Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Meteorologists Are Bald Now Because Hermine Has Them Pulling Out Their Hair

Hermine continued to spin south of Long Island this morning. 
Post-tropical storm Hermine, or whatever you want to call that stupid storm that's now south of New England, has frustrated EVERYBODY with its unpredictability.

I suppose the very good news is damage along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts is far, far less than initially feared.

But since the storm went more east than anybody thought it would and things weren't all that bad along the coast, the next dangerous storm might inspire people to not flee low lying areas because they'll assume forecasters are crying wolf.

Hermine kind of did what was forecast, performing stalls and little loops off the coast. It just did it further offshore than anyone imagined.

Forecasting the tracks of hurricanes, tropical storms and related storms has gotten much better in recent years, but there's still a lot to learn.

For instance, kudos to the National Hurricane Center for absolutely nailing their forecasts for the strength of Hurricane Hermine and its landfall location in Florida last week.

Hermine tracked along the southeastern United States coast Friday and Saturday as expected, but things really went off the rails starting Saturday night with the forecasts for Hermine.

It was supposed to stall much closer to the coast than it did, and it was supposed to hang out over the very warm Gulf Stream waters, and would have strengthened back up to hurricane power.

But it went further east out to sea before stalling.

As hurricane expert Bryan Norcross wrote in Weather Underground, forecasting the path of tropical systems in notoriously difficult when atmosphering steering currents are weak, as has been the case for Hermine off the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Forecasting computer models were all over the place with this.  The National Hurricane Center did acknowledge the forecasting problems as they were trying to track this thing but might have underplayed the uncertain in their statements that went out to the public.

The NHC was probably trying to act out of an abundance of caution and figured it would be better to get people out of harm's way, rather than throw some uncertainty into the minds of the public that could lead them to stay on dangerous shorelines.

Which in the case of Hermine turned out to be not so dangerous.

Hermine is still harassing the Northeast. It's now finally turned back toward the west. Yesterday, it gave parts of Cape Cod and the Islands tropical storm conditions with peak wind gusts of 55 to 60 mph in spots like Nantucket.

That wind blew down quite a few trees and branches and caused pretty widespread power failures in southeastern New England.

 Conditions aren't so bad today, but the continued presence of Hermine will continue with the wind, the rough seas, the dangerous rip currents and beach erosion. That state of affairs should continue much of this week

Forecasters think - and we hope - Hermine will finally dwindle away and head away from the coast toward the end of the week or the early part of next weekend.

Good riddance!

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