09.11.17

Hurricane Irma Batters All of Florida

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Footage, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 10:10 pm by gmachos

Historic and Powerful Storm Covered Entire Sunshine State with Rough Weather

To begin my blog post this evening, I will talk about another monster storm from years past to put some perspective in what has just occurred throughout the entire state of Florida over the past 24 to 36 hours. It was around this time in September 1988, I was preparing to leave for college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and there was another monster storm I was tracking at the time.

The storm was Hurricane GilbertCategory Five Hurricanes during the relatively inactive period from 1970 to 1992. At one point, the storm even surpassed the pressure mark by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. However, it was re-evaluated, and it was found that its lowest pressure was 888 millibars before it made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula.

During Gilbert’s trek through the Caribbean, which included a thrashing of the Windward Islands, and then a hammering of the island of Jamaica as a Category Four Hurricane with 140 mile per hour winds, the storm grew in size much like Hurricane Irma did. Gilbert was the first storm since 1953 to have its eye cross the entire island of Jamaica. It then proceeded to head westward toward Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula, where it then became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere at that time.

Gilbert then crossed the elevated plateau of the Yucatan, which is about 5,000 feet above sea level. Winds at landfall were gusting to near 200 miles per hour, and the storm surge was between 20 to 25 feet above normal. After going across the Yucatan, Gilbert re-emerged in the Gulf, and was expected to become a monster as it headed toward the Texas coast. It did happen though because Gilbert just couldn’t get its act together after that despite the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm eventually hit just south of Brownsville, Texas near Matamoros, Mexico as a Category Three storm.

Forecasters and reporters made many comparisons about the storm just like they did with Irma. One comparison that comes to mind when thinking about Hurricane Irma’s assault on Florida during the day and night on Sunday was the fact that if Hurricane Gilbert had made landfall in Florida, the entire Sunshine State would have been completely covered in hurricane force winds. Perhaps, Gilbert finally came to Florida on Sunday in the form of Irma. The once monster Category Five Hurricane, which has obliterated the Northern Leeward Islands of Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Thomas, and St. Martin, made three landfalls across Florida, but brought devastating effects to just about every corner of the state.

Watching CNN when I came home Monday afternoon, I saw how the storm has left the Florida Keys “devastated” according to Florida Governor Rick Scott. Then, I heard a report that the Mayor of Miami indicated that 72 percent of the city is without power. As a matter of fact, over 6 million Florida residents are without power in the wake of the storm, which is approximately a quarter of the population there. The city of Naples, which received the third landfall from the hurricane, is a battered community as well. Nearby Marco Island also took the brunt of the hurricane’s Category Four fury during the second landfall.

Originally thought to be a threat to Miami, and Southeastern Florida, the track of the storm went further west, which left many that had evacuated Miami, Homestead, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, and West Palm Beach, caught by surprise as the storm headed to their new locations in Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, Bradenton, and even more inland locations such as Orlando and Ocala. The storm not only struck further west, but then turned more eastward and eventually affected Daytona, Orlando, Ocala, and Jacksonville, where the Northeastern Florida city experienced record flooding.

Irma has broken all kinds of records, and that hasn’t stopped even though the storm has gone further inland, weakened to a minimal tropical storm, and taken on more of an extratropical storm. The tropical storm even generated the first ever Tropical Storm Warning for the City of Atlanta. Places like Charleston, South Carolina are experiencing memorable surge. At about 9 feet above normal, Irma’s surge, even in a more dilapidated state, still ranks third all-time there behind Hugo (1989) at 18.4, and Matthew (2016). Even New Jersey was seeing some of the clouds from the storm.

Looking outside after work, I could see that there were some high cirrus clouds in the late afternoon sky. When, I got home, and saw the satelllite of Irma at about 6:00 PM Monday, you could see the northern edge of the storm’s remnants were fanning out toward the Mid-Atlantic. Let’s also keep in mind that Hurricane Jose is still out in the Atlantic as well although it has been downgraded to a Category Two Hurricane with just 100 mile per hour winds as it moves into the Sargasso Sea. Many models are showing Jose reinvigorating itself before coming up the East Coast of the United States.

Hurricane Irma Batters All of Florida

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Footage, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 10:10 pm by gmachos

Historic and Powerful Storm Covered Entire Sunshine State with Rough Weather

To begin my blog post this evening, I will talk about another monster storm from years past to put some perspective in what has just occurred throughout the entire state of Florida over the past 24 to 36 hours. It was around this time in September 1988, I was preparing to leave for college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and there was another monster storm I was tracking at the time.

