Updated 1 hour ago
FOX 35 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Richards tracks the tropics.
LAKE MARY, Fla. – Isaias is now a tropical storm as it continues to move closer to Florida’s east coast, bringing along a risk for severe weather.
A FOX 35 WEATHER ALERT DAY is in place for Saturday and Sunday.
In its 5 p.m. advisory on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm is moving northwest at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
FOX 35 Meteorologist Kristin Giannas said although Isaias weakened to a tropical storm, it could regain its strength to become a hurricane again overnight at it approaches Florida’s coast.
The center of Isaias is expected to make landfall at Andros Island and is expected to approach the southeast coast of Florida later on Saturday and Sunday.
ACTIVE WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
Coastal Volusia County, Southern Brevard County, Northern Brevard County
Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:
Coastal Volusia County, Southern Brevard County, Northern Brevard County, Coastal Flagler County
Tropical Storm Warning is in effect:
Inland Volusia County, Seminole County, Orange County, Osceola County, Inland Flagler County, Coastal Flagler County
Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency for Friday ahead of the system’s arrival.
Gov. DeSantis sent a letter to President Trump requesting that he declare a pre-landfall emergency for the State of Florida.
The governor says the state is “fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.
But, he urged that people have seven days of food, water, and medication on hand and said state-run coronavirus testing sites in the areas where the storm could hit would be closed.
The eye of Isaias was observed from above on the morning of July 31 by a crew aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aircraft.
A video of the eye of Hurricane Isaias was taken by NOAA Hurricane Hunters via Storyful on Friday.
Isaias is the second hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
FOX 35 meteorologist Allison Gargaro tracks the tropics on the FOX 35 weather app.
Working through dismal weather, SpaceX engineers pressed ahead Monday with preparations to launch two astronauts aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft Wednesday, the first piloted flight to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years.
SpaceX and NASA held a launch readiness review to verify the Falcon 9 booster and spacecraft are ready for flight while NASA and its international partners went over preparations to welcome two new crew members to the lab complex. Both meetings concluded with an official “go” for launch.
Keeping tabs on the weather, Crew Dragon commander Douglas Hurley and joint operations commander Robert Behnken plan to don their pressure suits and head for launch pad 39A around 1:15 p.m. ET Wednesday. Blastoff is targeted for 4:33:33 p.m., roughly the moment Earth’s rotation carries the pad into position for a flight to the station.
No major technical issues of any significance were under discussion Monday, but the weather could be a factor. Forecasters initially predicted a 60% chance of a weather-related launch rule violation, but Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron, said conditions appeared to be improving somewhat.
“If I was to issue the forecast today, right now we would probably be down to 40% chance of violation,” he said. “We have a bit more rain to go here and maybe another round of afternoon thunderstorms tomorrow, but … it looks like much less (cloud) coverage. So we have some hope for launch day.”
But McAleenan’s forecast does not include downrange conditions in the Atlantic Ocean along the Crew Dragon’s trajectory where Hurley and Behnken could be forced to ditch in the unlikely event of a catastrophic booster failure during the climb to space.
SpaceX managers will assess a complicated mix of weather models, high-altitude balloon data and actual wind, rain and wave data from multiple buoys along the ground track to determine whether conditions, on average, are acceptable for launch.
Hoping for the best, Hurley and Behnken are expected to begin strapping into the Crew Dragon around 2 p.m. Wednesday. The astronauts will arm the spacecraft’s emergency abort system around the T-minus 40-minute mark, a few minutes before propellant loading begins.
Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said a final assessment of the weather will be made shortly before the abort system is armed. If mission managers are not confident conditions at the launch site and along the trajectory are acceptable, the launch will be scrubbed for the day before fueling begins.
“Usually when we have a satellite to launch we go sometimes all the way down to the wire, to the last minute and then Mike says no, and then we don’t go,” Koenigsmann said. “In this case, we don’t want to do that because we would expose the crew to risk that would be unnecessary.”
“So six hours before (launch), four hours before, and then I guess the final call comes at the end, at 45 minutes when we’re about to arm the escape system. By that time, we have come to a conclusion whether we go or no-go.”
