Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will Irene's name be retired?

CBS 6 Meteorologist Carrie Rose contacted the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center to inquire about whether or not "Irene" will become a retired name, considering the destruction and death toll caused by her. Here's the answer (via email) from a National Hurricane Center representative:

"Hello Carrie,

Thanks for your email.

The decision to retire a name is made by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Region IV Committee during their annual meeting, which will take place in the spring. The representative of a member nation on this committee can ask for a name to be retired. A vote is taken on that request. If accepted, the name is retired and a new name is voted upon to replace it.

Best regards,

Dennis Feltgen
Public Affairs Officer
NOAA Communications & External Affairs"

Image: Hurricane Irene along the Delmarva coastline on Saturday, NOAA.

So this means we may not know if "Irene" becomes a retired name, like Katrina and Isabel, for example, until next Spring. Click here to see a list of the retired names. And click here to see what tropical cyclone names are currently in rotation.

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Tropical Storm Katia forms Tuesday

As expected, the large tropical wave that moved off western Africa into the Eastern Atlantic earlier this week has strengthened enough to earn a name: Katia (pronounced KAH-tya). Here is the Tuesday Morning (Eastern Time) view of the Tropics, with Tropical Storm Katia in the bottom right in the red:

Our newest Tropical Storm of the 2011 season will also likely become our second hurricane (Irene was the first) within the next two days, and our second major hurricane by this weekend! Why will this happen? Because Katia will be moving over very warm, favorable ocean waters on which to feed (plenty of moisture as fuel), and also encounter minimal shear, which allows the storm to organize and intensify. Here's the expected track of Katia, as she moves west-northwest around the base of a large Atlantic High Pressure:

Forecast model data is consistent with this track, and they are all in pretty good agreement of the intensification forecast. Here's a look at that:

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene gone, Jose almost gone, and Katia soon to be...

Hurricane Irene fully transitioned to an extra-tropical cyclone late Sunday, and today it continues to weaken while its remnants move into northeast Canada. You can check the rest of www.wtvr.com for full Hurricane Irene coverage and recap, but here's a quick look at some of the worst of the storm.
Strongest Wind Gusts:

Highest Rainfall Totals:

As a result of Irene's heavy rainfall, we made up our year-to-date rainfall deficit to the exact amount! Check the statistics out:

As for the Great Dismal Swamp wildfire burning in Southeast Virginia, it's out! According to this morning's update on the Active Fire Mapping Program, the "Lateral West" fire is no longer considered an "incident." Rainfall totals in that part of the state were 10"+.

The mouth of the Chesapeake Bay also reported a surge of 4 feet, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel surge level matched the record level of Hurricane Isabel from 2003 (approximately 7.5 feet).

Activity in the tropics continues to ramp up, as is typical for this time of the tropical season (see the activity graph here):

If you blinked, you missed Tropical Storm Jose's development this weekend, and it's expected to weaken this afternoon well north of Bermuda. Here's the Monday morning update on Jose:

And Jose will likely be history by this afternoon as it moves into the cooler North Atlantic waters and encounters more wind shear:

A strong, large wave off the western coast of Africa moved south of the Cape Verde Islands Sunday into early Monday, and now we have Tropical Depression #12. This system is already strengthening and may be named Tropical Storm Katia later today, and may even become our second hurricane of the 2011 season by mid- to end-week. What may become Katia will not impact any landmasses through the end of this week.
Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose
Join the conversation at Carrie's Facebook page by clicking here.
Receive brief, informative weather Tweets by following Carrie @SouthernRedRose.
Keep up with activity in the Tropics using our Hurricane Tracker Tool.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rain Stats Updated

The rainfall from Irene set a new 24-hour record for Richmond International Airport, shattering the old record from 1899.

This significant rainfall also helped erase the 5" rainfall deficit for the year, and place the monthly and seasonal stats into surplus territory.

The coming week will be mainly dry, so these numbers will drop a bit.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene will wind down overnight

Hurricane Irene produced damage similar to what we experienced in Hurricane Isabel in 2003, from wind, power outages, and rainfall. The storm surge at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is at about 4 feet, and earlier this evening, the water level at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel peaked near the record level from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Rainfall amounts have ranged 5"-10" mainly along and east of I-95, with a drastic drop-off in rain totals the farther west away from I-95 and Irene. Richmond set a new daily record rainfall today, with more than 5" of rainfall (and still raining as of this blog update).

