Pat Shingleton: "Saxby and Lili"
Whether it’s the stock market or weather, predictions are made every day based upon data and trends. In 1868, a prediction for severe storms was made on a specific day, ten months in advance. It was Christmas Day, 1868 and British naval engineer Stephen Martin Saxby made this astounding prediction. Through the London newspaper, The Standard, he believed an "atmospheric disturbance" would occur on the following October 5. On October 4, 1869 in the northeastern United States and Canadian Maritime Provinces a gale claimed 100 lives, destroyed homes and grounded ships. It became known as "Saxby's Gale." Saxby's prediction was based on the position of the moon relative to the Earth. This scenario repeated itself during Hurricane Lili in October, 2002. Here are the columns posted on that date. "Yesterday we questioned the predicted intensity of Hurricane Lili. Our interviews with the Hurricane Center in Miami questioned why Lili held its category 4 status within three hours of landfall, then quickly diminished to a one. Here's what will be analyzed over the next year: How could this storm run over a ship buoy 120 miles offshore with 145 m.p.h. winds, then make landfall with 110 m.p.h. winds? Possibly an injection of dry air from southeast Texas penetrated its western flank during its final hours at sea. Satellite imagery verified the system's eye closing. Another consideration for review may be the lack of sea surface temperatures to fuel the storm. Did a pocket of colder water reduce its strength? Another factor for consideration could be the effects of Isidore. Even though it was a tropical storm, could it have churned the water to reduce or cut-back on the heat content?" "I have referenced Hurricane Andrew numerous times in this article. It's the big storm that I remember as others may remember Betsy, Audrey or Camille. Last year, the experts completed their evaluation of Andrew and officially classified the storm as a Category 4. We learn from our experiences and many of those same experts will analyze and scrutinize Lili. Our television coverage of Lili included interviews with Max Mayfield, NOAA's Hurricane Center Director. He and his team were confident of the path of this storm, recognizing that a slight deviation to the west or east would benefit or impact the Baton Rouge area. What disturbed Max and his staff was the diminished intensity of this hurricane. It held onto its category 4 status within four hours of landfall then dropped to a 2; their original prediction on Tuesday. Why the lack of intensity on Saturday?"
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