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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remnants Of Tropical Cyclone Keila Brings Heavy Rains And Gusty Winds
While the Hurricane Season is winding down in the Atlantic Basin, things are getting interesting in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Oman region. Over the past few days, Tropical Storm Keila has dissipated into a remnant low, but it has been producing torrential rains and gusty winds along the Oman and Yemen border.
Of all the basins on the planet, the Indian Ocean produces the fewest storms in comparison to the Western Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and Atlantic. However, because of the low lying terrain that lies along the Indian Ocean including the shallow depth of water along coastlines. Places such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are known for their devastating and deadly cyclones that have left tens and even hundreds of thousands dead. Such storms have been the reasons for wars in that part of the world.
The most deadly of these cyclones was the one that struck Bangladesh back in November 1970. Then called East Pakistan, the country was struck by a powerful cyclone that left between 300,000 and 500,000 dead. The geopolitical ramifications from this storm were tremendous. Due to the lack of response by the central government of Pakistan, which was based in the western part of the country, East Pakistan declared its independence, and war erupted. Neighboring India became involved, and the result of the conflict was the rise to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Recently, there have been some notable cyclones. One was in early June, 2007 when Cyclone Gonu threatened Oman. At one point, the storm was as powerful as a Category Five Hurricane with 160 mile per hour winds. It was rare to see such a powerful storm in that part of the world at that time of year because weather conditions in that part of the world are usually not favorable to such strong storms. In addition, Oman and Yemen are on the Arabian Peninsula, which is desert. Remember, tropical storms don’t like dry air. Another notable cyclone in the past few years was the one that struck the Myammar Republic in May 2008.
The cyclone struck as the equivalent of a Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 120 mile per hour winds. The storm may have left 100,000 dead, but the actual death toll is not know due to the very isolated military government in Myammar, which not only refused to help its own people, but also kept the media from coming in to cover the disaster. Returning to Keila, the storm has not had a very long life. It formed as a tropical depression on October 29th, and has basically hugged the coast of Oman over the past couple of days.
Keila has strengthened to become the equivalent of a minimal tropical storm before moving into the interior of Oman. According to the article on the web site, Earthweek: Diary of a Planet, the storm has left 6 dead from flash flooding. Tropical Cyclones are quite rare in the Arabian Sea region. Storms only form during two brief periods each year. However, there has been a growing concern that pollution created by the industries in the growing economic power of India is creating more favorable climatic conditions in the Arabian Sea for powerful storms like the one in June 2007.
Looking at the latest satellite imagery out of that part of the world, there appears to be another tropical disturbance in the making to the east of Keila in the heart of the Indian Ocean.
Both Storms Threaten Northeast And New England After Record Summer Heat And Rains
Perhaps they are just coincidences. However, the similarities between Hurricane Irene and the Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 shouldn’t be taken lightly. A number of years ago, I read the book, Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti. I also wrote a review about it.
With the approach of Hurricane Irene, I began to think back to reading this book because of the type of weather we’ve had here in the Northeast this summer. This summer has been one of extreme heat and humidity as well as torrential rains. In July, South Plainfield had an average temperature of nearly 78.5 degrees. The high temperature for the month was set on July 22nd at 104 degrees with Newark reaching 108 degrees, the warmest in the United States that day. Heat index values were as high as 121 here in Northwestern Middlesex County while Atlantic City reached 122 degrees.
The record temperatures on July 22nd were at the peak of the most severe heat wave in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in over 15 years. Temperatures were at or above 90 degrees for nine straight days. For the month of July, temperatures were at or above 90 degrees some 17 times. Then, in the month of August, temperatures cooled, but the rains came in earnest. So far this month, there has been 15 days of measurable rain here in Northwestern Middlesex County. Fourteen of those days came within the first 21 days of the month.
Heavy rains fell on August 14th (4.15 inches) and August 19th (1.7 inches). Other areas received heavy rains on August 15th and August 21st as well. So far this month, there has been 10.28 inches of rain here in South Plainfield with other areas around the Garden State receiving more. This summer has capped off an unusual stretch of extreme weather for New Jersey, and many other parts of the Northeast this past year. Starting with tornadoes in Staten Island and Brooklyn in late September 2010, there have been a number of significant weather events in the region over the last 12 months.
