Impressive Bill churning huge waves; New England air pollution episode underway

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 14:38 GMT le 18 août 2009

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Hurricane Bill has popped out an impressive eye, and continues to gather strength over the middle Atlantic. Visible and infrared satellite imagery show a well-organized, symmetric hurricane, with plenty of low-level spiral banding and upper-level outflow channels to the north and south. The spectacular appearance of the storm is evidence of the light wind shear environment that Bill finds itself in.

Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5-15 knots, for the next five days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will rise steadily from 27.5°C today to 29°C on Friday. Total ocean heat content also rises today into Wednesday, and it is expected that Bill will take advantage of these favorable conditions to intensify into a major hurricane. The Hurricane Hunters make their first penetration into Bill this afternoon. The NOAA Hurricane Hunters will be continuously flying Bill for the next three days. They are flying research missions that will feed real-time radar data into an experimental version of the HWRF model to see if this data can improve the model forecasts.


Figure 1. Wave forecast for Hurricane Bill from NOAA's Wavewatch III model. Beginning Saturday (right panel) large waves from Bill are expected to affect most of the U.S. East Coast. By Sunday, the model predicts waves of 10 - 15 feet may impact the offshore waters of New England.

Water vapor satellite loops show that a trough of low pressure is diving down towards Bill, and this trough will be able to turn Bill more to the northwest over the next two days, and Bill will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands. The main impact of Bill on these islands will be high waves. Yesterday, Bill passed just north of Buoy 41041, which recorded significant wave heights of 28.8 feet. Maximum wave height is typically a factor of 1.9 greater than the significant wave height, so Bill was likely generating waves up to 55 feet high. High waves from Bill are propagating across the Atlantic towards the U.S. East Coast, and will arrive there on Saturday, according to NOAA's Wavewatch III model (Figure 1). The highest waves spawned by Bill will affect the New England coast, where waves of 10 - 15 feet in offshore waters can be expected. The waves will cause significant erosion of beaches, and possible damage to shoreline structures.

A much larger trough of low pressure is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week, turning Bill to the north. Exactly where this turn occurs is still not clear, and both Bermuda and Cape Cod, Massachusetts will be in Bill's 5-day forecast cone of uncertainty. At present, it appears that the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia are at greatest risk from a strike by Bill, but New England and Bermuda cannot relax just yet.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The remains of Tropical Storm Ana are bringing heavy rain to Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas today, and this activity will spread over South Florida tonight. The remains are disorganized, and are not likely to re-develop. No models are calling for any new tropical cyclones to develop in the Atlantic over the next seven days.


Figure 2. Image from NASA's Terra satellite of air pollution haze over the Northeast U.S. on Monday, August 17, 2009.

First major air pollution episode of the summer for the Northeast U.S.
New England is currently experiencing a far more deadly weather event than a direct hit by Hurricane Bill would likely bring--a large dome of high pressure. The reason? The high pressure system camped over the Northeast U.S. has brought hot temperatures, stagnant air, and the summer's first major air pollution episode.

The event started on Sunday, when a high pressure system with light winds moved over the eastern U.S., limited mixing and leading to stagnation and a buildup of pollutants. Mostly sunny skies and high temperatures also enhanced formation of ground-level ozone gas, a dangerous pollutant. Furthermore, southerly winds brought high humidity into the Northeast, which is conducive to particle pollution formation in the atmosphere. Particle pollution is the most deadly form of air pollution in the U.S. The poor air quality led to issuance of air quality advisories and action days on Monday in more than 30 cities, including New York City, NY; Newark, NJ; Providence, RI; and Portland, ME.

Today's air pollution forecast
Today, similar conditions are expected across much of the region, and Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are forecasted to remain in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) range for many areas in the Northeast. For a complete list of action/advisory days and their locations, visit the EPA AIRNow website.

Health Tip: Cut back on strenuous outdoor exercise when air quality is expected to be poor.

How You Can Help: Choose a cleaner commute - share a ride to work or use public transportation. Bicycle or walk when possible. Combine errands and reduce trips.

Mortality from air pollution
As I discussed in a previous blog post, air pollution is a far more deadly weather hazard in the U.S. than hurricanes. Sure, hurricanes have killed an average of 150 people per year in the U.S., and the "premature deaths" caused by air pollution are only partly attributable to breathing bad air, while drowning in a hurricane's storm surge is entirely due to the hurricane. Nevertheless, a great many children die of pollution-induced asthma attacks who would not have died otherwise, and the mortality due to air pollution in the general population is in the thousands or ten of thousands each year. Outdoor air pollution in the U.S. due to particulate pollution alone was estimated by the EPA in 1997 to cause at least 20,000 premature deaths each year. A 2005 study by EPA scientists (Particulate Matter Health Risk Assessment for Selected Urban Areas) estimated that over 4,700 premature deaths occur each year in just nine cities (Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, and San Jose)--even if those cities all met the current federal standards for particulate matter pollution. Extrapolating these data to the entire nation puts the annual death toll in the tens of thousands--but the EPA has not calculated that total. Some studies have placed the annual pollution death toll in the U.S. at 50,000 to 100,000 (Dockery, D.W., and C.A Pope III. Acute Respiratory Effects of Particulate Air Pollution. Annual Review Public Health, 1994, vol. 15,107-32.) The death toll is much higher in other parts of the world, where air pollution standards are not as stringent. Globally, about 800,000 people per year die prematurely due to outdoor air pollution, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. This represents about 1.2 percent of total annual global deaths.

