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Hurricanes

  • 'Laura' ties for strongest Louisiana landfall hurricane on record

    Category 4 Hurricane "Laura" made landfall near Cameron in southwestern Louisiana at 06:00 UTC (01:00 CDT) on August 27, 2020, with maximum sustained winds of 241 km/h (150 mph) and minimum central pressure of 938 hPa. Catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding are occurring in portions of Louisiana.

    Laura is the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana since the Last Island Hurricane of 1856. Last Island also had maximum sustained winds of 241 km/h (150 mph) - tie for the strongest Louisiana landfalling hurricane on record.

    The table below, made by Dr. Philip Klotzbach of the CSU, shows 11 strongest hurricanes to make landfall in Louisiana since records began in 1851, based on maximum sustained wind. 

    Laura's minimum central pressure of 938 hPa is the 4th lowest for a Louisiana hurricane landfall on record, trailing Katrina (2005, 920 hPa), Last Island (1856, 934 hPa) and Rita (2005, 937 hPa), Klotzbach noted.

    Laura is also the 7th named storm to make landfall in continental US (CONUS) in 2020, breaking the old record of 6 named storms making CONUS landfall by the end of August, set in 1886 and 1916.

    It is also the 7th major hurricane (Category 3+) to hit the state of Louisiana during August since records began in 1851.

    "Louisiana has been hit by more major hurricanes during August than any other state except Texas," Klotzbach said.

    At the time of landfall, at 06:00 UTC today, the center of Hurricane "Laura" was about 45 km (30 miles) SSW of Lake Charles, Louisiana and 70 km (40 miles) E of Port Arthur, Texas.

    The storm was moving N at 24 km/h (15 mph) and this general motion should continue through the day. A northeastward to east-northeastward motion is expected tonight and Friday. 

    On the forecast track, Laura will move inland across southwestern Louisiana this morning, and then continue northward across the state through this afternoon. The center of Laura is forecast to move over Arkansas tonight, and over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday.

    Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 95 km (60 miles) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 335 km (205 miles). 

    A Weatherflow site in Cameron recently reported a sustained wind of 163 km/h (101 mph) with a gust to 187 km/h (116 mph).  

    A National Ocean Service site at Calcasieu Pass reported a sustained wind of 150 km/h (93 mph) and a wind gust of 204 km/h (127 mph) within the last hour.

    A wind gust of 167 km/h (104 mph) was recently reported at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

    At 07:00 UTC, Laura's center was about 15 km (10 miles) SW of Lake Charles. It had maximum sustained winds of 225 km/h (140 mph) and minimum central pressure of 941 hPa. The storm was moving N at 24 km/h (15 mph). By 08:00 UTC, it was 25 km (15 miles) WNW of Lake Charles with maximum sustained winds of 210 km/h (130 mph) and minimum central pressure of 946 hPa.

    A National Ocean Service tide station at Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana observed a water level rise of 2.8 m (9.19 feet) Mean Higher High Water at 06:00 UTC (01:00 CDT).

    In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the airport reported a sustained wind of 158 km/h (98 mph) with a gust to 212 km/h (132 mph) and a University of Florida observing tower reported sustained winds of 153 km/h (95 mph) and a gust to 212 km/h (132 mph) within the past couple of hours.

    A Weatherflow site in Cameron, Louisiana reported sustained wind of 148 km/h (92 mph) and a gust to 188 km/h (117 mph) in the southern eyewall of Laura after the eye has passed overhead

  • Hurricane "Laura" aftermath: Widespread Destruction Across the U.S. Gulf Coast

    Hurricane "Laura" entered history books as a deadly, very powerful, and damaging hurricane that tied the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in Louisiana, U.S. Laura is the 12th named storm, 4th hurricane, and 1st major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. At least 53 people were killed, as of August 30, 2020 -- 31 in Haiti, 4 in the Dominican Republic and 18 in the United States (10 in Louisiana, 7 in Texas and 1 in Florida).

