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posted on 04 September 2017

Tracking Irma while also Assessing Harvey Impacts

Written by Sig Silber

Please click here to access the updated report on IRMA.

Special Landing Graphic for Hurricane IRMA

Irma has replaced Harvey as the major threat to CONUS.

Part A will be the current weather forecasts as they involve Irma. This analysis will also address all other severe weather impacting CONUS and perhaps the Islands that may be at risk from Irma.

Part B will be the physical and human impacts of Harvey and Irma if it comes to that.


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Part A.  Here we focus on the Meteorological Aspects of the Storms impacting or potentially impacting CONUS. We attempt to keep this information up to date. We will update this information frequently and one can also access some of this information directly from NOAA here if it has Hurricane status or potential or here if it has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm. It is our goal to provide in this continually updated report the information that readers will find most useful. But those links have additional information.

For some purposes, you might want to consult our Monday Weather and Climate report as that report has additional information on the overall weather situation. You can always find the location of all of our reports by clicking here.

Let's Focus on Irma.

Latest Reported Track Forecast

Offical Irma Track

The probabilities of there being a miss for CONUS are declining based on a succession of small changes in the track forecast. The chances that it will not impact the Antilles are almost zero. So this is a serious storm. We need to pay attention to the Bermuda High re the impact on CONUS. It is too soon to forecast the odds of landfall on CONUS but they are much higher than yesterday and the day before.

Latest Irma Discussion

Current Conditions and Short-Term Forecast.

Hurricane Irma Discussion Number 22 NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL 500 PM AST Mon Sep 04 2017

Irma remains an impressive hurricane in satellite imagery.  The eye has become a little smaller and cloud filled this afternoon, perhaps the result of an ongoing eyewall replacement.  An Air Force reserve reconnaissance aircraft reported a double-eyewall structure and double wind maximums during the first pass through Irma but noted that the eyewalls had consolidated somewhat during their second pass through the center.  The aircraft measured flight-level wind of 121 kt in the northeast eyewall and SFMR winds of 113 kt. Based on these reports, the peak intensity has been increased to 115 kt, making Irma a category four hurricane.

The hurricane will be moving through an environment of low vertical wind shear, a moist mid-level atmosphere, and increasing upper-ocean heat content.  These conditions favor intensification and the intensity guidance continues to call for some additional strengthening during the next couple of days.  However, there are likely to be eyewall cycles that are difficult to predict, which could result in some fluctuations in intensity.  Barring land interaction with the islands of the Greater Antilles, Irma is forecast to remain a powerful hurricane throughout the 5-day forecast period.

Irma has been moving a little south of due west today, and the longer-term motion estimate is 265/11 kt.  The hurricane will reach the southwestern portion of a strong mid-level ridge that is centered over the central Atlantic later today or tonight.  This should result in a westward, then west-northwestward turn over the next 24 to 36 hours.  This motion is expected to bring the hurricane near or over the northern Leeward Islands on Tuesday night or early Wednesday.  A large mid-latitude trough that is predicted to deepen over the eastern U.S. during the next few days is forecast to lift northeastward late in the week, which is expected to cause the subtropical ridge over the western Atlantic to build westward.  As a result, Irma is predicted to remain on a general west-northwestward heading on days 3 through 5.  The dynamical model guidance is in excellent agreement through 72 hours, with some increase in spread late in the period, however the typically more reliable ECMWF and GFS are in very good agreement through day 5, and the new NHC track forecast lies very close to those models.

Six hourly upper-air soundings began at 1800 UTC today over the central United States to better sample the upstream mid-latitude trough.  In addition, the NOAA G-IV aircraft is currently sampling the environment around Irma, and these data will be included in tonight's 0000 UTC model runs.

Users are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track since strong winds and heavy rainfall extend well away from the center. In addition, average NHC track errors are about 175 and 225 statute miles at days 4 and 5, respectively.

KEY MESSAGES:

1. Irma is expected to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands a dangerous major hurricane, accompanied by life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts. Hurricane warnings are in effect for portions of the Leeward Islands. Preparations should be rushed to completion, as tropical-storm force winds are expected to first arrive in the hurricane warning area by late Tuesday.

