In July 1943, tracking hurricanes was a difficult business. Fewer ships were at sea because of the threat of German U-boats. Those that were at sea maintained radio silence. Britain suffered mightily from the lack of weather reports from over the Atlantic. The Brits were forced to use precious aircraft to fly weather observation missions. The U.S. feared that the West Indies would become a major theater of war if the Germans decided to attack through Central and South America.
In Bryan, Texas, Col. James P. Duckworh was in charge of the Instrument Flying Instruction School. Before the 1930s, there wasn’t any such thing as instrument flying. Everything was visual. Duckworth had been a pilot for Eastern Air Transport, the precursor to Eastern Airlines. He had resigned to go to active duty with the Army Air Corps Reserve. Duckworth said that he knew that the war wasn’t going to stop because of weather.
On the morning of Sunday, July 27th, Col. Duckworth made his way to the base to have breakfast. As he ate, he learned that there was a hurricane making landfall near Galveston. Hard to believe, since it was a beautiful morning at Bryan, about 100 miles from Galveston. The storm was expected to pass near Houston during the afternoon. Duckworth saw it as the perfect opportunity to do what no one had done intentionally up to that time: fly into a hurricane.
Joe suggested to one of his breakfast companions, Lt. Ralph O’Hair that they take an single engine AT-6 trainer and fly into the storm for fun. There were four new B-25‘s at the base, but it would be hard to justify using one of them for this unsanctioned mission. As 100 mph winds were raking the coast. Duckworth and O’Hair took off for Galveston. Enroute, they called the tower at Houston and said they were flying Galveston. The incredulous operator asked them if they knew there was a hurricane. When they said yes, the controller asked for updates so he would be able to direct crews to the wreckage.
As they flew toward the hurricane, they were in the weaker western semicircle of the storm. As they neared the eyewall, they experienced violent up and down turbulence that made them feel like a “bone in a dog’s mouth”. Suddenly, they broke into the clear air of the eye. They flew around for a few minutes and headed back to the base where they were met by the staff meteorological officer. The weatherman wanted to know why they had not included him in their historic flight. They responded by telling him to hop in, they would take him to the center. The meteorologist kept a very detailed diary of observations.
Duckworth did not immediately realize the significance of his feat. Later that year, one of his superiors summoned him to tell the pilot that he had been recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross. The unassuming Colonel did receive the Air Medal for flying into a hurricane for the first time, twice in the same day.
Realizing the benefit of more specific information on hurricanes, regular reconnaissance flights were started the next year. Weather Bureau meteorologists used the information about 1944’s Great Atlantic Hurricane to issue better warnings.
We are tracking a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic on this last Sunday of July.
Right now it doesn’t look like much, but several of the global models, including the American GFS and the UKMET are now on board with the idea that it will become tropical depression number 3 in the week ahead as it steams across the Atlantic. There is a chance it could even go on to become Tropical Storm Bertha.
It is expected to move near the northern Lesser Antilles or Virgin Islands Friday night and could affect Puerto Rico as well. After that, the GFS currently projects it curving around the Bermuda High and flirting with the U.S. East Coast, but not making landfall.
Another system will come off the African coast late in the week, but indications are that it will head toward weakness over the western Atlantic as the subtropical high shifts a little east temporarily.
The National Hurricane Center has given the designation over the Central Atlantic a designation (92L). Convection has developed near the center and it appears to have a circulation. It is in an area of low wind shear, that is favorable for development.
It could become Tropical Depression #2. The NHC gives it a 50% chance of that happening.
It will likely weaken though as it encounters more hostile conditions as it approaches the islands. It still will bring squally weather to them Wednesday night and Thursday.
There is some chance it could flare back up as it nears the United States, so we will be watching!
A very nice early July Sunday is in progress across Central Alabama. Things are returning to normal quickly in the temperature and moisture department across Alabama. Precipitable water values are getting back to 1.5 inches across the state, as evidenced in the lower left panel of the graphic. Temperatures are climbing through the middle 80s for the most part but were already near 90F at Tuscaloosa. You can see the nice field of cumulus clouds which are a byproduct of the increased moisture. A few showers were starting to show up over East Central and South Central Alabama, from Alex City to Montgomery to Greenville over to LaGrange, Georgia. The pulse thunderstorms are drifting aimlessly to the northwest for the most part.
MyWARN SEVERE WEATHER TODAY: Severe weather is likely today across parts of Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, northeastern Iowa and northern Illinois. The culprit is a surface low that is moving from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
TROPICS: The post tropical low that was Arthur is skirting Newfoundland this morning. There is a trough of low pressure southeast of Georgia coast that is triggering widespread showers and storms. It is not recognized as a disturbance yet by the NHC and development is not expected. But it is another case of where we will probably see our tropical cyclones develop for the most part this year: close in to the U.S.
If you didn’t know better, you would think it was late September rather that the Fourth of July across Central Alabama.
