Tag Archives: Hurricane LESTER

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!

28 August 2016: Four Hurricanes and other storms are active today worldwide!

GOES EAST infrared satellite image of 28 August 2016 showing Hurricane GASTON in the central north Atlantic, a possible tropical depression approaching the Carolinas, and the long-lived tropical wave now between northern Cuba and the Bahamas moving  toward the Florida straits and southeastern Gulf of Mexico
GOES EAST infrared satellite image of 28 August 2016 showing Hurricane GASTON in the central north Atlantic, a possible tropical depression approaching the Carolinas, and the long-lived tropical wave now between northern Cuba and the Bahamas moving toward the Florida straits and southeastern Gulf of Mexico

GASTON, once again a hurricane, is intensifying over the open central north Atlantic. At the same time the long lived tropical wave over rather warm surface waters between Northern Cuba and the Northwestern Bahamas is somewhat better organized today as it continues to move toward the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.  A large cell of disturbed weather, which appears of the verge of cyclonic development, is still moving toward the Carolinas coastline.

Mosaic of satellite images showing water-vapor in the atmosphere over the Atlantic and Indian ocean basins on Sunday 28 August 2016
Mosaic of satellite images showing water-vapor in the atmosphere over the Atlantic and Indian ocean basins on Sunday 28 August 2016

Over the east-central North Pacific, Hurricane LESTER is moving westward away from the Pacific coast of Mexico following Tropical Storm MADELINE, farther ahead, also moving west toward Hawaii. Together these two named tropical cyclones could pose a ‘double-whammy’ for Hawaii toward the end of this week.

Projected track of Hurricane LESTER in the east-central North Pacific on 28 August 2016
Projected track of Hurricane LESTER in the east-central North Pacific on 28 August 2016
Projected track of Tropical Storm MADELINE in the central north Pacific on 28 August 2016
Projected track of Tropical Storm MADELINE in the central north Pacific on 28 August 2016

At the opposite end of the Pacific major hurricane LIONROCK, which has meandered for a few days, is once again pointing toward Japan.

Mosaic of satellite images showing water vapor in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on 28 August 2016
Mosaic of satellite images showing water vapor in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on 28 August 2016

Beyond these named tropical cyclones, there are several tropical waves and cells of disturbed weather throughout the various ocean basins in the Northern Hemisphere and Equatorial Africa on this Sunday, 28 August 2016.

Be prepared. remain alert. MITIGATE!