The storm was Hurricane GilbertCategory Five Hurricanes during the relatively inactive period from 1970 to 1992. At one point, the storm even surpassed the pressure mark by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. However, it was re-evaluated, and it was found that its lowest pressure was 888 millibars before it made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula.

During Gilbert’s trek through the Caribbean, which included a thrashing of the Windward Islands, and then a hammering of the island of Jamaica as a Category Four Hurricane with 140 mile per hour winds, the storm grew in size much like Hurricane Irma did. Gilbert was the first storm since 1953 to have its eye cross the entire island of Jamaica. It then proceeded to head westward toward Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula, where it then became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere at that time.

Gilbert then crossed the elevated plateau of the Yucatan, which is about 5,000 feet above sea level. Winds at landfall were gusting to near 200 miles per hour, and the storm surge was between 20 to 25 feet above normal. After going across the Yucatan, Gilbert re-emerged in the Gulf, and was expected to become a monster as it headed toward the Texas coast. It did happen though because Gilbert just couldn’t get its act together after that despite the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm eventually hit just south of Brownsville, Texas near Matamoros, Mexico as a Category Three storm.

Forecasters and reporters made many comparisons about the storm just like they did with Irma. One comparison that comes to mind when thinking about Hurricane Irma’s assault on Florida during the day and night on Sunday was the fact that if Hurricane Gilbert had made landfall in Florida, the entire Sunshine State would have been completely covered in hurricane force winds. Perhaps, Gilbert finally came to Florida on Sunday in the form of Irma. The once monster Category Five Hurricane, which has obliterated the Northern Leeward Islands of Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Thomas, and St. Martin, made three landfalls across Florida, but brought devastating effects to just about every corner of the state.

Watching CNN when I came home Monday afternoon, I saw how the storm has left the Florida Keys “devastated” according to Florida Governor Rick Scott. Then, I heard a report that the Mayor of Miami indicated that 72 percent of the city is without power. As a matter of fact, over 6 million Florida residents are without power in the wake of the storm, which is approximately a quarter of the population there. The city of Naples, which received the third landfall from the hurricane, is a battered community as well. Nearby Marco Island also took the brunt of the hurricane’s Category Four fury during the second landfall.

Originally thought to be a threat to Miami, and Southeastern Florida, the track of the storm went further west, which left many that had evacuated Miami, Homestead, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, and West Palm Beach, caught by surprise as the storm headed to their new locations in Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, Bradenton, and even more inland locations such as Orlando and Ocala. The storm not only struck further west, but then turned more eastward and eventually affected Daytona, Orlando, Ocala, and Jacksonville, where the Northeastern Florida city experienced record flooding.

Irma has broken all kinds of records, and that hasn’t stopped even though the storm has gone further inland, weakened to a minimal tropical storm, and taken on more of an extratropical storm. The tropical storm even generated the first ever Tropical Storm Warning for the City of Atlanta. Places like Charleston, South Carolina are experiencing memorable surge. At about 9 feet above normal, Irma’s surge, even in a more dilapidated state, still ranks third all-time there behind Hugo (1989) at 18.4, and Matthew (2016). Even New Jersey was seeing some of the clouds from the storm.

Looking outside after work, I could see that there were some high cirrus clouds in the late afternoon sky. When, I got home, and saw the satelllite of Irma at about 6:00 PM Monday, you could see the northern edge of the storm’s remnants were fanning out toward the Mid-Atlantic. Let’s also keep in mind that Hurricane Jose is still out in the Atlantic as well although it has been downgraded to a Category Two Hurricane with just 100 mile per hour winds as it moves into the Sargasso Sea. Many models are showing Jose reinvigorating itself before coming up the East Coast of the United States.

08.12.17

Quite a Bit of Storms in the Atlantic So Far, But Nothing Great

Posted in Commentary, Storm Facts, Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 7:21 pm by gmachos

The Peak of the Season Still Remains; It Only Takes One!!!

It has been a while since I last posted to my blog, but I have been dealing with a lot of personal issues over the last 20 months or so. Anyway, at first glance, you could say that the Tropical Atlantic has been quite active so far this season with 7 depressions, 6 named storms, and one hurricane (Franklin). However, these above average numbers are deceiving.

