Bill intensifies to Category 4; globe has 5th warmest July on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT en Agosto 19, 2009

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Category 4 Hurricane Bill is now the the fourth strongest tropical cyclone to appear on the planet so far this year, and may grow even stronger. Visible and infrared satellite imagery continue to show an impressive, well-organized, hurricane, with plenty of low-level spiral banding and upper-level outflow well-established on all sides except the west. On Bill's west side, upper-level winds from the west are creating a modest 10 knots of wind shear, which is giving the hurricane a bit of a squashed appearance there.

Wind shear is forecast to remain low to moderate, 5-15 knots, for the next four days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) will rise steadily from 28.5°C today to 29°C on Friday. Total ocean heat content is at a maximum today, and will gradually decline over the next four days. Bill should be able to take advantage of these favorable conditions a remain a major hurricane the next three days.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

Water vapor satellite loops show a small "short-wave" trough of low pressure to the north-northwest of Bill, and this trough has turned Bill on a more northwesterly track over the past two days. Bill will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands, and the main impact of the hurricane on these islands will be high waves. The short wave trough (so called because it has a relatively small amplitude and wavelength) is not strong enough to turn Bill due north, and Bill is also expected to miss Bermuda. High waves and sustained winds of 20 - 30 mph are the worst that Bermuda is likely to get from Bill.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Bill's eye zoomed in, taken from NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 12:40pm EDT Tuesday August 18, 2009. Image credit: NASA GSFC.

An unusually strong "long wave" trough of low pressure (called long wave because of its large amplitude and wavelength) is expected to develop along the U.S. East Coast late this week. This trough will turn Bill to the north, and also bring high levels of wind shear in the 40 - 65 knot range on Sunday. Exactly where this turn occurs is still not clear. The models continue to be in two camps: an eastern camp (GFS, GFDL, HWRF, and ECMWF) that takes Bill 300 - 500 miles east of Cape Cod, and a more western camp (NOGAPS, UKMET) that bring Bill within 150 - 200 miles of Cape Cod. Both sets of models bring Bill ashore over the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Bill will be weakening rapidly as it makes landfall, and is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane if it hits Nova Scotia, or strong tropical storm if it hits Newfoundland.

Bill's big waves
Large swells from Bill will begin impacting the U.S. East coast from Florida to Maine beginning Friday night or Saturday morning. Seas will build to 5 - 10 feet in the offshore waters from central Florida northwards to South Carolina, and to 10 - 15 feet from North Carolina to Cape Cod. Near shore, waves will be about 40% less. This will cause a significant coastal erosion event along some portions of the coast. The latest run of the NOAA Wavewatch III model suggests that significant wave heights near Bill's center will reach 50 feet on Sunday. Since maximum wave height is typically about a factor of 1.9 greater than the significant wave height (which is the average trough-to-crest height of the top 1/3 largest waves), a few huge waves near Bill's center may reach 95 feet high.

Possible impacts to New England
The current set of computer model runs predicts that the center of Bill will pass Cape Cod, Massachusetts Sunday afternoon or evening. Tropical storm-force sustained winds of 39 mph or greater currently extend out 185 miles to the west of Bill's center, so that if Bill maintains its current wind distribution, Cape Cod could see sustained winds of about 40 mph Sunday night if the models predicting a more westerly path are correct. However, Bill will not keep this same radius of winds. The hurricane will weaken considerably beginning Sunday morning, once the storm gets caught up in the approaching long wave trough. High wind shear of 40 - 65 knots due to strong southwesterly winds aloft will act to compress the hurricane in the east-west direction, keeping the hurricane's strongest winds away from Cape Cod. The highest winds are likely to be no more than 30 mph on Cape Cod from Bill, if the storm follows the track of the western camp of models nearest to the Massachusetts. A few rain squalls may affect coastal Massachusetts, but the main impact of Bill on New England is likely to be coastal erosion from high waves.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The remains of Tropical Storm Ana are bringing scattered heavy rain showers to the Bahamas and Florida today. The remains are disorganized, and are not likely to re-develop. The only model calling for a new tropical cyclone to develop in the Atlantic over the next seven days is the GFS model, which predicts development off the coast of Africa about 7 days from now.

