Meteorologist: 'Waiting and Watching' on Atlantic Storm System

Posted September 5, 2007
Updated September 6, 2007

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— North Carolina is "waiting and watching" to see what happens with a storm system churning in the Atlantic, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said on Wednesday night.

In the Triangle, there were cautious hopes that the low-pressure system that is far out to sea might develop into a tropical depression and bring much-needed rain this weekend. As of Wednesday night, however, there was "nothing tropical at all" about the storm system, WRAL's chief meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

The motion of a high-pressure system over the New England coast will determine whether the low-pressure system moves on-shore into North or South Carolina. Meteorologists predicted the high-pressure system will move to the northeast, and its clockwise winds could push the low-pressure system west.

If that happens, the low-pressure system could intensify, and major effects of the storm could be felt in North Carolina by late Saturday or early Sunday.

On Wednesday night, though, only one computer model of the 16 used by WRAL meteorologists showed the storm hitting Charleston and the remnants moving up into Raleigh. Most models had the storm moving along the Outer Banks, while others showed it staying off-shore completely.

"There's a lot of uncertainty on the direction of this (storm)," Maze said.

"We want to emphasize the variability (that's occurred) every six hours when the new models update has been big," Fishel said.

Fishel predicted that major intensification of the system will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday afternoon. It will be at least 24 hours before we seen any tropical development in the system, Fishel said.

However, Fishel cautioned that predictions of the storm's developing into a tropical or sub-tropical system remain "speculative."

A hurricane-hunter aircraft flew out from Pensacola, Fla., to collect data and monitor the status of the low-pressure system Wednesday afternoon.

The aircraft found that the system was "very disorganized" and showed "no signs of tropical development," Maze said. Lots of dry air west of the center could also work against any tropical development.

Factors in favor tropical development include: a center of circulation with surface winds at 38 mph, lessening winds aloft, warm water temperatures and a burst of thunderstorm activity east of the storm center.

If the system were to become a tropical storm, it would be named Gabrielle.

Despite the uncertainty about the low-pressure system's future, it has already forced the postponement of at least one event. Organizers pushed the 2007 Atlantic Beach King Mackerel tournament back from this weekend to Oct. 18-20.

The rain would be a welcome sight for many in North Carolina, even as winds or flooding from a very heavy storm could pose problems. Officials have said 12 to 18 inches of rainfall would help ease drought conditions statewide.

After an early named storm in May, the first two months of the Atlantic hurricane season, June and July, saw average activity, with two named storms but no hurricanes. August was about average, with two named storms. One became a hurricane, Dean, which grew into a Category 5 storm before hitting Central America.

In September, Central America has already taken a one-two punch.

Hurricane Felix roared ashore in Nicaragua as a Category 5 storm late Tuesday. Winds topping out at 160 mph tore trees from the ground and rooftops off homes and buildings. Nicaraguan authorities said at least 18 people have died in the storm so far and dozens more were missing on Wednesday night.

Residents fear worse death and destruction as Felix is expected to drop up to 25 inches of rain on mountainous parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.

Hours after Felix hit, Hurricane Henriette made landfall on the region's west coast and punished resorts on the southern tip of Baja California. Henriette forced airports to close and left tourists to face driving rain and 15-foot waves but caused no deaths as it headed toward mainland Mexico.


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  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    "The weather guys are dealing with trying to predict a pretty dynamic situation and all of the models are over the place."


    I agree, I think it is sad that meterologists rely on their computer models as much as they do nowadays... Globally the atomospheric conditions are in severe limbo, infact tropical waves are even having touble making it off of the west coast of africa, the computers are baffled, and I think it is time for the computers to go off and some good ol' common sense forcasting to come into play. Ex. that high pressure airmass over virgina is gone... just vanished!

  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    "Maybe we should all look into the ancient rain dances of the American Indians... sure couldn't hurt!! Has anyone saw how Falls Lake looks up on I-85??... there is NO LAKE!!.. it looks like a dry river bed....with spots of water here and there..."


    You mean the Falls Golf and Country club?... I go there everyday, wonderful place, no water hazards...

  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    I am stating observations from global infaraed satellite from the site... and from 9.6.07 ubdate 600hrs, for anyone else that might be intrested.

  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    As of 9.6.07 that storm is high tailing it out to sea... travelling ENE, with a slight curve in an NE driection... bummer :-(... my rain dance scared it away.

  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    *correction North east... (northwest... whishful thinking on my part... HA!)

  • Professor Studley Sep 6, 2007

    "I can only wish that if it came towards our state that it would come further inland then the coast No Hurricane but Rain yes!!!!! This forcast is to iffy and to many posibilities - I don't think we'll get anything from it. Hope I'm wrong!"


    Ok... This is rather funny... That storm was travelling north west from steering current observations as of 2300hrs... There is a cone with what?! about 270* of projection?!, So this storm is supposed to have a spring like course?!... Oh wait! It's going to spiral around like a pinwheel!... Geez, we need rain, but I am not holding my breath on this one. pffft. Meanwhile, I am going to consult my elders on how to do a rain dance, my pond is drying up!

  • validpoint Sep 6, 2007

    Interesting...Any other time most of us would be decrying the possibility of bad storms, but now we need the rain so bad, we don't care how it comes.

    Goodness, I could certainly draw some analogies there...

    On another note, my wife and I grilled out on our back porch during part of Hurricane Floyd (crazy as it sounds). Maybe this storm will come this way and give us another oppurtunity.

  • Shagger Sep 6, 2007

    In response to the "our well has dried up" answer. We couldn't wait for two months for it to rain. We have been waiting for all summer and have had very little rain. Our pump sputtered for 3 weeks before our well completely dried up. We were borrowing water, taking showers and washing clothes at our relatives' homes. Thank goodness they still had water and were generous.

  • mbs Sep 6, 2007

    An ocean? Oceans have salt water, not good for watering lawns.

  • weasleyes Sep 5, 2007

    Greg Fishel is not a nerd! I have met him and he is just a very nice guy, and an excellent speaker for any event. He can make a speech about "the weather" interesting and humorous. When he spoke at our PTA banquet, the crowd just loved him.