Slow Moving Storm Nearing Major Hurricane Strength
It has been a while since we’ve reported on the tropics. Not just in the Atlantic, but also in the Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific, where the bulk of activity has been taking place since the beginning of this month. We’ll have details on all of that in another blog post soon. Right now, Hurricaneville is monitoring a new threat in the Atlantic Basin.
Within the past several days, we’ve had a new named storm emerge in the Western Caribbean. Hurricane Rina first became a depression on late Sunday afternoon near the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. In the past 54 hours, the storm has exploded to the point where it is on the cusp of becoming the fourth major hurricane of the 2011 season. Rina has benefited from a rapid intensification that has taken advantage of the conducive conditions currently in the Western Caribbean.
As of this time on Monday night, Hurricane Rina was a Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds of 85 miles per hour. By Tuesday morning, the storm had strengthened further to a Category Two system with 100 miles per hour, and a minimal central pressure of 970 millibars, or 28.64 inches of Hg (Mercury). After going through a bit of a holding pattern during the day on Tuesday, Rina intensified to be just shy of becoming a major hurricane. Churning slowly to the West at 3 miles per hour, Rina is now located some 250 miles to the Southeast of Cozumel or 240 miles to the East-Southeast of Chetumal on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Maximum sustained winds associated with this hurricane are now at 110 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 130 miles per hour. Barometric pressure has fallen to 966 millibars, or 29.53 inches of Hg. Hurricane force winds extend some 30 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out some 140 miles. The eye has a diameter of 10 nautical miles. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from north of Chetumal to Punta Gruesa along the East Coast of the Yucatan. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Belize from Belize City northward, and for the islands of Roatan and Guanaja in Honduras.
Looking at the latest forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, Rina is in a very favorable area for development with light wind shear at the upper levels and very warm sea surface temperatures. The storm could become a major hurricane within the next 12 to 36 hours. However, with a major trough over the Eastern United States extending into the Gulf of Mexico, Rina should begin to weaken to a Category Two storm by 48 hours. Within three days, the storm is forecast to be a Category One storm, and weaken below hurricane status by four days.
The latest forecast track shows Hurricane Rina approaching Cancun by this time Thursday night before turning to the right toward Western Cuba. Earlier on Tuesday, the GFDL model was showing Rina moving across South Florida in a track very similar to Hurricane Wilma back in 2005. However, the storm is not expected to stay that strong for long, and that will prevent the jet stream from picking up this storm, and carrying it eastward into South Florida. Hurricaneville will continue monitoring developments with this hurricane.
Storm Strengthens To Become Third Hurricane Of 2011
While Maria has steered away from the East Coast of the United States, it still caused some problems for Bermuda on Thursday, and now has its sights set on the Canadian Maritime province of Newfoundland. On top of that, the storm, which had so many struggles in its brief lifetime, managed to strengthen to become a hurricane.
Although it is only a minimal hurricane, Maria has entered some rarified air in this Atlantic Hurricane season. Despite having 15 depressions and 14 named storms in 2011, the Atlantic basin has only dealt with three hurricanes. Maria became that third hurricane on Thursday. Hurricane Maria shares some similarities with the two other hurricanes from this season.
Maria, Hurricane Katia, and Hurricane Irene all followed similar paths in the Atlantic, but Katia and Maria ended up farther east. Maria started out on about the same path of Irene, but a strong cold front pushed Maria away from the U.S. East Coast. Irene didn’t face any such obstacle when it came up the Eastern Seaboard in late August. Irene, Maria, and Katia were able to either strengthen or maintain hurricane force as they moved into normally cooler waters.
As of the 11:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Maria was located some 210 miles to the southwest of Cape Race on the coast of Newfoundland. The storm is moving rapidly to the Northeast at 52 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are at 75 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 90 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is now at 983 millibars or 29.03 inches of Hg.
Hurricane force winds extend some 45 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out some 275 miles. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Newfoundland from Arnold’s Cove to Brigus South. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Stone’s Cover to Arnold’s Cover and from Brigus South to Charlottestown. Hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area by midday and tropical storm conditions are anticipated to linger until tonight.
According to the latest forecast discussion from the NHC, Maria is expected to maintain its hurricane status as it goes through Newfoundland. The rapid motion of the storm will help in keeping its intensity for at least the next 12 hours. The extreme forward speed of this storm could also add to the winds on the eastern side of the storm. After passing Newfoundland, Maria should transition to an extratropical system. The forecast is also calling for this post-tropical low to be absorbed by a cold front that just moved off the East Coast of the U.S. in the past 24 hours.
The forecast track has Maria moving right over the Southeastern portion of Newfoundland during the day on Friday.
