Back, at Least for Now

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

When I posted Friday, a plausible scenario had Hurricane Dorian crossing southern Florida, reemerging in the Gulf, and headed north to the Emerald Coast, where we were heading for Labor Day. It looked like our short family vacation was going to serve as a double evasion of the storm. That day, the forecast changed to a south Florida hit, followed by a hurricane-strength trip over the Florida peninsula. Still later, it looked like staying put in Jacksonville might be wise.

Then it it didn't.

Someone sent my wife an image like this, but with the time points labeled with upcoming holidays. (Image by National Hurricane Center, public domain.)
I've had to keep an eye on lots of hurricanes in my time, mostly when I lived in Houston, but I've never seen a storm so frequently stymie the good folks at the National Hurricane Center. For all the improvements in forecast accuracy in recent years, I will not dare heave a sigh of relief (if I am so fortunate) until this monster is past us and clearly on the inevitable northward trek to its ultimate and eagerly anticipated demise.

I plan to post tomorrow and Thursday. By then, I should have a better idea of what next week looks like.

In the meantime, I became curious about why this storm has been so difficult to forecast, and found two articles particularly helpful. Both mention forecasting difficulties with hurricanes, as opposed to larger weather systems, but each also discusses why Dorian has been hard, even for a hurricane. The present difficulties seem to boil down to (a) As an Atlantic hurricane, its motion eventually involves interaction with a marine high pressure system that meteorologists do not understand so well, and (b) The compactness of this storm and its (current) slow speed work together to magnify even small forecasting errors.

So, we must wait and watch. I am grateful to my in-laws that we can do so safely and comfortably.

-- CAV


Todd Walton said...

Some forecasts even had it heading towards Alabama...

Gus Van Horn said...


I saw Trump and a doctored map on when checking news this morning.

Not to defend his alarmism, but I did see some models showing the storm heading even as far west as Mississippi. But these were individual "spaghetti" models that sometimes affect the overall forecast and sometimes get thrown out altogether.

It's one thing to consider such a possibility when deciding whether to evacuate. It's another to panic-monger and then not at least admit error.