Bill intensifies to Category 4; globe has 5th warmest July on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 03:28 PM GMT on Αύγουστος 19, 2009

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Category 4 Hurricane Bill is now the the fourth strongest tropical cyclone to appear on the planet so far this year, and may grow even stronger. Visible and infrared satellite imagery continue to show an impressive, well-organized, hurricane, with plenty of low-level spiral banding and upper-level outflow well-established on all sides except the west. On Bill's west side, upper-level winds from the west are creating a modest 10 knots of wind shear, which is giving the hurricane a bit of a squashed appearance there.

Wind shear is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5-15 knots, for the next four days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will rise steadily from 28.5°C today to 29°C on Friday. Total ocean heat content is at a maximum today, and will gradually decline over the next four days. Bill should be able to take advantage of these favorable conditions a remain a major hurricane the next three days.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

Water vapor satellite loops show a small "short-wave" trough of low pressure to the north-northwest of Bill, and this trough has turned Bill on a more northwesterly track over the past two days. Bill will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands, and the main impact of the hurricane on these islands will be high waves. The short wave trough (so called because it has a relatively small amplitude and wavelength) is not strong enough to turn Bill due north, and Bill is also expected to miss Bermuda. High waves and sustained winds of 20 - 30 mph are the worst that Bermuda is likely to get from Bill.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Bill's eye zoomed in, taken from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

An unusually strong "long wave" trough of low pressure (called long wave because of its large amplitude and wavelength) is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week. This trough will turn Bill to the north, and also bring high levels of wind shear in the 40 - 65 knot range on Sunday. Exactly where this turn occurs is still not clear. The models continue to be in two camps: an eastern camp (GFS, GFDL, HWRF, and ECMWF) that takes Bill 300 - 500 miles east of Cape Cod, and a more western camp (NOGAPS, UKMET) that bring Bill within 150 - 200 miles of Cape Cod. Both sets of models bring Bill ashore over the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Bill will be weakening rapidly as it makes landfall, and is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane if it hits Nova Scotia, or strong tropical storm if it hits Newfoundland.

Bill's big waves
Large swells from Bill will begin impacting the U.S. East coast from Florida to Maine beginning Friday night or Saturday morning. Seas will build to 5 - 10 feet in the offshore waters from central Florida northwards to South Carolina, and to 10 - 15 feet from North Carolina to Cape Cod. Near shore, waves will be about 40% less. This will cause a significant coastal erosion event along some portions of the coast. The latest run of the NOAA Wavewatch III model suggests that significant wave heights near Bill's center will reach 50 feet on Sunday. Since maximum wave height is typically about a factor of 1.9 greater than the significant wave height (which is the average trough-to-crest height of the top 1/3 largest waves), a few huge waves near Bill's center may reach 95 feet high.

Possible impacts to New England
The current set of computer model runs predicts that the center of Bill will pass Cape Cod, Massachusetts Sunday afternoon or evening. Tropical storm-force sustained winds of 39 mph or greater currently extend out 185 miles to the west of Bill's center, so that if Bill maintains its current wind distribution, Cape Cod could see sustained winds of about 40 mph Sunday night if the models predicting a more westerly path are correct. However, Bill will not keep this same radius of winds. The hurricane will weaken considerably beginning Sunday morning, once the storm gets caught up in the approaching long wave trough. High wind shear of 40 - 65 knots due to strong southwesterly winds aloft will act to compress the hurricane in the east-west direction, keeping the hurricane's strongest winds away from Cape Cod. The highest winds are likely to be no more than 30 mph on Cape Cod from Bill, if the storm follows the track of the western camp of models nearest to the Massachusetts. A few rain squalls may affect coastal Massachusetts, but the main impact of Bill on New England is likely to be coastal erosion from high waves.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The remains of Tropical Storm Ana are bringing scattered heavy rain showers to the Bahamas and Florida today. The remains are disorganized, and are not likely to re-develop. The only model calling for a new tropical cyclone to develop in the Atlantic over the next seven days is the GFS model, which predicts development off the coast of Africa about 7 days from now.

