Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hurricane Oho Charts a Rare Path Right Across the Eastern Pacific Warm Blob; Calculating the H-Bomb Level Energies of Tropical Cyclones; & South Carolina Flooding Update and Pictures

GOES West satellite image in visible light showing elongated Hurricane Oho northeast of the Hawaiian Islands, 2300UTC October 7, 2015.


OK, I don't want to have too-many weather-themed entries in a row, especially those that simply piggyback off the Capital Weather Gang postings, but given current weather events and all the good CWG entries, here is one more ...

For starters, there is a hurricane in the central Pacific with an awesome name that I'm not entirely sure how to pronounce: Hurricane Oho.

Is it "(long-o) ho" or "(short-o) ho"? Or is it some Native Hawaiian name whose okina and/or macron has been removed -- so that it would have a different pronunciation altogether including glottal stops (the okina). Here is a CWG entry on Hurricane Oho (link embedded):

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (in Celsius) for the eastern Pacific Ocean as of October 6, 2015; NOAA/NWS/NCEP/EMC.


The other interesting thing about Hurricane Oho is its track: It is literally making a beeline across the Pacific to a point off the southeast coast of Alaska -- transiting that "warm blob" of well-above-normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that is possibly associated with a large warm phase PDO (see image directly above). 

Even with these elevated SSTs, the hurricane will still quickly transition to an extratropical cyclone as it reaches the coastline of British Columbia and affects even Southeast Alaska with wind and rain.

NHC Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) forecast track for Hurricane Oho ending 2AM Oct. 9, 2015.


As the Central Pacific Hurricane Center noted in its 5PM HST discussion, on this track, Oho will actually soon be in the purview of the National Hurricane Center in Miami:


NWS/NHC/CPHC Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook with satellite picture from 1:21PM HST Oct. 7, 2015 showing Hurricane Oho.


Oh, little Hurricane Oho ... We want to show you some love, too. (Yes, I paraphrasing a silly comment I wrote in this CWG entry. Actually, the other humorous one about the GFS versus the Euro got more "thumbs up" than any I've posted (9 as of now).)

Speaking of that topic, here is another CWG entry (link embedded):

The topic of why the ECWMF ("European" or "Euro") model is superior in a sustained way to the Global Forecast System (GFS) ("American") model is a topic of much interest both within the National Weather Service and NASA Goddard. Gary and I had a good conversation about it on Saturday while at Tony & Joe's in Georgetown.

The above-linked CWG entry includes this absolutely stunning picture taken in the wee hours of Oct. 6, 2015 by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite with its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument showing Hurricane Joaquin lurking (mostly harmlessly) far out over the Atlantic Ocean and the blazing constellation of lights of the U.S. East Coast megalopolis featuring the entire "Bos-Wash Corridor" in one glance.


Finally, there is this entry showing just how amazingly efficient Hurricane Joaquin -- or, really, any major tropical cyclone -- is a removing a large warm SST anomaly, as Joaquin did with the one around the Bahamas (link embedded): Before and after: Hurricane Joaquin leaves behind astonishing cold wake.

Animated image showing SSTs (in Celsius) Of the Atlantic Ocean off the Southeastern U.S. and around the Bahamas, October 1st and October 6th, 2015.


Calculating the Hydrogen Bomb-Scale Energy of a Hurricane ...

What of the energy released by a hurricane? As this very useful NOAA AOML webpage explains, if you figure out the energy released in a medium-sized hurricane using the latent heat of condensation, it works out to 600 Terawatts or 600 million Megawatts (6x10^14 Watts), which is significantly more than the world's total electricity generating capacity (5.55 million Megawatts in 2012). (Note that I think the AOML page is incorrect in what it says about the world's electrical generating capacity, although it might be assuming other things. I'm just using EIA's electricity generation capacity total.)

The same AOML site also calculates it with a kinetic energy approach involving wind speed in a mature hurricane, and that works out to 1.5 Terawatts or 1.5 million Megawatts (1.5x10^12 Watts).

Ivy Mike.


The 600 million Megawatts equals 5.2x10^19 Joules/day or 0.602x10^15 Joules/second (i.e., 602 trillion Joules/second). Now 1 Megaton (MT) of TNT releases 4.18x10^15 Joules (4.18 quadrillion Joules), so for this "standard" hurricane releases 1 MT of energy every 7 seconds.

