WATCHING SURFACE MAP FEATURES


Many days before a tropical storm forms, it may be important to be aware of some of the weather features on the synoptic weather map over the US. You may check the patterns any day at the website shown under the map.
At this time, there are no storms. But there is conern for the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. The high pressure over the eastern US is causing easterly winds (from the east towards the west) to transport the oil away from Florida and towards the Louisiana coast.

With this pattern during the hurricane season, a hurricane in the Caribbean would likely track into the Gulf. The low pressure in Colorado with the cold front trailing southward would likely be a player suggesting that a hurricane would turn more northward after a day or two over the Gulf.

This is an example of weatherwatching during the hurricane season outside of the focus on the details in the vicinity of a hurricane. I learned this when Jacksonville’s first full-force hurricane, Dora, struck our coast in 1964. Dora had moved westward to the Florida panhandle by September 12. Much of Jacksonville was without electrical power, and the skies continued overcast for several days. As the weekend approached and with Dora out of our picture, I didn’t pay attention to a cold front in the far west. Consequently, we were surprised three days later when the front pushed Dora eastward to Savannah. Its trailing squall line caused a final burst of wind and rain that was a setback to recovery work following this historic storm.

In the days before weather satellites and computers, the odds of a full-force hurricane strike for Jacksonville was placed at one in 50 years. Now it has been 46 years since hurricane Dora. Time is running out for the next strike. Make sure you are prepared!

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