First Alert Weather

Talking the Tropics With Mike: Ian moves back over warm water east of Florida

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REMEMBER WHEN A TROPICAL STORM OR HURRICANE IS APPROACHING: Taping windows is *NOT* helpful & will not keep glass from breaking.

Realize the forecast cone (”cone of uncertainty”) is the average forecast error over a given time - out to 5 days - & *does not* indicate the width of the storm &/or damage that might occur.


* The exact timing & intensity of any & all Ian impacts for NE Fl./SE Ga. will be dependent on the exact location & strength of Ian in reference to Jacksonville & will, of course, be subject to change.

*** Major flooding will accompany the noon high tide cycle up & down the coast & then inland along the St. Johns River & it s tributaries... followed by additional flooding - though less severe - with the midnight high tide cycle... flooding will continue along the St. Johns River, especially at times of high tide through the weekend ***

* Potential rainfall: 6-10″... 12″+ for some areas east of I-95 & near & south of Highway 16 where the strongest rain bands are expected to be the most frequent & persistent with a possible bullseye over approximately Southeast Duval southward through much of St. Johns Co., Eastern Clay & Eastern Putnam Co. including Nocatee, St. Augustine, Palm Valley, Julington Creek, Fruit Cove, Bayard, Picolata, Switzerland, Elkton, Hastings, Palatka, East Palatka, Bostwick, Crescent Beach, Mainland & areas in-between. The highest rain amounts will be from Ponte Vedra & Palm Valley to Vilano Beach & St. Augustine to Marineland west to Green Cove Springs to Palatka. From Highway 301 to about I-95 rainfall will average 2-3″ with a few spots 4″+ from Central Nassau Co. through Central Duval Co. into Central & Eastern Clay Co. Inland areas - Baker, Columbia & Union Co. in Fl... & Ware, Pierce & Charlton Co. in Ga. - Lake City to Olustee to Baxter to Folkston to Waycross to Nahunta & nearby areas of Ga.: 1″ or less with a few spots that might manage 1-2″ close to Highway 301.

Due to the strong & persistent winds out of the east & northeast, some east facing windows, doors & vents of homes & businesses could be compromised by water penetration east of I-95.

The rainfall & surge for downtown Jacksonville does not look to be severe. This situation is different than Irma in 2017 as Irma stayed to the west causing a strong & long fetch of southerly flow up the St. Johns River into downtown Jacksonville. The current Ian forecast is somewhat more similar to Matthew in ‘16 (exception is that Matthew moved parallel & offshore the coast upon approach from the southeast vs. Irma moving south of Jax then northward just offshore). Those impacted by flooding during Matthew in ‘16 should consider alternative shelter & beware of rapidly rising water at any time with the greatest threat from Thu. into early Fri. The forecast trend for Ian’s center is a good deal more south & east which will help in that there will not be as long a fetch of winds directly north up the St. Johns River into d’town Jacksonville. However, a long period of strong winds out of the east will compensate - at least some - & make flooding worse for the area east to the coast. The lower reaches of the St. Johns River in parts of Clay & St. Johns Co. will also be subject to some “sloshing” effect which could increase the surge values. But overall surge & flooding values along the St. Johns River should fall short of Irma’s levels with some light to moderate flooding, especially at high tide & when the heaviest rain occurs. And after the tremendous rainfall of 15-25″ over the southern part of the St. Johns River basin - between Orlando & Daytona Beach - much of that water will flow (north) through the St. Johns River through Putnam, St. Johns, Clay & Duval Co. through the weekend & possibly into next week causing some additional flooding, especially at times of high tide.

Those along Black Creek & its tributaries in Clay Co. should be aware of the flood threat & be ready to evacuate, if necessary. Follow county officials advise on if & when to evacuate. The Black Creek Basin looks to be in for 1-2″ of rain or less along with some higher than avg. tides & surge. However, Black Creek should not produce a “major” flood as it stands right now.

* Storm surge is expected to average at least 4-6 feet at the Fl. coast & 2-4 feet or less along the St. Johns River (for comparison, St. Johns River storm surge caused by Irma was 5-6 feet in downtown Jacksonville in Sept., 2017 & was 5-7+ feet during Matthew at the coast in Oct., 2016). Unfortunately everything (heavy rain, high tide, strong east winds) came together at the wrong time - resulting in flooding/storm surge that was equal to or greater than Matthew at the coast & intracoastal. The storm surge forecast is 4-6 feet for the southeast coast of Georgia from St. Marys to St. Simons Island/Jekyll Island & Brunswick. BUT with the track more south & east with what looks to be a weaker system overall, the storm surge values may not be realized in some areas, especially inland.

* Seas & surf will peak Thu./Fri. with a very high rip current risk. Breakers at the beaches from 9-14+ feet Thu... 8-12+ feet Fri.... subsiding over the weekend but with dangerous rip currents continuing. West winds will do a good job of cleaning up the surf by Fri. into the weekend.

* Gusty winds will be strongest through early Fri. with speeds of 30-45 mph with gusts to 50-70 mph at the beaches & intracoastal.... 30-40 mph but with gusts of 40-60 mph from Highway 301 to near I-95 & along the St. Johns River. West of Highway 301, winds will be 15-20 mph & gusts to 25-30 mph. At the beaches & in parts of St. Johns & Putnam Co. winds could reach sustained tropical storm force at times of 35-45 mph with gusts 60+ mph. Keep in mind that bridges are usually closed when sustained winds reach 40 mph but local officials may make “the call” at anytime depending on local conditions & forecasts. In the end, many of the bridges - especially inland - should be able to remain open.