The 2017 season did get off to a very fast start with the first named storm emerging on April 19th. There were two more storms over the next two months to produce a very unusually high three named storms by the end of June. Usually, there is a named storm once every two years in the Atlantic by the end of June. Since then, there were four depressions, three named storms, and a hurricane.

However, in terms of tropical intensity, these storms have been fairly weak. First and foremost, Hurricane Franklin, which made two landfalls in Mexico this past week, has been the strongest storm to date in the Atlantic this season as a minimal hurricane with 75 mile per hour winds. Only one storm other than that, Tropical Storm Cindy had winds of over 50 mph (60 miles per hour).

Franklin was also the longest lasting storm with a duration of five days. The rest of the tropical cyclones in the Atlantic so far this season have only lasted about 2 to 3 days on average. Some of the storms such as Bret and Don were questionable storms in some ways. I myself have scratched my head at times this season about the development of certain storms.

While the season has been somewhat lackluster to this point, lets keep in mind that in 2011, there were eight tropical storms that formed before Hurricane Irene developed in the Atlantic, went through the Bahamas, and then came up the East Coast of the United States. Back in 1999, Hurricane Bret emerged during the month of August that year, but by the middle of September, we had Dennis and Floyd, which damaged much of Eastern North Carolina and New Jersey with flooding rains.

It doesn’t take much for a season as tame as the 2017 season has been to date to turn into a much more deadly and devastating one. Not every season is going to be like 2005 (30 depressions and 27 named storms), 1995 (19 named storms), 1969 (18 named storms), or 1933 (21 named storms). The first storm of the 1992 season, didn’t develop until the 2nd half of August, and was written off at one point, but then became the monster that was Hurricane Andrew that ended up causing some $27 billion in damage to South Florida.

The 1935 season was also quite similar. During that year, the first named storm actually emerged in May, but the second storm didn’t arrive until mid-August that year. However, by the end of the Labor Day Weekend that season, the United States and particularly, the Florida Keys experienced what would be the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic for over 50 years before Hurricane Gilbert came along. Two hundred people including many World War I Veterans were killed. Ultimately, there were only 8 named storms in the Atlantic in 1935, yet it remains one of the more memorable seasons due to the Labor Day Hurricane in the Keys.

Fast forward three years later, and the 1938 Atlantic Season. Like 1935, it was also a below average season with 9 named storms. The first named storm also occurred earlier than normal in January that year, but the second storm didn’t arrive until August. However, within six weeks or so, people were talking about the very rapid and devastating track of the Long Island Express of 1938, which ended up killing over 400 people. Let’s move ahead now to a year before Hurricane Andrew.

The 1991 season is also another year that wasn’t great in terms of numbers. There were eight named storms that season as well. The first named storm didn’t emerge until July. However, within a month and a half, Hurricane Bob came up the east coast, and went into New England. Two and a half months later, Hurricane Grace, which was actually only a Category Two Storm rather than the Category FIve storm that it was portrayed as in the movie, the Perfect Storm, but it contributed to that monster East Coast Storm late in October and early November of that year.

The moral of all of these stories is that it only takes one, and you don’t have to have a massive number of tropical storms and hurricanes to have a season to forget. We are closing in on 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States. During quite a few of those seasons, there have been bountiful numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes, but alas, none of them became major, nor impacted the United States directly.

Seasonal forecasts and projections are nice to have because they do serve the purpose of making us aware that hurricane season is coming, or is reaching its peak, and we need to be vigilant. However, the numbers they suggest are not always a guarantee that we are going to have that one big storm like an Andrew, Camille, Floyd, Gilbert, Hugo, or Katrina. Although they can definitely increase the odds of that unique monster storm, they are not the absolute final word.

So goes for a season like this because as I have just illustrated clearly with numerous examples, things can drastically change. Another thing to point out about this season so far is the large amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific. Today, we are tracking what is left of Tropical Storm Jova, the 10th named storm of the season in that basin. The lesson here is that whenever you have a high amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific, it is usually relatively quieter in the Atlantic.

There is also things such as sustenance and Saharan dust that tend to often cause problems for a period of time in the tropics during a particular season. Sometimes more than others. Those things can change. One thing that really has bothered me about people’s reactions about the season, and that is that some have written this season off already, and ironically after spewing out every single model run that hints at a huge storm some two weeks out.

