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Posts from — October 2012

Frankenstorm Exits

The storm devolved into a normal winter storm early this morning and the special reporting ceased. Now the emphasis is on the damage it caused, including the loss of life experienced along the Atlantic Coast. It is fairly certain that the name “Sandy” will be retired from the list of storm names.

I mentioned a discussion I was reading about making changes to the Saffir–Simpson scale, because it is based solely in the wind speed, and Sandy’s winds were never that high. There are a lot of local people wondering how this storm could cause that much damage.

The problem is that while people repeat the old truism that ‘it’s not the wind, it’s the water’ they still rate hurricanes based primarily on the wind speed.

What I saw looking at the numbers was a storm that would have been a Category 3 storm without the high wind shear it was fighting beginning in the Bahamas. It had the barometric pressure and surge associated with Category 3 storm, but the winds of a Category 1 when it approached landfall in New Jersey.

I rarely mentioned fact is that sea level changes based on the barometric pressure. Normal sea level occurs at the normal pressure of 1013.25 millibars. For every millibar of drop below that point, sea level rises a centimeter. Sandy went ashore with a pressure of 940 millibars. it was on a mound of water that 73 centimeters [28.74 inches] above normal sea level. You add the rising tide, and the water being pushed by the winds, the effects are devastating.

We build for the water down here. The first floors on all of the newer buildings on our barrier island are either open parking areas, or designed with break-away walls front and rear, so that when the surge hits it flows through the first floor without knocking the building off its foundation.

We obviously need to find a new way of rating hurricanes to deal with the huge wind field, low pressure storms like Sandy, because people don’t seem to understand what the guys at the National Weather Service were yelling about when they figured out where this storm was heading.

This storm was bad news from start to finish. The Cubans have one of the best hurricane response plans around, and they were amazed at the damage that Sandy caused when it passed over Eastern Cuba as a small Category 2 storm. My concern is that Sandy may be the new ‘normal’.

October 31, 2012   Comments Off

All Hallowed Evening

Jack o' lanternWhether you celebrate Celtic New Year’s Eve [Samhain], the evening before All Saints Day [Halloween], or the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 [Reformation Day], have a happy one.

Wikipedia does its normally thorough job of covering all of the bases on the holidays that share October 31st.

These are my remembrances of a traditional American Halloween.

In the Celtic/Anglo-Saxon tradition there was a ritual placation on the evening before All Saints Day. People made offerings to evil spirits to quiet them before the celebration of the Holy Day. It was a kind of insurance. The priests said there were no spirits, but it couldn’t hurt to make a little offering just in case the priests were wrong and the folk lore was right. This changed into an excuse for games. If some expected mischief, others were more than willing to provide it, often exacting small revenges for perceived injuries.

In its continuing evolution in the United States we ended up with Halloween, which I personally preferred to Christmas as a child. There were too many adult things involved with Christmas, and while the toys were nice, the food was better, from a child’s point of view, at Halloween.

[Read more →]

October 31, 2012   3 Comments

No Escape

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail Dennis the Peasant tells King Arthur: “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” If Dennis had encountered the Electoral College he might have had a bit more respect for ‘watery tarts throwing swords’.

Americans can’t vote for President, they vote for 538 strangers whose identities are rarely known, and those 538 people elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Even though they pledge to vote for specific people, there isn’t much that can happen to them if they decide to vote for someone else, other than being labeled as ‘unfaithful electors, tsk, tsk’.

While Frankenstorm took the top spot away from politics for a while, it crept back in. I was reading the comments on a hurricane site last night, and in the middle of a discussion about finding new scale to indicate to people how bad any particular storm might actually be, up popped a comment about how much better Rmoney would have handled the situation. People complained, but then someone else made a comment about Zero and things degenerated.

I have been receiving multiple phone calls on my landline for the past week from the RNC trying to sell me on their brand of snake oil. I pick up the phone immediately because I have friends and relatives in harms way who might need some help, so it’s really annoying.

I can’t wait for this election to be over.

October 30, 2012   Comments Off

Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy – Day 9

Post-Tropical Cyclone SandyPosition: 41.3N 79.4W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: Northwest [320°] near 8 mph [13 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 40 mph [ 65 kph].
Wind Gusts: 60 mph [ 95 kph].
Minimum central pressure: 992 mb ↑.

Currently about 50 miles [ 80 km] East-Northeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

[Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) reporting]

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select "Hurricanes" for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

October 30, 2012   Comments Off

Thoughts From The Sideline

Over at Corrente in comments Hipparchia provides her preparedness list. Because I ran into it, I added, don’t bring your grill inside for cooking and heat, because it is a source of carbon monoxide, just like a generator.

