Maria nearing the latitude of Jacksonville - dangerous conditions at area beaches

by: Michael Buresh Updated:

Sept. 24, 2017 - Photos: Must-see photos of Irma damage in Jacksonville area

Live updates: Maria is a Category 2 hurricane

 "Maria" moving northward - tropical storm WATCH & storm surge WATCH for coastal N. Carolina.... small but strong "Lee" over E. Atlantic....

The "Buresh Bottom Line" is: stay tuned!... Always be prepared!..... City of Jacksonville Preparedness Guide... Georgia Hurricane Guide.  


LOCAL (JACKSONVILLE) IMPACTS  - closest approach will be 550+ miles to the east late Sunday night - early Monday:

- a high rip current risk through Monday

- breezy winds out of the east/northeast (onshore) - especially at & near the coast will become parallel to the coast by Mon. morning then offshore later Mon. into Tue.

- no rainfall..... no high winds .... no storm surge directly associated with Maria for NE Fl./SE Ga.

Maria went Cat. 5 & then some with a minimum pressure of at least 909 mb Tue. evening making the hurricane among the top 10 most intense on record for any part of the Atlantic Basin. Maria was the 2nd Cat. 5 of the season over the Atlantic - the first time that's happened since 2007 (Dean & Felix). The move over Puerto Rico caused some weakening before more intensification once over the warm water of the Southwest Atlantic.  Some weakening has started anew as shear increases out of the west & southwest.  

When it comes to movement.... how do we solve a problem like Maria?  Well... much will come down to any upper level ridging near the U.S. east coast & an approaching upper level trough.  All indications are that Maria will follow a wake of sorts to the south of what was "Jose".  It's the ol' "cork in a stream" - the hurricane is going to follow the path of least resistance which keeps Maria far to the east of Florida.

Spaghetti model plot for Maria:

Average wave heights:

The chart below is the 500mb (upper level) forecast from the GFS model for early Wed., 09/27.  The atmosphere is going through some major "restructuring".  The Bermuda high over the Atlantic is trying to re-establish itself not that Jose has dissipated while a trough of low pressure moves eastward across the Northern U.S.  This set-up looks like it will validate my concern going back to as long as 10 days ago that Maria may not be a simply "up & out".  Maria will come awfully close to at least the NC Outer Banks by Wed.... & a NC landfall is not out of the question.  The pattern this season has been screaming strong Bermuda high, & it will be trying to flex its muscles the next several days .... getting some help from the approaching trough.

It is a rather complicated weather pattern.  But I am confident that Maria stays well east of Florida so only fringe relatively effects on the coast of NE Fl. & SE Ga. - dangerous rip currents & breezy winds out of the northeast (onshore).  It is looking more & more likely that Maria will at least move a little west of due north into Wed. so heads up N. Carolina north to Chesapeake Bay.

Once the trough gets to the norht (similar longitude as Maria), Maria will turn sharply east/northeast & accleerate away from the U.S. late in the week.

NOAA WaveWatch III below predicated on GFS model - will change & update - hit refresh for latest + loop:


Tropical cyclone "Lee" went through a rapid intensification cycle Sat./Sun. becoming a hurricane over the Eastern Atlantic.  Movement will be slow & erratic then turn rather sharply west then north over the open Atlantic-- no threat to cross the Atlantic.

Very warm ocean water persists:

Deep oceanic heat content is still very evident - especially over the Caribbean & Gulf.  We will have more tropical troubles before the season is over.

Sea surface temp. anomalies show sea surface temps. have cooled across the Northern Gulf & surrounding Fl. most likely caused by the recent tropical cyclones....

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU tweeted the two images below.  The point being that the sea surface temps. right now have been an indication in the past of active late hurricane seasons.

The Gulf remains mostly quiet while the Caribbean is becoming more unsettled.  There are indications of a general lowering of surface pressures across this area for late month which might be a hint pointing to tropical "mischief" the first week or so of Oct.

East Atlantic IR satellite:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS):

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


Hurricane Irma recap: made the turn to the northwest & then north after ravaging the Keys.  Ft. Myers & much of Florida Sept. 9 - 11th. this is the first "major" Fl. hurricane landfall since Cat. 3 "Wilma" in Oct., 2005 (Twitter did not yet exist!)...  

The last advisory by the NHC on "Irma" was issued Tue. morning, Sept. 12 as the storm became post tropical.

Preliminarily highest water levels from NOAA.  Further ground verification will follow & result in some higher numbers ultimately (probably) - especially for the Keys & S. Florida.  What pops out is the highest so far is the I-295 Bridge (Buckman)!.... then the southerly wind on the east side of Irma pushed all that water north to downtown resulting in the massive once in a generation flood for Riverside & San Marco.  Initial post storm analysis is showing salinity of the St. Johns River at the peak of the "Great Flood" to not be as great as during the peak of flooding during/immediately after Matthew last year.

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