2. Irma could directly affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a dangerous major hurricane later this week. Hurricane watches have been issued for these areas, and tropical-storm-force winds could arrive in these areas by early Wednesday.

3. Irma could directly affect Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba as a dangerous major hurricane later this week. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of Irma and listen to advice given by officials.

4. There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend.  Otherwise, it is still too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental United States. However, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  04/2100Z 16.7N  54.4W  115 KT 130 MPH

 12H  05/0600Z 16.6N  56.2W  125 KT 145 MPH

 24H  05/1800Z 17.0N  58.7W  130 KT 150 MPH

 36H  06/0600Z 17.8N  61.3W  130 KT 150 MPH

 48H  06/1800Z 18.7N  64.1W  125 KT 145 MPH

 72H  07/1800Z 20.4N  69.7W  120 KT 140 MPH

 96H  08/1800Z 21.6N  74.8W  115 KT 130 MPH

120H  09/1800Z 23.0N  79.0W  115 KT 130 MPH

The Above Information was Provided by the National Hurricane Center. Now I Present information from Other Parts of NOAA. 

Day 6 Weather Forecast

You can see Irma in this forecast provided by the WPC. They work closely with the NHC and have access to the same information. But this graphic provides a larger picture view of the situation. Two things that stand out to me are first the Large Powerful High over the Eastern Half of CONUS forecast for Day 6. That tends to block Irma from moving into the interior of CONUS. On the other hand there is a High of f Newfoundland. Not sure if this is the Bermuda High displace to the north. That High reduces the chances that Irma will make a hard right and move out to sea. So we may have another blocking situation setting up.

Bob Henson who teams with Jeff Masters to Host the Blog Category 6 at the Weather Underground wrote this report on this storm.  It is pretty ominous.

The next set of graphics right now applies most to the remnants of Harvey and Lidia but will apply increasingly to Irma if it comes close to CONUS. One of the reasons for including these graphics is that I try not to change the graphics that I am presenting as I believe that makes it more difficult for the reader. Since it is our intention to update this article daily, I want to be as consistent was possible. There actually will be more detailed information in the week Weather and Climate Report that we will publish Monday night and those graphics will auto-update and remain current but we will not be updating the discussion there as it will be a published article but we will be updating the discussion here.

Atmospheric Rivers

As you can see there are two storms impacting CONUS and Irma is still out there in the Atlantic but not yet in the picture for impacts immediately. So we have to wait to see what Irma does. On the West Coast, Lidia is mostly a Mexico event but it may impact the Southwest (Arizona and Southern California) by providing moisture. You can hardly see the remnants of Harvey.  But there is a secondary low impacting the East Coast. It looks like Harvey and that Secondary Low merged.

In lieu of the NOAA Track forecast this might be useful. This is a national animation of weather fronts and precipitation forecasts with four 6-hour projections of the conditions that will apply covering the next 24 hours and a second day of two 12-hour projections the second of which is the forecast for 48 hours out and to the extent it applies for 12 hours, this animation is intended to provide coverage out to 60 hours. One can clearly see Harvey in the forecast. Perhaps it is only the moisture from Harvey merged with other weather patterns but still very discernable.

current highs and lows

The explanation for the coding used in these maps, i.e. the full legend, can be found here although it includes some symbols that are no longer shown in the graphic because they are implemented by color coding. You can see the final couple of days of Harvey having an impact.

Precipitation Forecast

You can see the forecast for New England. We also see Lidia in this picture off shore of California but also providing moisture to mostly Arizona but also Southern California. It is not as dramatic as what we see off the East Coast but they call it the Desert West for a reason. It is perhaps too early for possible impacts of Irma to be shown on this graphic but that may happen very soon as this graphics shows 7 days of precipitation. The arrival time for Irma if it arrives is just over 7 days. But in addition to the arrival being beyond 7 days, the area of impact is not even close to being able to be forecast. So there could be a sudden upping of the estimated precipitation for certain areas if and when the track for Irma becomes clarified.

