It’s a tired story, I know, but every time there’s a potential for a tropical soaking residents of Texas just can’t help but perk up their ears. “Where? South Carolina?! Oh, come on!”
It’s true. South Carolina is in the crosshairs, this time.
Tropical Disturbance 50 is now about 655 miles southeast of Miami. It’s a new storm so data is limited at this time. It’s drifting northwest and its maximum sustained winds are 20 mph. That doesn’t sound like much, but there is some strengthening likely as we head into early next week. Strengthening, that is, to tropical storm force — not hurricane force. In other words, the perfect type of storm needed in Texas to begin chipping away at the 30+ inch rainfall deficit for places like Houston and Austin.
Not only will the storm not likely reach hurricane force (chances for hurricane development are just 15%) it will weaken quickly as it reaches the Georgia/South Carolina border so that tropical storm winds will be confined to coastal regions. Though not expected, a small shift in track could keep the storm off the coast and over the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream — and that could change everything. That scenario is not expected, though the next name on the Atlantic tropical storm list is Rina.
As for rainfall, the Bahamas and southern Florida should expect scattered rain showers and thunderstorms, some with heavy rainfall through the weekend; especially so for Florida on Sunday. Much-needed showers and widespread thunderstorms are expected for Georgia and South Carolina Monday and Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Philippe continues churning in the central North Atlantic while being no threat to land. This storm has been plugging along since the National Hurricane Center named it as a tropical depression and then a tropical storm on September 24.
Elsewhere, there’s not much going on. We are, however, keeping an eye on the western Caribbean. Not only is this a seasonally ripe area for development, but the arrival of the MJO by mid-month may help develop something. We’ll see…
It was a long, hot summer here in Texas and I couldn’t be happier about the cooler weather finally settling in over the area. Technically, it’s not exactly cool weather per-se, but when temperatures go from being 10 degrees above average to about average for this time of year (in the mid 80’s for highs) I would certainly say it’s welcomed relief.
As of today we are still almost 30 inches below average in rainfall for the year and it doesn’t look like conditions will improve anytime soon. La Niña conditions typically signal drier than normal weather and this will be the case over most of the Deep South through October as drier than normal weather dominates from central and east Texas eastward to the western Carolinas.
Most of Texas and parts of OK, KA and NM are in an exceptional drought, which is the highest drought category. A good portion of GA into eastern AL and western SC are in an extreme drought. Image: U.S. Drought Monitor
With the ongoing drought and the record breaking heat we’ve had all summer long, the colors of fall might not be as picturesque this year compared to previous years. There are three things that greatly influence the colors of leaves: temperature, sunlight and soil moisture. As the days get shorter, the amount of sunlight decreases which reduces the process in the leaves known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color, is reduced as temperatures get cooler and leaves start taking on their beautiful fall colors. Fall foliage will certainly be impacted this year across drought-stricken areas as leaves are expected to turn and fall before they have a chance to develop their brilliant colors.
After the extreme heat, wildfires and the ongoing drought across most of Texas, the colors of fall probably won’t be as spectacular this year. For instance, in Abilene, November is the peak month for fall foliage, but this year we could see leaves turning and falling earlier. In East Texas about 100 miles east of Dallas, there have been some reports of oak trees already turning brown. More importantly, the eight-county area surrounding the Houston area faces the loss of 10 percent of its 660 million trees. Forget the fall foliage; there are trees at stake across the entire state. The City of Houston alone needs $4.5 million in tax dollars to remove 15,000 trees from city parks and esplanades that have died due to the lack of rain this year. The fall foliage here in Texas won’t be anything to brag about this year, but most importantly, hopefully we’ll get measurable rain before more trees die.
On a brighter note, not all of us will have a dull fall as beautiful fall colors continue to explode from Maine to Pennsylvania. Check out where the best foliage is already (see below).
Fall foliage is at its peak across parts of Vermont. Image: www.foliage-vermont.com
Accosted is the wrong word, but on two occasions this past weekend “friends” of mind said something along these lines: “Hey, Weatherman! Where are all the hurricanes you and your ilk predicted.” I told them to go back to cutting the grass, but their curiosity isn’t unfounded.
As of today, with Tropical Storm Ophelia racing off to the northeast past Newfoundland and Tropical Storm Phillippe hinting at intensification beyond 24 hours, there have been 16 named storms but only four hurricanes. To put this in perspective, a normal season – based on climatology – would see a season total of 9-12 named storms, with 5-7 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). Preseason forecasts indicated the 2011 season would be more active than normal, but not by much. As an example, Colorado State’s Philip Klotzbach (the keynote speaker at the 2010 and 2011 ImpactWeather Hurricane Seminar) preseason forecast indicated 16/9/5 (named/hurricanes/majors), NOAA’s broad forecast was 14-19/7-10/3-5, while ImpactWeather’s forecast of 14/8/4 was just a little bit lower than the Klotzbach prediction.
Where are all the hurricanes? Indeed that is the question. The answer however, remains unclear. Yes, the Saharan air layer (SAL) can be blamed for part of the inactivity, but not all of it. Forecasters and computer models take the SAL into consideration with each forecast, but for a forecast to be so far off it’s usually something unexpected that is to blame. For instance, mid-latitude dry air is thought to be having an affect on the lower number of hurricanes this year. For much of the summer Europe had a strong high pressure system in place and that dry air, driven clockwise off the southern edge of the high, intruded into the Atlantic. Dry air is not conducive to hurricane formation. Further post-season analysis will be required no doubt, but there is still a third of the hurricane season to come. The final nail has yet to be driven into the coffin known as the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Far from it.