In the debate over the costs of switching over the cleaner energy sources, the huge costs and deaths attributable to air pollution are often ignored. Sure, it will be costly to move away from fossil fuels, but let's not forget that the price per gallon we pay at the pump does not include the billions in medical costs we pay for the effects of air pollution.

I'll have an update Wednesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting AllStar17:
Bill may not cross 20 N until 60W


Technically, we I guess we would say that is not "in" the box, and Herbert's theory will prove correct.
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3446. tillou
Good morning all!

After looking at the steering maps it will be interesting to see what happens.

Steering layer 250-850 shows the break in the high. This layer is for tropical cyclones with pressures of 940-949. My question is will the high break down more or will it start building again. (I don't know and waiting for a good explanation)

But the 200-700 layer still shows an intact high. This layer is for tropical cyclones with pressures of below 940. And since Bill seems to still be strengthening we might have to pay closer attention to the 200-700 layer.

Steering layers:
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/winds-dlm.html
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3445. jpsb
Quoting Browardjon:
what is the best site for models? all the ones i find only show part of the atlantic. help please.

Penn State, don't have the link but you can google it pretty easy.
Member Since: 30 juin 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
It is pretty obvious all models will shift to the west again.
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3442. NYer
@ 3417:

That "weakness" that you are focusing on -- at 60W -- is not so weak at other levels -- see 3415.

This is not the trough that is forecast to really pull Bill north. If it were, Bill wouldn't even get west of Bermuda; it would be heading straight north right now. The 60W weakness might pull Bill north marginally -- in fact, it might already have done so.

The trough that will save the East Coast is still to the west of the Bermuda high (which admittedly on your post looks like a Georgia-Carolinas high). Bill will go up the west side of the Bermuda high, not the east side.
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3441. P451
Quoting Browardjon:
what is the best site for models? all the ones i find only show part of the atlantic. help please.


http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/
Member Since: 16 décembre 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Out of the Hebert Strike zone, high and inside....

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Quoting P451:


I had to make the GIF of it but here is where it came from:

SwellInfo


Thanks a mill, P4! I'm having a tough time thinking about where I'll go for a 9.5ft 19sec swell from the ENE with 10knot NE winds in Puerto Rico... mostly everything will be blown out and windblown. Except Caballos... and that's an offshore reef :/

Friday's the day for most.
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Quoting Patrap:



isten,sport,..and Ill be brief.
I know thw Darn steering Layer,I can read the MB chart.
Its for Guidance and simple Learning for someone who requested it.
If you want to correct me,do it in a wu-mail Cap.


Sorry for that, but I didn't see any comment to suggest that that was for educational purposes for someone who had requested it. Had I known the intent behind that image comment, I would not have made such a hasty correction.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Bill is not annular..


So glad to hear that, now he just needs to follow the exit signs to that nice large expressway opening up to his North...
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3436. Skyepony (Mod)
Also from the SHIPS text

PRESSURE OF STEERING LEVEL (MB): 656 (MEAN=624)
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3435. jpsb
Quoting cchsweatherman:
The Bermuda-Azores high pressure ridge has been finally broken by the trough currently over the North-Central Atlantic. You can see this break clearly in the latest steering current map below. It appears the forecasts will be right on with Hurricane Bill in terms of the path as it appears the much advertised turn will happen sometime within the next 12-24 hours now that the ridge has been broken and the weakness has come through.



Question; a high is a great big dome of (mostly) dry air, correct? So so where does all that air go once the high has been broken/eroded? thanks.
Member Since: 30 juin 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
3434. P451
Bill - Lightning

Member Since: 16 décembre 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
EDIT... the image changing each reload so I removed
From:

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic2/#
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I know that the Ana leftovers are just scraps, but does that swirl mean anything when it gets out of the dry stable air and gets in the GOM?
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Quoting jpsb:


Ok I give up, what is the Herbert box?

The Herbert Box is an imaginary area around the north East Caribbean. If a hurricane passes through said box it has a higher chance of hitting Florida
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3430. Skyepony (Mod)
Bill is not annular..

