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

Matthew downgraded to Post Tropical Storm

Satellite and radar imagery show that Matthew has continued to degrade and is now a Post Tropical Storm.  Matthew’s center is now exposed to the wind shear that has begun affecting him with no deep convection near the center.  Despite this, strong winds continue across Eastern North Carolina this morning with winds just southwest of the center still sustained at hurricane force.

A motion toward the east-northeast or east is expected for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will move farther offshore of the coast of the North Carolina Outer Banks today and tonight.  Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles, mainly to the southwest of the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 miles. A sustained wind of 61 mph and a gust to 79 mph were recently measured by a National Ocean Service instrument at Duck, North Carolina. A wind gust to 90 mph (127 km/h) was measured at an elevated private weather station near Nags Head, North Carolina and a wind gust to 70 mph (113 km/h) has been observed at Dare County Airport near Manteo, North Carolina. . The estimated minimum central pressure is 984 mb (29.06 inches).

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Hurricane Hunters

An air force reserve reconnaissance mission completed this morning continues to indicate hurricane force winds were occurring, but not over land.

Surface observations indicate that the cold front should overtake Matthew shortly and push Matthew east with no loop occurring towards Florida.  Matthew should undergo his extra tropical transition when this occurs before he dissipates.

 

Watches and Warnings:

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for North of Surf City to Duck North Carolina including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Cape Fear to Duck North Carolina including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

Flood Warnings and High Wind Advisories are in effect for most of North Carolina and Southeast Virginia.

 

As Matthew’s structure changes, the system’s strongest winds continue to shift to the west side of the circulation. The winds are expected to increase significantly over the coastal areas of eastern North Carolina during the next several hours, and during the next 6 to 12 hours there is the possibility of near-hurricane force winds over the North Carolina Outer Banks, as well as the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. There is also an increased threat of storm surge in these areas.

Matthew Hazards:

 

WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected to continue over the warning area through early this afternoon, and then gradually diminish by this evening. Hurricane-force wind gusts should continue through this morning over the North Carolina Outer Banks.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge, the tide, and large and destructive waves will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide Surf City to Duck, North Carolina, including portions of the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds could see surge tides of 3 to 5 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds. 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. There is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the coast from Surf City to Duck, North Carolina, including portions of the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

RAINFALL: Matthew is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 1 to 3 inches across southeast Virginia and extreme eastern North Carolina through this morning. Storm total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts up to 20 inches, continues to result in life-threatening flooding and flash flooding across the region.

SURF: Swells generated by Matthew will continue to affect much of the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic coasts of the United States during the next couple of days. These swells will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

 

Robert Millette

Major Hurricane Matthew

Major Hurricane Matthew remains a Category 4 storm.  Matthew is moving toward the northwest near 5 mph and this general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the
north tonight.  On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti and Jamaica on Monday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph with higher gusts.  Some fluctuations in intensity are possible during the next couple of days, but Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through Monday night.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205miles.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 947 millibars or 27.96 inches.

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Major Hurricane Matthew

The overall organization of the hurricane has changed little overnight, with the small eye remaining distinct in infrared satellite pictures, though a dry slot has been noted between the eye wall and the outer bands in the South portion of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew

Model Analysis

Matthew has been moving slowly west-northwestward during the past few hours.  Matthew should move slowly northwestward today, and then turn northward tonight as a mid- to upper-level trough develops over the eastern Gulf of Mexico.  This motion will take Matthew towards Jamaica, western Haiti, and eastern Cuba over the next couple of days.  After that time, the global models bend Matthew back toward the north-northwest between the aforementioned trough and a developing ridge off the northeast United States coast.

The dynamical models are in good agreement on this scenario through 72 hours, with increasing spread thereafter.  The GFS, ECMWF, and UKMET are along the western side of the guidance at days 4 and 5, while the HWRF is along the eastern side.  The latest NHC track is close to the model consensus through day 3, but is west of the consensus at 96 and 120 h, to be closer to the typically better performing global models.

Matthew is likely to interact with the land masses of Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola, leading to some weakening and disruption of the storm structure.  After this time, The upper-level wind environment is expected to remain favorable over the Bahamas, and warm waters in that area should allow Matthew to maintain much of its intensity and strengthen while it moves over that area later in the forecast period.

Watches and Warnings

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Jamaica,  Haiti, and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma, and Las Tunas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey, the Southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, and Long Cay, and the Turks and Caicos Islands

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti

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

Hurricane Hunters

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate Major Hurricane Matthew this morning, with the data found below.   Although some weakening is predicted during the next couple of days, Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane when it approaches the islands of the Greater Antilles in a couple of days.

 

Robert Millette

Firsthand Weather Tropical Update

Tropical Depression Fiona, currently about 543 nm northeast of the Leeward Islands is still working her way east while 2 Tropical waves  look like they have the potential to develop over the coming week give Firsthand Weather plenty to watch in the Atlantic.

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Water temperatures in the Atlantic are very warm ahead of these systems with temperatures in the low to mid 80’s spanning the coast from Florida up towards Virginia Beach.  These warm waters extend well out into the Atlantic along the Gulf Stream, which is bringing water as high as the upper 70’s along the New Jersey and Long Island New York coastlines.  The drop off to colder waters, around the low 70’s, doesn’t really happen until you get up to around Massachusetts, where the Gulf Stream moves further off shore, but water temperatures above 82 degrees exist not too far South from New England, which could help prevent a storm from weakening too much as it heads North.

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Tropical Depression Fiona

Fiona has weakened into a Tropical Depression today as deep convection continues to sputter near her center.  Each successive burst has been a little smaller and less organized than the
previous ones that sheared off in the strong westerly upper-level winds.  Given that earlier scatterometer data only showed a few 40 mph winds, the decrease in convective organization since that time leaves maximum sustained winds at 35 mph.  Fiona continues to weaken at this hour due to 35 mph wind shear from the west and mid-level dry air impacting the system.  Fiona may devolve  into a remnant low in the next day or two but additional strengthening is expected after that as the wind shear is expected to greatly weaken as the atmosphere moistens to the west.  If Fiona manages to maintain her tropical characteristics during this time period, it is possible that she could once again become a tropical storm near the end of the week as she passes to the Southeast of Bermuda.

Tropical Depression Fiona

Tropical Waves

In the Central Atlantic, a tropical wave is pushing west toward the Lesser Antilles.  This system is producing limited and disorganized showers and thunderstorms as dry air near the system continues to inhibit the waves development.  Environmental conditions are expected to be come more conducive for development as the wave approached Hispaniola and the Southern and Central Bahamas later this week.

Another tropical wave is located about 300 miles South of the Cape Verde Islands.  This wave is continues to show signs of development and is forecast to become a Tropical Depression in the next couple of days.  Environmental conditions will remain favorable for the next several days as this system moves West over the Eastern Tropical Atlantic.