Tropical Storm Barry Part 1

Tropical Storm Barry is currently over the Gulf Of Mexico. It is a poorly organized storm from the latest satellite image. There are multiple vortices in the storm, which makes forecasting a challenge.

The $64,000 question is where does Barry go. I created a heat map with mix of the latest forecast, which is 0000Z and 1800Z GFS ensemble track guidance. I got them from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance. It is a heat map using points within 300 mile/480 kilometers radius.

Most forecast models have it going into Louisiana. However, there is a westward trend from yesterday at this time. Here is yesterday’s forecast model for comparison.

The risk for Texas has gone up slightly. Despite most forecast models having Barry going into Louisiana, I am not going to say where the storm makes landfall as there are multiple vortices in Barry. Depending on which vortices wins out, it can change where Barry goes. Louisiana and Texas need to keep an eye on Barry.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts it will become a strong tropical storm. Here is an intensity forecast model. It is also from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance.

Most forecast models have strong tropical storm. None forecast a hurricane. Like I have said many times, intensity forecast models are notoriously unreliable. If Barry gets stronger, it would move west towards Texas as hurricanes are more influenced by upper air pattern. I would not be surprised if Barry becomes a hurricane. I would forecast at most a Category 1 hurricane.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Depending on which vortices wins out, it can change where Barry goes.
-Hurricane is possible with Barry.
-Regardless of development, heavy rain and flooding will be the main problem.

Regardless of forecast, everyone should keep an eye on soon to be Barry.

Advertisements

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two Or Soon To Be Barry

NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES ABI BAND 07 OR_ABI-L1b-RadC-M6C07_G16_s20191920211320_e20191920214104_c20191920214144.nc

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is currently over the Gulf Of Mexico. It is getting better organized thanks to warm water and lack of wind shear. I would not be surprised if we see Tropical Depression 2 or Barry come tomorrow morning.

It begs the question, where does Barry go. I created a heat map with mix of the latest forecast, which is 0000Z and 1800Z GFS ensemble track guidance. I got them from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance. It is a heat map using points within 300 mile/480 kilometers radius.

Most forecast models have it going into Louisiana. Texas still has a risk of seeing Barry making landfall. Despite most forecast models having Barry going into Louisiana, I am not going to say where the storm makes landfall as it has not developed fully yet. Louisiana and Texas need to keep an eye on soon to be Barry.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts it will become a hurricane. Here is an intensity forecast model. It is also from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance.

Most forecast models have strong tropical storm. A couple have it as a Category 1 hurricane. Intensity forecast models are notoriously unreliable. If Barry gets stronger, it would move west towards Texas as hurricanes are more influenced by upper air pattern. I would not be surprised if Barry becomes a hurricane. I would not be surprised if it becomes a Category 2 or even Category 3 hurricane. A stronger Barry would be more of a problem for Texas. The forecast path models assumes Barry is a tropical storm, which is less influenced by upper air pattern.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Potential Tropical Cyclone 2 could become Barry by tomorrow morning at earliest.
-Hurricane is possible with Barry.
-Regardless of development, heavy rain and flooding will be the main problem.

Regardless of forecast, everyone should keep an eye on soon to be Barry.

Future Barry Part 1

Invest 92L is currently an area of thunderstorms over Georgia. It is forecasted to move southwards towards the Gulf Of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) gives a high chance that Invest 92L developing into something tropical. Conditions are generally favorable due to warm water and less wind shear.

The biggest question is where does Invest 92L goes. It is too early to tell. I created a heat map with mix of the latest forecast, which is 0000Z and 1800Z GFS ensemble track guidance. I got them from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance. It is a heat map using points within 300 mile/480 kilometers radius.

Most of the forecast models have Invest 92L going westward towards Louisiana and Texas. Houston area does have a risk of seeing Invest 92L going over by this weekend. Keep in mind, this is an early forecast model and anything can change between now and later this week. That begs the next question, will Invest 92L become Barry.

Here is an intensity forecast model. It is also from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance.