    The storm started forming on August 16 as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa. On August 20, satellite imagery revealed that the system developed a defined low-level circulation center, with convection firing up around it. As a result, the NHC began issuing advisories on Tropical Depression Thirteen, while the system was located about 1 670 km (1 035 miles) ESE of the northern Leeward Islands.

    Schools were closed in Anguilla and Antigua on August 20 as well as all ports in the British Virgin Islands.

    Laura intensified into a tropical storm on August 21 when it was about 375 km (230 miles) ESE of the northern Leeward Islands. This made it the earliest 12th named storm in the Atlantic Ocean on record, beating the previous record held by Hurricane "Luis" of 1995 by 8 days.

    The storm was strengthening as it passed just south of Puerto Rico and early on August 23, it made landfall near San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic with maximum sustained winds of 72 km/h (45 mph).

    On the same day, it passed near Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and emerged from Haiti and crossed the Windward Passage, making a second landfall near Santiago de Cuba Province, Cuba with maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h (60 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 1 000 hPa. The third landfall took place around 00:00 UTC on August 25 in western Cuba's Pinar del Rio Province. The storm then entered the Gulf of Mexico and started reorganizing.

    Laura brought heavy rainfall to the islands of Guadeloupe and Dominica. In the Netherlands Antilles, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint-Maarten saw minor flooding. Scattered power outages affected 4 000 people in Saint Kitts and Nevis. In the Virgin Islands, a peak wind gust of 65 km/h (41 mph) was reported in Sandy Point, Saint Croix. The Virgin Islands reported some power outages and flash flooding.

    Puerto Rico authorities declared a state of emergency after roughly 200 000 customers lost power and nearly 14 000 access to running water. A peak 104 mm (4.09 inches) of rain was reported in Villalba and peak wind gust of 121 km/h (75 mph) in Salinas.

    In the Dominican Republic, the heaviest rains were reported in the country's southern coast. The highest 24-hour rainfall accumulation was recorded in Barahona at 300 mm (11.7 inches). According to media reports, approximately 1.1 million people lost power, and 1.56 million experienced water service disruption. Estimates made on August 24 included 1 791 damaged homes. At least 4 people lost their lives.

    Widespread flooding also hit Haiti where Peligre Dam overflowed, sending floodwaters down the Artibonite valley. Floods damaged 447 homes and destroyed 15 in the Artibonite. At least 31 people lost their lives and 8 went missing.

    In Cuba, 260 000 people were forced to evacuate. A wind gust of 146 km/h (91 mph) was recorded in Maisi, where residents reported downed trees and destroyed roofs. 231.5 mm (9.51 inches) of rain was recorded in Complejo Palma, Santiago de Cuba, and 190.6 mm (7.50 inches) in San Antonio del Sura, Guantanamo. A bridge in Buey Arriba, Granma Province, collapsed due to flooding, stranding residents of 30 communities.

    Flash flooding and significant disruption to road infrastructure were also reported across Jamaica.

    Florida, U.S. started feeling Laura's effects by August 21, with major flooding and a state of emergency declared in southern counties. On August 25, a St. George Island first responder drowned while trying to rescue a swimmer caught in rough surf. This was Laura's first fatality in the United States.

    Laura strengthened into a hurricane at 12:15 UTC on August 25 and started rapidly intensifying on the following day. At the time, the northern Gulf Coast was already under hurricane warnings caused by Hurricane "Marco."

    Approximately 58% of oil production and 45% of natural gas were shut down in the United States by August 23. This included the evacuation of 114 platforms. By August 25, 299 of 643 platforms and 27 of 28 mobile rigs evacuated.

    Three rare Extreme Wind Warnings were issued for Louisiana and Texas as Laura approached landfall.

