Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cat 4 Hurricane Cristina Found a Sweet Spot.. Poor Modeling. Strong Storm. What went wrong with the forecast?

Despite a dismissal of models that predicted Cristina would intensify...she has just become a Major Category 4 Hurricane as she seems to have found a "sweet spot" with just enough energy to intensify before shuffling off for the Pacific Ocean. This morning she is a Category 4 Major Hurricane. Things change fast in the tropics... remember that!

Last night I heard discussion online and on TWC that she was suffering from dry air that may stop any intensification. Makes you wonder how people with so much knowledge can be so wrong. One reason.. over reliance on the modeling packages from the most popular models. Note below discussion from the NHC over the last 2 days.

Tuesday Morning Discussion from NHC

"has dissipated and water vapor imagery and satellite-derived winds
indicate that the upper-level shear has abated over the past
several hours. As a result, the environmental shear is forecast by
the SHIPS model to weaken today and continue to decrease through
at least the 72-hour period.  This should allow for Cristina to
gradually strengthen despite being embedded within a relatively dry
mid-level moisture environment. By 96 hours and beyond, the cyclone
is forecast to move into a thermodynamically unfavorable
environment, over SSTs cooler than 26C, and encounter increasing
southwesterly shear, a combination that should induce gradual to
possible rapid weakening. The NHC intensity forecast is similar to
the previous advisory and follows the multi-model consensus IVCN.


INIT  10/1500Z 15.5N 102.9W   40 KT  45 MPH
 12H  11/0000Z 15.6N 103.8W   45 KT  50 MPH
 24H  11/1200Z 15.7N 105.1W   50 KT  60 MPH
 36H  12/0000Z 15.9N 106.5W   60 KT  70 MPH
 48H  12/1200Z 16.4N 107.9W   65 KT  75 MPH
 72H  13/1200Z 17.7N 110.5W   65 KT  75 MPH
 96H  14/1200Z 18.8N 112.7W   50 KT  60 MPH
120H  15/1200Z 19.8N 115.1W   35 KT  40 MPH"

Note I am putting this thought out there, not to criticize the NHC but to educate, because this was a forecast made two days ago based on modeling. And, it's important as we continue our way into the Hurricane Season that.... models are sometimes wrong and not on the money. They often get on the board later as the bus is about to pull away from the station ... but they are models, hurricanes happen in real time.

Last night the NHC forecast her to hit 85 MPH... that's a huge error in forecasting.

" Recent research has documented that lightning in the
outer bands of the tropical cyclone circulation is often a precursor
of significant intensification.  The only apparent factor that could
limit strengthening during the next couple of days is mid-level dry
air, which has been an issue for Cristina during the past day or so.
In about 3 days, Cristina is expected to move into an environment of
stronger southwesterly shear and over cooler waters, which should
end the strengthening trend and cause the cyclone to weaken.  The
NHC intensity forecast is slightly higher than the previous one, and
is pretty close to the intensity model consensus IVCN.

Cristina has wobbled a little south of due west during the past 6
hours, and the latest initial motion estimate is 265/5.  A westward
to west-northwestward motion is forecast during the next day or so
while the cyclone remains on the south side of a mid-level ridge
over northwestern Mexico.  After that time, a turn to the northwest
is predicted when the ridge weakens and shifts eastward.  The NHC
track forecast is an update of the previous one, and close to a
consensus of the GFS and ECMWF models.


INIT  11/0300Z 15.2N 103.9W   55 KT  65 MPH
 12H  11/1200Z 15.4N 105.0W   65 KT  75 MPH
 24H  12/0000Z 15.8N 106.4W   70 KT  80 MPH
 36H  12/1200Z 16.5N 107.7W   75 KT  85 MPH
 48H  13/0000Z 17.2N 109.0W   75 KT  85 MPH
 72H  14/0000Z 18.7N 111.5W   70 KT  80 MPH
 96H  15/0000Z 19.6N 113.5W   55 KT  65 MPH
120H  16/0000Z 20.0N 115.5W   35 KT  40 MPH"

This morning they were singing a different story as it became apparent .... that she is a Major Hurricane in all her glory and they were wrong on a 2 day forecast. This is IMPORTANT only because they are now putting out longer forecast tracks and because in general they are so spot on we tend to over rely on a long term forecast based mostly on modeling. Models sometimes miss something. They are also blaming the disconnect on her being a very small storm and sometimes small storms fight off shear and spin up fast... yadi yadi yadi. True, but the real truth is some models were discounted in favor of the more popular, usually more accurate models so good data was discarded in a rush to well.... take the girl to the prom you think will become Prom Queen vs the quieter beauty who walks away with the prize. Cristina is beautiful this morning.