Fifth warmest July on record globally; a cold July in the U.S.
The globe recorded its fifth warmest July since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. NOAA rated the period January - July 2009 as the sixth warmest such period on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated July 2009 as the 2nd warmest July on record, behind July of 1998. For the second month in a row, global ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in July were the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average. This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The record July SSTs were due in part to an ongoing El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific, which has substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. As El Niño conditions mature during the coming months, near-record global ocean and land temperatures will probably continue. Now that El Niño conditions have been well-established for three months, the atmosphere has begun to heat up in response. It typically takes up to seven months for the atmosphere to heat up in response to ocean heating from an El Niño. This may explain why June of 2009, which independent assessments by NOAA, NASA, and the UK Hadley center agreed was the 2nd or 3rd warmest June on record at the surface, recorded only average satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere. In contrast, the July satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere were the 2nd or 3rd warmest on record, in agreement with the assessments that surface temperatures were the 2nd to 5th warmest on record.


Figure 3. Departure of temperature from average for July 2009. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

A cold July for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., the average July temperature of 23.1°C (73.5°F) was the coolest since 1994, and July temperatures were the 27th coolest in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and West Virginia experienced their coolest ever July. Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin recorded their second coolest July in history. A strong trough of low pressure parked itself over the eastern portion of the U.S. in July, funneling down plenty of cold air from Canada. In the western U.S., a ridge of high pressure dominated, bringing unusually hot conditions. Arizona recorded its 3rd warmest July on record, and Seattle, Washington recorded its hottest day in history on July 28, notching a 103°F reading. This was 3°F above the previous record set in 1994.

U.S. precipitation was near average in July, with the month ranking 40th wettest in the 115-year record. U.S. tornado activity was above average in July, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. However, no tornado deaths occurred in July.

At the end of July, 14% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. These extreme drought regions were exclusively in South and Central Texas.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting szqrn1:

they both start with a "y" lol

lol, no problem.
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Quoting rwdobson:
Well, it looks like the forecast cone still excludes NYC...it's in the realm of possibility but still a very low chance...


The 11 AM wind speed probabilities did not list NYC as having hurricane force winds. The 5 PM now lists a 2% cumulative probability. Very little chance, but still not a zero chance.
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822. Relix
Are there any kind of models for the wave coming off Africa?
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The faster Bill goes, the farther west it Can go, Correct?
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110mph cane will do the job
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noticing two things about NHC Bill 5-day track

1. Bill expected to be a major right up to the NC/VA border latitude

2. No track line on the main display. I always thought this was the better way to do this. Then people who really WANT a line, like me, can turn one on. Kudos to NHC.
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818. Prgal
Quoting rwdobson:


It's shifting to the left in the longer-term, so the current motion is not really what's causing that.

Alright. I thought they just were initialized without the NW component. Thanks!
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Would be a nice wake up call for NYC if it were to hit em head on
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LOL *shaking head* "Hebert Box"...kinda like "Bermuda Triangle"
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Where did the map on post 808 come from?
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I feel better now "hebert boxes" shades of 08.
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Quoting lovesdanger:
rwdobson never say never now bill is not making the turn until late friday and that will put bill pretty close to 70 west...this could be the big apples baby here...very exciting news for the weather channel..


when did i say never? just said low chance. 10% or less to hit NYC.
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Quoting szqrn1:


Forgive me :( ... yea I think I was having a TIA.

they both start with a "y" lol
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

Yellowstone?


Forgive me :( ... yea I think I was having a TIA.
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Quoting Prgal:

How can it shift to the left when its clearly going NW? I cant believe it.


It's shifting to the left in the longer-term, so the current motion is not really what's causing that.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Not that I know of. I got the links via email.


Okay thanks.
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most of these tracks are taking Bill into New England let's hope that doesn't happen.
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It's a good thing the models don't have to be this accurate.Link
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Hey Jack Bevin. If you are here, I want to see the word WAVE spelled without the E on the 23rd line of the next TWO.


L-O-L
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Is there a main page for that?

