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#Nicole wrap-up

Nicole is now a tropical depression, over central Georgia, continuing to decay and transition form a warm core (tropical) system into a non-tropical system. Here’s what it looks like on the radar composite around 6am ET today (Friday 11 Nov 2022) which of course is embiggenable by clicking:

MRMS Radar Composite. Nicole the swirl over Georgia, incoming front the line of rain to the left.

For those in GA/SC, for the coast there are still some rain bands moving across the area and gusty winds, but those will clear out as the day goes on. The tornado threat has moved on, north of Charleston and declining. The only report I have seen of a tornado was a funnel cloud near Jacksonville. As for impacts, it was pretty much as expected, concentrated on the coast. Here are the NWS Local Storm Reports for the last 48 hours. There were flood reports around Brunswick, the only ones I see around Savannah were US 80 briefly closed around the time of high tide, and that looks like it.

NWS Local Storm Reports for Nicole as of 5am.

Impacts in Florida are of course worse. At least two deaths have been attributed to the storm, it is probably higher as such things tend to be undercounted. There is dramatic video of homes falling into the water near Daytona Beach due to the erosion that Ian got started, and Nicole made worse. Right now it looks like close to $4 Billion in damage – upwards of a third of that from the weakened state of infrastructure in Florida from Ian.

Update on #tornado threat from #Nicole for #GA, #SC

In their recent discussions, the Charleston Weather Service Forecast Office has gone in to more detail about the possible tornado threat to coastal Georgia and South Carolina. Here is what they have to say …

Model soundings are certainly concerning and indicative of a classic tropical tornado
environment … A couple of key things to keep in mind. First, the tornado threat window will be in place for an extended period of time, roughly 18-20 hours or so from midday through the overnight, so vigilance will be important. Second, much of this tornado threat window will occur at night so it will be important for the public to have a way to receive and react to warnings during typical sleeping hours.

WSFO Charleston forecast discussion

This is why I strongly advise having a NOAA weather radio on hand. They have a very loud alert, and unlike sirens, cell phone or app warnings, these go off the moment the forecaster issues the warning. Trust me – when they go off, you don’t want a cat sleeping on you! Those seconds to minutes count. In the case of sirens, they aren’t meant to be heard inside even though they are sometimes. They are also highly dependent on wind direction – and in strong winds like today, often you can be outside and upwind and not hear them.

Really shouldn’t joke about tornadoes, but here we are …

So what do you do when you get an alert? In this part of the country we don’t normally have tornado shelters or specially constructed “safe rooms.” But we also don’t get the classical, long track, strong F4 or F5 tornadoes, and tropical cyclones’ generally don’t spawn that kind of twister anyway. The best protection is a small, interior, windowless room or basement on the lowest level of a sturdy building. So while nothing to panic over, be aware of the potential today, and be alert for warnings.

Hurricane #Nicole makes landfall

Hurricane (now tropical storm) Nicole made landfall near Vero Beach this morning at 3am ET. While there are areas of hurricane force winds offshore, the wind field is huge, with all of the land reports I have seen so far in the tropical storm category. Here is what it looks like on radar at 5am …

MRMS radar composite; click to embiggen.

and on infrared satellite (the sun isn’t up yet!):

InfraRed (cloud top temperatures).

Here are the links to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Nicole (en Español: Mensajes Claves), and below is the impact swath based on the 5am official forecast and my TAOS/TC model:

It looks like Nicole will have economic impacts on the order of $2.2 to $2.8 Billion dollars. Something like $500 to $800 billion of that probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Hurricane Ian; that is damage and other impacts that occurred due to interrupted repairs and a disrupted recovery process. I wouldn’t expect to see dramatic damage aside from isolated spots, but such a wide area is impacted it adds up quickly.

GA/SC Update: Fortunately for the GA/SC coast, it looks like the more inland track, combined with other factors such as a collapsing wind field, will mean impacts will not be significantly worse that what you are seeing out your windows this morning. The only difference is the rain bands, which may be locally heavy and produce isolated floodings in the usual places. Still also a chance for an isolated weak tornado. Keep your weather radio armed – but aside from knowing where you would go to seek shelter (the best protection is a small, interior, windowless room or basement on the lowest level of a sturdy building) it’s not something to get overly stressed about. Maybe some scattered power outages.