Hurricane CRISTINA


530 AM PDT THU JUN 12 2014

Cristina has continued to rapidly intensify overnight.  Its
well-defined eye is now completely surrounded by cloud tops as cold
as -80C, and the current intensity is estimated to be around 125 kt
based mainly on objective ADT guidance.  This makes Cristina the
second category 4 hurricane of the eastern North Pacific season.

This special advisory is being issued to update the initial
intensity and the intensity forecast during the first 24 hours.
The remainder of the forecast remains unchanged from the 0900 UTC


INIT  12/1230Z 16.4N 106.9W  125 KT 145 MPH
 12H  12/1800Z 16.7N 107.5W  130 KT 150 MPH
 24H  13/0600Z 17.5N 108.9W  110 KT 125 MPH
 36H  13/1800Z 18.3N 110.1W   95 KT 110 MPH
 48H  14/0600Z 19.0N 111.3W   80 KT  90 MPH
 72H  15/0600Z 19.7N 112.8W   60 KT  70 MPH
 96H  16/0600Z 20.0N 114.0W   45 KT  50 MPH
120H  17/0600Z 20.0N 116.0W   30 KT  35 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW"

Note this excellent comment comment on Twitter a few days ago. Seems the HWRF was onto something!

So please keep that in mind the next time a model says that some Tropical Storm is battling shear and may move into Naples, Florida as strong TS or a minimal Hurricane and then 2 days later a Category 2 slams into Marco Island, Ft Myers or veers south and comes in over the very warm Florida Straits and takes Miami by the back door entrance. Often it happens in October, but it can happen any time of the year when steering currents suddenly change, warm Gulf currents come in play and a well aligned hurricane hits a sweet spot.

Hurricane Floyd in 1987 was a very weak hurricane, had he been a much stronger hurricane... would have been much more of a problem for South Florida.

In 1999 Hurricane Irene moved towards the general SW Florida area, however her "weather center" that was displaced to the right moved directly over the Miami area that felt a false sense of safety with TWC all set up in Naples waiting to film Hurricane Irene as her naked center made landfall and the Miami area was inundated with massive amounts of flooding from the heavy rains.

There have been similar tracking hurricanes in June. Take Alma... the slightest change in track could have taken Alma over a multitude of cities in SW Florida from Naples to Tampa. Think on what might have happened had a Category 2 Hurricane made landfall at Marco Island during the land boom days of the 1960s. It might never have become as big as it did and many wrongly believed Marco Island was in some untouchable part of SW Florida and would not get a hurricane... wrong.

Just something to think on next time you hear that they are not big believers in the GFS or some other model that blows something up ....but the other models haven't jumped on board yet. Remember Category 3 Hurricane Cristina. The last few days everyone on the Internet made fun of any chance of strong intensification. What may have been an early eye wall replacement cycle yesterday was in fact blamed on dry air and many on TWC as well as other media outlets said it was signs she was beginning to have difficulty...

The models are still playing with the possibility of tropical development next week in the Caribbean. The possible system would come up through the Yucatan Channel and is now aiming at South Florida not Texas or Louisiana. That could change if and when the system actually forms.

Today this is what the Carib looks like. I'll be discussing models later down the road  if they continue to imply something may form and/or if I see something that I think is worth noting. Just as I have noted the models were way off with Cat 4 Cristina...

As for discussion on Tampa Bay's problems with a major hit up the Bay I"m going to wait a few days as I am waiting to hear back from someone who specializes in historical hurricane research.

Water rushing into Tampa Bay simply put... has no where to go...

Also note that the main population center in the area above is in the middle of the Bay.. 

Compare and contrast that to Miami which is on the west side of Biscayne Bay. 

For the most part a hit on Miami from the South would be a mess.
The Bay originally acted as a flood valve and water would rush in and out up by Haulover. 
The beach there though not the center of the metropolis.

Haulover after the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane that washed away most of the bridge.

Still.... a direct hit of a major hurricane straight up Tampa Bay would be a tragic disaster of epic proportions.

Yes they do prepare for it...

Worst case scenarios do happen. A westbound hurricane in Miami will first hit Miami Beach ... the "barrier island" however Tampa Bay is a whole different ballgame.

Something to think on as we watch Cristina put on her show... 

You never know what you will get when dealing with weather... sometimes you think you will get one thing and get another.

Like with a great singer... sometimes they throw you a curve ball..

Besos Bobbi


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