Tropical Update: Harvey and Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Harvey, now 115 miles southeast of Corpus Christi Texas, has seen the maximum sustained winds increase to 110 this morning, just shy of major hurricane status. The minimum central pressure has dropped 947 Millibars. Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane today with winds increasing further to 120 mph. As of this 11 AM EDT, the following watches and warnings are in effect.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Port Mansfield to Sargent Texas. Hurricane conditions will be occurring in these areas within the next 12-24 hours.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from south of Port Mansfield to the Mouth of the Rio Grande River and from North of Sargent to High Island Texas

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for South of the mouth of the Rio Grande to Boca de Catan Mexico

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Port Mansfield to High Island Texas. A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations. This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from south of Port Mansfield to the Mouth of the Rio Grande. A Storm Surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property and be on the look out for rising seas.

Forecast Information

Harvey

Hurricane Harvey continues to increase in strength this morning and is now approaching major hurricane status. Harvey is expected to be a category 3 storm when he moves ashore in Texas. Sustained winds are expected to be between 120 and 130 miles per hour with higher gusts. Harvey will be bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, and wind hazards to portions of the Texas coast. Preparations to protect life and property should be completed this morning, as tropical storm force winds will first arrive in the hurricane and storm surge warning areas later today.

Life-threatening storm surge flooding could reach heights of 6 to 12 feet above ground level at the coast between the north entrance of the Padre Island National Seashore and Sargent. Devastating and life-threatening flooding is expected across the middle and upper Texas coast from heavy rainfall of 15 to 25 inches, with isolated amounts as high as 35 inches, from today through next
Wednesday.

Harvey will hug the coast after he moves inland, which could help prevent the quick weakening associated with land falling hurricanes. While Harvey will still weaken, it may be a slower process and he could maintain Tropical Storm strength longer than usual. Harvey is forecast to impact this area for several days.

Hurricane Harvey Hazards

Storm Surge and Storm Tide

Storm Surge and large waves are the greatest threats to life and property along the coast. A storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. Many will remember the surge from Hurrican Ike is 2008. Storm Surge with Harvey is expected to be as high as 12 feet in some locations (was 20 feet in Ike). Please check your local media sources for the exact surge totals expected for your area. Surge related flooding will be dependent on the exact timing and the tide and can vary greatly over short distances. Large waves will also be a factor at the coast. Based on the tide charts, Harvey should hit as tides are moving out and close to low tide, but onshore winds are possible during several tidal cycles.

Tornadoes

Hurricanes frequently produce tornadoes, usually in the embedded thunderstorms in the rain bands now beginning to hit the Texas coast line. They can also be associated with the eye wall. Tornadoes produced by these systems are usually weak and short lived, but they can be a threat to where they hit. A Tornado watch is expected to be posted for coastal areas of Texas and Louisiana later today.

Winds

It goes without saying that winds are a major issue with Hurricanes. Sustained winds with Harvey are expected to reach up to 120 mph with gusts reaching as high as 150 mph with some locally higher gusts. Harvey is forecast to be a major Hurricane at landfall.

Rainfall

Forecasts for Harvey have indicated significant rainfall is possible, with some models showing over 30 inches of rain. This will be a very long duration event and flooding and flash flooding will bea major issue for many areas.

Hurricane Safety

Evacuations

Many areas in Texas have had evacuation orders given, for those who are evacuating, you will need to determine a safe evacuation route inland. While evacuating, you’ll want to monitor the latest information to ensure that you will be evacuating to a location that is not also under a risk. Public services in these areas will already be strained and adding many evacuees will only cause more strain for everyone. Learning the location of official shelters will be helpful both in the event that you evacuate as well as for those who do not evacuate. Areas that are not under evacuation orders should also have shelters for the residents who end up in trouble due to hurricane hazards. Tornadoes, lightning, power outages, and property damage due to falling trees can force residents from their homes, even if a mass evacuation isn’t needed. The good news is that a quick check of traffic in this region doesn’t show any, so many heeded these orders in advance.

