Saturday, September 09, 2017

Crisis of Faith

Irma is creeping WNW along the Cuban coast, and will do so most of Saturday. The models indicate it will start turning north after sunset towards Naples.

Latest weather maps are out. Both NVG and GFS bring Irma right up Florida's west coast, with Irma's sharp northerly turn coming around sunset this evening.
Jose is becoming a nuisance. After dithering for a long time off the Bahamas, more than a week, it may head towards the northeast United States. Currently models point it at New York City, but it could go lots of places.

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I'm having a crisis of faith with the models. My instinct is Hurricane Irma won't turn much, if at all. I worry the models have simplifications that mislead them. Specifically, the basis of the models, the Omega Equation, may be oversimplified.

The models are equating the fast-moving cyclonic vorticity advection heading south from the Dakotas with the slow, northerly-moving but intense cyclonic vorticity advection of Irma, setting up a common center, and forming a cutoff low. It's a neat, clever resolution. Maybe too neat and clever.

Irma has a freakload of inertia. The Omega Equation drops inertial terms though.

Why should Irma respond to the fast-moving but evanescent Dakota fluffballs? Why shouldn't the Dakota fluffballs respond to Irma instead? The East Coast trough has largely moved on. Why should Irma respond to it? Irma is a vertically-organized vorticity machine with almost the entire tropospheric column of air under its control. Irma IS the vorticity queen! Plus, the tropical easterlies don't move quickly - not nearly as quick as the Jet Stream. Why should the tropical easterlies form a cutoff low now? It's perplexing.

My instinct is the storm will shift north, perhaps heading northwest, but not turn sharply north like the models say. Irma could head to sunnier shores where large hurricanes are always welcome, like New Orleans or Houston.

But we won't have to wait too long. In a day, either way, Irma will make its path, and we will find out.

Friday, September 08, 2017

L'Otters Are Not Afraid

Keep Inching the Track Westwards

Latest model forecasts keep inching the track westwards. NVG shows the storm's eyewall barely clearing St. Petersburg and crashing into the coast near Tallahassee. GFS shows the storm running right along Florida's west coast right over Tampa. Keep inching that track west! But Cuba will pay that cost. Right now, Irma's eye is crashing into the Cuban coast. The farther south Irma passes, the better the odds for Florida, but the worse for Cuba.

Too Damned Close to the Cuban Coast

That hurricane is too damned close to the Cuban coast. It's virtually impossible now for Irma to miss Florida by going up the east coast. The only way Florida escapes is if Irma clears the west coast.

Irma's Path

This morning's forecasts shift the Hurricane Irma's path a bit farther west. The NVG modeled path brackets Tampa on the west, and the GFS modeled path brackets Tampa on the east. The Tampa Catastrophe Scenario I illustrated earlier is in play.

It's hard to believe the short wave fired off by the low over the Dakotas is enough of a catalyst to have such a dramatic effect on the hurricane's path. The short wave is barely visible on satellite pictures right now, with a few high clouds racing south near the Kansas/Oklahoma border, but the models indicate when the clouds reach Irma, they will couple with the trough over the East Coast and turn the storm north.

My hope is that the modeled path keeps inching west. But we don't know for sure.

Margaret Gidding Profile

Go, G-Boogie!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

GFS Flips

The latest modeling runs are out. The GFS computer model flipped its opinion and is now joining the NVG model with favoring the Tampa Catastrophe Scenario I illustrated earlier. Actually, GFS is trying to conjure up a compromise whereby Hurricane Irma bulldozes straight north from just south of Naples and hits Orlando, afflicting Florida's east coast and middle, before heading arcing northwest into Georgia. That path might miss Tampa, but maybe not.

Most of the other models still favor a path east of Florida, but they have inched their paths further west.

GFS' flip is a bad omen for Tampa. I was hoping NVG would flip.

Trump's On a Roll

For the second day in a row, Donald Trump throws conservatives where they belong, under the bus, and makes totally-good sense:
“It could be discussed,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to nix the debt limit altogether, according to a White House pool report. “There are a lot of good reasons to do that.”

Trump's Russian Anchor Baby Mill

Donald Trump provides Anchor Baby refuges for Russian immigrants:
Anatoliy Kuzmin held out his daughter’s blue U.S. passport over a red Russian one and snapped a photo from a Florida beach.

