Tropical Storm Cristobal, Saturday 6 June 2020

Before discussing Cristobal … I’ve re-established the link to Facebook because so many get their information that way.  While it is a problematic platform in many ways, the simple fact is many people use it.  I would again caution that for real time hazards and news, Facebook can even be dangerous because it does not show you things chronologically.  It also does not show you every post, because it aggressively wants corporate and even non-profit users to pay them to “boost” posts.  So if you really want live data from Enki, bookmark the blog directly.  Another thing I dislike is people profiting from disasters.  As I get time I’m considering options like creating an app,  but I may have to set up a Patreon type thing to sponsor that.  Either way, I really appreciate everyone who has contacted me with well wishes and ideas for how to sort through this.  Note going forward I am not reading or responding to comments on FB.  This is purely an echo of what goes on to the site as a convenience for FB users.

Cristobal has re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico, and tropical storm force winds should make landfall on the Louisiana coast tomorrow morning – but the impacts will be felt starting later today/tonight.  NHC’s key messages are pretty straightforward, and there are tropical storm warnings up for the Louisiana/Florida Coast, including New Orleans.  Here is the forecast damage swath …

Two things about Cristibal:  first, it isn’t likely to get very strong.  It has a very broad structure, and is dragging in dry air, limiting how intense it can get.  Here is a water vapor image from this morning, you can see the dry air in orange … as always, click any graphic to embiggen.

The second (related) thing is how large the system is.  Normally tropical cyclones get smaller as they get more intense.  It’s a lot like an ice skater who spins faster as she draws her arms in, and slows down when they are extended.  The circulation of Cristobal is quite large.  That means the area of winds and somewhat elevated water is also large – but it also means the storm won’t intensify as fast, even given warm water.  There is also some shear (winds moving in different directions in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere).  Here’s the 850mb (about 5000 feet up) wind speeds … so even the Florida coast might see gusty (but not dangerous) winds.  Water elevations will run a bit above normal across the Northern Gulf Coast – but only structures right on the coast are at risk.  However, soil moistures are high, and there will likely be a lot of rain, meaning there will be river/creek flooding, so if you live near one along the Gulf Coast beware.  Aside from the odd tree down and scattered power outages, that should be about it for Cristibal.



Tropical Depression #3

Some bits of the system that was Amanda in the East Pacific is now Tropical Depression #3 (AL032020) as NHC has started advisories.  It is expected to become a Tropical Storm tomorrow, and meander near the Mexican coast for a couple of days, dumping a *lot* of rain on Southern Mexico and Central America, with a significant risk of flooding and mudslides.  Here’s what it looks like at about 5pm ET today, see if you can find the center …

Most likely it will end up going inland over Mexico/Central America and dissipating.  But, depending on the Virus and the Riots, you may see scary graphics like this one …

showing a monster storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast (and note this graphic is lying, since it’s just a tropical storm here).  It’s certainly not time to worry about that, it’s not the most likely scenario at this point.  But, the interesting thing is, while *this* circulation may well die out, another may well form in the same place later in the week and drift north, so the whole situation is worth watching anyway.  It will be especially interesting to see if NHC maintains continuity, or creates yet a third storm of of essentially the same chunk of hot air …

Administrative note: As previously posted, I’ve discontinued the Enki Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Facebook in particular was problematic and their policies are rather toxic and ultimately became unacceptable, so I needed to stop feeding the beast.  However, I understand that many people are on it with family and friends and it is a pretty ubiquitous communications tool.  Feel free to share links there if you like.

As for the blog, I’m not sure what direction it is going to go, or how it will be supported.  We’ll see how it goes.

Brief update and correction

First, a correction.  On the previous graphs and notes the “Y” (vertical) axis was mislabeled as deaths per 1000 population; it should have been per 10,000.  Just a typo on the labels (and using copypasta too much), the data itself and plots were OK.  Here is the chart for this morning (29 March) with the correct label, and the points a bit larger and hopefully clearer:

I again want to caution everyone about getting too worked up over daily wobbles in the numbers.  First of all, the systems that compile this data are really overworked.  Italy, for example, has some known delays in accounting so that when a death is registered may be some time after it actually occurred.  As previously discussed “cases” are a terrible metric because they depend on the availability of testing as well as the “case” being severe enough for someone to bother to test it. And it takes on average at least three weeks for the impact of measures like “social distancing” to show up in mortality data; this chart is a look back at what was going three, even four weeks ago (because of the time it takes for someone exposed to get sick and pass away).  So while like everyone I’m nervous about Italy and Spain not starting to trend lower, I’m not worried about it (yet).  If they go above 2.5 and still trending rapidly up, that’s not a good sign.  But as you can see, there’s a long way to go before that happens.

I’m not showing a total US plot for several reasons.  First, countries like Italy and Spain (as wells as Hubei province, China) are in population about the size and area of our states.  Second, areas larger than states have multiple “start times” and and the curves are so messy it’s hard to see what is going on.  Will check back in a few days to see where things are going …

Possible storm in Gulf – will it impact the #Delain #Amorphis Concert in Tampa Saturday?

Have been working on some complex computer issues the last few days, sorry didn’t get to comment more on the severe impacts of Hagibis on Japan, which were a bit worse than expected.  Not to minimize the impacts, but unlike the Bahamas (which still needs extensive help from Dorian) Japan is well equipped to deal with this.

