## Cyclone Phailin Will Do Major Damage

Cyclone Phailin struck the east coast of India Saturday evening (India is 12&#189 hours ahead of PDT). A few hours before landfall top winds were estimated at 120 knots, gusting to 145 knots (around 135 mph, gusting to 165 mph).

It will be a while before we know the true extent of the damage. It’s likely catastrophic.

A cyclone is the name used near the Indian Ocean for storms we call hurricanes. In the Western Pacific these same storms are called typhoons.

Storms like this kill in a multitude of ways. Here in the US the biggest threat is not the wind!

“In the last 30 years, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States.”
Ed Rappaport
National Hurricane Center

That’s likely the case in India as well.

The Indian coast on the Bay of Bengal is reasonably flat with small mountains as close as 15 miles from the shore. Tidal and inland flooding are likely. Mudslides on rain soaked hillsides are possible too.

The force of the wind is so strong it’s difficult to fathom based on our own personal experiences. I’m going to use a little math, but I’ll explain every step. It’s worth understanding.

The force exerted by wind is logarithmic. That means in the calculation we multiple the wind speed by itself–we square it.

Simply put, if you double the wind speed, you quadruple the force! A 60 mph wind has four times the force as a 30 mph wind. A 120 mph wind has 16 times the force as that 30 mph wind!

Take a sheet of standard 4’x8′ plywood–32 square feet. If it was hit directly by a 165 mph gust it would be subject to over a ton of force–2,230 pounds!

The formula is: wind speed x wind speed x .00256 equals the force per square foot. Multiply by 32 for a sheet of plywood. So…

165 * 165 *.00256 * 32 = 2230.272 pounds

It will be a while before we really know what’s gone on in India. However, based on what we know expect a major tragedy even though this storm was well forecast and warnings issued. Sometimes there’s just no place to go.

## Cyclone Phailin Takes Aim On India

Until a few minutes ago I hadn’t heard of Brahmapur. It’s an Indian city on the Bay of Bengal. There are around 350,000 residents–the size of Pittsburgh. The latest projections place Cyclone Phailin near Brahmapur as is makes landfall early Saturday evening local time (Saturday morning here in California).

This is no little storm. It’s likely to strike the coast with winds of 140 mph or higher. The Time of India quotes unnamed experts predicting winds over 190 mph!

Boston meteorologist Eric Fisher notes: “Over the past 200 years, 69% of tropical cyclone deaths worldwide were in India + Bangladesh.”

Squally winds speed reaching 45 to 55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph would continue along and off North Andhra Pradesh Coast during next 6 hours . Winds would increase in intensity thereafter with gale wind speed reaching 100 -150 kmph from forenoon of to-day i.e., 12th October 2013 and 210-220 kmph gusting to 235 kmph along and off coastal districts of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh at the time of land fall.

State of sea along and off North Coastal Andhra Pradesh will be rough to very rough and would become gradually phenomenal on 12th October 2013.

Storm surge with height 3.0 – 3.5 meters above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Srikakulam district during landfall.

Extensive damage to kutcha houses, some damage to old buildings, large scale disruption of power and communication lines, minor disruption of rail and road traffic, uprooting of trees, flooding of escape routes with extensive damage to Agricultural crops.

— ISSUED BY CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE, VISAKHAPATNAM

Years ago I attended a hurricane seminar featuring then director of the National Hurricane Center, Dr. Bob Sheets. He talked about these cyclones which hit the Indian subcontinent and surrounding areas. The results are often tragic.

The US is a rich country. When there are warnings it’s possible to move out of harm’s way. In poor countries that mobility doesn’t exist, nor do many well constructed shelters.

Dr. Sheets talked about some communities building berms, artificial hills, not as protection from the wind but refuge from flooding. It’s a low tech solution with a decent payoff, but people remain exposed.

It will take a few days for the real impact of Phailin to reach the outside world. “Fog of war” conditions always follow a storm of this magnitude. I fear what we’ll find.

## Sandy’s Now Official

People think meteorologists hype the weather. Not so. Well, at least not so where I can see.

Sandy is now officially a tropical storm. It’s 375 miles SSW of Kingston, Jamaica. Top winds are 45 mph.

It’s not moving! The slower the storm the more difficult to forecast.

The most likely scenario shows Sandy starting to move sometime Tuesday. By Wednesday she’ll be over Jamaica, then Eastern Cuba.

After that the picture is a little more blurry.

The technical discussion talks about Sandy the way a parent might gush over a newborn. All the conditions are right for growth.