Not that I know of. I got the links via email.
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You all need to go out tonight and enjoy yourselves... Bill isnt going to affect the U.S. outside of swells.... coastal Cape Code may recieve 1 band if any @ all....same with NE Maine... outside of that...this is a Nova Scotia system...if it even hits that!
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It appears that Bill is going to have a significant part of himself within the Hebert box unless I'm looking at the map totally wrong.
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Quoting szqrn1:


yea and if that comes true in our lifetime just think about the shear panic that could envoke! All those folks that watch that show will freak out about all the other shows... ie big st madrid fault quake,,, Or bigger yet , the supervolcano,,, dang i cant think of it!..ya know that big national park up there in the NW.. yosimite i guess! LOL... we are all toast if that happens.. but it will one day.

Yellowstone?
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Quoting AllStar17:
I think the Hurricane Center will shift west to be in the middle of the guidance envelope at 5 pm. My thinking is Bill will ride along the coast, and not make an official landfall. Jim Cantore headed to Nantucket Island to cover Bill?


plus plus



equals= Scary!


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Quoting atmoaggie:
With darkness coming in Bill's neighborhood, the IR RSO loop here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/projects/svr_vis/hurricane/irloop.asp


Is there a main page for that?
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798. Prgal
Quoting reedzone:
The NHC did a great job with the new track and discussion. GFS Ensembles are not accurate lol, but if 18Z, 00Z guidance shifts a bit to the left again, tomorrows 5 a.m. track may be interesting. It's a wait and see I guess.

How can it shift to the left when its clearly going NW? I cant believe it.
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Quoting PcolaDan:


That's a really STUPID comment. For some people it may be...


Bill vs People: Bill will kill.
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Hey Jack Bevin. If you are here, I want to see the word WAVE spelled without the E on the 23rd line of the next TWO.
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Wunder Blog I spy Bingo

5 points = mention the word 'trough'.
10 points = mention 'monkeys' or 'trolls'.
15 points = mention storm won't move in forecast direction.
20 points = carry on private incoherent conversation through public blog and leave rest of blog members mystified.
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Well, it looks like the forecast cone still excludes NYC...it's in the realm of possibility but still a very low chance...
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I wondered that myself. I keep seeing certain people on here mention surface low but when I look I don't see anything.
Look for a counter-clockwise spin in the clouds on VISIBLE imagery. IR or WV shows more upper level features typically, so VIS is the choice for surface.
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NHC says its moving NW now... LOL
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The NHC did a great job with the new track and discussion. GFS Ensembles are not accurate lol, but if 18Z, 00Z guidance shifts a bit to the left again, tomorrows 5 a.m. track may be interesting. It's a wait and see I guess.
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Well, this goes some way to answering my earlier question:
VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW THAT BILL IS AN IMPRESSIVE HURRICANE WITH MESOCYCLONES NOTED IN THE EYE...CURVED BANDING FEATURES IN ALL QUADRANTS AND A WELL-ESTABLISHED OUTFLOW PATTERN. AN FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER RECENTLY MEASURED 135 KT AT 700 MB...ALONG WITH SFMR WINDS OF 103 KT AND A MINIMUM PRESSURE OF 947 MB. IN ADDITION...THERE WAS AN SFMR MEASUREMENT OF 106 KT FROM THE NOAA MISSION THIS MORNING. SATELLITE CLASSIFICATION ARE 127 KT FROM TAFB/SAB AND THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS KEPT AT 115 KT AS A COMPROMISE OF ALL THESE DATA.


Translation: Yeah, we know that the observed surface wind speeds are way out of whack with the other indicators, so we're holding steady between what we think the storm ought to be, and what it appears it actually is.

Almost makes me wonder if Forecaster Blake reads this board. But I know the answer is no - those guys are a little too busy to surf the net.
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Quoting lovesdanger:
szqrn this could be a dream come true for the weather channel...it will sure make there ratings sky rocket..jim cantore at the big apple repoting from time square witing for big bad hurricane bill...


yea and if that comes true in our lifetime just think about the shear panic that could envoke! All those folks that watch that show will freak out about all the other shows... ie big st madrid fault quake,,, Or bigger yet , the supervolcano,,, dang i cant think of it!..ya know that big national park up there in the NW.. yosimite i guess! LOL... we are all toast if that happens.. but it will one day.
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Quoting sctonya:
Hey Atmoaggie: Are you adding subliminal messages? Only getting one word at a time!! lol


B-U-R-M-A-S-H-A-V-E

LOL
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While Bill ramins the big story, do note a potentially important thing that Bill as done the last few days.

