Hurricane Ophelia’s Winds Strengthen To 85 Mph On Slow Trek Toward Ireland

Hurricane Ophelia continued to strengthen late Wednesday (Oct. 11), with winds reaching 85 mph, as the storm continued a slow trek through the eastern Atlantic toward Ireland, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 10 p.m., Ophelia was located about 745 miles southwest of the Azores and moving northeastward at nearly three mph.

Forecasters expect Ophelia to continue in that general motion Thursday, but called for the storm to speed up while moving toward the northeast Friday.

Slight strengthening is possible over the next day or two, forecasters said.
Late Wednesday, hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles from Ophelia’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 70 miles.

There were no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Hurricane Nate Dumps Heavy Rains Across East Coast

BILOXI, Miss.- Hurricane Nate slogged its way up the northeastern U.S. on Monday, dumping heavy rains and bringing gusty winds to inland states as a tropical depression less than two days after it roared ashore in Mississippi and Louisiana as a hurricane.

Nate spared the region the kind of catastrophic damage left by a series of hurricanes that hit the southern U.S. and Caribbean in recent weeks. Alabama endured relatively little damage, but authorities said it could still take days to deal with the storm’s worst effects.

On Dauphin Island, Mayor Jeff Collier said workers were using heavy equipment to remove as much as 6 feet (1.8 meters) of sand that washed across a more than 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) stretch of the island’s main road and more than 20 side streets.

Collier says Nate “moved the beachfront on to the roadway,” and neither power company nor city water workers can begin repairing damage until the road is clear.

To the east, at Gulf State Park, waves from the storm washed out removable flooring panels on a fishing pier that was rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Workers were replacing the panels Monday with a goal of reopening the pier in time for the National Shrimp Festival, which opens Thursday in nearby Gulf Shores.

Nate — the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 — quickly lost strength Sunday, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and Georgia with heavy rain. It was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening.

Mississippi was largely spared damage, although a few residents suffered losses. Ruth Adams, a Massachusetts native riding out her first hurricane in her beach house near Ocean Springs, says Nate stripped off her metal roof.

Lee Smithson, director of Mississippi’s emergency management agency, said damage from Nate was held down in part because of work done and lessons learned from Katrina.

“If that same storm would have hit us 15 years ago, the damage would have been extensive and we would have had loss of life,” Smithson said of Nate. “But we have rebuilt the coast in the aftermath of Katrina higher and stronger.”

Nate knocked out power to more than 100,000 residents in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, but crews worked on repairs and it appeared most of the outages had been fixed by Monday morning.

Sean Stewart, checking on his father’s sailboat at a Biloxi marina after daybreak, found another boat had sunk, its sail still fluttering in Nate’s diminishing winds. Stewart was relieved to find his father’s craft intact.

“I got lucky on this one,” he said.

No storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported in the U.S. although a firefighter clearing debris after storms associated with Nate died when he was hit by a car in North Carolina.

Before Nate sped past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula late Friday and entered the Gulf of Mexico, it drenched Central America with rains that left at least 22 people dead. But Nate didn’t approach the intensity of Harvey, Irma and Maria — powerful storms that left behind massive destruction during 2017’s exceptionally busy hurricane season.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the four hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and its territories this year have “strained” resources, with roughly 85 percent of the agency’s forces deployed.

“We’re still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Nate initially made landfall Saturday evening in Louisiana, but fears that it would overwhelm the fragile pumping system in New Orleans proved to be unfounded. The storm passed to the east of New Orleans, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on the city known for its all-night partying.

Nate was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachians through Monday. The Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and Northeast could also get heavy rain before the storm exits Maine on Tuesday.

Also Monday, the Hurricane Center said a depression in the open Atlantic had strengthened. Tropical Storm Ophelia did not pose a threat to any land, however.

Ophelia Poised To Break A Hurricane Season Record MoreThan A Century Old

The 2017 hurricane season doesn’t seem to be letting up: on Monday, Tropical Storm Ophelia formed in the central Atlantic and is expected to become a hurricane this week.

While the storm poses no threat to land, it could become the 10th consecutive storm to grow to hurricane strength — a streak of intense systems that will tie a record last set in the late 1800s. It comes in a season that has already produced five major hurricanes, including three ferocious Category 5 storms, and 15 named storms.

The amount of accumulated cyclone energy — a measure of the intensity and longevity of storms — is also 254 percent higher than average with seven weeks left in the season, said University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

“We had 15 named storms last year, but things got named that weren’t really things people would remember,” he said. “There’s some heavy hitters this season.”

Ophelia, located about 845 miles west-southwest of the Azores at 5 p.m., formed Monday morning from a tropical wave rolling off Africa. National Hurricane Center forecasters said Ophelia will likely become a hurricane in three days as it swirls in the Atlantic far from the U.S. coast. With weak steering currents, the storm could linger in the area until next week, McNoldy said.