Right on the coast, the highest expected tide is this morning’s high tide. At Fort Pulaski it should top out at around 10 feet, which is moderate flood stage. From NWS: At 10.0 ft MLLW, moderate coastal flooding occurs. Shipyard Rd will be impassable, isolating residents on Burnside Island. Water will start to encroach on HW-80 and as the tide gets closer to 10.5 ft MLLW, could begin to cover portions of the roadway. Flooding will expand on Tybee Island and Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave will be impassable. Flooding will also impact Wilmington Island, the Coffee Bluff community, Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, and portions of HW-17 south of Darien. I don’t think US80 will get water on it this time, if so it won’t be much (Update at 10:30am: the water levels did spike briefly to 10.5 feet, and US80 got water on it. Shouldn’t last long). Tomorrow (Friday) high tide should be back to normal.

This should be mostly over by late tonight for the coast as the center passes off to the west, maybe some remaining gusts and rain in the morning but shouldn’t be anything serious by then.

#Nicole Update, Wed. 9 Nov 2022

TLDR: some damage in Florida, two blustery days with the potential for shallow coastal flooding right on the coast in GA/SC – think nor’easter – but nothing dangerous. Here’s the details:

As of this morning Nicole has finally gained enough tropical characteristics to be declared a tropical storm, but is still isn’t really very tropical. The winds are just below hurricane force, but the tropical storm winds are extensive, extending nearly nearly 400 miles to the north of the center of the storm. Here is a link to the Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Nicole (en Español: Mensajes Claves), and the impact swath from my TAOS/TC model:

click to embiggen.

Nicole will likely have an area of hurricane force winds when it hits Florida. Right now the thinking is the storm will lose tropical characteristics quickly. Still, given the residual damage from Ian, likely economic impacts will be in the $2 Billion USD range. The track guidance is fairly tight until landfall, but the speed of the turn might technically take the storm back over the Gulf although it won’t help it regain strength. Again, this is a big storm, so the track (and NHC’s “cone of shame”) don’t matter so much. Fee free to ignore anyone who even mentions the cone other than to say don’t use it (like that guy on local radio in Savannah who was jibbering incoherently about it this morning).

For the Georgia/South Carolina coast, there are three factors. The first is the wind, which probably won’t be that bad even though we are on the “strong” side of the storm. Just a blustery couple of days, maybe some scattered power outages. The trees are already “hunkering down” for fall/winter, so they are less likely to drop limbs although a few aren’t out of the question. Weak tornadoes/water spouts are possible on this side of the storm, so keep your weather radio armed. The second factor, for those right on coast, is that tides will run well above normal the next two days due to high onshore winds, on the order of two to three feet. At Fort Pulaski, the forecast for the tides this morning and tomorrow are for between 10 and 10.5 feet, which is the moderate flood stage. We should stay below 10.5 feet. What that means in the real world is …

At 9.5 ft MLLW, minor coastal flooding occurs. Flooding will begin to impact Shipyard Road to Burnside Island. Parts of Ft Pulaski National Monument will begin to flood, including several trails. Flooding will also begin to impact Tybee Island including Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave. In Bryan County, water could breach docks near Ft McAllister and flooding will impact portions of Mill Hill Rd. In Liberty County, flooding impacts the Halfmoon Landing area and Cattle Hammock Rd near Bermuda Bluff subdivision. At 10.0 ft MLLW, moderate coastal flooding occurs. Shipyard Rd will be impassable, isolating residents on Burnside Island. Water will start to encroach on HW-80 and as the tide gets closer to 10.5 ft MLLW, could begin to cover portions of the roadway. Flooding will expand on Tybee Island and Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave will be impassable. Flooding will also impact Wilmington Island, the Coffee Bluff community, Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, and portions of HW-17 south of Darien. At 10.5 ft MLLW, major coastal flooding occurs. Damaging flooding is expected, expanding along the entire southeast Georgia coast. Flooding will likely cause the closure of HW-80, isolating residents on Tybee Island. Several other island communities will also likely become isolated due to flooded and impassable roadways. On Tybee Island, widespread significant flooding is expected with numerous properties impacted.

