Tropical storm Leslie hammers Newfoundland
September 11, 2012 – NEWFOUNDLAND – The Canadian Hurricane Centre says the center of Tropical Storm Leslie has made landfall in Fortune, Newfoundland. Meteorologist Bob Robichaud says the potent storm touched down at about 8:30 a.m. AST (7:30 a.m. EST, 1130 GMT) as it continued to barrel north-northeast. He says a swath of the province from Fortune, on the Burin Peninsula, all the way east to St. John’s on the Avalon Peninsula was getting pounded with stiff winds and heavy rains. Winds were still building, with the St. John’s airport recording hurricane-force gusts of up to 81 mph (131 kph), while waves were reaching 10 yards (meters) at an offshore buoy. There were widespread power outages in St. John’s and communities along the southeastern coast of the Avalon Peninsula. Heavy rains also drenched province’s western portion.
Monsoon rains ravage Sindh, Pakistan leaving up to 58 dead
September 11, 2012 – PAKISTAN – At least 58 people, including women and children, were killed, and hundreds injured, in rain-related incidents throughout upper Sindh over the past 24 hours. An emergency has been declared in Jacobabad and Kandhkot, where the army has been called in to provide relief. Almost all cities and towns are submerged in a mixture of rain and sewage, while the drainage system has collapsed. Much of the region experienced blackouts for over 30 hours till the filing of this report. According to the Met office, Sukkur, Rohri and other nearby areas received 178 mm of rain till Monday morning, while 441 mm of rain has been recorded in Jacobabad – the highest in a century. Reports from different parts of upper Sindh reveal that hundreds of katcha houses have collapsed in different areas, due to which at least 58 people have been killed while hundreds are reportedly injured. The most affected area is Kandhkot, the district headquarters of Kashmore, where 24 persons have been killed. Some 15 people were killed in Shikarpur, two in Khairpur, five in Sukkur, five in Ghotki and other areas and four in Jacobabad. Three people have died in Larkana, while 5,000 houses were damaged in Shikarpur. In Lakhi Ghulam Shah, boats are being used for transport due to the high level of flooding. The devastating rains have also caused extensive damage to the agriculture sector throughout upper Sindh. Standing crops in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kandhkot, Shikarpur, Larkana and other areas which comprise the rice cultivating belt have been destroyed. The crisis has been exacerbated since the crops were grown unseasonally late – farmers had earlier halted cultivation in protest over an acute shortage of water. In Sukkur, Khairpur and Ghotki districts, standing crops of paddy, cotton and sugarcane have been destroyed by the rains.
Researchers Devise More Accurate Method For Predicting Hurricane Activity
Sep 11, 2012 – 4:17:33 PM
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new method for forecasting seasonal hurricane activity that is 15 percent more accurate than previous techniques.
“This approach should give policymakers more reliable information than current state-of-the-art methods,” says Dr. Nagiza Samatova, an associate professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. “This will hopefully give them more confidence in planning for the hurricane season.”
Conventional models used to predict seasonal hurricane activity rely on classical statistical methods using historical data. Hurricane predictions are challenging, in part, because there are an enormous number of variables in play – such as temperature and humidity – which need to be entered for different places and different times. This means there are hundreds of thousands of factors to be considered.
The trick is in determining which variables at which times in which places are most significant. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that we only have approximately 60 years of historical data to plug into the models.
But now researchers have developed a “network motif-based model” that evaluates historical data for all of the variables in all of the places at all of the times in order to identify those combinations of factors that are most predictive of seasonal hurricane activity. For example, some combinations of factors may correlate only to low activity, while other may correlate only to high activity.
The groups of important factors identified by the network motif-based model are then plugged into a program to create an ensemble of statistical models that present the hurricane activity for the forthcoming season on a probability scale. For example, it might say there is an 80 percent probability of high activity, a 15 percent probability of normal activity and a 5 percent probability of low activity.
Definitions of these activity levels vary from region to region. In the North Atlantic, which covers the east coast of the United States, high activity is defined as eight or more hurricanes during hurricane season, while normal activity is defined as five to seven hurricanes, and low activity is four or fewer.
Using cross validation – plugging in partial historical data and comparing the new method’s results to subsequent historical events – the researchers found the new method has an 80 percent accuracy rate of predicting the level of hurricane activity. This compares to a 65 percent accuracy rate for traditional predictive methods.