A CENTRAL DENSE OVERCAST FEATURE APPEARS TO BE FORMING. IN ADDITION…INNER-CORE CONVECTIVE BANDING HAS DEVELOPED SOUTH AND NORTH OF THE CENTER… WITH OUTER BANDING FEATURES ALSO DEVELOPING OVER MUCH OF THE EASTERN SEMICIRCLE. UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW HAS EXPANDED AND IMPROVED IN ALL QUADRANTS…ESPECIALLY TO THE NORTHWEST WHERE IT HAD BEEN RESTRICTED BY AN UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH.

The spaghetti plots at the top of this entry hint at the most likely scenario, the storm goes out to sea!

The ECMWF aka, the “European” is the outlier, bringing Sandy up the East Coast, making landfall near the Hamptons on Long Island then heading northwest toward Monticello, NY.

That path would slice right through Connecticut!

The ECMWF is alone coming to this conclusion When so many models have a totally different solution the tendency is to assume the ECMWF has not yet properly modeled our current scenario. The problem is you can’t dismiss the European because it’s been so good in the past.

THE MODELS BEGIN TO DIVERGE SIGNIFICANTLY WITH THE NORMALLY RELIABLE ECMWF TAKING SANDY NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD CLOSER TO THE U.S. SOUTHEAST COAST…WHEREAS THE GFS…HWRF…GFDL…AND OTHER LESS RELIABLE MODELS TAKE THE CYCLONE NORTH-NORTHEASTWARD. GIVEN THE HISTORICAL RELIABILITY OF THE ECMWF MODEL…THE OFFICIAL FORECAST TRACK REMAINS SIMILAR TO THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY TRACK

What yesterday looked like a Wednesday arrival now looks more like next Tuesday morning.

Seriously, this is too far away for worry. The models aren’t yet locked in. We’re still a week out.

It’s going to take a lot more certainty before I start getting nervous.

It deserves close scrutiny.

## Isaac Makes Its Run Toward New Orleans

Katrina and Isaac are very different. All sorts of stuff can go wrong that didn’t go wrong last time. New Orleans could get more wind. I am worried Isaac’s forward speed will slow down Tuesday night meaning a longer period of tropical weather conditions and the problems that brings.

With each hour Isaac seems more likely to impact the Gulf Coast near New Orleans. It’s tough to hear that and not think of what happened seven years ago. That scenario is repeatable, but each storm is different. Certainly Isaac and Katrina are very different.

The Hurricane Center lists Isaac at 70 mph, just below hurricane strength. This afternoon a Hurricane Hunter airplane spotted 74 knot (85 mph) winds at around 5,000 feet. Surface wind would be lower. Objective satellite analysis this morning at 10:00 AM from the University of Wisconsin (they are the kings of satellite analysis and interpretation) pegged Isaac at 50 knots (58 mph).

Maybe it’s 70 mph, maybe it’s less. It makes little difference. Isaac is moving over warm, open water.

STRENGTHENING IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE RIGHT UP UNTIL LANDFALL OCCURS DUE TO THE VERY WARM WATERS THE CYCLONE WILL BE PASSING OVER AND THE VERY FAVORABLE UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW REGIME THAT ISAAC IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP BY 24 HOURS.

Let’s step back seven years for a second. Where was the worst wind damage from Katrina? Not New Orleans! Wind damage was worst on the Mississippi Coast.

New Orleans dodged the bullet on classical hurricane damage. Instead New Orleans suffered a failure of human design which came long after the storm was gone and the wind had mainly subsided.

Please read this blog entry I wrote early on the morning of August 30, 2005. It was when the outside world first heard a hint of what would become New Orleans’ plight.

A weaker storm would mean less water pushed up the Mississippi to levees now hardened (a little). That is my hope. That’s not a certainty.

As I said, Katrina and Isaac are very different. All sorts of stuff can go wrong that didn’t go wrong last time. New Orleans could get more wind. I am worried Isaac’s forward speed will slow down Tuesday night meaning a longer period of tropical weather conditions and the problems that brings.

Here in Connecticut the longer sustained period of easterly winds over Long Island Sound with Irene added to coastal flooding and structural damage.

Most likely landfall is Wendesday morning. Isaac will bring pain.

## It’s Hurricane Season… Really

Spoiler alert: If it came again today I’d expect the same result. Little has changed. And by historical standards Irene was on the low end of what a direct hit could be.

This is a good time to talk hurricanes because we’re now really in the season. I know it starts June 1, but the serious stuff (and Connecticut’s true susceptibility) doesn’t get going until late August. It’s like clockwork!