 Water Vapor Imagery

There is a marked decline in the activity and the impacts are diminishing. We do not expect significant impacts from Lidia in the Southwest. If you watch this graphic day by day you probably can see that Lidia is dissipating but can contribute some moisture to Arizona and Southern California.

Harvey Meteorological Summary (For Analysis Purposes Mainly)

Final NOAA Harvey Advisory.

POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE HARVEY ADVISORY NUMBER 53 NWS WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD 1100 AM EDT SAT SEP 02 2017

POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE HARVEY CONTINUES TO WEAKEN...

SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION

LOCATION...38.1N 84.9W ABOUT 20 MILES...30 KM...WNW OF LEXINGTON KENTUCKY ABOUT 60 MILES...100 KM...ENE OF FORT KNOX KENTUCKY MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...15 MPH...25 KM/H PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 045 DEGREES AT 5 MPH...8 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1013 MB...29.92 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

FLOOD WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES ARE ONGOING SCATTERED THROUGHOUT EASTERN TEXAS...THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY...TENNESSEE VALLEY...AND THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK

AT 1100 AM EDT...1500 UTC...THE CENTER OF POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE HARVEY WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 38.1 NORTH...AND LONGITUDE 84.9 WEST. HARVEY CONTINUES TO WEAKEN AND IS EXPECTED TO DISSIPATE OVER THE MID-UPPER OHIO VALLEY BY TONIGHT ALONG WITH ANY LINGERING HEAVY RAIN AND RUNOFF THREAT DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE CIRCULATION. HOWEVER, A SEPARATE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE DEVELOPING OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION AHEAD OF HARVEY WILL INTERACT WITH ITS REMNANT MOISTURE PLUME TO PRODUCE AS MUCH AS 1 TO 2 INCHES OF RAIN OVER THE NORTHEAST THROUGH SUNDAY.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

RAINFALL...RESIDUAL FLOODING WILL CONTINUE IN AND AROUND HOUSTON, BEAUMONT/PORT ARTHUR/ORANGE, AND EASTWARD AROUND THE LOUISIANA BORDER THROUGH THE WEEKEND. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL IN THE AFFECTED AREA IF YOU ARE IN A SAFE PLACE. DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED ROADWAYS.

NEXT ADVISORY

THIS IS THE LAST PUBLIC ADVISORY ISSUED BY THE WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER FOR THIS SYSTEM. PLEASE REFER TO YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THIS STORM.

FORECAST POSITIONS

INITIAL 02/1500Z 38.1N 84.9W

12HR VT 03/0000Z 39.8N 82.3W...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP

24HR VT 03/1200Z...DISSIPATED

Harvey Final Reported Precipitation Totals as of 11AM EDT September 2, 2017. There is no longer a separate site that I know of that provides update totals and they will no longer be in the WPC Updates so most likely this will be the final update of this information. We may add local updates if significant.

And then Additional States were Impacted.

Saturday Indiana Saturday North and South Carolina
Saturday Virginia

 

New States being Impacted

Friday PM Kentucky

Friday PM Tennessee

Friday 10 AM Arkansas

 

Second Set of States Impacted (This data is as reported on Thursday 10 PM August 31.

Thurs PM Alabama Thursday PM Mississippi Florida and Georgia as of Sept 1 AM

 

Initial States Impacted (These totals are no longer being updated so they were correct as of 10 AM CDT Wednesday August 30).

Texas Precipitation Totals Friday 10 am Louisiana Precipitation Totals

 

Below is the last reported Track. There are no further updates of the track but you can tell the track by other graphics that I have included. Also the track is describe in the discussion which is up to date. We are now at the end of the reported track so this graphic is mostly of historical significance now.

Harvey Track

Interesting way to view the precipitation pattern in the Houston area.

Part B. The Human and Economic Impacts of Recent Storms

B1: Harvey

Economic Impacts.

The usual impacts of a disaster are first very negative and later very positive and essentially reflect Keynesian Economics. Unfortunately the first phase comes first and it can be very heartbreaking. One clue to how this might work out is provided by this excellent article.