Here are some of the highest wind gusts measured today in Virginia:
83 mph Mathews Co on Chesapeake Bay
76 mph Williamsburg
71 mph Richmond International Airport
68 mph Virginia Beach
67 mph Langley Air Force Base in Southeast VA
66 mph Chesapeake Beach
63 mph Downtown Richmond (Roof of Dominion Building)

And here are some of the highest rainfall totals as of this posting (still raining):
9.6" Wakefield
8.5" Newland
8.0" Suffolk
7.3" Norfolk
7.0" Williamsburg
5.3" Richmond International Airport
5.0" Chester

Hurricane Irene will continue to move toward New England overnight, slamming into Long Island tomorrow. As of this blog posting, you can see Irene's center of circulation over the Atlantic Ocean east of Virginia's Eastern Shore. Skies are already clearing in far southwest Virginia!

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene Update

11 am:

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) continues with a slightly more eastward track for Irene Saturday into Sunday.

This would confine the more extreme part of the hurricane to the Outer Banks and the eastern shore down to Norfolk. Irene will move through these areas as a category 2 hurricane.

Effects on our area will still be quite strong. The I-95 corridor has been placed under a tropical storm warning, for winds potentially in the 45-65 mph range. The Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula are under a hurricane warning, with winds possibly reaching as high as 75-85 mph.

Rainfall in the hurricane warning area will be in the 5-10 inch range, and in the 2-5 inch range in the tropical storm warning area.

Air Quality Alert - Friday

An air quality alert has been issued until 8 pm for much of the area. Smoke continues to move in from the Great Dismal Swamp Fire.

Rainfall Saturday will greatly improve the air quality. In fact, rain from Hurricane Irene may help dowse much, if not all, of the fire by Sunday afternoon.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect

The watches issued for parts of Virginia Thursday have been both expanded and upgraded to warnings early Friday morning. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the orange areas on the map below, including the entire Richmond and Petersburg metro regions, for imminent Tropical Storm impacts by 36 hours from now. In the bright pink, that's the Hurricane Warning for Hurricane impacts in 36 hours.

The worst of the impacts should be felt in the Commonwealth late Saturday evening, overnight, into Sunday morning. In fact, the greatest sustained winds could occur in the dead of night:

For your reference, Tropical Storm force winds are up to 73 mph, and Hurricane force winds are 74 mph and stronger. Compare this to a severe thunderstorm wind gust of 58 mph or stronger, and you can understand why we could be dealing with significant damage in central and eastern Virginia because of potential several hours of strong Tropical Storm force winds. We could experience power outages, downed trees and limbs, and structure damage. Please develop a disaster plan now. Visit the Red Cross website for extensive resources on how to stay safe this weekend!

In addition to the strong wind threat, there is also the potential for flooding rainfall, mainly east of I-95, where there is a Flood Watch for this weekend. Here's what the potential accumulated rainfall may look like by the end of the weekend:
As is common in land-falling tropical systems, small, brief, weak tornadoes may occur within the spiral bands of the storm. That puts places especially along and east of I-95 prone to this additional wind damage threat.

For the most recent updates on Irene's status and forecast track, I encourage you to utilize our Hurricane Tracker Tool by clicking here.

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose
Click here for my Facebook Page.
Click here to follow me on Twitter @SouthernRedRose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Irene reaches major Category 3 strength Wednesday Morning

Hurricane Irene has strengthened into a Major Category Three storm as of 8 AM Eastern Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Overnight, maximum sustained winds hovered just below the 111 mph benchmark dividing a Category 2 and 3 hurricane. Here is the latest visible satellite picture taken from space of Hurricane Irene, where you can see the rough eye-wall:

Here are the full stats on Irene as of Wednesday Morning:

This major Category Three strength should hold as Irene tracks through the warm waters of the Bahamas into a region of relatively low wind shear.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina will probably bear the brunt of Irene, and some evacuation orders are already occurring in places like Ocracoke. By the time Irene passes near Virginia Beach in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, it will likely produce tropical storm force winds as far west as the western Piedmont, and hurricane force winds in the eastern Peninsulas, Hampton Roads, and the Eastern Shore.

