10.23.15

Dangerous Hurricane Patricia Threatens Mexican West Coast

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

Category Five Sets Record for Strongest Storm in Eastern Pacific

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

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

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

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

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

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

09.06.15

Looking Back on Hurricane Katrina and the Monster 2005 Season

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 6:44 pm by gmachos

Tropics Have Been Relatively Quiet Since Record Breaking Season in Atlantic

Last week marked the 10th Anniversary of the most deadly and devastating storm in the modern era in the United States.  Despite mercifully weakening just before landfall near Buras, Louisiana with Category Three strength 125 mile per hour winds after being as strong as a record making Category Five Hurricane with 175 mile per hour winds and a minimum central pressure of 902 millibars or 26.64 inches of Hg.  Katrina then made a second landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border with 120 mph winds. The combination of the weakening with a track that took the storm’s strongest side east of New Orleans appeared to put the Big Easy in the clear.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

A near natural disaster had become a major man-made disaster as the levee system around New Orleans failed, and waters began pouring into the surrounding parishes such as St. Bernard’s, and the section of the city known as the Lower Ninth Ward.  Meanwhile, further to the east, Katrina was still powerful and large enough to generate a storm surge even greater than the monster storm of August 1969 known as Hurricane Camille.  The storm struck many, if not all of the same towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast such as Gulfport, Biloxi, Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, and Pascagoula, and brought a storm surge that ended up being the highest ever in North America.

Hurricane Katrina ended up killing some 1,800 people, which seemed unfathomable in this day and age.  On top of that, the storm left at least $80 billion dollars in damage, which is three times more than the previous high mark from a natural disaster set by Hurricane Andrew when it impacted Homestead and South Florida back in August 1992.  The storm also brought out the worst in a country that is supposed to be the leader of the “free world.”  Katrina exposed problems with federal government agencies such as FEMA, and even more glaring, the lack of coordination between local, state, and federal agencies so that the necessary resources could efficiently be distributed to those directly impacted by the storm.

Two examples of that failure were deploying resources such as National Guard Troops, buses, and other kinds of essentials to those affected in shelters of last resort such as the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center.  Numerous horror stories from these two sites were brought into viewers homes by all the cable news and regular broadcast news networks.  The storm’s aftermath provided an image of the United States that wasn’t one of superpower, but instead one of a third world country.  It demonstrated how out of touch politicians in Washington and Louisiana had grown so far out of touch with its constituents in New Orleans.  In addition, Katrina’s aftermath also showed the wide chasm between rich and poor in the United States.

The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season didn’t stop with Katrina though.  As a matter of fact, the year produced an astounding five Category Five Hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  Those kind of numbers are usually only seen with typhoons in the Western Pacific.  However, the combination of several factors such as abundant moisture around the Atlantic Basin, above normal sea surface temperatures, La Nina conditions in the Pacific that brought about favorable upper level wind conditions, and the positioning of the subtropical ridge in the Atlantic, which helped drive these powerful storms into the Gulf of Mexico, and over the Loop Current there, where conditions were optimal for explosive tropical development. Katrina, Rita, and Wilma were prime examples of the effect of the Loop Current.

During the historic 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season, there were a total of 31 depressions, 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes, and 7 major hurricanes.  Of those 7 major storms, 71 percent of them reached the highest level possible for a tropical cyclone, which is extremely rare.  It is very rare to have one Category Five storm in the Atlantic during the course of the season.  So, when you have five:  Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, that is record book material.  Recently, I put together an article on the busy season in the WESTPAC where there have been 6 Super Typhoons of Category Five strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  This has been largely due to the emergence of the strongest El Nino at least since 1998.  Remember, ENSO produces above normal sea surface temperatures and favorable upper level wind conditions in the Pacific. Rita appeared on its way to give another blow to the Big Easy.