Backup launch opportunities, based on the space station’s orbit and the Crew Dragon’s ability to catch up with the lab complex, are available Saturday, at 3:22:41 p.m., and Sunday, at 3:00:07 p.m.
“It’s getting a little bit far out to have a lot of confidence, but it certainly looks like the guidance is shaping up that the 30th and 31st look much less dynamic than what we have with the tropical low development across Florida,” McAleenan said. “So overall, those look like a better probability of launching and lower risk numbers across the Atlantic.”
We’ve all heard them — the blaring alerts that activate our cellphones or television when a severe weather warning is issued.
Perhaps our favorite weather app sent us a push notification, or we saw a television meteorologist pointing at vibrant boxes on a weather map. Whatever the medium, weather warnings have a way of finding us, especially whenever a severe thunderstorm is close by. Now those warnings, specifically the way in which they’re generated, are in the process of getting a makeover.
Severe weather warnings are issued for individual thunderstorms; before 2007, entire counties would be alerted at once. Over the years, weather warnings have become more targeted — but one warning can still cover an expansive area. Moreover, conditions can vary wildly even within the region enclosed by a single warning.
The National Weather Service is hoping to change that.
Kodi Berry leads the program that’s updating warnings at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. The Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats program, or FACETs, is an endeavor the National Weather Service is pursuing to communicate the hazards posed by severe thunderstorms on a hyperlocal level.
Berry says the goal is provide a more continuous flow of information for those who need it the most.
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, FACETs aims to improve weather watches and warnings to provide “detailed hazard information through the use of ‘threat grids’ that are monitored and adjusted as new information becomes available.”
Typical weather warnings are issued in the form of polygons digitally drawn on a map. If you’re within the polygon, you’re alerted and urged to take action — such as seeking shelter. But just a stone’s throw away, a neighboring home outside the polygon may not be given any special instructions. The state of weather warnings is binary, akin to a “yes” or “no” to severe weather.
Berry’s team is hoping to improve that by creating a product that reflects the gray area in between. They are experimenting with displaying probabilities to reflect the range of possible outcomes in a rapidly evolving severe weather event.
“There has been a lot of social science research that shows that, given probabilistic information, people make better decisions,” Berry said. “If we appropriately define these probabilities and what they mean, people can use them to make better decisions.”
Imagine you work in a nursing home 20 miles downwind of a tornado-producing thunderstorm. An existing tornado warning extends only 15 miles downstream, so you’re not under a warning — yet.
But you know it takes half an hour or more to move all the residents to shelter. Do you start now? Or do you wait until a warning is (or is not) issued?
Berry’s team found the one-size-fits-all binary nature of warnings doesn’t necessarily fit all consumers. “Some people may need a little more time than what the warning provides,” Berry said. “They may have a lower personal probability threshold.”
Adding probabilities will not replace existing weather warnings but rather offer more context for people around the warning itself. The probabilities will be assigned on a gridded map, much like most weather forecasts, and will update by the minute in real time.
Probabilities will be greatest along the center of the storm’s predicted path, diminishing radially outward as well as farther downwind. Berry’s office compares the so-called plume to the probabilistic wind speed graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center.
Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings themselves are getting an overhaul, too. Warnings will now “move” with storms, growing downwind if a storm looks to hold together. The back edge of the warning will “drop out” behind the storm, too — akin to an “all clear” message once the danger has passed.
“I think the most beneficial thing is the more equitable lead time,” Berry said. “[In the past], people near the downstream edge of the warning [got] much less lead time if they [weren’t] weather aware.”
The warnings themselves will also be updated more frequently. “I think the National Weather Service policy [currently] is that a tornado warning should be updated … once every 15 minutes,” explained Berry. “We’ve tested one-minute updates, two-minute updates. … We started to notice a big difference when we got to the five or two minute [intervals].”
All this updating could dramatically heighten a forecaster’s workload, particularly in environments with multiple storms occurring simultaneously. That’s where automation comes in.
