Archive for the ‘Hurricanes’ Category

John a Hurricane & Typhoon
September 21, 2011


Besides setting these records, Hurricane John (that formed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean) was one of only a handful of hurricanes that crossed the international dateline and moved into the Western Pacific Ocean.  Western Pacific cyclones are named typhoons, so once John moved that far west it was re-named Typhoon John.  Despite the long journey, John never made landfall and only caused minor damage to Hawaii.   


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The Peak of Hurricane Season
September 7, 2011


Simply put, ocean waters are at their warmest in the month of September.  Other factors play an important role in hurricane formation but the number one ingredient is warm ocean waters. 

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Storm in the Gulf, A Child’s Finger Paint
September 1, 2011

Owen Conflenti described the forecast tracks of what will become tropical storm Lee as a child’s finger painting.  Here’s what happening:  There aren’t any steering currents, so the storm is free to move where it wants.  It’s general motion is northwest into Louisiana; but notice once it gets close, the models move it east, west or south.  A trough may move it east, or high pressure in the Rockies may push it west.  A front moving into Texas may make the motion more southerly.  The lack of consensus illustrates how truly weak all of the steering currents are.     

Our model, that is exclusive to KPRC Local 2, shows Lee as a strong tropical storm or hurricane hitting Central Louisiana.  From here it would move back over water, turn right or turn left.  In this case, our exceptional drought and fire danger would continue. We would not get much rain unless it travels west after Sunday.     

The problem with storms that have a lack of steering and are slow-moving is it can bring a tremendous amount of rain.  Our model shows 10 inches along the southern Louisiana coast through Sunday.  Notice how we don’t have a drop on this track.

Hurricane Names
August 11, 2011

This question came from one of our viewers.  If you’d like your question featured on the weather quiz, leave a response here. 

Names are repeated every six years unless it gets retired.  A storm’s name will not be reused if it causes significant damage or a significant amount of deaths and reusing the name would be insensitive to the area affected by the storm.  This year’s names were last used in the record-setting hurricane season of 2005.  The names retired that year were:


Dear Anthony,
I have a question about hurricane names.  I know that there was a hurricane in July 2005 named Emily that hit S. Texas.  My daughter is named after it.  We lived in Florida at the time and we were going to name her Elizabeth but when we heard that there was a storm named Emily, we changed her name.  We had just suffered through Hurricane Dennis in Panama City, Florida.  Is there a rule about reusing hurricane names?
Stephanie Sapp
Conroe, TX

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What The Cone Represents
July 29, 2011

According to a national study, most people believe that the cone represents where the winds from a tropical storm or hurricane will impact.  It actually represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone based on the errors of the past five years.  The National Hurricane Center plots where it thinks the storm will be in 12, 24, 36 hours etc. and places those dots on a map.

This image is of Tropical Storm Don on Friday morning.  The dots are the forecast from the NHC, but the cone represents the how far the center of the storm can be away from the forecast point.

Notice the circles in this image.  The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of the five-year historical forecast centers fall within the circle.  The red dots out of the track are the past position of Hurricane Danielle in 2010.  The cone is created by connecting the circles.  In the cone, you can see how the 12- and 24-hour forecasts were just a touch off.  The center of Danielle was faster and to the right of the circles, but still in the cone.  But the forecast was off big time four and five days out.  The center of the storm wasn’t anywhere near the cone because the storm went a lot faster than expected.  What I always tell people is the forecast cone is good three days out, but four or five days a lot can change.  Danielle is a good example of the 1/3 of the time being outside the forecast cone.

Where Is Tropical Storm Don Going?
July 28, 2011

Where is Tropical Storm Don going? Click the image below to see a video from 11:15 a.m. Thursday of what areas are potentially in its path and its possible impact on the Houston/Galveston area.

A Unprcedented Hurricane Season
November 8, 2010


As busy as this hurricane season has been with 12 hurricanes, the United States did not get one hit. That is unprecedented.  Since 1900, there has not been a hurricane season with 10 or more hurricanes without one striking the U.S.  This season two hurricanes struck Canada, there were two landfalls in Belize and one in Mexico, but not one in the United States.

 The weather patterns were favorable for us this year.  The Bermuda high was located further east than usual, low pressure over the East Coast steered storms away from the U.S and high pressure near Texas kept Alex in Mexico and other storms well south of the United States.


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Is Our Hurricane Season Over?
September 28, 2010


Click image to view Tuesday’s webcast:

Hurricane Dropsondes
September 14, 2010



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First Hurricane on Radar
September 8, 2010


Category 4 Audrey hit Cameron, Louisiana on June 27th and still holds the record as the strongest June hurricane.  At least 550 people died from the storm and some sued the U.S. Weather Bureau because they felt they weren’t warned properly.  The federal court ruled that the Weather Bureau did the best job they could based on the current science of what was known about hurricanes.  We’ve come a long way since in 60 years. 

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The Fujiwhara Effect
September 2, 2010

I’ve been getting this question a lot the last two weeks with all of the storms in the Atlantic Ocean.  The questions basically goes like this, “If two storms get too close together, will they form a super hurricane?”  The answer is no.