Like Katrina a little less than a month earlier, Hurricane Rita tracked over South Florida and the Florida Keys and then grew into a monster as it traversed the Loop Current.  The storm grew to be an even more powerful Category Five Hurricane than Katrina was in terms of wind (180 mph) and pressure (895 mb or 26.43 inches of Hg).  Like Katrina though, Rita eventually weakened before making landfall, and spared the major population centers of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana as it made landfall over to Louisiana Bayou.  About a month after that, Hurricane Wilma spun up in the Northwestern Caribbean, and approached the Yucatan Penninsula.  The storm grew to be even a notch better than Katrina and Rita with winds of 185 mph and the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin at 882 millibars or 26.05 inches of Hg surpassing the marks set by Hurricane Gilbert and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.  After reaching its peak intensity, Wilma began feeling the effects of shear from a dipping jet stream over the United States, but it did re-energize before clobbing South Florida from west to east and causing significant damage along the Sunshine State’s Gold Coast.

Apparently, the 2005 Atlantic Season squeezed more than enough out of the earth’s atmosphere.  Since that time, there hasn’t been a landfalling major hurricane in the United States.  True, there has been active seasons such as 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 with deadly and devastating storms such as Gustav, Ike, Irene, and Sandy, but none of them approached the pure power that the 2005 storms had.  In addition, there have been quite a few below normal hurricane seasons since then including 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014.  The change in behavior pattern in the Atlantic since the 2005 season may be an indication that the active cycle that dominated the basin since 1995 may be coming to an end.

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.

08.31.15

Active 2015 for Central Pacific

Posted in Storm History, Storm Facts, Central Pacific, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 6:17 pm by gmachos

Kilo and Ignacio Just the Latest Storms in a Rare Busy Season

After a busy season in 2014 for the Central Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands, the Central Pacific has had even more storms, and there is still time remaining in the season.  To date, there has been 8 named storms that have emerged in the Central Pacific including three that crossed into the area from the Eastern Pacific:  Guillermo, Hilda, and Ignacio.

Ignacio and Kilo are currently spinning near the Hawaiian Islands.  Both storms along with Hurricane Jimena in the Eastern Pacific have done something that has never happened before in recorded history.  All three storms reached Category Four strength.  It is the first time ever that three Cat Four storms were in existence in the Pacific at the same time.  All three have looked impressive on satellite.

Of the eight storms that have emerged in the Central Pacific, five have become hurricanes, and three have reached major hurricane strength:  Hilda, Kilo, and Ignacio.  Jimena could make it 9 storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes if it can hold up its intensity.  Much of this increased activity is attributed to a strong El Nino episode in the Pacific.  This current episode of ENSO is very close to matching the El Nino of 1997, which also produced a lot of storms in the Eastern and Central Pacific.

The 2015 Central Pacific Hurricane Season has been the most active since 2005.  The numbers posted so far have even surpassed the mark set in 2009 of seven named storms.  The last three seasons have combined to produce 19 named storms:  6 in 2013, 5 in 2014, and 8 so far in 2015.  Fortunately for Hawaii, none of these storms had a big impact other than some rain and heavy surf for the islands.  Cooler sea surface temperatures in that part of the world help protect the Hawaiian Island chain.  The last major hurricane to impact Hawaii was in 1992 with Hurricane Iniki, which slammed into the island of Kauai on September 12th as a Category Four Hurricane.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Season runs from June to November.  On the average, there are between 4 and 5 tropical cyclones per year in the CPAC.  The number of storms in a particular season range from 0 in 1979 to 11 in 1992 and 1994.  From 1971 to 2008, there were 163 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific:  59 tropical depressions, 58 hurricanes, and 46 tropical storms.   There have only been three seasons with double digit tropical cyclones in the CPAC:  1982 (El Nino year), 1992, and 1994.  The most active month in the Central Pacific is August, which from 1971 to 2013 had 74 tropical cyclones.  July had 45 during that span, September had 37, and October had 17.

08.30.15

Evening for Erika; Fred Forms in Far-Eastern Atlantic

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Warning, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 10:01 am by gmachos

Mountains of Hispaniola Put the Final Nail in Erika’s Coffin; Fred Forms in Rare Spot

The Atlantic Basin is making up for some lost time.  After being mostly dormant for the first 60 percent of August 2015, the region has perked up with three named systems in the last 12 days.  One of those storms, Erika, which had been erratic, and struggling to get its act together, finally fell apart on Saturday after being torn up into a trough of low pressure by the rugged terrain of Hispaniola.  Meanwhile, a new storm has emerged in the Far Eastern Atlantic.

