The mugginess will continue to build tonight, so our overnight temperatures won’t be nearly as comfortable (humid air doesn’t cool down as much as dry air). The humidity will also be the fuel for scattered storms this weekend. It won’t be an all-day washout, and it’s not a guarantee of rain for everyone in the Midstate, but it’s a high enough chance that you need to be flexible with any outdoor plans…just be ready to adjust to whatever Mother Nature decides to send your way. Futurecast’s radar simulation for Saturday afternoon shows the scattershot pattern of the showers and storms:
At this point, I’m leaving any influence of Tropical Storm Erika (or the remnants thereof) out of our forecast…but that’s still subject to change, since the path of Erika itself is still subject to change. The satellite view of Erika this morning shows a glob of clouds to the south of Puerto Rico. The center of circulation is actually to the northwest of the cloud cover, a sign that the entire system isn’t very organized:
The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast calls for Erika to track to the northwest over the next 48 hours, directly over the island of Hispanola (the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), then to the north of Cuba. Hispanola is mountainous, and that terrain will weaken Erika significantly — it’s possible that the sustained winds will drop below 39mph, at which point Erika would be classified as a tropical depression:
That would be temporary though, as the storm moves over warmer water and more favorable atmospheric conditions to the north of Cuba, and as it approaches south Florida. The NHC forecast calls for Erika to make landfall to the west of Miami late Sunday night, as a strong tropical storm with 60mph winds…but NOT as a hurricane (74mph is the threshold for that):
The distinction between a tropical storm and a category-one hurricane is only related to the strength of the maximum sustained winds — so while it’s tempting to say that Erika will “only” be a tropical storm at landfall, that’s misleading. Tropical storms are still capable of producing tons of rain, along with coastal erosion, rip currents, and at least some wind damage.
There’s still some uncertainty regarding Erika’s path, which is typical of a disorganized tropical system. Strong hurricanes are easier for the computer models to “latch onto” and easily project, while these marginal systems can throw some curveballs. The spaghetti plot of the various model forecasts shows most projections clustered along the NHC’s official forecast, but there are still some outliers on either side:
One last thing about tropical systems…it’s easy to focus in on the projected path and say “okay, that’s where the storm will be.” But while the path resembles a spaghetti noodle, the storm itself is more of a meatball, traveling along that noodle. To break away from the metaphor, the effects of Erika (and any other tropical storm) extend hundreds of miles away from the center of circulation represented on the forecast map. Again, it’s unlikely-but-not-impossible that the remnants of Erika will influence our weather next week…we’ll keep you posted.
Weather, astronomy, particle physics, and animals…the nerd-links are eclectic today.
- This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall…is New Orleans safer now than it was ten years ago?
- Those ten years have brought some significant improvements in weather modeling — the difference is startling.
- Weather is only one part of the Katrina story — there’s also the human element of preparation and response. This article claims that NO ONE is prepared for the “next Katrina.”
- Weird stuff in space: a star so powerful, it rivals a black hole.
- Galaxies go through their own life cycles (over billions of years) — now astronomers have a better understanding of specifically how they change.
- Some of the new research results from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN could force some changes to the “Standard Model” of physics.
- I’ve linked to a few articles recently regarding new advances toward achieving sustained nuclear fusion as an energy source — this article does a very good job detailing where things stand now, and some of the methods scientists are using to solve the fusion riddle.
- Well, this sounds terrifying: “Snake Island.” No. Nope. NONONONONONONONONO.