#Earthquake in #Mexico

There has been a 7.6 earthquake in coastal Mexico south of Manzanillo …

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It has likely caused some damage in the immediate area of the epicenter, and caused people all over the region to head for the streets in panic. A tsunami warning for the immediate coastline has been issued, but a wider alert wasn’t required. Hawaii was given the all clear about 30 minutes ago (3:10pm ET, 910am HDT).

Catastrophic flooding on #PuertoRico from #Fiona

Hurricane Fiona is moving away from Puerto Rico this morning, with the now well defined eye inland over the Dominican Republic, but heavy rain continues to trail across the island:

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Rain totals as of just after 6am ET were upwards of 30 inches in places. A quick look at the local storm reports has 42 damaging mudslides, some with people trapped, and about as many reports of flooding. Electricity has been out across the entire island since mid-day yesterday. The computer models are currently estimating about $2 Billion in damage, but they tend to underestimate damage to Puerto Rico due to the ongoing electrical problems (they should have been fixed long ago) and the utterly astounding statistic that over 3,000 homes have not yet been repaired from Maria, five years ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if this ends up as a $5 to $8 Billion event or more, and of course that says nothing about the human suffering. No word on fatalities yet but I’d guess there have been some.

Dominican Republic is also experiencing damage, and will likely also have a damage toll in the $1 to $2 Billion USD range. The Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas should just get a side-swipe with minimal damage. Bermuda will be in the storm swath as it rapidly moves north – the extent of the impacts will depend on the exact track, but warnings are sure to be posted soon. Nova Scotia and Vinland (Newfoundland) will likely feel the effects of Fiona as it transitions from being a hurricane to an extratropical cyclone.

Update on Hurricane #Fiona and #PuertoRico (Sunday 18 Sept 2pm ET)

Hurricane Fiona is making landfall on southwestern Puerto Rico this afternoon. An eye is trying to form, clearly visible on radar. Here is the visual GOES image with the San Juan radar overlay …

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Radar indicated rain totals are over 8″ since midnight along the southward facing slopes of the island, and sustained winds in Ponce are at 70mph. The economic impact estimate has risen to just under $2 Billion, but as cautioned in previous posts the fragile electrical grid is going to be the key point of failure that will determine how much suffering this storm ultimately causes. Half of the island’s population is already without power as of 2pm.

No significant change to the forecast track although NHC bumped up the intensity at 11am; not likely to be a threat to the US.

#Fiona to make landfall in #PuertoRico, #Nanmadol and #Japan

We have two tropical cyclone landfalls today (and a weak near miss on the west coast of Mexico). First lets look at Tropical Storm Fiona. Here are links to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Fiona (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Fiona continues to organize and eye-like feature is seen in the radar from San Juan …

San Juan NEXRAD, 5:25am Saturday. Click any image to enlarge.

By this afternoon, shortly before landfall in western Puerto Rico, Fiona might be a hurricane. It’s a race between strength/organization and the impacts of land as it gets closer to the mountains of the island, which disrupt the circulation. The thinking is that it won’t hurt too much as a lot of the circulation will stay over water on this track and the time over land brief. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are likely to get a lot of heavy rain and gusty winds – the winds at higher elevations and over ridge lines will almost certainly exceed hurricane force. Flash flooding and power outages are inevitable. Here are the projected impacts from my TAOS/TC model, based on the Hurricane Center official forecast:

On this track, over six million people are in the damage swath, and Puerto Rico will likely have economic impacts over $1 Billion USD. The Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas will likely feel impacts from Fiona tomorrow, which will probably be a hurricane by the time it passes them. After that the models show a lot of intensification, and Fiona may be a major hurricane (cat 3 or higher) by the time it threatens Bermuda late this week. To be clear, there is no risk to the mainland US on this track, aside from rip currents at the beaches due to waves. Vinland (Newfoundland) and maybe Nova Scotia might get some impacts in 10 days or so but that’s a long ways out and uncertain.

On the other side of the world, Japan is bracing for Typhoon Nanmadol (Link to NHK/Japan coverage in English, live video is here). This has the potential to cause major damage across most of the main islands depending on the exact track and how quickly it decays. On the current Joint Typhoon Warning Center (US Military) track, shown below, the storm is expected to cause about $6 Billion in damage, with 70 million people in the tropical storm force wind swath.

