Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Earl, Long-Range Pacific Northwest Weather Forecast

August 30, 2010
7:38 P.M.

Hey everybody, I apologize for not updating for like a month and a half, I've been out of town practically the whole time. I'm actually still not home yet, I'm in Denver visiting colleges.

Hurricane Earl has caught my attention. This system is now a major hurricane, and as of 9 o'clock EDT, it has sustained winds of 135 miles per hour and a central pressure of 938 millibars, putting it at category 4 status. This is an extremely dangerous storm and I would not be surprised if it intensified to a weak category 5. Looking at the infared satellite, I see cooling cloud tops (this means the storm is strengthening - the clouds are reaching higher into the atmosphere and therefore reaching a higher altitude with cooler temperatures) and I also see the absence of strong wind shear, which will prevent the storm from falling apart.

The east coast will feel the effects from this storm. Will it get a direct landfall? Probably not. This storm looks to make landfall up by Newfoundland, where it would have weakened significantly by then, becoming a category one or tropical storm. But there still is a possibility that this storm could in fact make a land fall on the East Coast, and I think it is more likely than others are making it out to be. Here's why.
The reason I think this is because the models may be a little too quick in breaking down an area of high pressure that is responsible for keeping earl going west. A cold front is expected to sweep away this high pressure system, and take Earl out northeast with it, but I think the models are a little too quick with the cold front based on their trends. Earl is expected to come closer to the coast now than before. Also, very strong hurricanes like Earl sometimes build their own high pressure systems ahead of them, because if air is rising somewhere (the eye of Earl) it must be sinking somewhere else (places ahead of the track). The saying "the calm before the storm" is a true saying, blue skies often precede violent storms because of this very reason.
The eye of Earl is also very impressive, look how tightly wound it is!

As for the extended forecast for this winter and beyond, we have a La Nina, and we are expected to have cooler temperatures and above normal precipitation, and looking at the Climate Prediction Center maps from NOAA at, it really looks like we will have a wet and cold winter. At least we are colored in darkly. The SSTs in the tropical Pacific aren't super cold yet, but that is the trend, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in its cool phase for the Pacific Northwest. All these signs point to above average snowfall for us, not only in the mountains but in the lowlands as well! Keep your fingers crossed.