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Video Update on Irene

Quick update on Hurricane Irene and the model consensus shifting east this morning.

Consensus model tracks at 8am or 0Z:


Monday evening update on Irene

Just got the latest tropical models runs from the 0z/8pm EDT model initialization. I only plotted all the models that had the 7:50 special advisory location of Irene from the Hurricane Hunters. that advisory upgrade Irene t a Category 2 with winds of 100mph.

I also can see a eye feature now showing up on the IR satellite. Which is another indication we have a strengthening hurricane. There has also been a slight jog to the north in the location of the center from the latest recon fix. The model though as you can see are actually more spread out than before. The consensus track or average of all the models is still right near Southport, NC or the Cape Fear area of NC.

We will see at 11pm how this all affects the Hurricane Center track when the new Advisory comes out. I’ll have it first thing tonight at 11pm on NewsChannel 36.


Model Tracks from 0Z tonight




Monday Irene Update: Carolinas start preparing

Irene became our first hurricane of the 2011 hurricane season early this morning. There has been a few significant things that have changed overnight besides the upgrade. The storm is tracking north of all the big islands in the Caribbean now. This is significant because now the storm will have little interference as it moves towards the U.S. This also means a shift in the track east squarely puts the Carolinas in the strike zone. Below is my video discussion of that plus additional maps. I would prepare now along the entire South and North Carolina coasts. Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is the goal here. Get your supplies and plan together today through Wednesday. Thursday we’ll know who need to activate that plan. If you wait you’ll be fighting crowds for supplies late week.

Inland Residents should plan too, for power outages and possible flooding. Stock up on water, non-perishable food items, gas and gets some cash before the storm hits.

Updated Tracking 5-Day tracking map(Updates Automatically)

Spaghetti Model Plots



Here’s the close in HWRF model Wind Swath



It’s not like Charlotte won’t have any impacts either. Based on the GFS sounding we could have 60kts winds not too far off the surface, 3,000’. With the right/wrong track we could see trees and power lines come down, especially east of I-77. Stay tuned!


Sunday update on Tropical Storm Irene


Hurricane hunters are out in Irene right now to find how much the center has re-located to the north overnight. Looks to me that the center is at least 60 miles further north than the previous track. This was mainly due to reconthe the center being tugged north by the deep thunderstorm activity to the north. Once the center has stabilized we should continue to see the storm steered to the west at around 18-20 mph. The result in the relocation north has shifted all the model guidance north. This is not a change is any steering pattern just the change in where the storm was located. There is still a 60% probability I believe that Irene will go through a rapid intensification cycle prior to interaction with Hispaniola. This could happen as soon at this evening when the storm wraps up and gets rid of the dry air on it’s west side. All interests in Florida especially need to be getting there hurricane action plans in preparation for when a watch or warning is issued. The Carolinas and the Gulf Coast also needs to be ready.  Any shift in the track will have huge ramifications on the impacts there.

Current Track Forecast (updates automatically)


Spaghetti Model plots for Irene


tracks 2

Here’s a loop of the RPM model we run at WCNC of the surface wind speeds.

This will be a huge regardless of wind speeds, take a look at rainfall forecasted just over the next 2 days.


Keeping an eye on the tropics & Invest 97L

Even though we currently have tropical storm Harvey heading into Central America. The main concern for the Caribbean and U.S. is Invest 97L.

Invest 97l is just a designation the Navy and hurricane center use to track disturbed areas of weather that could potentially develop into a storm or hurricane. This designation is important because the tropical models start running on these areas. This particular area has been showing up in the global model long before it got a designation.

Here are the latest “spaghetti” plots on Invest 97.


The intensity forecast shows a slow but steady intensification process over the next 5 days.


Yet there are many hurdles for this system to overcome before becoming a major threat. The first of which is the dry Sahara air layer(SAL) that can sap moisture out of these storms.


The second is some shear to the north and west of the system. Though this along with the SAL will be less of a hindrance once it gets into the Caribbean. Then of course if it tracks right over the larger islands of the Caribbean, Hispaniola and Cuba those too could keep it from intensifying rapidly. You can see the main steering currents below which is the huge subtropical ridge over the central Atlantic.