From NWS WSFO Charleston flood stage guide

Rain is the other factor. There is some potential for “training” – embedded rain cells to line up and dump on one spot for long periods of time. Those spots might get a lot of rain and some localized flooding. But on the plus side it’s a fast moving system. Here is the rain total forecast for the next five days. It doesn’t look so bad at this point:

As for timing, conditions will deteriorate across the GA/SC coast today from south to north, dry most of the day with rain moving in tonight after sunset. Using Savannah as the reference, winds should pick up after noon today, and stay gusty until after noon Friday. I’m not seeing a distinct “peak” of the winds, given the expected organization of the storm. By sunset Friday it should all be over. If you live south of Savannah like Brunswick, things will happen a few hours earlier; if north (Beaufort/HHI) a few hours later.

So all in all, if in Central Florida you should be wrapping up preparations for a minimal hurricane. Everywhere else should prepare for a blustery day that will feel more like a nor’easter than a hurricane. Inconvenient, but not really hazardous outside localize street flooding and right on the coast. Right on the water, if you flood with tides 2-3 feet above normal, be ready for that at the morning high tides Thursday and Friday.

Total Lunar Eclipse this morning (and that storm thingee)

Just a reminder if you’re up before sunrise on the east coast, if the sky is clear look low in the western sky and you can see a total lunar eclipse in progress. As I write this (4:40am EDT) the moon is about half in the Earth’s shadow, totality (when the moon will be completely inside the inner shadow) will be at 5:15am. In the rest of the country you should have increasingly better views; on the west coast and Hawai’i almost overhead for you guys up late.

click to embiggen; pics of eclipse to come later.

Very little change in the Nicole forecast – obligatory link to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Subtropical Storm Nicole (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Still classified as subtropical, it should become a tropical storm later today as it turns sharply towards Florida. “landfall” now looks to be more central than South Florida, but that doesn’t matter too much. East coast of Florida and the Georgia coast up to Brusnwick are now under a tropical storm warning; watches for the west coast of Florida. Expect the watches to creep northward today to the Savannah and SC Lowcountry. As for impacts, nothing has changed, the post yesterday afternoon except the timing, with impacts being about 12-18 hours earlier than the estimate yesterday. The peak water levels along the GA/SC coast will probably be around 10.5 ft MLLW (Fort Pulaski gauge) on Thursday morning high tide. On this track, the worst will likely be Thursday night rather than Friday, and other than scattered power outages and some limbs down I don’t expect serious impacts to the northern GA coast and SC other than shallow coastal flooding Wednesday and Thursday mornings right on the coast

At this point no idea about closures in GA/SC., hard to know which way the decision makers are likely to bounce. Like Ian, it’s another borderline case for schools and other facilities, except this time I think it’s probably leaning a lot more towards the “no” side than the “yes” side north of maybe Darien. Thursday and Friday will be messy in either case. Blustery for a couple days, maybe some periods of heavy rain, but nothing dangerous or probably really all that disruptive except in localized places.

Update on #Nicole, Monday Afternoon 7 Nov 2022; coastal flooding expected in GA, SC all this week at high tide

First, as always your first stop for hurricane information should be the National Hurricane Center’s Key Messages regarding Subtropical Storm Nicole (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Here’s a few notes on what to expect based on their forecast. This is what the damage swath looks like using my TAOS/TC model – it’s an odd looking map for an odd storm,a lot larger than most storms, but no really catastrophic damage:

Click to embiggen.