For comparison, the first U.S. thermonuclear device ever tested -- Ivy Mike -- had a yield of 10.4 MT, so our hypothetical standard hurricane is releasing this amount of energy in 72 seconds (i.e., just a bit over 1 minute).

Ivy Mike. Pacific Ocean, Planet Earth, November 1, 1952. Red dawn of the thermonuclear age.


And for the most stupendous thermonuclear device ever tested, the Tsar Bomba, with its 50 MT yield, it takes 347 seconds or just a bit under 6 minutes.

So you may say, Dear Children, that a typical hurricane is releasing a hydrogen bomb's worth of energy about every minute. That's kind of amazing.

The mushroom cloud of the Tsar Bomba as seen from 100 miles away, October 30, 1961. The top of the cloud is 35 miles high. That means it easily punctured the stratosphere without the slightest tropopause "pause."

This is a fantastical image whose magnitude is hard to grasp.


More on the Incredible South Carolina Floods: Aftermath and Photos 

As one last weather and political item, it turns out that Sen. Lindsey Gay Graham (R - Gay) is, understandably, requesting federal taxpayer money to help the residents of his state affected by the incredible rainstorm over the weekend and resulting flooding. (This CWG entry states that an estimated 5.7 trillion gallons of rainwater fell on South Carolina and the figure rises to 11 trillion gallons if North Carolina's rainfall is included.)

That's right.

Well, at least the heart-shaped Confederate flag decal sticker remained above water. That counts for something. Not sure what, though.


The aid request is all well and good, and I've certainly no problem whatsoever with helping the folks in South Carolina who have lost so much. However, it has to be pointed out that Lindsey Graham not-so-gaily voted against the Hurricane Sandy relief package along with 36 other shitty Republican Senators, although now he pretends to "not remember" it.

Oh, Lindsey Graham, just gaily step out of that closet and admit your the essence of a hypocrite. But even if you don't, I still support helping your state's citizens with an aid package.

Lindsey Graham gaily shows off his values to the "Values Voters Summit" here in D.C. late last month.

Values Voter Summit.

This sounds to me like yet another massive fleecing operation in "The Long Con" whereby the fundie faithful are perma-fleeced by the Conservative Entertainment Complex's assorted huckster appendages. But let's stick with the weather topic right now.

Actually, I posted everything I want to post in this entry, so let me just end it except for a few more South Carolina flood images:

Charlene Stennis is rescued along with her son (not pictured) by emergency rescue personnel in the flood in Columbia, S.C., October 4, 2015.


Miki Woodward holds onto her small dog while waiting in a little boat on a flooded street to be brought to safety in Conway, S.C., October 6, 2015.


Hunter Baker guides a motorboat through his badly flooded neighborhood along the overflowing Black Creek in Florence, S.C., October 5, 2015.


David Linnen stands on a flooded street as he tries to clear drains of debris outside his apartment complex in Georgetown, S.C., October 4, 2015.


A severely damaged building in the flooded streets of Columbia, S.C., October 6, 2015.


Satellite image showing Hurricane Joaquin and the weather system over South Carolina -- originating just offshore but connected indirectly to the tropical cyclone -- on October 4, 2015.

This image suggests at the complex interaction of Hurricane Joaquin and the incredible thunderstorm training event that dropped 1 to 2 feet of rain across such a large part of South Carolina over a 4-day period. For more on that incredible event, see here.


As the briefest of update, I had a busy day at work and a good three-part gym workout earlier tonight. But I'm still apparently serving my life sentence in Washington, D.C. I'll try to post another (non-weather-related) update tomorrow night but Friday evening is more likely.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An In Depth Look at South Carolina's Incredible Weekend Rainstorm with Reposting of a CWG Entry on the Meteorology Behind the Event

A flooded car somewhere in Columbia, S.C., October 4, 2015.

Next week's AM rightwing talk radio show sponsored ad: Real cheap cars from South Carolina for resale. No credit? No collateral? NO PROBLEMO! Cash only!

More flooded cars from a YouTube video frame grab, Columbia, S.C., Oct. 4, 2015.


Now that the incredible South Carolina rainfall event is over, I feel it important to repost in its entirety an excellent Capital Weather Gang explaining the meteorology behind that "once-in-a-thousand-years" event and how it was connected in an as-yet-not-clearly-established-way to Hurricane Joaquin.