They will rotate around each other if both storms are of equal strength.  If one storm is stronger than the other, the weaker storm will continue to get weaker with the stronger storm having no effect.  It’s called the Fujiwhara Effect.  In 1921, Japanese meteorologist Sakuhi Fujiwhara was studying vortices in water and discovered that if two hurricanes get within 900 miles of each other, they will begin to rotate around each other. 

The most famous example is typhoons Ivan and Joan in the Pacific Ocean in 1997.  Ivan was steered to the west while Joan moved north.  Click image to see the video webcast we did on our morning show.

Most Hurricanes In Atlantic At Same Time
August 30, 2010

Four hurricanes occurred simultaneously on two occasions. The first occasion was Aug. 22, 1893. Storms were not named in the late 1800s. The second occurrence was Sept. 25, 1998, when Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl persisted into Sept. 27. In 1971 there were five tropical systems in the Atlantic, but no more than two hurricanes and three tropical storms at the same time.

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Hurricane Ike in Florida
August 25, 2010

Ike’s storm surge in Galveston was 10 to 14 feet and would have been about half that if it hit Florida.  Before the 2008 hurricane season storm surge was classified by the category of the storm. The problem was storm surge is dependent upon several factors:






The biggest reason Ike would have had a much lower storm surge is because the ocean is very deep in front of the Florida shoreline. The Gulf is very shallow before the shoreline. Because of these factors, the storm surge forecast is now kept separate from the category of the storm.

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Too Big A Goal?
August 24, 2010


This is an excellent goal, but the problem is there has been no progress with intensity forecasting for the last 15 to 20 years.  As the below graph shows, in the one to two day forecast, the intensity can be off one category stronger or weaker. Five to 10 percent of the time it can be off by two categories.  The key for intensity forecasting is the data and physics has to get better, and, until that happens, intensity forecasting will show no gains. 

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Better Hurricane Forecasting
August 23, 2010


This is great news! In fact, the NHC is now as accurate two days out as it was 24 hours out just 10 years ago.

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Hurricane Katrina & Rita
August 18, 2010


Both of these hurricanes caused severe damage to 320 million trees, more than any other recorded disaster in modern American history.  The satellite images from NOAA show the green vegetation before the storm (left image) and post-storm (right image) detailing the dead vegetation, wood and surface litter.  Two-thirds of the trees died soon after the storm.  The damage was caused initially by the extreme winds but it was exacerbated by standing salt water that in some cases lasted for weeks. 

Courtesy: NOAA                                                                                                                        East of New Orleans between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne

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Bolivar After Ike
July 30, 2010

Twenty feet is the 100-year floodplain, but this still may be too low.  Homes built above 20 feet survived Hurricane Ike, while every home at 19 feet and below was washed away on Bolivar.  Timothy Reinhold, chief engineer for the Institute for Business & Home Safety, says homes built on the shoreline should be 26 feet, the 500-year floodplain.  He believes Texas should follow Florida’s lead and enact building codes that exceed international residential codes.

Alan and Lynn Bunn’s home after Ike and June of 2010

Tropical Storm Bonnie
July 23, 2010

Bonnie will be entering the Gulf of Mexico Saturday and, because of its fast movement, will make land Sunday afternoon/night, most likely in Louisiana as a tropical storm.  Southeast Texas is in the cone, but, as you can see, all of the models have Bonnie hitting Louisiana or Mississippi.  Unless it travels on the left hand side of the cone, our effects should be minimal.  We’ll see a few more clouds Sunday and possibly some rain, but, because we’ll be on the dry or “clean” side of this storm, we’ll miss most of the action.  Watch the Bonnie webcast below for an in depth look at the storm and how it will affect the oil spill. 

Bonnie’s Effects on Us and the Oil Spill
July 23, 2010


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Tour of the Hurricane Center
July 12, 2010

Click on the picture to view the National Hurricane Center tour on Saturday, June 19.  Perfect timing! Frank and I got to see how the forecasters track and predict the path and intensity of Hurricane Alex. (It was a depression at the time.)

Frank and I with Hurricane Center Director Bill Read.  He used to be the Meteorologist in Charge at the Houston/Galveston office.  He’s really good man and it was a fascinating tour.

National Hurricane Center

Bonnie Is Next
July 5, 2010

While many of us took the weekend off to enjoy family and celebrate our country’s independence, the tropics kept brewing.  An area of thunderstorms is moving into the Gulf of Mexico and the early models have this in Texas Wednesday.  Almost all of the models have this becoming Tropical Storm Bonnie, but, because there isn’t a center of circulation, we shouldn’t put too much stock in where the future track is or how strong it will get.  Right now this doesn’t look like will intensify the way Alex did last week.  It is a large mass of rain with different low pressure areas trying to form at the same time — one at the surface and another in the upper levels of the atmosphere.  This system may run out of time organizing itself.  This is good because it will have a hard time becoming a hurricane.  Unless this takes a drastic turn to the right, I think we should at least expect a rainy and cloudy middle of the week with coastal flooding possible (maybe more.)  Keep up with the weather this week — a lot can change in a short amount of time.  For more details watch my Tracking the Tropics Webcast.

