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August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene Morning Update (tmi3rd)

Good morning, Morons. As before, I'm tmi3rd, and we're live at Moron Central's Weather Desk, which this morning means hanging out with tmi4th and having just changed the overnight Diaper Of Doom.

So let's get you up to date with this morning's advisory and some other little tidbits of info. More below the fold...


POBrienHurricane.jpg

I figured we'd start with a Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter... the good kind of hurricane.

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

4 ounces dark rum

4 ounces passion fruit syrup

Crushed ice

Orange slice

1 maraschino cherry

In a cocktail shaker, add lemon juice, rum, passion fruit syrup, and crushed ice; shake vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes and then strain into a tall glass or hurricane glass. Garnish with orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Makes 1 serving. (from homebakedmemories.com)

Now to the actual storm...

5-day.gif

Via wunderground.com, that's your tracking map and its 5-day forecast. Next advisory is at 11 AM EDT (so by the time this gets up, we'll have a new advisory to talk about), but let's talk about what we've got.

Motion right now is due north at 12 mph. The storm, no longer being beaten up by the Bahamas, should undergo some decent strengthening and is anticipated to be a borderline Category 3 storm by the time it makes landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina sometime in the next 36 hours.

At the moment, the figuring is that it will hit somewhere in New England within 60 hours, and where exactly is a good question.

Note that this is WILDLY different than last night, where we were assuming it would go ashore at Wilmington, NC. So why the rather sizable change in forecast?

warning.jpg

We get now into the nitty-gritty of modeling now, and you can point some of this stuff out to your neighborhood AGW zealots, too. The computer models used to predict our daily weather use very long mathematical equations called algorithms. For example, one that is on display at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, is two pages long of single-spaced eight-point type, and every character is a variable. Every variable is a correction. If you have two pages of corrections, you're necessarily going to have a large margin for error.

So what? Well, what that means is that within twenty-four hours, we have a fairly good idea of what stuff should do, but it doesn't even always get that right. Forty-eight hours out, it gets sketchier, seventy-two hours out, we're still reasonably confident, and beyond that, it's educated guesswork.

Now, the meteorologists in the US are as good as you're going to find anywhere on Earth. Getting a BS in meteorology is brutal, and is essentially a degree in engineering with an atmospheric emphasis. That said, they can only work with the tools they're given. Computer modeling doesn't have the resolution to differentiate between ocean and land (unless the land is a mountain), and there are different models used for tropical weather, winter weather, et cetera... the forecast track you see on TV or even in the above model is a weighted average and best guess based on the specific emphasis of several individual models (one will be a tropical model, another one a global model, a third an East Coast-specific model, and so forth).

So is it BS? No, not at all- it's just limited by our ability to describe these interactions mathematically, and there are large gaps in our knowledge. With what the weather guys know, they do a pretty credible job. That said, it's actually much easier to figure out what a storm will do once it's actually interacted with land. Then, you can use local models that are higher-resolution and more specific to that neck of the woods.

Now, let's remember that the discussion of landfall means the interaction of the center of circulation with land. This storm is enormous, as the satellite shot shows...

Irene sat.jpg

Basically, if you're anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard from Chesapeake Bay
north through the Canadian Maritimes, you're going to see something from the storm. The figuring now is that the center of circulation will go ashore somewhere near where NJ, NY, and CT meet up. This is, of course, not good news for anyone in that area.

That is, of course, subject to change, so let's do our Daddy-told-you reminders...

1) If you're leaning toward leaving, go early. Don't wait. Traffic will SUCK- ask any of us from the Gulf Coast what evacuation traffic is like. You can always come back if and when the storm doesn't do what we tell it to do.

2) Don't forget your pets, your folks, bring cash, gas up the car, bring extra non-perishable food, bring medications, and prepare for being gone as much as a week. It usually doesn't work that way, but...

Oh yeah- if you're getting out, do an idiot check to make sure all your appliances are turned off. We had a number of fires post-Katrina from appliances cutting loose.

That's it for the moment. The new advisory should be out momentarily, of course, and we'll try to keep you updated from the Moron Central Weather Desk.

Everyone stay safe!

-tmi3rd

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