Similarly, the summer of 1938 had torrential rains and scorching temperatures. However, they rains came in June and July followed by record heat in August. In August 1938, there were 27 days where the high temperature was warmer than normal. In a nutshell, the weather during the summer of 1938 was “miserable” according to Scotti’s book. Another difference between the two storm scenarios was that the 1938 hurricane came up the Eastern Seaboard toward the end of September. Up to that point though, there had been torrential rains in the Northeast that month.
Prior to the arrival of the Long Island Express, it had rained for four days straight with rainfall amounts each day ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 inches depending on where you were. This forced many of the rivers to swell to flood stage. The similarities between these two storms are quite striking.
La Nina Fading In Eastern Pacific Making Seasonal Forecasts Even Tougher
Good afternoon again. I was reading the newspaper this morning, and noticed an article on the neutral global climate pattern, and how it could make seasonal forecasts for Atlantic hurricanes even tougher.
NOAA issued its seasonal forecast a couple weeks ago, and indicated another above average season with 12 to 18 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Colorado State University as well as WSI also issued forecasts back in April with CSU’s updated forecast to come out later this month.
Over the past couple months, the La Nina pattern, which has been blamed for the blizzards and snowstorms in the Northeast and the severe weather in the South and Midwest this year is beginning to erode, and we are falling into a more neutral global pattern according to an article by Tamara Lush of the Associated Press.
The article also indicated that the neutral pattern is affecting how forecasters have been putting together their seasonal forecasts. It is much easier to forecast when you know either a La Nina or El Nino is in control. For those not familiar, La Nina is the climate condition when cooler than normal sea surface temperatures exist in the Eastern Pacific while El Nino is when warm than normal sea surface temperatures exist.
The current La Nina pattern was responsible for a very active tropical season in 2010. There were a total of 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Other active seasons that had strong La Nina signals were 1995 and 1998. However, in 2005, there was a neutral signal, and that season turned out to be the most active on record in addition to being the most devastating and one of the most deadliest in years.
There are other factors that determine an Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast including: Rainfall in the Sahel region of Africa, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, moisture levels in the Atlantic, and barometric pressures in the basin as well. When you have a La Nina pattern though, conditions for tropical development become enhanced since there are not as many storms in the Eastern Pacific to stir up upper level winds in the Atlantic. Conversely is the case when you have an El Nino pattern.
One thing that is important though, and that is just because you either have or don’t have certain ingredients for an active season, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a location along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States will not be impacted by a major hurricane. Hurricane Andrew proved that to us in 1992.
Good morning everyone. Well, in my continued efforts to get the site going again, I’ve decided to put up another post regarding Fay. Since the last time I spoke about Fay on Tuesday night and Wednesday, the storm has continued to spin around the Sunshine State and spread copious amounts of rain. Some areas, particularly in Northern and Eastern Florida, have received in upwards of 30 inches of rainfall according to an article posted on Bloomberg.com earlier on Friday.
The latest advisory and discussion from the National Hurricane Center calls for more of the same across Northern Florida, the Florida Panhandle, Southern Georgia, and Southeastern Alabama. The forecast calls for another 4 to 8 inches to fall in those areas with some isolated regions getting as much as another foot of rain. Not to be left out are the winds, which are still formidable at 50 miles per hour with higher gusts. Areas in Northeastern Florida such as Jacksonville have reported wind gusts in excess of 55 to 60 miles per hour.
As a result of the heavy rainfall in much of Florida over the past five days, there has been catastrophic flooding. President Bush has gotten the White House into action in response to this devastating storm that may be the wettest ever in the Sunshine State. Bush, who is in the waning days of his Presidency, and whose older brother Jeb previously served as Governor of Florida, declared the state under emergency on Thursday. Damage estimates in Brevard County alone are in the range of $12 million including $2.6 million in beach erosion.
