Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ophelia in the Wings

6:15 update:At 5:30, the NHC put out an updated advisory indicating that the NOAA Hurricane Hunters had found an area of 75 mph winds, so Ophelia is now upgraded back to a hurricane. Also, the hurricane warning has been extended north to Oregon Inlet. The tropical storm warning and hurricane watch continue north of there. Thanks to Nikolai for catching this.

Current Conditions

A large high pressure ridge continues over the mid-Atlantic area, bringing more bright sun, low humidity, and warm temperatures to the Washington metro area. Temperatures at mid afternoon were about 4 degrees warmer than yesterday at the same time. While the official airport stations were all at 88 or 89 at 3pm, a few locations, especially to the south, were at 90 or above. By 4pm, National and Quantico were the only places not reaching 90. At 5pm, National was at 90 also. It's the 16th consecutive day without rain. The driest September here in modern times was in 1967, when 0.20" was recorded, although only 0.14" occurred in 1884.

Regional radar is clear, but in the Carolinas, the outer rainbands of Ophelia are reaching the coast between Charleston and Wilmington. The heaviest rains are in the Myrtle Beach area.

Tonight and Tomorrow

For tonight, mostly clear skies will allow temperatures to fall to the upper 60s in the city, low to mid 60s in the 'burbs. Tomorrow will be partly cloudy and more humid, highs near 84.

Tropical Beat

Ophelia remains a tropical storm with max winds of 70 mph at 5pm. However, the storm has a very broad circulation; tropical storm winds extend as far as 160 miles from the center. The very large clear area near the center yesterday has been filling with convection as the storm moves slowly over the Gulf Stream. This should cause some strengthening to occur, but it is unlikely to reach more than minimal hurricane strength. Movement is toward the north-northwest at 4 mph, expected to become more northerly. The projected track takes the storm across the Outer Banks in the next couple of days and then northeastward out to sea, eventually reaching southeastern Newfoundland over the weekend.

A hurricane warning is in effect from the South Santee River, SC to Cape Hatteras, NC as of 5pm. There is a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch from Cape Hatteras north to the Virginia border. A tropical storm watch is in effect north of the Virginia border to Cape Charles Light. The Raleigh News&Observer reports as of 4:30 evacuations for portions of the Outer Banks:
  • Dare County: Mandatory evacuation order issued today.
  • Ocracoke Island: Visitors ordered to leave.
  • Hatteras Island: All residents and visitors told to evacuate.
The effects of Ophelia in the immediate Washington DC area are likely to be quite limited, but the National Weather Service has put out a Special Weather Statement (scroll down for the Baltimore/Washington statement) indicating the possible wind, rain, and tidal effects, especially to the south and east of the area.

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