In addition to the tropical wind damage threat, we will also have the potential for coastal flooding along the Chesapeake Bay and upstream in the waterways that feed into the Bay, and there could also be some brief, weak tornadoes that occur in the spiral bands in the northeast side of the storm as those bands make landfall.

Irene will then move on Sunday afternoon into New England, likely producing widespread wind damage, power outages, and flooding.

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Smoky air from the Great Dismal Swamp Fire returns

Many of you in central Virginia will smell the smoke from the Great Dismal Swamp fire again Wednesday because of a wind shift overnight from the Southwest, transporting the smoky air into our region (as it has done so already several times this month). The fire started August 4th as a result of a lightning strike in the Refuge. Since then, southerly winds at times have allowed the smoky air and smell to spread as far north as the DC and Baltimore metro areas. Today, we will smell the smoke again with a persistent southerly wind. Here's the latest update from the Active Fire Mapping Program:

Fire Information Report for Lateral West
Wildland Fire Incident
Report Date: 23-AUG-11
Burnt Area:6,004 Acres
Location:Suffolk City County, VA (Nine miles southeast of Suffolk, VA)
Incident Team Type:IMT Type D
Team Leader:Mike Dueitt
Containment Status:20% contained)
Expected Containment:Unknown
Fuels:Fire is slowly spreading into drought stressed hardwood fuels (Model 10)and deep organic soils.

Fire report information is based on the Incident Status Summary (ICS-209) database.

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Morning Update on Irene

Here's the Tuesday morning visible satellite image of Category Two Hurricane Irene with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, as viewed from space:

Hurricane Irene did not strengthen overnight, but is becoming better organized as it moves away from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Irene's track through the Bahamas looks likely based on good consistency between forecast models.

Sea surface temperatures are very warm and highly favorable for intensification of Irene as it passes into and over the Bahamas. By Wednesday, Irene should have strengthened into a "major" hurricane at Category Three strength of winds at least 111 mph or stronger. While continuing to pass over these warm waters east of Florida, this intensity should be maintained.

An upper-level wave from the U.S. should encourage Irene to take a more northerly shift late Saturday into early Sunday, aiming Irene for the southern North Carolina coast:

It is crucial as we look into this weekend to not pay as close attention to the little red hurricane icon on the map, but rather to the white highlighted area of potential impact in our region:

Speaking of the "area of impact," here are some of the possible weather impacts we may experience in central Virginia:

Here is the model spread for our region of the Mid-Atlantic Coast (the lines represent the various forecast centers of the storm's track):

Irene should continue as an extremely strong cyclone as it transitions to an extra-tropical system in New England Sunday-Monday next week:

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is now a category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 95 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 981 mb. The image above shows the spaghetti plot for all tropical models handling the track of Irene this evening. There is now almost full consensus that Florida will be spared, with a landfall near the SC/NC border more of a likelihood. Extrapolation of the curved path will take the storm across eastern and parts of central VA. If the trough moving through the eastern U.S. is fast and strong enough, there is a chance Irene could only graze the OBX, and miss VA. As for now, prepare for some adverse weather in central and eastern VA this weekend. ZD

Irene strengthens into a Hurricane Monday morning

As of 5AM Eastern Time Monday, Irene strengthened just north of Puerto Rico to a Category One hurricane, our first hurricane of the 2011 season.

Hurricane Irene is aiming for the Bahamas mid-week, then should hug along the east coast of Florida Friday:

Into this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), the outer edges of Irene should begin spreading northward into Virginia, bringing us rainfall, gusty winds, and potentially some severe weather. Forecast tracks a week from now indicate with good consistency that Irene's remnants will pass over Virginia:

We can expect heavy rainfall, which can lead to flooding (particularly in lower-lying parts of Virginia), potentially brief, weak tornadoes, and strong wind gusts (depending on how much Irene weakens as it moves farther inland through the Carolinas) that can knock out power.

You can keep up with the latest updates on Hurricane Irene using our CBS 6 Hurricane Tracker Tool by clicking here.

