Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hurricane John Advisory & TS Kristy

John Weakens As It Nears Baja California Hurricane John has weakened to a strong Catagory 2 as it approaches Baja California, Mexico. This is still a dangerous storm and care must be taken. Hopefully any damage won't be as bad as it might have been when the storm was a Cat 4 (see earlier comments later in this post).

Meanwhile, Kristy was downgraded after briefly existing as a Cat 1 hurricane. If/when John turns west, the two storms could eventually merge into one storm.

We usually do not track Pacific storms on this site. But I thought I would make an exception this time. The post title links to the NWS Advisory on Hurricane John.

Hurricane John is a Catagory 4 monster. Dangerous John Coming Closer to Mexico.

Forecasters predict march up Mexico's Pacific coast

He is hugging the western Mexican coast and the track shows it coming close to and possibly crossing Baja California. Even if the eye of the storm stays off-shore, severe damage could result including very heavy rains and 18ft+ high storm surges.

Right in the same area is Tropical Storm Kristy. Kristy is expected to become a Cat 1 hurricane. Fortunately her path seems to be taking her away from land at the moment.

The Pacific has been very active this year and a major typhoon even forced the evacuation of the military base on Wake Island (elevation: 18 ft). The Chinese government stated a few weeks ago that they blame the high number and intensity of cyclones this year on global warming. That is no different than Al Gore saying the same thing about last years Atlantic storm season. It doesn't make it so, but to the people who are fighting the storm at this moment, it really doesn't matter.

I'll update this post as information on John or Kristy is available.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Miami Radar

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hurricane Katrina - One year later

From the Houston Chronicle, New Orleans, Then & Now, a slideshow showing the differences of the New Orleans area right after the storm and a year later. From these pictures it is certainly clear that some (much??) of the city has recovered. News reports continue to point out that many areas of the city have not recovered. New Orleans is a large city and the devastation was horrific. It is true that full recovery will take many years and the city likely will not be the same as it was pre-storm.

First of all let me state that we were and continue to be saddened by the loss of life across the entire coastal region that was affected. We can analyze, discuss and disagree with the causes and responses to the events at the time. In no way does that lessen our respect for the dead or our compassion for the survivors. The key thing is that if we do not learn the real lessons from this disaster, then we are certain to repeat the same mistakes.

I remember watching the storm on my widescreen as it came ashore. I had the screen split with the Weather Channel on one half and alternating between Fox News and CNN on the other half. I was in a nice comfortable chair and stayed dry as I watched the storm's progress. Little did I realize that I would be experiencing a similar situation one month later.

So what is the point, here. The point is that even as the storm came ashore the data showed that the storm was a Category 3 storm. The media was having a feeding frenzy because the storm had been a Cat 5 earlier and it was heading right at New Orleans and we all knew that if a storm that large hit New Orleans head on then the city would flood up like a soup bowl.

Well the amazing this is that this did not happen. Yes I said this correctly, the initial impact of the storm did not cause the catastrophe that later occurred. Rather it was after the storm had passed the city that the winds on the western side of the storm, those typically considered to be weaker caused Lake Ponchartrain to batter the levees and cause the flooding. Everyone in the city had initially breathed a sigh of relief and then later realized that they were not out of the woods yet. The Army Corps of Engineers stated that the levees were designed to handle a Cat 3 so there was reason to believe that the city was safe, yet we now know that it wasn't.

There have been a lot of discussions, analyses and fingerpointing since this storm made landfall. The one thing that I have not heard is what were and are the roles and responsibilities of the various government groups. As is typical with blamestorming exercises in this country lately, the division falls along party lines. The Democrats immediately and consistently blame the administration. President Bush has responded to this by taking responsibility and continually expressing that there was a failure on all levels of government. I do not completely agree with this. The President has allowed his political opponents to frame the argument in their terms and he has been trying to dig out from under that ever since. Whenever I hear a discussion of how certain Democrat leaders in Louisiana have to take responsibility, the response is generally that we need to stop the blaming and come together to solve the problems. Well this is where I feel that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Until we recognize the proper roles of the various levels of the government, we will never recover.

  • It is not the federal government's job to evacuate the population.
  • It is the federal government's function to design and maintain the levees properly.
  • It is the state government's role to activate the National Guard on state soil. Louisiana's governor did not activate the guard and was unwilling to hand over this authority to the President.
  • When the Superdome was used as an impromptu shelter, no arrangements were made for food or water and when the Red Cross wanted to bring in supplies they were blocked by the state.
  • When the Astrodome was set up as a shelter, the local officials in Houston made arrangements for food, water and other supplies. This was a local decision with no guarantee that the city would be re-imbursed.
  • When Galveston ordered an mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Rita, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas ordered buses to pick up anyone who could not get out. In New Orleans, the buses stayed idle and became flooded.
  • When the evacuation of areas South and east of Houston did not proceed smoothly, Mayor Bill White and Governor Rick Perry were visible adjusting the plan and coordinating efforts by the minute. (I know I was stuck in the traffic). In New Orleans everything came to a halt and everyone waited for the government to arrive.