                    Wind Shear                                                Steering Flow


It is interesting to see our RPM model and the high resolution look at surface winds. Based on our model the storm track looks to stay south of those islands. The one big caveat in all of this is there is next to zero upper air or surface data going into these models from the central Atlantic. We will know a whole bunch more when the recon plane gets out in this system Saturday.

Carolina Waterspouts

Today some amazing photos came in from the coast where several waterspouts were spotted near Carolina Beach and Oak Island in North Carolina. Another report of a waterspout came in from the Charleston, SC area near Wild Dunes resort. Now these were not what we call tornadic waterspouts but more of the fair weather type. It doesn’t mean they weren’t dangerous just not as powerful as a supercell tornadoes. They usually are harmless unless you are in a small boat on the water or in this case when they come ashore. They can cause minor damage. A Tornado warning was issued when they hit the beach.

Late add from Jeremy Kesler via NewsChannel 36 Facebook page.


These are some amazing shots from twitter


            @stevenharrell                            @TheLittleTrader


Both of the above pictures are from Tony Burnett-Millage when it came ashore.

Below is the definition of a waterspout from NOAA.

About Waterspouts

Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes over water. Waterspouts are generally broken into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.

Tornadic waterspouts are simply tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.

Fair Weather waterspouts are usually a less dangerous phenomena, but common over South Florida’s coastal waters from late spring to early fall. The term fair weather comes from the fact that this type of waterspout forms during fair and relatively calm weather, often during the early to mid morning and sometimes during the late afternoon. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along dark flat bases of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms whereas tornadic waterspouts develop in severe thunderstorms. Tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm while a fair weather waterspout begins to develop on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity.

Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move little. If a waterspout moves onshore, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning as some of them can cause significant damages and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely penetrate far inland.

The best way to avoid a waterspout is to move at a 90-degree angle to its apparent movement. Never move closer to investigate a waterspout. Some can be just as dangerous as tornadoes.

    Waterspout Safety

  • Listen for special marine warnings about waterspout sightings that are broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio.

  • Watch the sky for certain types of clouds. In the summer, with light winds, look for a possible waterspout underneath a line of cumulus clouds with dark, flat bases. Anytime of the year, a thunderstorm or line of thunderstorms, can produce very intense waterspouts.

  • If a waterspout is sighted, immediately head at a 90 degree angle from the apparent motion of the waterspout.

  • Never try to navigate through a waterspout. Although waterspouts are usually weaker than tornadoes, they can still produce significant damage to you and your boat.

  • Invest 93L running out of time

    Invest area 93 has a good circulation but not much in the way of thunderstorm activity. It’s running out of time before getting to Central America. The main threat will be heavy flooding rains in central America. For the Carolinas we need to watch late next week. Many global models are pointing to SE tropic development. It’s WAAY early though for specifics.


    Model Tracks:


    Something to watch late next week:


    State Fair to reassess weather evacuation plan

    Some updated information has come to light this evening from our sister NBC station WTHR in Indianapolis about the state fair stage collapse. The following was posted on their web-site.


    Updated: Aug 16, 2011 6:33 PM EDT

    By Sandra Chapman WTHR-TV- bio

    State Fair organizers say they will re-examine their severe weather evacuation plan following Saturday night’s tragedy.

    13 Investigates broke the story Monday night that the fair’s plan did not address evacuating the grandstand. Also, the fair was not required to get a permit for the stage rigging, and that the state may never have inspected it.

    The Indiana state fire marshal led teams of inspectors into the debris of the collapsed stage, where five people died after gusting winds toppled tons of steel to the ground.

    13 Investigates discovered the Mid-American Sound Corp. did not have to get a permit to build the scaffolding, meaning no Indiana agency inspected it for safety.

    The revelation caught Gov. Mitch Daniels off guard.

    “I thought it was a learning point for all of us that something of that size that there isn’t some either inspection or certification. So it ought to be looked at,” said Daniels.

    The lack of clear warnings and timely evacuation prior to the storm is now causing another serious concern.

