Ian Update September 27

September 27, 2022

Report from Tampa Bay TV station with latest track and update.

It’s not great. Still forecast to slow to a crawl as it transitions onto wherever it makes landfall, enhancing rain impact while piling up storm surge at the coast.

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Andrea Dutton and Michael Mann in Tampa Bay Times, Nov. 12, 2019:

The Florida peninsula bravely occupies the space between the warm, salty Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Stream. On one hand, the warm waters offshore are responsible for the humid and verdant environment that Florida enjoys (it sits at latitudes more commonly associated with deserts). On the other hand, Florida’s geography leaves it vulnerable to attack by hurricanes from either side.

In October 2018 Hurricane Michael veered north of Tampa Bay but left a swath of devastation through the Florida panhandle, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States in decades and the latest ever in the season to landfall as a Cat 5. Earlier this year, Florida fell squarely in the uncertainty cone of Dorian, tied for the strongest-ever Atlantic hurricane to make landfall. Fortunately for Florida, the storm missed the peninsula once again. Another bullet dodged.

But as storms intensify with global warming, dangerous storms are not a matter of “if” but “when.” Two years ago, one of us (Michael) lectured in the historic town of New Bern, N.C., warning residents it was just a matter of time before they experienced their “Katrina.” Fatefully, less than a year later the church he spoke in was submerged by the storm surge of Hurricane Florence — another storm supercharged by climate change.

Tampa Bay has dodged multiple bullets in recent years — major hurricanes headed its way that ultimately weakened or swerved away. Its low topography combined with relentlessly rising sea levels, more frequent major hurricanes and vulnerable infrastructure, nonetheless make Tampa Bay a sitting duck, ever more vulnerable to deadly storm surges like those that swept over coastal North Carolina with Florence and the Bahamas with Dorian.

Our warming planet is creating a perfect storm for tropical storms. Heated oceans intensify hurricanes into Cat 5 monsters. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, yielding heavier rainfall. Stronger winds create stronger storm surge, combining with inland rainfall to yield catastrophic “compound flooding.” These trends will only worsen if we continue to burn fossil fuels and generate carbon pollution.

Some claim we can “just adapt.” But after viewing pictures in the Bahamas post-Dorian, where building codes are far stricter than ours, one wonders how the infrastructure in Florida will hold up.

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Multiple red flags when scientists with a track record of climate denial, who do not work in the climate field, publish a contrarian article in a little known journal. The technique is then for the climate denial media machine to “stove pipe” the bogus “study” to the top of the media food chain. In this case, Australian Broadcasting’s “Media Watch” was sharp enough to call it out.

Guardian:

The climate science denial echo-chamber has been loud and proud this week with claims a new “international study” has found no evidence of a climate emergency in records of extreme weather.

So impressed was the Australian with the work that it ran uncritical coverage on page one and page two.

Using algorithm-friendly headlines such as “Report finds ‘no evidence’ of a climate emergency”, Sky News Australia has amassed more than 400,000 views on YouTube across two segments on the story.

Yet a closer look at the publication, which appeared nine months ago in the European Physical Journal Plus – a journal not known for climate studies – reveals something very different.

The authors – three Italian physicists and an agricultural meteorologist – did little original work, but instead reviewed selected papers from other scientists. This was an article, not a study. 

Climate scientists told Temperature Check the work was selective and had misinterpreted the results of some studies, while leaving others out. 

But why is the article getting coverage now, when it appeared in the journal in January?

It was highlighted last week in online outlets known for publishing stories promoting climate denial. One UK-based climate sceptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, included the article in its Net Zero Watch newsletter.

The report in the Australian, from the environment editor, Graham Lloyd, described the article as a “long-term analysis of heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and ecosystem productivity” which had found “no clear positive trend of extreme events”.

Dr Greg Holland, an emeritus senior scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, has coordinated several reviews of extreme weather.

He told Temperature Check the journal article “appears to have taken the predefined view that there has been no change – and then selected evidence to show this”.

Tampa Bay weather cast has some good takes on Ian’s possible path.