Not really sure what this young man on a flooded street in Charleston, S.C., is ultimately trying to do.


Rainfall totals in and around Charleston reached phenomenal amounts with many places recording 12 to 18 inches and some locales reaching 24+ inches. The highest total I found in this Public Information Statement issued by the Charleston NWS Forecast Office was 26.88" in Charleston County in a spot 6 miles NE of Mount Pleasant, S.C. That was from a CoCoRaHS station. A NWS employee 3 miles SSW recorded 24.10".

For its part, Charleston Int'l Airport (KCHS) had 15.57" (as reported in an ASOS number).

JPEG image of a portion of the CHS NWS public information statement listing the 4-day rainfall totals including the highest amounts.


The Columbia area also had tremendous rainfall totals in the 8 to 16 inch range. There were earthen dam breaches that contributed to flash floods and many people had to be rescued including this idiot in his Dodge Ram that he thought could beat a raging torrent, whereupon he had to be rescued, thus needlessly endangering his own life and the lives of his rescuers.

Watch the whole thing.

OK, people, this isn't conceptually that hard to grasp but apparently it needs to be said: DON'T DRIVE INTO A FLASH FLOOD. That's right: "Turn around, don't drown (or be a dipshit)."

Observed storm total rainfall map issued by the Columbia (CAE) NWS office through 8AM Oct. 5, 2015.


The storm death toll is put variously between 5 and 10 (different outlets are reporting different numbers). Here is the NYT article.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the CWG reposted in its entirety along with some clarifying comments...

The meteorology behind South Carolina's catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event

By Jeff Halverson October 5 at 11:25 AM
Link here.

Caption: Homes were inundated by flood waters on Sunday in Columbia, S.C. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)


The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.

Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency.

Screenshot of the embedded video and accompanying caption in the CWG entry. This is just a screenshot since I could not embed that particular video.


The cities of Charleston and Columbia set new records for 24-hour, two-day and three-day rainfall totals. On Saturday alone, 11.5 inches of rain fell in Charleston, where, just five days into the month, it is now the rainiest October on record. Just a few miles northeast up Route 17, an astonishing 24.23 inches of rain fell near Mount Pleasant, S.C. In Huger, S.C., 21.04 inches fell. And rainfall totals over 16 inches are widespread across 10 counties from Columbia to Charleston.

According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina's torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event -- one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA's 1,000-year events scale out of the water.

But last week's much-anticipated Hurricane Joaquin, which at one point was threatening a Mid-Atlantic landfall with all of its storm surge, strong winds and torrential rainfall, tracked well offshore over the weekend. So how could something this devastating have happened without an actual hurricane landfall?

Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.

Caption: A preliminary map of rainfall totals, estimated from radar, shows the vast extent of the deluge across most of South Carolina and parts of coastal North Carolina. The National Weather Service notes that these radar estimates have likely under-estimated the regional rainfall totals by a factor of 30 to even 50 percent in some locations. (Jordan Tessler/Capital Weather Gang)


As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.

The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic "sweet spot," thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.

The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.

The two players that gave rise to the great flood are shown in the dramatic water vapor image below. This satellite image was captured Sunday evening, while the flash flood-producing rainstorm over South Carolina was finally winding down. The enormous sweep of the non-tropical vortex is shown by alternating swirls of moist air (gray) and dry air (red). Hurricane Joaquin, much smaller in comparison, is completely embedded in a deep plume of tropical moisture. South Carolina's heavy rain region, by comparison, is located in the tiny zone of interaction between these two mammoth, spinning vortexes.

Caption: Water vapor satellite image on Sunday, showing the non-tropical low pressure vortex and Hurricane Joaquin well-offshore. (NASA, modified by CWG)


At the surface, a low-pressure center developed east of the upper-level low along the coastline. A coastal front stretched out to its north, separating warm and very humid tropical air from cooler, drier air over land.

A jet-like plume of high-moisture air raced inland in the low parts of the atmosphere. The sodden air was lifted upward by the front and upper-level low, dumping repeated bouts of heavy rain. The entire pattern became stagnant beginning on Friday, typical of closed upper-level low centers as they occlude and become cut off from the surrounding weather patterns. Unstable air drawn off the warm Gulf Stream fueled towering complexes of thunderstorms, unleashing rain at rates approaching 3 inches per hour.