    At issue is the 45 minutes before the stage collapsed. (See the complete timeline here.)

    At 8:00 pm, fair staff were alerted that the National Weather Service said severe thunderstorms would make the fairgrounds around 9:15pm.

    At 8:30, Indiana State Police moved into the grandstands to help evacuate concert-goers.

    At 8:39, the National Weather Service issued a “Severe Thunderstorm Warning” with the possibility of hail, lightening and strong winds.

    At 8:45, six minutes later, the stage announcer let people know that severe weather was moving in, and instructed them on where they could seek shelter but did not call for an evacuation.

    Four minutes later at 8:49, the stage crashed to the ground.

    Fair spokesman Andy Klotz says those in charge were preparing to announce an evacuation, but never made it to the stage.

    “We were assessing and assessing. We had all the information that a thunderstorm was coming and we were reacting to that information,” Klotz explained.

    13 Investigates obtained a copy of the State Fair Severe Thunderstorm Policy. (See the policy here and here.)

    The document tells staff “to secure equipment inside of buildings so it’s not propelled by high winds, to evacuate from tents to solid structures, and to remember that severe thunderstorms can produce large hail damaging winds, heavy lightening, and even tornado activity.”

    But it does nothing to address attendees in the grandstands or even the midway.

    “Why isn’t there anything in there about the grandstand and what are worker’s supposed to do?” 13 Investigates asked.

    “That is definitely one of the things that we are going to reassess, whether there needed to be, or needs to be some kind of individual policy,” responded Klotz.

    Tracy Holt can’t believe the fair doesn’t have a better warning policy in effect for the entire grounds. She was near the rides in the midway when the wind gust came through.

    “No, there was no weather warning. None at all. Nothing come over the loud speaker,” she told 13 Investigates.

    We asked Klotz about the latest allegations of no warnings in other parts of the fairgrounds.

    “I don’t know that to be true,” he said.

    But Indiana State Police confirmed warning policies were all under review.

    “It’s being reviewed. That’s the purpose of the investigation, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Bursten told 13 Investigates.

    13 Investigates asked neighboring states for their severe weather policies. The Ohio State Fair specifically lays out who is to make the decision to evacuate and when to contact the governor’s office. It even includes a plan on how to evacuate animals.

    Indiana State Fair incident was no Fluke!

    The stage collapse at the Indiana state fair Saturday night is being described as a fluke incident. I could not disagree more. The definition of the noun fluke is: “an accident or chance happening”. This wasn’t by that definition and here’s why.

    Timeline of Events (State Police)

    At 7 p.m. Saturday, NWS in Indianapolis told fair officials that a thunderstorm would be in the area of the fairgrounds between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and that the storm would have heavy rain, lightning, strong winds and hail of up to 2 inches, according to the timeline released by ISP.

    Fair staff was told of the severe thunderstorm watch by an autodialer shortly after 7 p.m. and again a little after 8 p.m., according to information provided by ISP.

    At 8:30 p.m., ISP officers were moved to the grandstand to assist security and other personnel in the evacuation of concert attendees.

    A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Marion County at 8:39 p.m.

    At 8:45 p.m., the concert emcee announced to attendees that severe weather was moving in, and attendees were told “how and where to seek shelter,” according to the released timeline.

    The stage collapsed at 8:49 p.m., four minutes after the announcement from the stage.

    Within a minute, the Indiana Fire Department was alerted of “a collapse with injuries at the fairgrounds.”

    At 8:51 p.m., IFD workers who were on site responded to the collapse, and additional IFD and EMS units were dispatched to the scene.

    By 8:54 p.m., crews had confirmed a collapse with multiple injuries, according to ISP’s timeline.

    At 8:55 p.m., the Indianapolis Metro Police Emergency Response Group arrived at the scene of the collapse.

    The Marion County coroner was called to the collapse at 9:06 p.m., and power was cut to the stage at 9:13 p.m.

    Someone from the coroner’s office arrived at the scene at 9:15 p.m.

    At 10:03 p.m., the incident was upgraded to a “Mass Casualty Incident Level 3.”

