Forecast Models Continue Improvement…Caution, Though

As of the 11:00 AM Hurricane Center Advisory, the trend continues to show Joaquin remaining offshore by early Monday. However, you will notice that the cone is still very wide and includes eastern North Carolina and the Hampton Roads area.


This is obviously good news and at least some reason for cautious optimism. There is still some concern that the storm could still hook westward toward the Carolinas or even Virginia by later in the weekend; thus the wider cone (forecast uncertainty) as it moves past the mid-Atlantic states. Here’s the map of models from Jeremy’s post from earlier today:


Here’s another broader look at more forecast models:


One of the biggest changes to the current thinking came from the GFS forecast model overnight. As of yesterday, that forecast model had the storm hooking westward across Hatteras Island. Overnight, the model shifted its track farther to the east…well offshore. Here’s a screen capture of the GFS model at 8:00 PM on Sunday:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.33.38 AM

Big difference! And this gives rise to cautious optimism. The change in the forecast was likely caused by increased data into the forecast model. The Hurricane Center flew extra missions into the storm. A specially-outfitted Gulfstream IV small jet is loaded with high tech gear taking upper-air samples near and out ahead of the storm.

One last graphic here. And this one explains why this has been such a tricky storm to predict. Hopefully, you can see the text and arrow that I’ve thrown onto the graphic. There’s a blocking high southeast of the Canadian maritime Provinces (circulating clockwise) that’s keeping the storm from moving very much, at present. Additionally, there’s a mid to upper-level low (circulating counter-clockwise) over the southeastern U.S. Right now, the storm is stuck in a “no man’s land” of little to no upper-air forcing…so it’s not moving much at all. Indications are that the blocking high will weaken an shift northward a bit…allowing the storm to shoot the gap (see arrow) and remain just offshore. It’s a tight squeeze…so there is only cautious optimism on this one.


Regardless of what Joaquin does, we’re still likely to see significant rain, winds, and tides between now and Saturday. I’ll be focusing a lot more on that by the evening Newscasts. Stay tuned. We’re not out of the woods yet!

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