This lack of leadership on the part of the state and local government continues a year later. Mayor Nagin still does not have a plan for the reconstruction of the city. When Galveston was destroyed in the Storm of 1900, the city decided to raise the elevation of the city and construct a seawall. This was a local decision with very little federal funds. In New Orleans, no changes are being planned, and there are $110 Million approved by Congress available and not being spent. When some politicians stated that the city should not be rebuilt as it had been, they were called racist and shouted down.

As long as the leadership in New Orleans continues to sit around and wait for the federal government to bail them out, then New Orleans will never move forward. It is not news that the Federal Government is not very efficient. It was designed to be that way, DUH. Real progress must be made at the local level and the responsibility for first response in a catastrophe must also be held at the local level.

Hurricane have always and will continue to strike the Gulf Coasts. Until the proper roles of local and federal governments are understood, this tragedy will certainly repeat itself with horrendous results.

Trackbacked to Dumb Ox News, Woman Honor Thyself, Planck's Constant, Michelle Malkin

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Debby is depressing but Ernesto is growing

Well I have been out of pocket for the past couple of weeks and it is a bit disappointing that I essentially missed the entire cycle of what was once known as tropical storm Debby.

A lot of excitement was building when Debby formed so close to Africa and started building so quickly. This is the time of year when strong storms form near Africa and build as they travel across the Atlantic. It certainly seemed like this was the case last week as Debby grew. Suddenly the storms strength dropped and she will soon be no longer. The fact that the storm will not affect any land is always a good thing regardless what the intensity is.

Ernesto is another situation. All indications are that this storm will grow into a hurricane and is heading straight for the Gulf. The likelihood appears that the this storm will stay relatively mild as hurricanes go - Cat 1 - bit as anyone who lives on the coast knows, once a storm enters the Gulf all bets are off. It can suddenly strengthen, change direction or dissipate. We will have to watch this one as it heads our way and act appropriately.

Trackbacked to Dumb Ox News, Woman Honor Thyself

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Scientists disagee on link between Storms and Warming

Another reference showing that the so-called concensus on global warming, especially the effect of global warming on hurricane number and intensity. The low number of hurricanes in the Atlantic so far this season provides an easy target for debunkers to point to that says that the theory is wrong. Of course alarmists point to last year's bad season or the high number of storms in the Pacific as proof of the connection of global warming.

The fact is that both knee jerk reactions are wrong. You cannot look at any one season or any one hurricane (as Al Gore does with Katrina in his movie) and drawn conclusions that global warming is or is not the cause. A very recognizable cycle of storms occurs in the Atlantic, the multidecadal cycle, so that negates much of any perceived effect of global warming on the hurricane cycle in the Atlantic.

As far as I know, there is no such cycle in the Pacific but I would be very interested to learn what causal factors occur in Pacific storms and if there is a connection (or inverse correlation) of the Atlantic activity with the Pacific activity.

We have to continue to remind ourselves that climate is the long term effect of the weather. Any affect of climate change will be seen over a very long time range and cannot be pointed to as the couse of one bad storm or even a single bad season.

Trackbacked to: Dumb Ox News, Woman Honor Thyself

Atlantic hurricane season now BELOW normal

This year continues to be a below normal year for tropical weather. The sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are at average or below average temperatures as compared to previous years (I don't like using the term normal as this is a biased term that we really cannot define well anyway - so-called normal temperatures are really just the latest averages). Wind shear in the western Caribbean and on the Gulf have also reduced cyclone formation. Wind shear is why T.D. Chris never reformed back into a storm or hurricane once it's remains entered the Gulf.

Of course those of us who live on the Gulf Coast know that it's not over till it's over. We can still end the year with a huge number of storms. And the year that Andrew came ashore there was only one storm that year and it hit in September but it was a doozy. An Andrew size storm making landfall in New Orleans or Galveston would certainly have a major affect.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


So far this year has not been out of the ordinary with regard to hurricane frequency or strength. Of course we have a long way to go and we may still end up with a higher storm count than average but not likely to be a record setter.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some good news on the storm front

First of all, it looks like Tropical Storm Chris is dying down. As the storm amrched across the caribbean, winds have died down to as low as 40 MPH right now. I emphasize the right now statement because personally, I am not ready to count this one out. Once the storm gets into the warm Gulf waters we could see a resurgence in strength - this is my speculation, not anything official - but I say lets just keep paying attention until the storm's organization is completely broken apart. Lookign at the steerign currents across the country, it still looks like the general progress of the storm will be towards the western Gulf. Next week will tell us for certain.

Additionally, The Atlantic Storm prediction has been reduced. The Colorado State University Team based their revision on warming in the eastern Pacific and the sea surface temepratures in the North Altlantic have dropped some. Fewer tropical systems is always a good thing. Of course when Andrew came across there was only one storm all year so we can never get complacent.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris forms

Yesterday evening TD #3 had formed in the western Atlantic. By nighttime it had already grown to Tropical Storm Chris and tonight the winds are alreasy up to 60 MPH. The predictions are that this will be a hurricane in a couple of days. Additionally all of the storm predictions except one show it coming into the Gulf by the weekend. I think we need to watch this one.

If the high builds soon there is a slight chance that TS Chris will head north to the east coast but most likely it will remain on a southerly course. Based on the predictions so far, I expect that we will see this storm in the central Gulf by mid week. We will need to watch the steering currents on this one and see which way it is going. Next week will be exciting for certain.

2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of