Category 5 Maria Bearing Down USVI and Puerto Rico!

Category 5 Hurricane Maria continues to strengthen in the Eastern Caribbean as it begins to bear down on the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

Satrad tropics

As of the 5 pm update, the storm was located about 80 miles southeast of the island of St. Croix and about 175 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

Pressure had fallen to 916 mb and highest sustained winds had reached 165 mph making this a very dangerous category 5 storm!

Tropics track

The current forecast track from the National Hurricane Center takes the eye of the storm south of St. Thomas and very near St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands late this evening and overnight.  

By morning the storm is expected to slam into Puerto Rico as a category 5 hurricane making this one of the strongest, if not the strongest, hurricane every to make landfall on the Caribbean Island.  

Tropics track2

The only other cat-5 to visit the US territory occurred on September 13, 1928 when the "San Felipe II" hurricane ravaged the island on a path that could be very similar to this storm some 89 years ago!

5_2Credit: Sheila Murphy, USGS. Public domain

"San Felipe" made landfall in Southeast Puerto Rico in the vicinity of Guayama-Arroyo at around 2 PM AST September 13th with officially estimated sustained winds of 160 mph and a measured pressure in Arroyo of 27.50 in/hg or 931 millibars (It is not known if this pressure was actually measured in the eye). For the next eight to ten hours the eye of the hurricane crossed Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest without losing much strength, still with category 5 intensity when it left the northwest side of the island in the vicinity of Aguadilla at around 10-11 PM AST September 13th. The wind report from San Juan was of sustained 160 mph at around 1 PM AST before the instrument was destroyed by the winds. Stronger winds were probably felt after the instrument was destroyed, these were the highest sustained winds ever reported in Puerto Rico.
The strength of Maria currently matches if not exceeds that of the San Felipe hurricane and some additional strengthening is possible overnight.  Anyway you look at it, this will be a VERY BAD storm for both St. Croix and Puerto Rico with a 6-9 foot storm surge expected and rainfall that could reach up to 25 inches!

Tropics track3

From there, the Maria could have an impact on portions of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands.  

It's too soon to say for sure whether the US East Coast will be spared.  

Thoughts and prayers are with our friends in the Caribbean tonight. 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico Tuesday afternoon according to the USGS. The epicenter was near the town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. Dozens are dead, multiple buildings collapsed, and bad news keeps pouring in by the moment. Earlier in the day, the city held preparation drills for the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake. It was an 8.0 that caused massive damage to parts of the city and left thousands dead. Unfortunately, this date delivered disaster to Mexico City yet again. It breaks my heart to watch some of these videos that have surfaced from today's earthquake... 

Video Credit: Edgar Romano

Video Credit: Storm News


Video Credit: Fresh Tube

Video Credit: Eduardo De Sales



-Rick DeLuca



Did You Feel The Earthquake?

From Jude Redfield...

    Did you feel it this morning?

    The U. S. Geological Survey confirms a 3.8 quake was centered near Albion, Illinois at 7:47 a.m.  That's about 145 miles west of Louisville. 

Several people notified WDRB in Louisville and in New Albany, Indiana that they felt the tremor. According to the Richter Scale which measures earthquake intensity, a 3.8 quake is comparable to the vibration of a passing truck. 

According to the USGS, the quake was part of the Ozark Dome Region, which borders the New Madrid seismic zone.  It covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois. Missouri and Arkansas.  And it stretches from Indianapolis to St. Louis and south to Memphis.

White brick 2


Maria Strengthens into a Cat-4! Update on track and who could be impacted...

Folks in the Caribbean are without a doubt experiencing a very unpleasant case of deja vu.  

Less than two weeks after taking a hit by a Category 4 storm in Irma, parts of the same region are getting it again from an equally strong storm with Hurricane Warnings posted for the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 


As of 5 pm ET, Hurricane Maria has obtained category 4 status with sustained with of up to 130 mph and a central pressure that has fallen to 950 mb.  

The storm is currently located about 50 miles east-southeast of Dominica on the southern end of the Leeward Islands. 

Maria is currently tracking towards the WNW at about 9 mph and is expected to continue to intensify over the next day or two. 

Tropics track2

The current forecast track from the National Hurricane Center takes Maria through the Virgin Islands tomorrow and into Puerto Rico as a Cat-4 on Wednesday before lifting it towards the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Tropics track

From there portions of the Bahamas will be at risk and while it's too soon to say whether this storm will have a direct impact on the US mainland, it is a possibility.  