Angela Fritz has a State by state impact forecast for the storm, and Shaun Tanner has Latest State By State Information From Weather Underground Coverage. Both blog at Weather Underground.

The BBC reported that the replica HMS Bounty was abandoned amid Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina coast. The Coast picked up 14 crew members and searched for the two others. They recovered the body of one of the missing, but the captain of the vessel is still missing.

The vessel started taking on water, and then lost power, which stopped the pumps.

I caught a bit of a news conference by NYC Mayor Bloomberg who is tired of people calling 911 about flooding that doesn’t involve a threat to lives, and about people driving around the city. There is extensive flooding in the city, and the number of passable roads is limited. The tunnels and bridges are closed until further notice, so there is no point in driving around.

This was another major weather event at the end of a month, which is bad news for poor people. They don’t have the money to leave, or to buy extra anything. Someone ran a story about the crowds at WalMart one minute after midnight on the first of the month. People are there so they can have something to eat before they go to bed, and the first thing in the morning. In many places that’s when the food stamp benefit card is updated for the month.

It is going to be a very long night in the Northeast.

October 29, 2012   23 Comments

Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy – Day 8

Post-Tropical Cyclone SandyPosition: 39.8N 75.4W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: Northwest [305°] near 18 mph [30 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph [145 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 485 miles [780 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 175 miles [280 km].
Minimum central pressure: 952 mb ↑.

Currently about 10 miles [ 15 km] Southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This is the final advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The first Hydrometeorological Prediction Center advisory will be at 4AM CDT.

The storm made landfall at 7PM CDT at Atlantic City as a post-tropical cyclone.

Hurricane force winds are expected from Chincoteague, Virginia to Chatham, Massachusetts. Tropical storm force winds extend North from that area to Merrimack River, Massachusetts, and South of that area to Duck, North Carolina.

As forecast, the storm has turned towards the coast and strengthened. In addition to the misery along the coast, there will been heavy, wet snows in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, with the heaviest accumulations in West Virginia.

At 10AM CDT sustained tropical storm force winds were being reported from Long Island to Virginia, including Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select "Hurricanes" for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

October 29, 2012   Comments Off

Frankenstorm Gets Geeky

Hurricane Sandy is probably not actually going to make US landfall this week. An intense winter storm with hurricane force winds, high storm surge, and flooding rains will be coming off the Atlantic, probably centered in Southern New Jersey, but it won’t be Hurricane Sandy.

You are not seeing Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches and Warnings along the coast from Virginia to Massachusetts, you are seeing coastal flood watches and warnings and high wind advisories.

When the three storms merge over the Atlantic Sandy will lose its tropical characters and transition to a post-tropical cyclone. High winds and drenching rain do not a hurricane make. Much of the energy of Frankenstorm will come from the temperature differential among the systems involved, not the warm ocean water. The National Hurricane Center will stop issuing advisories and reporting will continue from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC).

Dr Masters gives his view of the storm which is already responsible for over 60 deaths, the majority in Haiti, and covers the 7.7 earthquake on the Canadian Pacific Coast that generated a small tsunami [a 3-foot wave in Hawaii].

Angela Fritz notes that Sandy’s 450 nautical mile wind field is second only to Olga’s 600 nm field in 2001 on the list of largest Atlantic tropical cyclones.

New York City is already shutting down the subway. That makes a lot of sense to turn off the power to prevent shorting from flooding. The storm surge in New York could be as high as 11 feet, which will cause flooding, even without the rain.

October 28, 2012   4 Comments

Hurricane Sandy – Day 7

Hurricane SandyPosition: 34.5N 70.5W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: Northeast [035°] near 14 mph [22 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph [145 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 520 miles [835 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 175 miles [280 km].
Minimum central pressure: 950 mb.

Currently about 470 miles [ 760 km] South-Southeast of New York City.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Duck, North Carolina including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and Bermuda.

The storm has started its turn back towards the coast.

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select "Hurricanes" for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

October 28, 2012   Comments Off

A Chilly Evening

The cold front that will become part of Frankenstorm passed through early this morning and dropped the local temperature 20°. It wasn’t that bad during the day, but it makes for a cold night, cold enough for Ringo to come inside and be civil with her daughter to get some additional warmth.

Absorbing all of the uproar over the comments of Richard Mourdock, I was attracted to this Juan Cole post that featured this quote:

I believe that the value of life is the same whether this embryo is the result of fornication with relatives or non-relatives or valid marriage. In Sharia life has the same value in all cases.