    Louisiana declared a state of emergency for 36 of its parishes on August 21 due to the combined effect of Marco and Laura. Evacuations related to Marco were in place for Plaquemines Parish, Jefferson Parish, Grand Isle, and Port Fourchon. A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the entire Calcasieu Parish on August 25 -- approximately 200 000 people.

    State of Emergency was declared in Texas on August 23 for 23 counties in its eastern region. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for low-lying areas of Chambers, Galveston and Jefferson counties, and the entire Orange County. This included the entirety of the Bolivar Peninsula and cities of Galveston and Port Arthur. A voluntary evacuation order was issued for coastal areas of Brazoria and Harris counties. In total, an estimated 385 000 people were under evacuation orders in the state, including the entire city of Beaumont.

    At 12:00 UTC on August 26, Laura intensified into a Category 3 hurricane and reached Category 4 strength by 18:00 UTC on the same day.

    At 01:00 UTC on August 27, Laura reached a peak intensity of 240 km/h (150 mph) and pressure of 937 hPa. By 03:00 UTC, the pressure began to fluctuate as the storm approached the Louisiana coastline.

    Laura made its fourth landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, with maximum sustained wind of 240 km/h (150 mph) and central pressure of 938 hPa at 06:00 UTC on August 27. This tied it with the 1856 Last Island hurricane as the strongest cyclone on record to make landfall in Louisiana, based on maximum sustained wind speed.

    It began to weaken quickly after moving inland due to frictional displacement and shear created by the trough that caused Hurricane "Marco" to dissipate two days earlier and became a tropical storm on the same day, while moving over northern Louisiana. Early on August 28, the storm weakened further, dropping to tropical depression status while over Arkansas. By that time, it was moving north-northeastward ahead of the westerly flow.

    NHC issued its last advisory for the storm at 09:00 UTC on August 29 when Laura degraded into a remnant low, 210 km (130 miles) E of Louisville, Kentucky. 

    Widespread power outages were reported near the landfall point in Cameron. Near Cameron, a wind gust of 204 km/h (127 mph) was recorded at Calcasieu Pass, which saw at least 2.8 m (9.19 feet) of storm surge. Extensive damage took place in Holly Beach:

    The Lake Charles Regional Airport saw a wind gust of 206 km/h (128 mph) and reported multiple hangars destroyed. Many windows were blown out of Capital One Tower in Downtown Lake Charles.

    A communications tower collapsed onto the KPLC studio building (which had been evacuated ahead of the storm) and a portion of a sky bridge was blown out.

    The radar at the NWS Lake Charles forecast office was destroyed around the time of landfall, with its dome and much of its internal equipment sheared from the radar tower's base. Its staff was evacuated before the incident.

    A large chemical fire started on the west side of Lake Charles after a chlorine leak. Extensive structural damage was also reported in Vinton in De Quincy and much of the town of Delcambre.

    Widespread flooding was also reported in Natchitoches Parish, where I-49 had to be closed past SH 174 west of Powhatan due to a downed tree.

    Authorities reported four fatalities across the state due to falling trees. One young person died in Calcasieu Parish and the entire family of 4 in Lake Charles due to carbon monoxide poisoning from generators run inside homes. The 10th fatality in the state as man who drowned while aboard a sinking boat during the storm.

    Mississippi reported 1 tornado and widespread flooding across Jefferson Davis County but other than that, the state was spared of devastating storm surge forecasters warned about.

    A large and extremely dangerous tornado was reported in Crowley's Ridge State Park, Arkansas, prompting a rare Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado warning. An EF-2 tornado was also reported southwest of Maynard and another in Lake City, causing significant damage.

    Over a million customers lost power in the United States and about 200 000 without running water.

  • Hurricane Laura forecast to rapidly strengthen into Category 4 hurricane prior to landfall, U.S.

    Hurricane "Laura" is expected to rapidly strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane before it approaches Upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts and moves island near those areas tonight, August 26 or Thursday morning (LT), August 27, 2020. 

