Storm Loses Some Punch As It Becomes Ragged and Disheveled in Gulf
Tropical Storm Karen has been fighting a valiant fight since it formed on Thursday morning, but the odds may be just too much for the storm to overcome. While a Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Destin, Florida, Karen weakened slightly to just have maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour with gusts to 70 mph. Minimum central pressure has risen slightly to 1003 millibars, or 29.62 inches of Hg.
With tropical storm force winds extending some 140 miles from the center of circulation as of the 8:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Mouth of the Pearl River, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from west of Grand Isle, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana including the City of New Orleans, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Pontchartrain. A Tropical Storm Watch is also in effect for portions of the Florida Panhandle from east of Destin, Florida to Indian Pass, Florida.
As it pushes ahead to the North-Northwest at 10 miles per hour some 275 miles to the South-Southwest of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, Karen’s appearance looks much more ragged and disorganized than it did yesterday, and it was a lopsided storm at best before then with the bulk of its convection to the east of its center of circulation. The storm has also slowed down a bit from its forward speed of 13 miles per hour on Thursday. A turn to the right is expected to begin on Friday.
Karen is still over very warm water in the Gulf, but it continues to battle dry air and shear to the north and west of it. The wind shear affecting Karen is as high as 20 to 25 knots, or about 25 to 30 miles per hour. The intensity forecast is problematic at best due to the interaction between Karen, dry air, westerly shear, and a small upper level trough. The strengthening of this system is also dependent on whether or not it begins to make its more easterly turn over water. Some models such as the Canadian model indicate that the turn to the east will not occur until after landfall in Louisiana while the GFS has a much more dramatic turn to the right.
Right now, the European model calls for a 10 millibar drop in pressure with Karen after the turn to the right while the GFS, HWRF, and GFDL indicate much more significant deepening. Regardless of how much it strengthens, the biggest concern with this system will be the rain with rainfall amounts anticipated to be anywhere between 4 to 8 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as a foot. This much rain is the last thing that areas in the Southeast need after a very wet summer with a rainfall surplus of over a foot. Storm surges along the Gulf Coast could be as high as 3 to 5 feet.
All residents along the Gulf Coast from Morgan City to Tampa should continue to monitor the situation with Karen, and make necessary preparations.
Watches Issued for Portions of Gulf Coast; Storm Already Has 60 MPH Winds
Almost 18 years to the day, a storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and could deliver a blow to the Northeastern Gulf Coast. Within the past few minutes, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida has classified the disturbance in the Southeastern Gulf as Tropical Storm Karen. The storm already has maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 1004 millibars, or 29.65 inches of Hg.
Currently, Karen is located some 500 miles south of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, and the storm is moving to the North-Northwest at 13 miles per hour. Hurricane Hunter aircraft has been flying in and around the storm since yesterday, and finally detected a closed circulation just to the north of the Northern Yucatan coast. The storm is a lopsided or asymmetrical system with the bulk, if not all of its convection, to the east of the center of circulation. However, high pressure aloft has developed over the storm, and sea surface temperatures in this region are always very warm. So, further strengthening is not out of the question. There is some discrepancy though on how strong Karen will become and where it will go.
The reason for the disagreement between the various forecast models such as the European and the GFS is because there is dry air pushing into the Western Gulf to the west of the storm. The models are in general agreement that Karen will move around the periphery of a mid-level ridge ahead of a mid-level trough. But they differ on the exact track into the Gulf Coast. The European has Karen going further west into Louisiana and Southern Mississippi while the GFS has the storm taking a more easterly track into Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The discrepancy in these tracks has an impact on how strong Karen will be at landfall.
With the European model’s more western track, Karen moves into the drier air moving into the Western Gulf, and comes ashore on Saturday as a minimal tropical storm or depression. On the other hand, the GFS’ more eastern track has the storm over more moist air in place in the Eastern Gulf, and as a result, Karen is a much stronger storm. As a result of this discrepancy in the models, the GFS has put Karen as a minimal hurricane within 36 hours, and has posted both hurricane and tropical storm watches for the Gulf coast. This could be a dangerous situation developing in the Gulf. We could have a scenario very similar to Hurricane Opal in 1995.
Opal formed further west in the Bay of Campeche before rapidly developing into a high end Category Four Hurricane, and picking up forward speed before crashing into the Florida Panhandle on October 5th. Another similarity between Opal in 1995 and this storm is that the country is distracted with other news headlines. Back in 1995, the country was gripped with the suspense of the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial while this time, the nation is dealing with a federal government shutdown that has even closed down some NOAA web sites. The NHC and NWS are not affected by the shutdown since they both help protect life and property.
