I've been dreading making this post for over an hour simply because of Hurricane Ida and its forecast (that is the $100K question). For the sake of brevity, today's post will focus more on East Central Florida with Ida musings to follow further down in the post (since it is not of immediate high priority for this area...if ever!). As mentioned yesterday, all forecasts seem to be purely speculative, some based on science fiction and others nonfiction. More to follow.
For today, more oh more of the same...just breezier. Strong high pressure remains stretched across the Deep South and into eastern Texas. Broad low pressure across the W. Caribbean with the focus on Ida near the Yucatan Gap. It is the pressure gradient between these two systems that's creating the wind, as has been the case for seemingly days on end. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, if for ever only a brief time.
But "will it rain today(?)" is always something one wants to know. The answer to that is low end unlikely to flat out no. Accessible moisture in the atmosphere only extends up about 6 thousand feet, and from there on out it's dry dry dry. There's just enough moisture in a very shallow layer aloft to generate flat topped, low level stratocumulus clouds...which come and go in patches as they please with no set pattern or logic.
Does this sound like yesterday? You bet. And so it will be...but today will be breezier. Unbeknownst to us in Central Florida, it's actually MUCH windier in extreme southeast Florida than here, by a good 10mph steady state winds and in gusts to boot. So we're getting off good by comparison. That's the deal for the day, windy and patchy clouds well into tonight.
Will this change soon? Not too soon, but by late Monday night going into Tuesday our chance of showers will start to show its face. A cold front is forecast to make its way into the state late Tuesday and Wednesday. It's at this time that what is left of Ida will merge with the front, and like a tidal wave wash down the state and be gone by Thursday morning..with yet more high pressure bridging across and re-establishing the pesky onshore flow. Temperatures will be affected little by the front, with only a slight cool down. To wrap it up..breezy conditions continuing..best chance of rain Monday night through Wednesday with shifting winds...then back to status quo Thursday. Of course, more elaboration will be required as we go into the early portions of this coming week.
Now Ida. First off, just for a graphical depiction of what I'm about to write, note the graphics provided at the top of this post. See how one forecast track actually takes the storm from Tampa to Cape Canaveral?! Just to clarify my point which is made below. Also, the latest Hurricane Forecast track just came out as I started today's post...interesting and not entirely out of the question by ANY means!
Sigh sigh sigh..between The Weather Channel, The Hurricane Center, a plethora of MANY forecast models, and Facebook friends I'm being inundated with more information than you'd like to know (or perhaps even care about). Suffice it say though, the possibilities are being narrowed down and somethings are becoming inevitable. The stats aren't out yet as to why the Hurricane Watch was issued for the Gulf Coast, but my guess is that it was because of high seas/tidal impacts. The places to watch especially will be where the southern tip of Louisiana has eastward facing shores to the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola as not only swells generated by the storm itself find their way to the coast..but pressure gradient winds (and eventually wind from the storm itself) have the greatest impact.
So what's all the hoopla about?
1) "Will Ida become a Cat 2 Hurricane?". I think likely for a brief time later today into tonight.
2) "How big is Ida, really?" TINY. The hurricane force winds only extend out about 15 miles from the center
3) "When will Ida make landfall, if it does?" That's the $100K question. Another one is, if it makes landfall will it still be a hurricane? I don't think it will be. It will be extratropical, but it doesn't really matter if it is or isn't because the impacts will be the same regardless. But when (?), that's a major source of discussion. Some models are a good 24-36 hours faster than the official forecast from the Hurricane Center..and many other forecasters agree with these models for a variety of legitimate reasons. But despite the timing of the system, the affects here will be about the same...and timing of those local affects remains the same as well.
4) "When will be hearing the last of Ida ...I'm sick of hearing about it(?)". By late Wednesday, we will not be hearing about Ida anymore...UNLESS..as one model suggests..the low continues up the U.S. East Coast the whole way to New Jersey!...Groan. If that indeed occurs, the "Ida" word will still be used ad naseum until there's nothing left of it but a patch of clouds!
5) "So why aren't you providing in depth analysis about the storm?" Because there's so much out there already...my input is only adding fuel to the fire of what I've already established as the great unknown. That IS my input...facts and not hypothetical, model based fiction. Additionally, and as such, the point of this blog is that anyone can read and understand what is going on...not just those strongly 'weatherwise' (meteorlogically inclined and educated).
If you turn to The Weather Channel or any news station today, expect to hear about this storm. How's that for a forecast? Forecasting the forecast broadcasts. In the meantime, hold on to your hats and prepare for a decent chance of some rain by later Tuesday - Wednesday. More to come.