Some meteorologists have been calling this plume of rain a predecessor rain event, or "PRE," which sometimes occurs ahead of tropical storms that interact with separate areas of low pressure and lingering surface fronts -- exactly what Hurricane Joaquin did. Meteorologists do not agree on all the details, specifically whether the event can be more definitively linked to Hurricane Joaquin, and if this event can be defined as a PRE. The final determination must await more detailed analysis.

But here's what we do know -- at least eight key elements conspired to create a highly efficient, small-scale rain machine centered on South Carolina. We take each of these key elements one at a time, starting near the surface and working our way up in the atmosphere.

Very high precipitable water feeding into the upper-level low pressure system

Precipitable water is a measurement that meteorologists use to determine how much air moisture is available for rainfall. Precipitable water in the westward-surging plume, illustrated below, averaged 1.8 to 2.3 inches throughout the event, and at times peaked around 2.5 inches -- very high for the month of October.

We could call this tropical moisture channel an atmospheric river, and it formed between the closed upper-level low over northern Florida and a broad ridge across the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. This 175 mile-wide channel incorporated moisture from Hurricane Joaquin, which was located further east.

Caption: Total precipitable water shows the atmospheric river that set up between the Southeast Coast and Hurricane Joaquin. (


Strong, low-level onshore flow

Strong, low-level onshore flow -- called a low-level jet -- was embedded in the atmospheric river. This feature flowed consistently at around 50 mph from the east. The jet and its moisture are part of the low- and mid-level warm conveyor belt feeding into the closed low. On Sunday, this jet began lifting north, away from Charleston, where it had set up shop for over 48 hours.

Caption: Low-level winds (5,000 foot level) depicting strong easterly flow (shaded regions, knots) on Sunday. (

Blog Editor's Note: This is simply the 850mb geopotential heights (in dekameters) and 850mb winds, but instead the author is using an approximate physical altitude for that pressure surface.


An unstable air mass offshore

A narrow rain band with training rain cells became locked across central South Carolina this weekend. Feeding directly into this band was a moderately unstable air mass, with CAPE (convective available potential energy) values approaching 2000-2500 J/kg.

Having formed over the Gulf Stream, the unstable air promoted deep, strong updrafts in thunderstorms, enabling them to reach great heights. Cloud top temperatures dropped as low as minus-94 degrees. These updrafts, in turn, manufactured rain rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour, at times.

Caption: Radar depiction of narrow rain band across South Carolina on Sunday. Red contours along coastline depict convective available potential energy (CAPE, J/kg) – a measure of air mass instability. (National Weather Service)

Blog Editor's Note: I think this is 1000UTC but I didn't label it specifically as such since it could have been 1000EDT.


Coastal front

This front focused convergence and rising of air in a narrow zone along the coast, just off Charleston in the spot where the low-level jet intersected the front. This low-level "sweet spot" remained nearly stationary for 48 hours. It triggered a succession of thunderstorms that coursed inland before drifting north in the deeper southerly flow.

Stationary mid- and upper-level low pressure center

What began as an amplifying trough in the upper-level flow on Friday became a closed-off vortex during the weekend. This non-tropical vortex created a warm conveyor of moist, unstable air feeding from the east, shown below. Note also the compact, intense spin center of Joaquin on the right side of the figure.

Caption: Mid-level flow features (18,000 foot level) showing large, closed low over southeastern U.S. and intensity of spin (vorticity, shaded regions). Image from Sunday. (

Blog Editor's Note: This is the 500mb chart showing geopotential heights (in deka-meters) and (positive) vorticity (shaded colors). The author instead is using the approximate 500mb height of 18,000 feet.


Potent upper-level jet streak north of the closed low

This includes a jet streak, or pocket of fast-flowing air, and region of enhanced difluence (spreading of air) aloft. The jet streak's entrance region (shaded red in the diagram below) is where air gets drawn upward very rapidly, like stoking the flames of a fire. This zone serves as the upper-level "sweet spot" for heavy rain production.

Caption: Jet stream on Saturday morning. (UCAR)

Blog Editor's Note: This is the 12Z Oct. 3, 2015 Rapid Refresh Cycle (RAP) model hour 0 analysis of the 200-mb jet stream over the United States.


Perfect coupling of low and upper-level sweet spots

Blog Editor's Note: OK, enough with the term "sweet spot." We got the message.

