Monday, October 24, 2005

Wilma's Wrath Wanes, Waxes

This afternoon's weather map shows Hurricane Wilma emerging as a rejuvenated Category 3 storm over the Atlantic after crossing southern Florida this morning. As the storm continues to accelerate to the northeast, it will interact with a non-tropical frontal system associated with a low developing near Cape Hatteras.

At mid afternoon, radar showed the northern edge of the rain shield from this system extending from near Richmond northeastward across the mouth of the Potomac, the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, central Delaware, and near Atlantic City, NJ. Further west, rain and showers extended from western Pennsylvania through central West Virginia to the border of Virginia. The mountainous portion of this area appeared to include sleet and snow. In fact, Hot Springs, VA reported snow with visibility less than 1/4 mile at 3 and 4pm. At 5pm, showers were approaching the Beltway from the south.

Temperatures around the Washington metro area were mainly in the upper 50s with a northeast wind gusting as high as 28 mph.

Image of NWS/NCEP 24-hour surface map and 6-hr precipitation forecast valid 18Z (2pm EDT) Tuesday

By early afternoon tomorrow, the remains of Wilma and Tropical Depression Alpha will have merged with the "extratropical" low to "bomb out" just south of Long Island. Note that the light blue areas in the image represent precipitation as high as 1.25" in 6 hours. The area within the dashed blue line including West Virginia, western Maryland, and the mountains of Virginia is cold enough for snow showers.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight, rain will continue to advance from the southeast. Heaviest amounts will be on the Eastern Shore and in southeastern Virginia. Low temperatures will drop to the mid 40s. The chance of rain diminishes to 30% by late afternoon tomorrow with highs around 50.

Tropical Beat

Wilma made landfall this morning on the west coast of Florida south of Naples as a Category 3 storm. This is the first time that more than 3 hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. at Category 3 or higher in the same year. It was downgraded to Category 2 while over southern Florida, but was upgraded again to Category 3 after crossing the east coast into the Atlantic. By 5pm, it was back up to 120 mph peak winds as it moved northeast at about 37 mph.

After a brief fling as a Tropical Storm over the weekend, Alpha became Tropically Depressed following its crossing of Hispaniola. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph this morning, but it is expected to be absorbed into the circulation of Wilma.

There are several tropical waves scattered across the Atlantic from near Africa to Central America.

Faces Behind the Signatures

If you read the advisories and discussions issued by the National Hurricane Center, you may have noticed that each one is signed with the name of the lead forecaster. The Daytona Beach News-Journal last fall published a set of profiles of the faces behind those signatures.

Hurricane Seminar Reminder

The AMS Environmental Science Seminar on hurricanes is tomorrow. Scroll on down to Friday's afternoon update for details.

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