For those that have interests in the region, be sure to stay tuned! 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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SHOCKING VIDEO: Tree In Canada Explodes After Getting Struck By Lightning...

Before you watch this video, please turn on the volume so you can hear the power of lightning! I should also warn you that adult language follows the strike, but it has been censored. Lightning struck a tree in Quebec, Canada sending shards of wood flying. It also severed off a huge chunk of the tree that you can see crash down on a nearby holiday lodge at popular Bryson Lake. Without further ado, check out this shocking video...

Video Credit: Weather and Nature Enthusiast


Lightning Safety Guidelines

Lightning is one of the most erratic and unpredictable characteristics of a thunderstorm. Because of this, no one can guarantee an individual or group absolute protection from lightning. However, knowing and following proven lightning safety guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of injury or death.

Most lightning victims are not struck during the worst of a thunderstorm but rather before or after the storm reaches its greatest intensity. This is because many people are unaware that lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm, much farther out from the area of rainfall within the storm!


Therefore, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately. Remember this lightning safety rule: WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS...and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. Do not wait for the rain to start before you decide to seek shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended.



-Rick DeLuca



Do The Dew...Point

From Jude Redfield...

    I knew we'd get smacked around with another shot of heat and humidity. The cold start to September couldn't last forever. The surge of humidity arriving this past weekend intensifies in the coming days. This heat/humidity combo added with a weak cold front touches off a few showers/storms today through Wednesday. Tomorrow gives us nearly a 50% chance for showers and storms(even better chance than today). Locally heavy rain in the form of brief downpours will give a select few amounts in excess of a half inch. Not sure about you, but I could use a downpour at the Redfield ranch. Please see radar as of 10:17am tracking a downpour along I-64. If it holds together some of the rain will make it into Louy Metro by noon.


    It's that time again...time to bring back the muggy meter as we chart the dew point (do the dew...point)


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    The rest of the month will shake out with above average temps and humidity. -Jude Redfield-


Trouble Brewing in the Tropics, AGAIN!

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season has already been a bad one and could get much worse.  


We are currently focused on a pair of hurricanes in Jose and Maria and both could have some impact on the US.  

Tropics track

The latest update on Jose shows the storm maintaining category 1 status with sustained winds of 90 mph as it moves to the north. 

Tropics track2

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast keeps Jose on a northward course before turning it towards the east as it gradually weakens into a tropical storm.  

While most of the data says it stays off the US Coast, the cone of uncertainty scrapes parts of New England and a few forecast models try to bring onshore late in the week.  

Even if it comes close, it should be a fairly weak storm.  

Now onto a potentially bigger problem.  Hurricane Maria is quickly gaining strength as it approaches the Caribbean.  

Tropics track3

It is now a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph and a central pressure that is dropping.  The storm is moving towards the west-northwest and, like Irma, will impact some of the Leeward Islands over the next 24 hours and could become a very strong hurricane.  

Tropics track5

It is currently forecasted to maintain a west-northwest track while strengthening into a Cat-4 possibly impacting, again like Irma, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rick and the Dominican Republic before approaching the Bahamas.  

Tropics track4

From there it could turn towards the US Southeast in about a week.  Let's hope not.  

We'll be watching it closely.  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Fall Foliage Forecast

Every year, we start to get more and more questions about fall foliage. Most are just curious if we will see a good display of fall colors this year or not. But there are many factors involved.  

Typical Peak:

First, let's talk about average fall foliage peak across parts of the US and our region. Notice how parts of the northeast are already reaching their seasonal peak! Up next is mountainous terrain of Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and northern Maine in early October.  


Pretty soon we will see our own share of red, yellow, and orange foliage. Parts of Indiana will reach their peak in just a few short weeks as the middle of October rolls around. That line shifts further south through Kentucky by the end of the month... 

Image 2

Fall Foliage Forecast:

The greatest influence to when the leaves change color and fall is the length of night. As the nights get longer in fall, the leaves stop producing the chlorophyll. This allows the true colors of the leaves to start to show through. The longer nights begin the process of the leaves changing colors and ultimately falling off the trees.