The combination of low-level convergence along the coast and the fanning-apart of the upper-level flow set up a narrow pocket of rapidly rising air. This zone is highlighted in the figure below, strongest in the middle atmosphere, where condensation of water vapor is highly efficient. Note the nearly perfect alignment of this upward motion center with the rain band illustrated in the radar image above.

Caption: Mid-level flow features (10,000 foot level) showing large, closed vortex over southeastern U.S. on Sunday. Magenta-shaded region over South Carolina is a pocket of intense rising motion. (

Blog Editor's Note: This is the 700mb chart showing geopotential heights (in deka-meters) and (positive) vorticity (shaded colors). The author instead is using the approximate 700mb height of 10,000 feet.


A stationary, small-scale convective cloud

This is the heart of the rain-making machine. New thunderstorms erupted continuously along the coast, which were then whisked inland and north by the deeper flow of the upper vortex. They weakened as they moved out of the deep “sweet spot.” Then new thunderstorms bubbled up to the south and east, replacing the dissipated ones.

This cycling of rain cells within the same geographical region, called training, is a prime flash-flood generating mechanism, responsible for numerous other flood disasters throughout U.S. history.

Blog Editor's Note: I thought it was gay marriage and the Nancy Pelosi Democrat(ic) Party that was responsible for "numerous other flood disasters throughout U.S. history." Let's ask Lindsey Graham.

Sorry, it's late and I'm getting loopy.


Putting it all together

It's useful to illustrate all these processes in a composite schematic. There are several synoptic-scale factors, including the non-tropical upper low and Hurricane Joaquin, both creating a rich plume of unstable, tropical air. The processes cascade down to the regional scale, culminating in training of convective elements across individual counties.

In this diagram, the gray cloudy region represents the mesoscale band of heavy rain. Deep convective cells repeatedly form at "X" along the coastline (not shown, but implied by the location of the coastal front), move north, and decay at location "O." Note that the trigger point "X" remained anchored for 48+ hours!

Was this a PRE?

Blog Editor's Note: It's either some rent-extracting educational testing scam or the name of a trendy new SoHo bar where cocktails cost $45 each.

A predecessor rain event, or PRE, is defined as an area of heavy rainfall typically observed north of a hurricane. It is distinct from the hurricane but still indirectly tied to it.

In the past, PREs have been responsible for some big rains, including Hurricane Frances in 2004, in which a PRE caused costly flooding in New York City, and Tropical Storm Erin in 2007, which inundated a large part of the Upper Midwest with several PREs. It’s thought that one out of three of Atlantic tropical cyclones making landfall in the U.S. generate some sort of PRE.

A simplified schematic of a generic PRE is shown below. It shows how mid- and upper-level moisture is drawn off the northern side of a tropical cyclone, toward the northeast. The moisture gets pulled into the dynamical "sweet spot" of an upper-level jet streak. Then one or more zones of heavy rain -- distinctly separate from the main tropical storm’s main rain shield -- develop. These are the PRE regions.

Blog Editor's Note: I'm banning the term "sweet spot" from this blog after this entry.

Blog Editor's Note: This is a generic PRE set up with a tropical cyclone over the Southeastern U.S. It is not what happened in South Carolina since Hurricane Joaquin never came near the coast.


There's been discussion among the meteorological community whether the South Carolina rainstorm classifies as a PRE, and we at the Capital Weather Gang suggest that this event includes at least some elements of a PRE.

The upper-level trough and jet streak are not located north of the tropical system, rather alongside it. But the non-tropical and tropical low pressure centers are widely separated, and Joaquin feeds moisture into the dynamic region of ascent in the jet stream disturbance. On the large-scale, they are connected, but the South Carolina rain maximum developed as a distinct, small-scale entity not at all connected to the main rain shield of Joaquin.

Thus, there are some nuances of the South Carolina event that must be carefully analyzed before it can be called a PRE for certain.

Wes Junker, Angela Fritz and Mark Berman contributed to this report.

Blog Editor's Note: Is it over yet? Seriously, though, quite interesting. OK, signing off now. Good night.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Morning Hippo Briefing -OR- Your Daily Hippopotamostus

Yours truly and the GWU mascot hippo outside the Lisner Auditorium, GWU/Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C., 6:10PM Oct. 4, 2015.

I never did understand the "hippo legend" associated with GWU and (completely nonsensically, the Potomac River), but no matter because hippos are just awesome. Of course, I won't want a hippo to eat me.