A number of forecast models have a tropical storm within the next few days. None have hurricane force at this time. Again, it is early to tell if Invest 92L will become a hurricane or not. Anything is possible with Invest 92L.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Invest 92L could become Barry in the next few days.
-Regardless of development, heavy rain will be the main problem for Texas and Louisiana.
-Flooding is likely where heavy rain falls.

Invest 92L bears watching between now to the end of the week. Be weather ready.

April 2019 Hurricane Season Forecast

Many areas are still reeling from Harvey, Irma, Maria, and as of late Michael. Michael was updated to a Category 5 at landfall. Not surprised by it. Many people lost their properties and are rebuilding. Some lost their life. Hurricane Season is coming as it starts on June 1, 2019.

Colorado State University
13/5/2 ACE: 80

Joe Bastardi (Weather Bell)
10 to 15 Storms/4 to 7 Hurricanes/0 to 2 Major Hurricanes ACE: 60 to 110

Tropical Storm Risk
12/5/2 ACE: 81

Accuweather
10/5/3

Crown Weather
10/6/3

The Weather Channel
12/6/2

The analog years I am using are in which El Nino started late and is forecasted to be El Nino for the rest of the year to next year. Obviously, the forecast is uncertain.

Based on this, the analog years are 1940, 1969, 1987, 1992, 1993, and 2015. They are part of a multi-year El Nino or El Nino that is gone for a short time, only to return again later like in 1992 and 1993. 1940, 1969, 1987, and 2015 are multi-year El Nino. El Nino is not the only factor. I look at Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Equatorial Indian Ocean (EIO), Tropical South Atlantic (TSAI), Southern Ocean/Roaring Forties, Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO), and Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR)

Analog Years For 2018 (TS/H/MH ACE ACE/Storm)
1940 9/6/0 68 7.6
1969 18/12/5 166 9.2
1987 7/3/1 34 4.9
1992 7/4/1 76 10.9
1993 8/4/1 39 4.9
2015 11/4/2 63 5.3

All of the seasons had major hurricane, except 1940. However, I consider that suspect because of no satellite back then. The most active is 1969 with 18 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Many other forecasts have 1969 as an analog year.

Here are notable storms in the analog seasons.

1940
Hurricane #2 or the 1940 Louisiana Hurricane makes landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Sabine Pass, Texas. The slow movement led to massive rainfall totals of up to 38 inches! Some areas likely saw over 40 inches of rain. 20,000 square miles was affected by heavy rain, which had an average of 12.10 inches! The storm set many state rainfall records for Louisiana, which still stand to this very day. However, some areas in Louisiana may have seen 40 inches of rain from Harvey.

Hurricane #3 or the 1940 South Carolina Hurricane hits South Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane as it made landfall on Beaufort, South Carolina. The storm dumps heavy rain of up to 21 inches triggering deadly mudslides in Appalachia. It is probable some areas saw 30 inches or greater. The widespread heavy rain triggers massive flooding. The storm claims a total of 52 lives.

Hurricane #4 or the 1940 New England Hurricane ravages New England before hitting Nova Scotia. The hurricane moisture and a stationary cold front leads to heavy rain over New Jersey including up to 24 inches, which is the wettest for the Garden State to this very day.

Hurricane #5 or the 1940 Nova Scotia Hurricane hits Nova Scotia just weeks after 1940 New England Hurricane. It hits Nova Scotia as a Category 1 hurricane. The hurricane caused shipping disruption in the North Atlantic. The hurricane causes damage in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. There are three fatalities, in which two are off of America in ships.

1969
Hurricane Camille hit Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane. Than Camille underwent explosive intensification over the Gulf of Mexico. Camille had 900 millibars and 175 mph wind prior to making landfall on Mississippi Delta and Mississippi as a Category 5 hurricane. Gusts went high as 250 mph! The remants of Camille and cold front set off core rains over Western Virginia with extremely heavy rains centered over Nelson County, Virginia. Up 27 inches of rain was confirmed with a total as high as 31 inches in a barrel away from the center. It is probable up to 40 to 50 inches of rain fell in eight hours! Camille claimed 259 lives, mostly in Virginia from flooding.