    Potentially catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash floods are expected along the northwest Gulf Coast tonight (LT). 

    At 12:00 UTC on August 26, Laura's center was located about 450 km (280 miles) SSE of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 465 km (290 miles) SE of Galveston, Texas.

    The storm had maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) and minimum central pressure of 963 hPa. This makes it a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. 

    It was moving NW at 24 km/h (15 mph) and this general motion should continue today, followed by NNW motion tonight (LT).

    On the forecast track, Laura should approach Upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts this evening and move inland near those areas tonight or Thursday morning.

    NHC forecasters expect the system to continue strengthening into a category 4 hurricane later today, followed by rapid weakening after landfall.

    Key NHC messages:

    Life-threatening storm surge with large and dangerous waves is expected to produce potentially catastrophic damage from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the Mouth of the Mississippi River, including areas inside the Port Arthur Hurricane Flood Protection system.

    This surge could penetrate up to 50 km (30 miles) inland from the immediate coastline in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion as water levels will begin to rise later today.

    Hurricane-force winds are expected tonight in the warning area from San Luis Pass, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana, and the strongest winds associated with Laura's eyewall will occur somewhere within this area.  Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts are also expected to spread well inland into portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana early Thursday.

    Widespread flash flooding along small streams, urban areas, and roadways is expected to begin this afternoon into Thursday from far eastern Texas, across Louisiana and Arkansas. This will also lead to minor to isolated moderate freshwater river flooding.

    The heavy rainfall threat and localized flash and urban flooding potential will spread northeastward into the middle-Mississippi, lower Ohio and Tennessee Valleys Friday night and Saturday.

    The hurricane has intensified a remarkable 75 km/h (45 mph) during the past 24 hours, and there are no signs it will stop soon, with shear remaining low-to-moderate over the deep warm waters of the central Gulf of Mexico, NHC forecaster Blake noted at 09:00 UTC.

    "Increasing shear is expected to slightly weaken the hurricane close to landfall, so the new forecast keeps the previous 195 km/h (120 mph) intensity near the coast.

    Laura will weaken rapidly after landfall, but it will likely bring hurricane-force winds well inland over western Louisiana and eastern Texas. In the extended range, there is some chance that Laura re-intensifies as a tropical cyclone off the Mid-Atlantic coast, instead of becoming part of a frontal system, but for now the forecast will stay extratropical at 96 hours and beyond."

    "It should be mentioned Laura is now a large hurricane, and wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards will extend far from the center. Do not use the cone graphic for any representation of these hazards, it is just for the center uncertainty," Blake said.

    At 12:00 UTC on August 26 a Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
    - Freeport Texas to the Mouth of the Mississippi River.

    A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
    - San Luis Pass Texas to Intracoastal City Louisiana.

    A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
    - Sargent Texas to San Luis Pass.
    - East of Intracoastal City Louisiana to the Mouth of the Mississippi River.

    A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:
    - Mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs Mississippi.
    - Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne.

    A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:
    - East of Intracoastal City to west of Morgan City Louisiana.

    Storm surge and tropical-storm-force winds will arrive within the warning areas well in advance of Laura's center later today. All preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the next few hours, NHC warns.

    The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. 

    The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide.

    • Sea Rim State Park to Intracoastal City including Sabine Lake and Calcasieu Lake: 3 - 4.5 m (10 - 15 feet).
    • Intracoastal City to Morgan City including Vermilion Bay: 2.4 - 3.6 m (8 - 12 feet).
    • Port Bolivar to Sea Rim State Park: 1.8 - 2.7 m (6 - 9 feet).
    • Morgan City to Mouth of the Mississippi River: 1.2 - 2.1 m (4 - 7 feet).
    • San Luis Pass to Port Bolivar: 0.9 - 1.5 m (3 - 5 feet).
    • Galveston Bay: 0.9 - 1.5 m (3 - 5 feet).
    • Mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs including Lake Borgne: 0.6 - 1.2 m (2 - 4 feet).
    • Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas: 0.6 - 1.2 m (2 - 4 feet).
    • Freeport to San Luis Pass: 0.6 - 1.2 m (2 - 4 feet).