I could learn to enjoy the lazy life, but not like today. I’ve mostly been laying on the couch or standing. No sitting! No lifting! Nothing to irritate my tender parts.

I spent a little time this afternoon trading emails and phone calls with Peter Pach, Op-Ed Editor at the Courant. I’ve got the cover story in Sunday’s Opinion section. It’s a little look back at Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. We’re coming up on the anniversary.

Spoiler alert: If it came again today I’d expect the same result. Little has changed. And by historical standards Irene was on the low end of what a direct hit could be.

This is a good time to talk hurricanes because we’re now really in the season. I know it starts June 1, but the serious stuff (and Connecticut’s true susceptibility) doesn’t get going until late August. It’s like clockwork!

There are two systems currently running through the tropics. Let me dismiss Joyce first. I was worried about it for a day, but it doesn’t look like it will be strong and Joyce will most likely stay well out to sea.

Years ago storms like Joyce might have been missed. Be wary when you see us dip farther into the alphabet and talk about busy seasons. It doesn’t mean much. We’re quicker on the trigger today.

On the other hand Friday is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. August 24th saw the “A” storm. We’re now on “J.”

Isaac is another story. As I watched cable news today Isaac was a story because the Republican National Convention is next week in Tampa and because CNN reporters on-the-ground say the general population in Haiti have no hint it might come there! Wow.

Even if they knew where would they go?

The latest official forecast from the Hurricane Center has Isaac transiting Cuba the long way. Cuba is a mountainous island–hurricane kryptonite. Of course as soon as Isaac exits Cuba it’s in the Florida Straits then the Gulf of Mexico. Both are warm. Both will have minimal inhibiting factors.

What I’m getting at is even if Isaac comes off Cuba as a ratty depression conditions will be there for rapid reformation… or not. Hurricanes are quirky that way.

Earlier today Bill Karins MSNBC’s meteorologist said,

“I don’t see any way possible that Tampa’s going to be completely missed at this point.”

Seriously, Bill, I never would have said that. It’s Thursday. There’s a lot that can change. That’s more accuracy than science can provide.

I am also glad not to be Florida’s governor or Tampa’s mayor who both spent the afternoon blowing smoke and saying how prepared they are. Uh huh. I’m sure they’re ready for 50,000 extra souls all used to be treated like kings and being first in line. At least there will be a full complement of strippers and hookers (thanks again to CNN for that coverage).

More than likely the Republicans will have a poor impression of Tampa Bay weather, but no actual hurricane. It will remain the kind of romantic fantasy hurricane’s always are until you’ve experienced one first hand. That no electricity thing gets old in a hurry.

If Isaac survives Cuba the Northern Gulf looks most likely for landfall. No one is off the hook yet. It’s only Thursday

## There’s No Tropical Storm Beryl… Yet

From the National Hurricane Center: ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME MORE CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT ON SATURDAY OR SUNDAY…AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH CHANCE…80 PERCENT…OF BECOMING A TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

The Hurricane Season doesn’t begin until next week. We’ve already had Alberto. Now we might be getting Beryl.

From the National Hurricane Center: ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME MORE CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT ON SATURDAY OR SUNDAY…AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A HIGH CHANCE…80 PERCENT…OF BECOMING A TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

As I wrote during Alberto, there’s a reason we don’t usually get tropical systems this time of year. When conditions are conducive for intensification they’re only marginally conducive and only in a very small area.

Unfortunately one of the long range computer models brings Beryl up-the-coast by next Friday.

Likely? No. Possible? Yes.

Long range forecasting of tropical systems is notoriously poor. I’ll keep my eye on it.

## Everybody’s Curious About Invest 97

Of course they can also hit Florida or the Gulf or even Southern New England

There’s been a lot of chatter about Invest 97, the pre-tropical storm still pretty far out in the Atlantic. Right now the system hardly exists! In fact the map I chose to show (above) is a forecast map because you can’t find it on the latest observed analysis!

In spite of this people are petrified. This storm is certainly worth watching. It has to do with climatology.

Tropical systems more than any other I talk about are seasonally affected. Certain times of the season certain specific tropical basins are ‘open for business.’ Storms that form within those zones also have a moderately favored trajectory. It too changes with the season.

Most of the storms that form where Invest 97 is located head northward up the East Coast. Cape Hatteras is a favorite target. Of course they can also hit Florida or the Gulf or even Southern New England&#185. Any threat is still at least a week away.

This is not a weather prediction. Only a fool would predict a tropical system this far out. This is just an examination of what similar storms have done in the past. It should concern a lot of people.

&#185 – Approximately 1% chance of a Southern New England hit by this storm with hurricane force winds.