The track and timing of Nicole, as do most hurricanes this time of year, depends on the timing of approaching cold fronts that pick up the storms and “eject” them towards the northeast. Looking at this afternoon’s analysis from TPC we can see a weak front draped across the Southeast, with Nicole lurking offshore. Expect the official track to jump around some as the storm approaches Florida – and for those in the southeast and on the coast of GA/SC those swings will matter a lot depending of if the storm goes inland (and how far) or goes back offshore. The exact track and to some extent intensity depends o the interaction between Nicole and that incoming frontal system. Here’s the map, with the infrared satellite image (showing cloud top temperatures) as a backdrop:

See that box “developing gale” off of Georgia/SC? That’s a problem – see below.

That said, the track guidance is fairly well consolidated, although after the storm hits Florida it scatters a bit …

Major track “spaghetti” models. Cook before consuming.

It’s not likely at all that Nicole will become a major hurricane, but lots of central Florida is still recovering from Ian, and that’s a problem. Roofs that are already damaged and covered only in tarps while waiting for repair will get further damage as well as more rain intrusion, causing more damage than if Nicole had hit someplace fresh. Power outages are likely to be more extensive that otherwise as well due to patched together systems. That could increase the toll by as much as two billion dollars! The current estimate is hovering around $4 Billion (which includes that factor).

Notes for Georgia and South Carolina: Nicole is a large system and even if it consolidates and becomes a hurricane, there looks to be onshore winds across the entire Georgia coast as well as South Carolina for the rest of this week. Given the already high astronomical tides (full moon) that means the usual places will flood. Tides look to run two to three feet above normal, starting with the high tide Tuesday morning. Tuesday should be close to 9.5 feet MLLW at Fort Pulaski, which means …

At 9.5 ft MLLW, minor coastal flooding occurs. Flooding will begin to impact Shipyard Road to Burnside Island. Parts of Ft Pulaski National Monument will begin to flood, including several trails. Flooding will also begin to impact Tybee Island including Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave. In Bryan County, water could breach docks near Ft McAllister and flooding will impact portions of Mill Hill Rd. In Liberty County, flooding impacts the Halfmoon Landing area and Cattle Hammock Rd near Bermuda Bluff subdivision.

–WSFO Charleston Flood stage guidance

Wednesday and Thursday look to be well into the “moderate” flood stage category:

At 10.0 ft MLLW, moderate coastal flooding occurs. Shipyard Rd will be impassable, isolating residents on Burnside Island. Water will start to encroach on HW-80 and as the tide gets closer to 10.5 ft MLLW, could begin to cover portions of the roadway. Flooding will expand on Tybee Island and Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave will be impassable. Flooding will also impact Wilmington Island, the Coffee Bluff community, Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, and portions of HW-17 south of Darien.

–WSFO Charleston Flood stage guidance

If the forecast stays on track as it is now, Friday will be the worst of it and the tides may top 10.5 feet, which is major flood stage. But too soon to “buy trouble” looking that far ahead and in any event, Nicole is going to be inconvenient for us, hazardous only right on the water, and not dangerous with even a little common sense (ok, I can dream 😛 ). At this point the TLDR is that Thursday will be the worse for south GA coast and Jacksonville, Friday early the worst for north GA coast, and during the day Friday for the Charleston area. But the whole coast looks breezy for the rest of this week starting tomorrow (Tuesday), with rain moving in Thursday and Friday. But the timing on all of that might easily shift to later depending on how things go the next 24 hours.

Sort of Tropical Storm Nicole

There has been a very broad area of disturbed weather than has consolidated enough for NHC to start advisories and tracking this morning. Here are the Key Messages regarding Subtropical Storm Nicole. Here is the impact swath using the new forecast – it’s expected to be a big storm with broad (but not catastrophic) impacts:

Click to embiggen.

The forecast track is only fair at this point, but that probably doesn’t matter too much unless it strengthens more than currently forecast. The NHC track has the storm making landfall around Vero Beach as a tropical storm, but GFS now has it landing over Miami as a hurricane. We should know more later today. Either way, the entire southeast coast from Miami to the Outer Banks will probably feel this at some point. Expect some track shifts as things settle down. There are tropical storm watches over The Bahamas, and the US coast will start to see watches today. Florida is going to see some damage – maybe upwards of $2 Billion, with some compounding due to the ongoing cleanup from Ian.