    The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the right of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. This storm surge could penetrate up to 50 km (30 miles) inland from the immediate coastline in southwestern Louisiana and far southeastern Texas. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

    Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area tonight and Thursday, August 27. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast in the hurricane warning area late today or tonight, and are expected in the tropical storm warning area tonight and Thursday. Hurricane-force winds and damaging wind gusts are also expected to spread well inland into portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana early Thursday (LT).

    From this afternoon through Friday, Laura is expected to produce rainfall totals of 125 - 250 mm (5 to 10 inches), with isolated maximum amounts of 380 mm (15 inches) across portions of the northwestern Gulf Coast from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas, and northward into much of Arkansas. 

    Over the lower to middle Mississippi Valley from central Louisiana into western Tennessee and Kentucky and southeastern Missouri, 50 - 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) of rainfall with isolated totals of 150 mm (6 inches) are expected. 

    This rainfall will cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks, and minor to isolated moderate river flooding.

    By late Friday into Saturday, portions of the Tennessee and Ohio Valley could see 50 - 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) with locally higher amounts as tropical moisture from Laura moves through the region. This rainfall could lead to localized flash and urban flooding along small streams.

    A few tornadoes are expected this evening through tonight over Louisiana, far southeast Texas, and southwestern Mississippi. The risk for a few tornadoes should continue into Thursday across Louisiana, Arkansas, and western Mississippi.

    Swells produced by Laura are affecting the U.S. Gulf coast from the west coast of Florida to Louisiana and are expected to reach the coast of Texas and northeastern Mexico today. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

    Laura is the first major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Michael in 2018 and the first major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico during the month of August since Harvey in 2017, Dr. Philip Klotzbach notes.

    "When Laura makes landfall in about 24 hours, it will be the record 7th named storm to hit the continental US (CONUS) before the end of August. The current record for CONUS named storm landfalls by the end of August is 6, set in 1886, 1916, and 2020."

    The average date of the first major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean is September 4.

    9 major hurricanes on record (since 1851) have tracked within 80 km (50 miles) of Laura's current location. The most recent of these is Hurricane "Rita" in 2005.

  • Hurricane Sally Pummels Alabama Coast, Florida Panhandle

    PENSACOLA, Fla. — After Hurricane Sally drenched Alabama and Florida with more than 2 feet of rain in some areas, local officials say the storm caused at least $29 million of damage in Florida's Escambia County and Pensacola alone.

    A second storm-related death in Alabama was confirmed while rescuers in Florida called off a search for a missing boater that would mark the state's first death from Sally. More than 320,000 businesses and homes are still without power, too.

    Rescuers have had to use high-water vehicles to reach those trapped by Sally's floods, and more flooding may be on its way through the weekend with overflowing rivers and streams, the National Weather Service said.

    The remnants of Sally on Friday prompted some coastal flood warnings in Virginia and Maryland around the Chesapeake Bay. The storm crawled ashore Wednesday as a slow-moving, powerful Category 2 storm near Gulf Shores, Alabama.

    As Sally lurched through the Alabama-Florida border, it soaked the area with torrential rains, battered buildings and boats and made the streets of Pensacola look like rivers. Thirty inches fell in Orange Beach, Alabama, and in isolated areas of Florida, the Weather Service said.

  • Hurricane Sally: Catastrophic Flooding Unfolding Across Alabama/Florida

    Slow-moving Category 2 Hurricane "Sally" made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama at 10:00 UTC on September 16, 2020, with maximum sustained winds of 165 km/h (105 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 965 hPa.