“[Meteorologists] are getting some automated guidance that isn’t solely radar,” Berry said. While details are hazy as to what this computer software guidance might look like, it would likely ingest data from surface observations, satellite products, lightning mapping arrays and more.
That means some severe weather warning updates could theoretically be entirely computer-generated. But that doesn’t mean anything is being left on autopilot.
“There’s a lot of forecaster value that I don’t think can be replaced by automation,” Berry said. “One of the features that we included [in an online interface] was to be able to graphically tell which ones were automated versus which ones had been touched by the forecaster.”
The shape of the warning could also be changed by automated software packages based on severe weather probabilities churned out by high-resolution computer models. Berry’s team is working on a proposal regarding best practices to prevent fluctuations in the forecast to result in an “expanding and contracting [warning] with time.”
“You don’t want people going in or out of the warning,” Berry said. “We’re working to create more consistency with the warning.”
Berry estimates these changes could take up to five years to implement. By then, atmospheric scientists are hoping to overhaul their strategy for issuing weather warnings — making calls based on forecasts, rather than detection.
In the current system, a severe thunderstorm warning isn’t issued until a storm meets severe thunderstorm criteria — the capability of producing damaging wind or hail larger than the size of quarters. The same is true with tornado warnings — rotation must be spotted within a storm.
With more advanced high-resolution computer models, NOAA aims to model individual thunderstorms before they become severe or generate a tornado, issuing warnings based on the forecast of severe weather. Such modeling would test the limits of current forecasting, since they would have to detect weather features at local scales many current models miss.
There may even come a day when you’ll get a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning while standing beneath a blue sky — awaiting a storm that has yet to develop.
“If you live across portions of the Plains states up towards the Midwest, you need to pay close attention to your local weather forecast as well as your watches and warnings, because we have another round of strong storms, including large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes that are going to stretch from Texas all the way up towards the Great Lakes,” Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends First.”
According to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC), at least 60 million Americans will be threatened by that severe weather throughout the day, including those in major cities like Oklahoma City, Houston, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin, Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, and Madison, Wis.
The threat for severe weather on Tuesday stretches from Texas to the Great Lakes.
Storms could reach Chicago, Milwaukee and Memphis, Tenn., later in the day.
Forecasters said a “moderate” risk of severe weather, the second-highest on the SPC’s rating scale, exists in Eastern Oklahoma, Northeast Texas, and Western Arkansas. Some 1.8 million people in this region, including cities such as Tulsa, Okla., and Fort Smith, Ark., are under a moderate risk, according to the SPC.
“We have that bull’s-eye there, where we could see the potential for long-track, dangerous, potentially life-threatening tornadoes,” Dean said.
A damaging squall line is forecast to develop by Tuesday afternoon, moving east.
Storms are expected to develop during the afternoon hours, with a potentially damaging squall line over eastern Oklahoma before it surges south into Northeast Texas.
“Severe winds will likely materialize as the frontal squall line matures and surges south,” the SPC said.
It should spread into Northeast Texas, possibly into the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex during the evening hours.
The NWS’ Weather Prediction Center (WPC) said that the threat of damaging thunderstorm winds is “especially high.”
“A damaging squall line is expected, with perhaps hurricane-force winds in some places, along with wind-driven hail,” forecasters noted.
Thunderstorms are forecast to develop across the Mississippi River Valley by Tuesday afternoon. Large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes are possible as they develop.
“That’s going to continue throughout the afternoon into the overnight,” Dean said on “Fox & Friends First.”
They could bring excessive rainfall and flash-flooding, as some storms may produce 2 inches of rain in just 45 minutes.
Storms are forecast to move east into the overnight hours, with the threat lingering into early Wednesday.
Severe thunderstorms are forecast across the Plains and into the Midwest on Tuesday.
“So we’re going to be talking about the threat for severe storms this time tomorrow, unfortunately, as these lines really potentially get volatile over the evening hours into the overnight,” Dean said.
The severe weather threat shifts to the Southeast by Wednesday.
Scattered storms will be a threat again on Wednesday for the Gulf Coast and Southeast.
“Some of the same areas that have been hit hard over the last few weeks,” Dean said.