WELCOME TO AUTUMN
A view of some great fall colors on a hill slope from www.orbitz.com
Well here we are, the first day of September, and the seasons will start to change from Summer to Autumn. I know what you are going to say, “But wait, doesthat not happen until the end of September?” And yes, you are right. The Autumnal Equniox officially comes around on September 22, 10:49 A.M. EDT. According to Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, “It is the summer’s great last heat, it is the fall’s first chill: They meet.”
But for us in the weather world, the Meteorological Fall Season starts on September 1st and goes until November 30th. This tends to make more sense, since temperatures generally begin to moderate around the beginning of the month, and summer releases its hold on the nation. Temperatures during the day may reach 80, but the nights cool into the upper 50s. Temperatures in the mountains will begin to moderate around the first of September, and the leaves start to change color. Check out this fall foliage map from www.bnbfinder.com.
THE BLUE MOON (sorry, I’m not referring to the beer)
A very cool sight was to behold up in the sky last night, it was the Blue Moon! The Blue Moon is described as being the occurrence of two full moons in one calendar month. We had one on August 1st and one on August 31st. I hope you had a chance to see it, because it will not be back for several years. The next blue moon will arrive on July 31, 2015. After that, we get two blue moons in 2018 when they fall within January and March. Poor February gets skipped over for having the chance of a blue moon due to its short number of days. Show some love to February, it needs it. Take a look at the view of the blue moon from beautiful Las Vegas. The lights of the casinos are trying to compete with the show in the heavens, sorry casinos, the show up above always wins.
LOOKING OUT FOR THE TROPICS
The name “Isaac” will likely never be forgotten by the residents along the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama where heavy rains came down and led to dire flooding situations. Hurricane Isaac slowed down as it approached the coast and continued to bring a torrent of rain on the land. Combine that with a storm surge, from the huge size of the storm, and we saw several areas become overwhelmed by the amount of water surging towards them. Now that the storm is raining itself out across the midwest, it begs the question, “What else could potentially come towards the United States?”
We are entering the climatological peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is when the wind shear is at its lowest, the sea surface temperatures are at their warmest and more tropical waves form in the ocean waters. On average, 3-5 storms form during the month of September. Here is an image (from NOAA), of the zones where storms are likely to form and their prevailing tracks.
Notice that storms can form close to home in the Gulf of Mexico and get pushed towards the Gulf Coast by steering winds. However, it is the storm path from the Cape Verde Islands (near Africa) that can sometimes generate the larger and more powerful storms because they have plenty of time to travel over open, warm waters without any land masses to impede their development. After September, the size of the areas where tropical cyclones can form begins to shrink due to colder waters and an increase in wind shear. Here is another image from NOAA showing the zones of development for October.
By November, the zone of development shrivels up to a small area around Cuba and towards the Bahamas. The end of the hurricane season is November 30th. Although if you remember the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season, you’ll know that rules are meant to be broken as storms formed as late as the last week of December! Tropical Storm Zeta (we ran out of names on the list that goes along with the English Alphabet and had to switch to the Greek Alphabet) lasted until the first week of January in 2006. That was a crazy season that rewrote the book on hurricanes.
Thank you for checking this blog, I hope you enjoyed it! Tune in tomorrow for more weather tidbits as well as an outlook for your Labor Day forecast.
$2 billion in damage from Hurricane Isaac? Details from Bloomberg Businessweek below.
“…The fact is, many people lack the resources to escape. Having no money, no mode of transportation and no friends or family in safe places means no choice but to weather the storm.” – from an NBC News story on why some people won’t (or can’t) evacuate to a safe spot before a hurricane.
Photo credit above: “A man makes his way down a flooded street in a boat in the aftermath of Isaac Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in Ironton, La. Isaac is now a tropical depression, with the center on track to cross Arkansas on Friday and southern Missouri on Friday night, spreading rain through the regions.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Hurricane Isaac May Cost Insurers $2 Billion; AIR Says. Details from Bloomberg Businessweek; here’s an excerpt: ”Isaac, the storm drenching Arkansas after making landfall in Louisiana as a hurricane, may cost insurers as much as $2 billion in the U.S., risk-modeling firm AIR Worldwide said. The industry’s claims costs, including wind and storm-surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial onshore properties, will be at least $700 million, the Boston-based firm said today in an e-mailed statement. The estimates are a fraction of the $41.1 billion cost for Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that struck Louisiana and caused flooding in New Orleans. Hurricane Irene, which lashed the U.S. East Coast last year, cost $4.3 billion.”
