Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Evening Update: Joaquin And The Euro

Strengthening Hurricane Joaquin Wednesday afternoon
with sustained winds of 85 mph. 
The talented guys and gals at the National Hurricane Center must be pulling their hair out, if they have any left.

They're struggling with battling forecast models on what the future of Hurricane Joaquin is going to be.  

Plus, the stakes are high: Joaquin could cause a HUGE disaster somewhere on the U.S. East Coast if it makes landfall there, which it well might.

PLUS, at this point, with such an uncertain forecast, when and how does the National Hurricane Center basically press the button and issue warnings for the United States, and how do you do it without causing either panic or complacency?

PLUS PLUS, There's already dangerous weather occuring and brewing on the East Coast, whether or not Joaquin arrives or not. One batch of torrential rain is exiting the northeastern United States, causing patches of nasty flooding in spots from the Gulf Coast of Alabama to Downeast Maine.

More bouts of flooding rains are due along the East Coast, again, with or without Joaquin, over the coming days. If people have to prepare for a hurricane how best to do it amid very inclement weather, or worse, weather that is already causing a disaster?

PLUS PLUS PLUS: Most forecasting models want to forecast Hurricane Joaquin to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina and New Jersey.

The outlyer in this is the European model, Euro for short. It's usually quite reliable. You might remember the Euro as the one that told us that Hurricane Sandy would take a sharp left turn and hit New Jersey. The Euro told us this days before it would happen, and during a time when most of the other forecasting models said Sandy would cruise by off the coast and we shouldn't think it was a big deal.

Of course, Sandy was a big, BIG deal.

Now, The Euro is arguing with many of the forecasting models again. The Euro keeps Joaquin well off the coast, and has it heading northeastward out to sea instead of hitting the United States.

Yes, the Euro is reliable. But it doesn't mean it's right this time. Nobody knows whether its right or not.

The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center is trying to get as much data as possible on weather patterns. In fact they're going through extreme efforts. The more data the forecasting computer models have, the better the chances they'll come up with an accurate forecast.

Hurricane hunter planes have been buzzing Joaquin. Local National Weather Service offices in the eastern half of the United States have been frantically launching weather balloons, so we can get data upwind from the hurricane, to see how the trough of low pressure and weather fronts and such will affect Joaquin's motion.

Most of the computer models think the big trough of low pressure, which is a big dip in the jet stream over the East Coast, will grab Joachin and suck him north and west toward the East Coast.

The Euro model is noticing Joaquin is currently headed toward the southwest, with his eye on the Bahamas. Apparently, the Euro thinks Joaquin will dip far enough south that it will be out of reach from the pesky trough further north over the eastern United States.

Instead a frontal system and the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida would pull Joaquin toward the northeast and way from the United States, the Euro is thinking.

Don't ask me or anybody else to read the minds of these murky computer models. All we can do is let forecasters keep crunching the data, and maybe by tomorrow we'll have a better guess on where Joaquin is going. Maybe.

The bottom line: If Joaquin misses, parts of the eastern United States are in for some major flooding regardless of missing out on a hurricane.

If Joaquin hits, we're in for a major natural disaster.

If you're anywhere in the eastern United States, especially from southern New England to the Carolinas, you really, really want to keep an eye on this.

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