As for this hippo, someone had painted its hoof nails deep red. Not very becoming.


Just a very brief morning update ...

Yesterday, I had brunch with Gloria, Gary, Kristof, and Dilshan at Commissary on the occasion of Gloria's birthday on Friday. She and I then took a walk down to the Mall and back in the overcast, cool, gusty-breezy, all-around-wonderful weather. Later, I went to No. 9 and Larry's Lounge, where Roger and I had a good conversation.

Following all the welcome rain the past few days (but nothing like the disastrous flooding in South Carolina), it is a stunningly beautiful morning with clean cerulean skies and a complex and beautiful array of low, middle, and high clouds -- the gauzy low clouds streaming in from the northeast in the oceanic flow. The air temp. is about 57F with a dew point around 48F and a northeasterly breeze.

Just about perfect.

Anyway, I have to get busy at work today. Tonight is a gym night. Indeed, I plan to go three times this week between now and Friday. I also have to go on a severe austerity budget (alas, I don't print the money) given extreme overspending this past weekend.

As for the camping trip next weekend, I am probably not going to go. I'm just not, well, a happy camper ...

Oh, yes, one more hippo pic ...

The hippopotamostus!

I plan to update the blog late night.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Notes from a Drizzly, Gray Saturday Afternoon: Hurricane Joaquin Beats the Bahamas, Spares U.S. East Coast; S.C. Deluge; D.C. Area Rainfall Totals; and YMCA National Capital to Close

**UPDATED 4:00AM 10/4/2015: See below for more info on the incredible South Carolina rainfall event.**

The kind of day I just like.


Saturday early afternoon.

For starters, we can sound the all-clear on Hurricane Joaquin, as the tropical cyclone is now accelerating to the northeast away from the Bahamas, which were hit hard the past few days, and there will be no direct impact on the East Coast of the U.S.

Having said that, I should note that a cargo ship, the El Faro, with 33 people on board that was caught in the hurricane is missing.

Animated loop of the 12Z* Oct 3, 2015 ECMWF ("Euro") model showing forecasted precipitation through Monday night (i.e., hour 72), Oct. 5, 2015.

*It might be the 0Z Euro but I think it is the 12Z run. I got it from this CWG entry.


However, a tremendous, indeed, historic rainfall event is occurring right now in the Carolinas, especially South Carolina, as a result of the antecedent synoptic pattern that set up that includes a strong tropical moisture feed. It's a bad situation in parts down there including the Charleston area. Rainfall amounts of 10 to 15 inches are ongoing and storm totals could exceed 20 inches in places.

Charleston, S.C. NWS radar (CLX) in enhanced base mode reflectivity, 1:30PM EDT October 3, 2015.


Flooded street scene in Charleston, S.C., Oct. 3, 2015 in an Instagram picture posted by "Jamie_Julep" (see above-linked CWG entry).


UPDATED 4:00AM 10/4/2015

OK, I considered posting this as a new entry -- esp. given the magnitude of what is happening in South Carolina -- but I opted instead to update this entry.

The Columbia, S.C., NWS (CAE) radar loop in standard composite mode from 3:04AM - 3:34AM EDT Oct. 4, 2015.

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE) is up to 6.36" of rain for the past three days, the bulk of which has fallen since 8PM.


The Charleston, S.C. NWS (CLX) radar in standard base reflectivity mode from 3:03AM - 3:38AM EDT Oct. 4, 2015.

The rainfall totals in South Carolina are simply phenomenal. At this point, Charleston Int'l Airport (KCHS) has had a three-day rainfall total of 14.35".

KCHS weather observation from 8AM EDT Oct. 3, 2015 through 3AM EDT Oct. 4, 2015.

End of Update


For the Baltimore/Washington area, we had a gusty, rainy day yesterday -- as did much of the Eastern Seaboard all the way to southern New England -- but the pattern is relaxing. Nevertheless, it remains drizzly, breezy, and cool with temperatures only about 55F here in D.C. at the noon hour. Winds are from the northeast at 15MPH with gusts to about 20MPH.

Scene in Alexandria, Va., on October 1, 2015 in a Flickr photo by Kathy Swendiman and posted in this CWG entry.


To be clear, this is EXACTLY the kind of weather that I love and I am tempted to nix my usual Saturday afternoon gym routine and take a walk, esp. since tomorrow will not be quite as weather-wise perfect for me.

