Thursday, September 15, 2005

Which Way the Wind Blows

Here's an unusual sight: Easterly to northeasterly winds all day in the middle of September in the Washington DC area, and the temperatures are . . . near or above 90 degrees! Surface dewpoints are in the juicy range of the upper 60s to low 70s, but outflow from the hurricane to the south is keeping convective activity very widely scattered between here and tidewater Virginia. Around 4:00, there was a small area of moderate to heavy showers along the Eastern Shore north of the Bay Bridge.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight will continue warm and muggy, lows in the lower 70s. Tomorrow will be mainly cloudy as a front approaches from the west; highs will be in the low 80s, and there is a 50% chance of showers by afternoon.

Tropical Beat: Exit Ophelia Stage Right?

Hurricane Ophelia continues to act distracted. It has still not made landfall, since the edge of the center just grazed the southeastern North Carolina coast. At 5pm, it was drifting east-northeast at 3 mph after having stalled again earlier today. It was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras. Maximum winds decreased from 80 mph to 75 mph. It is expected to drift slowly to the east or east-northeast tonight. The forecast track continues the westward trend of recent days and brings it close to Nova Scotia as an extratropical storm over the weekend.

At 5pm, the hurricane warnings for North Carolina were changed to tropical storm warnings. Also, a tropical storm watch was issued for southeastern New England, from Woods Hole, MA north across Cape Cod to Plymouth, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Meanwhile, there is a tropical wave about 900 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands which has the potential to become a tropical depression by tomorrow. Despite the lull in new development since Ophelia, we are still ahead of the record season of 1933, since the 16th would-have-been-named storm did not appear until September 27 that year. In the near-record year of 1995, "Pablo" didn't form until October 4.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) announced today the results of a study published in the latest issue of Science which shows that the intensity of tropical storms worldwide has been increasing:
"The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s, according to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The shift occurred as global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period."
Winds of Justice

Newsweek reports that the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist was a weather forecaster for the Army Air Corps during World War II. According to the article, he spent the time "drinking in Frederick Hayek's free-market, anti-socialist tract 'The Road to Serfdom.'" Somehow, the connection doesn't seem quite clear.

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