All year round now, whether it is a winter storm or a tropical system, many jump to conclusions over every single model run. Whether it is the GFS, Euro, or other model. Any that may show that monster storm lurking somewhere off the coast of the United States from Maine to Texas, even if the storm hasn’t yet to come into its own. There is too much reliance on models, and too much jumping too conclusions about model runs that are two weeks out. I’ll admit that I have given into this frenzy in the past, but now I see many others doing it to a point that I don’t really like adding myself to the chaos. Even those who are so called experts.

Living in New Jersey, I don’t see as many hurricanes or even tropical storms as much as those in Florida or the Gulf Coast, and until six years ago, a hurricane hadn’t made landfall in the Garden State in over 100 years, and a major hurricane hadn’t struck in almost 200 years. Then, within a span of 14 months, the Garden State experienced two tropical systems (Irene and Sandy) that had been hurricanes at one point, and each caused a great deal of destruction in their own way. It only takes one to make a season.

09.03.15

Kilo Becomes Typhoon in the Pacific

Posted in Storm Track, Storm History, Storm Facts, Eastern Pacific, Central Pacific, Western Pacific, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 11:55 pm by gmachos

Central Pacific Hurricane Crosses International Date Line

Things continue to be active in the Pacific, especially in the Eastern and Central basins.  We now have four tropical systems from the West Coast of Mexico to beyond the International Date Line.  First, in the Eastern Pacific, the 11th named storm of the season formed as Kevin emerged within the past 24 hours.  Meanwhile, in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Kilo, which had been one of three Category Four Hurricanes in the Pacific earlier this week, crossed the International Date Line, and, as a result, became a Typhoon.

Although it is rare, hurricanes that form in the Eastern and Central Pacific have traveled far enough over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to cross the International Date Line, and become a typhoon, which is the name given to tropical systems in the Western Pacific.  The most memorable example was Hurricane/Typhoon John in 1994.  The storm began in the Eastern Pacific, and spent some 31 days, an entire month traversing the Pacific Ocean.  While Kilo’s feat is quite impressive, and will probably make it the longest lasting tropical cyclone this year, it will likely fall about a week short of John’s mark.

As of Wednesday, Kilo had weakened to a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 85 mile per hour winds.  The much cooler waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands in the Central Pacific took the starch out of Kilo, which had been a major hurricane over the weekend.  However, as Kilo heads into the high octane warm waters of the Western Pacific, the storm is forecast to undergo a major rejuvenation, and return to Category Four strength and become a Super Typhoon.  Some model forecasts indicate that Kilo could become a threat to Japan by next weekend according to an article written by the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

On Tuesday, satellite imagery depicted the western half of Kilo in the Western Pacific, and classified as a typhoon on September 2nd while the eastern half was still on September 1st and a hurricane.  Looking at the future of Kilo, the GFS produced a scenario where Kilo will pass through Japan into the North Pacific by September 15th, and then move into Alaska, where it become a powerful extratropical system that will create a dip in the jet stream, and push eastward into the continental United States.  The Western Pacific has been active as well as the Eastern and Central Pacific this year as a result of the El Nino.

The WESTPAC has seen more than its fare share of typhoons including Souledor recently, which created havoc in Taiwan including tornadoes.  Meanwhile, Typhoon Goni lashed portions of Japan with fierce winds.  Sometimes, these typhoons recurve much like hurricanes that come up the East Coast of the United States.  As they recurve, they gain new life as an extratropical system that can pull down the jet stream and much colder air from the arctic and Alaska.  There were a couple of occasions this past winter when typhoons in the West Pacific recurved into the North Pacific, and spawned a “polar vortex” episode for the Continental United States.

09.01.15

Fred Weakens to Tropical Storm After Hitting Cape Verde Islands

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 9:43 am by gmachos

Weakens Slightly To Tropical Storm After Becoming First Hurricane to Hit Islands Since 1892

After a being tranquil over nearly the first three weeks of August, the Atlantic Basin has heated up with several storms over the last 13 days. The latest, Fred strengthened to become a hurricane early Monday before moving through the Cape Verde Islands.  It marked the first time in recorded history since 1892 that a hurricane moved through the string of islands off the West African coast.  Fred has been a historic storm so far in its short life.

Fred is the easternmost hurricane to form in the tropical waters of the Atlantic according to an article written on Monday morning by the Washington Post.  Vince, one of the last storms in that busy 2005 season, formed not only further east, but also further north of where Fred formed as it briefly reached hurricane intensity as it headed toward Portugal, and thus was outside of the tropical waters.  Hurricane Fred generated the first ever hurricane warnings for the Cape Verde Islands as well as the first satellite view of a hurricane in that part of the world since satellites were introduced in 1960.

