A day after reaching tropical storm status, Nestor was downgraded to a post-tropical status, but even so, it remains a powerful storm with potentially life-threatening impacts as it nears the Florida mainland.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center christened Tropical Storm Nestor early Friday afternoon as the system gradually made its way through the Gulf of Mexico. The now-weaked post-tropical Nestor is set to roar ashore on the panhandle not far from the state capital of Tallahassee later Saturday morning or early Saturday afternoon.
Tropical storm and storm surge warnings are in effect for parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Florida, with Nestor expected to bring tropical-storm-force winds and life-threatening storm surge to the coast as it approaches later on Friday.
"LIFE-THREATENING" IMPACTS THROUGH SATURDAY
The shape of the coast, combined with the storm's track, means the highest storm surge is likely to impact the Florida Gulf Coast, reaching its peak with Saturday morning's high tide. A surge of up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) is possible for some areas. Wind-driven high surf will also spur beach erosion and fuel dangerous rip currents along the eastern Gulf Coast.
Nestor has already begun losing strength, but still boasted winds of 85 km/h Saturday morning as it neared the coast. But gale-force wind gusts are expected to stretch as far east as the Atlantic coast of the southeastern U.S. by Saturday morning.
Nestor-spawned tornadoes are also likely across the Florida Panhandle through early Saturday, and indeed, tornado watches were in effort for most of the state Saturday morning.
In addition to the flooding storm surge, locally-heavy rain is likely through the weekend as the core of the system tracks across the southeastern United States and the Mid-Atlantic.
"Nestor is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches (50 to 100 mm) this weekend from the central Gulf Coast and northern and central Florida to the eastern Carolinas," says the NHC, adding that the hardest-hit spots may see as much as 8 inches (200 mm).
FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS FOR OCTOBER STORMS
While the peak of the hurricane season is behind us, October landfalls are not unusual; some of the most devastating hurricanes on record are October storms. Last year's Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Peninsula on October 10. Hurricanes Matthew, Wilma, and Opal were all October storms, as was Hurricane Hazel -- which went on to produce the worst flooding in Toronto's history. Superstorm Sandy was also a late-October entry into the record books.
After a summer's worth of heating, sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast reach their peak in early fall. That makes for a very favourable environment for tropical storm development.
Image courtesy NOAA.
The changing angle of the sun in the sky as we move toward the Winter Solstice will contribute to the gradual cooling we see from November onward, putting an effective end to the hurricane season until next spring.