As for current events, there is a system in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico that has some potential to impact the Gulf Coast this weekend.  NHC gives it a 50% chance of spinning up in the next few days.  The big question is of course how it will impact the upcoming Anneke Van Giersbergen/Amorphis/Delain Concert this weekend in Tampa.   The storm by then should be inland over Georgia, but being a weak tropical system with an extensive displaced rain inflow it is possible that it could be stormy across Florida for those trekking across that nightmarish landscape of alligators, tourists, huge dancing rats, and screeching auto-tuned princesses to get to The Orpheum for the show.  Here is the GFS forecast for late Saturday afternoon …

If this holds up the worst should be past, but it will be a nerve wracking wait to see how strong this thing gets, and how fast it moves.  Other models have it moving slower

Here is a current (2pm Wednesday Afternoon) GOES East image … the white blob on the Pacific side is what is left of Potential Tropical Cyclone 17E, the spiral shape in the center is the potential (as yet no ID) storm.  The line of clouds to the north is the cold front that is passing through the Southeastern US today.

#Russia, #Ukraine, and #Impeachment: some missing context

Administrative note: I had some problems with drafts being posted straight to the site/FB/Twitter, causing some confusion, broken links and partial posts.  Hopefully that is fixed! Update on storms will be coming this afternoon.

Sorry this article-length post isn’t about the weather, but it is on a topic I know quite a bit about, and like hurricanes it is an area that the US media and political establishment exploit for drama and manipulation.  And, like hurricanes, it is a complex and nuanced thing.  As the US House of Representatives gets serious about Impeachment over the Trump, Biden, Ukraine and Russia connections, I hope everyone will take some time to understand how and why we got here and realize it’s not really about Russian or Ukrainian attempts to interfere in our politics, it is blow-back as a result of over two decades of the US  manipulating and exploiting financially those countries after the fall of the Soviet Union, and how US domestic politics got entangled with them.  I hope you will take a few minutes to read it through, and not jump to a conclusion based on which political team you cheer for.  As in so many things, both parties have utterly failed you, and are blaming the “other” for the ensuing mess.  Although this post is long, it’s still overly simplified, but at least it’s a start.

It’s hard to know where to begin this story, but to avoid writing a book we’ll start it with the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, and why the shadows of that event are now cast in the heart of US Politics.  The Soviet economy was in shambles, and numerous deals were made to facilitate a peaceful transition between the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and the independent nation-states that resulted from the breakup.  There are two key elements of that breakup that are of interest to us here: the disposition of the nuclear arsenal, and  reforms of the “communist” economies (they weren’t really communist, and barely deserve the term “socialist,” but that’s the label that stuck).  First let’s look at the post-Soviet borders and military situation …

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Where does the time go?

Well, it’s a monotonic nondecreasing function, so the physicist in me says that’s a stupid question … but I am a bit chagrined to realize my last post was in February. My only excuse is I’ve been working on a very complex (and interesting) climate modeling project that I hope to report on here over the next few months as stuff gets written up and published.  Meanwhile, it is already the northern hemisphere hurricane season so here is a reminder: my automated system that runs the Haetta/TC model puts KML (google earth) outputs showing storm impacts (not just wind speeds, but “plain english” impacts like “trees down, some roof damage”) at this web site:

Hope to resume more frequent posts towards the end of this month …

Mind the gap … and California Wildfires

Generally, if you don’t see something here, it’s because there is no significant doom out there, but the last month there have been several disasters  around the world (couple of earthquakes and typhoons) that while I’ve worked professionally, I haven’t been able to post about.  As long time followers know, sometimes I get overwhelmed with work, not to mention family/personal stuff that people have to deal with from time to time, and while I try to do updates here for global events sometimes I just can’t get to it.   Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, but no guarantees!

One of the research things I’m working on are economic risk assessments for wildland fires.  Hopefully will be able to post a bit more on this soon, but meanwhile here is some data from the NASA and NOAA polar orbiters showing where the fires are in Southern California.  Each little flame symbol represents a roughly 374 square meter (1230 foot on a side) square patch of land that the infrared sensor indicates is on fire …

Pacific storms; light posting

Couple of storms in the Pacific, Maliksi will be zipping by Japan as a tropical storm over the next couple of days, shouldn’t be much of a problem for anyone aside from rain bands away from the core.  On the other side of the Pacific, Hurricane Aletta is away from land off the coast of Mexico.  The Atlantic should be quiet next week.

Posting will be light for a while as we regroup for the Atlantic and West Pacific seasons and do some software upgrades to better enable public access to the Earthquake and Volcano hazards data, as well as improved Tropical Cyclone graphics. Yes.  That is what we are doing.

OK, we admit it, we’re taking time off for the World Cup …

Cats and Supercomputers

There is probably a reason most facilities that host Beowulf class cluster computers or supercomputers don’t also host cats.  One week of cat hair, especially during the Spring Shed, can be a real problem … also, vacuuming out the fan intakes can cause fan speed changes that sets off all kinds of interesting and entertaining alarms.

While keeping an eye on Kilauea and other geophysical hazards, tropics are quiet at the moment although some potential areas in the West Pacific …