Storm to be 'exceptionally bad news' if it hovers offshore

Oddly, the closer Hurricane Florence gets to land the murkier its future gets.

"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective," University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. "We've just never seen anything like this. ... This is just a strange bird."

Florence is becoming more of a threat to more people — now including some in Georgia — in more ways with a giant dose of uncertainty on top. The more it stalls, the more it rains. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimeters). And the more it hovers just off shore — a distinct possibility — the more potentially deadly storm surge it pushes on-shore.

Forecasters warn Hurricane Florence could hesitate just offshore for days, punishing a longer stretch of coastline, before pushing inland.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern — as we saw with Harvey — is the huge amount rainfall," said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance," Landsea said.

And there's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometers) off shore versus heading inland immediately, Landsea said.

The wide storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday and forecasters expect it to weaken further as it nears the shore.

The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.

"It's going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,'" said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground.

Steering currents — around clear weather high-pressure systems and stormy low-pressure systems — redirect hurricanes, with the clear weather systems acting as walls that storms have to go around. And forecasts show those currents just not giving the storm any sense direction in a day or so.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems — one off the coast and one over Michigan — and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.

Computer simulations — especially the often star-performing European model — push the storm further south, even into South Carolina and Georgia. The hurricane center also adjusted its projected track but stayed north of what most computer models were showing to prove some continuity with past forecasts.

Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of in an email called the overnight European computer simulation "another model run for the ages. So many weird/outlandish solutions — but that's what happens when the steering currents collapse."

The European computer model has Florence veering before landfall and hovering for a couple days off the coast.

If the European model is true or the overall trend persists, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said it "is exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge. The rainfall has been and continues to be a very substantial threat over the entire area."

And if Florence weren't enough, other storms out there are threatening people. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands. Hurricane Helene is threatening no one in the Atlantic.

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears . His work can be found here .

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit .


September 13, 2018

Sources: ABC News

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Israel produces a loitering munition, dubbed the “Harpy,” which is designed to hunt out and destroy enemy radar stations and which became a sticking point in U.S.-Israeli relations when some were sold to China in the late 1990s. Companies in several nations, including Slovakia and the United States, have also produced loitering munitions.</p><p>“Imagine that we are fighting in a city and we have a foe that is using human life indiscriminately as a human shield,” says Tony Cerri, who until recently oversaw data science, models and simulations at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “It’s constantly in your face as you’re out walking in the street. You can’t deal with every situation. 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    1 November 15, 2018
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    1 November 15, 2018
  •  Transit riders, drivers brace for influx of Amazon employees

    Transit riders, drivers brace for influx of Amazon employees

    ty, Queens, location, allowing some senior executives to get through rush hour in style. Still, it won't be every day. Amazon had to agree to limit landings to 120 per year.</p><p> An expansion of that scope in a major city such as New York — where the regional subway, bus and commuter lines move more than 8 million people every day — sounds like something a transit system should be able to absorb.</p><p> "Congestion will get worse. Buses will probably get a little bit slower. There are going to be more people traveling at a specific time of day to a specific place," said Eric Guerra, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. "But at the same time, they will create a lot of jobs where people are."</p><p> Long Island City, the New York City neighborhood Amazon chose for one of its two East Coast headquarters, sits across the river from the busy world of midtown Manhattan. The growing neighborhood is crisscrossed by subways and buses and surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Amazon's other headquarters will be in the Washington suburb of Arlington in northern Virginia, a part of the country known for its mind-numbing traffic.</p><p> There's time. Amazon said hiring at the two headquarters will start next year, but it could take a decade or more to build out its offices.</p><p> "For the city and state to greenlight a helipad for the wealthiest man in the world and one of the richest corporations in the world is a slap in the face to all New Yorkers, but particularly the people in Queens who have to fight to get on the 7 train in the morning," said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a Democrat who represents Long Island City. "And furthermore, if there were 25-to-30,000 Amazon employees in Long Island City, that fight to get onto the train is going to get a lot more intense."</p><p> Frustration levels already are high among the New York City's subway riders. More than a quarter of New York City residents spend more than an hour getting to work, and 57 percent ride public transit to commute, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.</p><p> A key subway line that runs through Long Island City has been often criticized for delays, though long-awaited upgrades to allow trains to run more frequently are on track to finish as soon as this month, and a new ferry connection to Manhattan opened in August. Still, Van Bramer insisted the area is not sufficiently well served, and there are complaints about noise pollution from helicopters and sea planes.</p><p> "The entire city is in a mass transit crisis and nothing that I've seen about this deal makes me think it will help," New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday. "Western Queens transit infrastructure is already strained and the 7 train in particular is a mess every morning, so this definitely adds to existing transportation concerns."</p><p> New York City commuters have been clamoring for subway improvements for years, and some on Wednesday tweeted photos of packed subway stations near Amazon's proposed new office and reported having let several overcrowded trains go by before they were finally able to squeeze into one.</p><p> Some see the dire warnings about New York's transit system as premature.</p><p> "Even as stressed as our system is right now, an investment in growth of this magnitude doesn't overwhelm the transportation network because it's such a robust and large system," said Tom Wright, president and CEO of the Regional Plan Association, an urban research and advocacy organization.</p><p> Washington, D.C.'s subway system, which will serve Amazon's headquarters in Arlington's Crystal City, is at capacity on many lines and has serious maintenance problems, said Tom Rubin, a transportation consultant based in Oakland, California. Repair work to the subway station closest to Amazon's new office resulted in a disastrous commute last week as people missed flights and stood in long lines for buses that never arrived, said Thomas Cooke, professor of business law at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.</p><p> In fact, fires have broken out so many times in Washington D.C.'s Metro system that a developer created a Twitter account to automatically tweet suspected fires in stations.</p><p> "We have an embarrassing metro system here that I hope will benefit by this relocation," Cooke said, adding that taxpayers will be footing the bill for the transit improvements that Virginia agreed to in its deal with Amazon.</p><p> Development along major highways in Northern Virginia and Washington have led to "unreasonable traffic delays on a daily basis" in the past few years, with drive times that used to take 40 minutes ballooning to up to 90 minutes, Cooke said.</p><p> In the nation's capital, more than a third of commuters ride public transit and most commuters spend at least a half-hour getting to work, according to the Census Bureau. Commuters in the suburbs surrounding Washington face even longer commute times.</p><p> Elsewhere, companies use van pools and private buses to entice talented employees who want to live in hipper neighborhoods away from their offices. Google and Yahoo began running private buses from downtown San Francisco and elsewhere to their headquarters in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago. In the Los Angeles area, Disney, Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. run shuttle buses to carry employees from public transit stations to their Burbank studios, said Keith Millhouse, a transportation consultant and principal at Millhouse Strategies.</p><p> Some hoped Amazon would invest in transit upgrades as part of the deal. But it's hard to imagine Amazon volunteering to chip in for transit improvements with so many cities competing for the company's second headquarters, Guerra said.</p><p> "If anything, they're getting benefits out of it," Guerra said. "They're unlikely to be paying for new services."</p><p> AP Writer Jennifer Peltz in New York and Economics Writer Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report. Follow Cathy Bussewitz on Twitter: </p>

    1 November 15, 2018


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