Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maria

A recon flight has been probing Maria since 9:30 am. So far initial readings are not that impressive: Pressure is around 1008 to 1009 mb up from 1005 yesterday. Top winds are hovering near 35 mph.

As more data comes in we'll get a better handle on its health and a good fix on the center. This may lead to a repositioning and maybe a different cone forecast.


Communication problems from a Thursday night recon mission failed to fully get a clear view of the inner workings of Maria.

Some more thunderstorms are developing in the Northern semi-circle of Maria this morning. It still remains a ragged looking storm with the center of circulation exposed to the elements on the Southern sector with all the rain on the Northern side.



There are many things working against Maria:
  • An upper low ahead of it is causing shear and keeping Maria weak
  • Dry air is moving in from the South

What Maria has in its favor:

  • The shear is expected to relax late Today
  • Models are being very aggressive now, keeping Maria as a storm and even intensifying it as she nears the Northwestern Bahamas.

The forecast maps below show how weak or strong the shear will be through Monday. The reds and yellows represent weak shear while the green and blues suggest stronger shear. Right now, Maria is dealing with strong upper winds to the Northeast, but by Saturday it relaxes over Hispaniola. Could it be enough for Maria to get its act together?




The models are now more in consensus taking the system through the Leeward Islands and then Puerto Rico.  At this stage, wind will not be a problem but the rain will. They could see some flooding as Maria moves over them over the weekend.




The official forecast cone tracks Maria over most of the Lesser Antilles and then push it to the Northwestern Bahamas. South Florida is NOT in the cone, but we should keep our eyes on it, just in case it decides to surprise us.


Aside from Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings, there is also the concern for flooding for the islands. Puerto Rico has issued the following statement.
  • THERE IS A SERIOUS CONCERN FOR A SIGNIFICANT HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLASH FLOODING EVENT ACROSS THE REGION DUE TO RECENT HEAVY RAINS FROM IRENE.  THERE IS ALSO A CONCERN FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGING WINDS TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER TRACKS.
  • REGARDING THE COASTAL WATERS UNDER A WATCH...SMALL CRAFT SHOULD RETURN TO PORT OR SEEK SAFE HARBOR.

We'll keep watching it.

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