Karen is aiming at a portion of the Gulf Coast that has finally recovered from the impacts of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. So, a significantly stronger storm for this region later in the weekend would not be ideal. Up to this point in the season, there have been 11 depressions and 11 named storms, but only two hurricanes and no major hurricanes. Could that change with Karen. It is very possible that this storm could become the season’s third hurricane, but can it become the first major hurricane of 2013. Too early to tell.
Gabrielle and Humberto Dissipate, but Humberto Could Regenerate in a Couple Days
The Atlantic Tropics continue to get interesting as we now have our second hurricane of the season. The other day, I had mentioned in the blog that Ingrid could be in the making. Well, the storm not only came to fruition, and rapidly intensified into a minimal hurricane in the very warm waters of the Bay of Campeche region in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ingrid first became a depression on Thursday afternoon, and began its onslaught on Mexico with torrential rainfall. Gaining more and more energy from the bath water of the Gulf, Ingrid strengthened more and became the ninth named storm of the season on Friday morning. The intensification didn’t stop there either. Thirty hours later, the storm grew into a hurricane. Located some 195 miles to the East of Tuxpan Mexico and 275 miles to the Southeast of La Pesca, Mexico, Ingrid still continues off slowly to the north at 7 miles per hour.
As of the 4:00 PM CDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, maximum sustained winds with Ingrid are at 75 miles per hour with gusts in excess of 90 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has dropped to 987 millibars, or 29.15 inches of Hg (Mercury). The Government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Mexican East Coast from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca, and a Tropical Storm Warning from north of La Pesca to Bahia Algodones and south of Cabo Rojo to Tuxpan. All warnings issued south of Tuxpan to Cotzacoalos have been discontinued.
The big story with Ingrid is the forward motion. The reason I say that is because of two things. First and foremost, slow moving tropical systems means lots and lots of rainfall. When there is torrential rainfall that goes on for long periods of time over this part of the world, you have to worry about life threatening floods and mudslides. Right now, Ingrid is expected to produce around 15 inches of rain for portions of Eastern Mexico with some isolated areas getting over two feet of rain. The other reason that the slow movement is critical is simply because of where Ingrid is located.
As mentioned earlier, Ingrid is still over very warm water in the Bay of Campeche region of the Gulf of Mexico. With sea surface temperatures as high as 85 degrees coupled in with the fact that upper levels winds in this area are usually light, the ingredients are there for some significant, if not explosive development. The latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center in Miami indicates that a mid-level ridge is expected to establish itself over the Southern U.S., and the clockwise flow around that ridge will help turn Ingrid into eastern Mexico. However, forecast models diverge on the timing of all of this.
The NHC discussion points out that the GFS solution has Ingrid moving to shore the slowest, and making landfall in about 60 hours time. The official NHC guidance indicates a landfall within 48 hours. The 48 to 60 hour window is still a lot of time when you are talking about a tropical cyclone in a very conducive environment. Remember, a little more than 48 hours ago, Ingrid wasn’t even on the map, and now it is a Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Another 48 to 60 hours in this very supportive environment could bring about even more strenghtening. Right now, the NHC has Ingrid strengthening to an 85 mile per hour hurricane, but it is quite possible that the storm could reach Category Two or even Cat Three levels.
We’ll have to see how everything shakes out with Ingrid. For now, residents along the East Mexican coast should complete the necessary preparations, take cover and evacuate if possible. Residents in South Texas should monitor the progress of this storm.
Tropical Disturbance Near Cape Verde Islands Becomes Fifth Depression of Atlantic Season
The Atlantic Tropics are beginning to stir again after a quiet couple weeks. The disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic that was mentioned earlier in a previous blog post has been classified as a tropical depression by the National Hurricane Center in Miami late Wednesday night. This is the fifth depression in the Atlantic so far this season. August is the beginning of the peak season in the Atlantic as the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast are now becoming a prime breeding ground for powerful hurricanes.
As of the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center has TD #5 located some 80 miles to the Southeast of the Southernmost Cape Verde Islands in the Eastern Atlantic. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued by the government in the Cape Verde Islands for the islands of Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. Currently, maximum sustained winds with the depression are at 35 miles per hour with gusts estimated at 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the depression’s center of circulation is down to 1008 millibars or 29.77 inches of Hg. Wind and pressure data is based on satellite interpretation.
The depression is moving gradually to the West-Northwest at 14 miles per hour. Wind and rain will be the primary effects from this storm with tropical storm force winds expected across the Cape Verde Islands and rainfall amounts between 2 to 4 inches possible. The forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that the storm will have fluctuations in strength over the next five days. Over the first 48 to 72 hours, the depression is expected to strengthen to a strong tropical storm with 60 mile per hour winds, but then will wane in days four and five with winds decreasing to between 45 and 50 miles per hour.
Reasons for the pessimism beyond day three are because of cooler sea surface temperatures and more stability in the Central Atlantic. In addition, there may be less moisture available in the Central Atlantic for the depression to tap into. TD Five is the third tropical cyclone to form in the far Eastern Atlantic so far this season. Both Chantal and Dorian formed further west and had some obstacles including their own fast moving circulations to hinder their development. So far, the new depression is moving much slower, which will give it a better chance to have showers and storms develop around and over its center of circulation. There is plenty of time to watch this depression, but there is also another disturbance to worry about in the Northwestern Caribbean, and that could become a depression soon as well.
Storm Aims to be First Since 2007 to Affect Island Chain
With the dissipation of Dorian in the Atlantic, the focus has shifted to the Pacific where a storm is still churning. No longer under the watchful eye of the NHC, Tropical Storm Flossie is being monitored by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu. The storm is still a strong tropical storm with winds remaining at 65 miles per hour. Minimum Central Pressure is 996 millibars, or 29.41 inches of Hg. Flossie is moving at a fairly good pace at 20 miles per hour to the West.
As of the 2:00 AM Hawaii Standard Time advisory, Flossie was located some 600 miles to the east of Hilo on the big island, or 790 miles East of Honolulu. The storm had been moving a bit more northwesterly on Saturday, but took more of a turn to the west. Sea surface temperatures in the area of the storm are running a bit cool at about 25 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. At that water temperature, Flossie should be able to maintain itself for the time being, but not strengthen. Sea surface temperatures in the immediate area of the islands warms up to 26 degrees Celsius or just below 79 degrees.
Flossie is expected to begin affecting the big island of Hawaii on Monday morning, and progress westward into Maui county later in the day according to the CPHC. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for coastal waters east of the Kaiwi Channel. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Kauai Channel, and the leeward and windward waters of Oahu. The storm has the potential to bring thunderstorms producing heavy rains and flooding on the islands. Flossie began as a depression in the Eastern Pacific back on the evening of July 24th.
Over the next two days, Flossie gradually strengthened to become a very strong tropical storm with winds approaching hurricane force at 70 miles per hour early Saturday morning PDT. Over the past 24 hours though it has weakened a bit, and that trend is expected to continue as it moves through relatively cooler water. Flossie is the sixth named storm to form in the Eastern Pacific, which began its season back on May 15th. Of those six named storms, four of them have gone on to become hurricanes. Flossie is the first storm to threaten Hawaii since 2007 when another Flossie approached the islands.
Flood Watches In Effect As Storm System Poised To Bring Another 2 To 4 inches To Garden State
For the third time in less than two weeks, a significant storm system with heavy rainfall will be making a visit to the Garden State. The nice weather that we have been experiencing on Wednesday will give way to a storm system approaching from the west, and it is expected to bring anywhere between 2 and 4 inches of rain along with gusty winds. Places in South Jersey could have severe weather including tornadoes from this upcoming storm.
The National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly has put Middlesex County as well as much of the rest of the Garden State under a Flood Watch until early Friday morning. Within the past 45 days or so, the Garden State has seen anywhere from 7 to 10 inches of rain. The previous two rain events: Tropical Storm Andrea late last week, and a low pressure system on Monday brought exactly four inches alone in Northwestern Middlesex County. On top of that, there has been some additional rain this month, and over three inches for the month of May.
Prior to that, things had been fairly dry in New Jersey. While it had been cooler than it was during the first four and a half months with more snow this year than last, the overall precipitation pattern has been quite similar to last year. A relatively wet January was followed by a mostly tranquil February despite the blizzard during the second weekend of the month, and a mostly dry March and April. However, during the month of May, things picked up just like last year, and the first half of June has almost been a carbon copy of last year.
Areas prone to flooding in Central Jersey including Manville and Bound Brook along the Raritan River as well as places along the Millstone River such as Griggstown, will have to be on guard again. The Millstone went up to major flood stage during the deluge from Tropical Storm Andrea late last week, and had been gradually receeding. Wednesday is looking like the best day or the week with the forecast indicating rain tomorrow and part of Friday. With the recent rains, there has been 17.54 inches of rain so far this year at GWC in south Plainfileld. Over 40 percent of that rain has come in the last month and a half.
Andrea Becomes Post-Tropical, But More Heavy Rain Through Friday Evening
More heavy rain is moving through the Garden State as what is left of Tropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is rapidly moving up the East Coast into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Despite being reclassified as a post-tropical system late this afternoon, Andrea is still packing a punch with torrential rain and gusty winds.
Between 5:00 and 6:00 PM EDT, there was a lull in the action after rain had been falling steadily throughout the day. The rainfall total at that point at the GWC weather station here in South Plainfield, New Jersey was 1.51 inches for the day, and 1.67 since rain started falling during the late afternoon on Thursday. However, after 6:00 PM, the rain resumed with almost three quarters of an inch falling up to the time that I started writing this report.
There has been 2.22 inches of rain from the combination of the cold front and Andrea on Friday, and 2.38 total since late Thursday afternoon. After this latest burst is done (9:00 PM EDT), there is another round of heavy rain coming through during the 11:00 PM hour. Prior to this storm, there had been 3.26 inches of rain in May and 0.66 inches earlier this week. Flooding in the neighborhood is possible with the heaviest rain already adding to the swollen creek, stream, and lake levels in town.
Currently, the barometric pressure is at 29.64 inches of Hg, or about 1004 millibars. The pressure has fallen another 0.14 inches, or 4 millibars since this afternoon. Winds have picked up in the past several hours to be running consistently between 10 and 20 miles per hour. Stronger winds are expected to stay offshore as the storm moves closer to the area. Conditions will start to improve in the early morning hours of Saturday.
As of the 8:00 PM EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, post-tropical cyclone Andrea still had 45 mile per hour winds and a minimum central pressure of 996 millibars, or 29.41 inches of Hg. The storm has continued to accelerate with its forward speed now up to 35 miles per hour in a Northeasterly direction. Andrea is located some 45 miles to the North-Northeast of Norfolk, Virginia, or 70 miles to the Southwest of Ocean City, Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula.
A Tropical Storm Warning is still in effect from Surf City, North Carolina to Cape Charles Light, Virginia. Gale force wind conditions could still occur in the Delmarva Peninsula and Southern New Jersey as well as Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts.
First Named Storm Of 2013 Atlantic Season To Bring Rain And Wind From Florida To Mid-Atlantic
Over the past several months, several seasonal prognostications have come out with indications that the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be extremely busy. Not even a week into the new season, the first named system of the year has developed, and is threatening to impact a large swath of the East Coast of the United States from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic including New Jersey.
Currently, Andrea is in the Northeastern Gulf near landfall in the Big Bend area of the Northwestern Florida coast. Maximum sustained winds as of the 5:00 PM EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center were 65 miles per hour. Barometric pressure is down to 993 millibars, or 29.32 inchees of Hg. Andrea is moving to the Northeast at 17 miles per hour. Tropical Storm force winds reach out some 140 miles from the center. The latest observation out of Cedar Key, Florida had a sustained wind of 41 miles per hour with a gust up to 54 miles per hour.
The storm had emerged on Thursday afternoon after being a broad and disorganized area of low pressure. Andrea wasn’t even classified as a depression. Rather, it went straight from an Invest to a Tropical Storm with minimal strength winds of 40 miles per hour. Andrea had a flare-up of thunderstorms late last night after struggling to hang on for much of the evening. The storm has been battling strong upper level winds as well as a lot of dry air to the west of it. Nevertheless, it was able to intensify. The satellite and radar animation has depicted thunderstorm activity attempting to wrap around the center of circulation.
While Andrea will bring rip currents, storm surge levels between 2 to 4 feet, and a threat of tornadoes in Florida, the significant problem that the storm will present is the combination of some gusty winds and heavy rains, especially as it moves further up the coast. Combining with a frontal system approaching from the west, what is left of Andrea could bring anywhere from one to three inches of rain in the Mid-Atlantic with some areas receiving up to 5 inches. The National Weather Service in Mount Holly has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Delaware, Maryland, most of New Jersey including Middlesex County, and Eastern Pennsylvania.
The forecast models are all in very good agreement on where this storm is going to go. It is currently making landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida, and then Andrea will continue to move northeastward into Southern Georgia. On Friday, the storm will proceed through the Carolinas into the Mid-Atlantic, and be just to the south of Cape May by 8:00 PM Friday night. New Jersey should experience heaviest rain from Andrea from late Friday afternoon into Friday evening.