Erika finally gave way to the mountains of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Odds were already stacked against the storm, which still managed to get further along in the Atlantic than Danny did despite being erratic, and unable to get its act together.  Prior to its demise, the air was already going out of the balloon for Erika.  Early Saturday morning, the government of the Dominican Republic had discontinued its Tropical Storm Warning.  Less than 3 hours later, the storm showed signs of dissipating at Hurricane Hunter aircraft went in to investigate.  By 9:30 AM EDT Saturday morning, Erika had officially dissipated.

Despite falling apart, Erika could still pack a punch for Florida.  The storm’s remnants are still expected to bring significant rainfall along with winds up to tropical storm force to much of the Sunshine State.  Much of South Florida has been fairly dry recently, but West Florida including the Tampa Bay area has had too much rain.  Rainfall amounts between 3 to 5 inches with locally higher amounts are expected across Central and South Florida starting on Sunday.  The Atlantic isn’t done yet though.  A new storm has emerged in Erika’s wake.

Just hours after the demise of Erika, and not too long after departing the West Coast of Africa, the tropical disturbance that had been labeled as Invest 99L by the National Hurricane Center, was reclassified as Tropical Storm Fred, the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Fred has already made quite a name for himself.   NHC Hurricane Specialist, Eric Blake noted on late Saturday morning that what had been Invest 99L was unique in that was already quite organized right on the African coast.  Forming in the wee hours of Sunday morning as a depression, Fred then became only the fourth named storm on record to form east of 19W longitude.

As of the most recent advisory by the National Hurricane Center at 8:00 AM AST, or EDT, Tropical Storm Fred was located some 315 miles to the East-Southeasts of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands, which is already under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch.  Seeing those watches and warnings that far east in a season that has been mostly quiet, is quite remarkable.  Fred is only a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour with estimated gusts up to 50 miles per hour.  Wind speeds and gusts are estimates based upon satellite imagery interpretation.  Minimum central pressure is estimated to be 1005 millibars, or 29.68 inches of Hg.

Fred is currently moving at a nice and easy pace to the West-Northwest at 12 miles per hour.  The forecast track shows the storm continuing on this pace through Tuesday.  Tropical Storm Fred is expected to move through the Cape Verde Islands sometime late Monday night, and into Tuesday.   The two impacts from Fred will be wind and rainfall.  Tropical storm force winds are expected to begin arriving in the Cape Verde Islands by early Monday.  Hurricane force winds are also possible through Tuesday.  Rainfall amounts are forecast to be anywhere between 3 to 5 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 8 inches.

Looking at the most recent Tropical Weather Discussion on Fred from the NHC, the storm is expected to gradually strengthen over the next 36 hours to be a very strong tropical storm, and on the cusp of being a minimal hurricane with 70 mph winds.  This is due to the favorable environment including light upper level winds, an abundance of tropical moisture, and sea surface temperatures between 81.5 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit that will be in the area of Fred.  The storm is expected to level off at that point for the next 36 hours before weakening slightly.  Within five days, the NHC believes Fred will still have 60 mile per hour winds.  

Still plenty of time to watch Tropical Storm Fred unless you are in the Cape Verde Islands, which should begin making the necessary preparations.

06.19.15

Carlos Dissipates into Remnant Low in Eastern Pacific

Posted in Storm Facts, Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 4:39 pm by gmachos

Storm Peaked to 90 MPH Winds; Third Hurricane Already in EPAC

While Tropical Storm Bill preoccupied many in the United States this past week, the Eastern Pacific continued to have a strong start with its third hurricane of the season, Carlos. The 2015 EPAC season is the second fastest to reach its third hurricane. Only the 1956 Eastern Pacific Season was faster in reaching its third hurricane.

Forming in the very warm waters of the Eastern Pacific near Southern and Western Mexico, Carlos did manage to attain peak winds of 90 miles per hour, but couldn’t match the intensity of its two 2015 EPAC predecessors: Andres and Blanca, which both strengthened to high end Category Four Hurricanes with 145 and 140 mph winds respectively. Like Blanca, Carlos approached portions of Western Mexico, but mostly fizzled out by the time its center reached land.

Before dissipating to a remnant low on Wednesday, Hurricane Carlos did manage to produce significant rains. At peak intensity of 90 mph winds and minimum pressure of 984 millibars, or 29.06 inches of Hg on Tuesday afternoon, the Category One storm brought 3 to 6 inches of rainfall to Mexican states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango, and Sinaloa with isolated areas receiving upwards of 10 inches. Carlos was a compact storm with hurricane force winds only extending some 10 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reaching out some 45 miles.

