Tropical Storm Katia 8/30/2011 5:00am

Colleagues, IRENE is at last count responsible for 27 deaths, and that is likely to increase by one or two. Some 4 million people are without electricity, although it is being restored quickly. The major event associated with IRENE was inland flooding due to its widespread rain field. And the economic loss varies widely depending on how it is calculated, insured vs uninsured loss, physical damage vs loss of productivity. Whether you include mitigating "stimulus" of work creation in repair etc. All estimated tend to include a bias, and may reflect their source's interest. No doubt the official forecasts (and media, and public officials ( the Katrina effect) ) leaned perceptibly toward and beyond the worst case serious and overlooked (underestimated in proportion) the record breaking flood potential in Vermont (some places over 12 inches of rain in 18 hours). But in fairness, if you are going to error, the philosophy it is better on the side of caution, and that I think is the official practice. Maybe there is room to be grateful that the most dire predictions did not materialize, rather than suffer the unpreparedness of New Orleans and the gov. agencies . Even then, it was NOT a forecast error, but years of politics and a known inattention and response to the inadequate levy system that caused 90% of the problems for which Katrina is blamed. Enough retrospecting.

FORECAST: Tropical Storm Katia is north of the most eastern part of South America with winds of 40 mph and increasing. It will be a hurricane by tomorrow night as it move WNW at 17 mph. By this weekend it will still be 600 miles East of the Leeward Islands. I see two possible scenarios depending on the evolution of the upwind flow. One (that I lean to at this point) is that it will recurve and pass between Bermuda and North Carolina then end of next week. The other is that the approaching trough will not be strong enough to create a weekness in the western ridge and it it will continue on a more Westerly track which will still take it north of the leeward Islands. It will become clearer by the end of the week, but I really am leaning on the first scenario from my analysis so far, even though there is real uncertainty in how the synoptic systems will evolve. It should be clearer in a few days.

DISCUSSION:

I will be writing a blog on http://www.hurricanehunt.com on STORM SURGE next weekend. It is not what most people think it is, so I will explain it there as it is too long to go into here.

NEXT FORECAST: Tomorrow, Wednesday. (we are in the height of Hurricane Season).

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Peter S. Ray

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