Event totals through noon today (and by event, I am stretching back to last Wednesday, Sept. 28th:

For the three full calendar days, KDCA had had include 3.39" through midnight last night with another 0.15" so far today or 3.54".

For KBWI, there was 3.27" through that same period plus and another 0.46" today or 3.73". At this point, KBWI is at 41.48" year-to-date or just 0.40" away from its current 30-year annual average of 41.88".

For KIAD, it recorded 2.99" in that same period and another 0.35" today or 3.34" so far.

So amounts are fairly uniform -- and much needed.

Actually, it looks like Gary and I are going to take a walk and I'll -- gasp -- skip the gym today. (I have gone FOUR times since last Saturday, each time the full 3-hour routine of jogging 6+ miles, weightlifting, and swimming, so it's not like I've been a slackard (is that the right spelling for that word?).

Speaking of the gym, there has been a major development that, alas, does not surprise me (link embedded): The YMCA National Capital is to close in late December.

Google street view outside the YMCA National Capital, June 2014.


I am going to post a nice entry about what the YMCA National Capital has meant to me and my relationship with that place over the years (i.e., back in the early 2000s and again after I rejoined it in June 2012 until October 2013 when I switched to the YMCA Anthony Bowen). I'm also going to have to go there a few more times before it closes. I will miss it's big swimming pool. (The Anthony Bowen pool is much smaller.)

If you read the above-linked article, I can tell you that I am among that 25% who switched their membership to the YMCA Anthony Bowen. I guess I wasn't very loyal to the place.

A few other items ...

I might be going camping next weekend with Andrea, Imara, Jake, et al. This would be my second attempt at camping. The first didn't go so well. This is to take place at the Seneca Shadows Camp Ground in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area (NRA) in West Virginia.

Seneca Shadows Campground, Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks NRA, West Virginia, Aug. 2014.


I'm inclined to go even though camping is so not my "thing" because this is in West Virginia in October -- and if I can't manage to do that, then I'm sort of outdoors useless (which I sort of am). I am not Natan and have never pretended to be.

If I do go, I'll be the oldest person there by at least 10 years and more like 20 years in some instances.

Blurry cellphone picture inside Stan's, Washington, D.C., 9:44PM Oct. 2, 2015.


As for last night, I met Andrea and Imara after work at the Old Bar at Old Ebbitt Grill and later I stopped solo at Stan's.

Stan's is OLD SCHOOL D.C. We're talking 1980s Marion Barry Old School.

Lastly, I'm not sure I'll be posting a jukebox Saturday night entry today as I can't really think of any songs to post. In addition, if I take a walk with Gary, I might not get back in time to do so.

OK, that's all for now. My next update might not be until Monday night.

Peace Out. May the El Faro crew be found safely.

-- Regulus

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Major Hurricane Joaquin: Mid-Atlantic Direct Strike Looking Less Likely, But Still Way Too Soon to Sound All-Clear

An awesome picture of major Hurricane Joaquin taken at 0800AM EDT (1200 GMT) October 1, 2015 by the NOAA GOES West satellite.

Click on image for version; if you download and open the image, you will see the full, spectacular version of it.


The latest model guidance (including the 12Z operational / deterministic GFS) is strongly suggesting that Hurricane Joaquin will not, in fact, get captured by the upper level trough over the Southeastern U.S. and the storm will remain offshore of the mid-Atlantic -- those possibly impacting eastern Long Island and New England. However, confidence remains low in the track of this storm. The intensity forecast also calls for gradual weakening.

The current NHC track in the 2PM intermediate advisory through 8AM Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

I'm expecting this to be shifted even farther to the east in the next update.


Actually, I'm glad: We're going to get (are already getting) a soaking rain in a "predecessor rain event" but not going to have a disastrous hurricane strike either here or on the Jersey shore. And the storm should be weakening by the time it interacts with the New England coastline.

All's well that ends well ...

NWS/WPC 7-day QPF totals for the U.S. valid 12Z 01-October through 12Z 08-October 2015.


... To be clear, though, the hurricane hasn't even started to make its northward turn yet and there is still a high level of spread in all the models and model ensembles, so it's much too soon to call the all clear just yet. Nevertheless, it is more and more looking like "climatology" will win out over a Hurricane Sandy-like trough-capture scenario.