What Will Mid January 2018 Be Like?

It has been cold lately. It is a cold start for 2018. There have been cold start to the new year like in 1928 and 1979.

Will there be more cold weather? The Climate Prediction Center 8 to 14 Day Analog could offer some insight.

Some of the analog dates are interesting.
1/19/2001-Cold blasts come on 1/29 with a low of 26°F. The lows would be freezing every night up to 1/23.
1/21/1978-January 1978 is the coldest month on record for Houston. A brief warming occurred on 1/24. It gets cold again on 1/25.
1/29/1952-Heavy rain falls on 2/1. Rainfall totals are Houston WB: 3.22″; Hobby: 3.88″; Galveston: 6.29″. Hobby and Galveston have their wettest 2/1 as of 2018. It is the wettest February day on record for Hobby and Galveston as of 2018.
1/1/1985-A series of cold waves occur in January 1985. Snow falls on 1/2-1/3 and 1/12. A low of 16°F occurred on 1/21.
1/23/1986-A cold blasts went east of Texas. On 1/28, Space Shuttle Challenger launches despite cold weather. The space shuttle explodes in front of horrified audiences and students at school watching the launch.
1/28/1959-Heavy rain falls between 1/29 to 2/4. Rainfall totals are Houston WB: 6.36″; Hobby: 6.93″; Galveston: 2.60″. 3.69″ fell on 2/1 at Houston WB, which is wettest 2/1 as of 2018. It is the wettest February day on record for Houston as of 2018. 2.14″ fell on 1/29 and 0.94″ on 2/2 at Hobby, which is wettest 1/29 and 2/2 as of 2018.
1/11/1961-Snow fell on 1/25. Houston received a trace of snow.

Looking at those analog dates, they mostly had cold blasts. A couple of them had heavy rain. This would suggest we could see another cold blast in mid January. Perhaps we could also see snow or other wintry precipitation. Anything can change.

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2017-2018 Winter Forecast

Winter has started and Christmas has passed. It is very cold throughout America. Last winter we had a borderline Neutral/La Nina. This time around, we have La Nina. Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Equatorial Indian Ocean (EIOI), Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), Tropical South Atlantic (TSAI), Roaring Forties (R40I), Hudson and Baffin Bay (HBB), and Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Here are the analog winters I came up with.

1881-1882
1928-1929
1933-1934
1937-1938
1944-1945
1949-1950
1961-1962
1984-1985
2000-2001

I chose these winters because the previous winter was La Nina or Neutral. Here is a table I created to identify strongest analogs.

Year AMO PDO NEPWP EIOI IOD TSAI R40I HBB QBO Total
1881-1882     1 1 1   1     4
1928-1929 1 1     1     1   4
1933-1934 1 1 1 3
1937-1938 1 1 2
1944-1945 1 1 1 1   1 1 1   7
1949-1950 1 1 1   1 1     1 6
1961-1962 1 1 1     1 1     5
1984-1985       1 1 1 1   1 5
2000-2001 1 1 1 1 1 1 1   1 8

I look at eight ocean and one upper wind patterns based on Fall (September to November) averages. The cutoff for further analysis is four (before 1948 due to QBO data not available). With QBO, the cutoff is five. We can eliminate these winters.
1933-1934
1937-1938

The analogs I will be looking at are:
1881-1882
1928-1929
1944-1945
1949-1950
1961-1962
1984-1985
2000-2001

Let’s start with the ever important temperature. All maps were generated with 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites. They are all Northern Hemisphere.

Alaska, Bering Sea, Southern US, Eastern US, Eastern Canada, Greenland, and Western China are warmer than normal. Arctic, Siberia, Korea, Japan, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, North Africa, Western US, and Western Canada are cooler than normal. Southeast Texas is warmer. Keep in mind, some areas do not have weather records, so this may be spurious as it includes 1881-1882.

Wonder what winter will be like in the rain department?

It is drier in Western US, Western Canada, Southeast US, Cuba, Bahamas, Southern China, Central Asia, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. It is wetter in Central US, Caribbean, Alaska, Northern Japan, Southeast Asia, and North Africa. Southeast Texas sees average amount of rain in the winter. Again, this may be spurious as it includes 1881-1882.

Let’s look at the upper air pattern.

