MICHAEL UPGRADED TO A CAT 5, PLUS AN EASTER TO REMEMBER...

April 20, 2019

Some big news from NOAA Friday on hurricane Michael which destroyed Mexico Beach, Florida last October. A detailed analysis showed the storm having sustained winds of 160 mph at landfall making it a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It's the first CAT 5 to strike the U.S. mainland since Andrew in 1992, and only the 4th on record. The other two are Camille in 1969 and the Labor Days storm of 1935.

The original real-time operational intensity estimate was 135 knots (155 mph). The final best track intensity estimate of 140 knots (160 mph) was determined by a review of the available aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities – including data and analyses that were not available in real time. The 5 knot (5 mph) increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal range of uncertainty.

Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm. Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States. Before hitting the United States, the cyclone brought hurricane-force winds to the western tip of Cuba when it was a category 2 Hurricane.

Along with wind speed, atmospheric pressure is a measure of storm intensity. In general, the lower a storm’s central pressure, the higher the winds. Michael’s central pressure of 919 millibars (mb) at landfall is the third lowest on record for a landfalling U. S. hurricane since reliable records began in 1900, trailing only the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (892 mb) and Hurricane Camille of 1969 (900 mb).

Getting on to the holiday weekend, much of the central Midwest is in for a real treat weatherwise, especially compared to last weekend. In the graphic below you can see that last weekend the 2 day average high was 48 degrees. This weekend I have 70 and 80 forecast for Cedar Rapids which would make a 2 day average of 75, a 27 degree bump!

The 80 degree high Sunday will make this one of the all-time warmest Easter's ever. Because Easter falls on different dates every year it makes it hard to find specific records for the date without doing an intensive search. However, I did go back 20 years (to 1999) and found that the warmest Easter in Cedar Rapids was 81 in 2014. Interestingly, the coldest during that period was just last year when we only reached 33 (that occurred April 1st). The average Easter high the past 20 years is 56.4.

Here's the breakdown of the expected temperatures this year. Under mostly sunny skies readings will go from the mid 50s early to near 80 by late afternoon. 

As it stands now no rain is expected in my area until late Sunday night or Monday when a front will slowly sag into the Midwest from the north. Some areas in the north could see some heavy rains but the precise position of the front and amount of training will determine just how much. The potential is there for some 1-2" amounts in localized convective bands. More to come on the overall set-up.

 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and to you Christians, here's to the hope and joy of the Resurrection. Roll weather...TS

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© 2019 Terry Swails