* At least some power outages should be anticipated, especially east of I-95 & over Putnam, St. Johns & Flagler Co. Realize utility companies will not be able to begin long term repairs until winds decrease & any flooding subsides.


Tropical wave - ‘98-L’ that moved off of Africa last week is moving over the Southern Caribbean & Central Caribbean & was upgraded to tropical depression #9 Friday .... to tropical storm “Ian” Fri. evening... then to a hurricane early Mon. with a landfall over Western Cuba early Tue. as a Cat. 3 hurricane & made landfall southwest of - & near - Ft. Myers Wed. afternoon. Ian formed from a classic wave in that it formed from a complex of intense storms over Africa... encountered hostile conditions (shear & dry air) for days before finding more favorable conditions. Virtually all ingredients were in place for maintaining Ian’s intensity over the SE Gulf. Unfortunately an eyewall replacement cycle was completed overnight resulting in a rapidly intensifying hurricane Wed. upon approach to the southwest coast of Florida. Due to the hurricane’s size & nearly 2 days as a major hurricane, impacts in the area south of Tampa will be even more severe damage than Cat. 4 Charley that hit the same general area in 2004. Imagery below from CIMMS integrated microwave imagery:

Friction from land & increasing shear & dry air will weaken Ian but still with a wide wind field on its journey across Fl. through Thu. afternoon while “sniffing” out the ocean again to the east. In classic tropical cyclone fashion, the dry continental air “eating away” on the underside of Ian which is quickly looking more extra-tropical (with frontal features) vs. purely tropical. Though managing to make it back over the water of the far Western Atlantic, it doesn’t look like Ian will increase a lot but could manage to attain hurricane strength again as Ian is near the very warm Gulf Stream & an upper level trough ventilates Ian & there may be some “tightening up” of Ian & a corresponding increase in winds as Ian moves to the Carolina coast Fri. afternoon. Rain & surge will still likely be significant for N. & S. Carolina, especially near the coast.

Steering currents:

A cold front dipped into Fl. Tue. then stalled near & north of I-4 focusing the heaviest, most persistent rainfall along & north of the front & helping to guide Ian more south & east (with the help of an upper level trough over the Eastern U.S.). So the extreme rain was along & north of I-4.

Movement summary:

Ian will at least stay far away from recently hard hit Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. The time table - *for right now* after slamming Florida’s west/southwest coast Wed.... moving northeast east & south east of Daytona Beach Thu.... to east of Jacksonville Thu. night/early Fri. then another landfall northeast of Savannah & not far from Charleston Fri. afternoon.

Ian will be over the Atlantic water for approximately 30-36 hours & will be fairly close to the Gulf Stream, but it would appear it will be difficult for Ian to recover after its time over Florida not to mention the rather extra-tropical appearance on radar & satellite imagery.

NHC interactive inundation forecast * here *

Spaghetti plots includes ensembles of the models. Definite shift east recently:

Ian additional rainfall forecast for Thu./Thu. night:

Tampa radar imagery:

Radar imagery from S. Fl. Water Management District:

Increasing shear now for Ian as the storm moves across Fl. & over the far W. Atlantic:

Comparison of tracks between Cat. 4 Charley in 2004, Cat. 4 Irma in 2017 & Ian:


Tropical depression #11 has formed over the Eastern Atlantic. #11 might manage to become a brief tropical storm while moving NW before encountering hostile conditions in the form of strong shear & drier air which should cause dissipation over the open Atlantic by at least early by the weekend.

Water vapor loop shows plenty of mid & upper level moisture (white & green areas) across a good part of the Atlantic Basin:

September origins:

Averages below based on climatology for the Atlantic Basin through September. This season so far is well below avg.:

Wind shear:

Saharan dust spreads west each year from Africa by the prevailing winds (from east to west over the Atlantic). Dry air - yellow/orange/red/pink. Widespread dust is indicative of dry air that can impede the development of tropical cyclones. However, sometimes “wanna’ be” waves will just wait until they get to the other side of - or away from - the plume then try to develop if other conditions are favorable. In my personal opinion, way too much is made about the presence of Saharan dust & how it relates to tropical cyclones. In any case, we’ve had several large dust plumes spread west to the Caribbean & Gulf with the peak of Saharan dust typically in June & July.

2022 names..... “Julia” is the next name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years). Historic storms are retired [Florence & Michael in ’18... Dorian in ’19 & Laura, Eta & Iota in ‘20 & Ida in ‘21]). In fact, this year’s list of names is rather infamous with “Charley”, “Frances”, “Jeanne” & “Ivan” retired from the ‘04 list (all hit Fl.) & “Matthew” was retired in 2016. The WMO decided - beginning last year - that the Greek alphabet will be no longer used & instead there will be a supplemental list of names if the first list is exhausted (has only happened three times - 2005, 2020 & 2021). The naming of tropical cyclones began on a consistent basis in 1953. More on the history of naming tropical cyclones * here *.

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content over the Gulf, Caribbean & deep tropical Atlantic:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


GFS wave forecast at 48 & 72 hours (2 & 3 days):

Atlantic Basin wave period forecast for 24, 48 & 72 hours respectively:

Updated Atlantic seasonal forecast from early Aug. - NOAA & CSU:

The East Pacific:

Tropical storm “Orlene” has formed west of Mexico & will take a sharp turn north while intensifying into a hurricane but then weaken as it moves northeast to he upper Mexican coast east of the Baja by early next week:

West Pacific:

Global tropical activity:

Typhoon “Noru” hit Vietnam & is weakening:

“Kulap” will stay well east of Japan:

“Role” over the W. Pacific to stay east of Japan while turning northeast: