for a more recent update on Hurricane Ike, CLICK HERE
For a Hurricane Ike Radar Loop, CLICK HERE. You can navigate anywhere in the nation to street level. As more of Ike comes in range of the coastal radars, you can track the storms movement. Add clouds or lightning if you like. Click “animate” to loop the image.
Hurricane Ike is a strange bird. It had a very small inner eyewall and the pressure
was running about 945 mb yet the surface winds did not correspond to the pressure. That pressure can easily support 130-140 mph winds. Yet, it never got there. Instead the energy, which is massive, is not concentrated in the middle but instead it has been spread over a large area. Now, the inner core fell apart and the pressure rose to 954 mb before falling again to 950 mb. Still 950 mb can support higher than the current winds. As I stated in the previous post, the pressure gradient must not be a great as normally found in such a tropical cyclone. The NHC refers to a ridge over Texas with sinking air around it that may be inhibiting the storm.
The western side of the storm has been a bit devoid but the latest satellite image
indicates to me that its slightly more symmetric and the outflow slightly better. What the NHC does not mention is that the water vapor imagery looks to me to have just a slight bit of dry air inside it. While the spaghetti intensity graph has indicated most models backing off, I wonder how much of that is due to initialization data. It would not surprise me to see this guy spike prior to landfall. The discussion seems to have a hidden bit of a tone that suggests that perhaps the storm is going through some reorganization.
As for the intensity. It’s a case of choosing your poison. On the one hand, you
may not have as concentrated winds and therefore not a concentrated area of risk for catastrophic wind damage nor of an area of catastrophic storm surge. On the
other hand, because the energy is so spread out, you have a very broad area at risk for damaging winds of hurricane force. While there may not be an area of an extreme storm surge, there will be a very broad area of very high to high storm surges. This storm will adversely affect a lot of people because of its shear size. I had said before it hit Cuba that this guy would be a physically large hurricane in the Gulf, but this is even a little more than I bargained for. Nevertheless, again, it would not surprise me if this guy gets pretty strong before landfall.
The track has its share of variables. On the one hand, the size of the storm and
wind field makes the point of landfall less critical. On the other hand, because you are talking about a population of over 5.5 million people in the Houston/Galveston area and a concentration of 23% of the nation’s refining capacity just along the Houston Ship Channel, not counting other signficant installations between Houston and Lake Charles and then south of Houston, the landfall makes a big difference. The official track has been shoved a bit farther east..again. I think its safe to say I won the bet with my colleague. Several days ago when the models were pointing at Brownsville, he took Brownsville and 200 miles north. I kept my 100 miles either side of Houston and I still believe that fits…in other words, there is a plausible potential that the storm makes landfall east of Houston/Galveston. it will depend on how it turns around the ridge. Ridge breaks down sooner or the storm goes slower, it goes east. If the storm moves faster or the ridge doesn’t break down so fast, then it goes farther west. The forecast track is the absolute worst for the people of Galveston. As for gasoline prices, its also the worst possible spot for any hurricane any where in the nation. This track would produce the maximum storm surge and highest winds in Galveston Bay as the landfall is near San Luis Pass or Surfside. Should the storm make landfall 40 miles east, suddenly you have an offshore flow and no real storm surge to speak of and the strongest winds are to the east of the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston and Houston as a whole.
Anyway you slice it, this is a potential problem on many many levels. The wind field is broad and the map shows the broad field of hurricane force winds as well as the hurricane warnings, which is a huge expanse of the United States coastline. Another thing to consider. While this storm will be moving quickly after landfall as it moves along a cold front, that front will be crawling across the southern plains. That area will get several inches of rain before the storm ever gets there. Even a fast moving tropical cyclone inland can drop 8-15 inches of rain. That in connection with the pre-Ike rain could bring difficulties well inland…like 500 miles inland.
HURRICANE IKE DISCUSSION NUMBER 43
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092008
500 PM EDT THU SEP 11 2008
A PAIR OF DROPSONDES THIS AFTERNOON IN THE SOUTHEASTERN QUADRANT FINALLY PROVIDED SOME HARD DATA TO SUPPORT THE ADVISORY INTENSITY…WITH LOWER-LAYER MEAN WINDS OF 96 KT…WHICH ADJUST TO 80 KT AT THE SURFACE. AIRCRAFT DATA INDICATE THAT THE SMALL INNER WIND MAXIMUM HAS ALL BUT DISSIPATED…AND THE INNERMOST RADIUS OF MAXIMUM WINDS IS NOW AROUND 60 NMI. FLIGHT LEVEL WINDS WINDS THERE ARE ABOUT 100 KT…AND NEARLY THAT STRONG OUT TO AT LEAST 100 NMI. AS THE INNER WIND MAXIMUM DISSIPATED…THE MINIMUM PRESSURE ROSE TO ABOUT 954 MB…BUT HAS SINCE FALLEN TO 950 MB. THE INTENSITY GUIDANCE HAS COME DOWN SINCE THIS MORNING…ALTHOUGH THE GFDL STILL MAKES IKE A MAJOR HURRICANE. FACTORS INHIBITING DEVELOPMENT INCLUDE THE LARGE BROAD WIND FIELD…STRONG WINDS OVER AREAS OF LIMITED OCEAN HEAT CONTENT ALONG AND NORTH OF THE PATH OF IKE…AND AN UPPER-LEVEL RIDGE OVER TEXAS THAT IS FORCING DESCENT AND CREATING DRY AIR AHEAD OF THE PATH OF THE HURRICANE. INDEED… CONVECTION ON THE WEST SIDE OF IKE HAS BEEN RATHER THIN FOR MUCH OF THE DAY. HOWEVER…THIS LATTER UPPER FEATURE IS FORECAST TO SLIDE NORTHEASTWARD AS IKE ENTERS THE NORTHWESTERN GULF…AND IN THIS CONFIGURATION WOULD PROVIDE AN UPPER PATTERN MORE CONDUCIVE TO STRENGTHENING RIGHT BEFORE LANDFALL. CURRENTLY THE OUTFLOW IS VERY WELL ESTABLISHED TO THE NORTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST OF THE CENTER. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS UNCHANGED FROM THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY AND IS IN BEST AGREEMENT WITH THE GFDL GUIDANCE. IKE IS MOVING WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AROUND THE PERIPHERY OF A RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE EXTENDING FROM THE WESTERN ATLANTIC WESTWARD OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES. A DEEP LAYER TROUGH CURRENTLY EXTENDS INTO THE SOUTHWESTERN STATES…AND IKE IS EXPECTED TO GENTLY RECURVE BETWEEN THESE TWO FEATURES IN 48-72 HOURS. THE OBJECTIVE GUIDANCE HAS SHIFTED SLIGHTLY TO THE RIGHT…AND IS RATHER TIGHTLY CLUSTERED THROUGH LANDFALL. AS THE UPPER HIGH OVER TEXAS MOVES NORTHEASTWARD…A SLIGHT BEND OF THE TRACK TO THE LEFT IS EXPECTED PRIOR TO THE BEGINNING OF RECURVATURE. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST HAS BEEN NUDGED SLIGHTLY TO THE RIGHT…BUT IS STILL JUST LEFT OF THE MODEL CONSENSUS. IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT THE AVERAGE 36-HOUR OFFICIAL FORECAST ERROR IS ABOUT 80 NMI. BECAUSE OF THE VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF HURRICANE FORCE WINDS…IKE WILL CREATE A STORM SURGE WELL IN EXCESS OF WHAT WOULD NORMALLY BE ASSOCIATED WITH A STORM OF ITS INTENSITY.
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INITIAL 11/2100Z 26.0N 89.4W 85 KT
12HR VT 12/0600Z 26.6N 90.9W 90 KT
24HR VT 12/1800Z 27.6N 93.0W 95 KT
36HR VT 13/0600Z 29.0N 95.0W 105 KT
48HR VT 13/1800Z 31.5N 95.5W 65 KT…INLAND
72HR VT 14/1800Z 37.0N 90.5W 30 KT…INLAND
96HR VT 15/1800Z…ABSORBED IN FRONTAL ZONE
$$ FORECASTER FRANKLIN