If you have outdoor plans scheduled for this upcoming weekend, I strongly advise you to make solid indoor backup plans now. In addition, we should all prepare for potential power outages and flooding this weekend. Here are some items you should have ready:

As a reminder, we are now in the thick of what is climatologically our most active time of the hurricane season. Heightened tropical activity will likely continue through October:

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Irene Visits Next Weekend?

Updated computer model forecasts continue to bring Irene into the southeastern United States by the end of this week.

The exact location of the landfall still remains to be seen, but most computer models are locking into bringing the remnants of Irene into our area by late Saturday and Sunday of next weekend.

If Irene holds together, this could mean a significant rainfall for the area. Rain deficits continue to be quite big: 1.87" below normal for the month, 3.65" below normal since June 1, and 4.71" below normal for the year.

Forecasts will continue to be updated during the week as the system gets closer.
Here is a computer model projection of rainfall for next Sunday:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Irene Has Formed

Tropical Storm Irene formed Saturday evening east of the Windward and Leeward Islands. A hurricane hunter aircraft investigated the tropical system, and found a closed circulation with winds of 50 mph.

The forecast track includes Irene becoming a hurricane by Monday afternoon. However, Irene will pass over some land -- Haiti, the Dominican Republic & Cuba -- which will weaken her.

Irene should emerge north of Cuba late Wednesday, and could hit southern Florida by late Thursday. As of now, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting that Irene will be a tropical storm when it makes landfall.

Intensity forecasts, especially 3-7 days out, and including movement over land, are extremely difficult. Updated forecasts will modify and zero in on the track & intensity over the next few days.

Here is a link to the National Hurricane Center's current advisory & forecast track for Irene.

Below is a plot of the various computer models showing potential paths of Irene between now and the weekend. The National Hurricane Center bases much of its forecast on the consensus of these models.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update on Hurricane Late Next Week

It continues to look very likely that a hurricane, and a strong one at that, will develop in the Atlantic over the next few days and move toward the United States. The various model solutions are still somewhat at odds as to where the hurricane might make landfall in the U.S., but today's model runs have shown a significant southerly shift to the track. The GFS, which has been locked in on an east coast landfall for several straight runs, is now falling more in line with what the Euro (ECMWF) has been hinting at all along, in a track through the Florida Straits, or perhaps even farther south.

The latest NAM run from this evening (0z Friday) shows a strong upper-level trough across the eastern U.S., a pattern that has been consistent over the past few weeks. The trough will weaken later in the period, but could still be enough to keep the hurricane tracking westerly rather than northwesterly.

The dominant subtropical ridge will likely not have the steering effect it typically does this time of year, taking the hurricane up the east coast across Hatteras. This could all change, but it seems the most likely scenario will be a southerly track of the hurricane across the Greater Antilles, with a landfall along the Gulf coast. We'll see what future runs look like. ZD

Smoky air could affect central Virginia again Thursday

The large wildfire that continues to burn in Southeast Virginia (primarily affecting the Suffolk area) in the Great Dismal Swamp may spread its boggy scent and smoky air northward as far as the DC Metro Area today with a persistent southerly wind. This fire was started by lightning on August 4th, and has since burned more than 6000 acres. Air Quality today will be at Code Orange in the areas highlighted in grey on this map:

Closer to the fire, though, Code Red air quality may occur today with smoke producing visibilities below a mile and making breathing extremely difficult for people living near the fire.

Here is the latest official wildfire report on the Lateral West Fire from the USDA Forest Service Active Fire Mapping Program:

Fire Information Report for Lateral West
Wildland Fire Incident
Report Date: 17-AUG-11
Burnt Area:6,007 Acres (1% increase from yesterday)
Location:Suffolk City County, VA (Nine miles southeast of Suffolk, VA)
Incident Team Type:IMT Type D
Team Leader:Michael Quesinberry
Containment Status:10% contained)
Expected Containment:Unknown
Fuels:Pockets of brush and grass regrowth along with large a amount of dead and downed fuel from the 2008 fire is fueling this fire. Fire is slowly spreading into drought stressed hardwood fuels (Model 10)aHigh 3059561.00 403

Fire report information is based on the Incident Status Summary (ICS-209) database.

If you smell or see the smoke today, post your report on our CBS 6 Storm Team Facebook Page Wall by clicking here.
Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose Link