Hurricane Francelia ravages Central America before making landfall on Belize. The slow moving hurricane dumped heavy rain over Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. The hurricane claims 271 lives, making it the deadliest prior to Mitch in 1998.

1987
Tropical Storm #2, which is the 1987 Gulf Coast Tropical Storm makes landfall on Texas, but most the heavy rain is east of the center. The Gulf Coast saw rain amount as high as 21 inches in Van Cleave, Louisiana.

Hurricane Emily hits Dominican Republic as Category 2 hurricane and emerges as a tropical storm. However, it undergoes rapid intensification to Category 1 hurricane of 90 mph and goes directly over Bermuda. Emily is the strongest hurricane to hit Bermuda since Hurricane #6 (Dog) or the 1948 Bermuda-Newfoundland Hurricane.

1992
Hurricane Andrew ravaged Bahamas and Florida as a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds and 920 millibar pressure. It traversed over the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall on Central Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane. Once it was all done, South Florida was cut off from the world and did $27 billion in damages. Andrew was the costliest hurricane at the time prior to Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017.

1993
Tropical Storm Arlene made landfall on Texas as a large tropical storm on June 19, 1993. It dumped heavy rain over a large area. The highest being over 15 inches of rain in Angleton. The system that became Arlene dumped heavy rain in El Salvador, which claimed 20 lives. There were five lives lost in Mexico. One died in Henderson, Texas. It claimed a total of 26 lives.

Tropical Storm Bret traveled across South America. It first made landfall on Galera Point, Trinidad and then goes over the Caribbean to make landfall on Macuro, Venezuela. It dumps heavy rain and triggers deadly mudslides. The highest measured is over 13 inches in Guanare with higher totals likely. Bret claims 173 lives in Venezuela, which is the deadliest along the 1999 Vargas Tragedy and 1967 Caracas Earthquake. The tropical storm goes over the Caribbean and makes landfall around Bahia Punta Gorda, Nicaragua. The storm dumps heavy rain over Central America, mainly in Nicaragua. The heavy rain leads to flooding and washes away villages. The storm claims 31 lives in Nicaragua. Bret goes over the East Pacific and becomes Hurricane Greg, which is a Category 4 hurricane.

Hurricane Emily is the only major hurricane of the 1993 Atlantic Season. It grazed North Carolina and came within 23 miles of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on August 31, 1993. Emily moved eastward after it grazed North Carolina. The hurricane produced 10 feet storm surge in Buxton and dumped up to 7 inches of rain. Three people died from Emily.

Hurricane Gert made landfall on Bluefields, Nucaragua as it is ravaged from Bret as a tropical storm on September 15, 1993. It goes over Honduras as a tropical depression. Heavy rain falls over Nicaragua and Honduras, which leads to massive flooding. A total of 64 people die in Nicaragua and Honduras from Gert. Nearly 18 inches of rain falls in Corinto. Gert makes landfall as a tropical storm on Belize, affecting the Yucatan Peninsula. Gert emerges into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression. From there, it becomes a Category 2 hurricane as it makes it final landfall north of Tuxpan as a Category 2 hurricane on September 20, 1993. Gert unleashes strong wind and heavy rain over Tamaulipas and Veracruz. The mountains see the heaviest rain with the highest total of over 31 inches in Aquismón with higher totals likely. The widespread rain leads to massive flooding that claims 45 lives in Mexico.

2015
Tropical Storm Bill made landfall on June 16, 2015 on Matagorda Island. Bill dumped heavy rain over Texas with a total of over 15 inches in Ganado, Texas. Bill weakens to a tropical depression and dumps heavy rain over Oklahoma with 8 inches of rain falling in Carter County. Bill claims 8 lives.

Tropical Storm Erika was a tropical storm that dumped heavy rain over Dominca. The mountainous terrain contribute to the heavy rain and deadly flooding and mudslide. Rainfall amount of 33 inches fell over Morne Diablotins. There was high precipitable water over Dominica. It was also north of the island. A total of 30 lives were lost in Dominica, which was the worst since Hurricane David in 1979.

