Irene’s Spaghetti Hasn’t Come Together

Don’t think meteorology hasn’t changed in my 27 years here. It has! We have so many more tools. We have more insight. We are more accurate.

I’m sitting on my sofa staring at the spaghetti plots. Don’t think meteorology hasn’t changed in my 27 years here. It has! We have so many more tools. We have more insight. We are more accurate.

Do you need to know how the sausage is made? Do you care how I make my decisions? The weather is more important than me, but if I don’t make it fun and interesting you won’t come to watch. I know you can get the weather a million different places.

Someone on Facebook wrote they enjoyed tonight’s figure skater analogy. In the studio Brent Hardin stopped to ponder how it all tied in with the “Conservation of Angular Momentum.” I like doing stuff like this.

I always hear how TV is dumbed down. No one has stopped me from assuming you’re smart.

Oh… here’s what I was talking about. If you watch a figure skater start a spin their arms are outstretched. To speed up they pull their arms in toward their body. It’s called the “Conservation of Angular Momentum.” It’s one of the first rules you learn in physics.

It works the same way in meteorology. When the eye of a hurricane contracts it’s a sign the storm is spinning faster. The eyewall spins faster first then that increased motion spreads out.

That makes this significant:


Hurricane Irene is over warm water now. The Bahamas, barely an impediment in the tropical process, is now in the rear view mirror.

NHC will up the indicated wind speed (these are really educated guesses on their part) from 115 mph sometime later today. That seems overwhelmingly likely.

The spaghetti plot tonight is a series of parallel lines with 250 miles between the east and west outliers. Great. Thanks. It’s tough to derive a consensus and come up with a reasonably accurate forecast when presented with that!

The GFS moved west a few runs ago, but has held consistent since then and seems to form the basis for the official track from NHC. The 00Z GFS which came out too late for the official forecast adds some additional confidence NHC might be on to something!

My worry is a small shift, 30 or 40 miles, could make a huge difference. That’s why NYC and Connecticut to a lesser extent are so tough for a storm to “hit.” Most miss us. The window a storm must pass through is exceptionally narrow.

There are few storms that require the precision in forecasting a hurricane does. It’s daunting.

I’ve got no choice but to stick with my call for hurricane conditions Sunday in Connecticut. It’s still the most likely outcome, but by no means a lock.

7 thoughts on “Irene’s Spaghetti Hasn’t Come Together”

  1. Just for the heck of it I went on Stormpulse and looked at the storm track of hurricane Gloria. I was amazed because it looked almost identical to Irene.

  2. Connecticut is fortunate to have your mix of knowledge (meteorology and local knowledge) and reason to trust you. You are like the fun professor who everybody listens to a little bit more when you are suddenly dead serious. Few, if any, like you. Good luck to you and my CT friends these next few days.

    1. Sometimes Typos are funny. DAF lauds Geoff in the first sentence. Then he (she?) notes that “Few, if any, like you”


  3. Geoff…You and Dr Mel rule!
    I’ve always liked the way you describe the “why” weather happens so a non meteorologist can understand it.

  4. Geoff, I’ve been getting the most up-to-date and easy to understand information on Irene from your site than any other medium! Keep up the great work!!!

  5. The best made plans………….we will be moving our garden party indoors on Saturday afternoon. Don’t want to take any chances. I feel really sorry for all the weekend weddings that are planned. Thanks, Geoff. I love reading your blogs. You can take any topic and make it interesting. But, we really appreciate your sharing all your hurricane knowledge with us. Thanks!

  6. Just drove by the beach here in Madison…only three houses directly facing the beach with plate glass windows are being worked on with plywood covering windows, etc. What on earth are these people waiting for?

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