the hydrologic cycle, climate, and related issues. The weather weirding we are currently watching across the globe, including the current heavy rains and tornadoes, are part of this, and the long lived California Drought, the one that ended just recently, is as well.
In Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, Cook looks at the dry end of the spectrum of the hydrologic cycle, but in so doing, he really has to cover the basics of rain related climate. There is math, and there is complicated science, in this book, but all of the material presented here is accessible to anyone who wishes to learn. If you are interested in climate change or agriculture, or paleoclimate, or any of that, Cook’s book is an essential reference, filling a gap that exists in the available range of current public-facing serious science books.
Cook covers the hydrologic cycle and the relationship between the hydrologic cycle and climatology. He defines the sometimes confusing concepts and measurements known as “drought” in a non-confusing and detailed way. I’ve found that in many discussions of drought, self defined experts who also happen to be climate change deniers tend to talk past (or over or around) others, making it difficult for the average non-expert to avoid frustration. Cook will arm you with the knowledge to stand up to such shenanigans!
Cook covers drought in the Holocene, and the relationship between climate change and drought. He provides two key detailed case studies (the American dust bowl, and droughts in the Sahel of Africa). He covers landscape degradation and desertification, and irrigation.
Drought: An Interdisciplinary Perspective is fully authoritative and thorough, and, as noted, very readable and understandable. Reading this book might make you thirsty but it will also make you smarter.
Ben Cook is a research scientist at NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and he teaches at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies.
Paul Douglas points out, as Item #1 in his thoughtful 6 Take-Aways From The Biggest Swarm of U.S. Tornadoes Since 2011, that “too many people still don’t know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means “watch out”… Go about your normal activities but stay alert… A Tornado Warning … means that a tornado has been spotted … It means life-threatening weather is imminent… it’s time to take evasive action.”
I’ll note that the words “watch” and “warning” are, as words, not sufficiently hierarchializable (to coin a term) for this job, perhaps. I mean, yes, it makes sense — what Paul Douglas says makes sense — but there could be warning signs of a thing that never happens, and we all agree that if only the watch had been more alert, the Titanic would have veered to the left sooner, thus sailing forward into obscurity instead of infamy. Maybe we need new words.
Paul notes that a “tornado emergency” is also a term of art, and it means that there is a confirmed big tornado “on the ground and capable of significant damage and loss of life, … issued when a large tornado is on the ground and pushing into a more heavily-populated suburban or urban area.” Maybe extending the definition of Tornado Emergency to mean any imminent threat with greater than a certain likelihood? Or would that water it down?
Paul also points out several other aspects, both falsehoods and important truehoods, about tornadoes, so you should just click through and read, and absorb and remember, 6 Take-Aways From The Biggest Swarm of U.S. Tornadoes Since 2011
Do you remember the old Dick Van Dyke Show episode where they had a contest to come up with a new word for “butter?” Don’t remember that? Neither do I, really, but I’m pretty sure it happened. I can not remember what word they came up with. There is evidence that words like “climate change” and “global warming” don’t spark the brain as much as words like “climate chaos” and “climate disruption.” I think that evidence is weak, and at least one study looking at people’s brains, purporting to show this, seems to have some limitations. The idea here is that the words or phrases are less or more effective because of the way they sound. Maybe, and to a large extent words DO have different levels of effectiveness. But how much a word has ever been heard probably strongly influences its effectiveness as well. But that can be much more subtle and nuanced than people may realize. An oft heard word may numb the listeners and fail to cause a brain spark. But at the same time, an oft-heard phrase can insinuate itself into the truth-ish ether that we all swim around in, causing something to become more real whether it is real or not.
Also, there is the “w” problem. Both “Watch” and “Warning” start with the same sound. At least they are not the same number of syllables, and at least they don’t rhyme.
Perhaps there should be three words in alphabetical order, at the beginning of the alphabet, allowing for us to speak of the “ABCs” of tornadoes.
Alert! — stay alert since tornadoes COULD form in your area today.
Buckle Down!! — There is a tornado or possible tornado in your area, assume for safety’s sake that you are in danger.
Crap!!!! — If you are listening to this warning you have not dug deep enough into your hole. DIG DEEPER!
Or something along those lines.
Ninety-seven percent of North Atlantic cyclones form after June 1st and before November 30th. Note that the end of the Atlantic hurricane season used to be October 31st, but it was moved because the hurricane scientist got tired of cleaning out their locker six times a year instead of just one time. Over the many years of tracking storms, 89 named storms have happened outside the named season.
So it is not utterly odd that Tropical Storm Andrea is now swirling about in the Atlantic, southwest of Bermuda.
It is possible, but unlikely, that Andrea will turn into a hurricane. It is too early to be sure bla bla bla but all the available information about this storm strongly indicates that it will move up the middle of the Atlantic and eventually become a large wet spot somewhere in Europe. I’m putting my money on Ireland. (yes, I now, too early bla bla bla, but Ireland.)
For your information, the next named storm will be Barry. Then…
But in a way, March might be the snowiest month anyway. Or not. You can be the judge. Continue reading Which month has the most snow in Minnesota? Not March
Minnesota established its national reputation as a snowy and cold state because of a series of real and fictional events. During this time, the population of Minnesota has grown considerably. I’ll tell you why this matters after I show you the important data. We will then use this new found understanding to evaluate a recent viral video in the light of changing climate.
1940, Armistice Day Blizzard (145 dead). Population: 2.7 million
1970 Blizzard episode of Mary Tyler Moore show (no casualties). Population: 3.8 million
1991, Halloween Blizzard (22 dead, 100 injured). Population: 4.3 million
2019 The Great Snows of 2019 (casualties not yet counted). Population: 5.7 million
The average total snowfall for the Twin Cities is 47 inches over the winter, over the last century or so. Prior to 1979 (inclusively) the average was 43.7 inches. After that date, the average has been 53.4 inches. That is an expected increase of 20% owing likely to added moisture in the atmosphere caused by global warming.
For comparison, the average total snowfall in Buffalo, New York is 94 inches. The average annual snowfall in Boston is 42 inches, more like Minnesota. It is said that Minnesota gets a lot of snow. But really, Minnesota is mostly a semi-dry state, where agriculture only happens with irrigation, and the snowfall is half what it is on the other side of the Great Lakes, and about the same as the east coast. (The east coast is wetter, but more of that falls as rain or, as is the case of Boston, dense slush.)
Since the famous Armistice Day blizzard, which surely contributed significantly to Minnesota’s reputation, the population of the state has doubled. Since the Mary Tyler Moore days, when Minnesota became known to most other Americans, population has gone up by something like 30%. Indigenous Minnesotans don’t reproduce that fast, and many move away (to California, mostly) so that is a much larger number that are totally new to the area, often from tropical or at least warmer, areas, than one might think.
Plus, Minnesotans are known to be masters of passive-aggressive. But this also means they are masters of another trait: Deep denial.
For all these reasons, the weather of Minnesota matters little, and the reputation not at all, as a foundation for the ability of Minnesotans to handle winter. Which brings us to the following video, which YOU MUST WATCH TO THE END:
Conclusions: Look out the window before you leave your garage!