Clouds have been gathering all day in the Garden State, but no precipitation has fallen yet here in Northwestern Middlesex County. The region had been experiencing a brief stretch of fine weather after the storminess that developed late Sunday into portions of Monday. Overall, conditions have been relatively dry here in New Jersey. Here in South Plainfield, there has been 13.11 inches of rain so far this year. In addition, temperatures have been a bit cooler than the same period last year with the first 90 degree days of the year occurring during last week’s heat wave.
Storm Strengthens, Makes Turn Toward Mid-Atlantic Coast, And Picks Up Speed
Upon waking up this morning, I could hear the winds picking up. The pressure had dropped to 29.38 inches of Hg, or about 995 millibars. However, that was a drop of nearly a half an inch since yesterday morning. The bigger news awaited me as I got to my computer and got on the internet. Sandy had strengthened. Winds had increased to 85 miles per hour while the barometric pressure had dropped to 946 millibars, or 27.94 inches of Hg. The storm had tightened up much like a figure skater does when he or she pulls in her arms. Hurricane force winds still extended some 175 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds only reached out about 485 miles after being at 520 miles on Sunday.
Over the next few hours on Monday morning, another couple ingredients with Sandy began to come into play. The storm began to make its westerly turn toward the coast, and pick up in forward speed. So basically, we have a strengthening storm that is now moving toward the Mid-Atlantic coast as predicted, and is picking up in forward speed. The thing you don’t want to hear when trying to evacuate ahead of a hurricane is a strengthening storm that is moving faster. As of the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Sandy was located about 265 miles to the Southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Now moving to the North-Northwest at 20 miles per hour, we are anticipating a landfall sometime within the next 13 hours.
A record surge is expected in places such as New York Harbor, Sandy Hook, and other locations along the Jersey Shore. The forecast is calling for a surge between 6 to 11 feet in New York Harbor, Raritan Bay, and Long Island Sound. If the storm hits within the next 13 hours, it will make an impact around the time of high tide, which is already enhanced by the presence of the full moon. You couldn’t ask for worse timing. Another thing to keep in mind with the surge along the Jersey Shore, Raritan Bay, New York Harbor, and Long Island Sound, and that is the fact that the coastline of New Jersey and New York meet at right angle, which will help funnel in the water to New York City, and Northeastern New Jersey. Winds are expected to gust between 60 and 80 miles per hour, and the National Hurricane Center has indicated that Sandy could strengthen to 90 miles per hour.
The worst of the weather is expected to begin around mid-afternoon, or about 2:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. Winds, which are already gusting between 30 and 50 miles per hour, are expected to ramp up significantly at that time along with the rain. Here in South Plainfield, the pressure has fallen further to 29.21 inches of Hg, or about 989 millibars. Already about a quarter of an inch has fallen from the storm. Winds have been steady at 20 miles per hour with gusts to 40 miles per hour. Oh, by the way, if you are in the Great Lakes region, you’re not going to be immune from this storm with cold air being pulled down, the storm is expected to bring snow to parts of the Appalachians including West Virginia and Western Virginia.
You know this is a different animal when a tropical system is going to bring snow on its western flank.
Ninth Storm Strengthens To Category One Hurricane Before Weakening
While the Atlantic has really picked things up with eight named storms and four hurricanes this month, the Eastern Pacific has waned with only three storms and two hurricanes. Prior to Ileana developing this week, the EPAC went without a storm or hurricane for 10 days after Tropical Storm Hector faded from view in mid-August.
Ileana became the season’s ninth named storm on the evening of August 27th some six hours after emerging as a tropical depression. Forming approximately 330 miles to the southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 530 miles to the south-southeast of Baja California, the storm was no threat to land, but gradually strengthened to become the seventh hurricane of the season.
The storm peaked in intensity on Thursday when it strengthened to have 85 mile per hour winds. However, like most systems in the East Pacific, Ileana began to encounter cooler waters, and has gradually weakened to below minimal hurricane strength with winds of 70 miles per hour. According to the most recent advisory on the storm, Ileana is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression sometime this weekend.
So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has had 9 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Meanwhile, the Atlantic has had 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that has maximum sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour, or minimal Category Three strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Despite early season forecasts indicating that an El Nino would develop making conditions for favorable for development in the Eastern Pacific, and less favorable in the Atlantic, the two basins have had exact opposite seasons.
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