Sheikh M. A. Al-Salami, Third Symposium on Medical Jurisprudence l

For some reason I have serious doubts that Sheikh Al-Salami or Mr. Mourdock feel the same way about capital punishment or war. Such people seem to be able to find exceptions to “the rule” when it comes to people they don’t like, but no exceptions for women.

They have the right to believe whatever they want, but they have no right to impose their beliefs on others through the government which is what they seem to want.

The copyright on the Bible expired a long time ago, but just because you can change the meaning and intent doesn’t mean you should do it, or that anyone should accept your interpretations.

October 27, 2012   Comments Off

Hurricane Sandy – Day 6

Hurricane SandyPosition: 30.9N 74.3W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: Northeast [040°] near 14 mph [22 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph [145 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 520 miles [835 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 105 miles [165 km].
Minimum central pressure: 960 mb ↓.

Currently about 305 miles [ 490 km] South-Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the South Santee River, Soouth Carolina to Duck, North Carolina including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and Bermuda.

The storm is making the forecast turn to the Northeast, paralleling the US coast. It is also maintaining its hurricane status while expanding its wind field. The barometric pressure has been dropping this morning, indicating it has a lot of power in reserve if the wind shear abates. All of the major models are showing a US landfall.

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select "Hurricanes" for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

October 27, 2012   4 Comments

Frankenstorm

People have started referring to the result of Hurricane Sandy joining with the Nor’easter currently moving towards the coast as Frankenstorm – alluding to the fact that it will be made up of parts of multiple storms and is likely to be a ‘monster’.

The CBC has a nice introduction to what is going on: ‘Frankenstorm’ may be headed for Eastern Canada, U.S., and Wikipedia covers the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991, the last time this happened.

This will be different than the 1991 event because that storm stayed in the Atlantic, while this one is coming ashore.

In a bit of serendipity, xkcd has a comic strip today that covers the end of the 2005 hurricane season when they ran out of names and had to use the Greek alphabet. The captions are actual statements by forecasters in their public advisories. It gives you a sense of how abnormal/different things have become in recent years.

Some people think the weather forecasters are overestimating the impact of this storm. I would point out that the last time I have read warnings like this from the National Weather Service was for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hope for the best, but take this sucker seriously.

October 26, 2012   Comments Off

Hurricane Sandy – Day 5

Hurricane SandyPosition: 27.7N 77.1W [10PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: North [010°] near 7 mph [11 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph [145 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 415 miles [665 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 70 miles [110 km].
Minimum central pressure: 969 mb ↓.

Currently about 395 miles [ 630 km] South-Southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the East Coast of Florida from Jupiter Inlet to St Augustine, the South Santee to Duck including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and Great Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Florida East Coast from St Augustine to Fernandina Beach, the Savannah River to the South Santee River, and Bermuda.

The storm is dealing with heavy wind shear, which is causing a weakening trend, but it is radically expanding its wind field, and is expected to regain strength when the shear abates.

Here’s the link for NOAA’s latest satellite images.

[For the latest information click on the storm symbol, or go to the CATEGORIES drop-down box below the CALENDAR and select "Hurricanes" for all of the posts related to storms on this site.]

October 26, 2012   Comments Off

Friday Cat Blogging

Challenge

Friday Cat Blogging

It’s mine and I don’t share!

[Editor: Mini-Sox is protective of his food, with good reason. He is generally the first or second cat I see when I dole out the wet stuff. The camera decided to focus on the house rather than his face, so it's slightly blurred.]

Friday Ark

October 26, 2012   4 Comments

I Don’t Want To Alarm Anyone, But …

Looking at the latest discussion for Hurricane Sandy and the US forecast maps, if you live from the Chesapeake Bay up to the Gulf of St Lawrence you might want to have three days of non-perishable food and some emergency lighting available for the coming week.

There is a Nor’easter sitting over Lake Superior that is extending a trough to the East Coast that is probably going to attract Sandy and pull the storm to the coast, rather than heading out to the Atlantic after beating up on the Bahamas. If this happens the results are called ‘Perfect Storms’ and are effectively icy cold hurricanes with very large wind fields. As this is happening when tides along the coast are at their highest point for the month, the surge will be higher than normal.

You can expect power outages, rain, sleet, snow, gusty high winds, and generally miserable conditions. Sandy will feed a lot of moisture into the mess, so flooding will certainly be an issue.

Nothing is set in concrete yet, but it doesn’t look good for the East Coast next week, and Sandy’s wind field is about to expand after its rapid intensification yesterday. Start watching the weather, and prepare for the possibility.

October 25, 2012   4 Comments