Hurricane Joaquin is the strongest known Atlantic hurricane of non-tropical origin as it came from upper level low and surface low. Joaquin rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph on October 2, 2015. It moved southwestward towards the Bahamas. It first made landfall as a Category 4 on Samana Cay and then Category 3 on Rum Cay and San Salvador Island. Strong winds, high waves, storm surge, and heavy rain pelt Bahamas. A 18 feet storm surge was reported in Long Island. As the Bahamas are being ravaged by Joaquin, the SS El Faro sinks into the abyss claiming all 33 on board. To make matters worse, there is a surface low of the coast of Georgia and Florida, which is drawing in moisture from Joaquin. The setup leads to widespread heavy rain over South Carolina and North Carolina. Nearly 27 inches of rain fell in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. There is widespread flooding in South Carolina as there are 18 dam breaches from the heavy rain. The flood event in part from Joaquin claims 25 lives, including 19 in South Carolina.

Many of these notable storms in analog seasons were prodigious rainmakers. Some remain records yet to be broken. Some were intense like Camille and Andrew, which were Category 5 hurricanes and at landfall. I am not suggesting 2019 will see something like Camille, Andrew, 1940 Louisiana Hurricane, or Joaquin.

Here is a heat map of analog seasons. It is based on 300 mile radius from the storms.

The heat map shows the most active spot being off the Eastern US. Other hot spots are the Eastern Gulf Of Mexico, east of the Lesser Antilles, and off of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. However, when you look at the whole basin, everyone is at risk for landfall. I never make landfall predictions as I strongly object to doing landfall forecasts. The reason is everyone is at equal risk.

Analog
Mean
10/5.5/1.67
10/6/2 (Rounded Up)

Median
8.5/4/1
9/4/1 (Rounded Up)

Standard Deviation
4.2/3.33/1.75

ACE
Mean
74.33

Median
65.5

Standard Deviation
47.85

ACE/Storm
Mean
7.1

Median
6.4

Standard Deviation
2.54

How do analog seasons compare as a whole. Statistics from 1870 to 2018.

Mean
9.94/5.55/2.07
10/6/2

Median
10/5/2

Standard Deviation
4.24/2.63/1.68

ACE
Mean
93.34

Median
84

Standard Deviation
54.55

ACE/Storm
Mean
9.40

Median
8.67

Standard Deviation
4.03

The analog seasons are within standard deviation, which indicates this upcoming hurricane season is going to be within average.

What is my prediction for this season?
9 to 15 named storms, likely 12 named storms
5 to 10 hurricanes, likely 7 hurricanes
1 to 4 major hurricanes with 2 major hurricanes
ACE is 60 to 120 with ACE likely of 70 to 110

Let’s see how my April 2018 hurricane forecast compare to the actual 2018 season.

11 to 16 named storms, likely 13 named storms
4 to 10 hurricanes, likely 7 hurricanes
1 to 4 major hurricanes with 3 major hurricanes
ACE is 80 to 140 with ACE likely of 100 to 125

Colorado State University
14/7/3 ACE: 130

Joe Bastardi (Weather Bell)
10 to 12 Storms/4 to 6 Hurricanes/1 to 2 Major Hurricanes ACE: 90 to 110

Tropical Storm Risk
12/6/2 ACE: 84

Accuweather
10/5/3

The Weather Channel
12/6/2

2018 Actual Number
15 Named Storms
8 Hurricanes
2 Major Hurricanes
127 ACE

Many including myself got the forecast close. The 2018 Hurricane Season was forecasted about right, not over or under. There is always room for improvement.

Regardless of forecast, I think 2019 could be an interesting hurricane season.

Monsterous Michael Makes Landfall

History was made earlier today. Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph 135 knots 249 km/h. The highest wind on land is around 132 mph 115 knots 212 km/h with gusts as high as 198 mph 172 knots 319 km/h! It has a central pressure of 919 millibars and still intensifying! If it had been over water longer, it probably would of been a Category 5 hurricane. No doubt that Michael made history. Here is how Michael compares to past hurricanes.

