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October 2020

[Tuesday Evening] Zeta Poised to Strengthen Prior to Hitting Louisiana and a Swath of the Southeastern U.S.

   Posted by Levi at 8:06pm on October 27, 2020




  • Sean says:

    Thank you for all of your work and efforts during this VERY busy season this year. You have been my go-to site for accuracy and learning. Wish you much success. God bless.

  • Paul says:

    Thanks Levi,
    You do an awesome job of explaining the what’s and the why’s. I have been a fan back when you were on the old WG blog.
    Thanks again friend. If you ever are in Pensacola I will by you a beer or two.

  • John says:

    Couldn’t it’s rapid speed of crossing the gulf keep it from strengthening as much too? We moved from So Fla to the Nature Coast area (Spring Hill), at the beginning of the 2019 Hurricane Season. This season has been real worrisome with so many storms in the Gulf. Fortunately, none have been aiming for the west coast of the panhandle, especially our area.

    • Wyatt says:

      Yes, the fast forward speed will cause it to have a cap on strengthening, not to mention the cooler sst, lower ohc, and the increasing wind shear.

    • John says:

      Woops, I meant west coast of the peninsula (not panhandle).

      Wyatt, I mean it is nearly halfway across the gulf and the last report still said 65mph.

  • G says:

    Is the storm ingesting dry air? Is there a reason convection is located more on the south side of the circulation?

  • Zen says:

    Welp it is at a new peak estimated peak 90mph from me, estimated landfall 75mph.

  • Zen says:

    Like Levi said i could be as high as 100mph or 105mph which is also bad new for Lake Charles

    • Khawk says:

      Officially a cat 2 at landfall just 1 mph short of major hurricane status, but look at archive radar velocity data and ground level wind measurements. That was likely an intensifying cat 3 at landfall. What a crazy storm!

  • Zen says:

    It could also be marginal cat 1 with 80mph winds

  • Zen says:

    Yeah maybe and i predict a 90mph wind speed landfall. What about you?

  • Zen says:

    Kek I just determined that Lake Charles is SAFE. New Orleans VERY MUCH IN DANGER

  • Sid B says:

    Well there’s only 3 hours until landfall, so I think that the storm will still be a Cat 2

  • John says:

    Can’t believe the cooler water didn’t weaken it a bit as the eye neared landfall.

  • Zen says:

    I agree BOts ARE STUPID

  • Anonymous says:

    Anybody think Zeta could’ve been a major hurricane? Recon briefly showed SFMR winds of 105kts…

    • laurie says:

      I’ve seen wind reports which I think suggest it was a cat 3 at landfall, but I haven’t found much official discussion of that. It appears to have continued strengthening until it hit the coast

  • John says:

    Frickin pissed to see yet another probable storm forming in the Caribbean. Enough already1

  • John says:

    I wish this time around Levi was showing the current water temps in the Gulf. He did this as Delta was headed thru there. I would think things should be cooling down some, since 3 weeks have passed since Delta landfall.

  • Eric L Sprague says:

    Well there it is. We got pummeled in New Orleans. Not much left of the coast from Houston to Florida that hasn’t got affected by a hurricane this season. Enough is Enough Already!

  • Zach says:

    Got a 990mb reading from PTC Zeta in Maryland

  • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

    Call for Dr. Cowan! Call for Dr. Cowan!

    There’s a new tropical disturbance brewing in the Caribbean and your fans want to hear what you’ve got to say about it on the Red Phone – AKA your Vlog!

    Sorry to put you back to work Friday night, however, this is the price you pay for being the Number One Tropical Weather Vlog . . .

    We are all looking forward to your take on the latest possible depression with a 5-day probability of 70% as of 10/29/2020 at 11 PM CDT.

    And while you’re at it – how about starting your next Vlog with an explanation of what happened that Zeta went from “the cool and shallow shelf water along the coast, combined with the shear, will check any further development” to another Hurricane Sally at 105 MPH and gusts over 120 MPH – which all occurred as Zeta approached the coast and went from 80 MPH to 105 MPH in just a few hours, and was still strengthening all the way until it made landfall.

    Obviously, there was some seriously wrong GroupThink going on at NHC because telling the world it was going to come ashore as a strong Tropical Storm, or a minimal Cat 1, and the Reality of it nearly reaching Cat 3 before it hit the beaches is a seriously wrong prediction.

    Whatever it was, an analysis is mandated – safeguards to minimize its recurrence are required. It could have meant many lives lost from the failure to properly predict the possibility of the hurricane’s eventual landfall destructiveness . . . I’m not saying predict that it would do it, but predicting that it *could* do it.

    Respectfully, absolutely nothing was ever said by NHC, or the local forecast offices, that gave even the slightest possibility this strengthening could occur. This was a total blindsiding of the hurricane experts at NHC.

    So, Dr. Cowan, please do right by us and tell us how forecasters flubbed the dub on this one – everyone was in on it – everyone was wrong. Someone was responsible to open that door of possibilities.

    Inquiring Minds Want To Know!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenneth, the rapid strengthening wasn’t supposed to happen. The conditions in the gulf did not support a strong category 2, and even though it could’ve happened, it was unlikely. (Also, the NHC did show Zeta strengthening in the gulf.)

      • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

        To anonymous:

        Thank you for your polite comment.

        Yes, I know it wasn’t supposed to happen. Between the cooler shelf waters near the coast, and the shear generated from the powerful 500-mb mid/upper level low, Zeta should have stopped intensifying or even diminished.

        However, that’s the problem with hurricanes; nobody but G-d knows what they will do, and He doesn’t send emails.

        Therefore, all possibilities need to be put out there for the public to assess the risk of sheltering-in-place, or seeking another location to shelter that may be safer.

        I tried to make it clear that while I understand why the NHC wouldn’t predict a Cat 2 or 3 as a certainty, they should have noticed the public that the ever-increasing movement speed would jack up the wind speeds, and it may be that they would end up much higher than the current prediction.

        I’m sure you noticed that is exactly what happened.

        In talking to my contacts at NHC and the NWSFOs along the Gulf the flaw in the prediction came from the lack of similar movement speed increases in prior storms. Zeta was moving as you would expect well after getting picked up by a front over the Atlantic. Gulf hurricanes may move up to about 15 MPH, however, 25 – 35 MPH just isn’t something anyone experiences – so that got through the cracks.

        I seem to think that Zeta was moving at 35-MPH by the time it got to Birmingham, or shortly thereafter. That just doesn’t happen over the inland portion of the hurricane’s journey to the Atlantic.

        But it did. And that’s why the NHC forecasters make the Big Bucks – they are paid to consider all the possibilities and warn the public about them. And the Reality of the situation is that this time, even though they could see for themselves the increasing movement speed, and corresponding strengthening, they didn’t do that.

        No one asked, “Hey, this storm is increasing its forward speed; what effect will that have on the storm’s wind speed? Is it a possibility that Zeta may move up one or two categories?”

        Had that question been asked, then models could have been modified to input that increased speed, and see what it does to the wind speed of the storm.

        In addition to giving people enough time in advance to leave their residences, EM officials need enough time in advance to open other shelters in case the ones they now have open aren’t sufficient.

        That’s why all the possibilities have to be put on the table.

        Look, these people are just humans like the rest of us, and like all humans, sometimes they make mistakes. The key is to analyze the mistakes, and build-in protections to keep them from happening again.

        That’s a reasonable position to take because protecting the public’s faith and confidence in the NHC is of critical importance. We all need to work together so the public stays confident in the NHC’s predictions . . . and possibilities.

        Again, thank you for your comment.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you for the polite response, but anybody would’ve been surprised that Zeta strengthened into a category 2. Now I get your point, they should’ve predicted this better, but even experts make mistakes.

  • Zen says:

    YOU IDOIT Kenneth you need to take school again because people were out there and knew it was a 2 almost 3. Look i know our models are messed us this yeah but chill.

  • Zen says:

    YOU IDOIT Kenneth you need to take school again because people were out there and knew it was a 2 almost 3. Look i know our models are messed us this year but chill.yes i corrected

    • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

      To Zen:

      Your rudeness ought to get you kicked off the site. Who are you to use insulting language?

      For the record, I’ve been employed by the NY Times and the Miami Herald for more than 20-years to cover hurricanes. My schooling, professional life experiences, and two decades of interaction with NWS forecasters are more than sufficient to discuss this knowledgeably.

      Since you didn’t get my point, allow me to try again: NOBODY at NHC ever stated even once the possibility of Zeta becoming a Cat 2 or almost a 3. That means the public had no idea that they would possibly face much more than the official “strong Tropical Storm or minimal Cat 1 hurricane.”

      Knowing this after landfall is useless for evacuations, so for that reason it makes no difference for my point that people “out there knew;” people in their homes didn’t know in time to evacuate, and that’s all that matters.

      People who might not evacuate for the predicted level of intensity, had this possibility been raised, may have seen the possibility as a wake-up call to leave their residence and seek safer shelter.

      After the time I’ve put into working with NHC and the Gulf NWSFOs on behalf of two first-tier information organizations, I don’t need your smart-alec remarks. This error in judgement was a major one; this is what GroupThink is all about – everyone shut out any other possibilities so there would be harmony within the bureaucracy.

      If you don’t know that’s the way it works in governmental organizations, then maybe you are the one who needs to chill and get an education about the internal dynamics of government bureaucracy.

      Why that happened, and what to do to see to it that it doesn’t happen again is a reasonable approach to this situation. No one needs to have this type of misleading prediction in their life-threatening situation.

      In the meantime, if you can’t be polite, don’t post. Nobody comes here to be insulted.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Kenneth, it wouldn’t be very sane to say that a weak tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico could become a category 5 now, would it? It would seem unlikely.

  • John says:

    I wish we had a place to comment on 96L I see Levi posted an hour ago about worries for Nicaragua & Honduras. But what of the model runs now showing it might cross Cuba and head toward S. Fla or the western Bahamas. I hope he does a video tonight about what this system may have in store.

  • Andy says:

    Zeta is long gone – how about some updates on what will soon be ETA??

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