Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Gospel According To Matthew

Oh, great - the American Northeast could get a hurricane that makes Sandy look like a nuisance drizzle.
Tropical Storm Matthew formed in the Caribbean Sea today - jumping from invest status to tropical storm status without the usual interval of being a tropical depression - and could - no, will - be a Category 1 hurricane by Friday and could possibly be a Category 2 hurricane by Monday as it approaches Cuba.  After that, where it goes is anyone's guess, but the guessing so far seems to favor a track toward the north and toward the East Coast.  Some weather charts show Matthew possibly affecting the Gulf Coast, but that seems to be the minority opinion.
Last night the Global Forecast System (GFS) computer model had a scenario that turned the storm a hard ninety degrees to the right from its westerly path and brought it charging full tilt boogie to the Tri-State area.  I and a lot of people commenting on the Facebook weather started freaking out.   Then the GFS issued this model this after noon for 1:00 A.M. Eastern time, on October 7:
This is actually an improvement over the previous model.  Note that the storm brings rain to New York and New Jersey but its center stays off shore.  The earlier model had Matthew going inland through Pennsylvania and western New Jersey.  And here's where GFS projects Matthew will be at noon Eastern time, just twelve hours later.  
By 1:00 A.M. Eastern time, or 2:00 P.M. Atlantic time, Saturday, October 8, it's in the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian Maritimes.
But wait!  Here's where the European model shows the storm at 7:00 A.M. Eastern time - off the coast of Florida!  Nowhere near the Bay of Fundy.  Also, in this scenario, Matthew is depicted to be stronger and better defined than the GFS models show it at the same point on the map.  And when does the GFS show Matthew near Florida?  Four days earlier - Tuesday, October 4. and with less strength and (relatively) lighter winds.  Also, the Euro shows it farther east at this point on the map than the GFS does, suggesting it may move out to sea and not even come close to land.
There's a reason why weather forecasters say that you shouldn't confuse models with forecasts and why any computer-generated scenario ten or more days in advance should be taken with a grain of salt.  That said, I am not very comfortable about this.  As long as the chance of a direct hit exists, Matthew is going to keep me up at night as it progresses until we know where it's going.  And then, if it is expected to target the Northeast, I'll really be insomnia-prone, given the number of electrical blackouts we've had since November 2009!
Given the October 2012 appearance of Sandy and the various October storms we've had in my neck of the woods since then, I am convinced that the tenth month of the year has become something to dread for reasons other than ghouls, goblins, and just-add-water protests against Columbus Day - guys, if you don't want a holiday for Columbus, or if you want to call it a federal bank holiday so at least bank tellers, law clerks, and mail carriers still get the second Monday in October off, just do something about it!  October, thanks no doubt to climate change and longer peak periods during hurricane season, is becoming stormier than March.  And to those who think Mathew is all hype - oh, ye of too much faith.
Oh yeah, the last tine I talked about electrical blackouts, I said we'd had 34 of them since November 2009.  Turns out I undercounted - it's 36, not 34! :-O 

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