Tag Archives: Hawaii

It is Labor Day 2016: Remain alert, Hermine, Lester and Newton are out there!

Florida got hit by a land-falling hurricane, after eleven years of dodging impacts from tropical cyclones, when HERMINE came on shore in Apalachee Bay the early morning of 2 September.

This was quite a feat indeed, when you consider there were 145 tropical cyclones generated in the north Atlantic basin during the 2006 – 2010 period, and that HERMINE was the 8th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

Infrared satellite view of 5 September 2016 showing extra-tropical cyclone HERMINE once again approaching the U.S.A. coast, and tropical wave and disturbed weather activity in the Caribbean and along 'hurricane alley'
Infrared satellite view of 5 September 2016 showing extra-tropical cyclone HERMINE once again approaching the U.S.A. coast, and tropical wave and disturbed weather activity in the Caribbean and along ‘hurricane alley’

So what is happening today, Monday 5 September LABOR DAY 2016? For starters, extra-tropical cyclone HERMINE, which only yesterday had traveled  some 800 kilometers away from the U.S.A. coast, has now drifted back toward the northwest and it is affecting a large region from the northern Jersey Shore and Long Island to Cape Cod, Boston and points beyond, with rain, wind and surge.

Infrared satellite image of 5 September 2016 showing abundant and strong tropical wave activity along the breadth of Equatorial Africa already emerging over warm Eastern Atlantic waters
Infrared satellite image of 5 September 2016 showing abundant and strong tropical wave activity along the breadth of Equatorial Africa already emerging over warm Eastern Atlantic waters

Looking south and then east from HERMINE’s current location we have a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean that is generating widespread rain over the region, but other than this it is not showing any cyclonic tendencies, for now at least. Looking east we see ‘Hurricane Alley’ populated by a chain of disturbed/stormy weather cell, and several large tropical waves over the eastern Atlantic waters and the entire length of Equatorial Africa. There is certainly plenty of fuel for potential cyclonic development form anyone of these ‘seeds’ in coming days.

The prudent attitude for all interests throughout the Atlantic basin is to remain alert, be prepared and closely monitor the progress and/or development of these disturbances for any signs of potential cyclogenesis!

Infrared satellite image of 5 September 2016 showing tropical Storm NEWTON near the Pacific coast of Mexico moving toward  the Baja california Peninsula, while a decaying cyclone LESTER is over central Pacific waters some 2000 kilometers NNW of Hawaii
Infrared satellite image of 5 September 2016 showing tropical Storm NEWTON near the Pacific coast of Mexico moving toward the Baja california Peninsula, while a decaying cyclone LESTER is over central Pacific waters some 2000 kilometers NNW of Hawaii

Over on the northern east-Pacific side, there is Tropical Storm NEWTON  just off (150 kilometers) the Pacific coast of Mexico to the west of Puerto Vallarta, moving NNW toward the Baja California peninsula. Farther to the northwest of NEWTON’s current position there is a decaying tropical storm LESTER, which veered away from Hawaii literally at the last minute, a couple of days ago. To the south and southeast the eastern-east Pacific sub-basin between southern Mexico and Panama is populated by several tropical waves and disturbed weather cells, which may contribute to cyclonic development in coming days.

NEWTON is the 14th named tropical cyclone of the 2016 East Pacific hurricane season so far. The basin has generated  194 tropical cyclones since 2006, and may generate a few more before this annual season is over.

In assessing recent cyclogenesis (i.e.: GASTON and HERMINE in the Atlantic, and LESTER, MADELINE, and now NEWTON in the eastern Pacific) the footprint of global warming and sea level rise are unmistakably clear in the wetness and strong surge/wave impacts of these tropical cyclones, which generated unprecedented amounts of rain, coastal erosion and flooding along their paths.

While we anticipate future impacts from the Atlantic and the Pacific for the duration of the 2016 season, we will do well to examine what we have done OR NOT regarding hazard mitigation measures, and adaptation measures, to reduce the potential for damage to our built environment and the life, property and full range of human activity sheltered within?  What specific defenses have been implemented along coastal regions? How have design professionals and policy-makers enhanced/strengthened building codes and design criteria to make our communities resilient, in the face of expected impacts?

The time for ACTION on all these fronts has been here for quite a while, the time for TALK and BUSINESS-AS-USUAL in long past!

Remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!

2 September 2016: Eleven years later!

It was 2005 when Florida was last hit by a hurricane. In fact 2005 was an Atlantic hurricane season for the record books when a total of thirty (30) tropical cyclones were generated throughout the Atlantic basin (See map of tropical cyclone tracks in 2005, below).