There is upper level ridging south of Alaska, which is negative East Pacific Oscillation (EPO), Eastern US, Siberia, Greenland, and Northeast Canada. Ridging over Greenland and Northeast Canada is negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). There is troughing over Central Canada and one running from Japan, Korea, and to all of Central Asia. Negative NAO and EPO usually means cold air will go down south.

How were winters like in these analog years?

1881-1882
A warm winter dominated the US. Southeast Texas had a warm winter.

1928-1929
A cold blast came on the start of 1929 in Southeast Texas. Another hard freeze came in February 1929. It did not go above freezing on February 9, 1929 with high of 29°F.

1944-1945
A world engulfed in World War II. No freezes occurred in Southeast Texas.

1949-1950
Most of the US had a warm winter, including Southeast Texas.

1961-1962
Snow fell in Houston area in December 1961. January 1962 had a strong cold blast in America. A strong high pressure with pressure of 1062 millibars was recorded. Many areas saw record lows set. Houston saw a record low on January 10, 1962, which has been beaten in 1977.

1984-1985
Cold blasts occurred in January and February 1985. The 1985 Presidential Inauguration was the coldest on record. Many areas saw record lows set. Houston saw record lows on January 20-21, 1985. Near records occurred on February 1-2, 1985. Snow fell in Houston in January and February 1985. San Antonio saw record snowfall on January 11-13, 1985.

2000-2001
Eastern US had a cooler than normal winter. Southeast Texas had a cold winter.

I am not suggesting we will see a cold blast on par with February 1929, January 1962, January 1985, and February 1985. It is possible this winter could see more cold blasts.

I think this winter could be a cooler winter despite what the past analog winters being warm. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter or snow falls again.

Nate Is Edging Closer To The Gulf Coast

Nate is now a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph 144 km/h 78 knots wind. Further strengthening is possible with Nate. The question is how strong will Nate be by landfall.

Most forecast models have Nate intensifying into Category 2 with one intensifying into Category 3 hurricane. I would not be surprised if Nate becomes a Category 3 hurricane upon landfall. Category 4 or 5 is highly unlikely as it is moving quickly at 26 mph 42 km/h 22.6 knots. Here is a forecast model of where Nate will possibly make landfall. The heat map is from within 300 miles (480 kilometers) of a point.

There is a consensus that Nate could make landfall southwest of New Orleans to Pensacola area. It is unlikely Nate could deviate and hit Harvey ravaged Texas Coast. At this rate, Nate could make landfall later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Tropical storm force winds could start later this afternoon to evening.

Nate is not a large hurricane. Here is a wind radii map of Nate.

Hurricane force winds are only on the east side of Nate. Hurricane force winds are up to 69 miles 110.4 km 60 nautical miles across from northeast to southeast quadrant. Tropical storm force winds are are up to 230 miles 368 km 200 nautical miles across from northeast to southeast quadrant. However, since Nate is moving quickly, hurricane force winds maybe felt up to nearly three hours on the eastern side of Nate. Tropical storm force winds maybe felt up to nine hours.

The motion Nate is moving at, many areas could see 4 to 8 inches/10.2 to 20.3 centimeters of rain with isolated totals as high as 12 inches/30.5 centimeters. The forward motion should keep inland flooding risk low at this time.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Nate will make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast.
-Coastal flooding will be the main problem.

The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance and National Hurricane Center. Special thanks to all of them.

Tropical Depression 16 (Future Nate)

Tropical Depression 16 just formed. It could be Nate soon. It is October and it can be active. October has produce some very intense hurricanes like Great Hurricane Of 1780, 1924 Cuba Hurricane, Hattie, Opal, Mitch, Wilma, and Matthew. In fact some of the most intense tropical cyclones known have occurred in October like Tip, Patricia, Wilma, and 1999 Odisha Cyclone. They are the most intense tropical cyclones in their basin in the Northern Hemisphere! Here is the heat map forecast from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Tropical Depression 16. The heat map is from within 300 miles (480 kilometers) of a point.

Most of the forecast models suggest that Tropical Depression 16 may go over Central America and then go over the Caribbean. From there, it enters the Gulf of Mexico. This is what concerns me.