Fifth warmest July on record globally; a cold July in the U.S.
The globe recorded its fifth warmest July since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. NOAA rated the period January - July 2009 as the sixth warmest such period on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated July 2009 as the 2nd warmest July on record, behind July of 1998. For the second month in a row, global ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in July were the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average. This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The record July SSTs were due in part to an ongoing El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific, which has substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. As El Niño conditions mature during the coming months, near-record global ocean and land temperatures will probably continue. Now that El Niño conditions have been well-established for three months, the atmosphere has begun to heat up in response. It typically takes up to seven months for the atmosphere to heat up in response to ocean heating from an El Niño. This may explain why June of 2009, which independent assessments by NOAA, NASA, and the UK Hadley center agreed was the 2nd or 3rd warmest June on record at the surface, recorded only average satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere. In contrast, the July satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere were the 2nd or 3rd warmest on record, in agreement with the assessments that surface temperatures were the 2nd to 5th warmest on record.


Figure 3. Departure of temperature from average for July 2009. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

A cold July for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., the average July temperature of 23.1°C (73.5°F) was the coolest since 1994, and July temperatures were the 27th coolest in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and West Virginia experienced their coolest ever July. Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin recorded their second coolest July in history. A strong trough of low pressure parked itself over the eastern portion of the U.S. in July, funneling down plenty of cold air from Canada. In the western U.S., a ridge of high pressure dominated, bringing unusually hot conditions. Arizona recorded its 3rd warmest July on record, and Seattle, Washington recorded its hottest day in history on July 28, notching a 103°F reading. This was 3°F above the previous record set in 1994.

U.S. precipitation was near average in July, with the month ranking 40th wettest in the 115-year record. U.S. tornado activity was above average in July, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. However, no tornado deaths occurred in July.

At the end of July, 14% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. These extreme drought regions were exclusively in South and Central Texas.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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he missed the box...but close
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1372. Relix
Any models for the new wave?
Member Since: Αύγουστος 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2741
Bill looks like a buzz saw with that green patch of dry air...

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Quoting rarepearldesign:


I am from NS ...
Thanks. Just musing while lurking.
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Cantori Cam...pathetic
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1368. jdjnola
Quoting prtr4192:
sure looks like he will hit the box


Impossible! He would have to turn south.
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1367. snotly
The Ridge = Kill Bill vol 2. (I was only thinking that cause I was watching it on Spike TV tonight, that and 'Cantori Cam' on TWC)
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From the latest graphics and computer models,getting scary closer to New York..
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1364. Patrap
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Quoting PortABeachBum:
I admit to naivety but maybe one of these Canadians can enlighten me, What if any effect does storm surge have on the Bay of Fundy? I would think that with a long reach, maybe little. But then maybe there is an amplifying factor!


I am from NS and I don't know the answer to this. I guess it would depend on the tide. If it's low when the surge hits it likely would do nothing given in rises so much between tides.

If it's high when the surge hits, I am guessing serious erosion, flooding in many coastal communities, etc.

I know the the tropical storm we got last year was weak compared to this and it created a mess from the weak trees from Juan, and flooding of the beaches.
Member Since: Αύγουστος 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 145
1362. 7544
Quoting prtr4192:
sure looks like he will hit the box


getting closer
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I Live in Boston and I still think somehow Bill will hit us. I really hope not. We are just overdue.
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From 8 p.m. Discussion:
...TROPICAL WAVES...
A TROPICAL WAVE IS APPROACHING THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS EXTENDING FROM 15N22W TO 9N19W MOVING W NEAR 10 KT. THIS WAVE COINCIDES WITH A DEEP LAYER MOISTURE MAXIMUM OBSERVED IN TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY. SATELLITE DERIVED WINDS ALSO INDICATE LOW/MID-LEVEL CYCLONIC FLOW IN THE VICINITY OF THE WAVE AXIS. NO DEEP CONVECTION IS CURRENTLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE WAVE.

A TROPICAL WAVE EXTENDS FROM 15N46W TO 8N43W MOVING W NEAR 20 KT. THIS WAVE COINCIDES WITH A DEEP LAYER MOISTURE MAXIMUM OBSERVED IN TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY. SATELLITE IMAGERY INDICATES AN INVERTED-V STRUCTURE IN THE LOW-LEVEL CLOUDS. SATELLITE DERIVED WINDS ALSO INDICATE CYCLONIC TURNING IN THE VICINITY OF THE WAVE AXIS. A DRY SAHARAN AIR LAYER LIES TO THE E OF THE WAVE AXIS INHIBITING ANY DEEP CONVECTION.

I'm not seeing either of these.

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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Where is this 939 mb coming from? The vortex data message says 946 on nhc site.


Came from the HDOB data. Looks to be a suspect reading as they were going thru the eyewall into the eye. They were into the eye 1 1/2 minutes later, with the 946 measurement.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
Well, I am out for the night.