Key: as the steering winds are expected to break down as the storm moves up Florida’s west coast, meaning the storm’s motions become unpredictable and random.
Landfall south of Tampa Bay will mean winds blowing offshore, from the northeast – huge differential if the storm hangs offshore or comes ashore north of Tampa, which will drive winds right into the mouth of the bay and bring huge, possibly lengthy, storm surge.

Latest Track for #Ian

September 26, 2022

My 2019 conversation with Jeff Masters is relevant today. We talked about rapid intensification of storms, something scientists are seeing more of.

New York Times:

Not only do warmer oceans make storms stronger, they make the rate of intensification more rapid, said Kerry A. Emanuel, a meteorologist and hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rapid intensification technically refers to an increase of at least 30 knots, or 35 m.p.h., in the maximum sustained winds over a 24-hour period, according to the National Hurricane Center. Researchers have found that the likelihood of a hurricane undergoing rapid intensification has increased to 5 percent from 1 percent since the 1980s.

 number of the last decade’s most intense Atlantic storms intensified rapidly. Harvey in 2017 was a Category 1 hurricane on the evening of Aug. 24; by the next day, when the storm reached Texas, it was a Category 4 hurricane with 130 m.p.h winds. And later that hurricane season, Maria intensified from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane within just 15 hours.

In 2021, Hurricane Ida strengthened from a Category 1 with 85 m.p.h. winds into a near-Category 5 hurricane with 150 m.p.h winds less than 24 hours later.

Dr. Emanuel said on Monday morning that current conditions were “ideal” for Ian to follow a similar path of development.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson for Yale Climate Connections:

Rapidly strengthening on Monday, Hurricane Ian is on track to slam into western Cuba early Tuesday morning, most likely as a major hurricane, before taking a complex and potentially devastating course along the Florida Gulf Coast. Whether or not Ian comes ashore on Florida’s west coast, the Tampa Bay area – which has not seen a major hurricane in more than a century – is facing one of its most dangerous hurricane threats in decades. People along Florida’s west coast need to take Ian with the utmost seriousness and consult local authorities for evacuation orders that could be extended quickly based on Ian’s progress.

At 2 p.m. EDT Monday, category 1 Ian was 120 miles west-northwest of Grand Cayman, with top winds of 85 mph, headed north-northwest at 13 mph. Ian was bringing heavy rain showers to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and much of Cuba, as seen on Cayman Islands radar. The eyewall of Ian missed the Cayman Islands, and the peak winds observed at Grand Cayman on Monday morning were sustained at 28 mph, gusting to 44 mph.

Satellite imagery early Monday afternoon showed the symmetry, organization, and intensity of the storm’s heavy thunderstorms steadily increasing, and Ian had the look of a storm well on its way to becoming a major hurricane. Rainbands were already moving into South Florida on Monday afternoon.

Track forecast for Ian

Ian’s track will be fairly straightforward through Tuesday. The storm will move over or near the western end of Cuba early Tuesday, predicted by NHC to be a major hurricane at that point (see below). Havana will be on the stronger right-hand side of Ian: the city is very likely to experience tropical-storm-force sustained winds of 40 to 60 mph, and hurricane-strength winds are possible if Ian shifts just to the right or is larger than expected by Tuesday. Major impacts can be expected across far western Cuba, including 6 to 10 inches of rain along Ian’s path and storm-surge inundation of 9 to 14 feet on Cuba’s southwest coast near and just east of Ian’s track.

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Tampa in Ian’s Crosshairs

September 26, 2022

Surge heights from CERA (Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment)

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We’ve seen “stalling” behavior in several recent storms that caused massive damages in the Atlantic basin. This behavior might be related to slower moving jet stream systems, which many scientists link to melting arctic ice and climate change in general.

Recent examples include Harvey in 2017, which settled over Houston for several days, dropping in some cases 5 feet of rain, as well as 2018’s Florence in the Carolinas, and Dorian in 2019, which maintained Cat 5 strength while sitting on top of the Bahamas for almost 2 days.

It was the topic of my video from 2019.

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