The Northwest Caribbean off the coast of Belize and Yucatan Peninsula is very warm. If conditions are right in the atmosphere, Tropical Depression 16 or future Nate could undergo rapid intensification. Warm water is not the only factor that allows hurricanes to rapidly intensify. If the upper air is favorable like more humidity and less wind shear combined with warm water, it could allow rapid intensification. This is the same area where Wilma became the most intense hurricane in the Atlantic. Here is the intensity forecast.

Only one forecast model has future Nate as a major hurricane. Forecasting strength and intensity is notoriously difficult. I would not be surprised if Tropical Depression 16 or future Nate becomes a major hurricane.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Nate will form as early as Thursday.
-Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico needs to watch.

The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance and Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential. Special thanks to all of them.

Irma Ravages Florida Part 2

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has Hurricane Irma is near Tampa and it is a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph 160 km/h 87 knot winds, which is on land 85 mph 136 km/h 74 knots. Gusts are as high as 128 mph 205 km/h 111 knots. Hurricane force winds are up to 150 miles 240 km 130 nautical miles across from northeast to southeast quadrant. Tropical force winds are up to 690 miles 1,104 km 600 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. It is a large hurricane!

Tropical storm force winds are engulfing a large portion of Florida. It is even felt in Georgia and South Carolina! That is how large Irma is. Irma got large because it is over land, which disrupts the core. There is also a cold front. Those two make Irma larger as energy is spread out. The same reason why Ike got larger before making landfall on Texas in 2008.

Irma continues to get closer to Tampa. Here is the forecast model of where Irma will go. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Irma. The GFS goes up to 10 days.

Interesting to note there is not much of a consensus of where Irma will go. Interestingly, there appears to be some cluster where Irma will go in the next five days. Looks like Irma may end up over Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Illinois.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Tampa Bay Area will be ravaged by Irma.
-Storm surge and strong winds will be the main issue.
-Flooding from storm surge and heavy rain will be widespread.

The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance and National Hurricane Center, . Special thanks to all of them.

Irma Ravages Florida

Hurricane Irma made landfall made landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4 hurricane with 929 millibars. It is moving north at 9 mph. Irma is a very large hurricane.

The Southeast Doppler mosaic has Irma engulfing a large portion of Florida. Many areas are getting heavy rain and strong winds. Hurricane force winds are up to 138 miles 221 km 120 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant and northeast to southeast quadrant. Tropical force winds are up to 437 miles 699 km 380 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. Irma has gotten larger, which is a bad thing.

Hurricane force winds are felt in Southern Florida from Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Collier County. Many areas are reporting hurricane force winds. A crane had collapsed in Miami and storm surge is higher than forecasted. This is despite the fact that Irma is west of the area. This puts Miami over the dirty side. This leads to the next question, where does Irma go? Here is the forecast model of where Irma will go. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Irma. The GFS goes up to 10 days.

The first one I will show is for Florida. It has Irma going on the western wide of Florida. It could go over the Gulf of Mexico and west or east of Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is one of the high risk area for storm surge due to its geography. Storm surge ravaging Tampa Bay would be worse than Katrina ravaging New Orleans and Mississippi or Sandy ravaging New York City area. You did not misread it. Tampa Bay is the worst for storm surge. Irma could go near Tampa Bay and this would be very bad.

The second one is where Irma goes once inland. There is a hot spot over Tennessee and Kentucky. This suggest that Irma may end up over that region. From there, it could east or northeast. Heavy rain will be the main problem inland depending on how fast Irma moves. The slower Irma moves, more chance for heavy rain.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Irma is going to ravage Florida.
-Storm surge and high waves will be a problem on the coast.
-Tampa Bay Area could get the brunt of Irma.

The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance, National Hurricane Center, , and National Weather Service. Special thanks to all of them.

Irma Getting Ever So Closer

Hurricane Irma is formidable Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph 200 km/h 109 knot winds. It has a central pressure of 933 millibars. It is moving slowly west at 9 mph. Irma should turn northward later tonight. South Florida and Florida Keys are feeling the affects of Irma.

There are feeder bands pelting South Florida with heavy rain and tropical storm force winds. Irma is a large hurricane despite weakening to Category 3.