## ANNULAR HURRICANE INDEX (AHI) AL032009 BILL 08/19/09 12 UTC ##
## STORM NOT ANNULAR, SCREENING STEP FAILED, NPASS=5 NFAIL=2 ##
## AHI= 0 (AHI OF 100 IS BEST FIT TO ANN. STRUC., 1 IS MARGINAL, 0 IS NOT ANNULAR) ##
## ANNULAR INDEX RAN NORMALLY
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what is the best site for models? all the ones i find only show part of the atlantic. help please.
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Bill may not cross 20 N until 60W
Member Since: 29 juin 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
3426. Patrap
Bill,Latest Viz

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watch out!! models are latching out to new african wave. it is in a much lower position than bill hen it exited the african coast
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3424. LUCARIO
bill is not a fish storm
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Patrap - Thats the wrong steering layer you're posting. Thats for very shallow systems of pressure 1000-1010mb. Should be using the 250-850mb steering layer for Hurricane Bill since that corresponds to deep storms with pressure between 925 and 949mb.
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Blue Angels just took off for their Wed practice.
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Those darn Chinese! They are such jokers!
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Damn, with all the sarcasm on this blog this morning I don't have to look at any forecast maps to realize Bill must be going out to sea with very little doubt in that forecast! This is definitely a good thing. I'd hate to have a hurricane with my father's name cause a lot of death and destruction! I guess I'll just lurk and keep my eye on the soupy GOM!
Member Since: 25 août 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3074
Quoting TropicTraveler:
Husband watching somebody from hurricane hunter flight talking about a mission and shuddered and said he would never want to be on that flight. I would LOVE to be on one of those flights and see the eyewalls from inside the eye. I'd buckle in, hold on tight and enjoy the ride. I'd be willing to be a lot of bloggers on here would think like I do. BTW - both hubby and I have been light plane pilots since 1964 or so.
As long as there is no severe turbulence it would be very fun
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3418. DR1791
Link

Cape Verde Precipitation
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The Bermuda-Azores high pressure ridge has been finally broken by the trough currently over the North-Central Atlantic. You can see this break clearly in the latest steering current map below. It appears the forecasts will be right on with Hurricane Bill in terms of the path as it appears the much advertised turn will happen sometime within the next 12-24 hours now that the ridge has been broken and the weakness has come through.

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3416. Prgal
Quoting serialteg:


Hey PRgal, what a dud Ana was huh!

Hey there Serial! Indeed it was! I saw a few tree branches on the streets that afternoon and the thunderstorms were cool...they went by fast but it was quite a show. I am glad it was not that bad and that Bill will not affect any land if it keeps it forcasted track.
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3415. Patrap
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Back in a few minutes. Bermuda watching Bill
Member Since: 29 juin 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5315
Quoting Prgal:

I will give you all the attention you need, but you have to go back to bed...ok?


I cannot find may bed.
It must have been gone West.
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This is one scarey looking storm. I hope it keeps that track and misses land all together!!
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Husband watching somebody from hurricane hunter flight talking about a mission and shuddered and said he would never want to be on that flight. I would LOVE to be on one of those flights and see the eyewalls from inside the eye. I'd buckle in, hold on tight and enjoy the ride. I'd be willing to bet a lot of bloggers on here would think like I do. BTW - both hubby and I have been light plane pilots since 1964 or so.
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Quoting P451:


I had to make the GIF of it but here is where it came from:

SwellInfo


Thanks.
Member Since: 18 octobre 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting AllStar17:
What do you think about this path? It may need to be shifted a bit eastward at the next update:
Nice work with the graphics, keep it up
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Quoting P451:



======



That's the highest barb it found so far, huh...
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3407. P451
Quoting mikatnight:


Nice graphic. Got a link?


I had to make the GIF of it but here is where it came from:

SwellInfo
Member Since: 16 décembre 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
3406. Prgal
Quoting apocalyps:

So you also think its going WNW?
Glad youre on my side.

I will give you all the attention you need, but you have to go back to bed...ok?
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Quoting P451:


Does he walk in straight lines until he bangs into something?

My pool little blind & deaf doggie does!
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3404. Patrap
Please refrain from the Doody words,even if Italicized.


Thanx
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Quoting Prgal:

LOL!


Hey PRgal, what a dud Ana was huh!
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3402. P451



======

Member Since: 16 décembre 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting jpsb:
I wasn't the Allens, the Chinese have fired up their weather machine retaliating for our hit on Taiwan last week. This is top secrete stuff so please don't tell anyone. Loose lips sink ships.
LOL!!
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3400. Prgal
Quoting jpsb:
I wasn't the Allens, the Chinese have fired up their weather machine retaliating for our hit on Taiwan last week. This is top secrete stuff so please don't tell anyone. Loose lips sink ships.

LOL!
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3399. jpsb
Quoting FLdewey:


It's my Hebert in a box.
WTF?
Member Since: 30 juin 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1197
Quoting Prgal:

Yes sweetie, its turning west already. A bunch of aliens have taken over the satellites and the radars and they are making us believe that Bill is going WNW. The truth is that its going west as you have stated so many times. Dont worry! Now go back to bed or have a life. Geez!

So you also think its going WNW?
Glad youre on my side.
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Quoting P451:
Wave Forecast



Nice graphic. Got a link?
Member Since: 18 octobre 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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