Dorian May Pack a Severe Punch for Florida

Remind me not to gripe about the weather anytime soon. Hurricane Dorian is predicted to strengthen into a monster Category 4 storm, before tracking up the east coast of Florida.

The ultimate track is still highly uncertain, but a blocking bubble of high pressure to the north will slow Dorian down, prolonging coastal storm surge and inland flooding.

Meteorologists tend to highlight hurricane winds, but since 2016 NHC data shows 83 percent of fatalities
have been water-related, mostly inland flooding. And over half those flooding victims were the result of people driving into flooded roads.

Winds ease today with lukewarm sunshine. A shower can’t be ruled out Saturday morning, but the vast majority of the Labor Day weekend will be dry. A few T-storms may sprout over the northern half of Minnesota Labor Day, but no all-day washouts expected.

If you have friends or family living from Florida northward to the Carolinas, encourage them to have a plan for Dorian, and evacuate if and when authorities say to.

Monday: First Mille Lacs County Tornadoes Since 2011. There were 2 confirmed touchdowns, both relatively small/weak tornadoes. But still…Details from the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “Scattered thunderstorms moved across central Minnesota on the evening of August 26th and two of those storms produced brief tornadoes in Mille Lacs county.  An EF0 occurred south of Onamia, while the second touched down southeast of Milaca and was rated an EF1. These were the first tornadoes to occur in Mille Lacs county since July 30, 2011.”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday morning, August 30th, 2019:

  • Dorian strengthened into a hurricane yesterday as it passed over the U.S. Virgin Islands, and as of Thursday morning had sustained winds of 85 mph. The center of Dorian was located 150 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, or 425 miles east-southeast of the Southeastern Bahamas.
  • Dorian will continue to strengthen over the next few days and is expected to become a major Category 3 hurricane Friday. The path of this storm will have Dorian moving through the northern Bahamas Sunday with a potential landfall along the eastern Florida Coast Labor Day Monday as a major hurricane with winds around 125 mph.
  • This system will cause the potential for very heavy rain, destructive winds, and storm surge/coastal flooding along the eastern Florida Coast. There are still some uncertainties in the overall track of the storm once we get out past 48 hours, so facilities along the eastern Florida Coast and across the Florida Peninsula should make sure they have their hurricane plans in place as we head into the holiday weekend ahead of Dorian.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a State of Emergency ahead of Dorian, urging residents to prepare. You can visit to find information on emergency preparedness, shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes. You can also find the website for your Florida county emergency management agency at

Dorian As Of Thursday Morning. Dorian became a hurricane Wednesday afternoon near St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has continued to strengthen overnight. As of 5 AM AST, Dorian has sustained winds of 85 mph and was moving to the northwest at 13 mph. The center of Dorian was located 150 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, or 425 miles east-southeast of the Southeastern Bahamas. With Dorian, hurricane-force winds extended out 15 miles from the center of the storm, with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 90 miles.

Dorian Track. Over the next couple days, Dorian will continue to move to the northwest and strengthen, becoming a major hurricane (Category 3+) Friday. This will bring Dorian east of the southeastern/central Bahamas today and tomorrow. As we go into Friday Night, Dorian will start to move west-northwest, bringing the system near the northwest Bahamas Saturday and eventually toward the Florida Coast late Sunday into Labor Day Monday. The forecast track confidence is high over the next 24-48 hours but becomes a little more uncertain during the weekend and into early next week as there is a spread in the models as to where Dorian will track.

Uncertainty In Track After 48 Hours. As mentioned above, there is some uncertainty in the overall track of Dorian once we get past the next 48 hours. While it looks like landfall along the eastern Florida Coast is likely, the difference is where it occurs. The American Model is projecting a landfall a little farther north along the coast (and even had it closer to the Florida/Georgia Coast late yesterday), with the European Model much farther south. When you look at the ensembles of these models (basically slight tweaks in the background parameters of the model), you get a better clustering around the current NHC forecast. Depending on where it makes landfall could play into the potential of a crossover into the Gulf of Mexico with a second U.S. landfall along the northern Gulf Coast sometime next week. This is one reason why it’s important, especially this far out, to not focus on the exact path but the cone of uncertainty, which does show the potential of Dorian impacting the Southeast anywhere from southern Georgia to the Florida Keys.

Potential Strength. Models are indicating the potential for quick intensification with Dorian over the next couple of days and it is likely to become a major hurricane (Category 3+) tomorrow afternoon. Dorian should remain a major hurricane after that point until landfall occurs.

