Time to Watch the Tropics?

The most level-headed hurricane guy in the city (Media Div.) is the

Houston Chronicle

's science writer Eric Berger. Lots of times you can read his blog and learn why that tropical system that looks so ominous will almost certainly miss Houston, then go home that night and watch the TV guys screaming out scenarios about how we are "looking down the barrel" at disaster.

So what does it mean that Berger's warning us about a new system?

Time to stock up on bottled water.

Well, maybe not.

Berger writes that the National Hurricane Center's preferred computer model puts a Category 1 or 2 hurricane "pretty much on a collision course with Texas." Landfall would be Wednesday.

But he hedges it, saying computer models this far out are not far from worthless. And the current link to the model he cites, at least when we run it, shows the storm hitting Eastern Louisiana. (Maybe it's a later run of the model.)

Last night, before the storm (officially called Invest 94L; it would become named Christobal if it develops) intensified a bit, Weather Underground blogger Jeff Masters was unimpressed:

At this point the proximity of the convection to the land of South America combined with the 'dead zone' for tropical cyclone genesis that seems to exist over the eastern Caribbean will likely preclude development. The warm water is fairly shallow in this area and subsidence from storms over South America also tend to act to cap convection. We will continue to monitor the system, but at this point conditions are not favorable. While convection looks healthy at this time, I expect that it will soon quiet down again.

The point of all this isn't to dis Berger, if that's how it seems. It's just when he starts talking about a "collision course" with Texas, our ears prick up.

So keep an eye on your favorite weather sites. And brace yourself for a lot of impassioned theatrics from local TV weathercasters.

-- Richard Connelly

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