Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather"

With all of the hard work and lack of sleep this week, I was delighted to find this on my Twitter feed earlier today:

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I appreciate all of the people who have read Warnings during Hurricane Florence!!
Written like a novel (but all true), my book has a 5-Star rating from both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

If you have benefitted from or enjoyed the hurricane coverage this past week, I'd really appreciate it if you would pick up a copy. You will be glad you did. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

We Need A Moment of Nature's Beauty

After all of the death and destruction of the last week, here is a photo that is exhibits the beauty of nature.
Peak One, Breckenridge, Colorado
Mark Smith, Taken This Morning

How Bad or Good Were The Forecasts for Florence?

Charlotte Observer
The quick bottom line as to the quality of the forecasts of Hurricane Florence presented on this blog:
  • The forecast location of landfall of the eye of Florence was extraordinary. Incredibly good; a major step forward for weather science.
  • The forecast of the record flooding rains. Again, excellent.
  • The forecast of maximum wind speeds was "fair." Yes, it was a significant hurricane but the initial wind speed forecasts were too high. 
  • The forecast location and magnitude of the storm surge forecasts were good to very good. 
So far there have been seventeen reported deaths and "900 lives saved" due to rescues. The latter suggests the evacuation orders and the forecasts were not as effective as they should have been.

It also suggests that, without good forecasts, the number of deaths could have been 1,000 or more!!

Now, the details. 

Landfall Location
Here is the Sunday forecast of landfall presented on this blog. In this case, it is the NHC forecast. 
That is essentially a perfect forecast except that it was about six hours early. I was essentially using their forecasts with some slight damping out of changes due to model overcorrections at times.

There is a 15+ year old estimate that each mile of coast under a hurricane warning costs $1 million  (doesn't account for inflation). So, if a hurricane warning takes up 50 miles of coast, the preparation cost is $50,000,000. The actual hurricane warning was small enough that perhaps a $100,000,000 in unnecessary precaution costs were averted compared to the width of the hurricane for a similar storm 20 years ago. Please see my post, The 700,000,000 Forecast, for more on this topic.

Flooding Rains
On Sunday afternoon, I posted the item below forecasting record rain and flooding. I was sticking my neck way out but I wanted to give my readers time to prepare. Nearly ten thousand read it. 

Here is the forecast presented on this blog Sunday morning (9th):

Here is the actual rainfall. I've marked the 5" (dark orange) so you can directly compare it to the map
above. I believe you will agree the match is excellent, especially four days in advance of the beginning of Florence's rains. The forecasts got better from here. 

The flooding has been extreme. Below is an image of Interstate 40 taken earlier this afternoon. 

Florence's Wind Speeds
Here is the forecast I posted Monday.

Here is Tuesday's wind speed forecast. I revised it down but not enough. 

Here is the forecast I posted Thursday (day before landfall) that was quite good. There was a 119 mph wind gust reported right off the coast. 

Here is an analysis of the actual wind gusts from Florence.
You can compare this to the wind gust forecasts (above).

Florence weakened more quickly than expected which accounts for the overforecast of wind speeds. Wind speed forecasting is the weakest part of meteorology's forecast abilities when it comes to hurricanes.

Storm Surge
Preliminary indications are that the storm surge forecasts were good. The USGS and NOAA are out measuring that now.

Weather science has done an amazing job the last 15 years when it comes to improving both the accuracy the utility of storm warnings. The beneficiary is the people of the United States and our economy.

ADDITION: My friend, Dr. Bill Hooke, wrote about this same topic on his blog this morning. It is here

Hurricane Florence Total Rainfall - Updated

Here is the rainfall from Florence. The rain has ended in the Carolinas.

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Global Warming: Is There Anything It Can't Do? XXXVI

Okay, then.

Turn Around, Don't Drown

I'm very glad the truck diver is okay. Yet another case of driving into floodwaters and the pavement being undermined.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Memo to My Readers

This concludes the coverage of Hurricane Florence and 
subsequent flooding. 

Because of the historic nature of this storm, I will keep my coverage on the blog for the rest of its history in case it might be useful to some researcher.

I will also, tomorrow or Tuesday, write a post comparing the accuracy of the forecasts versus what actually occurred.

Hurricane Fran: Is 'Price Gouging' A Good Thing?

Here is a point of view you probably will not read elsewhere:

A state law that forbids pricing based on conditions on the ground — and backs that up with threats of fines and being taken to court! — makes it harder to bring in fresh supplies after that same state law helps us run out of existing supplies.
But what about people being “taken advantage of”?
The thing is, when the government dictates prices to prevent consumers from being “taken advantage of” by higher prices during a natural disaster, it’s telling suppliers they’re going to be taken advantage of. Laws against “price gouging” are laws that tell suppliers they can’t break even.
I urge you to read the entire article.

Florence Flooding: The Rains Aren't Over Yet!

As of 10:45am Sunday, heavy rains will continue falling for another 18-36 hours. 

Here is the flash flood forecast from now through 8am tomorrow morning. 80% of all flash flood deaths occur in "high risk" areas.

And, from 8am Monday to 8am Tuesday.

Addition as of 11:10am:
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Per a bulletin from the NWS, the area outlined will experience extreme rainfall during the next six hours. As much as eight inches in spots is not out of the question.

Waters are still rising in many areas. Here are my safety suggestions:
  • Put together a "go kit" with passports, current utility bill (to establish residence), birth certificates, family heirlooms and other vital and difficult to replace material so you can leave at a moment's notice.
  • Be able to shut off gas and water to your home at a moment's notice. 
  • Keep your car filled with gas. 
  • If you are in a flash flood warning, climb first rather than than just driving away.
  • Turn around, don't drown! Do not try to drive through flooded areas. 
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, evacuate now. 
  • There will be mudslides in/near the mountains and foothills
Please evacuate if ordered to do so. 

Now, the meteorological details:

Regional radar at 10:30am.
Yellow is heavy rains. Red is torrential rain. Bright green polygons are flash flood warnings. Note the heavy rains and warnings now extend into western North Carolina.

Here is a forecast of additional rainfall for the next 48 hours. The dark browns are more than ten inch amounts. Please note the ten inch amounts extend into the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia
where landslides and flash flooding will occur.

Below is a map of how much rain has fallen as of 8am this morning.

So, this continues to be a record situation with unprecedented flooding in many areas. Some of the larger rivers will be in flood for another week or more.

Finally, if you believe you can "get away with" driving through a flooded area, I urge you to watch this video.

Saturday, September 15, 2018