By the way, remember that due to the time change NHC advisories are now at 4am, 10am, 4pm, and 10pm, with intermediate updates at 7am, 1pm, 7pm, and 1am. NHC advisories and all weather forecasts globally are based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC – formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time – GMT) so it changes with our stupid time zone shifts.

For Coastal Georgia and the SC Lowcountry, the onshore winds will mean tides will be running above normal this week – tomorrow is full moon (and remember there is a total lunar eclipse in the morning, peak will be around 6am with the moon low in the west). So we all know what that means: people right on the coast will likely seem some shallow flooding around high tides. On the current track and speed the peak storm effects in this area will be late in the week, Friday and Saturday as the storm passes either directly over the area or just offshore. Winds should pick up Tuesday (this is a very broad storm system), and Friday will likely be messy – or not, depending on the exact track. At this point hard to tell if there will be cancellations Friday. Things should start to clear out Saturday – but the timing is hard to tell at this point.

Administrative note: as previously noted, I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate the increasingly nasty internet environment and to what extent to continue posts, and in what format.. Since this storm will impact many of those who have followed the blog for some time I will be doing periodic posts (and for those who don’t like it can just, um, well, you know – why are you wasting time bothering me if I don’t know what I’m talking about???). I’m going to allow for comments for now in case people have questions (and to be fair the vast majority are great!)

Bloomberg TV spot today …

Even though it’s technically not quite over (something may form in the central Caribbean next week), folks have started wrapping up the hurricane season. Going to be on Bloomberg TV sometime between 10:30 and 11am today (Fri 28 Oct) talking about economics, hurricanes, and climate change. Will try not to say Climate Change isn’t the biggest risk we face, it’s geopolitical shenanigans and failed systems of governance … ok, yes, I will say that.

How economists think about disasters.

Still trying to figure out the best way to go forward and to what extent to engage in public outreach. Sadly allowing comments are a thing of the past, and aside from the historical posts on the risk of nuclear weapons (some have been restored) probably not much geopolitical commentary, even though that’s a lot of my work/research these days.

Why I’m shutting things down

I’d again like to thank everyone for the support over the last few days. While I considered just removing everything and leaving it a mystery, on further reflection I’ve decided to post the full reason behind this decision. As noted, time and resources are a factor, but those are solvable. However, the main reason isn’t fixable, at least not by me: I’ve received a number of physical threats over time, and recently those threats have escalated. While most of them involve the geopolitics posts, a surprising few also involve mundane topics like hurricanes. So I think it best to move on.

I’ve never been comfortable with public attention. People who thrive on it might find this unbelievable, and our celebrity obsessed culture doesn’t understand my point of view at all. Although it was never really a secret, and easy enough for someone to find out who I am, I don’t think I ever actually posted my name here on the blog – it was always a source of amusement when my wife would be asked if she followed “that Enki dude” to get hurricane advice. Partly that’s the old-school scientific approach – third person, keep personalities out of it. I absolutely hate doing interviews, and media attention literally upsets my stomach. Then there’s social media …

Between Facebook, Twitter, and direct blog links, when I do a post roughly 30,000 people get it more or less directly, and a popular (or unpopular!) post is often exposed to 200,000 individuals. A few have been several times that number. Now, in internet terms, that’s borderline trivial. But in sociological terms it’s a problem. According to some research, depending on how you define it at least 0.5% of Americans suffer from AntiSocial Personality Disorder, and while it’s not in the DSM, levels of ASPD that result in what is commonly called psychopathic behavior (that leads to the anger, etc. expressing as physical violence) is probably on the order of 0.1% or one in a thousand. So that means given that audience size, there are at well over a thousand jerks out there who will be disruptive, and at least a dozen or more for whom that might tip over in to them taking action to some degree in the real world. At least one of these individuals lives in my own neighborhood, which is concerning.