“Woohoo! Got dual citizenship for my daughter!” he wrote on Instagram.

American citizenship for the newborn girl was the goal of Kuzmin and his Instagram-celebrity wife, who sought the help of birth-tourism services in Florida for the arrival of their first child. They are among the estimated hundreds of Russian parents who flock to the U.S. annually for warm weather, excellent medical care, and, more importantly, birthright American citizenship.

The Tampa Catastrophe Scenario

My friends in Tampa asked me to explain in more detail about the meteorology. Here, I discuss the NVG model's Tampa Catastrophic Scenario:

The models are locked in cement right now. Right now, most models send Irma up Florida's east coast, but NVG is a bit of an outlier, sending Irma up Florida's west coast. Saturday will be the BIG DAY, when Irma starts turning north for sure, or delays turning. I'm thinking it will turn early (but maybe very close to Miami). If a turn is delayed, it could be very bad for Tampa.

I tried to make some crude annotations to model output. The figures show the 500 millibar (mb) pressure level heights above sea level. The units are meters. 5,800 meters is about 19,000 feet above level. Half the mass of the atmosphere is above 19,000 feet, and half below. A ridge is where pressure is higher than average and where heights of the 500 mb level are higher than average. A ridge looks just like that on these weather maps. Similarly, a trough is where pressure is lower than average and where heights of the 500 mb level are lower than average. A trough looks just like that on these weather maps. The colors refer to vorticity - if you will, the 'swirliness' of the atmosphere. The atmosphere is rotating counterclockwise where the colors are orange, and rotating clockwise where the colors are blue.

Illustrated below is the NVG model output - the Tampa Catastrophe Scenario.


Figure 1 is the weather situation this morning (Thursday, 6 a.m., Sept. 7th).

I've illustrated wind flow with crude arrows. Wind flow is along the lines of equal height of the 500 mb surface. (These lines are called isohyets). Where these lines are close together, where the height gradient is greatest, is where wind speeds are the highest. The looping band of high wind speeds across the top is the Jet Stream. The Jet Stream acts like a meandering river, and will form the equivalent of river oxbows when it encounters unusually slow-moving air. One of these situations is illustrated off the Oregon coast. The trough is 'digging' here, and will form what is called a cutoff low - a low pressure system spinning in isolation from the Jet Stream. The low has been 'cut off' from the westerlies.

Usually cutoff lows form from the Jet Stream. The Jet Stream spots more sluggish air to the south and injects the cutoff low into a vulnerable ridge. In the subtropics, though winds flow from the east. The tropical easterlies are more sluggish than the Jet Stream, and rarely do they have the power to inject a cutoff low into more sluggish air to the north. NVG is suggesting that unusual scenario might occur.

The weather situation in the U.S. is quite unusual right now, with a very strong ridge in the Plains and Rockies and a very strong trough along the East Coast. The amplitude of the wave is very large, and can't last long.

There is a small, weak low pressure system present in the Dakotas that is eroding the Plains ridge. NVG says it makes sense for the Dakota low and Hurricane Irma to start rotating around a common center in the lower Mississippi Valley, forming a cutoff low. That common movement, similar to dancers linking arms and swinging around each other at a square dance, is what makes Irma move north so abruptly.


Figure 2 is NVG's modeled situation (Sunday, noon, Sept. 10th). The Oregon trough is now completely cut off and spinning over southern California. The big trough is also cutting off from the Jet Stream near Maine. The ridge over the southern Rockies is now very weak. The weak Dakota Low spins off a tiny band of vorticity (marked with orange colors) which arrives at Irma. The subtropical easterlies sense the weakness over the southern United States and decides to use Irma to inject a cutoff low into the weak ridge. Irma suddenly shoots north to Tampa.


Figure 3 is the NVG modeled scenario (Wednesday, 6 a.m., Sept. 13th). The California and Maine cutoff lows are no longer isolated from the flow, and have rejoined the flow of the Jet Stream. Irma has crushed Tampa and Irma's remnant has moved into the lower Mississippi Valley, forming a cutoff low in the middle of the ridge.


That is the nightmare Tampa scenario.

Personally, I don't like the NVG solution. Hurricane Irma is strong and the Dakota low is weak. There is no compelling reason for them to work in concert. The Dakota low isn't powerful enough to fling Hurricane Irma north. The GFS solution is still the most likely one - the storm stays east of Florida and the storm slowly moves north. And it's still possible there is no northward movement at all and the storm just keeps heading west.

