Nicholas should make landfall tonight on the Texas coast near Matagorda as a strong tropical storm. Here are NHC’s latest Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Nicholas (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Most of the impacts will be to the right of the storm, over the Houston area, and given the fact the storm will parallel the coast for the next three days this could be a problem for Louisiana into Mississippi as well. Here’s the track and wind swath:
The rain totals aren’t as high as they have been in some forecasts, but still a risk for flooding across the region given the saturated soils and already high rivers …
So if in areas that are vulnerable to flooding be prepared and watch for rising waters. Elsewhere, NHC is watching two disturbances, neither of which is likely to spin up in the next day or two, but could within five dyas. The one off of Africa is at 80%, but is a long way from anything or anybody, and while it might become a depression in a couple of days or so the long term prospects aren’t clear as of yet. The other is a scary orange blob off the US Southeast coast, but it isn’t expected to make landfall, and should parallel the coast even if something does happen (50% long term chance as of 2pm).
The system that has been migrating northeast over the last couple of days is organized enough to cause the National Hurricane Center to issue a special advisory and raise the chance of formation to 80% …
The main threat from AL91 (which would become Tropical Depression 13 and, if strong enough or somebody gets out and pushes, Tropical Storm Mindy) is rain; any tropical storm winds should be confined to the coast or thunderstorms. With the approaching front and previous front stalled out over Georgia, conditions are not favorable for regeneration in the Atlantic. If you are in coastal GA/SC, the forecast tomorrow isn’t really any different: thunderstorms. Tropical storm warnings are possible, but really this is a minimal system and unless you’re right on the coast shouldn’t be a big deal unless you are really unlucky and something breaks that shouldn’t.
I don’t normally do updates unless things change a lot, but given the concerns over Elsa here is a quick update. Although Elsa is again a Hurricane the big picture is still the same other than somewhat more widespread economic impacts in Florida and the US, which doubled to around $900 million. This is not so much due to worse damage, but a bit more involvement of the Tampa area, where winds going even a little more inland racks up a lot of monetary impacts.
For the Georgia and the South Carolina low country nothing has really changed in terms of forecast. Will have more in the morning.
Learn to say “I don’t know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often.
— from “Rumsfeld’s Rules”
Donald Rumsfeld was one of the more interesting people I’ve worked for. I doubt you’ll see a lot of nuance in the opinions about his government service – the quick review of the obituaries this morning tended to be either “outstanding public servant” or “horrible and evil person” depending the author’s views on the Iraq War and GWOT. The truth, of course, is complex, but I learned a lot from being able to observe his management skills up close under extremely stressful circumstances.
A lot of people make fun of his “known and unknown” comments, but if you set aside the politics it’s a refreshing attitude for anyone in government to admit that there are things we don’t know and – worse – things we know but are wrong. Rumsfeld compiled a list of “Rules” – actually quotes and thoughts he started putting together in the 1970’s – that he would give out to staffers and others within his orbit. I have a signed typewritten xerox copy from 1983; here is a more recent electronic version from when he took over as Secretary of Defense in 2001. It is interesting reading, and advice anyone working in government should heed (but sadly don’t):
For what it’s worth, I think his legacy is overall positive, but tainted. There is no doubting his patriotism and concern for this country. Sadly I think that along with the rest of the Republican Party and political “right” in this country, the rational and pragmatic conservatism of his service in the 1980’s morphed over time into the ideologically driven neoconservative world that the GOP and “right” evolved in to, reaching its peak during Bush II, thus and setting the stage for the Trump train wreck. His behind the scenes work in the 80’s was good. His detour into the neocon world can be traced to the delusional PNAC project. While the initial Afghanistan and Iraq operations were well executed, subsequent decisions were catastrophic. In fairness, these were mostly due to Powell, Rice, and Cheney, and Rumsfeld is often blamed for failures that were not his fault. And of course the Obama years took a bad situation and managed to make it far worse. That said, he was part of the Bush II team, so, ultimately, his legacy from a policy standpoint is mixed. But at the end of the day, I think he was a good man. Requiescat in pace.
The storm churning the fetid waters of the Gulf of Mexico is still trying to organize this morning, and the NHC forecast didn’t really change at 11am Friday (a reminder for those following on social media, always be sure to check the times of posts; platforms like Facebook usually don’t show you things in chronological order!). PTC3 is still forecast to become a tropical storm before landfall tomorrow. In the East Pacific, we now have Tropical Storm Dolores, forecast to make landfall in Mexico on Monday. It may be just below hurricane force if it stays offshore. Hurricane watches are now in place for parts of Mexican coast just in case. Here’s the impact swath for both storms …
For PTC3, the earlier advice still holds. For Dolores, if you are in the swath, prepare for a minimal hurricane just in case. The impact zone is south of Puerto Vallarta, although almost 2 million people could potentially experience minimal tropical storm winds, there under 20,000 people forecast in the strong tropical storm (over 50 knots) or hurricane wind zone (if it reaches that intensity briefly).