Cuba is still experiencing hurricane force winds. Hurricane force winds are up to 138 miles 221 km 120 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant and northeast to southeast quadrant. Tropical force winds are up to 380 miles 608 km 330 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. This makes Irma a large hurricane, which in itself is dangerous regardless of Category 3 or 5. Why large hurricanes are dangerous?

Storm surge is the problem. Larger hurricanes produce higher storm surge. Let me repeat these hurricanes that were large. Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Katrina made landfall as Category 3 on Louisiana and Mississippi. It produced storm surge as high as 35 feet/10.7 meters! By comparison, Hurricane Camille made landfall in 1969 in the same area as a Category 5 hurricane, but produced storm surge of 25 feet/7.6 meters. Camille was smaller than Katrina. Hurricane Ike is another example of a large hurricane, which made landfall on Texas as a Category 2 hurricane in 2008. Ike produce storm surge as high as 25 feet/7.6 meters, which is highest outside of Mississippi! Hurricane Sandy made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on New Jersey in 2012. It produced storm surge as high as 15 feet/4.6 meters.

Many areas in Florida will see storm surge as high as 15 feet/4.6 meters. This type of storm surge is dangerous. The land will be inundated with 3 feet/0.9 meters or greater. That amount of water rushing in is dangerous and will wash anyone away! Anyone who lives in storm surge areas need to evacuate! If you live in an area with no storm surge, you should hide, with the exception living in a mobile home. Case in point, too many people evacuated when Hurricane Rita came barreling towards Texas and Louisiana. Most people who evacuated did not need to evacuate. This came a month after Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi. Also, more people died while evacuating than in the actual hurricane. We are seeing that problem with Florida. People who really need to evacuate are people who live in storm surge prone areas.

Here is the forecast model of where Irma will go. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Irma. The GFS goes up to 10 days.

Most have Irma going northwards towards Florida. It could go west of Florida or over Miami area. Either way, it is going to be bad for Florida. Once Irma is inland, most forecast models have Irma over Tennessee and Kentucky. This could be an issue as hurricanes weaken and go inland, they can dump heavy rain, especially at night. The heavy rains often fall at night near the center of the warm core low. These thunderstorms converge closer to the center at night as the low pressure system is warm core and the ambient temperature is cooler. They are called core rain. Hurricane Harvey is a tragic example of core rains that led to massive flooding in Southeast Texas including Houston. The forecast model is five days, so anything can change now and tomorrow.

Here is the most recent intensity forecast. The intensity forecast model for Irma are all over the place.

Some keep Irma as a Category 3 hurricane, while others have Irma intensifying into Category 4. I would not be surprised if Irma intensifies to Category 4 or even 5 prior to landfall on Florida. Regardless, Irma is going to be a very dangerous hurricane. A weakening hurricane can be more dangerous because people think if it weakens, than they should be safe. Hurricanes that weaken are due to land interaction or eyewall replacement cycle. Those two can cause hurricanes to get larger. Also, once eyewall replacement cycle is done, the hurricane gets larger and stronger.

The wind radii gets larger in part due to land interaction and eyewall replacement cycle as Irma gets closer to Florida. This is why I keep saying larger hurricanes are dangerous regardless of Category 3 or 5. Here is a rainfall forecast model ending at September 16, 2017 at 7:00 PM. They are from GFS, EURO, Canadian, and Weather Prediction Center (WPC).

All are in agreement that Florida will get heavy rain from Irma. GFS and WPC have the heavy rain over the middle of Florida. EURO has the heavy rain over the western part of Florida. The Canadian has heavy rain over eastern part of Florida. The GFS has the heaviest amount of up to 35.2 inches/89.4 centimeters of rain. It is south of the Florida Keys. The EURO has 17.9 inches/45.5 centimeters of rain, which is also south of the Florida Keys. Most areas should see 8 to 12 inches/20.3 to 30.5 centimeters of rain from Irma.

Here is what I think will happen.
-Irma could affect Florida as early as tomorrow morning.
-Storm surge and high waves will be a problem on the coast.
-Strong winds and heavy rain will be the main problem inland.

The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance, National Hurricane Center, Weather.US, Weather Prediction Center (WPC), and NWS Key West. Special thanks to all of them.

It is going to be a long night and day for Florida. Let’s hope everyone is hunkered down in areas that have no storm surge. Anyone who is storm surge prone areas are away. This could be bad for Florida.