Map of tracks of the 30 tropical cyclones of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The last time Florida was hit by a hurricane prior to HERMINE's landfall earlier this morning.

In 2005 Florida got hit by four named storms, Dennis, Katrina, Tammy and Wilma. But it has been mostly quiet since then, to the point that  close to 4.0 million residents of the Sunshine State may have never experienced the impact of a hurricane except on TV.

All of this changed a couple of weeks ago when a tropical wave emerged from Equatorial Africa and started moving westward along ‘hurricane alley’ , to then move close to the major Antilles islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba before continuing west into the southern Gulf of Mexico. On Wednesday 31 August the system reached tropical storm strength and was christened HERMINE, the 8th named tropical cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

HERMINE  turned toward the north and started aiming for the Florida Gulf coast, generating copious rain from southern Florida up to the Tampa-St. Pete region and inland areas. On Thursday 1 September HERMINE gradually got stronger and better organized, continuing to generate a deluge and violent thunderstorms along the length of the state while pointing at the Big Bend area of Florida’s gulf coast.

GOES EAST infrared satellite image in the early morning of Friday 2 september 2016 showing HERMINE, now downgraded to tropical storm, over southern Georgia after making landfall near Tallahassee, Florida
GOES EAST infrared satellite image in the early morning of Friday 2 september 2016 showing HERMINE, now downgraded to tropical storm, over southern Georgia after making landfall near Tallahassee, Florida

HERMINE became a hurricane by mid-afternoon on Thursday 1 September and continued moving toward the northern Florida coast, where it made landfall in the early morning hours (around 1:30 A.M.) this Friday 2 September 2016 in the Apalachee Bay area south-southwest of Tallahassee, the state capital.

The storm has weakened to tropical storm strength as it moves through southern Georgia and aims for the Carolinas and points beyond while generating large amounts of rain over a large region from southern Florida to South Carolina and beyond.

From early reports, it is clear that this tropical cyclone, which in times past would have been categorized as “just a category 1 storm” by some TV newscaster, has been a large, wet and rather dangerous storm affecting millions of residents in at least  five or six states. It goes to show, every hurricane must be taken seriously and considered life-threatening. HERMINE is not done yet, we will have to wait until it traverses the southeastern seaboard states and eventually emerges back over the ocean and dissipates while pulling away from the U.S.A. before we assess the actual toll of its passage.

As we deal with HERMINE’s impact, we must remain alert and not lose sight of the tropics in the Atlantic and elsewhere. For example, the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ in Equatorial Africa and ‘hurricane alley’, closer to us, are populated by numerous cells of disturbed weather and thunderstorms, which are seeds for potential cyclonic activity in the near term and beyond.

Satellite image over the Central Atlantic on 2 September 2016 showing Hurricane LESTER approaching Hawaii, after the state was recently hit by Hurricane MADELINE
Satellite image over the Central Atlantic on 2 September 2016 showing Hurricane LESTER approaching Hawaii, after the state was recently hit by Hurricane MADELINE

Over in the Central Pacific, the state of Hawaii has just had the impact of Hurricane MADELINE (now downgraded to tropical depression) while it braces for the expected impact of Hurricane LESTER fast approaching from the east. It looking at satellite imagery over the past few days as MADELINE approached Hawaii it was clear the high-topped volcanoes on the big island acted as a shield obstructing its progress and disrupting its structure. We will have to wait and see what target is found by LESTER over this weekend. Meanwhile, looking toward the eastern Pacific ocean we can see numerous tropical waves and cells of stormy weather over northern South America and the waters off the coast of Panama, Central America and Southern Mexico, which may fuel potential cyclonic development in coming days.

Infrared satellite image of 2 september 2016 of the Northwest Paciific, showing Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan
Infrared satellite image of 2 September 2016 of the Northwest Paciific, showing Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan

Doing a 180 and looking at the opposite end of the Pacific, actually the northwest Pacific, we Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan. Currently the worst consequences are on the Kyushu Islands and the region where Nagasaki and Hiroshima are located. NAMTHEUM is moving generally north by northwest while generating plenty of rain in Japan.

Worrisome as these impacts and ensuing damage and danger to life are, I would like to close this by stating that we must also view them as opportunities. Opportunities to assess damage, to evaluate building performance, to determine causality, and to draw invaluable lessons regarding the resiliency of buildings, infrastructure and entire communities. This is the time when we can gain empirical knowledge regarding the factors that have contributed to damage, and the measures that were effective in mitigating the impact of these hurricanes.

Remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!