When evacuating, put together a go-bag. Include a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate. Snacks and stuff to drink will also be good for longer evacuations, especially with children. While you may stop for gas, many others are also evacuating with you so its possible that many supplies will be sold out along your route. If you haven’t already, fill up your gas tank in your local area, gas supplies may also be strained along your route. Cell phones should be charged before you leave. Have one member of your family turn their phone off while travelling together. This will ensure that if one phone does run out of battery, you will have another phone to turn on and use. All family members should have all numbers for your phones and know to call multiple numbers if they can’t get a hold of you.

You should also inform someone of your plans. If you fail to arrive at your destination due to a car accident, your contact can alert the authorities. Having them know the route you planned to take is essential in locating you.

Stay tuned to local news outlets as you travel. Conditions may change and areas you were heading to that were going to be safe may not be anymore. Harvey is brining a large area of rain to Texas and the location you were heading for may end up under a flood warning when it wasn’t before. Always ensure that the safety of your location is the top priority.

Staying at home

For those of you who are not leaving home, I would first implore you to heed local evacuations if you are under them. Evacuation orders are given for a reason. If you are under those orders it is absolutely not safe where you are. While I do realize that some properties remain even in massively damaged areas, you only put yourself and those who would need to rescue you in the event of an emergency in danger by taking that gamble. It is never just your survival on the line.

If you have not been ordered to evacuate, there are several things you should plan for. First, as I mentioned above, have a plan to be able to evacuate to a local shelter if your house if one of the unfortunate locations that falls victim to one of the more local hurricane hazards. Lighting occurs frequently within a hurricane and can strike even in areas where hurricane conditions are not occurring. You should also have a plan for any pets you may have. Not all shelters accept pets so ensure the one you may go to does.

What to bring to the shelter

You will need to make sure that you have everything you need at the shelter. While the shelter will have supplies, they don’t usually carry specific medications or your specific brand of baby food. Ensure that you have a first aid kit with all the medications taken by your family. If you are running low, see if your local pharmacy can give you more. Baby food and diapers will be needed. Your baby should be prepared for a multiple day stay at the shelter. Bring things to do as well. Books, games for children, headphones and a source of music (we all know some of you still have a Walkman) will all be desired. The shelter is not exactly a fun place to be. Bring your toiletries and blankets. The shelter will have some but we all prefer our own. Flashlights and batteries are good to have in case the power goes out at the shelter as well. Also ensure you bring identification, cash and credit cards as well as copies of your essential documentation like proof of insurance.

Protecting your home

Be aware that Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before a hurricane trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property. When it comes to repairing your rain gutters, it’s as easy as checking out sites such as https://www.aluminiumwarehouse.co.uk/, finding the right materials and replacing your damaged/old gutters. This will help protect your property, which is what you need to consider, especially after weather conditions like thunderstorms and heavy rain. This can also help keep them lighter and not fall under the weight of all the rain. Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors. Plywood over windows or close storm shutters if your house has them, this can protect them from wind and debris. If you are construction inclined, hurricane clips can be installed in your attic to help secure your roof to the house. You may also want to get in touch with a home improvement service similar to Mastershield Atl that may be able to provide support for homeowners who are looking for a way to protect their roof from water damage. While it is certainly too late to hire a contractor to do this for Harvey, other storms will come along and this can be done for future storms. You can also brace your garage door and doors that lead outside with planks to keep it from blowing in. You should also close all interior doors to compartmentalize the house. This way, if a window does break in one area, the remaining areas will have protection against the elements coming in. Purchasing a portable generator or installing a generator for use during power outages is also a good idea. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture. You should never try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet. If power does go out, use a flashlight. Candles are a fire hazard.