Photo credit above: “Two sailboats, the Sweet Dreams, foreground and the Caribe, were swept from their docks by Hurricane Isaac to the parking lot in front and beside Shaggy’s at Pass Christian, Mississipi, on Friday, August 31, 2012.” (Tim Isbell/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT)
149 Photos Capture Isaac’s Fury. Huffington Post has a good recap, and there’s only so much you can convey about a hurricane via text. The photos tell the story in a way no narrative ever will. Many locals, officials and members of the media didn’t pay Isaac the respect it was due. Intensity (the “category” of the storm) is important when estimating storm surge coming ashore, but in the end the track and forward speed of the storm is even more important when calculating the duration of the storm surge and total rainfall amounts. Isaac stalled, stuttered and sputtered, hitting Louisiana twice as a Category 1 hurricane, but that big, lazy loop prolonged the extreme rains (and 8-12 foot storm surge), allowing a Category 1 storm to create damage more typically found in a Category 2-3 hurricane. More details: “As Gulf Coast states began to assess the damage from Hurricane Isaac, photos and video started to trickle in of the devastation. Although the death toll has been minimal compared to Hurricane Katrina, fatalities have occurred, and damage was extensive in some regions. Rising floodwaters from Isaac have forced thousands of evacuations, catching many by surprise, reported the Associated Press. Pictures of Isaac’s impact reveal residents and homes caught in flood conditions. Up to half of Louisiana was left powerless on Thursday, and hundreds of thousands were in the dark in Mississippi.”
Flooding Spreads North. Jalen Brown captured this photo of severe flooding at Pine Bluffs, Arkansas Friday. Pic via Twitter.
Isaac Rainfall Totals. NOAA data shows over 20″ for metro New Orleans. Vero Beach, Florida picked up 16.6″ over 4 days.
Tropical Swirl. Yes, those high clouds spreading into southeastern Minnesota are the forerunners of “Isaac”, which has lost all tropical characteristics. Rain may spread as far north as Iowa and southern Wisconsin, the best chance of flooding from Missouri into central Illinois. IR satellite image: Naval Research Lab.
Drought-Denting Rains. NOAA HPC shows some 7″+ rains for Illinois, as much as 3″ as far east as Pittsburgh, all from the soggy remnants of Isaac.
Flood Potential. NOAA has outlined the greatest potential for flash flooding from St. Louis to Peoria, Champaign/Urbana, Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.
Billion Dollar Flood-Protection System Around New Orleans Proves Reliable. It passed the first test, a Category 1 hurricane. Will it withstand a Category 4 or 5? We’ll see, but so far so good, as reported by The Washington Post; here’s an excerpt: “Seven years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers was desperately trying to plug breaches in the city’s broken and busted levee system. Since those catastrophic days, the Army Corps has worked at breakneck speed — and at a cost of billions of dollars — to install new floodgates, pumps, floodwalls and levees across New Orleans. The work paid off. A day after Isaac hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, officials said the 130-mile flood protection system did its job.”
Photo credit above: Vincent Laforet, Pool, File – Associated Press). “In this Aug. 30, 2005 photo, floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina pour through a levee along Innter Harbor Navigational Canal near downtown New Orleans, LA, a day after Katrina passed through the city.”
Hurricanes Don’t Scare Natural Gas Anymore. Fracking has changed the equation; gas and oil prices no longer spike (as much) when a hurricane is churning into the Gulf of Mexico, littered with drilling rigs. Marketwatch explains: ”Even with much of the Gulf of Mexico’s energy production shut down as Hurricane Isaac approached the region earlier this week, the natural-gas market barely blinked — and that’s exactly what analysts said would happen. “Natural gas did not react like it has in previous storms because, with the rapid development of shale gas over the last several years, the Gulf is increasingly less important to overall gas supply,” said Kim Pacanovsky, managing director and senior research analyst for oil and gas at MLV & Co. in New York. As of Thursday, about 72.5% of the current daily natural-gas production in the Gulf was shut-in because of Isaac, according to U.S. government data. Price action in natural-gas market over the past few days, however, indicates just how little concern the market has for the production disruption.”
Storm Psychology: Why Do Some People Stay Behind? Great question, and NBC News does a good job providing credible reasons why many people can’t (or won’t) evacuate to higher ground in advance of a hurricane. Here’s an excerpt: “It’s the question so many of us have while watching news coverage of a hurricane or tropical storm like Isaac: Who are these people who don’t leave home even as an angry storm is advancing – and what are they thinking?! The short answer: For some, the up-and-leaving idea isn’t as easy as it sounds to those of us watching from a safe and dry distance. Actually, a 2009 article published in the journal Psychological Science sought to examine the reasons some people won’t evacuate, despite the urging or even mandates of city and state officials, by asking a group who would know: Hurricane Katrina survivors who weathered the storm at home.”
Photo credit above: “Tony Miranda takes a break from clearing out his home after it was flooded by Hurricane Isaac in LaPlace, La., Friday Aug. 31, 2012.” (AP Photo/The Advocate. Arthur D. Lauck)