Tropical-Storm-Force Wind Timing. This graphic gives a good timing as to when winds could start to reach tropical-storm-force (39+ mph) with Dorian, which will start to make last-minute preparations difficult ahead of the storm. Tropical-storm-force winds could start to impact portions of the southern Bahamas late today into Friday, spreading across the rest of the Bahamas into the first half of the weekend. Tropical-storm-force winds could start to approach the Florida Peninsula Saturday Night into Sunday.

Rain Potential. Dorian will produce the potential of heavy rain from late this week into early next week across the Bahamas and into Florida and the southeastern United States. Some models are outputting the potential of 20”+ across portions of Florida along and north of where the center makes landfall through next week. Model differences in the track are evident here as well, as the American currently has the bullseye of rain farther north than the European. Either way, very heavy rain capable of life-threatening flash flooding will be likely. Here’s a breakdown of potential rainfall amounts at the moment from the National Hurricane Center through early next week:

The central Bahamas…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches.
The northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the Southeast United States…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.

High Tides Already Expected Due To New Moon. We will have to watch the threat of storm surge and coastal flooding later this weekend into early next week along the eastern Florida Coast with Dorian, but already higher tides than normal are expected over the next few days due to a new moon. In the Miami area, tides will run above predicted levels, which could cause some minor coastal flooding. In coastal areas in northern Florida near Jacksonville, these tidal departures could be 1-2 feet above normal through the weekend. Meanwhile, in Charleston, SC, (shown above), the water level could top 8 feet tonight, which according to NOAA would cause widespread flooding in Downtown Charleston.

Summary. As we head into the Labor Day week, a major hurricane is likely to be bearing down on the Bahamas and Florida. While there are still some questions as to the exact track Dorian will take toward Florida, atmospheric conditions are leading to very little wiggle room outside of making landfall somewhere along the eastern Florida Coast. It appears that this system will impact the state, and portions of the Southeast, with heavy rain, very strong winds, and storm surge coastal flooding. Tides will already be high at high tide late this week into the weekend due to a New Moon (the King Tides), and any additional water that Dorian would push toward the coast will make this situation worse. The current forecast has Dorian moving into the Florida Peninsula, with the potential that it could re-emerge into the Gulf of Mexico and become a threat next week to the northern Gulf Coast. Facilities – especially across Florida – should ensure they have their hurricane plans in place as we head into the holiday weekend ahead of Dorian, keep informed of the latest forecasts, and be ready to act if necessary.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

How to Avoid Hoaxes and False News About Dorian. Poynter has some good reminders: “…The five points listed below can also serve fact-checkers around the globe who are not on Hurricane Dorian’s path but will need to report about it.

  1. Make sure you know where to find official information

In the United States, one of the best sources of reliable information is the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Its Hurricane Specialist Unit (HSU) maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones and areas of disturbed weather within the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. From them, you can expect “analyses and forecasts in the form of text advisories and graphical products” (in English)...”

NOAA Orders New Hurricane Hunter Jet and Turboprop Aircraft. In all NOAA operates 9 manned aircraft, using in tropical (and major winter) systems. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA: “…Once delivered and instrumented, the G550 will supplement the capabilities of NOAA’s existing Gulfstream IV-SP high-altitude jet, which is best known for flying above and around hurricanes to support accurate track and intensity forecasts. The new aircraft will help NOAA meet the requirements of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. NOAA also awarded an $11.8 million contract to Textron Aviation, Inc., for the purchase of a new twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 350 CER turboprop aircraft. Once completed, the aircraft will be outfitted with remote sensing equipment that will measure the water content of snow and soil — data that is used for flood, river level and water supply forecasts. The aircraft can also be configured to support other NOAA missions, including coastal mapping and aerial surveys of damage in communities after a storm landfall…”

America’s Decades-Old Obsession with Nuking Hurricanes. WIRED has interesting perspective; here’s an excerpt: “…Around that same time, nuking hurricanes entered the conversation. According to International Spy Museum historian Vince Houghton, whose book Nuking the Moon details wacky military and intelligence schemes, an American meteorologist named Jack Reed, one of the nation’s earliest hurricane hunters, appears to be the first to seriously consider bombing a hurricane. His calculations held that maybe one or two 20-megaton bombs might be able to deflect a hurricane from land. He called for a test of the theory, but found it embraced by precisely zero policymakers. Frustrated, Reed declared his idea dead simply because it was “politically incorrect.” As the understanding that the problem of radiation was not “merely one of detail” grew, strict parameters grew up around the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Soon, ideas like that which Trump has evidently suggested were cast to the fringes of scientific thinking; Reed’s idea would actually now be prohibited under international law by the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty…”