Folks in Bermuda, will be watching with you.

Folks in New York, and New England..
St.Simons is likely correct, but you might as well consider this a shake down cruise and prepare.

Canada - 6 days out - things can change, but it does look like you are on the hot plate. You may want to check Patrap's blog for preparation tips.
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sure looks like he will hit the box
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1356. Patrap
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1355. Patrap
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Looked like another wnw jog just now(or maybe 16 hours of watching this screen is giving me nystagmus)
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1353. Ossqss
1343, growing up in the north, I never put my stinky shoes under the bed. LoL J/K

1344 -- post 1309 recon info. I have not seen anything to back it up yet

L8R
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Evening all..how are things tonight? Is Patrap on tonight? Would like his take on things if possible...
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1350. amd
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Where is this 939 mb coming from? The vortex data message says 946 on nhc site.


there was a 939 mb reading estimated by the noaa plane, but flight winds were from the east at 55 knots and the plane was lowering its altitude. So, the measurement was probably an error.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
scCane

Nope :)

Pretty cocky for someone so close to Fl. Now, if you were from Vidalia or somewhere like that...
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I saw that the GFDL model shifted slightly to the West on the 5:00pm update. It is now a little closer to the NGFDL, UKMET and NOGAPS forecast.

Incidently... although the GFDL is being updated, they are having a few problems at the ol' office. Hopefully their model doesn't choose THIS critical time to stop updating!
The following is a quote from their site this afternoon:

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Operating Status in Princeton, NJ
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Due to a power interruption on Tuesday, GFDL continues to be closed
to all non-essential personnel. At the present time, there is no air
conditioning for the main building, but occupants wishing to
retrieve belongings from the building will be given brief access by
Operations through the rear entrance.

We are currently working to restore the environment to the Computer
Building, after which selected IT services will gradually be brought
back on line. The HPCS remains down.
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I admit to naivety but maybe one of these Canadians can enlighten me, What if any effect does storm surge have on the Bay of Fundy? I would think that with a long reach, maybe little. But then maybe there is an amplifying factor!
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


I had no idea what it meant, but when you said it didn't work for a blog, I thought you were mad. Anyway, there's no ill intent so I'm dropping it :)
LOL. Gotta love it. No ill intent meant. Anyways, that was what I meant 'from your keyboard to God's eyes'. Figured that worked for a blog
St.Simon, one of the things you will hear around the lowcountry is that someone will 'put their shoes up under the bed' meaning put their shoes away under the bed. I used to say that sort of thing all the time, till someone from New England asked me what the heck I was talking about. Well.. I guess being from New England he did not say heck - that is probably a southern thing too?
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1341. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
** WTPQ20 BABJ 200000 ***
SUBJECTIVE FORECAST
STY VAMCO 0910 (0910) INITIAL TIME 200000 UTC
00HR 18.6N 157.3E 940HPA 48M/S

95 knots (10 min avg) from China Meteorological Administration and is titled Super Typhoon Vamco
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Are you on 456?
Member Since: Ιούνιος 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
1339. Ossqss
939, we are moving down the chart some. Please note, I did not make this :)

reference to post 1309 recon info

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Interesting area of showers just north of Costa Rica. Diminishing at the moment. Is that what models are developing?
Member Since: Ιούνιος 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
Quoting reedzone:


This is just my forecast man, it can still curve out to sea and effect no one.


True, and trust me, where I live and own property here I am truly not wish casting....but...I have a gut feeling you are right, I've been watching it since it was a wave off Africa too.

I am just not sure how to read the models to figure out if it does land in say Halifax area, what it's strength, speed, and duration would be at that time.
Member Since: Αύγουστος 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 145
1336. scCane
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Both Carols are too far north and too far east, presslord :) Georgia is where the REAL south begins :)
Take that back!
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I'm gonna watch a movie, bbl for new info on Bill.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
HURRICANE BILL IS FORECAST TO REMAIN E OF THE U.S. EAST COAST
SAT INTO SUN. A SIGNIFICANT LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL IMPACT THE
REGION FROM BILL LATE THIS WEEK INTO THE WEEKEND. LATEST WAVE DATA
FROM BOTH REGULAR WAVEWATCH AND HURRICANE VERSION OF THE WAVEWATCH
INDICATES SWELLS APPROACHING 15 FT OFF THE OBX LATER SAT. GIVEN
LONG PERIOD ASSOC WITH THESE SWELLS THEY WILL HAVE LOTS OF ENERGY
AND WILL LIKELY LEAD TO BEACH EROSION AND PROB SOME
OVERWASH/COASTAL FLOODING PROBLEMS MAINLY SAT INTO SUNDAY. HIGH
SURF AND POSS CSTL FLOOD WATCH/WARNINGS MAY BE NEEDED LATER TO
COVER THESE THREATS. OTHERWISE...NO DIRECT IMPACTS ARE CURRENTLY
EXPECTED FROM BILL. GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTY IN LONG RANGE FORECASTS
IT IS STILL SUGGESTED THAT THOSE WITH INTERESTS IN THE AREA KEEP A
CLOSE EYE ON BILL.
-- End Changed Discussion --