The official Japan Meteorological Agency forecast has the storm a bit more intense and to the west, with impacts correspondingly higher – on the order of $23 Billion USD! This goes to show how much the forecasts by two different, experienced teams of meteorologists can be for the same storm … here is what the impact swath looks like using the JMA forecast:

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Oh, and if that’s not enough, there was a strong earthquake in Taiwan with several hundred million dollars in damage. Not a great weekend …

Typhoon remnants hitting #Alaska

The remnants of Typhoon Merbock have become a strong extratropical cyclone and is slamming in to Alaska today … here’s the GFS overlay showing the structure of the storm:

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Alaska is pretty far north (duh). What that means is that the geosynchronous satellites (GOES – Geosynchronous Orbit Environmental Satellites) we rely on for near-instantaneous weather pictures are distorted since they are over the equator, and are looking at the state at a steep angle. Here is what the view from the GOES West satellite looks like right now …

Fortunately there is another family of satellites that is in a lower orbit and passes over the poles. These satellites, the NOAA Polar Operational Orbiting Satellites (POES) track over every point on the earth twice a day, and more frequently near the poles since they pass over each pole every 90 minutes. They give us a more overhead view. Here is the Alaska storm from NOAA-20, with a GFS forecast wind on top … notice the “swath” of the image as the satellite moves from north to south, and you can see the edges are a bit smeared since it is at a lower altitude.

There are also a set of NEXRAD radars across the state that are the same model we have down here in the lower 48. Here’s the view from Nome, which is closest to the storm center:

The west coast of Alaska is getting pounded right now with near hurricane force winds, 50 foot waves, storm surge, and rain. Conditions will be bad for a couple of days.

#Fiona to swipe #PuertoRico tonight, #Supertyphoon headed to #Japan

Tropical Storm Fiona continues to organize and strengthen as it enters the Caribbean Sea. First, here are the links to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Fiona (en Español: Mensajes Claves). That should be your “go to” for the quick overview for any storm. Here is the impact swath from my TAOS/TC model:

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The storm dumped a months worth of rain on the island of Guadeloupe in less than 24 hours (Le Monde, in French), and it is still causing flash flooding and some gusty winds. Fiona will be flirting with hurricane status as it passes south of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Expect heavy rain and strong tropical storm force winds. Flash flooding and mudslides are inevitable in the vulnerable places. It’s (profanity deleted) embarrassing to have to still be discussing Puerto Rico’s electrical grid problems five years after Maria, here we are. No doubt there will be widespread, possibly long outages. I’ll somehow avoid a rant here, although one is needed. After swiping Puerto Rico, Fiona is expected to make a direct hit on the Dominican Republic as a minimal hurricane. Again, the main risk is flash flooding from heavy rains, although there will be wind, wave, and storm surge damage along the coast as well. After that, Fiona will continue to strengthen, but move away from land. The only impact expected to the mainland US at this time are rip currents as it moves parallel to the shoreline. Here is the official forecast, along with the major objective (computer) models and estimated dispersion (where we expect the storm to end up, given history and the spread of the models on this storm so far):

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Originally Fiona wasn’t expected to become a hurricane until after it passed Hispaniola, but now may do so passing Puerto Rico. What happened? Let’s compare the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) analysis from yesterday and today:

Click and hold on the swipee-thingee to compare the old and new TAFB analysis. Right shows old, left shows new

If you look at the Fiona symbol, it was on the edge of the moist (gray/green/blue/red) clouds and there was lots of dry air; by today, the center was embedded within the moist cloud center. That means the storm could draw on that warm moist air to strengthen and organize.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic there are two disturbances being watched by NHC in their five day outlook, but neither are given much chance of development. Tropical Storm Larry (seen in the TAFB outlook above if you swipe all the way to the left) is expected to bring rain and flash flooding to the coast of Mexico over the next day.

There is potentially big hurricane news in the Pacific in the form of Supertyphoon Nanmadol. Nanmadol is expected to make a direct hit on the major southern Japanese of Kyushu, and could cause upwards of $18 Billion in damage if the JTWC track and intensity holds up. Over 85% of Japan’s population – 107 million out of 125 million people – might experience tropical storm force winds! It will cause disruptions across most of Japan over the next three days, but unlike some countries Japan has a fairly well developed emergency response system and resilient infrastructure. Here is the expected damage swath:

Watching #Fiona notes

Since we have a storm that might look like it’s going to impact the mainland US, just a reminder that I don’t normally do rapid-fire, ZOMG THERE’S A NEW MODEL RUN OR FORECAST! LOOK AT ME! kinds of posts. Usually I do a big post in the mornings, and only post updates during the day if there is a significant change. Seriously, it’s just not worth the stress, these things usually don’t change that fast.

click to embiggen the 11am satellite image and NHC storm overlay.

But since I’m here, nothing much changed with the 11am NHC forecast. Slight track shift, maybe some potential for a stronger storm after it exits Hispaniola (Dominican Republic), but no significant change in the guidance this morning. If you’re not in the northern Caribbean or (as of this morning) southern Bahamas/Turks and Caicos, no need to do anything or freak out just yet unless you need the exercise. If you are in those places, follow the NHC and local guidance for tropical storm warnings. Tropical storm conditions will hit the Leeward Islands this afternoon, and spread across the Virgin Islands (US and British) and should reach Puerto Rico tomorrow afternoon or evening.

I just heard on the radio news again that Fiona “may threaten the US.” Well, if you mean pass by hundreds of miles offshore, then sure, that’s the current scenario (as noted this morning). It will probably brush the southern Bahamas then head towards Bermuda. Worth checking in Saturday, Sunday morning at the latest to see if that’s changed, but otherwise be chill 😛 (can’t believe I wrote that).

Those of you who watch the NHC Tropical Weather Outlook will note a couple of disturbances in addition to Fiona, but they both are currently of low chance of formation (20% or less). No need to worry about them right now.

#Fiona Friday

Although NHC found stronger winds, Fiona is still a very sheared system this morning. Here’s the TAFB analysis, notice the center of circulation (the tropical storm symbol) is still on the edge of the dense clouds, and there is a lot of dry (orange) air in the storm:

Click for detailed view.

Other than a stronger storm, nothing much has changed since yesterday except the longer range model guidance is more consistent. Here is this morning’s model dispersion analysis, which shows where we would expect the storm to end up based on the major global models:

So the NHC forecast is for a bit stronger storm, and shifted a bit south and west, but not terribly different from yesterday. Here are the Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Fiona. And here is the latest damage swath using my TAOS/TC model, based on the 5am ET official forecast:

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On this track the storm will likely cause a fair amount of impacts across the leeward islands, Puerto Rico. Power outages, roof damage, and in steeper terrain mudslides and flash flooding are all likely. There are over 12 million people in the damage swath, mostly in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Damage could approach $1 Billion if the storm maintains intensity, as the official forecast (supported by the models) shows.

Beyond the NHC forecast (which, I again remind everyone, the NHC forecast is the only thing you should be using for decision making unless you have very specialized needs and expert, site specific advice) it looks like the storm will turn out to sea and parallel the US East Coast. Unlike yesterday, the modeling is pretty consistent showing that. Of course since the track is pointed towards the US, it will give the chattering class something to talk about, and the infamous Cone of Shame might fall close to or even touch the coast next week. While the southern Bahamas are within the potential threat area, as noted yesterday at the moment the mainland US isn’t under direct threat, given the meteorological setup. So if in the Caribbean, definitely move forward with taking protective measures and monitor the NHC site (updates every three hours at this point) and check local news updates regularly. For the mainland US, still no need to get excited, check back in tomorrow or the next day.

Tropical Storm #Fiona: Where, How Bad?

As expected the tropical depression approaching the northern Caribbean got organized enough last night to be designated as Tropical Storm Fiona. Given it’s somewhat pointed towards the US, there is much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, so let’s take a closer look at what we know (and more importantly don’t know and should probably just shut up about 😛 ).

We start of course with the NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Fiona (no Spanish version up at the moment). Here’s my TAOS/TC model impact swath based on that forecast:

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Tropical storm watches are up for the northern Leeward Islands including Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Anguilla, Sint Maartin, Saba and St. Eustatius. On this track it will bring tropical storm conditions to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late this weekend, with the biggest risks being flash flooding and mudslides. NHC will probably start raising watches later today. In the current forecast Fiona isn’t expected to become a hurricane, and should remain a moderate tropical storm at worst. Still, there are nearly six million people in the damage path, and some of the infrastructure is vulnerable so a couple hundred million dollars in economic impact is expected. I would call this hazardous, but not dangerous if proper precautions are taken.

Conditions are not great for this storm. Here is the surface analysis from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB):

TAFB analysis over GOES Water Vapor image

In this map, orange is dry air. Notice that the center of Fiona (lower right) isn’t embedded within the wet (gray/blue/green/red) air. This is due to wind shear, and the dry air is being “entrained” into the circulation. This inhibits development. Something else to look at in the longer term is the front draped across Florida and running offshore of the southeastern US (and note over Georgia South Carolina the very welcome cooler, dry air to give us a break from the recent extended rains). That is important as the storm approaches and passes Puerto Rico/Hispaniola. Notice on the NHC track forecast (and TAOS swath above based on their forecast) has a northward bend in it. This is due to a change in the steering currents (mid level winds) associated with that front and the dome of high pressure over the mid Atlantic. So, what does all that mean for the track and intensity? Here is a map that can help with that first part …

This map shows a few of the major objective (computer) track models, with ellipses showing the dispersion or scatter at various time frames. Out to 96 hours the forecasts are pretty good – in fact, when compared to historical forecasts, it’s even “Excellent” at 72 hours (three days, when the storm should be approaching Puerto Rico. But look what happens at five days: the ellipse is yuge and dispersion is “Poor”. That’s because at that point the storm will be encountering that front and associated winds. Some of the models (like GFS) show the storm stronger and sneaking through the front, others like the Canadian Meteorological Center model show the storm remaining sheared and persisting as a weak system across Cuba. For intensity, here is a plot showing the intensity forecasts for the next five days. Only one model shows Fiona becoming a hurricane – and it’s almost always on the high side the last few years.

The NHC forecast splits the difference between the GFS and European Met Center model. For planning purposes of course you should use the official NHC track, and not worry too much what happens after that because of the uncertainty. At this point any speculation about impacts on the US are just that: pointless speculation at best, spreading FUD for fun and profit at worst. While it’s too early to say for sure, impacts to the US aren’t terribly likely given the meteorological setup but if the expected turn to the north doesn’t materialize there is plenty of time to see it and do something about it. Unless you live in the northeastern Caribbean or Greater Antilles, there’s no need to wear out your refresh key, check back tomorrow morning …

#Typhoons threatening #China, #Japan; Atlantic Update

TLDR: Muifa is making landfall near Ningbo/Shanghai today, Nanmadol headed towards Japan this weekend. Disturbance/Invest in the Atlantic has “magic words” but probably won’t amount to much. Here are the details …

Muifa is making landfall on the Yangtze River Delta, near the major port complexes of Ningbo and Shanghai. The ports are shut down, and the area is expecting hurricane force conditions (Reuters article) over the next day or so. Storm surges within Hangzhou Bay will likely be on the order of three meters in places so that will be a factor as well. The estimated economic impact based on the JTWC forecast is around $6.8 Billion USD. Here’s the forecast impact swath:

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Japan is on watch for a potential typhoon this weekend. While still a tropical storm, Nanmadol is forecast to become the equivalent of a category three hurricane. Here’s the forecast swath:

In the Atlantic, the weak disturbance within a tropical wave that is now approaching the Caribbean is a bit better organized this morning, and is expected to pass over the Leeward islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. This morning’s tropical weather outlook from NHC has the “magic words”: Interests in the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico should monitor the progress of this system. They have the system tagged with a 50% chance (updated to 70% at 8am) of becoming a depression over the next five days. The models are starting to get a better handle on the system; here are the major model track lines:

Raw spaghetti. Cook before consuming. The two lines curving radically north may be safely ignored.

The main threat from this will likely be rain and maybe some gusty winds. None of the runs this morning show it becoming a hurricane as it makes its way across the Greater Antilles.

Update: The invest in the Atlantic has organized enough for NHC to call it a depression (TD7). It might get strong enough to get a name, northern Leeward Islands/Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico should probably watch it, but the NHC forecast and major models don’t show it becoming a hurricane Here’s the view at 1pm, with the forecast track …

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