    • Sally is now the 8th named storm to make continental U.S. (CONUS) landfall so far in 2020. This is the most CONUS landfalling named storms on record through September 16, beating the previous record of 7 landfalls through September 16 in 1916.
    • Sally is also the 4th hurricane to make landfall in CONUS so far in 2020. The most recent year with 4 CONUS hurricane landfalls by September 16 is 2004.

    Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding is occurring in parts of the northern Gulf Coast and more than 500 000 customers are without power in Alabama and Florida, as of 14:20 UTC.

    Sally is an extremely dangerous slow-moving hurricane, able to deliver flooding of historic proportions through the end of the week.

    Life-threatening conditions and significant damage reports are coming in from Orange Beach, Alabama, just 11 km (7 miles) E of Gulf Shores, and other nearby towns.

    A north-northeastward to northeastward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected later today and tonight, followed by a faster northeastward motion on Thursday.

    On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move across the extreme western Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama through early Thursday, and move over central Georgia Thursday afternoon through Thursday night.

    At 14:00 UTC (09:00 CDT), Sally's center was located about 30 km (20 miles) W of Pensacola, Florida. Its maximum sustained winds were 140 km/h (85 mph) and minimum central pressure 972 hPa. The storm was moving NNE at 7 km/h (4 mph). By 15:00 UTC, winds decreased to 130 km/h (80 mph).

    Historic and catastrophic flooding is unfolding along and just inland of the coast from west of Tallahassee, Florida, to Mobile Bay, Alabama, NHC said.

    In addition, widespread moderate to major river flooding is forecast.

    Significant flash and urban flooding, as well as widespread minor to moderate river flooding, is likely across inland portions Alabama into central Georgia.

    Widespread flash and urban flooding is possible, as well as widespread minor to moderate river flooding, across western South Carolina into western and central North Carolina.

    Scattered flash and urban flooding is possible, as well as scattered minor river flooding in southeast Virginia.

    Life-threatening storm surge is occurring along portions of the coastline from Alabama to the western Florida Panhandle, including Pensacola Bay and southern portions of Mobile Bay.

    Hurricane conditions are expected this morning and then continue into this afternoon within portions of the Hurricane Warning area along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines and the western Florida Panhandle.

  • NOAA warns of extremely active 2020 hurricane season

    An extremely active hurricane season is expected in the Atlantic Basin this year, according to a new update by NOAA.

    The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been off to a rapid pace with a record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record.

    Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm typically does not form until October 4.

    An average season produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5).

    The new NOAA publication says the current hurricane season could have 19-25 named storms (above 63 km/h; 39 mph), with 7-11 of those becoming hurricanes (above 119 km/h; 74 mph).

    NOAA: ‘Extremely active’ hurricane season possible for Atlantic Basin. Picture: NOAA

    This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks. NOAA will continue to provide the best possible science and service to communities across the Nation for the remainder of hurricane season to ensure public readiness and safety,said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.

    Using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which measures the combined total duration and intensity of all named storms during the season, NOAA predicts there is an 85 percent chance of a more active season than average this year.

    2020 Atlantic Tropical Storm Names. Picture: NOAA

    There have been various ACE index predictions for the 2020 season, with meteorology centers releasing different values (University of Arizona forecastNC State University), but best bets at the start of the season ranged from 110-168 and mid-season forecasts are predicting almost record-breaking numbers of named storms.

    This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. 

    The extremely active season could be a result of warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon. These conditions are expected to continue for the next several months.

    If you are in an area that may be affected by the coming hurricane season, check out the NOAA storm prediction center and the National Weather Service’s hurricane preparedness guidelines.

  • T.S Isaias Pummels the Eastern Seaboard

    Tropical Storm Isaias flooded cars and homes, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and spawned deadly and destructive tornadoes from the Carolinas into Virginia and Maryland.

    Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) made landfall at 11:10 p.m. Monday at the South Carolina-North Carolina border as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. It was racing toward the northeast, and tropical storm warnings were raised as far north as Maine.

