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"Kah-tee-ya" is here, and we'll be watching for over a week!

Sometimes half the battle with hurricanes is pronouncing the names correctly! Sure enough, when our TD was upgraded to Katia this morning the first thing I did when go ahead and look up the pronounciation. As it turns out, it's Russian: Kah-tee-ya. Now that we've got that settled out, the tougher question is where does our latest tropical critter go - and do we need to care?

Another Cape Verde Storm

First thing I like to do when I'm tracking storms is pay close attention to where they form. The "birthplace" of a system can actually give you a lot of clues and indications as to where the storm will end up in the long run. If you look at the historic tracks of hurricanes born in a certain area, you'll often find they have similar tracks.

Head over to this wepage if you want to see where storms that have struck Wilmington in the past have formed:

In this case, Katia has been born extremely far out to sea - just west of the Cape Verde islands. These Cape Verde storms don't often bode well for us in the Carolinas. As any seasoned hurricane veteran knows, these storms have the longest time to suck up fuel and strengthen before sometimes striking the East Coast.

Many of our biggest storms (Fran, Donna, & Bertha) formed within a few degrees of where Katia has started. This isn't to say Katia will hit us, but it gives you an idea of what kind of storms are born out this way. As a rule of thumb, the farther east a storm is born - the stronger it will eventually be. Katia will become a big one!

Where will she go?

Here's the most important number this morning when tracking where Katia will go - 3,500. That's how many miles the storm is from Wilmington Tuesday morning. Simply put -- we're still about 10 days away from this storm being anywhere close to the US, so we can't really say where she'll go for sure. But we can try and sort out some possibilities. Here's what I think about the standard Gulf/Caribbean/East Coast/OuttoSea chances in order of least likely.

  • Gulf Storm - This system has zero chance of getting to the Gulf of Mexico. The steering currents from here will the the system on a west/northwest track. She's not going into the Gulf - no way Jose. Next!
  • Caribbean Storm - The Caribbean is often a good possibility from where Katia is sitting right now. However, the flow looks like she'll be on a northwest track well before she gets to the island chains. I'd say with some confidence that this one won't end up in the Caribbean like Emily and Irene have this year. Next!
  • East Coast Storm - This is the money question isn't it? What worries me is that many of our biggest systems in the past have come from this area of the ocean. As always, there are a few things we need to watch. It looks like the general trend will take Katia up north of the Caribbean by early next week. From there, many global models forecast a large trough moving through the US the middle of next week. This trough would be a perfect player to pick up the storm offshore and steer it north away from the coast. Of course, if this trough "misses" the storm due to timing issues, the system could come gunning for somebody on the coast late next week. Wait and see... wait and see.
  • Out to Sea "Fish Storm" - I often call storms that turn out to sea "Fish Storms", since they really only affect the seas. My gut is telling me that the way the Atlantic ridge is setting up, with a few troughs coming off the US we'll see Katia take a big turn away from the coast (and toward Bermuda) before she gets here. Lots of things could change that, but if I were a betting man (and I'm not) this is where I'd stack my chips.

The Waiting Game

For now, all we can do is wait and see how the storm and the global pattern develops. We're not going to find out too much more in the next 4-5 days. Expect Katia to continue heading west, getting stronger into a big 'cane by the weekend. Next week, we'll deal much more with exactly where she'll end up and if our initial thoughts are correct.

So this week will be the quiet one, then next week we'll be in storm-track mode. Just another September across the Carolinas!

That's all for now. Enjoy the fall-like temps!


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By: Tim Buckley


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