Ike: Yikes!!!

Ike is now a Category Four Hurricane, and quite a nice looking one at that.
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Hurricanes are giant engines made of air that are driven by the transfer of heat from the sea surface to the top of the troposphere. The greater the difference in SST (sea surface temperature) and higher altitude temperature, the more power in the engine. But, there are some very strong wind currents in the atmosphere above the troposphere, and that matters as well.

When you fly in a commercial air liner over a long distance, sometimes (depending on the airline) they display a chart that shows current location, speed, etc. as well as outside temperature and sometimes windspeed. You see some pretty remarkable numbers up that high, above the Ozone Layer. If the sea surface temperature is 27 degrees C and the at 8 km t is close to -40 C, that is a lot of temperature differential across the area covered by a hurricane.

However, high winds in the upper atmosphere will interfere with this process. This is why hurricanes don’t really form farther north (in the northern hemisphere) than they do. Too much upper level wind activity. This ‘wind shear’ causes the beautiful turning engine that drives itself pumping heat upward and outward to get all messed up.

Right now, Ike is experiencing some wind shear and will weaken over the next several hours. However, that will go away and other factors will contribute to a re-strengthening.

But where is Ike going to go? Where will it make landfall?

It looks like Ike is going to turn northwards as it approaches the US. This entire time it will be scraping the Leeward Islands and the Florida coast with winds and surf, but how bad that will be depend on the exact track.
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Ike is going to be a cliffhanger. The entire predicted track has the storm over waters warm enough to keep it running until it reaches, should it stay in the Atlantic US East Coast littoral, until South Carolina. But there are blobs of mcuh warmer water here and there that may crank it to a higher level as it approaches Florida. But wind shear will also increase as it goes north. I think the Hurricane Prediction center is more or less thinking that Ike will stay in the Atlantic and if it makes land fall, do so on the US east coast north of Florida. But it could just make a lot of wave and rain action and head out to sea.

The soonest that this storm could affect the US coast directly in any significant way is probably mid week next week.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 4, 2008

    is it just me or does that storm track look like the helment logo for the Minnesota Vikings?

  2. #2 Mimi
    September 4, 2008

    This is a beautiful storm. It’s scary because it’s close to me… Even though “Eyes” rarely hit here, the bands can be just as frightening.

  3. #3 Ian
    September 5, 2008

    Would that part in the middle be the Purple Rain that Prince sang about?! The Deep Purple, of course, would be Smoke on the Water….

  4. #4 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    September 5, 2008

    The most current track shows it impacting Florida at a 90 degree angle to the coast just south of Miami. This would put Miami in the ‘bad’ quadrant of the hurricane. Could be interesting (in a bad way). Picture Andrew hitting Miami instead of Homestead.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2008

    Ike’s track is a wild guess at this moment

  6. #6 Terpsichore
    September 5, 2008

    Hello from the Cone of Death, as we call it here!

    I moved to Florida in 1992, three weeks before Hurricane Andrew. What a lovely welcome to the state. Grew up in So. California, so have experienced earthquakes though never myself in a realy bad one, or at least a bad one in a major urban area.

    HOWEVER …

    I’ll take the earthquake any day.

    I know a lot of you will find that position odd, mostly because you’ll say “but at least with a hurricane, you know it’s coming” and that’s exactly why I DON’T prefer it!

    With a hurricane, you get all the hype, life is interrupted, things cancelled (often needlessly). The preparations for a hurricane and the preparations for an earthquake are essentially identical (canned food w/non-electric can operner, water supply, batteries and radio, etc.), so basically it’s pretty simple: get ready, be ready, stay ready. Every month or so doublecheck your supplies so you don’t get caught off guard.

    Worst hurricane things IMO? 24-hour hurricane TV coverage (“Tree down in Coral Gables! Film at eleven!”) and going to the store to find the shelves nearly cleared of bread, water bottles, batteries, and Salty Snacks. Yeah. Beer and wine are a little depleted too.

    But seriously, with modern technology and science, us Average Joes and Josephines really do have a lot of good information available to us. People will always complain about media hype, or that “It didn’t hit us, why all the hype?”, but really, the information and forecast tracks have been as accurate as I can possible expect they could ever be. And what’s wrong with that? Government agencies working together with public broadcast media getting information out to people who can then make their own decisions about how they want to prepare and what course or courses of action they want to take to protect themselves, their property and/or their families.

    And if I may, a shout out to Florida State and Municipal government: I don’t always agree with everything you do, and I have my criticisms, but our emergency plans (at least here in So. Fla.) seem to be MUCH better organized than the ones were in New Orleans LA back in 2005. Hey, we can’t seem to get elections right, but we know how to do hurricanes!

    Still, all in all …

    I Don’t Like Ike.

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