Hurricane 68?


Since southwest and southeast Florida got the brunt of Hurricane Wilma back in the fall of 2005, there have been 67 hurricanes formed in the Atlantic over the last eleven years. None of them have hit Florida, which has doubled the old record of 33 consecutive hurricanes without a Florida landfall, according to Denis Phillips over at ABC Action News.

With two named storms, Fiona and Gaston, out in the Atlantic and no threats to anyone, a close eye is being kept on an unnamed system just east of Puerto Rico. Many of the computer models have that mass of weather forming into something tropical, possibly hitting southeast Florida within a few days.

But, solving where a tropical system goes is like trying to figure out a checkmate on a chess board within a few moves. Just as the checkmate requires the opponent making certain moves so that the checkmate can happen as it predicts, the flaw in these computer models is that it requires the chess pieces (in this case, the weather system) to move in a predictable way.

With a system not even named yet, things become more problematic, because the circulation center might not be where the models think that they are. In turn, that changes the projected path of the system from point to point, and the models need a reliable starting point as a frame of reference.

The good news at this point (noon on Wednesday as I wrote this) is Tampa Bay won’t see the storm in all likelihood. If it gets too close to Hispaniola (the island the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic sit), it may dissipate all together and effect only them as a rainmaker. If it stays north and doesn’t interact with that area much, then South Florida may get it, either as a tropical storm or a hurricane named Hermine.

Thursday morning brought news of a split consensus: half the models now think the storm will interact with Florida twice, once hitting the southeast, then again in the Panhandle. Some more models have the storm hugging the west coast up to a Big Bend area hit. But the multi-million dollar question is: as what?

For now, too many variables and history working for us here in Tampa Bay to give it much thought…though I just did.

Seven Rules For Hurricane Season

Even though there have already been two named storms in the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, the season officially began yesterday.

Here in Tampa, we’re blessed to have a great meteorologist in the suspender-wearing Denis Phillips, who heads the weather team at WFTS, better known here as ABC Action News. A few years ago, he came up with seven rules to follow during hurricane season, which apply just as easily if you live in New York or Houston than if you live in the Tampa Bay area.

They are as follows, though if you live in another area, change the wording slightly:

1. Storm track errors past 3 days can be HUGE. Don’t get caught up on forecasts that far out. You’ll go crazy.
2. Models flip flop back and forth all the time. Look for trends, don’t look at individual model runs
3. If you didn’t prepare in June (which you probably didn’t), do so now. Check your hurricane kit and guide to see what YOU and your family need.
4. Don’t freak out.
5. Don’t freak out. Ok? We live in Florida. It goes with the territory. The odds of a storm affecting us directly is usually low.
6. If things get bad, KNOW that we will be there will you 24-7. You’re going to hear a ton of information. It can get confusing. Stick with us. We won’t steer you wrong.
7. Stop freaking out….until I tell you to. We’re fine.

Looking like it may be a busier year than the most recent seasons, but all it takes is one bad storm to make a bad season.

The Big Chill Of 2010

Some of you in the Tampa Bay area may have noticed that it’s a wee bit cold out.  Well, what we consider to be cold.  I’ve seen it colder here, but don’t get me started on that whole Global Warming nonsense.

Actually, it’s been colder than this wave we’re currently getting.  Here’s what I shot off of local TV back on January 9, 2010 off of the FOX, ABC, and NBC stations.  Sheena Parveen, who currently works as the lead weatherperson on one of the big Philadelphia stations, leads off on WTVT’s coverage.

Watching Sandy

Tampa Bay is getting it’s first real chill of the season.  It was in the 50’s this morning in Tampa, about 60 here in Pinellas Park.  When the temps start dipping below 60, you know fall has arrived here.

Having lived in some colder climates in my lifetime, I find it humorous when the older people in the neighborhood break out the cold weather gear when it falls below 70.  But then again, I’m not them.  They may be more sensitive to the cold then I am.

But Sandy is the lady of the hour.  It is (as I type this) an 85 mph hurricane, it is expected to lose its tropical characteristics today as it hits lower New Jersey as it merges its energies with a cold front.  So you have the bizarre situation of a hurricane hitting the Jersey Shore with NO watches and warnings preceding it.  Our local ace meteorologist Denis Phillips over at WFTS (ABC Action News) in Tampa pointed out this loophole in how this kind of storm situation is handled yesterday.

And I totally agree: perhaps during the hurricane off-season a month away, the governing bodies of weather in the United States can get together and close this kind of loophole for the 2013 hurricane season and beyond.

Debby, You Are A Beast!

3am EDT on 6/25/2012, and the rain from Debby isn’t stopping.  Tampa Bay residents no doubt wish it would.

Like many of us right now in Florida, I’m feeling the wrath of a little lady named Debby.  Tropical Storm Debby to be exact.  I thought I would give you all an update.  Who knows if I’ll be able to later with all this damned rain!

As I write this it’s 3am on Monday, June 25th.  The rain bands are so loud they are currently preventing me from my usual slumber.  The wind hasn’t been too bad (although it has shut down the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which connects Pinellas County to points south on I-275 for some time now), the thunder and lightning almost non-existent.  The problem is that it’s almost continuously rained here for over 36 hours, and some of that rain has been heavy at times.

There were also several tornadoes that popped up thanks to the unstable atmosphere, including one that hit Pass-A-Grille, the southernmost beach in Pinellas County.  ABC Action News (what the local ABC station here in Tampa Bay is branded) and chief meteorologist Denis Phillips was right on that tornado and followed it like a seasoned Midwestern weatherman.

But as seconds passed like minutes during that 8 o’clock hour last night, I kept looking at the potential path of this tornado/waterspout and kept noticing the angle and the speed it was moving.  I also noticed that where I lived was smack dab within the cone.  That gave me a few anxious moments!  Fortunately, the funnel cloud passed a mile or so to my north on US Highway 19.  Whew!

And just like Hurricane/Tropical Storm Frances in 2004, just when you think it’s safe to rest.  Another heavy rain band comes in.  And another.  And another.

Tampa had over six inches of rain yesterday.  Parts of Pinellas have had a foot.  And yet Debby plods along slowly.  The meteorologists all think the rain won’t be as widespread nor as heavy today.  We’ll see.  For all of you in Tampa Bay dealing with this, I feel your pain.  Debby will be a little lady we will remember here in Tampa Bay for a long time.

And as I leave you on this journey of mine, the Tampa stations that were playing various infomercials have now popped back on once more with the latest weather information.  Another Tornado Warning for the northern parts of Tampa.  Amazing little storm this is.

Falling Off The Wagon

Weather woman Stephanie Roberts was let go by ABC Action News this week.

Former 10 News (WTSP) anchor Jennifer Howe has had recent problems with the law.

Russell Rhodes of WTVT had an interesting evening on the streets of Tampa one night in 2009.

The late, great WFLA sports anchor Chris Thomas was once arrested for DUI before his untimely passing at the age of 55.

I mean to offend no one I know or have known in my work in the media or as a follower of the media by asking the following question:

Is there something about working in television that might drive the employees of a TV station to drink?  Seems to happen quite often, at least in our market, anyway.  Or is it in proportion to what the rest of us “commoners” do?

Just another “Slice Of Big Pauly” random thought.