Hurricane Nate quickly powers ashore on Gulf Coast
October 09, 2017; 3:57 PM
Hurricane Nate made landfall on the southeastern Louisiana coast (then again on the Mississippi coast) Saturday night. Nate was a much different storm than the behemoths we've seen so far this season (Harvey, Irma and Maria). Unlike those storms, Nate was a fast-mover and did not move over a warm eddy of ocean heat content (although it got close).* Here's what the storm looked like at 7 a.m., and 2 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 7:
Despite the weak nature of the storm, it was moving fast and pushed over 6 feet of storm surge into the Gulf Coast, making for this incredible video from our storm chaser Reed Timmer, who was safe** in a parking deck:
Hurricane Nate also let loose a lot of tornadoes, far inland from the landfall. This map shows all the warnings and storm reports issued from the storm. One of those tornadoes was near my childhood home in North Carolina, and I'll have more on that in a later blog entry.
*Although wind shear and surface water temperatures were favorable for some strengthening, and no one predicted the rapid intensification of Harvey, Irma, or Maria, I thought calls (Saturday morning) for Nate to be a Category 2 storm at landfall were unfounded. Why?
- Nate was moving very fast for a hurricane, which is what made him a lot different than previous storms.
- It remained a disorganized storm after spending too much time over Central America (where, by the way, it killed two dozen people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua via flooding).
- What little strengthening the storm did achieve was after moving over extremely warm waters off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula (shown as brown on the image below).
- Nate would move close to, but not over, a warm ocean heat content eddy in the Gulf (as you can see from the track on the image below). By Saturday morning, the storm was already past that eddy.
- The only model that was super excited about Hurricane Nate intensifying into a storm like Maria, Irma or Harvey was the (typically unreliable) NAM model
It turned out those forecasts didn't verify -- the storm stayed a Category 1 and despite being classified with winds of 90 mph, sustained winds of hurricane force (74 mph) were never recorded on land or sea.
**Look, I know Reed Timmer personally. He really was not in danger, for a number of reasons (the following of which may not be the opinion of AccuWeather, so please don't quote me):
- Winds were under hurricane strength. Reed has encountered far worse during 20 years of chasing.
- Parking decks are heavy, concrete structures which keep random debris from hitting those inside, and protect him from flying debris.
I'll be honest, I was a little worried about him when he wanted to go to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria, but we ended up asking him to not go. That was a Category 5 storm (at the time) that decimated the island and will have a long aftermath (only 11 percent of residents have power today, three weeks later). The same worry was not on our minds prior to this minor hurricane on the mainland. True, you can get injured in any storm, but you have to draw the line somewhere if you are in the business of compelling storm video.
The following is our official response to the controversy about Reed, who has a Ph.D by the way, and collects weather data via a specialized "tornado probe" for researchers:
"As AccuWeather's lead Extreme Meteorologist, it is my responsibility to go into severe weather situations as they are developing and provide observations and video that show people the reality of the impact on the ground from storm's such as Nate. It's the breaking weather that people want during the times it counts most," Timmer said. "The work that I do here is a public service, and like first responders who place themselves in harm's way, we do go into dangerous situations, but as top professionals we do so in intelligent and cautious ways so that people understand the dangers and when told to evacuate they will do so." "As a meteorologist in the field, storm chasing for over 20 years, I'm equipped, trained, and qualified to assess risks and keep myself safe. Since ‘on the scene' reporting can be so valuable to people impacted by severe weather, it's far less of a risk for me to be out there than a studio meteorologist, let alone just a citizen with a smart phone. I know what danger signs to look for," he added.
Tom Loebig, VP of Digital Media Content and Operations for AccuWeather, also added: "Reed Timmer is a full-time employee of AccuWeather. We respect his experience and professionalism and support him in his unique brand of Extreme Meteorology and in the reports he files from the field. His videos are a compelling part of AccuWeather's severe weather coverage and a public service so that viewers can appreciate the dangers."
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com