The forecast for Potential Tropical Cyclone Three (AL032021) hasn’t changed much since yesterday. The large, disorganized system doesn’t look like much this morning, with no clear center of circulation, although it is somewhat better than yesterday. Winds are up a bit to just below tropical storm strength. The center seems to be forming just to the left of the orange blob of clouds just south of Louisiana …
NHC still feels the storm will develop a closed circulation before landfall, and thus be designated Tropical Storm Claudette before landfall. Here is the latest impact swath and warnings:
As a reminder, the best summary of the “official word” on storms is the NHC’s “Key Messages” product, available at this link. There are tropical storm warnings up for the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts. As for my interpretation, although the storm may reach tropical storm strength, this still won’t be the typical tropical storm/hurricane scenario. That’s why I put “landfall” in quotes above. It will be blustery right on the coast with some waves and minor coast flooding – and this will be well east of the center, the worst of it in the orangish area shown in the above simulation – but again the story here is likely to be a lot of rain in an already wet and nearly saturated area. Rain totals east of the track could range from nearly 10″ on the LA/AL coast to between 2 and 4 inches as far inland as Atlanta. So if you live in an area the floods with heavy rains be aware. Otherwise, scattered power outages, some limbs down, that sort of thing is what to expect …
The broad area of disturbed weather in the Bay of Campeche continues to be a broad area of disturbed weather in the Bay of Campeche. It should begin to move more decisively northward today, and NHC rates it as a 90% chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm later today or tomorrow. The models continue to have trouble tracking the system, and run-to-run consistency isn’t great other than “some kind of system will move north and drop a ton of rain on the northern Gulf Coast.” For what it’s worth here’s the latest spaghetti map:
Even more so than usual with weaker, less organized storms, the model track lines are not the main thing to worry about. The models continue to show upwards of a foot or more of rain being dropped in Louisiana. Here’s the latest analysis from the US National Center for Environment Prediction (the division within the weather service responsible for the global computer models):
As noted yesterday, the main risk here isn’t storm surge or wind as this is likely to not become much more than a tropical storm. The problem will be rain in LA, MS, AL, and potentially western Florida and Georgia. Also note that this is likely to remain a very large system, impacting most of the southeast over the next 5 or 6 days.
The storm is dumping a lot of rain in Northern India and that will cause more flooding over the next few days. In economic impacts Tauktae was probably a $5 Billion storm, using the intensity estimates of the Indian Meteorological Department. Using the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center track (shown about) the estimate skyrockets to $12 Billion. I think the lower (but still catastrophic – that is the economic equivalent of $26 Billion storm in the US) IMD estimate is probably more likely. But as with many storms in developing economies, the dollar numbers don’t tell the story. Over 65 million people were likely within the area of tropical storm force winds. In population terms, would be like a storm hitting one third of the US. Given the out of control COVID-19 outbreak in India, the situation is even worse. This is a humanitarian disaster that will be with us for some time.
As noted in the article linked above, there is the potential for another storm to form off the east coast of India next week. But I think it’s a bit premature to look that far ahead – far too many uncertainties at this point.
I just had the following comment blocked from FB for violating community standards for hate speech, in reply to a comment that Fox News was blaming renewables for the Texas outages:
And CNN is blaming climate change. It’s no wonder ‘Muricans! are so ignorant.
I’m assuming this was some automatic thing, but if one of you reported it I would appreciate you sending me a note so we can discuss …
I filed an appeal with the following commentary:
It is not clear to me what about this comment constitutes “hate speech.” This reply was in response to a user comment who was attacking a particular news outlet. In context it was a perfectly reasonable political commentary, and the term “ignorant,” meaning per the dictionary “lacking knowledge or awareness in general”.
If the term “ignorant” is automatically considered hate speech in all contexts, I’m astonished, and would be happy to provide you with dozens of academic citations and surveys that show that the American People are woefully uninformed (dare I say “ignorant”) regarding the basic facts of science, engineering, and world events. The primary reason for this lack of knowledge is the entertainment driven “news” media that values dramatic, politically driven conflict and sound bites over content and information.
The term ‘Murican!’ is widely used to refer to Americans in general and the overly nationalistic, jingoistic worldview that permeates Fox News viewership. By pointing out that CNN is guilty of the same thing in reverse, and the juxaposition of the term ‘Murican!’ with CNN viewers, it was designed to trigger the thought that perhaps they aren’t as different as their supporters would like to believe. In this case, combining these two terms seems perfectly reasonable and was not an attack on any individual, but on the media that has placed the American People in the position of “lacking knowledge or awareness in general.”