Thursday, September 21, 2017

Forecast for record heat forces cancellation of Montreal Marathon

The Montreal Marathon, scheduled for this weekend, has been cancelled by organizers due to the expected heat and humidity. (Rock & Roll Oasis Marathon Photo)
Fall arrives Friday afternoon at 4:02PM, but you would not know that based on the forecast. Today marks the 11 consecutive day in Montreal with no rain and above normal temperatures. The forecast for the upcoming weekend calls for more hot weather, with near record highs of 28C (84F) Saturday and 30C (86F) Sunday, along with elevated humidity levels. The record high temperature for Saturday is 30C set in 1961, and 26.7C Sunday, set in 1968. We most certainly will break the record Sunday. The forecast has prompted organizers of the Rock and Roll/Oasis Montreal Marathon to cancel the full marathon. The half marathon and 10km events will still take place, but start at 7:30am. This surprisingly hot weather comes at the end of what was a rather dismal summer. While Montreal is enjoying this spectacular forecast, the first snow of the season covered the ground in parts of northern and central Alberta. Below normal temperatures have replaced searing heat across portions of western Canada. The cool weather has been welcome, as the area was experiencing a devastating fire season.

An aerial photo provided by the Government of Dominica, showing widespread devastation in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria is churning through the waters of the northern Caribbean Sea on Thursday morning after devastating the tiny island of Dominica, along with portions of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Dominica has been leveled,  most of the structures damaged or destroyed. Water and power have been disrupted, and 14 fatalities have been reported. Puerto Rico also took a direct hit from Maria on Wednesday, with torrential rains and 150mph winds. Two National Weather Service radars was destroyed along with most observation equipment. Widespread flooding has occurred, with over 300mm (1 foot) of rain falling. Power is out to the entire island of over 3.5 million residents. The Governor of Puerto Rico estimates that it may take 4 to 6 months to reconstruct the entire electrical grid. As of 8am Thursday morning, Maria had intensified again to a category 3 hurricane, with 115 mph (185km/h) winds. The center of the storm was located 150km northwest of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Maria's next target will be the Turks and Caicos.

Meanwhile tropical storm Jose will not go away. The peaky system continues to pound east coast beaches from Cape Cod to the Outer Banks with huge swells and surf. Coastal flooding has been reported. Jose is forecast to drift south off the eastern seaboard and gradually weaken this weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The best weather of the year for Montreal

Hydro Quebec was on the ground in Georgia last week, helping to restore power in the wake of hurricane Irma. The well respected utility sent down 50 crews, a total of 125 employees. Irma snapped trees and power lines, cutting power to over 9 million homes and businesses from Florida to the Carolina's. (Hydro Quebec Photo)
Our absolutely spectacular summer weather continues this week, with abundant sunshine and much above normal temperatures forecast fro Montreal. Daytime high temperatures were in the upper 20's this past weekend, 29C (85F) at my home on L'Ile Perrot Sunday afternoon. The normal high for mid-September in Montreal should be 19C (66F), with a normal low of 8C (47F). The only glitch in an otherwise perfect forecast, has been dense fog in the morning. The air mass is very humid, and the nights much longer, as a result fog has been forming nightly. The other slight glitch in the forecast may be hurricane Jose. High pressure should keep Jose well to our south, but a few clouds and perhaps a stray shower may pivot down the St. Lawrence Valley Tuesday or Wednesday. Otherwise expect sunshine through next Sunday, along with temperatures in the middle to upper 20s and lows in the middle teens.

Hurricane Jose
The Atlantic hurricane season continues to be extremely active. As mentioned, hurricane Jose is still meandering around the Atlantic, and is located this morning 270 miles (440km) east southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Jose has 85mph winds, and is moving north at 9mph (15km/h). Jose is already producing elevated surf from southern New England to the Outer Banks. A tropical storm watch is now in effect for coastal regions from Delaware north to Massachusetts. Winds up to 45mph (70km/h) along with up to 4 inches (100mm) of rain are possible for coastal locations Tuesday.