Michael is the most intense Gulf Of Mexico hurricane since Rita (2005). Rita had a central pressure of 895 millibars with 180 mph 156 knots 290 km/h. Rita is the most intense Gulf Of Mexico hurricane recorded. There is no doubt there are stronger Gulf Of Mexico hurricanes that go unrecorded prior to the 19th century. Rita made landfall on the Texas and Louisiana border not before triggering a massive evacuation due to Katrina ravaging the Gulf Coast a month earlier. Michael is the most intense October Gulf Of Mexico hurricane since Opal (1995). Opal had a central pressure of 916 millibars and 150 mph 130 knots 241 km/h winds. Opal made landfall on Pensacola.

How does Michael stack up in terms of central pressure landfall for America and Atlantic Basin? Michael is the third most intense landfalling hurricane on America. Only the 1935 Labor Day and Camille have lower central pressures.

Rank Storm Landfall Pressure
1 Labor Day (1935) 892 mb
2 Camille (1969) 900 mb
3 Michael (2018) 919 mb
4 Katrina (2005)/Maria (2017) 920 mb
5 Andrew (1992) 922 mb
6 Indianola (1886) 925 mb
7 Guam (1900) 926 mb
8 Florida Keys (1919) 927 mb
9 Okeechobee (1928) 929 mb
10 Great Miami (1926)/Donna (1960) 930 mb

Michael has lower pressure than Katrina, Maria, and Andrew. Michael is the most intense Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on America. Katrina is the most intense Category 3 hurricane to make landfall on America. Katrina is much larger than Camille, Andrew, or Michael, which explains the low pressure and Category 3 winds. Texas’s most intense hurricane recorded is the 1886 Indianola Hurricane, which had a central pressure of 925 millibars. It is likely it had lower pressure. The 1900 Guam typhoon is the most intense typhoon recorded to hit Guam. It is very likely there have been more intense typhoons that hit Guam. Typhoons are often intense and often have lower pressure than the Atlantic. Category 5 typhoons happen every year. Let’s look at how Michael compares Atlantic Basin.

Rank Storm Landfall pressure
1 Labor Day (1935) 892 mb
2 Camille (1969)/Gilbert (1988) 900 mb
3 Dean (2007) 905 mb
4 Cuba (1924) 910 mb
5 Janet (1955)/Irma (2017) 914 mb
6 Cuba (1932) 918 mb
7 Michael (2018) 919 mb
8 Katrina 2005/Maria (2017) 920 mb
9 Bahamas (1932) 921 mb
10 Andrew (1992) 922 mb

Michael ranks seventh most intense basinwide hurricane landfall! The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane is still the most intense basinwide landfall. Camille (1969) and Gilbert (1988) tie as second most intense landfall basinwide. There is a unconfirmed report that the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane had pressure as low as 880 millibars! If that was true, it would be the most intense Atlantic hurricane, even surpassing Wilma!

Michael is one of the few Category 4 hurricanes to make landfall in October. Here is a list of hurricanes that made landfall on America in October.

1893 “Chenier Caminanda”
1898 Georgia Hurricane
1950 King
1954 Hazel

The last hurricane to make landfall on America as a Category 4 is Hazel in 1954. On top of it, Michael is a major hurricane over Georgia. The last time Georgia saw a major hurricane was in 1898! It is from the Georgia Hurricane.

History and statistics aside, we are going to be hearing and seeing a lot of destruction and likely more deaths from Michael. It could be a very costly hurricane for sure.

Hurricane Florence Trudges Along

Hurricane Florence is moving slowly towards North Carolina. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is moving at northwest at 6 mph 5.2 knots 9.7 km/h. It has winds of 90 mph 78 knots 145 km/h with gusts as high as 113 mph 98 knots 182 km/h. That makes Florence a Category 1 hurricane. It is a large hurricane with hurricane force winds extending up to 80 miles 70 nautical miles 129 kilometers, while tropical storm force winds extend up to 195 miles 170 nautical miles 314 kilometers. A large hurricane is very dangerous as they can produce large storm surge and waves.