Meanwhile, the less-imaginative GFS model suggests Irma will get captured by the East Coast trough in a standard manner, and that's why it moves the storm north.

And there's a third possible solution: Hurricane Irma keeps moving west without a turn, following Hurricane Katia, and ends up on the Mexican or Texan coast. That's a different way to make a cutoff low, and quite a logical solution too.

The Models Are Beginning to Disagree with Each Other

As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, you'd expect the models to start coming to a consensus about future movement. Instead, the models seem to be diverging from each other. There is a real question about where the storm will go next.

The NVG model now suggests the storm will move north along Florida's west coast, from Naples, straight through Tampa, and north. The GFS model also suggests the storm will move north, but will stay largely east of Florida.

Both models feature a northward storm movement, but the reasons for the movement are quite different.

The weather situation in the U.S. is quite unusual right now, with a very strong ridge in the Plains and a very strong trough along the East Coast. There is a small, weak low pressure system present in the Dakotas that is eroding the Plains ridge. NVG says it makes sense for the Dakota low and Hurricane Irma to start rotating around a common center in the lower Mississippi Valley, forming a cutoff low. That common movement, similar to dancers linking arms and swinging around each other at a square dance, is what makes Irma move north so abruptly.

Meanwhile, the less-imaginative GFS model suggests Irma will get captured by the East Coast trough in a standard manner, and that's why it moves the storm north.

And there's a third possible solution: Hurricane Irma keeps moving west without a turn, following Hurricane Katia, and ends up on the Mexican or Texan coast. That's a different way to make a cutoff low, and quite a logical solution.

Personally, I don't like the NVG solution. Hurricane Irma is strong and the Dakota low is weak. There is no compelling reason for them to work in concert. The Dakota low isn't powerful enough to fling Hurricane Irma north. The GFS solution is still the most likely one - the storm stays east of Florida and the storm slowly moves north. And it's still possible there is no northward movement at all and the storm just keeps heading west.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Trump is Figuring it Out

A friend sends this to me today from Oklahoma. Ha, ha, ha! Love it! Since Trump stabbed Congressional conservatives in the back today, I'll post in his honor.

Trump Will Soon Join Team Dem

Eventually Trump will realize that the only way he can get victories in this Congress is to join the Democrats:
“Oh, was there applause?” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said with a smile. “Maybe they were clapping for somebody’s birthday. Who knows?”

“We clap for a lot of things in our caucus,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) deadpanned.

While playing down the political victory they had just scored—winning all of their demands from a Republican president—the Democrats acknowledged that the deal gives them leverage down the road to extract concessions from the Republican majority, such as protections for immigrants now at risk of losing their DACA protections.

“You bet,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) responded when asked by TPM if the three-month timeline gives Democrats an upper hand in future negotiations over DACA. “We’re going to have the chance over the next few weeks to talk about how these young people really represent the best of America. This gives us a chance to make the case for good policy, and good policy is the best politics.”

This May Be Bad

This morning's forecasts inch the storm track back westward again, suggesting a path of Irma's eye on a direct line from the tip of Florida (Sunday, 6 a.m.), through Orlando (Sunday, 11 p.m.), to just offshore Jacksonville (Monday, 6 a.m.), with second landfall near Savannah, Georgia (Monday, noon), and Greenville, SC (Monday, 11 p.m.). Not a good path at all. Sunday and Monday will be difficult days.

I'm worried about the folks on Barbuda - last I heard, no one had been able to reestablish contact with them.

Let's hope the storm turns early.

Bad Blogger

I'm a bad blogger. I took a detour down 14th Avenue, and caught the first puff of a house fire. As I passed the house, I could hear people there yelling. A diligent blogger would have stopped immediately to take pictures, but there wasn't a damned thing I could have done there of any real value. So, I contented myself with dodging fire trucks on the rest of the drive down 14th Avenue.

Tuesday Evening Forecasts For Irma

At the moment, most of the models (NVG, GFS, & others) are sticking with a storm path that moves Irma up Florida's east coast. Interestingly, the National Hurricane Center suggests a path that moves the storm further west, towards west Florida, but most of the models are not supportive of that scenario. The hurricane has to execute nearly a 90-degree turn Saturday evening in order to keep the storm east of Florida. A sharp turn like that is unusual, but not unprecedented. If the turn happens late, or is less than sharp, Florida will take the full brunt of the storm.