America Has Gotten Bad at Predicting Weather – But There’s a Plan to Fix It. Yes, ECMWF is still superior (most days) and a story at Observer explains why: “…As acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator Neil Jacobs admitted, even after a recent upgrade, NOAA’s GFS still lags behind both the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the UK Met Office in forecast accuracy—and nobody is happy about it. Particularly not Congress, which, as the American Institute on Physics (AIP) recently observed, is running short on patience for NOAA to fix its forecasts…One reason why the Europeans are better, as Jacobs said in a recent public address, is that Europe allocate five times as much “computing resources” to “weather research” as America does. The Europeans also benefit from a centralized approach. Whereas Americans have more money, the extra resources just create “parallel modeling programs” that aren’t any more accurate, Jacobs said...”

Image credit: WSI.

Why You Don’t Want To Be in a Vehicle During a Tornado: Exhibit A. Thank you Jay Leno and CNBC, for showing us what 100-200 mph winds can do to a car or truck: “Jay Leno experiences some of the world’s toughest cars in the Season 5 premiere of “Jay Leno’s Garage!” Catch the exclusive look at Jay putting a storm chaser’s tornado-proof vehicle to the test against a jet! Then, don’t miss all new episodes of “Jay Leno’s Garage” Wednesdays at 10P ET on CNBC.”

Smog and Sadness: Study Suggests Link Between Air Pollution and Psychiatric Disorders. Here’s an excerpt from Study Finds: “Could the very air we breathe have an impact on our mental health? That’s the suggestion coming out of a new international study conducted in the United States and Denmark. After analyzing long-term data sets from both countries, researchers from the University of Chicago say they have identified a possible link between exposure to environmental pollution, specifically polluted air, and an increase in the onset of psychiatric and mental health problems in a population. According to the findings, air pollution is associated with increased rates of depression and bipolar disorder among both U.S. and Danish populations. That association was actually found to be even greater in Denmark, where poor air quality exposure during the first 10 years of a person’s life was found to predict a two-fold increase in the likelihood of developing schizophrenia or a personality disorder...”

File image: Reuters.

NASA Cameras Track Amazon Fires. Big Think has a post; here’s a clip: “You don’t need eyes to see the massive fires raging in the Amazon. An infrared camera fitted on a satellite will do. This movie, based on data collected from 8th to 22nd of August by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, shows carbon monoxide (CO) levels at 18,000 feet (5.5 km) above South America. The colours denote the density of carbon monoxide, from green (approximately 100 parts per billion by volume) over yellow (app. 120 ppbv) to dark red (app. 160 ppbv). Local values can be much higher. Each separate shot is the average of three days’ worth of measurements, a technique used to eliminate data gaps...”

Here’s a First: Hacking from Space? The first space crime? NBC News reports: “A NASA astronaut is accused of hacking her estranged spouse’s bank account from space. Anne McClain, whom the space agency says is “one of NASA’s top astronauts,” allegedly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, while aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, according to NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston. The two women are in the process of a divorce and battling over custody of a 6-year-old son, Worden told KPRC. She said she conceived the boy through in vitro fertilization and carried by a surrogate…”

Photo credit: “NASA astronaut Anne McClain on the International Space Station on April 16, 2019.” NASA.

Carli Lloyd is Ready for the NFL. It’s time to have a woman in the NFL. The Washington Post reports: “When Carli Lloyd turned up at the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice last week, it was mostly as a fan. But the lark turned serious when she pulled her right leg back and sent a kick sailing 55 yards through the uprights. It might have been an audition for the first female NFL player. Lloyd, the 37-year-old star of the U.S. Women’s World Cup championship teams in 2015 and this summer, grew up an Eagles fan in New Jersey and spent her day off from Sky Blue of the National Women’s Soccer League at the Eagles’ joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens. After practice, she worked with Eagles kicker Jake Elliott and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, and video quickly went viral, drawing serious speculation about whether she could kick in the NFL...”

BMW Unveils Vehicle with “Blackest Black”. I had no idea. Here’s an excerpt from “BMW has released a Vantablack version of its X6 coupé, which has been spray-painted with “the world’s blackest black” pigment that absorbs over 99 per cent of light. Inventors of the Vantablack technology, Surrey NanoSystems, collaborated with creative agency Levitation 29 to coat BMW’s latest X6 coupé with a sprayable version of the pigment. According to the German car brand, the BMW VBX6 is the “first and only vehicle in the world” to feature a Vantablack VBx2 coating, which almost entirely removes all reflections…”

76 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

78 F. average high in the Twin Cities on August 29.

72 F. high on August 29, 2018.

August 30, 1977: Flooding occurs on the southwest side of the Twin Cities, with MSP Airport getting 7.28 inches of rain in 4 1/2 hours.