Storm Slightly Strengthens, But Still Barely A Storm
With Nate appearing more and more likely to go into Mexico, the focus shifts now to Tropical Storm Maria, which is closing in on the Lesser Antilles this Friday afternoon. While the storm has strengthened a little and has deeper convection, it is still very disorganized, and hanging on to tropical storm status.
Maria’s current forecast track is looking much like that of Hurricane Irene. It is much further to south and west than that of Katia’s, but still a bit more to the east than Irene at this point. However, that could all change as we progress into this weekend and next week. Right now, Maria is located some 135 miles to the Northeast of Barbados, or 275 miles to the East-Southeast of Guadeloupe.
The storm has slowed down significantly over the past 24 hours. At one point, Maria was moving near 22 miles per hour. Now it is moving off to the West-Northwest at just 14 miles per hour. The rapid forward motion of the storm may have helped inhibit its development. However, Maria will still have to contend with plenty of westerly and southwesterly shear from a trough to the north of it.
As of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Maria had maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, which is up slightly from this time yesterday. Wind gusts are in excess of 55 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is 1004 millibars, or 29.65 inches of Hg. Maria is a much larger system than Nate with tropical storm force winds extending some 175 miles from the center.
A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. All interests in Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Southeastern Bahamas should monitor the progress of this storm.
According to the most recent forecast discussion, the convection associated with Maria has become deeper. However, the storm remains very disorganized. To make matters worse, Maria still has to deal with very unfavorable upper level winds for much of the forecast period. It is not until four or five days out, where you see this system strengthening to the point of becoming a hurricane. By the end of the forecast period, the path of Maria has it to the east of the Central Bahamas on Tuesday, and to the East-Northeast of the Northern Bahamas on Wednesday.
Storm Still Forecast To Become Hurricane; Texas To Lose Out Again On Much Needed Rain
Tropical Storm Nate weakened on Friday. Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into the system earlier today, and found it to be not as strong as it has been. In addition, there appears to be more clarity when it comes to the forecast for Nate. After the models appeared to be all over the place on where this storm might go, there is some consensus now that it will make landfall in Mexico.
The latest forecast track is bad news for Texas, which has over 80 percent of its state dealing with an unprecedented drought. Brush fires are burning across much of the state including the most notable one in the Austin, Texas suburb of Bastrop. The Lone Star state also lost out on much needed rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee, which actually made the brush fires worse by feeding them with gusty winds.
As of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Nate was located some 150 miles west of Campeche, Mexico, or about 305 miles to the East-Southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds have dropped to 50 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has risen to 999 millibars, or 29.50 inches of Hg. Tropical storm force winds extend some 105 miles from the center. Nate is moving very slowly to the West-Southwest at 3 miles per hour.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Tampico to Veracruz along the East Coast of Mexico. Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from Veracruz to Punta El Lagarto and from Tampico to La Cruz. The forecast discussion indicates that despite having to deal with dry air getting into its circulation, Nate is expected to become a strong Category One Hurricane within the next 48 hours. The forecast path also suggests a ridge building to the north of Nate and driving it westward into the East Coast of Mexico.
Threats From Dangerous Surf And Rip Currents Still Exist Along East Coast
The biggest threat to the Eastern United States other than the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee at the moment is the indirect effects from Hurricane Katia. Still a Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, the storm is pushing to the north between Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States. It is still a vast and potent storm, which is why the surf has become so rough along places such as the Jersey Shore.
As of the 2:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katia is located 330 miles to the West-Northwest of Bermuda. Moving to the north at 16 miles per hour, Katia still has sustained winds of 85 miles per hour with gusts up to 110 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is still low at 973 millibars, or 28.73 inches of Hg. Hurricane force winds extend some 90 miles while tropical storm force winds reach out some 230 miles. So, the storm is about 600 miles wide.
I’ve been down to the shore to check out the surf over the past couple days, and have video of the wave action from both Tuesday and Wednesday. The surf has become rougher with each visit. The wave frequencies have increased. There is still a very high rip current threat along much of the East Coast with the exception of South Florida, which is under a moderate risk. Expect the surf and wave action to increase as Katia makes its closest approach to New Jersey on Thursday and Friday.
The storm is expected to continue moving to the north for the time being, but then recurve out to sea in the Northern Atlantic. Moving into cooler waters, Katia is expected to become extratropical within 72 hours. However, the transition to a post-tropical low will keep Katia as a very strong storm by the time it reaches Ireland, Scotland, and Northern England next week.
Storm Getting Stronger In Bay Of Campeche
In addition to Tropical Storm Maria, Hurricane Katia, and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, we also have another new named system in the Atlantic Basin. Tropical Storm Nate emerged in the Bay of Campeche region of the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, and is getting stronger. The forecast models are all over the place on this storm thanks to a lack of a clear steering influence.