Keeping food and water safe

The most important thing when it comes to food is to buy nonperishable goods and to store water. You do not need to buy multiple gallons of water for activities like brushing your teeth. Simply refill an old milk or water bottle with tap water and use it. You can do the same thing for bath water, pre-filling your tub is also recommended. Tap water storage can be done with any container from large pots used for cooking to old bottles and even any large plastic container. Always remember to keep using the tap water until it goes out, you don’t want to needlessly use up your supply and not be able to replenish it. For any cold food you do have, turn your refrigerator and freezer to their maximum cold settings and open them as little as possible. This will help keep things cold. Try to use up any chilled foods first so that keeping things cold becomes unnecessary and have a supply of ice on hand to keep things cold longer. While you can buy ice at the store, you can also just use ice cubes. Simply dump your tray into a plastic bag and refill the trays. Dump new ice cubes as they form and keep refilling the trays. You will be able to continue this process for as long as you have power or tap water. This also creates an emergency water supply should you run out of water. Simply melt the ice. You can also use rain water if you have a safe way to get a bucket outside to collect some. You should always try to keep a lid on your water supply. This will keep dust and bugs out of it.

After the Storm

It will be tempting to go outside after the storm has passed or during the calm period in the eye. This should be avoided. The eye is only temporary and hurricane conditions can start very quickly. After the storm, there will be a lot of damage in the region. Floods could still be occurring and the water could be contaminated. You also can’t see what’s in the water. Animals and hazards in the water could be potentially dangerous to your health. The water could even be electrically charged from downed power lines.

We here at Firsthand will do our utmost to keep you up to date with the latest information. Our thoughts go out to those in the areas affected by Harvey. Stay safe everyone.

Robert Millette

Incident Meteorologist

Braintree Emergency Management Agency

Major Hurricane Matthew Update

Major Hurricane Matthew has maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph with higher gusts approaching 170 mph, making Matthew is a category 4 hurricane. Many will have to seriously consider support from people similar to Murfreesboro TN Roofing Pros to repair their homes after such a powerful hurricane. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles. The estimated minimum central pressure is 934 mb (27.58 inches).

 

Major Hurricane Matthew Forecast

Matthew

The satellite presentation of Matthew remains very impressive this morning. The eye was obscured during part of the night, but has become more distinct and slightly larger during the past couple of
hours.

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The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft measured a peak 700-millibar flight level wind of 163 mph, and surface winds of 145 mph in the northeast quadrant. During the final passage through the eye a little before 1 AM, the aircraft reported a minimum pressure of 934 millibar. The next reconnaissance aircraft mission is scheduled to be in Matthew before 8 AM this morning.

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Hurricane conditions are beginning to reach the southwestern portion of Haiti and will spread northward today as the center of Matthew will passes near and over southwestern Haiti. Hurricane conditions are expected to reach eastern Cuba later today. After moving north of Cuba, Matthew is expected to turn north-northwestward. Matthew will then bring hurricane conditions to the southeastern Bahamas Tuesday evening, the central Bahamas on Wednesday, and the northwestern Bahamas Wednesday night. Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of Jamaica and along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic within the warning area today, and will spread northward into the Turks and Caicos Islands tonight.

 

Watches and Warnings

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Haiti, the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma, and Las Tunas, The Southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Ragged Island, The Central Bahamas, including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Cat Island and the Northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti, Jamaica, and the Turks and Caicos Islands

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Puerto Plata westward to the border with Haiti

Model analysis

Interests elsewhere in Hispaniola and in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys should monitor the progress of Matthew. Tropical storm and/or hurricane watches are likely for portions of the
Florida peninsula and Florida Keys later this morning.

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Tropical storm or hurricane conditions could also affect portions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week or this weekend, even if the center of Matthew remains offshore.

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It is too soon to specify what, if any, direct impacts Matthew might have on the remainder of the U.S. east coast farther north. At a minimum, very dangerous beach and boating conditions are likely along much of the U.S. east coast later this week and weekend. A State of Emergency has already been declared in Florida and North Carolina.

 

 

RAINFALL: Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall amounts in the following areas:

Southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic: 15 to 25 inches, isolated 40 inches
Eastern Cuba and northwestern Haiti: 8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Eastern Jamaica: 4 to 6 inches, isolated 10 inches
The Bahamas: 8 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches
Turks and Caicos Islands: 2 to 5 inches, isolated 8 inches
Northeastern Haiti and the Northern Dominican Republic: 1 to 3 inches, isolated 5 inches
Western Jamaica: 1 to 2 inches, isolated 3 inches

Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large and destructive waves could raise water levels by as much as the following amounts above normal tide levels.