Currently, NVG indicates landfall near Edisto Beach, SC (Monday evening, Sept. 11th), which places Charleston, SC, in the storm-surge-vulnerable eastern quadrant of the storm. South Carolina is likely to take the full force of the storm.

Follow-up Hurricane Jose may follow a circular path near the Bahamas, but there is no sign at the moment of it coming close to the U.S.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Irma, Scare Card

Latest forecasts keep inching Irma's path east. It's possible the storm may not make landfall in Florida at all, but instead approach very close and scare the beejesus out of folks in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Landfall may be in South Carolina and/or North Carolina instead. If so, it would be best to hunker down in Tampa. Closest approach to Tampa would be about noon on Sunday Sept. 10th, with SC landfall late Monday morning, Sept. 11th.

Monday, September 04, 2017

I Try to Imagine the Future

It looks something like this:

K. Flay - Blood In The Cut

Nothing gets me more excited than an excellent music video combined with Streamline Moderne and the American Southwest. Where was this filmed? I haven't been as excited by a pop song in a long time!:

You Always Wonder, What Will Music Be Like in the Future?

And the future arrives, and you say, oh......

Grimes ft. Janelle MonĂ¡e - Venus Fly

What a Strange Future We've Made

Before and After Pictures a Real Treat

Time:
Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer's desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

...Ever since then, Pablo was hooked. He ordered more 60s postcards from eBay and started going around the country capturing these once beautiful buildings that now stand abandoned only as faint memories of what once was.

"The postcards, have their own haze—the places were never as nice as they look. I often struggle to get the two images to line up, as well. But time blurs the difference, and brings everything into focus."

Hurricane Irma is a Threat to Florida

Hurricane Irma keeps angling south, and that's very bad news regarding its impact on the U.S. Modeling now suggests Irma will move right up the east coast of Florida, or traveling a little bit inland, from the Everglades (according to the NVG model, Sunday evening, 6 p.m.) all the way up to Jacksonville. The GFS model has a similar path, but moving faster, passing directly over Aiken (Tuesday, Sept. 12th, midday). Having a storm so close will affect Tampa to some extent. The big danger is that a path along Florida's east coast is nearly the same thing as a path up Florida's west coast as far as the hurricane is concerned. We will need to watch this storm.

[UPDATE] The latest NVG model forecast keeps moving the hurricane path westward, suggesting a direct hurricane hit on St. Petersburg, but the GFS model forecast keeps the storm moving along Florida's east coast and into SC. A lot depends on quickly the east coast trough lifts out and how the high pressure system developing behind it over the Great Lakes directs the storm. It's too early to make any decisions on what to do, since there is no consensus on the path and the path keeps changing. The size and speed of the storm is an issue too, since it's hard to evade something big and fast-moving.

Sacramento Loons in Their New Mexico Fastness

Eccentric Sacramento, California folks - not a surprise. Isolate them in Fence Lake, which is just about as remote a part of New Mexico as you can possibly find, and nothing good can result:
James Green and his wife Deborah Green (who also goes by the name Lila Green) opened Free Love Ministries in 1982 with four communal houses in Sacramento, California. The Greens had little ministry training but attracted about 50 members. They operated a military structure like the Salvation Army. The Greens adopted the titles of “general.”

The sect raised money by operating custom frame shop.

A few years later, a Christian radio station refused to broadcast the Greens’ content about demons promoting homosexuality, karate and fairy tales.

...By the 1990s, the group was known as the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps. Members call Deborah Green an “oracle” who has direct communication with God.

...While in Berino, New Mexico, the group began publishing a newspaper sharing their militaristic and apocalyptic beliefs. Their literature caught the attention of Mark Pitcavage, now a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

Pitcavage says rhetoric around “warfare” for people’s souls was unusual for the early 1990s. The group’s brochures he later obtained spoke about “bloody Islam” and how homosexuality was responsible for a “decaying society.”

...Andrew Chesnut, a religious studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the group appears to practice an extreme form of Pentecostalism.

“But some of their beliefs are so outside the mainstream,” Chesnut said.