Fay Wednesday

Tropical Storm Fay continues to wander around Florida. The colorized NOAA satellite picture below shows the storm position late Wednesday morning.

Fay is expected to turn back to a northwesterly track and head toward the Florida panhandle and Alabama.

Below is a National Weather Service Doppler Radar image showing the rain estimates over central Florida.
Notice how the rain totals sharply drop off around Orlando

It is interesting to note that Fay was able to gain strength for a period of time while passing over the south Florida land mass. An ample supply of warm water may have been the reason, as explained in the following, courtesy of StormCenter Communications,

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•      Fay surprisingly intensified after making landfall on mainland Florida on the morning of August 19, 2008 with winds increasing from 50 mph to 65 mph.

Dr. Jeff Halverson, a hurricane researcher at NASA, surmises that given the swampy and lake-strewn nature of the Florida landscape, and the abundance of water vapor streaming in off both sides of the Florida peninsula, there may have been sufficient fuel to maintain Fay’s intensity while over land.  The accompanying image, derived from NASA’s MODIS sensor and courtesy of Scott Bachmeier at SSEC/UWISC, shows that the surface waters of Lake Okeechobee were well in excess of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  The lake may have provided a potent source of water vapor, fueling the storm as it approached Okeechobee’s southwest shore.

•     Fay is not the first time a storm failed to weaken appreciably while crossing southern Florida.  Hurricane Andrew in 1992 maintained maximum sustained winds of 130 mph across the state, partly because the swampy Everglades contained enough heat and moisture which slowed the decay.
•      Fay is interesting because of its slow movement across the Florida peninsula and its unwillingness to weaken quickly while over land.

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Below is a late Wednesday afternoon NOAA visible satellite picture of a wide view of of the eastern U.S.

Notice the clear air covering Maryland, Pennsylvania and much of the northeast U.S. This is the high pressure ridge that is expected to deflect Fay toward the west and keep the storm away from the Mid Atlantic region. Rain from the remnants of Fay would be beneficial in the Baltimore area. At the end of the day Wednesday the monthly rain total at BWI-Marshall will be 1.81 inches below average for August and it doesn’t look like Fay will be helping to make up the deficit

For more on Fay check our Hurricane Tracker at …… http://www.wbaltv.com/hurricanes/index.html

John Collins

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