Hurricane Maria
Over the weekend, hurricane Maria developed and is presently located 85 miles (135km) east of Martinique in the Leeward Islands. Sadly, Maria is forecast to become a major hurricane and trek across some of the same regions impacted by Irma two weeks ago. The northern Leeward islands will be impacted as early as Tuesday, with Puerto Rico expected to take a direct hit on Wednesday. All interests in the Bahamas and eastern US will need to monitor Maria carefully over the next week to 10 days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Summer 2017 in Montreal - saving the best for last

Haze and smoke made for a spectacular sunset in Montreal on Monday, September 11. Warm and dry weather is forecast to end summer 2017. (Valley Weather Photo)
It took the entire season, but Montreal is finally seeing some perfect summer weather. Strong high pressure centered over the province, is providing perfect late summer days, with low humidity and above normal temperatures. At the same time, the nights have been cool, perfect for sleeping.

This spell of perfect weather is coming during the last full week of summer 2017, a season that has for the most part, not been so good. Precipitation was above normal, with temperatures below, not an ideal combination for a city that loves summer. If you like the heat, it was absent most of the season. Montreal officially recorded only one day where the temperatures was 30C (86F) or above. Normally we have at least 9 such days.

Our current stretch of dry, warm weather started last Sunday and is expected to persist right through the upcoming weekend. As the high pressure slides east off the coast, warmer southerly winds will pick up this weekend, with a slight rise in humidity levels as well. Temperatures will be well above normal, averaging 27C (81F) for a daytime high and 13C (55F) for the overnight low. Normally we should be at 20C (68F) and 9C (48F) respectively. The only exception to the sunshine may be a few high thin clouds Thursday, as what is left of hurricane Irma slides across southern New England late tomorrow and Friday. Any showers will remain across southern New York and Vermont. Enjoy the fine forecast, fall officially arrives next Friday, September 22 at 4:02PM.

Monday, September 11, 2017

From south to north - widespread damage in Florida

Widespread damage along the overseas Highway 1 in Marathon Key, Florida. (Photo via Twitter @JustonStrmRider)
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical storm late Monday afternoon, the center located 85km east of Tallahassee. Irma has 60mph winds (85km/h), and is moving north, northwest at 17 mph (28km/h). Irma remains a large storm, with tropical storm force winds extending outward an incredible 415 miles (665km) from the center of circulation.

The storm has left a widespread trail of damage and destruction in its wake, from the Keys to Miami and north to Jacksonville as well as Georgia and South Carolina. Power is out to nearly 6 million residents from Florida to the Carolina's. Sixty five percent of the Florida power grid is down.

Landfall occurred on Sunday morning near Cudjoe Key, with 130mph winds. A peak gust to 141mph was reported at Naples, Florida. On Monday, the storm crept northward across the peninsula while slowly weakening. Even in a weakened state, Irma's broad circulation produced a tremendous storm surge along the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Record flooding is occurring in Jacksonville, along with winds in excess of 75mph. Homes have been damaged and in many cases destroyed. Crews are slowly moving southward across the Florida Keys, inspecting infrastructure and doing a door to door search for victims. To date, 4 fatalities have been blamed on Irma in Florida, 10 in Cuba and 20 across the rest of the Caribbean. Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents remain in shelters today, unable to return home due to damaged, blocked or flooded roads. Relief is pouring into the region, and FEMA is on the ground. Included in the relief effort, will be 175 utility employees from Ontario's Hydro 1.

A record storm surge flooded parts of Florida's east coast, including Miami-Dade, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach shown above. (The Weather Channel/AP)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma making landfall in south Florida

The storm surge splashes over the famous Key West buoy, as Irma nears the tiny chain of Florida islands. 
Hurricane Irma has strengthened this morning on its final approach to south Florida. Bands of heavy rain and fierce winds are impacting Florida's east coast, but it is the Florida Keys and the west coast that will take a direct hit over the next 24 to 36 hours. As of 5am Sunday, Irma was located 40 miles south, southeast of Key West, crawling northwest at 8mph. Winds in the eye wall of the storm have increased to 130mph (215km/h). A wind gust to 88mph (141km/h) was observed at Alligator Reef Light early this morning. The incredible forecasters, still on duty at the Key West National Weather Service office, reported a gust to 79mph. Isolated tornadoes are possible in the feeder bands from Irma throughout south Florida today.

