Thursday, September 8, 2005


Bright sun through a clear sky has pushed temperatures this afternoon in the Washington DC metro area a degree of 2 higher than yesterday; the official reading at 4pm was 84. Dewpoints have remained dry, even down to the low 40s in some places. As might be expected, the radar is clear for several hundred miles.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Lows tonight under clear skies will be in the low 60s in the city, 60 or a bit below in the outlying areas. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high around 84 and low humidity.

Tropical Beat Goes On

Although 3 simultaneous hurricanes have been observed before, they are quite rare.

Tropical Storm Ophelia became a hurricane at 5pm. It continues to lurk off the Florida coast, remaining nearly stationary. The circulation has become more organized, and maximum winds of 65 mph as of 2pm were raised to 75 mph in the latest advisory. With extremely weak steering currents, the future track is highly uncertain, but the official forecast brings it gradually northeast and then stalls it out again going into early next week. The models have some wide disagreements. It looks like we will be hearing about this one for quite some time.

Maria is still hanging on as a hurricane with 75 mph winds and an "eye-like feature" as it moves further northeast away from land. It is now north of latitude 39 N, over 1000 miles east of Bermuda.

Brother Nate is also still a hurricane; its 85 mph winds passed to the south of Bermuda. It continues northeastward from a position 170 miles east of Bermuda on a track which should put it southwest of Ireland as a depression in 5 days.

Tales From the Cajun Weather Grill

Katrina's rampage through Momma Nature's Cajun Weather Grill had a big impact on the pantry. Yesterday's WaPo Food section reports "Grocers Cautiously Monitoring Supplies". Supplies of coffee, bananas, chicken, and seafood are all affected. Mississippi produces 10% of the country's chicken, and 10 out of 14 processing plants were without power or water. Chiquita Brands imports 25% of its bananas through Gulfport. These are being rerouted through Texas and Florida.

The Louisiana oyster supply, which accounts for about 40% of the national total, was essentially cut off, with the storm wiping out everything from oyster beds through boats and processing plants. The shrimp industry was also heavily impacted, but 88% of U.S. shrimp consumption is imported.

The Port of New Orleans, which is the largest port in the U.S. by tonnage, reopened on Tuesday for relief shipments. It is expected to reopen in 2 weeks for commercial traffic. Vessels up to a 35-foot draft are being allowed on the Mississippi, but the river normally handles drafts up to 45 feet. The port closure has a big effect on the coffee market; about 50% of the Folger's brand is processed in New Orleans. Starbucks addicts will be relieved to know that the company has processing plants in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Washington state. They announced that they "did not hold any coffee in New Orleans and our coffee supply is not affected by the hurricane." Another vital commodity which normally flows through New Orleans is Mexican beer.

Loss of use of the port has a big effect on food exports as well. About 60% of grain exports are transported down the Mississippi.

No comments:

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.