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Take a look closely at the above radar image. In the upper left hand corner, you will
see amidst the green and blues…just north of Okeechobee…a round clear spot. That is a very interesting feature because the radar loops of the day show from time to time, this storm over land, opening an eye. Rather remarkable and it shows that the structure of the Tropical Storm Fay is in great shape, perhaps better than it ever has been. Now, the storm is moving NE very slowly so it will remain over land until Wednesday. But, because of its good structure, when it gets over water again it should begin to get going again. That is why the NHC now is calling for it to reach hurricane status for the first time in its life, after it crossed Florida. If you look at the spaghetti intensity graph, there are a couple of models that get out of hand and take it up to mid-range category 2 status. The NHC isn’t going that far but are making it a hurricane.
The big fat ridge is moving in and so the notion that the storm comes back for a whack at north Florida is pretty well established in all of the models. Now, the NHC is choosing to take the storm across
South Georgia and into South Central Alabama. That is certainly viable as the idea would be that it moved around the ridge. Other solutions have the ridge asserting itself so much that the storm basically runs along I-10 due west for awhile before it turns around the ridge farther west and then merges with a system into the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. That is reasonable too. While on the accompanying spaghetti models you won’t find this particular solution, there are a couple that are similar. I am talking about the GFS and ETA which both want to take the storm back to near Cedar Key. The 18Z ETA takes it back offshore in 84 hours in the Gulf of Mexico with a pressure of about 1003 mb. The GFS takes it to the shore then back to Jacksonville and then back toward Cedar Key. I don’t know about the back and forth stuff on the GFS if the ridge were to be expansive enough, its not totally unreasonable to think that it gets driven WSW back into the Gulf. Really an interesting storm. The rain will certainly alleviate the drought situation for much of the Southeast with resevoirs and lakes getting refilled. Farmers and residents in many areas will wish the rain replentishing the water supply came over a few weeks instead of a few days. Below is the 5PM NHC discussion as well as the 2245Z satellite image of Tropical Storm Fay.
TROPICAL STORM FAY DISCUSSION NUMBER 17 NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL062008 500 PM EDT TUE AUG 19 2008 FAY DID NOT WEAKEN OVER LAND AS ANTICIPATED AND IN FACT…IT IS STRONGER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN SO FAR. INITIAL INTENSITY IS CONSERVATIVELY SET AT 55 KNOTS. THIS IS BASED ON SATELLITE…RADAR AND CONFIRMED BY SURFACE OBSERVATIONS. THIS HAS PROMPTED A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST. GIVEN THAT FAY HAS KEPT SUCH A WELL-DEFINED SIGNATURE ON RADAR AND ON SATELLITE…THE CHANCES THAT THE CYCLONE BECOMES A HURRICANE AS IT MOVES OVER THE GULF STREAM EAST OF FLORIDA HAVE INCREASED. THE INTENSIFICATION IS SUPPORTED BY SHIPS…THE GFDL AND THE HWRF MODELS…AND IS REFLECTED IN THE OFFICIAL FORECAST. THE EYE FEATURE ASSOCIATED WITH FAY HAS BEEN TRACKED BY SATELLITE AND NWS DOPPLER RADAR AND THE BEST ESTIMATE OF THE INITIAL MOTION IS NORTH-NORTHEAST OR 020 DEGREES AT 7 KNOTS. CURRENTLY FAY IS EMBEDDED WITHIN A WEAK SOUTHERLY FLOW BETWEEN A MID-LEVEL TROUGH AND THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. HOWEVER…THIS STEERING PATTERN IS FORECAST TO CHANGE SOON AS A HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM BEGINS TO DEVELOP NORTH OF FAY. THIS NEW STEERING PATTERN WILL FORCE FAY TO MOVE TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST TOWARD THE COAST OF NORTH FLORIDA AND GEORGIA. FOLLOWING CONTINUITY…THE OFFICIAL FORECAST SHOWS A GRADUAL WEST-NORTHWEST TURN BUT GLOBAL MODELS FORECAST A SHARPER WESTWARD TURN. IF SO…SOME SOUTHWARD ADJUSTMENT OF THE OFFICIAL FORECAST COULD BE REQUIRED LATER ON. THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT HAS PROMPTED THE ISSUANCE OF A HURRICANE WATCH FOR A PORTION OF THE NORTH FLORIDA AND GEORGIA COAST. FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS INITIAL 19/2100Z 27.3N 81.0W 55 KT…INLAND 12HR VT 20/0600Z 28.2N 80.5W 55 KT…OVER WATER 24HR VT 20/1800Z 29.0N 80.2W 65 KT 36HR VT 21/0600Z 29.5N 80.5W 65 KT 48HR VT 21/1800Z 30.0N 81.4W 65 KT…INLAND 72HR VT 22/1800Z 30.5N 83.0W 30 KT…INLAND 96HR VT 23/1800Z 31.4N 85.5W 25 KT…INLAND 120HR VT 24/1800Z 32.0N 87.5W 20 KT…REMNANT LOW $$ FORECASTER AVILA