What’s Next In Tropics
July 2, 2010

We are watching a low pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico.  There is a very small chance that this could become a tropical storm, but, as we saw with Alex, if it can stay over the warm Gulf waters it can strengthen. We, of course, will watch this for you all weekend.

Our model that is exclusive to KPRC Local 2 shows the low on land bringing heavy rain into the mouth of the Mississippi River at about 3 p.m. Sunday.  A couple of other models show that rain here on Sunday.

A Big BP Problem!
June 29, 2010


This is a potential huge problem!  Most storms that track into the Gulf of Mexico don’t form far enough away to give five days notice.  Take Alex for example.  It formed Friday in the Caribbean and some of the initial models had it going right over the oil on Wednesday.  That’s five days but a shut down wasn’t called because of the uncertainty in the forecast.  What if those models had been correct?  The model forecast are good three days out, five days there is quite an error spread.  Let’s hope BP isn’t tested on this. 

If BP did have to tear down it would take an additional five days to get it back up and running.  That could mean 12 -15 days the oil keeps spilling with no one even trying to stop it. 

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How Alex Will Affect Us
June 29, 2010

As you can see, unless there is a dramatic change in the forecast, Alex will not make a direct hit on SE Texas.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t feel any affects.  A coastal flood watch is in effect with seas going up 6-9 feet.  Heavy rain will be the story for the greater Houston area.  We’ll receive 2-4″ through Thursday with some spots getting more and of course that means there is the potential for flooding. 

Alex should become a hurricane tonight and may make land as a category 2 storm.

How Far North Will This Storm Go?
June 28, 2010

The trend since Sunday has Alex tracking more north toward the Texas coastline.  Notice how most of the models are moving the storm into Texas.  With warm Gulf waters and low wind shear, Alex should become a category 2 or 3 hurricane by Wednesday making land Thursday.  Because of its compact size and track, oil recovery should not be interrupted.  However, because of the counterclockwise flow around a hurricane, we will see increased seas moving more oil toward the coastline.  Not good news. 

The closer Alex gets to us in southeast Texas, the more seas will increase along the coast. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.  A Texas landfall should bring  periods of heavy rain to us Wednesday and Thursday.  I’ve seen storms like this hit Brownsville and cause flooding in Houston because of the outer rain bands.  I hope everyone reading this has a plan and is prepared no matter what happens.  Please keep coming back to the blog and watch me in the morning and Frank in the afternoon for the latest developments. 

Hurricane Giveaway
June 1, 2010

To help get you prepared for this hurricane season we’re giving away this Energizer emergency battery kit.  If you win you’ll get a flashlight, battery-powered radio, cell phone charger and extra batteries.  Even if you don’t win, you should be prepared for a power outage with one flashlight per person in the family and additional batteries.  Don’t use candles, approximately 15,000 house fires are caused by candles. In 2008 many residents were without power for a few days to several weeks because of Hurricane Ike.  To win the kit simply respond to this post with a way your family prepares for the hurricane season or something you’d like to do different to make sure you are ready for any storm.   

Hurricane History
November 9, 2009


I’ve received a lot of questions asking how rare it is to get a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this late in hurricane season. I researched the past 50 years and found three storms that made it into the Gulf in November. In 1961, Hurricane Inga hung around in the Bay of Campeche before dying out. In 1980, Hurricane Jeanne almost made it to Brownsville, but with the cooler water temperatures the Gulf of Mexico has this time of year, the storm fell apart before hitting Texas. The last time a hurricane hit a Gulf Coast state was in 1985. Hurricane Kate entered as a category 3 storm and weakened to a cat 1 before making land in the Florida Panhandle. Ida is expected to hit close to where Kate hit 24 years ago.

The Decade’s Strongest Hurricane
September 23, 2009


This collection of images featuring the strongest hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon from any ocean during each year of the past decade includes storms both famous—or infamous—and obscure.

Of the decade’s most powerful storms, two were in the Atlantic/Caribbean basin, five were in the Pacific north of the equator, and three were in the South Pacific.  This is a satellite image of Damrey:


Storm Date of image Maximum Wind Speed km/h (mph) Minimum Pressure millibars Basin
Damrey May 9, 2000 290 (180) 878 Western Pacific
Faxai December 22, 2001 290 (180) 915 Western Pacific
Zoe December 28, 2002 285 (177) 890 South Pacific
Maemi September 10, 2003 280 (174) 910 Western Pacific
Chaba August 23, 2004 290 (180) 879 Western Pacific
Wilma October 18, 2005 295 (183) 882 Atlantic/Caribbean
Monica April 24, 2006 285 (177) 905 South Pacific
Dean August 18, 2007 280 (174) 907 Atlantic/Caribbean
Jangmi September 27, 2008 260 (162) 905 Western Pacific
Hamish March 8, 2009 240 (149) 925 South Pacific


Never heard of Damrey?  There is a reason, it didn’t make land, it harmlessly wandered in the Pacific Ocean. 

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