Bill staggers, keeps spinning
Hurricane Bill weakened a bit more overnight, with top sustained winds falling to 115 mph amid increasing disorder in its central structure. But the storm remained a Category 3 powerhouse and a continuing threat to both Bermuda and the eastern beaches of the U.S. The Canadian Maritime Provinces were also on alert.
The storm's center this morning was about 800 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, moving to the northwest at 17 mph. Its course was expected to shift to the north northwest today, and to the north by tomorrow as the storm curves around the Bermuda/Azores high to the east, and in the face of the jet stream and cold front moving into the eastern seaboard to the west. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the atmospheric mechanics steering the storm.
Forecasters say Bill lost some of its classic organization overnight, but could regain some strength over warmer Gulf Stream waters between the Carolinas and Bermuda. You can see in satellite images that the storm lost its open "eye." We can probably blame wind shear for that - the high altitude winds that cut off the tops of the thunderstorms that fuel the storm. Its this kind of shear that becomes more pronounced in El Nino years like this one and make it harder for Atlantic hurricanes to form and hold together.
Tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch remain in effect for Bermuda. Forecasters are also continuing to warn beachgoers about the danger of heavy surf and rip currents along the East Coast this weekend as Bill passes by. The hazard will be enhanced by high astronomical tides, since we are near the time of the new moon.
"RIP CURRENTS ARE
LIFE-THREATENING TO ANYONE WHO ENTERS THE SURF. BE ESPECIALLY
CAUTIOUS WITH OUTGOING TIDES WHICH IMPROVE RIP CURRENT FORMATION.
ALL BEACH GOERS SHOULD REMAIN AWARE OF INHERENT DANGERS WHEN
ENTERING THE SURF INCLUDING SWIFT LONGSHORE CURRENTS...POUNDING
SHORE BREAK AND SHALLOW SAND BARS."