.MARINE...
-- Changed Discussion --
AS OF 220 PM WED...BERMUDA HIGH AND FRONT STALLED TO N WILL KEEP
S-SW WINDS AT 10-15 KTS NEXT FEW DAYS...PERSISTING INTO WEEKEND AS
HIGH PRES WEAKENS BUT FRONT MOVES IN FROM W SUNDAY. CURRENTLY
S/SW 5-15 KT AND SEAS AROUND 2 FT. EXPECT TO SEE BRIEF SURGE NORTH
OF OCRACOKE OVERNIGHT S/SW 15 TO 20 KT.

MAIN FCST ISSUE WILL BE INCREASING LONG PERIOD SE SWELL
DEVELOPING THU NIGHT AND CONTINUING THROUGH WEEKEND. WV WATCH DATA
INDICATES MAX HEIGHTS AT 41025 OF 14 FT AND 16 SECOND PERIOD
AROUND 00Z SAT NIGHT. HURRICANE VERSION A FOOT OR SO HIGHER. UPPED
SEAS ABOUT A FOOT FROM PREVIOUS FORECAST BASED ON MODEL AGREEMENT
AND CONSISTENCY. SEAS WILL RESULT IN SCA CONDITIONS ALL OUTER
WATERS OVER WEEKEND...AND IMPACT BEACHES WITH HIGH SURF...BEACH
EROSION...POSSIBLE OVERWASH AND HIGH THREAT OF RIP CURRENTS. TOO
SOON FOR WATCHES AND ADVISORIES BUT THREAT WILL BE PLAYED UP IN
HWO...EXPECT COASTAL FLOOD WATCH TO BE ISSUED EARLY THURSDAY.

.RIP CURRENTS...A HIGH THREAT OF RIP CURRENTS IS INEVITABLE LATER
THIS WEEK AND LASTING INTO THE WEEKEND WITH THE LONG PERIOD
SOUTHEAST SWELL...RESULTING IN DANGEROUS SWIMMING CONDITIONS ALONG
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Been outta pocket for some time this year....does anyone know where Nash is....we need his spunk in all this junk!! :)
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Quoting rarepearldesign:


Nooooooo!!!!

I am come to an agreement with my thoughts. We are going to get walloped here in Halifax.

However, what I am curious about is the strength, speed, and duration along the atlantic coast. I live 3 km's from the ocean.


This is just my forecast man, it can still curve out to sea and effect no one.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
1329. GatorWX
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
My mouth to god's ear? I didn't bring anything up like that, I was just talking about the unlikelyhood of a serious New England impact from Bill. What is this God's ear stuff coming from?


Hello my Georgia neighbor! I just realized that you're one of the oldest faces on the blog (as in membership, not age!). I remember seeing you around back in at least '06. I know there are a few others, but just thought I'd bring it up.
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1327. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Acemmett90:

wtf jeez who gave bill roids
a cat 5 he will be the first for 09 season
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Quoting reedzone:


Correct! He is pulling northwest through the weakness and a trough should recurve him near New England. I'm looking for landfall on NS, Canada.


Nooooooo!!!!

I am come to an agreement with my thoughts. We are going to get walloped here in Halifax.

However, what I am curious about is the strength, speed, and duration along the atlantic coast. I live 3 km's from the ocean.
Member Since: Αύγουστος 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 145
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
My mouth to god's ear? I didn't bring anything up like that, I was just talking about the unlikelyhood of a serious New England impact from Bill. What is this God's ear stuff coming from?
I thought it was a fairly common saying, but maybe just in my family. It means that I hope that you are right.
May God be listening (God's ear) to what you say (from your mouth) - in this case' unlikelyhood of a serious New England impact from Bill'
What did you think it meant?
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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