Nearly stationary in the Gulf, and being fueled by the extremely warm waters there, Tropical Storm Nate is getting better organized and strengthening. Forming along the tail end of a trough, Nate is located about 125 miles to the west of Campeche, Mexico, or about 175 miles to the Northeast of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 60 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of near hurricane force. Minimum central pressure is 1000 millibars, or 29.53 inches of Hg.
The storm is dragging along to the Southeast at 1 mile per hour. Tropical storm force winds extend some 140 miles from the center. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Chilitepec to Celestun while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from Celestun to Progreso. The intensity forecast indicates that Nate will gradually get stronger, and become a minimal hurricane within 48 hours. However, with very little in the way of steering currents to push it along, Nate is not going anywhere in the short term.
Over the next five days, Nate will continue to meander along in the Southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The forecast track still has the storm system anywhere from the Central Gulf to Northeastern Mexico and the Southern tip of Texas by Tuesday. Some models are indicating that Nate could even end up along the same track as Lee did. Southeastern Texas could get some rain from this, but it is too early to tell, and it is not much help to the rest of the Lone Star State, which is dealing with devastating drought and brush fires.
Storm Fighting Through Hostile Conditions As It Heads Westward
The tropics continue to be very busy with activity. While a good portion of the country is still dealing with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, and the dangerous surf being created by Hurricane Katia, we’ve also had two more named storms form in the Atlantic Basin. One of these storms is Tropical Storm Maria, and it could have an impact on the East Coast next week.
Right now, Maria is battling hostile weather conditions, and may be downgraded to a tropical wave later today. The outflow from Hurricane Katia is combining with an upper trough to the northwest of Maria to produce a great deal of shear that is keeping the clouds, showers, and storms associated with the system from wrapping around its center.
As of the 2:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Maria is located some 975 miles to the East of the Windward Islands. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 40 miles per hour with gusts estimated to be in excess of 50 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is down to 1006 millibars, or 29.71 inches of Hg. Tropical Storm force winds extend 115 miles from the center as the storm moves rapidly to the West at 22 miles per hour.
Maria is a very disorganized system with indications of no closed circulation according to the latest forecast discussion from the NHC. Upper level winds are also going to make it difficult for Maria to get much stronger after it goes through this very difficult phase. Intensity forecasts are calling for Maria to be just below minimal hurricane strength after five days. The forecast track shows Maria staying more to the south than Katia did, and lurking just to the east of the Bahamas by Tuesday morning.
Remnants Of Lee Combines With Cold Front For More Rain
Good evening everybody. Happy Labor Day! The unofficial end of the summer is here. There are also five days to go until the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and things continue to pick up in the basin. Lee has dissipated into a remnant low, but Katia is now a major hurricane and there is now a tropical wave in the Eastern Atlantic and a disturbance in the Gulf.
However, the most important concern at the moment is what’s left of Tropical Storm Lee. On Monday morning, Lee was downgraded to a tropical depression. While it is still producing torrential rains across Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, it is now a remnant low. What is left with Lee is now going to join forces with a cold front pushing in from the Midwest, and bring more rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
A stream of moisture is riding up along the spine of the Appalachians, and heavy rains have already fallen throughout much of Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. Some of the storminess moved into western parts of New Jersey during the day, but here in Northwestern Middlesex County there has only been a mixture of clouds and sun. Conditions have been humid though with dew points into the low 70s.
Up to two inches of rainfall is expected through Wednesday with the bulk of it occurring late Monday night into Tuesday morning. A Flash Flood Watch is already in effect for the area until Wednesday night. While rainfall amounts here in Central Jersey will be lower than that in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, there will be enough rain to cause another round of flooding. The ground has had over a week to dry out after Hurricane Irene, but they are still very saturated after receiving over 15 inches of rain in August.
Speaking of hurricanes and tropical storms, we are still watching Hurricane Katia in the Western Atlantic. Now a major hurricane, Katia is expected to steer just clear of the East Coast of the United States. The storm will get within 300 to 500 miles of the coast later in the week. Two things that this storm will do. First, it will bring large swells along much of the East Coast of the United States. Second, it will be close enough to the coast to keep much of the moisture from what’s left of Lee away from Jersey.
There is still some doubt on what Katia will exactly do, but with frontal systems pushing into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this week, the models have the storm offshore even though they have been shifting back and forth. Elsewhere in the tropics, a new tropical wave is pushing westward in the Eastern Atlantic. Meanwhile, the models are picking up on a persistent area of disturbed weather in the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll have more details on these shortly.