FRIDAY: Sunny with less wind. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 72

SATURDAY: Early shower possible, then clearing. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 56. High: 71

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 75

LABOR DAY: Warm sun, few T-storms up north. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

TUESDAY: Early rain, then clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Drier with a mix of clouds & sun. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 72

THURSDAY: Showers, possible thunder. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

Climate Stories….

Hurricanes and Climate Change. The American Association for the Advancement of Science connects the dots:

  • The five costliest U.S. Earth-system disasters (including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires, and all kinds of extreme weather) have all been hurricanes, and all five have occurred within the past 15 years: Harvey (2017), Katrina (2005), Sandy (2012), Irma (2017), and Maria (2017). 1
  • Hurricanes get their energy from ocean heat; the warmer the water is, the stronger a hurricane can get. More than 90% of the excess heat trapped in the climate system due to human-caused global warming has gone into the oceans, providing the added energy driving recent hurricanes’ extreme wind intensities and the increased evaporation that has resulted in associated torrential rainfall. 2
  • Globally, the last few decades have seen a growing proportion of strong hurricanes and a corresponding shrinking proportion of weak ones. Specifically, from 1975 to 2010, the proportion of Category 4 or 5 hurricanes (the highest wind speeds) increased by 25-30 percent for every 1 degree Celsius increase in global temperature due to human causes, resulting in a near doubling of the proportion of those most intense hurricanes. 3

Welcome, Greta: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City Wednesday, greeted by a cheering crowd as she capped off her two-week journey in a sailboat across the Atlantic. The 16-year-old Thunberg, who carried her “skolstrejk för klimatet”–“school strike for climate”–sign off the boat with her, is in New York to attend the United Nations climate summit next month. Thunberg, who began striking outside of Swedish parliament for climate action one year ago this month, chose to voyage on the emissions-free racing sailboat to reach New York to avoid the carbon emissions from flying. “This is not something I want everyone to do,” she told a crowd of media, youth activists, and well-wishers Wednesday. “It is insane that a 16-year-old would have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to make a stand…The climate and ecological crisis is a global crisis, the biggest crisis that humanity has ever faced, and if we don’t manage to work together and to cooperate and to work together despite our differences, then we will fail.” (New York Times $, AP, Washington Post $, The Guardian, CNN, NPRThe Verge).

The Mysogyny of Climate Deniers. Picking on a teenage girl? The New Republic explains what may really be going on here: “…While these examples might feel like mere coincidence to some, the idea that white men would lead the attacks on Greta Thunberg is consistent with a growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism—some of the research coming from Thunberg’s own country. Researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, which recently launched the world’s first academic research center to study climate denialism, have for years been examining a link between climate deniers and the anti-feminist far-right. In 2014, Jonas Anshelm and Martin Hultman of Chalmers published a paper analyzing the language of a focus group of climate skeptics. The common themes in the group, they said, were striking: “for climate skeptics … it was not the environment that was threatened, it was a certain kind of modern industrial society built and dominated by their form of masculinity...”

Surge in Young Republicans Worried About the Environment – Study. Reuters has details: “A growing majority of U.S. Republicans, especially younger voters, are worried that human behavior is damaging the planet, according to a survey of global attitudes to the environment conducted by an Amsterdam-based polling agency…The new report by Glocalities, which canvassed views worldwide, showed the number of U.S. Republicans who said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement “I worry about the damage humans cause the planet” rose by 11 percentage points to 58% between 2014 and 2019. The number of Republican voters aged 18-34 who are worried about the issue rose by 18 percentage points to 67%, said the poll, which also showed a 10 percentage point increase among all U.S. Republicans who said they tried “to live eco-consciously”…”

Can We Survive Extreme Heat? A story at RollingStone caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…As the mercury rises, people die. The homeless cook to death on hot sidewalks. Older folks, their bodies unable to cope with the metabolic stress of extreme heat, suffer heart attacks and strokes. Hikers collapse from dehydration. As the climate warms, heat waves are growing longer, hotter, and more frequent. Since the 1960s, the average number of annual heat waves in 50 major American cities has tripled. They are also becoming more deadly. Last year, there were 181 heat-related deaths in Arizona’s Maricopa County, nearly three times the number from four years earlier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2004 and 2017, about a quarter of all weather-related deaths were caused by excessive heat, far more than other natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes...”