Since Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast on Aug. 25 — the first major hurricane to strike the U.S. coast since Wilma in 2005 — the amount of hurricane energy has climbed steadily. The increase coincided with the historical peak in the season, between mid August and mid September, but shot up abruptly with the appearance of Irma, which pumped out 185 mph winds for nearly 40 hours straight. Irma also became the most powerful hurricane on record in the Atlantic, outside the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

What’s making this season so busy is a combination of timing and luck, McNoldy said.

Sea temperatures have been warm and hurricane smothering wind shear weak, he said. This year’s storms have also largely avoided mountainous islands in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, that can shred storms.

“It’s just a matter of having one of those waves at the right time at the right place,” he said.

Harvey swung to the south of the islands, and while it crossed the Yucatan, it was moving very slowly, giving it plenty of time to regain strength to a Category 3 hurricane over warm Gulf waters and accumulate copious amounts of rain. When it lingered for five days, it triggered devastating widespread flooding. Irma tracked over the northern Leeward Islands, skirting Hispaniola and Cuba, before making landfall on Cudjoe Key Sept. 10 as a Category 4 hurricane.

“If it had tracked 100 miles further south that entire time, it would have been a non-event for us because it would have passed over the mountains of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba,” McNoldy said. “So yeah, chance does play a role.”

It’s also why the islands, especially vulnerable Hispaniola, are known for being hurricane killers. Maria, which had top winds of 175 mph, hit Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds Sept. 20. When it moved away, winds had slowed to 110 mph and while it regained some strength, cooler waters to the north kept it from returning to its monster status.

With the season more than half over, Florida is far from off the hook. Most hurricanes hit the state in October. According to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, the state has been hit by 28 October hurricanes since 1878, four times more than Louisiana, the next in line. The last time storms intensified into 10 consecutive hurricanes was in 1878, 1886, and 1893, although without satellites its possible some storms in between were missed, he said.

“If we make it through October, the odds quickly switch,” McNoldy said. “So hopefully we get a break.”

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Now Eighth Most Active in History

As measured by the number of storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes and longevity, 2017 is among the top eight most active.

About one-sixth of an average Atlantic hurricane season is left.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is now among the top eight all-time most active seasons on record, thanks to a frenetic stretch of long-lived, destructive hurricanes from mid-August through early October.

Through October 9, 15 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes had formed in the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

By one measure of activity called the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) index, which adds each tropical storm or hurricane’s wind speed through its life cycle, the 2017 season is already a top 10 busiest season.

Through October 9, following the demise of former Hurricane Nate, 2017 was already the eighth most active Atlantic hurricane season of record, according to statistics compiled by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University tropical meteorologist.

Long-lived, intense hurricanes have a high ACE index, while short-lived, weak tropical storms have a low value. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACE for each storm and takes into account the number, strength and duration of all the tropical storms and hurricanes in the season.

According to a National Hurricane Center report, only 1933 and 2004 had a faster ACE pace through the end of September than 2017. Each of those seasons ended up a top five active season overall, with 1933 occupying the top spot.

Roughly 16 percent of an average Atlantic season’s ACE index occurs after October 9, according to Klotzbach’s climatology.

Just an average amount of ACE the rest of this season would place 2017 close to the top five most active seasons in the satellite era.

How This Compares to 2004 and 2005

This season becomes even more compelling when comparing it to two of the most notorious recent hurricane seasons of the previous decade.

The nine-hurricane pace matches that from 2004, when four of those hurricanes hammered various parts of Florida, among other areas.

While 2017 is unlikely to touch 2005’s record 15 hurricanes through the entire season, it has already chalked up the same number of major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes through October 9 as that record-smashing 2005 season generated up to that point in the season.

In 2005, Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Maria (yep, same name) and Rita were at least Category 3 intensity through October 9.

A stretch of nine straight hurricanes from August 9 through October 6, in 2017 was a first in the Atlantic basin in 124 years.

Included in this stretch was catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, followed by the long-lived saga of Hurricane Irma, then by long-lived Jose and catastrophic Hurricane Maria and finally by Nate.

The 30-year average number of hurricanes for an entire Atlantic season is six. The entire 2016 season generated a total of seven hurricanes, needing Hurricane Otto over Thanksgiving to get to that season total.

In all, September 2017 was the single most active month for Atlantic tropical cyclones on record, topping the previous record from September 2004.

According to the National Hurricane Center, an average hurricane season typically sees another two named storms, one of which attains hurricane intensity,after October 9.

Given that, 2017 may continue to climb the all-time list of notorious Atlantic hurricane seasons.