Reaching peak intensity during the mid-afternoon on Monday, Fred attained maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour as it spun between Ribeira Brava and Ribiera Grande in the Cape Verde Islands according to the 2:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center.  Peak wind gusts at that time were in the area of 105 miles per hour.   Minimum central pressure with Fred got as low as 986 millibars, or 29.12 inches of Hg.  The storm was a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale while at peak strength on Monday.

As of the 8:00 AM AST Advisory on Tuesday morning from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Fred had moved away from the Cape Verde Islands.  The storm, located some 225 miles to the Northwest of the Cape Verde Islands.  Moving to the West-Northwest at a fairly good pace at 12 miles per hour, the storm is projected to be a fish storm as it turns more toward the north by Sunday morning.  Maximum sustained winds with Fred have decreased a bit to 65 miles per hour, but it is still a potent tropical storm with gusts estimated as high as hurricane force.  Minimum central pressure has risen to 997 millibars, or 29.44 inches of Hg.

According to the 5:00 AM AST Advisory on Tuesday morning from the NHC, deep convection, or an area of strong to severe thunderstorms, has re-developed over the center of circulation in Fred.  Low level circulation is still very solid while it’s low level center is a bit more south than earlier in the day after being affected by southwesterly shear.  Intensity forecast calls for Fred to gradually weaken as the storm moves into an environment of more shear, dry and stable air, and cooler sea surface temperatures.  The storm should be post-tropical within 5 days.  The forecast track has the storm moving between the West-Northwest and Northwest around a mid-level ridge to the north that gradually builds westward over the next 72 hours.  After that, the storm is expected to turn north.

10.29.12

Sandy Will Be Worse Than Irene

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Hurricane Anomalies, Tracking the Tropics at 1:17 am by gmachos

Storm’s Track And Strength Much Different Than Irene Was

Hours away from what could be an historic landfall along the Jersey Shore, Hurricane Sandy is expected to be a devastating storm.  However, there are those around the Garden State and neighboring states that think it would be as bad.  They will ride it out just like they did with Irene.  There is just one problem with that, and that is Sandy is a much different animal than Irene was.

The storm’s track, size, momentum, and intensity is expected to be much different than Hurricane Irene was when it came up the coast.  Differences between the two storms range from minimum central pressure, storm surge levels, and maximum sustained winds.  Here is a breakdown of how Sandy is a much different threat than Irene.

Storm Track

Sandy’s projected track is going to be much different than Irene’s was.  Normally, tropical storms and hurricanes run along the East Coast of the United States, and don’t directly impact New Jersey.  Irene was a rare exception last year with two landfalls near Cape May and Little Egg Harbor.  However, the bulk of the Garden State remained on the western side of the storm, which is traditionally not as strong due to the counterclockwise flow around the low.  

Unfortunately, Sandy’s track will be much different and unprecedented, which could cause a lot of trouble.   Right now, Sandy is moving to the Northeast,  parallel to the Mid-Atlantic coast.  However, there is a blocking pattern in place with an area of high pressure to the northeast of Sandy, which will prevent it from escaping into the Atlantic.  On top of that, there is a cold front moving in from the west that will also pull the storm in.  In response, Sandy will make a left turn into the Jersey Shore anywhere from Toms River south to Atlantic City.

What this projected landfall along the Jersey Shore means is that a lot of the  Garden State including my hometown of South Plainfield in Middlesex County will face the storm’s notorious right front, or northeast quadrant.  This is the part of the storm that has the strongest winds and roughest weather.  

Storm Strength And Momentum

The strength of both Sandy and Irene are pretty much the same if you are looking at just the maximum sustained winds.  Irene ended up being a tropical storm upon landfall with 70 mile per hour winds.  Sandy currently has winds of 75 miles per hour, and could further strengthen to 80 mile per hour winds by landfall.  However, Sandy is a much deeper storm in the sense that its pressure is very low than a typical Category One Hurricane.  

Similar to Hurricane Isaac, which affected Louisiana back in August, Sandy is not your typical minimal hurricane with a minimum central pressure currently at 950 millibars, or 28.05 inches of Hg.   This is crucial because remember there is a high pressure system to the north, and that is creating a very strong pressure gradient with the hurricane.  A pressure gradient is a difference in pressure over a particular distance.  The pressure gradient will also add to the wind while the low pressure  itself will also help stir up the tide levels slightly.

