Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Milder and Mostly Dry Weather Around Here/Hurricane Idalia Getting Ready to Slam Florida

Wednesday (High 84, Low 69): Mostly sunny. Breezy and mild. 

Thursday (High 83, Low 60): Sunny. Mild with low humidity. 

Friday (High 83, Low 64): Mostly sunny. An isolated shower or thunderstorm is possible.

Saturday (High 85, Low 66): Mostly sunny with a 20% chance of a shower or thunderstorm.

Sunday (High 87, Low 65): Mostly sunny.

Labor Day (High 90, Low 67): Mostly sunny.

Tuesday (High 91, Low 69): Mostly sunny. 

We had periods of clouds today in the Tennessee Valley, also a good amount of sunshine, sort of alternating. 

Most of the rain today has stayed to our South and East. There were some trees down in Western Georgia today, and I noticed a few severe thunderstorm warnings in Florida already from the spiral bands of Hurricane Idalia. Which looks impressive on both radar and satellite imagery. It is moving along at a pretty good clip, 16 miles per hour at the moment, and is expected to make landfall with the eyewall hitting somewhere along the Florida Bend some time late tonight or tomorrow morning. 

In Cullman we had a High of 84, Low of 73. Jasper had a High of 90, Low of 73. And Haleyville had a High of 86, Low of 72. 

Tomorrow should be mostly sunny, and I don't think even a minimal chance of rain is worth putting in the forecast, with us being on the dry side of this major hurricane. We'll be breezy though, with winds gusting up to 15 or 20 mph at times. High should be similar to today, about 84, and the Low tonight/tomorrow morning should be about 69. 

Then on Thursday we'll see sunny skies, winds will have calmed down, High might actually be a degree or two lower, so about 83, the Low down near 60 with really dry air. 

On Friday it looks like we'll temporarily get enough Gulf moisture up this way again to need to bring a minimal 20% chance of a passing shower or thunderstorm back into the forecast. So not much change to the daytime temperature, but the Low might rebound to roughly the mid-60's with that little shot of extra moisture, won't get quite as cool at night. 

And the timing of that is looking a little questionable to me, so I'm going to blanket Saturday with that low chance for a shower or storm as well. The high pressure should start to build back over the region Saturday and beyond. Though the warming trend will be slow this time. Expecting a High in mid-80's and Low in mid-60's for Saturday. And again, most of us will be sunshine, but like on Friday, I think there will be a couple places that could see isolated rain showers or maybe a thunderstorm. 

Then Sunday we can do away with the rain chances, expecting a High in the upper 80's.

Monday also looks high and dry with a High near 90, Low in upper 60's.

And of course that is Labor Day.

Tuesday should be basically the same. Not seeing even a 20% chance of rain around here in the extended period there beyond Saturday. 

Of course the tropics are the big story. There is another tropical wave coming off the West coast of Africa, so that will be monitored over the next week. Tropical Depression Eleven has formed, but really isn't going to do anything significant, just stay over water, maybe briefly ramp up to a tropical storm before weakening again. 

But we have two major hurricanes on the board here. 

Hurricane Franklin is packing winds sustained at 125 mph and is passing West of Bermuda tonight through tomorrow. Where they are under a Tropical Storm Warning, because even though this major hurricane is passing well to their West over the ocean, they are likely to get impacts similar to those from a tropical storm. 