Irma will remain a very dangerous storm as the system sweeps from south to north across the Florida peninsula today. Fort Myers, Naples, and Tampa are in the cross hairs for direct impacts form the strongest winds. Already major flooding is occurring, even on the east coast of Florida. Storm surges of 10 to 15 feet are forecast on the west coast, with 6 to 8 feet from the upper keys into Miami-Dade. Power is out to an estimated half million customers already in south Florida. Irma is forecast to move into Georgia on Monday.

I have not forgotten about hurricane Jose. Indications are that this storm may also impact the US. I will deal with that once Irma is out of the way. More updates will follow later today on both systems.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Irma forces mass evacuations along the Florida coast

A sign of the times as millions of Florida residents are fleeing inland in advance of Hurricane Irma. (USA Today Photo)
Over one million residents are heading inland along the Florida and Georgia coastlines in advance of deadly hurricane Irma. As of 8am Friday morning, Irma was located 450 miles (720km) southeast of Miami, moving west northwest at 16mph (26km/h). Irma has weakened slightly to a category 4 storm, with winds of 150mph (240km/h). Irma however remains a large and powerful hurricane capable of major damage. Residents of south Florida, including Monroe, Dade and Broward counties, have been fleeing northward, jamming interstates and creating a run on gas and water. Fuel tankers were escorted by Florida State Troopers on Thursday, in an effort to alleviate the shortage. Over 50 percent of the gas stations in Metro Dade reported major shortages, or no gas at all.

Congestion on US 1 in the Florida Keys ahead of Irma. (Miami Herald Photo)
Irma is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida late Saturday or early Sunday, possibly making a direct hit on Miami and its 6 million residents. A storm surge of 5 to 10 feet is possible in the low-lying Florida Keys. The storm surge is a dome of water generated by the storm, preceding it into the coastline. Storm surge flooding is the deadliest component of most hurricanes, reaching in some cases over 20 feet. Waves on top of the surge can demolish homes and destroy infrastructure. The hurricane is expected to move from south to north across the entire state of Florida over the weekend, before moving into Georgia and the Carolina's. Irma's wind field is massive, with tropical storm force winds extending more than 185 miles (295km) from the center of the storm. Damaging winds are expected to impact the entire state of Florida. Federal and State resources have been mobilized in advance of the hurricane, staging in various sections of the state and neighboring Alabama. Meanwhile, relief efforts are in full force across the Caribbean, where several islands were leveled by Irma. The death toll is at 20 as of Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Historic hurricane Irma pounds the Leeward Islands

A spectacular infrared satellite image of the eye of Irma passing directly over Barbuda on Wednesday morning. (NOAA)
At 8pm Wednesday evening, hurricane Irma was located 50 miles (80km) north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, after decimating several of the northern Leeward Islands. According to Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Barbuda and Antigua, 90 percent of the tiny island of 1600 lay in ruins. Irma, a powerful category 5 hurricane with 185mph (290km/h) winds, passed directly over Barbuda early Wednesday. A peak wind gust of 155mph (250km/h) was measured on Barbuda, before the anemometer failed. Communications and infrastructure has been destroyed, and it will likely take months if not longer to rebuild. Browne estimated damages will exceed $150 million US dollars. One fatality was reported on Barbuda, with at least two on nearby St. Martin. On St Martin, several buildings were leveled, with major damage reported at the famed Princess Juliana Airport. Also hit hard late Wednesday were the British Virgin Islands, with reports of widespread significant damage.

According to the Prime Minister of Barbuda, 90 percent of the island was damaged by Irma. (Mirror)
Irma has maintained 185mph winds for over 24 hours now, the longest in recorded history for any storm in the Atlantic basin. The storm is still slightly weaker, at least from a wind standpoint, than Allen in 1980. At peak intensity, Allen has 190mph winds. But make no mistake, Irma is a beast. The storm is wider than the state of Florida. In the US, massive evacuations have been ordered for coastal communities from the Florida Keys to Miami Beach. A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia and the Carolina's. The southern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are preparing for what could be an historic storm surge, well over 20 feet. Irma will impact the northern coastal areas of Hispaniola Thursday, before approaching the Bahamas on Friday. A US landfall in Florida is expected this weekend before Irma move northward into Georgia and the Carolina's.