Another difference between Sandy and Irene is the momentum each had prior to landfall.  If you recall, Irene limped her way to the finish line last August thanks to the entrainment of dry air into the system.  Irene was a ragged storm just hanging on to hurricane strength by the time it made land in Jersey. On the other hand, Sandy has been not only  able to maintain its strength, it has also been able to deepen with a drop of 10 millibars in pressure alone on Sunday.  It should be further energized when it moves across the Gulf Stream, and morphs into a hybrid storm as forecast.

Storm Size

Irene was a very large storm in its own right with tropical storm force winds stretching another 300 plus miles beyond the hurricane force winds.  Compared to Sandy though, it is much smaller storm.  As of the most recent advisory on Sunday night, Hurricane Sandy had hurricane force winds extending some 175 miles while tropical storm force winds extend some 520 miles.  

What that means is that Sandy is about 1,000 miles wide.  The storm is the second largest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic since 1988.  Hurricane Igor, which occurred during the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season,  is the largest in the last 25 years.  Hurricane Gilbert was the vast Atlantic storm in 1988 when it was as big as the state of Texas after making landfall in the Yucatan and coming ashore again near Matamoros, Mexico.

The size is important because that will play a role in determining the duration of the rough weather conditions.  It will also cover a broader area.  The entire state will feel winds of 60 to 80 miles per hour at the height of the storm.  Conditions will be felt as far west as Ohio and Indiana.  

One Final Note

Besides the heavy rain, wind, waves, and storm surge being stirred up in the Mid-Atlantic from the Delmarva to New England, this system will also be unique in the sense that it will help produce heavy snowfall in Southwestern Virginia, West Virginia, Eastern Tennesse, and Western North Carolina along the Appalachian Mountains.  In terms of its size, scope, power, and variety of weather, Sandy could equal and even surpass Superstorm ‘93.

10.25.12

Very Active October In The Tropics

Posted in Commentary, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:57 pm by gmachos

Hurricane Sandy Highlights Big Month In Atlantic

Statistically speaking, the Atlantic Hurricane Season usually begins to ramp down in late October, but not this year. Over just the past few days, there have been two named storms with one of them becoming a strong hurricane. The development of Sandy and Tony have capped what has been quite an active October for the Tropical Atlantic. With six days left in the month, there have been five named storms and two hurricanes.

While October does have a second peak in tropical activity towards the middle of the month, the chances of storms and hurricanes does diminish. The peak of the season usually occurs in August and September, and perhaps the first week or so of October. The 2012 season has been an unusual one though with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, but only one major hurricane. Looking deeper into the numbers, August had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes. September only had two named storms and hurricanes with one of them being the only major storm of the year in Michael.

This October was more active than September was with Rafael and Sandy being the month’s hurricanes. Most of the storms this month have been benign such as Oscar, Patty, and Tony. Rafael did go through the Windward Islands with a blow, and came close to Bermuda. Sandy could make this a memorable October by tropical standards if she lives up to her potential. Not since the Perfect Storm in 1991, has there been such a powerful storm to threaten the Northeast. Keep in mind that the Perfect Storm also didn’t make landfall anywhere. Accompanied by astronomical high tides, an approaching cold front, and a strong dip in the jet stream, what is left of Sandy could make an indelible mark on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for years to come. The 2012 season has been unusual throughout with October only being the latest example.

Despite being an unusually quiet month by Atlantic tropical standards, September did produce Hurricane Nadine, which was one of the longest lasting storms on record at 23 days. In that same month, Michael became the strongest storm of the season at minimal Category Three intensity with 115 mile per hour winds, the weakest major hurricane in a season since 1994. Among those eight storms and five hurricanes in August was Hurricane Isaac, the first landfalling hurricane in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2010. Isaac was also unique in the sense that it was a powerful Category One storm with a minimum central pressure on the order of a strong Category Two system. Isaac ended up hitting the extreme southern parishes of Louisiana harder than the devastating Hurricane Katrina did. The 2012 season was supposed to be average to below average. Instead, it has defied the odds, and provided some interesting trivia.

The season began prematurely with two storms in late May, and two more in the first month of the season for four by the end of June. Things appeared to return to normal with none in July, which was still unusual in the sense that during this active stretch from 1995 until now, there always has been some sort of storm to develop in July. However, by the end of August, there was the second fastest J and L storms. Then, there was a quiet September followed by a busy October. For a while, the 2012 season challenged the historic 2005 season in terms of the number of named storms. It has equaled the mark for named storms, and almost has the same number of hurricanes as the 1995 season did.