Both temperature and moisture can also affect the brilliance of the fall foliage, in particular during late summer and early fall. Ideally we would like warm afternoons and crisp nights for the most brilliant fall displays. Temperatures have been running below average for the past few weeks. Certainly a few chilly mornings in the 40s and 50s! But now, we are back to above average temps! 

In addition, too much or too little rain can lead to less brilliant displays and can speed up or delay the color change by a few weeks. Think of last year, it was a less than stellar show and we were in the midst of a drought during the fall. 

However, that is not the case this year. Since Sept 1st, we have have picked up 4.74'' of rain! That is 3.15'' over the norm. We are also 1.34'' over for the year. Quite a change from the deficiency we saw in 2016.  That might be too much rain too fast for the BEST show ever, but, I think this will lead to a better display than last year. I think that is already evident. I know I have noticed the change of colors in a few trees over the past few weeks! 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.42.21 AM

Why do leaves change colors?

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a pigment known as chlorophyll, which is inside an orangeelle called a chloroplast. When they are abundant in the leaf's cells, as they are during the growing season, the chlorophylls' green color dominates and masks out the colors of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf. Thus the leaves of summer are characteristically green. 

In late summer, as daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf are gradually closed off as a layer of special cork cells forms at the base of each leaf. As this cork layer develops, water and mineral intake into the leaf is reduced, slowly at first, and then more rapidly. It is during this time that the chlorophyll begins to decrease.

Often the veins will still be green after the tissues between them have almost completely changed color. Here is an example...


Image Courtesy: Wiki

Pigments That Contribute To The Colors

Carotenoids are present in leaves the whole year round, but their orange-yellow colors are usually masked by green chlorophyll. As autumn approaches, certain influences both inside and outside the plant cause the chlorophylls to be replaced at a slower rate than they are being used up. During this period, with the total supply of chlorophylls gradually dwindling, the "masking" effect slowly fades away. Then other pigments that have been present (along with the chlorophylls) in the cells all during the leaf's life begin to show through. These are carotenoids and they provide colorations of yellow, brown, orange, and the many hues in between.


The reds, the purples, and their blended combinations that decorate autumn foliage come from another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. Unlike the carotenoids, these pigments are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season, but are actively produced towards the end of summer. They develop in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf, and this development is the result of complex interactions of many influences — both inside and outside the plant. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced.

The brown color of leaves is not the result of a pigment, but rather cell walls, which may be evident when no coloring pigment is visible.

Keep an eye out for more pops of color in the coming weeks. If you take any good pictures, make sure you send them to us on social media or of course the WDRB Weather App! There is nothing I love more than a good fall foliage pic! 

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-Katie McGraw 



A Sizzling Finish to September!

Yesterday's high of 84° marked the first time in ten days that our high cracked the 80 degree mark... which is quite remarkable considering we still average in the 80's this time of the year.  Today, it truly felt like summer again as temps soared into the upper 80's, the warmest we've seen in about two weeks.  


 We weren't the on ly ones enjoying the late season warmth.  Temps were well up into the 80's all across the Eastern US with highs cracking the 90 degree mark for places like St. Louis, Springfield and Tulsa.  

Region temps

 The reason for the warm is because of the development of an area of upper high pressure currently located over the Ohio/Mississippi River Valleys.


 Going forward, this upper ridge (high pressure aloft) is expected to strengthen in response to a deep trough that looks to develop over the Western US over the next week ahead.  


 This will allow temps to remain quite warm over the Eastern US with the Euro forecasting reading to remain some 5 to 10 degrees above normal during the period.


There is good agreement between all medium range models on this idea of a very warm week ahead and has prompted the folks at the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) to issue an 80% chance for above normal temps across the Ohio Valley/Great Lakes during the next week to week and a half. 


 Looking further out, the Euro shows the upper ridging remaining in place through the remainder of the month as temps remain well above normal during the period.


 CPC agrees with this assessment with a 60% for above normal temps in the 8 to 14 day range which brings September to a close.  


So what do I think? 

Well, I'm glad I haven't shut my pool down just yet!  Although I was certainly tempted to last week when we were suffering with the cool rains and clouds with highs struggling in the 60's.  It does appear that we are set for a nice run of warm weather to round out September and possibly into October as well.  So despite change to the "astronomical" season later this week (Fall officially begins on Friday), it looks like we'll get to enjoy an extended summer this year.  

So how warm will it get?