First, everyone started off with some comfortable readings this morning. It was 61F at the Birmingham Airport, some ten degrees below the average low for the date of 71F.
Skies have been mostly sunny, with just a few high clouds and contrails across the middle of the state and over the Tennessee Valley, and a few puny puffy cumulus clouds over western sections.
The closest showers to Central Alabama were in the Louisiana coastal waters and over the Florida Peninsula, south of a frontal system that is lying over the northern Gulf of Mexico into southern Georgia.
It was 83F at 3 p.m. at the Birmingham Airport. It that ends up being the high for the day, it would make it the 10th coolest 4th of July on record in the Magic City. 84F would make it the 12th. The interesting thing about the top ten coolest Independence Days in Birmingham is that it rained on nine of them.
If you remember, last year was the 2nd coldest 4th of July in Birmingham history with a high of 77F. It had been cloudy and rainy all day with flash flood watches.
Usually at this time on the Fourth, we are fretting whether fireworks shows will go on. Not this year. The show will go on and be beautiful in all Alabama cities tonight.
CHECK ON ARTHUR
Arthur is racing off to the northrast this afternoon. It will brush by Cape Cod and Nantucket this evening with some tropical storm force winds. It will reach Nova Scotia tomorrow morning and Newfoundland Sunday. It will be tropical storm when that happens.
Damage in North Carolina is minimal, thankfully. Highway 12, the road over the Outer Banks was covered with sand, but it projected to reopen tomorrow.
Arthur will go in the books at the earliest hurricane in history to make landfall in North Carolina.
We have a technical landfall I believe on Cape Lookout southeast of Morehead City at 10:14 p.m. CDT tonight.
Now we will wait to see if the NHC agrees and gives the official word.
Arthur is the first landfalling category two or greater hurricane in the U.S. since Ike in 2008.
And it is official…
HURRICANE ARTHUR TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012014
1130 PM EDT THU JUL 03 2014
…CENTER OF ARTHUR MAKES LANDFALL…
THE CENTER OF ARTHUR MADE LANDFALL AT ABOUT 1115 PM EDT…0315
UTC…OVER THE SHACKLEFORD BANKS BETWEEN CAPE LOOKOUT AND BEAUFORT
NORTH CAROLINA. THE NOAA AUTOMATED STATION AT CAPE LOOKOUT RECENTLY
REPORTED SUSTAINED WINDS OF 77 MPH…124 KM/H…AND A WIND GUST OF
101 MPH…163 KM/H.
SUMMARY OF 1130 PM EDT…0330 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 5 MI…10 KM NW OF CAPE LOOKOUT NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 65 MI…105 KM WSW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…100 MPH…155 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NE OR 35 DEGREES AT 18 MPH…30 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…976 MB…28.82 INCHES
The eye of Hurricane Arthur is skirting the coast just south of Morehead City, NC tonight.
Here is the 9 p.m. advisory summary and forecast track:
The issue of whether the hurricane will actually make landfall is in play. It is an academic question, cause the worst of the impacts are in the eyewall. If the eye actually stays offshore, the impacts can be worse since locations along the coast stay in the worst weather without a break.
Here is the radar from Morehead City:
Landfall is defined as the point when the geometric center of the center crosses the coast. It will be a very close call to see if the geometric center intersects the coastline at Cape Lookout for a technical landfall.
The NW Wilmington reports that a weather station at Fort Macon east of Atlantic Beach has recorded an 87 mph wind gust. This is in the northern eyewall.
Hurricane Arthur has continued to slowly intensify this afternoon as it is over warm water and experiencing very light wind shear. Air Force reconnaissance found a central pressure of 977 mb at 1:41 p.m. The pressure has been steadily dropping for over 24 hours, despite dry air being entrained into the storm from the west. The eye has become clearly visible on this infrared satellite image loop.
On the inbound leg of that eye penetration, the SFMR instrument (playfully known as the Smurf) estimated the surface winds at 94 mph. So the NHC is holding the winds at 90 mph, still a category one hurricane. The Hurricane Hunters just completed another penetration of the eye and we are awaiting that vortex data report.
Arthur still has about 18 hours to strengthen and will likely become a category two hurricane.
ABOUT 35 MI…55 KM S OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 185 MI…300 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…90 MPH…150 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNE OR 20 DEGREES AT 13 MPH…20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…977 MB…28.85 INCHES
The center of the hurricane is approximately 35 miles south of Cape Fear, or 60 miles south of Wilmington. It is a little more than 100 miles SSW of Morehead City and 1180 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, which both may experience the eye according to the recon plots. You can see those last four center fixes on this graphic.
Winds at Wrightsville Beach near Wilmington were just reported sustained at 35 mph. Here is a radar image from Wilmington:
You can see the reports of a tornado in Duplin County, NC, as well as a funnel cloud. You can also see where the weather is bad under the feeder bands.
Weather is Charleston is improving rapidly now as the storm is moving away from them.