Looking at the Atlantic loop, it appears to me that Bill has cleaned up the dust and dry air from the Central Atlantic?

And therefore made it easier for the next couple of waves coming along.....

If this is correct, then Bill has created a bit more indirect damage in the long run, than is obvious at first glance.
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Quoting serialteg:


Or the backyard dog? :(
Yuk.
Member Since: Octubre 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8435
With darkness coming in Bill's neighborhood, the IR RSO loop here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/projects/svr_vis/hurricane/irloop.asp
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Quoting keywestbrat:

Key West is one big chicken coop, we wild chickens every where,

They are smart as well they know how to cross the road.
A few years ago I saw a hen and her chicks walk to a pedestrian crossing to cross the raod.
Member Since: Octubre 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8435
781. IKE
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Never got the ftp popup myself.

On NHC not wanting to notify NY etc, I really don't think that is a valid motivation of theirs. Any landfall in that area is still 5 days out, right? I think on general principles NHC doesn't give more than 3 day warnings. Also, Americans need to be able to respond more effectively to potential disaster. I don't think NOT telling people is the way to prevent chaos and panic.....
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Quoting keywestbrat:

Key West is one big chicken coop, we wild chickens every where,

They are smart as well they know how to cross the road.
If only they could teach the key deer a trick or two about highway safety.
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778. Prgal
305 degrees!
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Quoting szqrn1:


IDK... here is a question for whoever can answer it..
How can you tell if there is an area of low pressure? Can you physically see that on a satellite loop?
I wondered that myself. I keep seeing certain people on here mention surface low but when I look I don't see anything.
Member Since: Octubre 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8435
776. IKE
HURRICANE BILL DISCUSSION NUMBER 18
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL032009
500 PM AST WED AUG 19 2009

VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW THAT BILL IS AN IMPRESSIVE HURRICANE
WITH MESOCYCLONES NOTED IN THE EYE...CURVED BANDING FEATURES IN ALL
QUADRANTS AND A WELL-ESTABLISHED OUTFLOW PATTERN. AN FORCE RESERVE
HURRICANE HUNTER RECENTLY MEASURED 135 KT AT 700 MB...ALONG WITH
SFMR WINDS OF 103 KT AND A MINIMUM PRESSURE OF 947 MB. IN
ADDITION...THERE WAS AN SFMR MEASUREMENT OF 106 KT FROM THE NOAA
MISSION THIS MORNING. SATELLITE CLASSIFICATION ARE 127 KT FROM
TAFB/SAB AND THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS KEPT AT 115 KT AS A
COMPROMISE OF ALL THESE DATA.

VERY WARM WATERS ARE ALONG THE PATH OF THE HURRICANE FOR THE NEXT
FEW DAYS. THE BIGGEST QUESTION IS WHETHER THE UPPER ENVIRONMENT
WILL REMAIN FAVORABLE FOR STRENGTHENING. A PAIR OF UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGHS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO INDUCE SOME SHEAR ON BILL...ONE ALONG
60W AND OTHER AT ABOUT 70W. WHILE THE MODELS DISAGREE ON WHETHER
THE FIRST TROUGH WILL AFFECT THE HURRICANE MUCH...MOST MODELS SHOW
SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR INCREASING IN A COUPLE DAYS AS A RESULT OF THE
SECOND FEATURE. IN ADDITION...AN EYEWALL REPLACEMENT CYCLE COULD
OCCUR AT ANY TIME WITH A SECONDARY WIND MAXIMUM NOTED AT ABOUT 75 N
MI FROM THE CENTER IN AIRCRAFT DATA. REGARDLESS...ALL OF THE
RELIABLE MODELS KEEP THE HURRICANE QUITE STRONG FOR THE NEXT
SEVERAL DAYS...AND THE OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST REFLECTS THAT
LIKELIHOOD.