There is still a bit more than a month left in this unusual season. Could more surprises be on the way? With how this season has gone so far, I wouldn’t be startled in the least if more were to occur.

Big Storm Scenario For Northeast More Likely

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, GWC News, Hurricane Anomalies, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 9:28 pm by gmachos

Hurricane Sandy To Morph Into Landfalling Perfect Storm

It has been 21 years almost to the day of the Perfect Storm, and 58 years since Hurricane Hazel came roaring into the Mid-Atlantic.  Now, the Northeastern United States is looking at a possible landfall from one of the more rare and powerful storms to make a left turn into the region in recorded history.   Hurricane Sandy first developed in the Caribbean on Monday as the 18th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Since that time, the storm has grown to near major hurricane strength.

Sandy significantly strengthened on Wednesday from a strong tropical storm to high end Category Two Hurricane with winds of 110 miles per hour as it approached the southeastern coast of Cuba.  The storm has weakened a bit since crossing Cuba and moving into the Bahamas, but the storm is going through changes that could make it even more devastating.  The environment around Sandy has a cold front to the west, and a dip in the jet stream that will allow this hurricane to morph into a hybrid storm combining elements of a nor’easter and a tropical cyclone.

Hurricanes are much different than the usual storms we see here in the Northeast.   They are warm core and barotropic systems, which means that they have warm air around the center of circulation, or the eye, and have a cloud structure profile that is completely vertical.  The upper level and surface low pressures in a hurricane are stacked on top of each other, which is not the case for nor’easters, or what meteorologists define as a Mid-Latitude Cyclone.  Storms that usually effect the Northeast are cold core lows and baroclinic.  

Mid-Latitude Cyclones have cold air around the area of low pressure, and the cloud structure is sloped or slanted because the upper level low and surface low are not on top of each other.  Nor’easters tend to like wind shear, or wind going in different directions at different heights of the atmosphere, involved because of this while hurricanes do not like shear at all.  Another difference between hurricanes and nor’easters is the wind field.  Hurricanes tend to have the strongest winds near its core while nor’easters have winds cover more larger area.

With all of this in mind, we return to Sandy, a storm that is about to undergo a radical transformation from a storm system that has a warm core and is baroptric in nature to one that has more of a cold core and is more baroclinic in nature.  To what degree this transformation goes remains to be seen, but already Sandy’s wind field is expanding.  As of 8:00 PM this evening, hurricane force winds extend some 35 miles from the center while tropical storm force winds reach out some 205 miles.  Pressure is already low at 965 millibars, or 28.50 inches of Hg.

So, we have significantly low pressure with Sandy, a cold front approaching from the west, a significant dip in the jet stream, and a lot of warm moist air ahead of the front over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.  It was been a fairly mild and humid autumn so far in New Jersey.  True, there have been some days of chilly weather with the first frost  happening a couple weeks or so ago, but overall, temperatures have been quite mild.   Put all of these ingredients together, and mother nature has quite a storm to cook up.  

Currently, Sandy is moving through the Bahamas.  The most recent advisory on Thursday evening had the storm centered  between Cat and Eleuthera island in the Bahamas.  Winds have decreased since late last night from 110 miles per hour to 100 miles per hour, and the pressure has risen a bit, but don’t be fooled by this.  As Sandy approaches the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast early next week, it will still be quite a potent storm, maintaining much of its strength as it moves over the warm water of the Gulf Stream, and generating energy as a result of its transformation into a hybrid storm.

Changing to more of a cold core or baroclinic storm will require some transfer of energy.  This transfer of energy will make what is left of Sandy more powerful and dangerous.  The storm will also grow in size thanks to its larger wind field so a large area of strong winds will be felt in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.   Have we seen such a circumstance where this has happened before?  The answer is yes.  Back in late October 1991, the Perfect Storm developed from the combination of a cold front, a strong jet stream, and Hurricane Grace, a Category One storm that formed near Bermuda.  However, that storm never made landfall.  This one has a very strong likelihood of landfall somewhere from Delaware Bay to Maine.