Looking at the wind swath map, the entire Coastal North Carolina and parts of South Carolina are experiencing tropical storm force winds. Some areas in Coastal North Carolina are seeing hurricane force winds. If Florence makes landfall with 90 mph winds, the highest wind on land is going to be 77 mph 67 knots 124 km/h with gusts as high as 116 mph 101 knots 187 km/h. Many areas will likely see 50 to 70 mph 44 to 61 knots 80 to 113 km/h with gusts as high as 75 to 105 mph 65 to 91 knots 121 to 169 km/h. The biggest question is where does Florence go ultimately.

It is the latest forecast track from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance for Florence. It is a heat map using points within 300 mile/480 kilometers radius. It is more circular, which suggests that Florence could linger for the next several days over land. That is going to be very bad as winds, storm surge, waves, and heavy rain are going to persist. Storm surge is getting much high as Florence gets closer. The Neuse River at Oriental, North Carolina gauge is setting high water of nearly 9 feet/2.7 meters!

It is only getting higher. I would not be surprised to see storm surge approaching 20 feet/6.1 meters or higher. Storm surge is very dangerous. That is why people evacuate from water and hide from the wind. To make matters worse, heavy rain is falling. Heavy rain leads to flooding, which kills like storm surge. It is very destructive. Case in point, Harvey. Let’s take a look at the rainfall total forecast. They are from EURO, GFS, Canadian, and German (ICON). The forecast models are from Weather.US. They are all seven day rainfall total forecast.

The forecast models have 29 to 38 inches/73.7 centimeters to 96.5 centimeters of rain. GFS has the lowest, while EURO has the highest. The NHC is forecasting 40 inches/101.6 centimeters of rain of rain. I would not be surprised if some areas see 50 inches/127 centimeters of rain. Some areas have gotten over 12 inches/30.5 centimeters of rain already! 50 inches does not sound so off.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Florence is making landfall somewhere in North Carolina.
-Landfall time is looking to be Friday morning.
-Strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rain will be the main problem from Florence.
-Main headline for Florence will likely be massive flooding.
-Record rainfall is likely with Florence.

It is going to be a long night for North Carolina with Florence. It is going to be one brutal hurricane for them.

Hurricane Ike 10 Years Later

Before Harvey flooded out Southeast Texas, there was Ike. It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since Hurricane Ike made landfall on Southeast Texas as a monsterous Category 2 hurricane in the early morning hours of September 13, 2008. Especially the fact this comes in light of Harvey. Ike pelted Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana with hurricane force winds and heavy rain. Ike was the last hurricane to hit Texas prior to Harvey. Almost a nine year gap of no hurricanes hitting Texas, let alone a major hurricane. The last major hurricane to hit Texas prior to Harvey was Bret in 1999, which is 18 years.

Thunderstorms over Sudan that later became Ike.

What is the origin of Hurricane Ike? Ike started as a mesoscale convective system (MCS) that formed over Sudan on August 19th. Most tropical waves come from thunderstorms that form in the Northeast part of Africa. They are set off by the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or monsoon. The ITCZ is where there is thunderstorms from the clash of trade winds. These thunderstorms often provide beneficial rains in tropical and subtropical areas. The thunderstorms in ITCZ can break away and travel away. One of those thunderstorms from the ITCZ managed to do that. The MCS traveled over Africa and entered the Atlantic Ocean as a tropical wave on August 29th. The tropical wave traveled across with multiple vortices competing. One of them would win out as the thunderstorms in the tropical wave get better organized on September 1, 2008. It is upgraded to Tropical Depression #9. Later that day, it is named Ike as it travels over the open Atlantic. Tropical Storm Ike has to deal with wind shear in the upper level early in its life. The wind shear blows tops of thunderstorms, especially westerly wind shear. Since 2008 season is Neutral to La Nina, conditions are more favorable as there is less westerly wind shear. If 2008 was El Nino, there would be more westerly wind shear, which is why generally El Nino Atlantic Hurricane seasons see less storms. Wind shear generally kills tropical development. The higher the storm clouds are, the cooler it is. Higher storm clouds also mean they are more intense.