Graphic credit: NASA GISS.

Climate Change is Shifting Europe’s Flood Patterns, and These Regions are Feeling the Consequences. InsideClimate News examines the observed shift in weather patterns: “Global warming is driving big changes in floods across Europe by fueling the atmosphere with more moisture and changing the path and speed of rain storms, new research shows. In some areas, that means more rainfall and surging rivers that could overwhelm levees if communities don’t plan for increasing flooding. Other regions have seen a decline in rain and snow, which sets up a different challenge: as flood risk there decreases, it could discourage investments in defensive measures, leaving communities vulnerable to less frequent but still damaging extreme storms. The study shows “clear flood risk patterns across Europe that match the projected impacts of climate change,” said Günther Blöschl, lead author of the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and director of the Centre for Water Resource Systems at the Vienna University of Technology...”

How Should We Talk About What’s Happening To Our Planet? Here’s an excerpt of a timely Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “…I’m here before you to say that I was wrong in 2001,” Luntz said. Nearby was a colorful chart of vocabulary, developed since his polling in 2009 showed bipartisan support for climate legislation. He went on: “I’ve changed. And I will help you with messaging, if you wish to have it.” Don’t talk about threats, he told the senators. Talk about consequences. Don’t talk about new jobs created by green energy. Talk about new careers. And sustainability? “Stop,” Luntz said. “Sustainability is about the status quo.” Even the committee’s name had a troublesome word in it: “crisis.” It’s flabby from overuse, Luntz thought. If everything is a crisis, then nothing is. From a word standpoint, that’s true. And sometimes it feels true in the real world. The phone in your hand has become a police scanner of unfolding crises...”

Illustration credit: Barry Falls for The Washington Post.

How Climate Change Affects Your Mental Health. Check out the Ted Talk here: “For all that’s ever been said about climate change, we haven’t heard nearly enough about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world,” says science writer Britt Wray. In this quick talk, she explores how climate change is threatening our well-being — mental, social and spiritual — and offers a starting point for what we can do about it.”

What Does “12 Years to Act on Climate Change” Really Mean? InsideClimate News has some much-needed perspective: “…The report explained that countries would have to cut their anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, such as from power plants and vehicles, to net zero by around 2050. To reach that goal, it said, CO2 emissions would have to start dropping “well before 2030” and be on a path to fall by about 45 percent by around 2030 (12 years away at that time). Mid-century is actually the more significant target date in the report, but acting now is crucial to being able to meet that goal, said Duke University climate researcher Drew Shindell, a lead author on the mitigation chapter of the IPCC report. “We need to get the world on a path to net zero CO2 emissions by mid-century,” Shindell said. “That’s a huge transformation, so that if we don’t make a good start on it during the 2020s, we won’t be able to get there at a reasonable cost...”

Southwest ‘Canary in Coal Mine’ For Heat Deaths: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Heat-related deaths have spiked over the past five years in Southwest states, alarming officials who say that the region is a sign of what’s to come with climate change, the New York Times reports. In Arizona, deaths from heat exposure have tripled since 2014, while they’ve increased fivefold in Nevada, CDC data show. The deaths are mostly concentrated in the Phoenix and Las Vegas metro areas. Experts say that an increase in heat deaths despite concurrent advances, like weather forecasting and air-conditioning, is a worrisome signal of how the region must prepare for climate change. “Phoenix and other cities of the Southwest are the canary in the coal mine” when it comes to increasing temperatures, David Hondula of Arizona State University told the Times. “We really need to figure out what piece or pieces of the system are lacking.” (New York Times $)

The Glimmer of a Climate New-World Order. David Wallace-Wells writes for New York Magazine’s Intelligencer: “…As with everything else when it comes to climate, we are headed into a brave new world with nothing resembling a playbook. But in their brilliant book Climate Leviathan, the political scientists Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright plot a matrix of possible future political responses to climate. The two axes are the relationship to the nation state (i.e., does the world recognize national sovereignty in the face of climate change?); and the relationship to capitalism (i.e., does the world respond to the crisis by doubling down on the importance of capital, or does it retreat from it?). They name the resulting quadrants: Climate Mao (anti-capitalist and nationalist); Climate Behemoth (capitalist and nationalist), Climate Leviathan (capitalist and globalist) and Climate X (anti-capitalist and globalist, basically ecosocialism, which they’re rooting for). But they also acknowledge that each category is too neat — a conceptual framework, not a map of our future. My own guess is that they’re right: that we won’t have any one new paradigm for climate politics, that no one prediction will come to pass in any total way, but that we will evolve those new politics along many different ideological axes…”