The latest forecast models are coming closer together on a track for this  potentially powerful and dangerous storm.  Earlier in the week, the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European Model) were a bit apart on a forecast track.  The GFS had the storm coming ashore somewhere in Maine while the ECMWF had it moving into Delaware Bay.  Now, they are much closer together with the European still moving through the Mid-Atlantic near Delaware Bay while the GFS is further south with an impact along the Jersey Shore.  Both of these scenarios do not bode well for the Northeast.  

After dodging a bullet with Irene back in August 2011, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States could be staring down at a monster of a storm early next week.  A region that has been long overdue for a powerful storm may be making up for lost time come Monday or Tuesday.

10.04.12

Nadine Makes Her Mark On 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Records at 12:54 pm by gmachos

Storm Lasts 23 Days And Becomes Hurricane Three Times

In a season that has been a bit on the unusual side, Hurricane Nadine fit in perfectly. After the first three months of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen a record pace for the number of storms, things quieted down significantly in September. Following an August that had 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes, there were only two named storms in September, which is normally the most active month of the season. However, they were both hurricanes including one that was a major storm, the only one of the season to date.

Hurricane Michael had wound up to be the strongest storm of the 2012 season with 115 mile per hour winds making it a Category Three storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Then, there was Nadine. The storm wasn’t the strongest one of the season. As a matter of fact, it was a storm that was on par with Hurricane Isaac, a strong Category One storm at peak intensity. However, the real story was Nadine’s resiliency. The storm lasted for 23 days in the Central and Northeastern Atlantic. A total of 88 advisories were issued on the storm.

Nadine became a hurricane on three separate occasions: September 14th, September 28th, and September 29th. The storm also weakened to a post-tropical cyclone on one occasions. Besides being a tropical storm, the storm also lost tropical characteristics and became a subtropical storm for a while. Its longevity put it in the record books as one of the longest lasting storms ever on record in the Atlantic. The storm ends up tied for fourth on the all time list with five other storms including Alberto (2000), Kyle (2002), and Ivan (2004).

The longest lasting storm ever on record was an unnamed storm back in 1899, which lasted 33 days. The longest lasting named storm on record was Hurricane Ginger, which lasted 30 days back in 1971. During the busy season of 1969, Inga lasted some 26 days to place third on the list. The storm made two passes at the Azores island chain prompting Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings issued for them from the Portuguese government. The first pass at the Azores occurred over the days of September 20th and 21st. The second pass came within the past few days.

Nadine was a very vast storm at times with tropical storm force winds extending some 275 miles from the center of circulation. At peak intensity, the storm had hurricane force winds extending 35 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 125 miles. With the development of Oscar over the past couple days, there are now 15 named storms that have developed this year with 8 hurricanes, and one major hurricane in the Atlantic in 2012.

05.28.12

Extreme Weather Dominates U.S.

Posted in Storm Track, GWC News, Hurricane Anomalies at 12:31 am by gmachos

Brush Fires, Heat, And Tropical Storm Highlight Holiday Weekend

Could this weekend’s weather throughout the country be an omen of things to come this summer? It’s too early to tell, but the rash of brush fires from the Midwest to Southwest along with blistering heat, and even an early season tropical storm has been the topic of discussion nationwide, and making people wonder what could be next.

If you recall, last year was a year remembered for a brutal winter in the Northeast, and the large outbreak of tornadoes in April, and the Joplin tornado in May. The heat didn’t really come until late June and July, and that was followed by tremendous rainfall in the Northeast during August. Included in that rainfall was the onslaught of Hurricane Irene, the first hurricane to make landfall in New Jersey since 1903.

This year, weather has been much tamer, especially in the Northeast, where things had been dry until a little more than a month ago. Heat and brush fires have been the story as of late. Brush fires have exploded across the country with some of the bigger ones in Arizona while others have stretched as far north as Michigan in the U.S. and parts of Southeastern Canada. Tremendous heat has built up in the middle of the country with temperatures soaring as high as 100 degrees in the Midwest.

Severe weather developed in the Mid-Atlantic during the afternoon and early evening as a powerful line of thunderstorms barreled through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Washington D.C., Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Hagerstown were all in the crosshairs. Meanwhile further south along the Southeast coast from North Carolina to Northern Florida, Tropical Storm Beryl emerged from subtropical storm status on Sunday, and had winds approaching hurricane force earlier. Heavy rains, storm surge up to 3 feet, rip currents, and gusty winds are some of the effects from this storm as it approached Jacksonville.

The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season doesn’t officially start until Friday, and already we have had two named storms. The Eastern Pacific also has had two named storms. More on the Atlantic Basin’s fast start later.

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