THE ESTIMATED MOTION IS A LITTLE MORE TO THE RIGHT AND FASTER...NOW
305/17. STRONG SUBTROPICAL RIDGING SHOULD KEEP BILL ON THIS
GENERAL TRACK FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS WITH A GRADUAL BEND TOWARD
THE NORTH-NORTHWEST BY THE WEEKEND AS THE HURRICANE MOVES INTO A
BREAK IN THE RIDGE. SOME OF THE MODELS...SUCH AS THE GFS...NOW
SHOW A SLIGHTLY STRONGER RIDGE OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC AND A
SLOWER MID-LATITUDE TROUGH MOVING ACROSS THE EASTERN UNITED STATES.
IF THIS SOLUTION IS CORRECT...BILL WOULD BE ABLE TO MOVE A LITTLE
FARTHER TO THE WEST BEFORE TURNING TO THE NORTH AND NORTHEAST.
THERE HAS BEEN A SMALL WESTWARD SHIFT IN MOST OF THE AFTERNOON
MODEL GUIDANCE...AND THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS SHIFTED IN THAT
DIRECTION. THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO POINT OUT THAT THERE IS A LOT OF
UNCERTAINTY IN THE LONG-RANGE TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST AND ONE
SHOULD NOT FOCUS ON THE EXACT TRACK AT THOSE TIME PERIODS.

BECAUSE BILL IS A LARGE AND STRONG HURRICANE...SWELLS TRIGGERED BY
THE HURRICANE SHOULD AFFECT THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS...THE
BAHAMAS...BERMUDA AND MOST OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES DURING
THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THESE SWELLS WILL LIKELY CAUSE EXTREMELY
DANGEROUS SURF AND LIFE-THREATENING RIP CURRENTS. PLEASE CONSULT
STATEMENTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE FOR MORE DETAILS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 19/2100Z 19.8N 57.6W 115 KT
12HR VT 20/0600Z 21.1N 59.7W 120 KT
24HR VT 20/1800Z 23.0N 62.4W 125 KT
36HR VT 21/0600Z 25.2N 64.6W 120 KT
48HR VT 21/1800Z 27.9N 66.6W 120 KT
72HR VT 22/1800Z 34.0N 69.0W 110 KT
96HR VT 23/1800Z 42.0N 65.5W 95 KT
120HR VT 24/1800Z 51.5N 50.5W 55 KT...EXTRATROPICAL

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE
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774. Prgal
Statement as of 5:00 PM AST on August 19, 2009


...Bill remains an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane...now
moving northwestward...

Interests in the northern Leeward Islands and Bermuda should monitor
the progress of Bill.


For storm information specific to your area in the United
States...including possible inland watches and warnings...please
monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service
forecast office. For storm information specific to your area
outside of the United States...please monitor products issued
by your National meteorological service.


At 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...the center of Hurricane Bill was located
near latitude 19.8 north...longitude 57.6 west or about 335 miles...
535 km...northeast of the Leeward Islands and about 970 miles...1565
km...south-southeast of Bermuda.


Bill is moving toward the northwest near 20 mph...32 km/hr...and
this general motion is expected for the next day or so with a turn
toward the north-northwest forecast by late Friday.


Maximum sustained winds are near 135 mph...215 km/hr...with higher
gusts. Bill is a category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
scale. Some additional strengthening is possible during the next
couple of days.


Bill is a large tropical cyclone. Hurricane force winds extend
outward up to 85 miles...140 km...from the center...and tropical
storm force winds extend outward up to 230 miles...370 km.


The latest minimum central pressure reported by an Air Force Reserve
hurricane hunter aircraft was 947 mb...27.96 inches.


Large swells associated with Bill will be impacting the islands of
the northeast Caribbean Sea during the next day or two. Large
swells associated with Bill should also begin to affect Bermuda and
portions of the eastern coast of the United States Friday and
Saturday.


...Summary of 500 PM AST information...
location...19.8n 57.6w
maximum sustained winds...135 mph
present movement...northwest or 305 degrees at 20 mph
minimum central pressure...947 mb


the next advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at
1100 PM AST.


$$
Forecaster Blake
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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