In addition, using the network model, researchers have not only confirmed previously identified predictive groups of factors, but identified a number of new predictive groups.
The researchers plan to use the newly identified groups of relevant factors to advance our understanding of the mechanisms that influence hurricane variability and behavior. This could ultimately improve our ability to predict the track of hurricanes, their severity and how global climate change may affect hurricane activity well into the future.
Two Tornadoes Hit New York City
Sep 9, 2012 – 7:11:19 PM
Two small tornadoes touched down in New York City, stunning residents who associate twisters more with the US Midwest, the National Weather Service said.
A tornado watch was in effect for Long Island, New York, and the neighboring state of Connecticut all day long and into the evening Saturday. One funnel cloud struck the Canarsie neighborhood, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, and another hit in Queens borough, at Breezy Point, the service said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries but trees were downed and some store windows were knocked out, local television NY1 reported.
Tornadoes Touch Down in Brooklyn and Queens
By MARC SANTORA and CHRISTOPHER MAAG
Published: September 8, 2012
A tornado ripped through a beach club in Queens on Saturday, one of several outbursts of severe weather across the New York region that flooded roads, felled power lines and forced the delay of the United States Open.
A second tornado touched down in Canarsie, Brooklyn, the National Weather Service said.
The swirling columns of wind and water in Queens, captured by dozens of people on cellphones and almost instantly posted on the Internet, lasted only minutes, according to witnesses. But in that short time the tornado tore down walls, lifted roofs off homes and tangled power lines as it cut a path through the Rockaways, near Breezy Point.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who arrived in Breezy Point on Saturday afternoon to assess the damage, said there had been no reports of injuries.
Helen Vesik, 58, was in her cabana at the Breezy Point Surf Club when she saw a white waterspout form over the ocean around 11 a.m. — speeding in her direction.
“I was afraid, and I knew I had to go,” she said.
Ms. Vesik ran to the main clubhouse just as the tornado hit the club’s pool, sending streams of water into the air.
She said she crouched on the bathroom floor until the wind eased.
When she emerged, part of a concrete wall near the pool had been toppled. Barbecue grills and beach chairs had been flung across the grounds, hundreds of feet from where they had been when the storm hit.
The Queens tornado hit land with winds of about 70 miles an hour, Ross Dickman, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said at a news conference at the Breezy Point Surf Club on Saturday. It was a weak tornado, Mr. Dickman said, measuring a zero out of five on the enhanced Fujita scale, which is used to gauge tornado strength.
It was 50 feet across and touched ground for only 600 feet, Mr. Dickman said.
David Dempsey, 49, of Chatham, N.J., who watched the tornado from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, said, “This big, black cloud started going toward the ground and then I saw the funnel.”
“It was kind of neat,” he added. “I’d never seen one before. It was cool to watch it developing.”
The second tornado struck Brooklyn about 11:30 a.m. with a speed of 110 miles an hour and traveled about half a mile, the Weather Service said. The severe weather was expected to continue into the night as a cold front moving in from the west made its way into the area, meeting up with the warm, moist air ahead of it and causing instability in the atmosphere.
The storm delayed the start of the United States Open and forced the women’s singles final to be postponed until Sunday. Late in the afternoon, another approaching storm prompted the suspension of the semifinal match between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer.
The Weather Service issued several tornado warnings throughout the day, including into Saturday evening, covering parts of Queens, Westchester County and Rockland County in New York and Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut.
In addition to high winds, people could expect severe thunderstorms, heavy rains in some places and even the possibility of hail, the Weather Service said.
The storm system stretched from northern Vermont to parts of Georgia, the Weather Service said, and there were reports of high winds causing damage from Scranton, Pa., to Buffalo.
Christopher R. Miller, a spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, said there had been reports of minor damage elsewhere in Queens and in Canarsie. There were also sporadic power failures, he said.
Donna Sullivan, who lives in Breezy Point, said she had watched the spout lift kayaks 40 feet out of the water. Elsewhere in Queens, as water rushed into the lobby and basement of an apartment building at 68-12 Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills, a porter, Herbert Dieguez, said he heard screams.