While 80's will be very easy to achieve over the next couple of week, a few 90's can't be ruled out with this type of a pattern this time of the year.   


WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Last Pictures from Cassini Grand Finale

Since April 2017, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been writing the final, thrilling chapter of its remarkable 20-year-long story of exploration: its Grand Finale. Every week, Cassini has been diving through the approximately 1,200-mile-wide gap between Saturn and its rings. No other spacecraft has ever explored this unique region. Check out some of these amazing, captivating and final images fro Cassini!

Enceladus Setting Behind Saturn

This view of Enceladus was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.

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Lone Propeller 

This view of Saturn's A ring features a lone "propeller" -- one of many such features created by small moonlets embedded in the rings as they attempt, unsuccessfully, to open gaps in the ring material. The image was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.

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Finale Ringscape

This image of Saturn's rings was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.

Cass 6

Daphnis' Final Appearance 

This image of Saturn's outer A ring features the small moon Daphnis and the waves it raises in the edges of the Keeler Gap. The image was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.

Cass 6

A Last Look at Titan

As it glanced around the Saturn system one final time, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet's giant moon Titan.​ These views were obtained by Cassini's narrow-angle camera on Sept. 13, 2017. They are among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.
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Saturn: Before the Plunge

This image of Saturn's northern hemisphere was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.

Cass 6

A final close flyby of the moon Titan on April 22 used the moon's gravity to reshape Cassini's trajectory so that the spacecraft leapt over the planet's icy rings to pass between the rings and Saturn. During 22 such passes over about five months, the spacecraft's altitude above Saturn's clouds varied from about 1,000 to 2,500 miles (1,600 to 4,000 kilometers), thanks to occasional distant passes by Titan that shifted the closest approach distance. At times, Cassini skirts the very inner edge of the rings; at other times, it skimmed the outer edges of the atmosphere. During its final five orbits, its orbit passes through Saturn's uppermost atmosphere, before finally plunging directly into the planet on Sept. 15. 

Video Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

Daring Exploration

Cassini's Grand Finale is about so much more than the spacecraft's final dive into Saturn. That dramatic event is the capstone of six months of daring exploration and scientific discovery. (And those six months are the thrilling final chapter in a historic 20 year journey.)

At times, the spacecraft will skirt the very inner edge of the rings; at other times, it will skim the outer edges of the atmosphere. While the mission team is confident the risks are well understood, there could still be surprises. It's the kind of bold adventure that could only be undertaken at the end of the mission.

Unique Science

As Cassini plunges past Saturn, th

Discoveries to the End

Cassini’s final images were sent to Earth several hours before its final plunge, but even as the spacecraft made its fateful dive into the planet's atmosphere, it sent home new data in real time. Key measurements came from its mass spectrometer, which sampled Saturn's atmosphere, telling us about its composition until contact was lost.

Much of this information is incredibly rich and valuable. It was also  too risky to obtain earlier in the mission. It includes:

  • The spacecraft will make detailed maps of Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields, revealing how the planet is arranged internally, and possibly helping to solve the irksome mystery of just how fast Saturn is rotating.
  • The final dives will vastly improve our knowledge of how much material is in the rings, bringing us closer to understanding their origins.
  • Cassini's particle detectors will sample icy ring particles being funneled into the atmosphere by Saturn's magnetic field.
  • Its cameras will take amazing, ultra-close images of Saturn's rings and clouds.

While it's always sad when a mission comes to an end, Cassini's finale plunge is a truly spectacular end for one of the most scientifically rich voyages yet undertaken in our solar system. From its launch in 1997 to the unique Grand Finale science of 2017, the Cassini-Huygens mission has racked up a remarkable list of achievements. 

Why End the Mission?

By 2017, Cassini will have spent 13 years in orbit around Saturn, following a seven-year journey from Earth. The spacecraft is running low on the rocket fuel used for adjusting its course. If left unchecked, this situation would eventually prevent mission operators from controlling the course of the spacecraft.

Two moons of Saturn, Enceladus and Titan, have captured news headlines over the past decade as Cassini data revealed their potential to contain habitable – or at least "prebiotic” – environments.

In order to avoid the unlikely possibility of Cassini someday colliding with one of these moons, NASA has chosen to safely dispose of the spacecraft in the atmosphere of Saturn. This will ensure that Cassini cannot contaminate any future studies of habitability and potential life on those moons.

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-Katie McGraw