However, Ike gets a reprieve as the wind shear weakens and encounter warmer waters on September 3rd. This allows Ike to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane. By the next day, Ike becomes 2008’s strongest hurricane with 145 mph 126 knots 233 km/h winds and central pressure of 935 millibars. Ike’s strength did not last as it encountered wind shear on September 5th. The wind shear weaken Ike to Category 2 strength.

Hurricane Ike around its peak.

Ike is pushed southwards into more favorable areas due to upper level ridge to the north. Ike becomes a Category 4 hurricane as conditions are more favorable. As it goes westward, Ike made its first landfall on Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 4 hurricane on the early morning hours of September 7th. The Turks and Caicos Islands are the first to feel Ike’s violent wrath in the form of strong winds, heavy rain, storm surge, and high waves. The South Caicos and Grand Turk take the brunt of Ike. Despite Ike’s fury, there are no reports of fatalities.

Damage in Grand Turk.

While Ike is ravaging the Turks and Caicos Islands, the outer bands of Ike are dumping heavy rain on Haiti and Dominican Republic, which have been ravaged by Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. The flooding from Ike claims 74 lives in Haiti and 2 in Dominican Republic. Prior to Ike, Tropical Storm Hanna ravaged Haiti and Dominican Republic with heavy rain that led to massive flooding. The flooding claims 529 lives in Haiti, while just one dies in Dominican Republic. Why did Haiti see more fatalities than Dominican Republic? The lack of trees in Haiti makes it even more vulnerable to mudslides from the mountains. The heavy rain causes deadly mudslides that destroys houses and kill people.

Stranded Cubans following Ike.

Once Ike passes Turks and Caicos Island, Ike heads for Cuba. The hurricane makes landfall on Cabo Lucrecia, Holguín Province, Cuba. Cuba is in a very rough ride with Ike as it traverses over the entire island nation. Cuba is being pelted by heavy rain, strong wind, high waves, and storm surge. Briefly, Ike goes over the water only to make a second landfall on Punta La Capitana, Pinar del Río, Cuba on September 8th as a Category 1 hurricane. Ike claims 7 lives in Cuba.

Ike near its secondary peak in Gulf of Mexico.

Once Ike exits Cuba, it is a large Category 1 hurricane. Ike traveling over all of Cuba caused the storm to expand as energy is spread out from land interaction. It also disrupted Ike’s core. Ike enters large area of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and is getting close to the Loop Current, which is one of the warmest spot. Ike rapidly deepen from 963 to 944 millibars on the night of September 10th as it was over the Loop Current. However, the wind did not strengthen much, only from 80 to 100 mph 70 knots to 87 knots 128 km/h to 161 km/h. The reason is Ike is a very large hurricane with hurricane force winds extending up to 125 miles 109 nautical miles 201 kilometers from the eye. The pressure gradient is not tight due to its large size. Normally, an Atlantic hurricane with central pressure of 944 millibars is a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

On September 11th, as America remembers and reflects the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, Southeast Texas is sunny and dry. The west side of a hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere is usually the “clean” side. It blows in dry and sinking air from the north. The nice sunny day is very deceptive as Ike is ever inching closer. Meanwhile in the Gulf of Mexico, Ike is generating massive waves that are heading towards the Texas and Louisiana. Ike continues across the Gulf of Mexico as a large Category 2 hurricane. Waves are coming ahead of Ike in coastal Texas. People are evacuating from coastal areas including Galveston. Some choose to stay behind. The outer cloud banks of Ike are over Southeast Texas as winds start to pick up. By the afternoon of September 12th, some coastal areas are getting squally weather from the feeder bands entering Texas.

By the night of September 12th, conditions have gotten much worse. Meanwhile in Houston area, it is still windy with occasionally light rain. As the night progresses, Ike is getting closer to landfall. The hurricane force winds enter Texas around the late hours of September 12th. Ike is getting stronger and developing a more organized eyewall. Ike now has a central pressure of 951 millibars and 110 mph 96 knots 177 km/h winds. Ike is a large hurricane with hurricane force winds extending up to 125 miles and tropical storm force winds extending up to 260 miles 226 nautical miles 418 kilometers.

