Why Ophelia Worries Me

Tonight, Tropical Storm Ophelia became Hurricane Ophelia. What, no graduation party? Mazel tov anyway.

This has been an interesting storm to watch, even if it seems to be working in slow motion.

If you looked at it yesterday, closed your eyes for 24 hours, and then looked again today, you haven’t missed anything. Though marginally stronger, Ophelia hasn’t really moved. That, to me, is where the fear is.

Hurricanes are steered by upper level winds. Any small puff will push them along. But there’s barely any upper wind at all in the vicinity of Ophelia. She is spinning like a top on a table… including the wobble.

The more well defined the upper winds, the easier it is to predict where the storm will go. Even if those winds waver, inertia is at work. An object in motion wants to stay in motion.

Conversely, light winds make forecasting ridiculously difficult. Yesterday, one of the official Hurricane Center forecasts had this storm dead in its track for three consecutive days. It’s not that they really felt that way… it’s that they didn’t have anything better to put.

It was as close as you’ll ever get to a non-forecast!

This would all be academic if Ophelia was out in the Atlantic. She’s not. She’s under 100 miles off the Florida Coast.

If I were living in Daytona Beach or Jacksonville or Charleston, I’d try not to be far from the radar until Ophelia moves out, if she ever does.

3 thoughts on “Why Ophelia Worries Me”

  1. Actually, I think it was a great non-forecast. The one thing that I’ve been wondering about is if the storm is likely to intensify or weaken as it sits there.

    I must admit, I’m no meterologist, so I’m mostly just repeating what I’ve heard elsewhere. One school of thought is that it will strengthen as it stays over warm water. Looking at Weather Underground, it appears as if the water around Ophelia is currently about 84 degrees. It would seem from this that the storm should be strengthening. However, the Weather Channel is reporting that dry air from Southeastern U.S. made its way into Ophelia’s circulation, weakening the storm back to tropical storm strength.

    What are your thoughts about Ophelia weakening or strengthening? Is it another one of these cases where the best forecast is a non-forecast?

  2. 60% of me says it directly hits Long Island. I see the intellicast.com track sends it off of Cape Cod. It’s this storm track that reminds of the Storm of ’38. What sent that storm suddenly moving north more than 1000 miles overnight? This one won’t do that so quickly, but I think we’re due.

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