Tropical Storm Fay has had quite a history in its journey. In just the past five days alone, the storm has crossed the state of Florida three times. The first time, the storm impacted Key West at about 3:00 PM EDT on Monday afternoon, the second time was on Tuesday morning when the system again came ashore near Cape Romano, and after slowly grinding across Florida over a day or so, Fay re-entered the Atlantic off Daytona Beach before coming onshore again on Thursday afternoon near Flagler Beach.
After making its second landfall in Southwestern Florida, Fay did something that would seem to many as unusual, it strengthened over land. Buoyed by the warm moisture laden marshes of the Everglades, Tropical Storm Fay had a boomerang effect, and actually reached its peak intensity of 65 miles per hour. Storms do tend to maintain much of their strength over Florida due to the flat land that characterizes this popular vacation spot. Fay is the fourth such storm to make landfall across the state in three separate locations, and the first to do so in some 50 years. Currently, the death toll stands at about 25 after two people were killed by the heavy surf near Flagler Beach, and three more bodies were discovered in Haiti.
Good evening everybody. Well, Barry’s remnants have left the scene, and much to the relief of everyone here in the Garden State, some severe weather that was forecasted for Tuesday afternoon and evening didn’t pan out. However, there are some other tropical features that will be worth watching as the week progresses, particularly in the Central Atlantic. Anyway, while nothing is currently going on in terms of tropical activity in the Atlantic, there is a rare tropical system moving into the Persian Gulf.
This storm, which originated in the Indian Ocean, was as strong as a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds of 160 mph. Although it weakened to a moderate Category Three Hurricane with 120 mph winds early Tuesday, Tropical Cyclone Gonu was still a formidable storm as it closed in on the country of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. As of Tuesday morning, the intense storm was located approximately 265 miles to the Southeast of Muscat, the capital of Oman according to CNN. The reason why this storm is so rare is that tropical cyclones are not known for impacting the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. These areas aren’t impacted usually because they are made up of deserts with very hot temperatures, low humidity, and sinking air, that inhibits tropical activity.
As a matter of fact, Cyclone Gonu is the strongest such storm to threaten the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and the rest of the Persian Gulf in some 60 years. Despite the fact that this storm has weakened even further to below major or intense hurricane intensity with 90 knot, or 105 mph winds according to the latest advisory out of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, it still will at least provide a lot of rainfall to the region especially Southeastern Iran, which is the ultimate destination for this system. Looking at the latest satellite imagery, Gonu still has good outflow to it, and its core of thunderstorms is still intact. One big concern about this storm is the potential for heavy rains as it moves inland over Iran, which has rugged and mountainous terrain. Obviously, there are concerns for the precious oil industry across the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and Iraq. In addition, there is the presence of American soldiers in the region as well as other U.S. military interests. However, there is the possiblity that we could see tremendous flooding and mudslides, which could create a disaster in Iran.
Presently, the storm is creating havoc on the world’s oil markets since it represents a huge obstacle for ships trying to leave the Persian Gulf region, where there are many oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. If ships are caught up in this storm and damaged, or have to take a longer route to get their petroleum cargo to customers in places such as China, Europe, and the United States, that could spell trouble for the price of a barrel of oil, which will also filter down to the price at the gas pumps here in the U.S. Knowing how gas prices have skyrocketed this spring, it wouldn’t be very helpful if a significant storm disrupted production in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the United States military is also taking precautions tp protect its interests including troops in the Iraq War theatre, and in other parts of the region including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar as well as naval ships in the area.
Now over the past dozen or so years that I’ve been running web sites on weather and hurricanes, I’ve seen a couple other rare storms like this. The most recent one was back in March of 2004 when a rare tropical cyclone struck Brazil. This storm was such a rare event for the South Atlantic that there was actually considerable debate on whether this was actually a tropical system. Tropical activity in the South Atlantic is normally non-existent due to the fact that the sea surface temperatures are much colder than in the North Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and Western North Pacific. In addition, because there isn’t much land area in the Southern Hemisphere, winds are usually stronger. The combination of cooler ocean temperatures and stronger upper level winds creates a very hostile environment toward tropical development. Prior to that, there was also a rare tropical storm in the Mediterranean many years ago.