Tonight, at the end of the news, Ann kidded that I’d be up all night watching Hurricane Charley. That really isn’t far from the truth. I’ve already taken a few peeks.
I’m just in awe of this storm. And Charley is different than most in that it will be very watchable with high resolution precision from the comfort of home.
The Internet has taken nearly all the information I use and made it available to anyone for free. It’s pretty spectacular. I don’t think there’s any other discipline that has so much of its raw data available, and most of it in real time. It wasn’t that many years ago that radar and other data were only available by subscription.
The best view of Charley has been from the Key West NEXRAD. NEXRAD stands for ‘next generation radar,’ but it’s commonly referred to as WSR88D (a reference to its contract designation) – probably because that’s nerdier.
With its incredible electronics and computer assistance, the radar sees precipitation nearly 300 miles out. I was able to look at Charley while he was on the far side of Cuba. Even at that distance the eye was easily seen. By animating a series of images, the counterclockwise rotation was also visible.
Now that Charley is north of Cuba, and back in the open water, I’m looking for signs that he might have weakened over land. At this moment the eye is slightly elongated. It’s not enough to signal disintegration or even significant weakening. Actually, at this point, conditions are perfect for re-intensification.
At the Dry Tortugas weather buoy, in the Florida Keys, the barometer is falling and the wind picking up. It’s only sustained at 20 knots now, but that will rise. The water temperature is about 87».
If you had been clinging to the buoy for the past few hours you would have noticed the sea coming up with more wave action. Strong thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds would move through sporadically. You would have seen rapidly moving clouds, but it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to realize they were part of a rotating pattern.
As far as I can tell, hurricane hunter aircraft have been flying through the storm tonight, even as it was very close to Cuba.
HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS 973 MB…28.73 INCHES.
STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 10 TO 14 FEET IS PROBABLY BEING EXPERIENCED
ALONG THE SOUTH COAST OF CUBA NEAR AND EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER
MADE LANDFALL. THE SURGE SHOULD GRADUALLY SUBSIDE AS THE HURRICANE
MOVES AWAY FROM CUBA.
STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 2 TO 4 FEET…ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS
BATTERING WAVES…CAN BE EXPECTED IN THE FLORIDA KEYS. STORM SURGE
FLOODING OF 10 TO 13 FEET IS ALSO POSSIBLE NEAR AND SOUTH OF THE
WHERE THE CENTER CROSSES THE FLORIDA WEST COAST.
When you consider the elevation of Key West, you realize a 2-4 foot forecast for storm surge is a big deal. The elevation of the airport is only 15 feet above sea level. A lot of the Key West coastline and other keys and islets will be under water.
A storm surge of 10-13 feet in the Tampa Bay area would be a natural disaster of huge proportions. There’s a large population near the coast who have never experienced a storm like this before. Many of the residents are older and evacuation will be difficult. Hurricane experts consider the area from Tampa Bay south to be our second most susceptible area after New Orleans.
Storm surge can be the big killer in hurricanes. In the Hurricane of 1900 all of Galveston was under water for a time!
If people say they had family who died or survived the storm, there is no doubt that they are referring to a family history that goes back more than 100 years.
For in Galveston, “the storm” always refers to the hurricane that tore across Galveston on Sept. 8, 1900, and left the city in ruins.
Those who managed, either by sheer luck or the grace of God, to survive the storm faced the challenge of moving forward. – Heidi Lutz, Galveston County Daily News
I’m waiting for the next run of the GFDL computer model to come out and then I’m off to bed. Even with the heavy iron of computing thrown at these models, we’re already 7 hours 30 minutes past the initialization data, and it’s not available. I’m told there’s so much traffic trying to download the numbers that they’re just dibbling out. I hope the Hurricane Center has a more direct pipe.
Blogger’s note – I have links on the right side of this page which lead to updated hurricane information from the Tropical Prediction Center.