12,000 Years Ago, Florida Hurricanes Heated Up Despite Chilly Seas

Category 5 hurricanes may have slammed Florida repeatedly during the chilly Younger Dryas, 12,000 years ago. The cause? Hurricane-suppressing effects of cooler sea surface were out-weighed by side effects of slowed ocean circulation. That’s the finding of USGS researcher Michael Toomey and colleagues in their Geology article published online today.

As the last ice age waned, undersea landslide deposits called turbidites captured the fury of Florida’s stormy days. Previously, Toomey linked turbidites in the Bahamas with modern hurricanes. For this study, the group examined turbidites in cores spanning the shift from the Younger Dryas into the warmer early Holocene, collected offshore the Dry Tortugas, Florida. The turbidites, complete with smashed up shells and jumbled sediments, reveal that in Younger Dryas days Florida was surprisingly hurricane-prone, at a time when cooler sea surface temperatures may have put the brakes on such intense storms elsewhere in the Atlantic.

To explore why, Toomey and colleagues analyzed computer models that simulated ocean and atmospheric conditions near Florida during that period. In modern times, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) brings cool water south and warm water north. But during the Younger Dryas the AMOC is thought to have weakened considerably, slowing circulation and reshaping environmental conditions across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Modeling results indicated that lower sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, near Barbados, for example, corresponded with a drop in storm potential intensity. Near Florida, sea surfaces cooled as well. However, the change there was not as dramatic as further south or to the north. The relative warmth of waters offshore the southeastern U.S. compared to the regional Atlantic, explains Toomey, seems to have set the stage for intense hurricanes near Florida. “The modeling work suggests other factors, such as wind shear and humidity at mid-latitudes, outweighed changes in sea surface temperature at our core site,” he says. Models and geologic records both show that by the early Holocene, as the AMOC regained strength, Florida’s hurricanes subsided.

The results, says Toomey, reveal that when it comes to generating hurricanes, ocean circulation plays a powerful role. What’s more, he adds, the study demonstrates that on certain types of coastlines, turbidites have great potential for unraveling ancient hurricane histories. However, Toomey cautions against applying the results directly to future hurricane activity. He says for that, we need more field data and higher resolution models. “That’s where I see this work headed next.”

Hurricane Nate Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Hurricane Nate has made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) says.

The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 85mph (137km/h), is moving north, and a second landfall is expected on the Mississippi coast later.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Florida earlier issued warnings and evacuation orders.

Nate killed at least 25 people in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras.

The tropical storm has since strengthened and is now a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Although not as strong as last month’s Maria and Irma, Nate is expected to bring strong winds and storm surges.

US President Donald Trump earlier issued an emergency declaration for Louisiana, allowing the state to seek federal help with preparation and possible relief efforts.

In Alabama, Republican Governor Kay Ivey has urged residents in areas facing heavy winds and storm surges to take precautions.

Five ports along the Gulf Coast have also been closed to shipping as a precaution.

Most oil and gas platforms in the US Gulf of Mexico have evacuated their staff and stopped production ahead of the storm.

n its latest update at 03:00 GMT, the NHC said a hurricane warning was in effect for the “mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama-Florida border”.

Evacuation orders have been put in place for some low-lying areas.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of the hurricane.

He said more than 1,000 National Guard troops had been mobilised with a number sent to New Orleans to monitor the drainage pumps there. “Anyone in low-lying areas… we are urging them to prepare now,” he said.

A mandatory curfew from 18:00 (23:00 GMT) is in place in New Orleans, where residents from areas outside the city’s levee system have been evacuated.

A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for New Orleans.

The NHC said that Nate “is expected to weaken quickly after landfall, and it is likely to become a tropical storm Sunday morning.

“It should degenerate into a remnant low late Monday.”

Nate went past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – home to the popular beach resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen – on Friday night as it headed north, the NHC said.

Nate caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which blocked roads, destroyed bridges and damaged houses as it tore through central America.

At least 13 people died in Nicaragua, eight in Costa Rica, three in Honduras and one in El Salvador.

The tail of the storm is still causing problems in the region, where thousands have been forced to sleep in shelters and some 400,000 people in Costa Rica were reported to be without running water.

2nd Rockslide In 2 Days Occurs At Yosemite National Park, Injuring 1

A second rock slide in just two days has occurred at Yosemite National Park, injuring one person.

The rockfall happened one day after the first killed one park-goer and injured another Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the park confirmed to ABC News that a significant rock slide released off of El Capitan, a summit above Yosemite Valley, on Thursday.

No fatalities are known at this time, the spokesperson said.

Wednesday’s rockfall also occurred on a popular climbing route on El Capitan. The release point appeared to be near the Waterfall Route on the East Buttress of the summit, according to a press release.

It is currently climbing season at Yosemite National Park, with many park-goers climbing on El Capitan and other routes, according to park officials.

Information on the victims’ identities were not released. Further details were not immediately available.