September 18: Hello, Jerry


You knew it was coming.

We’ll get to all of the tropical activity farther down in the post…but first, the GOOD news. Lower humidity air is moving into central North Carolina, and the next few days are looking great!

We’ll see plenty of sun today, with just a few fair-weather clouds — temperatures will warm to the mid to upper 70s and low 80s, a couple degrees below-average for mid-September.

The humidity has already dropped significantly, and it will continue dropping the rest of the day. We’ll stay at the bottom of the “Muggy Meter” for the next several days, all the way into the weekend!

Drier air cools off much more efficiently than humid air, so temperatures tonight will drop into the 50s area-wide.

We’ll only warm up to the 70s on Thursday, despite lots of sun overhead.

A gradual warming trend will kick in over the weekend, but it will be “pleasantly warm” until the mugginess creeps back in next week. The first day of autumn will bring us un-autumnal temperatures around 90°.


The tropics are very busy right now, with three different named systems in the Atlantic basin. Hurricane Humberto achieved “major hurricane” status as a Category 3 storm late yesterday, and it’s maintaining that strength this morning.

The eye of Humberto and the most-intense part of the storm surrounding it will miss Bermuda to the north tonight.

Humberto will weaken as it moves over cooler water in the North Atlantic, and it will merge with another storm system to become post-tropical by the end of the week.

Another system that won’t have any impact on central North Carolina’s weather is Tropical Depression Imelda. The storm was classified as a tropical depression around midday yesterday, was upgraded to a tropical storm less than an hour later, then was downgraded again overnight.

The depression versus storm classification is only based on wind speed — Imelda’s major impact will be from heavy rain. The remnants of Imelda will track slowly inland over Texas today and tomorrow.

Significant flooding is likely in southeast Texas, especially around Houston. Much of that metropolitan area is under a High Risk of excessive rainfall and flash flooding today and tomorrow.

The storm that we’ll really have to keep an eye on next week is the one that’s farthest from us for now. The National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression #10 to Tropical Storm Jerry at 5:00am today — it has 45 mph sustained winds for now.

The NHC’s forecast track through Friday takes Jerry to the west-northwest, and shows it reaching hurricane strength by Friday.

The 5-day outlook from the NHC keeps Jerry north of the islands in the Caribbean, then turns the storm north before it reaches the Bahamas.

Most of the forecast model data agrees with that track.

That said, we’re still at the point where individual forecast models aren’t to be trusted. The European forecast model’s 51-member ensemble gives us a better sense of the range of possibilities. The “spaghettios” animation from the ensemble shows each member’s version of where Jerry will go and how much it will intensify. While a majority of ensemble members show the northward turn, a cluster of them takes the storm closer to Puerto Rico, Hispanola and Cuba, then through the Bahamas and in the general direction of the U.S. coast.

Those are outliers for now, but we’ll keep a close eye on Jerry as it tracks to the west and strengthens over the next several days. Once the hurricane hunters start flying missions into the storm, we’ll get some much better data to help us figure out what it’s going to do.

No time for the nerd-links this morning — I’m out the door to a school visit. The daily nerdiness will be back tomorrow!

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