Well the new computer models are out and Category 4 Hurricane Earl appears to have maintained much of its strength. Most models are congregating on a consensus that would keep Earl off of the Eastern Sea-board. The NGFDL (the Navy’s GFDL 12Z run) is the only model that has Earl making a direct hit. Keep in mind that uncertainty 48 hrs out is around 150 miles so it bears watching. The other area of concern would be for SE Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the Islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Cooler Ocean temperatures would weaken Earl if landfall were in New England. I would say that Tropical Storm force winds in Boston could be possible, with minimal Hurricane force winds for the Cape.
We are 10 days away from “peak” hurricane season and a dangerous Cape Verde type category 4 Hurricane is threatening parts of the United States sea-board. Currently Hurricane Earl has top winds of 135 mph and it is located north of Puerto Rico. So far the islands have been spared much of Earl’s wrath and the current projected path steers Earl away from the Bahamas.
My concern comes late Thursday and into Friday as the path of Earl could come dangerously close to portions of the East Coast from the Carolina’s to New England. Here is the official track from the NHC in Miami. I’ve also attached a spaghetti diagram of all the computer model output tracks. Stay tuned for additional updates.
I clearly recall August 26th, 2005 in the weather center at WPBF in Palm Beach, FL watching the satellite picture and live radar as Hurricane Katrina passed to our south and pummeled Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. 70 miles to the North we had plenty of rain and wind in the Palm Beach’s and we were in wall-to-wall television coverage; warning the residents of S. Florida of the imminent threats and dangers. What concerned me even more was the prospect that this category 1 hurricane would become a major hurricane in 48 hours as it fed off the warm loop current in the Gulf of Mexico and strengthen into a major hurricane. In the Meteorological circles, it was always a matter of when, not if, a major hurricane would level New Orleans. As you can see from this image below, the NHC in Miami targeted New Orleans back on the 26th of August. And the National Weather Service in NOLA issued the following statement 24 hours before landfall:
URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA 1011 A.M. CDT SUN AUG 28 2005
…DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…
.HURRICANE KATRINA…A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.
AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS. ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET…DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE!
This discussion was disquieting and I prayed for the best but expected the worst. Little did anyone know at the time, that the response would be so unsatisfactory and so many people would die, lose their homes and families. As you can see from the image above, the NHC was dead-on their projected track 72 hours away from Katrina’s second landfall. Hats off to Max Mayfield and his staff of Meteorologists. What went wry in the response? Five years later I hope we have learned some valuable lessons.