Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Katrina - 5 Years Ago

Five years goes by very fast even when one of the most devastating natural disasters is concerned.  It was on that Sunday back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made landfall over New Orleans. It took a similar track to Hurricane Camille took back in 1969 over New Orleans.  This time, the damage was far more significant; the cleanup and rebuilding continues to this day.

Katrina made landfall over the Florida Keys days before as a tropical storm.

It weakened over Florida and quickly redeveloped into a major hurricane mainly due to the Loop Current, a current of warm water between the Yukatan Peninsula and Cuba.  The same current that was responsible for the steering of the 2010 Oil Spill.  The red color shows the Loop Current with Katrina's track over the top.

Katrina as a major hurricane shortly after intensifying in The Loop Current

Katrina's track from the Florida Keys to its New Orleans landfall is shown in this satellite photo blending several images with the track superimposed.

Katrina was a Category 5 shortly before landfall.  It weakened to a strong Category 3 as it made landfall with at least 80% of the city experiencing Category 1 or 2 level sustained winds. New Orleans was hit with winds of 125 miles per hour.  Below is a closeup high resolution satellite photo of the eye before landfall.

The eye over New Orleans

This graphic shows the level of the city compared to the level of the Gulf of Mexico.  You can understand  why 80% of the city was under water.

It proceeded inland with winds rapidly decreasing as shown below.

Hurricane Katrina's track headed north through Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio as a depression with heavy rains.
The total rainfall from Katrina was incredible across the south. 8 to 10 inches of rain fell across the eastern half of the state with a local report of 15 inches near the Mississippi border.  Amounts of 1 to 2 inches for us in Cleveland were common several days later.
The rainfall swath was similar to the rainfall areas created by the track of Hurricane Camille in 1969.

High winds were reported as far north as Detroit and Cleveland  of over 50 miles per hour.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This Summer vs. Last Summer

At this point in the summer, we are all ready for a break from the consistent heat and humidity.  The summer of 2009 was comsidered very cool whereas this summer has been one of the most consistently warm summers in decades.  Let's take a look why the sudden change in the pattern from summer 2009 to 2010.

We need to head to the steering current at 18,000 feet (the winds aloft) to see the large scale changes.

Notice the trough in the east last summer.  That kept cooler air over the Great Lakes and the heat south.
This year, the trough shifted west allowing heat to build in Northeastern Ohio.

The July temperatures in 2009 were WELL BELOW normal across the northern half of the country to include Cleveland.

This year, notice the temperature upswing across the Deep South and New England

Since APRIL 1st, last summer featured 56 days above 80 degrees through August.

This year, since April 1st, we've had 83 days above 80 degrees through August 17th.

What will this mean for this fall and early winter?  Remember this:  In late 2004, temperature in November and December through the middle of the month were WELL ABOVE NORMAL.  I cut my lawn on December 3rd.  What happened after that?  The pattern did a complete 180 degree turn producing more than 30 inches of snow over the last 15 days of December 2005.  So stay tuned.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hurricane Season's Cranking Up

The official hurricane season forecast back in late May and early June was hinting at a VERY active season for tropical storms and hurricanes.  So far, only 3 named storms and one hurricane.  Will this change?  Will the tropics get more active in the month of August?  All indications are that they will. 

Click here for the National Hurricane Center

Let's head out into the open Atlantic Ocean where the tropical storms often occur.  This year, the amount of dust coming off of the African continent has been above normal.  This has suppressed tropical storm development.  Notice that the organized cloud cover is south of the dust area? Thunderstorms have develops south and are heading west and northwest into warmer ocean waters.

Warm pockets of ocean water are forming in the central atlantic which coincides with the newest tropical depression.  We can expect the ocean to continue warm into August.

Closer to home, the tropics have been very quiet.  No organized storms in the last several weeks.

What is the forecast track on this new tropical system?  Check out the following map.  It looks eerily consistent bringing it closer to home.

Even the National Hurricane Center concurs on this forecast.

If you are vacationing along the east coast, this year and in the next several years could be very active with tropical systems and/or hurricanes impacting the east coast.

Stay tuned for more hurricane updates in the days and weeks ahead.