Ike at landfall on Southeast Texas.

Highest wind gust possible based on multiplying by factor of 1.5.

By the early morning hours of September 13th, Houston area is seeing stronger winds and heavier rain. Power starts to go out throughout Southeast Texas as power lines are being knocked by the strong wind. The coastal areas are seeing storm surge getting higher and higher. Anyone who stayed behind in Galveston or Bolivar Peninsula are doomed by the massive storm surge. Ike makes landfall on the eastern end of Galveston Island at 2:10 AM Central Time. People who are staying behind in the coastal areas are wishing they had evacuated as they are surrounded by rising storm surge. Ike travels to the northwest towards Houston. By 4:00 AM, Ike is over Baytown, which is flooded by storm surge. A large area of Southeast Texas is getting hurricane force winds including all of Houston.

Highest sustained winds during Hurricane Ike.

Bolivar Peninsula following Ike.

By the time the Sun rises, Ike is still ravaging Southeast Texas despite the fact it has weakened to Category 1 hurricane. Ike remains a monsterous and very dangerous hurricane. Many areas are still seeing heavy rain and strong winds. The wind blow down numerous trees and damage many buildings and houses. There is widespread flooding reported throughout Southeast Texas. Bayous and rivers are overflowing from widespread heavy rain. Coastal areas had storm surge as high as 25 feet/7.6 meters. It is one of the highest storm surge recorded in America and highest in Texas. It exceeds Camille, but below Katrina. Bolivar Peninsula saw the highest storm surge as the whole area looked like if a nuclear bomb had exploded. Once it is all over, many buildings and houses are damaged or destroyed, while many trees are uprooted. Coastal areas are utterly gutted from the massive storm surge. Millions of people are out of power for days. A large area saw 6 to 12 inches/15.2 to 30.5 centimeters of rain from Ike.

The damage is not just limited to Texas. Louisiana also felt the brunt of Ike, especially in Southwestern Louisiana. It is the same area that had been ravaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005. Many areas are flooded by Ike. There is even flooding in New Iberia, which is in Central Louisiana. It shows that Ike’s massive size had a huge impact over a large area from Texas to Louisiana. This is despite the fact that they only got tropical storm force winds. It shows that large, but not so strong hurricane is very dangerous as it produces massive storm surge and high waves.

Thunderstorms ahead of a cold front in the early morning hours of September 14, 2008.

The following night, a cold front passes, which allows thunderstorms to form from moisture left by Ike. The storms dumped 5 to 8 inches/12.7 to 20.3 centimeters of rain. The heavy rain causes more flooding on top of what Ike dumped in Southeast Texas. Once the rain ended, many areas saw a two day total ranging from 10 to 20 inches/25.4 to 50.8 centimeters of rain. Meanwhile, the remnants of Ike continue to wreak havoc in the Midwest. Ohio see hurricane force gusts, which causes more power outages. The remains of Ike continue into Canada and dump heavy rain in Ontario and Quebec. A total of 112 people lost their life with 34 unaccounted for in America. Most of the deaths are in Texas, where 84 people died.

Rainfall total from September 12, 2008 to September 15, 2008.

So, how was 2008 like prior to Ike. The winter of 2007-2008 is La Nina, so it is warmer and drier. Despite the La Nina, there are storms. Spring of 2008 is mostly dry. There were days of pleasant weather in Spring 2008. Summer of 2008 is average in terms of temperature and rainfall. Texas first brush with a hurricane is Dolly, which affected South Texas. The outer bands of Dolly dump heavy rain in the Houston area. Not too long after Dolly came, Tropical Storm Edouard pays a visit to Houston area. It is a rather unremarkable tropical storm that dumps up to 6 inches of rain. Edouard moves inland and gives beneficial rains to drought ridden Central Texas.

NHC Hurricane Ike Report
NHC Hurricane Ike Advisory Report
Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS (MIMIC)