In the basement, Mr. Dieguez, 38, found a tenant trapped in an elevator, the water up to her neck and rising.
He pried open the doors, he said, and swam her to safety.
“She almost died,” Mr. Dieguez said. “I had to go into the elevator to save her life.”
Colin Moynihan, Michael Schwirtz and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.
Violent thunderstorms leave 4 dead on sweep through Oklahoma
September 8, 2012 –NOWATA, Okla. – Authorities say four people — including an infant — have been killed as thunderstorms swept through northeast Oklahoma. Nowata County Undersheriff Doug Sonenberg tells KSWO-TV, the infant and two adults were killed Friday when heavy winds destroyed a mobile home. They were found in a creek. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol also reported that Ash Grove, Mo., resident Jimmy King was killed when straight-line winds flipped the semi he was driving onto a cement barrier wall and trapped him inside near Afton. Troopers say the 70-year-old King was pinned in the wreckage for nearly three hours and died at the scene of massive injuries. The storms were part of a system that unleashed winds of 25 mph to 35 mph as it moved through the state. –
NASA’s Global Hawk Mission Begins With Flight To Hurricane Leslie
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – NASA has begun its latest hurricane science field campaign by flying an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft over Hurricane Leslie in the Atlantic Ocean during a day-long flight from California to Virginia. With the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission, NASA for the first time will be flying Global Hawks from the U.S. East Coast.
The Global Hawk took off from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Thursday and landed at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., today at 11:37 a.m. EDT after spending 10 hours collecting data on Hurricane Leslie. The month-long HS3 mission will help researchers and forecasters uncover information about how hurricanes and tropical storms form and intensify.
NASA will fly two Global Hawks from Wallops during the HS3 mission. The planes, which can stay in the air for as long as 28 hours and fly over hurricanes at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet, will be operated by pilots in ground control stations at Wallops and Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The mission targets the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change. The aircraft help scientists decipher the relative roles of the large-scale environment and internal storm processes that shape these systems. Studying hurricanes is a challenge for a field campaign like HS3 because of the small sample of storms available for study and the great variety of scenarios under which they form and evolve. HS3 flights will continue into early October of this year and be repeated from Wallops during the 2013 and 2014 hurricane seasons.
The first Global Hawk arrived Sept. 7 at Wallops carrying a payload of three instruments that will sample the environment around hurricanes. A second Global Hawk, scheduled to arrive in two weeks, will look inside hurricanes and developing storms with a different set of instruments. The pair will measure winds, temperature, water vapor, precipitation and aerosols from the surface to the lower stratosphere.
“The primary objective of the environmental Global Hawk is to describe the interaction of tropical disturbances and cyclones with the hot, dry and dusty air that moves westward off the Saharan desert and appears to affect the ability of storms to form and intensify,” said Scott Braun, HS3 mission principal investigator and research meteorologist at NASA1s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
This Global Hawk will carry a laser system called the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL), the Scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (S-HIS), and the Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS).
The CPL will measure cloud structure and aerosols such as dust, sea salt and smoke particles. The S-HIS can remotely sense the temperature and water vapor vertical profile along with the sea surface temperature and cloud properties. The AVAPS dropsonde system will eject small sensors tied to parachutes that drift down through the storm, measuring winds, temperature and humidity.
“Instruments on the ‘over-storm’ Global Hawk will examine the role of deep thunderstorm systems in hurricane intensity change, particularly to detect changes in low-level wind fields in the vicinity of these thunderstorms,” said Braun.
These instruments will measure eyewall and rainband winds and precipitation using a Doppler radar and other microwave sensors called the High-altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP), High-Altitude MMIC Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) and Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD).
HIWRAP measures cloud structure and winds, providing a three-dimensional view of these conditions. HAMSR uses microwave wavelengths to measure temperature, water vapor, and precipitation from the top of the storm to the surface. HIRAD measures surface wind speeds and rain rates.
The HS3 mission is supported by several NASA centers including Wallops; Goddard; Dryden; Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. HS3 also has collaborations with partners from government agencies and academia.
HS3 is an Earth Venture mission funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Earth Venture missions are managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The HS3 mission is managed by the Earth Science Project Office at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
For more about the HS3 mission, visit:
For more information about NASA’s Airborne Science Program, visit:
About the Author: