Thoughts on Hurricane Matthew

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 4:51 pm by gmachos

Another Powerful October Storm to Worry About

Over the last week, I have been watching developments in the Tropical Atlantic with interest as Matthew grew into a threat for the East Coast of the United States although I hadn’t blogged about it until now.

For the second year in a row, and for the third time in five years, we have a hurricane that is menacing the Caribbean, Bahamas, and the East Coast of the United States. Once again, a hurricane spins up amidst a fall like circulation pattern in the Western Atlantic.

Four years ago, it was Hurricane Sandy, which many in New Jersey are still trying to recover from today. Last year, it was Hurricane Joaquin, which combined with another area of low pressure to produce gusty winds and heavy rains as far north as New Jersey.

This year, it is Hurricane Matthew. At one time, Matthew was a Category Five Hurricane with winds near 160 mph. Matthew was the first Category Five Hurricane in the Atlantic in 9 years. The last one was Hurricane Dean, which made landfall in the Mayan Riviera section of Mexico in August 2007. Dean was ranked as a Top Ten Atlantic storm in terms of intensity at the time.

Matthew’s path has so far been a bit eerily similar to Hurricane Sandy. However, Matthew has been much stronger with Sandy only being a Category Three storm with 125 mph winds at peak strength. The hurricane developed much earlier in the season than Sandy did. Matthew also was the first hurricane to make landfall in Haiti since 1963. Nevertheless, both storms impacted portions of Cuba.

Ok. Enough of the history and comparisons. Matthew had been interacting with the rugged mountains of Cuba and Hispaniola, which go as high as 7,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. The interaction tore up Matthew significantly despite the fact that it also produced torrential rains on those islands. Wind speeds dropped from 145 to 115 miles per hour in about 24 hours. Now, the storm is back over water near the Bahamas, where sea surface temperatures run about 86 degrees, and Matthew has already responded to that with some strengthening.

As of 11:00 AM on Wednesday morning, sustained winds with Matthew increased to 120 miles per hour, and it may not be done yet. Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground indicated earlier that the storm is getting better organized. The NHC’s official intensity forecast indicates that Matthew could become a Category Four Hurricane again with 130 mph winds. So, the storm is likely skirt the East Coast of Florida on Friday at major hurricane strength.

The storm will then continue to hug the coast along Georgia and South Carolina, and weaken to a Category Two storm with between 100 and 110 mph winds due to a hostile upper level wind environment. Then, things get crazy. The major forecast models: GFS, European, and UKMET are all indicating that Matthew will turn to the east into the Atlantic, and then turn south and towards the Bahamas and Florida again early next week.

Why is that you ask? First, the trough that was much hyped earlier this week, didn’t pan out since it wasn’t as strong or digged as deep as expected. So, there is nothing to pick up the storm. Hence, Matthew is in a situation much like the cutoff low that affected New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic over the past week. It has nothing to kick it out. There is also a new player in this game: Tropical Storm Nicole.

Nicole is a newly formed tropical system that became a tropical cyclone over the past 24 to 36 hours. The storm is close by in the Western Atlantic, and its circulation is also influencing Matthew’s movement. The combination with the trough that wasn’t and Nicole’s development now brings a bizarre scenario that shows Matthew possibly entering the Florida Straits next week.

This is all good news for now in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, which are now looking at great weather through this weekend. Tropical storms and hurricanes are very fickle though, and things can change so all New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic residents reading this should continue to monitor the progress of this storm.


Tropical Storm Warning Extended Northward for Hermine

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 2:19 pm by gmachos

Warnings Extended to New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Long Island Sound, and parts of Rhode Island

The Garden State including Middlesex County and GWC here in South Plainfield are now in the crosshairs of Tropical Storm Hermine, which has now become post-tropical. Tropical Storm Warnings have now been extended to the Jersey Shore including Sandy Hook, Long Island to New York City, and west of Watch Hill, Rhode Island including the South Shore of Connecticut.

A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect from east of Watch Hill to Sagamore Beach in Rhode Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket in Massachusetts. Make sure that you know your watches and warnings. Presently, Hermine is located 35 miles to the East-Southeast of Duck, North Carolina, or 80 miles to the Southeast of Norfolk, Virginia.

Post-Tropical Cyclone Hermine is moving to the East-Northeast at 15 miles per hour, but that is expected to change as the storm is expected to slow down. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 65 miles per hour with gusts up to 75 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in Hermine is at 995 millibars, or 29.38 inches of Hg. Hermine is a vast system now with tropical storm force winds extending some 205 miles from the center of circulation.

A Dangerous Storm Surge event is possible along the coastline from Virginia to New Jersey. The reason for that is what had been mentioned before about Hermine slowing down. This could be a prolonged storm surge or coastal flooding event that is also coinciding with astronomical high tide because of the full moon. Moral of the story is that we could be seeing a situation very similar to the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 where the storm lingers offshore during several high tide cycles, which would cause significant damage to many coastal areas.

Looking at the satellite imagery in Joe Cioffi’s live Facebook broadcast this morning, it was no surprise that Hermine was classified as post-tropical. The storm’s structure had taken on a more non-tropical or extratropical cyclone look with the classic comma shaped signature. Despite the change in classification of the storm, it still remains a very potent and dangerous system. In addition, the changeover from a tropical to non-tropical cyclone also results in energy transfer, which in turn invigorates the storm and intensifies it.

The latest forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center indicates that Hermine will actually strengthen some more with maximum sustained winds increasing to minimal hurricane force at 75 miles per hour within 36 hours, and remain at that strength for another day and a half before weakening a little. Even at four days, winds are expected to be at 70 miles per hour, and 60 miles per hour at the end of the five day forecast period.

Taking a gander at the forecast track, the storm is expected to remain offshore according to the NHC’s consensus guidance. However, coastal New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Southern Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are in the Cone of Uncertainty right now. The storm is expected to linger off the coastline of New England and the Mid-Atlantic through Thursday morning. The reason for this is not only because of Hermine’s interaction with an upper level shortwave, but also because of ridges of high pressure to the north and to the west preventing it from going out to sea.

All coastal residents in the Mid-Atlantic and New England need to make final preparations for the storm and be prepared to evacuate if necessary. This is a very serious and dangerous situation developing for the Northeast. So, please follow your local news, radio, and favorite weather app for the latest information on Hermine.


Dangerous Storm Surge Possible in Mid-Atlantic from Hermine

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 4:16 pm by gmachos

Anywhere from North Carolina to Virginia Border to Bridgeport, Connecticut Under Threat from Possible Surge

The story of now Tropical Storm Hermine is beginning to take another twist, and that twist could affect people in the Mid-Atlantic States including New Jersey, New York, Long Island, and Connecticut. The latest forecast track for Hermine shows that the storm could linger off the Mid-Atlantic coast from the Delmarva Peninsula to the Central Jersey coast through Wednesday morning.

During that time of extended presence, Hermine will be in the Gulf Stream, and could have hurricane force winds as late as Monday morning. The bottom line is that it is very important that all coastal residents from the Outer Banks of North Carolina up to Long Island and Connecticut should be getting ready to make the necessary preparations for a prolonged surf and surge event that could in the very least cause a good deal of beach erosion.

As of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Hermine was located approximately 30 miles North-Northwest of Savannah, Georgia or 80 miles to the West-Southwest of Charleston, South Carolina. The storm is moving to the Northeast at 18 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are currently at 50 miles per hour with gusts up to 65 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is up to 993 millibars or 29.32 inches of Hg (Mercury).

Looking at the satellite imagery of Hermine, you can see that the storm covers a fairly vast area. Right now tropical storm force winds extend some 175 miles from the center of circulation. An example of the size and coverage of the storm is the fact that locations such as Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and St. Simon’s Island in Georgia are feeling winds of minimal tropical storm force with gusts in upwards up 55 to 60 miles per hour.

Besides the possibility of prolonged surge, another major concern will be the rainfall. With the storm slowing down over the next several days, rainfall amounts will be on the increase. The reason for that is because the slower the storm moves, the longer the tropical moisture from it will stay in the same general locations. The result will be rainfall amounts between 5 to 10 inches with isolated amounts of 15 inches in Southeastern states such as Georgia and South Carolina into the Mid-Atlantic states such as Virginia.

Reading the most recent forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, the reason for the forecast track having Hermine slowing down is because the storm is expected to interact with a potent upper level shortwave feature off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Not only will this cause the storm to slow down to a near stop, but it will invigorate the system, which will cause it to re-intensify somewhat to have winds of hurricane force by Monday morning.

At this moment, there are Tropical Storm Warnings in effect from Nassau Sound to Fenwick Island, Pamlico and Albermarle Sound, Chesapeake Bay from Drum Point southward, Tidal Potomac to Cobb Island eastward. A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for Fenwick Island west of Watch Hill and Southern Delaware Bay. Interests in the Mid-Atlantic from the Delmarva Penninsula into New Jersey, New York, Long Island, and Connecticut should pay close attention to developments with this storm.

Hermine Weakens After Coming Ashore in Florida

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 8:36 am by gmachos

First Hurricane to Make Landfall in Sunshine State in 11 Years; New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic Under Tropical Storm Watch

After much struggle over the course of the past 10 days or so, what had been Invest 99L finally got itself going and not only became a depression, but eventually emerged as the eighth named storm of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the season’s fourth hurricane. Hermine came ashore early this morning in Florida near St. Mark’s in the Big Bend region of the Sunshine State.

Hermine, which has since weakened to a tropical storm, became the first hurricane since Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 to make landfall in the Sunshine State. The storm broke a period of incredible luck for a state that is often affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. The storm isn’t done yet either. While it has taken a hit, Hermine again is still a tropical storm, and is expected to move out over water again soon.

The threat from the tropical storm has now extended northward with even the home state of Greg’s Weather Center under a Tropical Storm Watch. New Jersey as well as the rest of the Mid-Atlantic could feel the effects from the storm as early as late Saturday night, and they could linger into Labor Day. So, if you have any plans to head to the beach, you might want to keep your eyes peeled to various weather media outlets or any weather app on your smartphone to keep you apprised of the situation.

Currently, Tropical Storm Hermine is located some 35 miles Northeast of Valdosta, Georgia. The system is moving at a somewhat brisk pace to the North-Northeast at 14 miles per hour. Again the storm has weakened with maximum sustained winds decreasing to 60 miles per hour and wind gusts dropping to only 85 miles per hour, but these winds can still pack a punch. Minimum central pressure with the storm has risen to 987 millibars, or 29.21 inches of Hg (Mercury).

The storm has grown to a decent size with tropical storm force winds extending some 175 miles from the center. As of 8:00 AM, a wind gust from Hermine of 46 miles per hour was reported as far away as Brunswick, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida a good deal away from the center. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Englewood, Florida to the Ochlockonee River, Flagler/Volusia County line on the Florida/Georgia border to Duck in North Carolina including Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for North of Duck in North Carolina to Sandy Hook here in New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward, and Southern Delaware Bay. Interests in the Northeast should closely monitor developments with Tropical Storm Hermine. The storm’s intensity forecast indicates that Hermine will continue to weaken with time since it will be over land. Hermine will remain tropical over the next 48 hours before transitioning to a post-tropical storm on Sunday.

The forecast track of Hermine shows that the storm will be hugging the coast from Georgia into South Carolina and North Carolina before emerging over the water again near the North Carolina/Virginia border on Saturday evening. The storm will be several hundred miles southeast of the Jersey Shore on Monday morning, and could actually linger offshore for much of Sunday and Monday.


Gaston Heading Toward Azores

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 12:58 pm by gmachos

Tropical Storm Warnings in Effect for Western and Central Azores

There are only two named storms now in the Atlantic as of noon time EDT on Thursday. Once of those storms is Hurricane Gaston, which was lost a good deal of its punch, but is still a threat for the Azores island chain in the Northeastern Atlantic. Tropical Storm Warnings are now in effect for the Western and Central Azores.

As of the 11:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the eye of Gaston was located some 650 miles to the West of Faial Island in the Central Azores, or about 735 miles to the West of Lajes Air Base in the Azores. Maximum sustained winds are down to 85 miles per hour, which makes Gaston a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Wind gusts are in excess of 105 miles per hour while the minimum central pressure is up to 980 millibars, or 28.94 inches of Hg (Mercury). Gaston is a vast system with hurricane force winds extending some 80 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out about 185 miles from the center. Gaston is forecast to weaken more with time, and reach the Azores as a tropical storm on Friday.

The effects that residents of the Azores will need to worry about from Gaston include: Wind, Rain, and Surf. Tropical storm force winds are expected in the Western Azores during the day on Friday, and in the Central Azores on Friday night. The hurricane is expected to produce anywhere from one to three inches of rain, particularly in the Western Azores.

Swells from Gaston are also expected to impact the island chain in the form of dangerous surf and rip currents. Gaston is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm within 24 hours, and be post-tropical within 48 hours before dissipating in three days. The hurricane should be out of the Azores island chain completely by sometime on Saturday.


Tropical Depression Nine to Soon Strengthen

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 11:28 am by gmachos

Depression Expected to Become Tropical Storm on Wednesday

The National Hurricane Center continues to monitor developments with Tropical Depression Nine, which is poised to strengthen, but hasn’t done so yet. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Florida West Coast from Anclote River to Indian Pass while a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Anclote River to the Walton/Bay County Line. A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect from Altamaha Sound in Georgia to Marineland, Florida as of 10:00 AM CDT.

As of the latest advisory from the NHC, Tropical Depression Nine was located approximately 395 miles to the South-Southwest of Apalachichola, Florida, or about 415 miles to the West-Southwest of Tampa, Florida. The depression is just about stationary at the moment, but is expected to begin moving again. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour, but further strengthening is expected, and TD #9 could become a tropical storm later on Wednesday.

Wind gusts are still at 45 miles per hour, but the pressure has dropped to 1001 millibars, or 29.56 inches of Hg. A couple days ago, it was still fairly high at 1009 millibars. So, the system seems to be getting its act together again. There are indications that the depression could eventually strengthen into a hurricane prior to landfall somewhere along the Florida Gulf Coast.

The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that the depression is beginning to look more organized, and firing up very deep convection. The system is also moving into an environment that has moderate shear, and of course very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico, which should help it strengthen over the next day and a half. The intensity forecast indicates that the depression should be a very strong tropical storm with wind close to 65 miles per hour before making landfall.

As far as the forecast track goes, the storm is on a forecast trajectory that should take it over land somewhere in the Big Bend area of Florida by Thursday evening. Then, the track continues across the northern portion of Florida, and into Southern Georgia before it re-emerges into the water off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina by late Friday morning.


Atlantic Tropics Beginning to Heat Up

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 3:57 pm by gmachos

Fiona Followed By Invest 99L and Disturbance About to Come Off Africa

Back in June, the Atlantic was off to a fast start. On top of having a hurricane in January, and a storm develop in May, there were two more in June for four named storms in the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Eastern Pacific was off to one of its slowest starts in decades.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that things have flip-flopped with the Eastern Pacific picking up in activity over the last two months while the Atlantic has gone dormant. Other than Earl forming and becoming a hurricane over the first week of August, the Atlantic has been quiet.

On the other hand, the Eastern Pacific, which only had a tropical depression over the first month and a half of its season, and didn’t have its first named storm until July 2nd, is now up to its 11th named storm in Tropical Storm Kay, which became a storm early Friday morning. Five of the storms have gone on to become hurricanes.

Over the past several days though, the Tropical Atlantic has begun to wake up again. On Tuesday, the sixth depression of the season emerged late in the evening, and within 18 hours, the depression became Tropical Storm Fiona. The storm is still a minimal tropical storm with 45 mph winds, and hasn’t really strengthened much over the past couple days.

Fiona has been on a track far to the north putting it out of reach of the Lesser Antilles and the Caribbean. The storm appears to be one for the fishes although the latest forecast guidance from the National Hurricane Center indicates that Fiona could threaten Bermuda within five days. Behind Fiona is another disturbance that could become more of a threat with time.

Located about six hundred miles to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, and a few hundred miles to the southeast of Fiona, Invest 99L has been tracked since it departed the African coast a couple days ago. The disturbance is currently disorganized, and it is entering an area of dry and stable air, which isn’t good for development.

However, Invest 99L does have a medium chance, or about 50 percent chance of development within the next five days. Activity is also picking up across Africa. Another disturbance is expected to move off the West African coast during the day on Saturday. In addition, there are another clusters of showers and storms moving across to Sub-Saharan and Sahel regions.

We are now moving into the peak of the Atlantic Season. Statistically speaking, the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season is September 10th. This is also the time that we see the classic Cape Verde storms develop, or disturbances coming off the African coast to gradually develop into textbook tropical cyclones or hurricanes. Recently, NOAA issued an update to its seasonal forecast, and continued to call for this season to be the most active since 2012.

So, now is the time to start getting prepared for the possibility of a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane in your area. The last major hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Hurricane Wilma back in 2005. The coastline from Maine to Texas has experienced an incredible period of luck when it comes to powerful hurricanes not coming ashore. With that comes complacency and lack of preparedness.

Time is now to get ready. Make sure that you have plenty of non-perishable food and snacks stored away. Make arrangements to have cash available. Have plenty of batteries, flashlights, and water. Most importantly, have a plan put together so that there is something for you and others to follow if a storm does come your way.


Lots of Wild Weather To Talk About for Sunday

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, GWC Severe Weather Report, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 12:37 pm by gmachos

Much of Garden State Under Enhanced Risk for Severe Storms; TD #3 Forms in Southern Gulf

On Saturday, I had posted several articles on things going on in and around the country weather wise including a potential severe weather event for the Mid-Atlantic United States and a developing tropical disturbance in the Northwestern Caribbean. Well, since my posts on those two entities, things have changed quite a bit with more of New Jersey falling under an enhanced risk of severe weather on Sunday and a new depression forming in the Southern Gulf of Mexico.

First, let’s take a look at the current situation with the severe weather potential in the Mid-Atlantic. We could be looking at the possibility of a very significant if not historic weather situation in places like Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Now while I say that there is this potential for a significant severe weather episode for these locations, I must add that this is not set in stone, or at least yet. Over the last 24 hours, the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma has place a larger area under an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms including some big east coast cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.

The latest outlook provided by the SPC this morning indicates that there will be several clusters of storms developing anywhere from Georgia to New York with the highest chance for severe weather in the Mid-Atlantic States. Currently, much of the eastern third of the country is under either a marginal or enhanced risk of severe weather. With dew points peaking in the upper 60s to low 70s during the day across the Mid-Atlantic, and an approaching cold front that has a nice shortwave brining additional energy behind it, there is a chance for severe thunderstorms to develop. However, the most recent model data from this morning is indicating that the threat might not be as significant.

The 12z, or 8:00 AM run of the HRRR indicated that while the CAPE levels, or measure of potential energy critical for storms was moderate and there could be a decent amount of shear available for rotation, there is not enough rising motion in the atmosphere since the lapse rates aren’t running as high. Part of the reason for this is the fact that there has been significant cloud cover on Sunday morning across much of the Mid-Atlantic. The translation of all of this is that not all the ingredients are there for really severe weather to develop. However, while there may not be all the classic ingredients for supercell thunderstorm and tornado development, there still could be enough upper level energy for significant straight line winds to come through along with heavy rains.

Things could change though. Another model run is expected around 18z or 2:00 PM this afternoon, and by that time, things could clear out enough following the warm front passage for the sun to come out and heat things up. If the sun is able to do that, its energy could provide the spark that could alter the atmosphere enough to bring about a more significant severe weather event. The bottom line is that it is very important to pay attention to the weather and sky conditions if you are out today. Also, make sure that you are keeping track of the weather through resources on your mobile phone, Internet, television and weather radio. Speaking of your weather radio, you also may want to make sure that you have plenty of backup power available for all your devices in the home.

Remember, this could be, and I emphasize could be a very dangerous weather situation developing. The ingredients for it may not be there right now, but that could rapidly change if certain things occur. The fact that the Storm Prediction Center has placed places such as New Jersey under an enhanced risk is very significant since it is very rare, and it should be taken seriously. Another important weather system that we are watching is the newly formed Tropical Depression Three in the Gulf of Mexico, which emerged late this morning after being a disturbance in the Caribbean for the past several days. Tropical Storm Warnings are already up for portions of Florida with the development of this depression.

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season is already off to a busy start with three tropical cyclones now after this depression formed. Currently, Tropical Depression Three is located 120 miles to the Northwest of Cozumel, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, or about 550 miles to the Southwest of Tampa, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are at 35 miles per hour with gusts close to tropical storm force. The minimum central pressure is down to 1005 millibars or 29.68 inches of Hg. TD Three is presently moving slowly to the north at 8 miles per hour, and that motion is expected to shift more to the northeast with an increase in forward momentum.

The latest track forecast is calling for the depression to be in the area of the Big Bend region of Florida sometime on Monday afternoon thanks to a push from a storm system currently over Texas. A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for that region of the Sunshine State from Indian Pass to Englewood. There will be several impacts to worry about for residents that could be impacted by this system: Rain, Surge, Wind, and Tornadoes. Rainfall is the biggest threat with affected areas expected to receive anywhere from 3 to 5 inches with isolated locations getting up to 8 inches. Storm surge could range from anywhere between one to three feet above normal. Tropical storm force winds of over 40 miles per hour are anticipated in the areas closest to landfall on Monday afternoon, and with any landfalling system, you have the possibility of tornadoes.

The intensity forecast is calling for the depression to become Tropical Storm Colin within the next 12 to 24 hours. Peak intensity in terms of wind strength is expected within 72 hours as a moderate strength tropical storm with 60 mile per hour winds before coming a post tropical system. All residents of Florida’s Big Bend region as well as inland areas in the Central and Northeastern part of the state along with Southern Georgia need to closely monitor the progress of this developing system.


Dangerous Hurricane Patricia Threatens Mexican West Coast

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Eastern Pacific, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:52 am by gmachos

Category Five Sets Record for Strongest Storm in Eastern Pacific

While conditions in the Atlantic have quieted down to some extent in the three weeks or so since Hurricane Joaquin, the Eastern Pacific keeps rolling along. In the last week, there have been two more named storms: Olaf and Patricia. Both have since become major hurricanes with Olaf moving into the Central Pacific zone while Patricia was grown into a monster storm of historic proportions.

Within the past 12 to 18 hours, Patricia has increased in strength significantly. Already a Category Five storm with 160 mile per hour winds as of last night, the powerful hurricane has continued to intensify in the ENSO enhanced warm waters of the Eastern Pacific. As of 8:00 AM EDT this morning, the storm had sustained winds increased to 200 miles per hour with gusts up to 245 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars, or 25.99 inches of Hg.

Those recent developments with Patricia made it not only the strongest storm ever in the Eastern Pacific basin, but the strongest hurricane on record surpassing the mark of Hurricane Wilma (882 millibars). Only Typhoon Tip in the Pacific is a stronger storm with 870 millibars of pressure, or approximately 25.69 inches of Hg (Mercury). Tip was a powerful typhoon that roamed the Western Pacific during the period of October 4th to October 24th in 1979. The storm hit its peak intensity with 190 mph winds on October 12th of that year, and ultimately affected Guam, Caroline Islands, Japan, and Russia.

Returning to Patricia, a Hurricane Warning is in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo on the West Mexican Coast. A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect from east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. Currently, the storm is located some 145 miles Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 215 miles South of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. The storm could strengthen a bit more before making landfall this afternoon or early evening in the warning area. Sustained winds could be as high as 205 miles per hour.

This storm will not end at the coast either. It will bring its abundant tropical moisture inland, where it will interact with the higher terrain of interior Mexico. As a result, tremendous condensation will take place, and torrential rains will occur producing devastating floods and mudslides. Total rainfall accumulations could at least be anywhere from 8 to 12 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 20 inches. Along the coast, the impacts of the storm will be greatest with Category Five strength winds accompanied by dangerous waves and surge. The Mexican government indicates that waves as high as 39 feet could impact the warned area.

What is left of Patricia may even have an impact on weather in the United States. Models had been indicating over the past several days of a significant rainfall event for Texas and even Louisiana. Low pressure has been developing in the Gulf of Mexico, and that is expected to join forces with Patricia’s remnants to bring significant rainfall to Texas, which has been dealing with a terrible drought. However, this rainfall may be too much for even the drought stricken Lone Star State, and produce flooding there. With the development of Olaf and Patricia over the last week or two, there have been 20 depressions, 16 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 8 major hurricanes.


Hurricane Joaquin Raking Bahamas with Winds and Heavy Rains

Posted in Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Footage, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 10:32 am by gmachos

Storm’s Slow Path Through Bahamas Bringing Category Four Hurricane Conditions for Almost 24 Hours

With the storm threat to the Mid-Atlantic Coast of the United States easing, the focus with Hurricane Joaquin has shifted to the impact the storm is having on the Bahamas.  The storm has been bringing hurricane conditions to the archipelago for the past couple days, and Category Four effects for close to the past 24 hours.  The combination of wind, rain, and surge with the storm’s slow movement (now to the Northwest at 3 miles per hour), has created significant damage in places such as San Salvador, Exuma, Long Island, and Inagua Island.

Since moving into the Bahamas earlier in the week, Joaquin has been plagued by slow moving steering currents.  On Wednesday, the storm has was moving to the Southwest at 7 miles per hour.  On Thursday, it slowed down some more, but began changing direction to the WSW at 5 miles per hour.  Now, it has begun the move toward the north with a NW trajectory at 3 miles per hour.  Slow moving hurricanes can cause extensive damage.  A classic example was Hurricane Frances to Florida in 2004.  A big part of the problem with slow moving hurricanes is the rain.

We saw this with both Hurricane Floyd (1999) and Irene (2011) here in New Jersey.  These slow moving storms dumped a lot of rain on the Garden State and caused significant inland and river flooding.  Tropical cyclones always bring with it a ton of moisture, and when it is moving at a slow rate, and encountering mountainous terrain that causes the air in the circulation to lift and condense, you have the situation like what is happening now in portions of the Bahamas were rainfall amounts could end up being anywhere between 12 to 18 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 25 inches.  Other parts of the Bahamas further to the south along with the Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Eastern Cuba could still see anywhere between 2 to 4 inches despite the fact that the center of the storm is many miles away.

Earlier this morning, I happened to see pictures posted on Facebook by Wayne Neely, a meteorologist in the Bahamas, who has written several books on hurricanes.  The pictures showed extensive damage to places such as Exuma, Long Island, and Inagua.  In addition, Jim Williams of Hurricane City reported on Thursday morning, that San Salvador was being hit hard by hurricane force winds.  These dangerous Category Four conditions are expected to continue over the Bahamas for several more hours, but the calvary is coming now that Joaquin has started to make that expected turn to the north.  The forecast is calling for hurricane and tropical storm force winds to continue in the Central and Southwestern Bahamas for much of today, but a northward turn is expected to continue with increased forward speed before Joaquin turns to the northeast and picks up more steam on Saturday.

As of the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Joaquin still had winds of 130 miles per hour with gusts at or near Category Five strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  Barometric pressure has remained steady (only an increase of one millibar since last night) at 937 millibars, or 27.67 inches of Hg.  The latest forecast discussion calls for fluctuations in strength over the next 24 hours before a gradual weakening trend commences on Saturday.  The future track of the storm has it pulling away from the Bahamas, and becoming more of a threat for Bermuda, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket in Massachusetts, and Nova Scotia in the Canadian Maritimes.  However, the storm is one of several players affecting weather in the Mid-Atlantic right now.  In addition to Joaquin, there is strong high pressure moving down from Canada, and a storm system pushing in from the west.  These three will combine to create a pressure gradient that will produce a strong easterly fetch along the coast for several high tide cycles.

So for residents from the Carolinas into the New York/New Jersey Metro area, you can expect heavy surf from swells propagating out from Joaquin to begin arriving in your area over the next several days.  Expect heavy surf, dangerous rip currents, elevated water levels and coastal flooding for up to 6 high tide cycles.  Also, keep in mind that despite the fact that the model guidance has been showing more and more of an eastward track offshore and away from the United States coastline, there is still a possibility that the storm could change in direction and head for the coast.  Bottom line:  Don’t let your guard down yet.  Please continue to monitor reports on the storm from your trusted media sources, and be prepared to act if necessary.

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