    Two minutes later, all patients had been transported from the scene, including all five who died.

    Indiana Task Force One was called to search the rubble at 10:26 p.m., with the search beginning a half-hour later.

    At 11:27 p.m., the search was completed, and rescue operations concluded at 11:46 p.m., ISP said.

    A secondary search of the Indiana State Fairgrounds was completed at 1:53 a.m. Sunday.

    Weather timeline

    Nexrad Doppler radar at 7:59pm and you already see a problem as a gust front is visible on the radar well ahead of the actual rain. 23.59_ref

    Nexrad Doppler at 8:30 pm gust front is now 19 minutes away.


    Nexrad Doppler at 8:44pm and the gust front is just 5 minutes away.


    Nexrad Doppler radar at exactly 8:48 and 42 seconds.


    This is what it actually looked like from Jessica(Jsilas7) a YouTuber who I contacted and she told me the timestamp on her camera was at 8:47 when she started rolling.

    Loop from 8:00-9:06pm Local time. (Click to loop)



    What happened here was that either communications broke down or the threat was greatly misunderstood by the officials at the Fair Grounds. These storms did not just pop-up or pulse right over the fair grounds which would indeed have been a fluke. There was plenty of warning, if you you knew or wanted to know what was going to happen. The focus on the actual Severe Thunderstorm Warning is insignificant in my opinion. The warning was issued at 8:39pm which was 10 mins before the stage collapsed. A severe thunderstorm warning is only issued when winds are 58mph or higher or hail is 1” in diameter or larger. Problem here is you have people in an outdoor event and around a temporary structure which requires them to seek shelter at a much lower threshold. Something that should have been known by those organizing the event. One of the fatalities was a stage hand in a metal light structure running a spot light, with lightning clearly visible in the distance. Lightning alone was sufficient reason to evacuate people and since lightning was within 10 miles of the fair grounds patrons should have been seeking shelter. Then you had at least 40-50 mph winds in these storms. Not enough to issue a warning but enough if I’m in a tent, camper or temporary structure, I’m evacuating that structure and I’m seeking shelter.

    This is where I would recommend any outdoor event either have a trained meteorologist on-site or on call during the entire event. If you have trained police, fire and medics on site for emergencies then why not a meteorologist?”

    The reliance on smartphone apps which was quoted by officials at the press conference Saturday night is unacceptable. As seen in the radar images the gust front was a huge threat that to an untrained eye and on a composite radar on your phone is not detectable. I love technology and especially my iPhone, but a weather app is not a meteorologist just like WebMD is not a doctor.

    We need to learn from this incident and make weather preparedness a priority in all our outdoor events and activities. It amazes me the amount of safety precautions and preparation we make for terrorism, fire, and car crashes. Yet we still do very little for severe weather safety and preparation which occurs far more frequently and widespread than the prior.

    Questions, comments or discussion are greatly appreciated. Because these are the types of things we need to talk about before they happen again. I don’t pretend to have all the answers or claim that all weather disasters can be predicted precisely. I know that having a plan and proper information and communications can greatly prevent such disasters in the future.

    Brad Panovich Chief Meteorologist at WCNC-TV, Charlotte, NC


    Related Blog posts with further insight into this tragedy:

    Smarter phones, smarter weather? Nate Johnson

    Indianapolis Tragedy Not a Fluke by Tim Ballisty, Editorial Meteorologist The Weather Channel

    Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post

    The Fundamental Problem at the Indiana State Fair (Mike Smith)

    Anything but a “fluke” (Brandon Redmond)

    Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse JOHN HUNTINGTON 

     Chuck Doswell Magnifying a Tragedy (Very Good Read)

    Tropical Depression 6 forms but that’s not all I’m watching


    Tropical Depression 6 forms but will have zero threat to the U.S. It’s not the only thing I’m watching though there are 3 other areas to keep an eye on. the first 2 in the line show up well on our Tropical RPM model below.


    Spaghetti plots of all the threat areas of interest.


    This is a 51 hour loop of the 10m Surface Winds, notice the 2 systems at the end of the loop.