And the main concern is Hurricane Idalia. This thing should make landfall either late tonight or more likely tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. The eyewall probably hits the Florida Bend, and winds are expected to get up to 100 knots, or 115 miles per hour. Everywhere from about Tallahassee down to Tampa Bay are under a Hurricane Warning. And a lot of evacuation orders were issued yesterday, though some people are ignoring them, guess you're always going to have that. And of course you have people who really are not in a good position to leave and may have to take their chances sheltering in place. For those people, I hope they can at least get to a nearby strong building that is set up as a public shelter to ride the thing out. Riding it out in even a decent site-built home is a harrowing experience, and sometimes between the flooding, winds, and storm surge of a hurricane like this, complete failure of such structures is possible. A lot of people in Florida will probably be without any electricity for weeks. And if you lived here in 2011, think about how rough it was to go without it for one week. This hurricane may leave a lot of people without it for several weeks. There will probably be a lot of property damage, and if I had to guess, some people will probably lose their lives in this thing. One thing that might mitigate the loss of life is that at least the eyewall, the absolute strongest part, is not passing through the most populated parts of Florida. But the more populated parts along the Western Peninsula are still on the Eastern side, getting the worst of those squalls. Impacts from a hurricane, especially a major one like this, extend way beyond just the eyewall. And I wish people understood that better. Frankly, Bermuda puts up to shame when it comes to awareness and hurricane safety. If there is a death toll from this storm, I hope it will motivate some of the right people, who can do something about it, to step up our game around here when it comes to hurricanes and public safety. A lot of times, people I talk to don't seem to understand the reality of what is going on, when a hurricane is coming. And when a major hurricane hit Bermuda a few years ago, tiny island, I was surprised that they had great shelters available to everybody and just all worked together to minimize problems. I don't know what's holding that up around here, but if we could take some steps toward changing it, and take care of citizens better, that would be great. But you really don't have a starting point if awareness is as low as I often get discouraged, perceiving it to be. I hope the shelters down that way are sufficient for people who can't evacuate the areas that will be hardest hit, but you also have to have the other side of that equation. People have to understand when a hurricane is more serious than one with only 75 mph winds and could have a big storm surge, and know that it's worth going to a shelter instead of just battening down the hatches at home. It's kind of like people in places like the Dakotas have to learn how to drive through a lot of snow and ice as a matter of course. I feel like the level of preparedness in the Southeast is pretty pitiful for tornadoes and hurricanes. I still can't get over how bad things were that day the tornado hit Rolling Fork in Mississippi and did damage all across the state, same supercell thunderstorm kept producing tornadoes. A lot of the problem was poverty, people not having a really good place to go. I think some of it has improved in Alabama since April 2011. And I would have thought after Hurricane Ian, everybody in Florida would take any major hurricane seriously. But last night I learned of a neighborhood in the Crystal River community where everybody agreed that there was no need to follow the mandatory evacuation order. And that kind of thing is so frustrating to some of us. It makes all the efforts put into forecasts and warnings feel worthless. Maybe a lot of the people who chose to ride it out will find a way to survive without serious injury. It is just one of the major downers in modern life, to see such a lack of concern for things that really are concerning. Just like I know somebody right now who has had the latest strain of the coronavirus, really bad case, but has been out exposing other people to it at times instead of resting at home. So for those of us who don't find human life to be a cheap commodity, let's kind of stick together. I don't have all the answers, but I think it starts with the public understanding what's going on better. How to distinguish a hurricane that really is safe to ride out at home from one with more impact, like this one is likely to have. There has been a serious communication failure when all the neighbors on a block can agree to disregard a mandatory evacuation order ahead of a hurricane this potentially serious. So that's step one. And then we need to find ways to make sure even people who have health problems or some legitimate reason it's hard for them to leave, can get to a safe enough shelter, that would offer more protection than an average house. I'm just suggesting a few simple steps in the right direction. I do find it shameful that a little island like Bermuda can take better care of its citizens and all the tourists passing through better than some of the most hurricane-prone parts of the mainland United States. I hope some meteorologists can work with people in government over the long-term to fix some of this. The forecasts have been great for this, but I don't think they were well-understood and acted on. And I'm afraid we may have some bad news for some parts of Florida tomorrow night and beyond. 

Of course, flooding rains are possible along the track of this hurricane. And that includes when it moves through the Carolinas, probably down to tropical storm strength by then. Back here at the ranch, any rain we get for this forecast period should be light and spotty. 

Oh and by the way, while hurricane conditions are not expected for places like Mobile, on the West side of Hurricane Idalia, rip currents are going to remain dangerous until this thing is gone. 

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