Storm Finally Moves Inland Over South Central Louisiana
Good morning everyone. Sorry that I didn’t post many articles to the blog yesterday. I spent most of the day trying to get my time lapse video of Hurricane Irene approaching New Jersey. The lack of free space on my hard drives caused a lot of problems, but I was able to remedy it, and post the video last night.
I’ve also been quite tired the past couple days. I’m on vacation, and all the stress and anxiety for this past week has finally caught up with me. Anyway, I still have been tracking both Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia over the past several days. Katia has been battling shear and going back and forth between minimal hurricane strength and strong tropical storm intensity.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee has continued to slug along at a very slow pace. Moving three miles per hour, the storm finally crossed over land on Sunday morning. The storm’s power has been waning since yesterday thanks to some shear and dry air that originated from Texas, which is dealing with a tremendous drought. However, Lee has been dumping tremendous rainfall, and is expected to continue doing that.
As of the 8:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Sunday morning, Tropical Storm Lee was located inland over South Central Louisiana some 50 miles West of Morgan City, Louisiana, and some 35 miles to the Southwest of Lafayette, Louisiana. Maximum sustained winds are at 45 miles per hour with gusts peaking at 55 miles per hour.
Minimum central pressure in Tropical Storm Lee is at Category One Hurricane strength at 29.12 inches of Hg, or 986 millibars. Tropical storm force winds extend some 275 miles from the center, but are mostly confined to the eastern side of the storm. The big problem with this storm is the rain. Rainfall amounts are expected to be between 10 to 15 inches with some areas getting as much as 20 inches.
Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from west of Destin, Florida to Sabine Pass in Texas including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas. The storm is expected to continue moving to the Northeast at 3 miles per hour for at least the next 24 hours. After that, Lee is forecast to move into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys over the next couple days. A trough over the North Central United States is expected to come down and help what’s left of the storm to break free of its weak steering currents.
The storm is now inland so it should begin to gradually weaken. However, residents of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States should keep a close eye on this storm system since it is forecast to affect the area from late Monday night into Thursday. Rainfall amounts could range anywhere from 2 to 6 inches.
Lee Becomes Twelfth Named Storm Of Season
A lot has happened since I last posted an article on the disturbance in the Gulf on Thursday morning. The slow moving low got better organized and after first becoming a depression, strengthened to a tropical storm on Friday. Tropical Storm Lee is the twelfth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Lee is a slow moving and minimal tropical storm, but it could spell a lot of trouble for the Gulf Coast, especially Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. Six years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina came roaring ashore, and caused breeches in the levee system that resulted in devastating flooding in the Crescent City including the Lower Ninth Ward. Tropical Storm Lee could bring similar flooding problems.
Up until now, there has only been one tropical storm retired from the six year rotating list of storm names. Tropical Storm Allison caused $4.5 billion in damages to the Gulf Coast ten years ago by dumping torrential rains on places such as Houston Texas. The storm produced several feet of rainfall in the Houston area. Lee has the potential to produce a similar amount of rainfall. Up to 20 inches of rain in some areas.
As of the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory on Friday night from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Lee was still centered offshore. Located some 165 miles to the West-Southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, or 150 miles to the Southeast of Cameron, Louisiana, Lee is moving slowly to the North at 5 miles per hour.
Maximum sustained winds with the storm are 45 miles per hour while highest wind gusts are 55 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is down to 1000 millibars, or 29.53 inches of Hg. The pressure has been dropping slowly over the past six hours. Tropical storm force winds are extending out some 200 miles from the center of the circulation, but they are mostly contained on the eastern side of the system. Dry air from the drought in Texas has been attacking the system, and preventing it from getting stronger.
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect from the Alabama and Florida border westward to Sabine Pass in Texas including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas. A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect from the Alabama and Florida border eastward to Destin, Florida on the Florida Panhandle. The main threat from Lee will be rainfall, especially in Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Those areas can expect anywhere from 10 to 15 inches of rain with isolated locations receiving up to 20 inches. Parts of the Florida Panhandle are forecast to receive between 4 and 8 inches. Storm surge levels are projected to be between 3 to 5 feet along the Louisiana coast while Mississippi and Alabama coasts could get surge levels between 2 to 4 feet above normal. Tornadoes can also be expected, especially in the right front quadrant, or northeastern side of the storm.
The 11:00 PM forecast discussion from the NHC still calls for Tropical Storm Lee to strengthen to a strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 miles per hour within 24 hours. There is still an outside chance for the storm to become a hurricane. The forecast models have been all over the place with this system, and it is expected to meander around the Central Gulf states for a bit. Expected to make landfall within 36 hours, Lee is projected to linger around Southern Louisiana for up to two days.
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