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.
Could Impact the Central Gulf This Weekend; Jerry Meanders In Central Atlantic
The Tropical Atlantic has been relatively quiet for much of this season. Yes, there has been 10 named storms already, which is still ahead of the average pace, but there has been only two hurricanes, and most importantly, no major hurricanes, and no landfalling systems.
Normally, September is an active month, and this year, it was more active than August was. There were five depressions, four named storms, and the season’s only two hurricanes this past month. Nevertheless, the activity by September standards were still rather tepid. There is still two months officially remaining in the 2013 season, and there is usually a second peak in tropical activity during the month of October.
Looking around the tropics on this late Wednesday afternoon, there are a couple of trouble spots. Tropical Storm Jerry is still churning in the Central Atlantic. As of the 5:00 PM EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Jerry is located some 1080 to the West-Southwest of the Azores. Maximum sustained winds remain at 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour while minimum central pressure is still high at 1009 millibars, or 29.80 inches of Hg.
The storm is moving to the Northeast at 7 miles per hour, and that general motion is expected over the next few days with an increase in forward speed. Little change in strength is expected over the next 72 hours, and the storm is expected to become post-tropical within four days. A larger concern lurks in the Northwestern Caribbean as an area of disturbed weather that has been monitored over the past several days, is becoming better organized, and could be the next storm in the Atlantic.
Located some several hundred miles from the Yucatan Peninsula, the disturbance has looked more impressive over the past several hours as showers and thunderstorms have become better organized. Chances of this disturbance becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours have increased from 40 percent on Wednesday morning to 70 percent on Wednesday afternoon, and up to 80 percent in the next five days. A depression could form at any time according to the latest tropical outlook from the NHC. Currently, the disturbance is in a favorable environment for development. Sea surface temperatures in the Western Caribbean are always very warm, and there is very little in the way of shear.
Taking a look at the long range forecast for this disturbance, the storm is expected to impact somewhere along the Central Gulf Coast over this coming weekend. However, the cyclone is not expected to intensify into a major storm by the time it reaches the Gulf because of strong upper level winds developing over the region by the time the storm comes ashore. Regardless, residents along the Gulf should closely monitor the progress of this system as it heads into the region later in the week.
Protecting Life and Property Help NOAA Weather Sites Stay Online During Government Impasse
A little less than 24 hours ago, the government officially shutdown as a result of the impasse that has developed between the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House. While many government functions have been stopped including several NOAA web sites, the National Weather Service web site and National Hurricane Center web site are still online since they are crucial to protecting life and property. So, we will still be able to get the latest weather information and warnings as well as the latest information on Tropical Storm Jerry and a disturbance in the Western Caribbean.
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.
Disturbance in Gulf Getting Better Organized; Has 60 Percent Chance of Becoming Depression or Storm in next 48 Hours
Things continue to pick up in the Atlantic Tropics on this early Thursday afternoon. We still have Gabrielle in the Western Atlantic and Humberto in the Eastern Atlantic. Both of those systems haven’t changed much in strength over the past 18 to 24 hours with Humberto still having maximum sustained winds estimated at 85 miles per hour while Gabrielle still is hanging on as a minimal tropical storm. Humberto is picking up a bit more speed to the north while Gabrielle is moving more slowly to the north.
However, there is activity in the Bay of Campeche region of the Gulf that is drawing some interest right now. The area of disturbed weather that had moved across the Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday has now re-entered the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and is getting better organized. According to the latest outlook from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, shower and thunderstorm activity has increased and upper level winds and sea surface temperatures are becoming more favorable for development. The NHC is now giving this disturbance a 60 percent chance of forming within the next 48 hours, and an 80 percent chance of developing into a depression or storm over the next five days.
The real concern with this disturbed area is the slow forward movement of it. With the slow motion, the disturbance has not only a better chance to strengthen in the warm waters of the Bay of Campeche, but it also has a very good chance of dumping torrential rainfall over portions of southern and eastern Mexico, which could in turn produce dangerous flash floods and mudslides. If the disturbance were to become a named storm, it would be called Ingrid, the ninth named storm of the 2013 season. There has been a lot of tropical activity in this region this year. Recently, TD #8 had formed, and quickly came ashore before becoming a named storm.
Back on August 25th, Tropical Storm Fernand formed in the Southwestern portion of the Bay of Campeche before making landfall to the North-Northwest of Veracruz, Mexico just after midnight on the 26th. Earlier in the season in mid-June, Tropical Storm Barry formed a bit further south in the Northwestern Caribbean near the country of Belize. So, we could be seeing our fourth tropical cyclone in this general area develop this season, which would have almost half of all the storms that would have developed to date.
Elsewhere in the tropics, there is an area of disturbed weather associated with a broad area of low pressure some 500 miles to the east of the Lesser Antilles. While pressures are falling quite dramatically in this area, shower and thunderstorm activity with this low is limited, and more importantly, environment conditions such as upper level winds are not favorable for development at this time. The NHC is giving this disturbance about a 10 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours, and a 20 percent chance over the next five days.
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.
First Storm Of Atlantic Season Dumping Significant Rain On Garden State
Over the past 24 hours or so, Tropical Storm Andrea has made landfall just north of Cedar Key in the Big Bend region of the Florida Gulf Coast. The storm brought 4 to 6 inches of rain, tornadoes, and maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings extended up to the Cape Charles region of Virginia.
The storm has weakened throughout all of this. As of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, maximum sustained winds have dropped to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has risen a bit to 29.41 inches of Hg, or 996 millibars. Pressure has risen by 3 millibars, or 0.09 inches of Hg in the last 21 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend some 230 miles from the center of circulation.
Currently located some 5 miles to the Southwest of Fayetteville, North Carolina, or 70 miles to the Northwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, Tropical Storm Andrea has almost doubled in forward speed at 28 miles per hour. This time yesterday, it was moving more modestly at 15 miles per hour. The increase in forward speed is good news for those still in the path of the storm. The storm system also is losing its tropical characteristics.
Since late Thursday afternoon, the combination of a cold front and the moisture from Tropical Storm Andrea has brought 1.3 inches of rain to Northwestern Middlesex County. Rainfall rates at the GWC weather station are approaching an inch per hour. Temperature and dew point are both in the low 60s thanks to the cloud cover and moisture from Andrea. Barometric pressure has fallen steadily in the past 24 hours. Since Thursday afternoon, there has been a pressure drop of 0.30 inches, or 10 millibars to 29.78 inches of Hg.
Just before sitting down to type of this report and analysis, I ventured out into town after hearing from my mother that waters were rising at Spring Lake Park, and a creek over by a nearby railroad track. The lake and the nearby creeks have swollen. In the park, the water has risen to within just a few feet of some of the park benches on the one side of the park adjacent to the Fire Department. The rising waters have produced a debris line around the lake. The brunt of the storm is still to the south of New Jersey, so more rain is on the way.
Forecasts have been calling for between 2 to 4 inches of rain. Looking at the forecast track, it appears that the center of Andrea will pass over the Southeastern portion of the Garden State so coastal counties such as Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May should see the brunt of the wind and rain from Andrea.
Timing Couldn’t Be Worse For Garden State Residents Trying To Recover From Sandy
Hurricane Sandy couldn’t have struck at a more worse time for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The monster storm, which put a devastating hit on the Jersey Shore as well as Staten Island, Long Island, and Coastal Connecticut hit late in the hurricane season, and just as the winter season is beginning to wind up. Nor’easters are becoming more commonplace now including one that is taking shape to give Jersey and its neighbors a good pounding starting Wednesday and lasting into Thursday.
Forecast model guidance in the late afternoon on Monday hinted at not only a storm that would bring two inches of rain, 60 to 70 mile per hour winds along the coast, and coastal flooding, but also the first significant snowfall of the season according to Tri-State Weather. As much as 8 inches of snow was forecast for parts of the area with the heaviest snowfall occurring at around rush hour. Inland areas were going to get winds between 40 and 50 miles per hour, which is still not good for dangling power lines, weakened trees and telephone poles. Thankfully the late night and early morning model runs have the storm a little bit farther to the east, and not giving as big a blow as earlier.
There is still concern though. Forecasters are closely watching how this storm develops, and everything rides upon how the upper level low and the surface low come together. A vort max over the eastern part of the country has not dug far enough south, which is putting the storm on a forecast track further east. If the surface low can catch up to the upper low, then we could have a track more toward the coast, which would be insult to injury. If they do not come together, then the storm moves further to the east. Some towns along the Jersey Shore are not taking any chances.
In Brick Township, located in Ocean County, a mandatory evacuation has been issued in advance of the storm. Expect more of these to start rolling out as the day progresses on Tuesday. With much of the Garden State coastline in shambles, and another storm on the way, municipalities and the state government will take extra measures to ensure people’s safety. Hurricane Sandy and this approaching nor’easter could be the opening salvo in what could be a brutal winter. A few months ago, seasonal forecasts came out for the winter season in the Northeast, and there were indications that it would be a very bad winter in this region. Not the type of news residents along the Jersey Shore and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic need to hear right now while they try to pick up the pieces.
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