I think the political (and overall) culture in the US has been devolving for some time. Many have expressed concerns about it, usually in reference to the “other” side, but a neutral perspective would probably hold that everybody is sinking to the lowest common denominator which, as noted above, is psychopathy. Everybody is amped up, be it from COVID, the economy, or the increasingly angry political discourse. I wrote much of the following back in January, but I think it needs repeating here:

I almost never get a reasoned argument or discussion with someone who disagrees with a blog post; it almost always starts with some kind of ad-hominum attack and accusation. Yes, I could just block comments, and ignore the emails, etc. but part of the reason to do this is education – both the readers and me. I’ve gotten GREAT questions over time, and that makes doing commentary worthwhile. And, like Dr. House, I freely admit the theoretical possibility of error 😛 (and for typos and phrasing for early morning posts it’s often more than theoretical!). Feedback is essential for the process to work. But, even aside from the threats, the feedback process is broken.

It’s horrifying scanning social media these days. People who I know to be compassionate and reasonable in person are re-posting and echoing vitriolic links that are destructive to the fabric of our society. This phenomena was well described in the recent documentary, The Social Dilemma. Please watch it before you go down this road, and I beg everyone to please think before you echo some snarky political post that converts complex issues into some meme.

Take almost any issue today, and the opening salvo starts with accusations that anyone who disagrees is evil, uninformed, or both. Debates are almost never over the substance of an issue, they are straw-man arguments over caricatures of the other side. Yet take almost any of these issues, and if you dig down you find that each side is usually just worried about different, yet valid, aspects of the same problem, and a solution that makes things better is readily obtainable, if only the “sides” would recognize that each has a point. Unfortunately, as I often rant, that approach doesn’t fit into a political and media environment that thrives on confrontation, and real solutions to problems are actually “destructive” to the engine that drives their profits and votes: your outrage.

So, as we go forward with multiple challenges ranging from the ongoing pandemic, a major confrontation between nuclear armed adversaries, an economy teetering on the edge of collapse, an election that is nastier than the last, and other problems we don’t even know about yet, please don’t make things worse. Certainly the problems we face are serious, in many cases they hit emotional triggers. But we will solve them using rationality and empathy in equal measure, not by spreading anger and division. If you feel you can contribute to a discussion, make civil arguments that appeal to reason and our shared humanity, and recognize that the “other” might have a valid point that needs consideration. Don’t just try to score points with people you agree with by denigrating the “other.” You and your tribe might think it’s funny, but it is just making things worse.

Please resolve to think before you comment, repost, retweet, or forward an email that is toxic.

This environment that is being created by otherwise “nice” people is especially dangerous in that it gives those who are truly disturbed more of a reason, and agency, to act out on their violent impulses. Your on-line personas can have real-world consequences for others.

So that’s it. In brief, I’m not going to expose myself or my family to the risk someone decides to act out against me just because they don’t like my opinion about something, or associates me with some point of view that I don’t actually have, but am trying to convey is in some ways valid and needs to be considered in constructing our response (such as Russia’s view of the situation in Ukraine). I think we are losing a lot of voices that probably should be heard. I’m not saying I’m one of them, but I’m also not alone in leaving or avoiding public commentary, and unlike mine some of those lost voices are important.

In conclusion, I am going to leave the FB page, blog, and twitter live, if mostly inactive. If something serious comes up like a landfalling storm I’ll probably do some limited posts, so if you would like to get them leave your likes/follows or blog registrations in place and you’ll get them.

PTC Thirteen, blog and social media update

At 11am the US National Hurricane Center started advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Thirteen. It will likely become a real depression overnight, and a tropical storm tomorrow. NHC started advisories with the “PTC” tag because it’s technically not a tropical cyclone, but is so close to land that they didn’t want to wait to start advisories. Here is the track and my TAOS/TC model impact swath, expected to be a hurricane at landfall in Nicaragua on Sunday.

click to embiggen

I deeply appreciate the offers of help and contributions as I sort out what to do next! The blog and social media are undergoing extensive revisions, and most of the content either moved, deleted or in the process of being deleted, so there’s probably lots of dead links. The Patreon site has been shut down, I just don’t feel I can support it, and at the moment not taking any contributions via the blog until I have a plan (then you can decide if it’s worth it!). I’m considering how to move forward after this season, and if I do so will likely take some of you up on offers to help.