More Than 50 Percent Of Properties In Houston At High And Moderate Risk Of Flood Are Not In Designated Flood Zones

First Report on number of homes damaged. Source: Market Watch

About 100,000 homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump's Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on Thursday. Speaking at the White House, Bossert said the administration would soon ask Congress for an initial round of emergency funding to aid relief efforts. He said a second request would be made after getting more information.

Total Residential Insured And Uninsured Flood Loss For Hurricane Harvey Between $25 Billion And $37 Billion Approximately 70 Percent Of Flood Damage Is Uninsured

Oil Refinery Impacts

At the Beaumont-Port Arthur Airport, 26.03” of rain fell on Tuesday, which is more than double Beaumont's previous calendar-day record of 12.76" on May 19, 1923, in records going back to 1901. Between 10 pm last night and 1 am this morning, 11.86” fell. So far on Wednesday, 4.71” has been reported (as of 11 am CDT), bringing their 5-day storm total rainfall to a staggering 47.98”. The intense rains caused extreme flash flooding that inundated all of Port Arthur, according to Mayor Freeman, who showed a video this morning of the inside of his flooded house on his Facebook page. Port Arthur is the site of the nation’s largest oil refinery, which was forced to shut down due to the floods. The nation’s second-largest refinery, in Baytown, TX, was also forced to shut down yesterday, due to flooding-induced roof damage. In all, at least 12 refineries are currently offline due to Harvey. Source: Weather Underground Category 6  Click to Read Full Article

From this Geopolitical Futures article

Gulf Coast Refineries

The following is from our initial assessment Saturday afternoon. We will attempt to provide an organized assessment rather than streaming news reports as they come it. There is so much reporting that streaming these reports would mostly duplicate the traditional news services. So we will attempt to consolidate the information and provide a somewhat comprehensive analysis. 

Concern about Facilities that Depend on Cooling.

Arkema: No way to prevent explosion at flooded Texas chemical plant  Click to read more

Well it seems the report unfortunately was timely as this chemical plant has had explosions. You may be able to read about it here (you may hit a paywall not sure).

This is what we reported Saturday afternoon. There are many pictures showing flooding and other damage that we could show now.

Some of the graphics are very disturbing. But first we want to put this storm into perspective. This graphic was sent in by the NWS in Jackson Kentucky but was probably originally prepared by PBS.

PBS Story Histories.

It shows that very wet events are not unknown to Texas so we hope they are prepared to deal with this one.

This is a photo shown on the Blog Category 6; Image Credit is Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Rockport Texas

Rockport is about 40 miles Northeast of Corpus Christi and presumably exposed to the strongest winds which are often in the NE quadrant of the storm. Harvey's winds declined rapidly so we should expect that wind damage now will be restricted to tornadoes which can be very deadly. The main story here will be the flooding.

Another Rockport photo

Rockport Texas Devatation

More photo coverage of Rockport can be found here. For some reason the photo credit that is on the photo in the article does not show up when I display the photo separately. It is Brian Emfinger/LSM

We should expect that damage reports may come in slowly since may areas have been evacuated and the media may not be allowed in until the areas are deemed to be save from down power lines etc.

Tornadoes will cause a lot of damage. Right now they seem to be happening in the Cypress Area Northwest of Houston while in Houston flooding has been significant.

Cypress Texas Tornado

Source: Houston News KHOU

Same source for photos below: KHOU with the first photo credited to Kyra Respress.

Houston Flooding

and one more.

Houston Flooding.

So far the reports of injured and deaths are amazingly low. That might change.

This is an excellent report from the Daily Mail in the UK - Lots of photos.

What Happens Next

It is important to understand that natural disasters often occur over a period of time, not instantaneously.

A good example is the rising of rivers which then overflow their banks and cause damage many hours and even days after the advent of a widespread storm. It takes time for this to happen and with Harvey we have a storm that is likely to provide the time for such subsequent events. Below, from NOAA, is a forecast for the San Bernard River. It is already at flood stage. Not sure how the river can rise to 35 feet once the level is so high that it can no longer be confined by the river banks but the graphic may be intended to show the severe level that is predicted. (If the normal level is x feet below the average river bank height, then all land within 35-x feet in elevation above normal water level will be flooded.)

River flood staging

Click here for a list of Sig Silber's Weather Posts

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