In fact, as if being delivered by FedEx just as the focal point of tropical storm generation shifts to the Caribbean, the MJO is about to arrive in the eastern Pacific — and the Madden-Julian Oscillation is well-known as a hurricane season enhancer. Consider the MJO as a “pulse,” or an atmospheric wave that travels eastward from the Indian Ocean with enhanced thunderstorm and tropical activity associated with it. With the MJO moving into such a position, it is expected to produce a potential flare of tropical activity in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico over the next few weeks.
But is it enough to bring the number of Atlantic storms in line with preseason forecasts? Only time will tell, but to expect an additional four storms to reach the ImpactWeather preseason forecast, or the five storms predicted by the Klotzbach forecast? That may be asking too much. The climatological peak of hurricane season is September 10. After the tenth, we start to see fewer storms as the tropical North Atlantic begins to see the early signs of the approaching winter. By this time, we also see the end (or the beginning of the end) of the Cape Verde season, leaving the most prime development regions to be the Caribbean, the southwestern waters of the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Timed with the arrival of the MJO as mentioned previously, it may be too early indeed to lay to rest the current Atlantic storm season, but time is short if the preseason forecast is to be a success.
And let’s not forget that late season storms can still be quite catastrophic. The “W” storm in 2005, Wilma, formed on October 15th east southeast of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea, then moved generally west to the Yucatan Peninsula then curved sharply northeast to make landfall as a major hurricane on the southwestern coast of Florida on October 24. All told, Hurricane Wilma was directly responsible for 23 deaths and more than $23 billion dollars in damage, which ranks the storm in the top five of costliest storms ever recorded in the North Atlantic.
While the stock market packs on another day of gains, the temperatures are set to move in the opposite direction over the next few days. Both trends are welcome news, given the past several months of market volatility and scorching temperatures.
ImpactWeather Sr. Meteorologist Fred Schmude provided YourWeatherBlog with a look at the next few days: “The flow pattern is definitely taking on a different configuration over the next week as a large upper-level trough deepens over the eastern U.S. This will allow cooler Canadian air to pivot southward toward the Gulf Coast by this weekend bringing a much cooler and drier air mass to regions in desperate need of a pleasant change. Though most of the coldest air will slip off to the north and east of the southern regions of the U.S., a change in the weather pattern is welcome news to anyone in the southern half of the country.
“However, before this happens southeast Texas will see an increasing risk for mainly late afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms over central and southeast Texas through Friday as a weak stationary front collides with hot daytime temperatures and high humidity levels moving northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The best chance for rain will generally remain just to the north of the Houston area for today, but will likely shift a little more south on Wednesday and Thursday. Given the circumstances, any storms that develop could quickly become severe with the primary threat being strong downburst winds in excess of 50 mph, hail and intense cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Rain chances are expected to end on Friday followed by pleasantly cooler and drier air for the weekend and into early next week. Temperatures are likely to fall into the 50s over most of the southeast Texas by this Sunday and Monday morning with daytime highs leveling off in the lower to mid 80s.
“Afternoon temperatures for this time of year in Southeast Texas are typically expected to be in the mid-to-upper 80s, while overnight temperatures fall into the mid-to-upper 60s. Northern areas that will see more of the cold air will also take a decidedly cooler turn. Milwaukee, for instance, will see highs only in the upper 50s Friday then down to near 40 by Saturday morning — or about 10-12 degrees cooler than normal.”
This is a recap of a posting from last week and the only thing that’s changed since then is that more than 240 people have signed up to attend. The only other thing that’s happened since then is that I’ve joined in on two practice sessions for this presentation and I can say with all honesty that it’s a valuable use of half an hour, not only for any business continuity neophyte but for seasoned veterans as well. This is the sixth presentation in a year-long series of BC/DR webinars that are sponsored by ImpactWeather and, even for me – and I’ve been at this for a lonnnggg time – so far they’ve all been interesting and educational. And I plan to keep it that way.
And come to think of it, aren’t we all business continuity professionals? Regardless of your profession or position, shouldn’t we all be engaged in doing what we can to make sure any significant business disruption is quelled as soon as possible? Shouldn’t we take the steps to mitigate the possible/likely/imminent disruption well before it happens? So, join us tomorrow. It’s free. And, like I said, it’s educational and interesting. Here’s what I wrote last week:
As with many critical processes, getting started is often the hardest part. Join us on September 22nd at 10:30C for BCP 101 – A Business Continuity Planning Beginner’s Checklist, an introduction to Business Continuity Planning that will help you not only get the ball rolling but actually start the process with immediate momentum. Learn more about the basics of disaster recovery, understand what you can do for an unplanned interruption and initiate simple steps to improve your preparedness today.
Webinar presenter Bob Boyd is president of Agility Recovery Solutions, an industry leader in helping all types of organizations worldwide to assess their threats, evaluate their resources and produce tangible, effective response plans. Bob is an interesting, engaging presenter.
- The 10 Steps to Preparedness
- Causes of Unexpected Disasters – it’s a longer list than you’d expect
- How to Assess Your Critical Business Functions
- Creating Your Own Customized Plan – it’s easier than you think
- How to Constantly, Objectively Refine Your Response
After registering you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. We’ll see you tomorrow.