Southern Coast of Cuba east of Cabo Cruz: 7 to 11 feet
South Coast of Haiti: 7 to 10 feet
Northern Coast of Cuba east of Camaguey: 4 to 6 feet
Jamaica: 2 to 4 feet
Gulf of Gonave in Haiti: 3 to 5 feet
Southern coast of the Dominican Republic: 1 to 3 feet
The Bahamas: 10 to 15 feet

Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. Large waves generated by Matthew will cause water rises to occur
well in advance of and well away from the track of the center.

SURF: Swells generated by Matthew will continue to affect portions of the coasts of Hispaniola, Jamaica, eastern Cuba, and the Caribbean coastline of Central America during the next few
days. Swells from Matthew will begin affecting portions of the Bahamas on Tuesday. These swells are likely to cause life- threatening surf and rip current conditions.

 

Robert Millette

 

 

Atlantic Tropical Season off to a fast start

The Atlantic tropical season was already off to a quick start as Tropical Storm Bonnie dropped several inches of rain along the East Coast, but rumors of Bonnie’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Tropical Depression Bonnie

After sliding back over the gulf stream as noted on Firsthand Weather the other day, Bonnie has reformed into the Tropical Depression and is currently expected to regain Tropical Storm status overnight.  She won’t maintain that strength long as weakening is expected on Friday as she moves away from the North Carolina coast and the warmer waters.  Maximum sustained winds are currently at 35 MPH with a central pressure at 1008 mb.

Bonnie 1

On this track, Bonnie should once again be a post Tropical low by this weekend.

Atlantic Tropical Formation Risk

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico looks to be the best chance for the next storm to develop.  A developing low pressure system is expected to the Yucatan and the Southern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.  This system will move North Northeast towards the Florida peninsula.

Atlantic

There exists some additional uncertainty with the progress of this system since it hasn’t developed fully yet.  As this system comes together a better focus can be placed on this area.

Tropical Discussion

Southwesterly upper level flow is noted on water vapor imagery across the Southwestern and central Caribbean this evening promoting a diffluent and unstable environment. Given the favorable lifting dynamics and the presence of a tropical wave in the Southwestern Caribbean, scattered showers and thunderstorms are occurring over portions of Central America, the Greater Antilles and much of the their adjacent coastal waters this evening due to upper level diffluence and peak daytime heating and instability. Most of this convection is occurring within fresh to strong trade winds that are expected to increase slightly through the overnight hours into Friday.

A middle to upper level low is also noted on water vapor imagery over Texas. This upper level feature supports a broad area of low pressure across Texas and the lower Mississippi River valley focused on a 1012 mb low centered across North Texas. A squall line extends from southwestern Louisiana to offshore of Brownsville Texas.  Scattered showers and thunderstorms are occurring across the Northwestern Gulf waters. The remainder of the basin is under the influence of gentle to moderate East to Southeast winds on the western periphery of a weak ridge anchored by a 1017 mb high centered across the Florida Big Bend region. The middle to upper level low is expected to drift east over eastern Texas through Friday night then move South to Southwest over northern Mexico providing the Northwestern Gulf with increased chances of precipitation through the upcoming weekend.

As the area of strong trades translates westward Saturday across the Northwest Caribbean waters, an area of low pressure is expected to develop in the Gulf of Honduras Saturday night late into early Sunday and move North Northwest across the Yucatan peninsula then into the south-central Gulf of Mexico early Monday. Strong to near gale force Southeast winds will accompany this low pressure area on its eastern periphery and impact the Northwest Caribbean waters and Yucatan Channel region.

Global models indicate this developing low pressure could develop into the next Tropical System in the south-central Gulf waters Sunday night late into early Monday.  This system will be reaching the Northeast Gulf by early Tuesday. Likely hazards from this potential area of low pressure, which would be the earliest C named tropical system if it becomes Colin, will be increased winds and building seas across the Northeast Gulf waters in addition to the likelihood of heavy rainfall and possible flooding across central and northern Florida early next week.

All other areas of the Atlantic Basin are quiet at this time.

 

Robert Millette

Staff Meteorologist

Firsthand Weather