    Deadly tornado in Windsor

    Two people were killed and at least 20 injured Tuesday when a tornado scoured a mobile home park overnight in Windsor, North Carolina, Bertie County Sheriff John Holley confirmed to WNCT-TV. A dozen people were hospitalized, but several others who were missing had been accounted for later in the day, according to the Associated Press.

    Holley told WRAL the scene was the worst thing he had seen in his 38 years with the department. “It’s bad,” Holley said. “It doesn’t look real, it looks like something on TV. Nothing is there.

    All my officers are down there at this time,” Holley said. “Pretty much the entire trailer park is gone.

    Sharee and Jeffrey Stilwell huddled in their living room as the tornado tore through Windsor.

    I felt like the house was going to cave in,” Jeffrey Stillwell, 65, ttold the AP. They, and their home, escaped unscathed.

    Two people were reportedly injured by a possible tornado that severely damaged several homes near White Stone, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay. Possible tornadoes damaged homes and overturned a vehicle in Maryland, also.

    Altogether, the storm is blamed for the deaths of six people, including a person killed by a falling tree in New York City. Two people died when the storm pounded the Dominican Republic last week.

    Hundreds of thousands in the dark

    Across the mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast, about 3 million homes and businesses were without electricity as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to poweroutage.us, more than 210,000 were in Virginia and over 130,000 were in North Carolina. Maryland had more than 73,000 outages, but power was slowly being restored in all three states.

    At about 6:45 p.m., more than 166,000 remained without power in Virginia, more than 87,000 in North Carolina and about 49,000 in Maryland.

    Maryland

    Isaias brought flooding to Maryland as the morning went on. St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said most of the county’s roads were impassable and dangerous.

    Maryland State Patrol troopers rescued two people about 11 a.m. after their vehicles were swept into floodwaters on Brandywine Road in Charles County. The road remained closed for several hours.

    Flooding and downed trees closed more than 60 roads in Anne Arundel County. State officials closed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for about three hours Tuesday morning because of high winds. A gust of 79 mph was measured on the bridge.

    In Ocean City, a town on the Atlantic coast, Isaias ripped the roof off a condominium building and two other buildings, WBAL-TV reported.

    Virginia

    In Virginia, multiple businesses and homes in downtown Suffolk were damaged when a possible tornado touched about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, WAVY-TV reported. A fire station also was damaged.

    Trees fell on a number of homes in Suffolk as well.

    Trees were down across the Hampton Roads area, including a large tree that fell across Interstate 264 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

    In Southhampton County, the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department reported a possible tornado touchdown. The Palm Tree Inn in Courtland sustained major damage.

    In Norfolk, Virginia, the facade of the First Baptist Church on 38th Street — including a huge stained-glass window — collapsed into the street.

    North Carolina

    North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties were among the hardest hit with storm surge, structure fires and reports of tornadoes, the AP reported. About two dozen shelters were open because of the storm, he said.

    In Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, where Isaias came ashore, flooding reached 3 feet in some areas, Mayor Debbie Smith told WECT-TV.

    On Oak Island, families had to be rescued from flooded homes. Video from Oak Island showed roads covered with up to a foot of sand in places.

    In Southport’s marina, dozens of boats were slammed together when the docks collapsed.

    South Carolina

    Streets were flooded in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and a large section of the Sea Captain Pier in nearby Cherry Grove was missing, WBTW-TV reported.

    A high-water rescue vehicle had to be called in after 4 feet of water prevented rescuers from reaching people in a flooded home in Cherry Grove.

    The department also responded to six house fires, one of which caused significant damage and one caused moderate damage.

    On the heels of Isaias, forecasters say 10 more hurricanes are likely this season.

  • Video Compilation: Devastation in the wake of Powerful Hurricane Laura

    Laura made landfall overnight as a storm of historic proportions, with wind speeds of 150 miles an hour, surpassing Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    Here are some incredible videos and images of the monster storm.

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