With an El Nino episode forecasted this year, there were already high expectations in the Eastern Pacific, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. All three EPAC systems that formed so far in 2015 have become hurricanes with two of them reaching major hurricane threshold. This followed a very busy 2014 season with 21 tropical depressions, 20 hurricanes, 14 hurricanes, and 9 major hurricanes.

08.31.14

Tropical Disturbance Crossing Yucatan Bears Watching

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 11:06 am by gmachos

Has 50 Percent Chance of Development as it Moves into Gulf

While the month of August and the entire 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season in general have been very quiet, things continue to try to stir around the Atlantic Basin on this Sunday morning. The most significant feature is in the Northwest Caribbean and crossing over the Yucatan.

This was a tropical wave in the Central Caribbean as of late last week, but it has migrated, and most importantly, become better organized. This disturbance, Invest 99L is now moving into a prime area for development. Sea surface temperatures are always quite warm in the Gulf and Northwest Caribbean, and environmental conditions are favorable for development.

On Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center gave this area of disturbed weather a 50 percent chance of development over the next 48 hours to 5 days. Most forecast models indicate that this disturbance will track to the west across the Yucatan into the Bay of Campeche before moving ashore into Southeastern Mexico.

Elsewhere in the tropics, there are a couple waves in the Atlantic, but there remains a good deal of dry and stable air that is hampering development. The remains of Hurricane Cristobal have come ashore in Iceland within the past 24 hours. We continue to approach the peak of the season, which is September 10th. Yet, there have been only 4 depressions, 3 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. There have only been two named storms in August and there hasn’t been a major hurricane at all in nearly two years.

Moreover, It has been almost 10 years since the last major hurricane made landfall in the United States. While storms such as Gustav, Ike, Irene, and Sandy were all memorable storms, none of them were Category Three strength or higher when they came ashore along the U.S. Coastline. The last major storm to hit the United States coastline was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. Special thanks to Lew Fincher and Stan Blazyk of Hurricane Consulting for their coverage of the Atlantic this season.

09.11.13

Finally, the First Hurricane Forms in the Atlantic

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 5:03 pm by gmachos

Humberto Becomes a Hurricane Just in Time To Avoid Record

Only hours away from surpassing the mark set in 2002 by Hurricane Gustav for the longest wait an Atlantic Season had for its first hurricane, the 2013 season avoided the dubious distinction as Humberto became the season’s first Atlantic hurricane. It is not really that surprising that Humberto became a hurricane. It wasn’t a question of if, but when with this storm, and when was the key word in terms of the record books.

Humberto was classified as a hurricane on during the 5:00 AM AST Wednesday morning advisory. The 2013 season was just hours away from setting a new record for the longest wait for a first hurricane. Back in 2002, Hurricane Gustav became a hurricane on September 11th at 12:00 UTC, or about 8:00 AM EDT. Humberto has been gradually strengthening throughout the day on Wednesday. Winds have continued to increase from 75 miles per hour early this morning to 85 miles per hour in the 5:00 PM advisory.

Currently, Humberto is located some 360 miles to the West-Northwest of the Cape Verde Islands in the Eastern Atlantic. As forecasted, the hurricane has made a turn to the right, and is now heading north at 12 miles per hour. Wind gusts are now up to 105 miles per hour while the minimum central pressure in the eye has dropped to 986 millibars, or 29.12 inches of Hg. Keep in mind that all of this information is based on interpretations from satellite imagery since reconnaissance aircraft are not in range to fly into the storm right now. According to the forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, Humberto is expected to continue strengthening for the next 12 hours or so, and then begin a gradual weakening trend through five days.

Within the next 24 hours, Humberto will begin moving into cooler waters and also encounter more wind shear. Both of these ingredients are very hostile to hurricane and tropical storm development. The storm is expected to continue heading north for about the next 24 hours, and then gradually starting turning to the west again with a more northwest track on Thursday afternoon followed by a due west track on Friday into Saturday. Meanwhile, Gabrielle made its closest approach to Bermuda on Wednesday, and has weakened from a 60 mph tropical storm to just a minimal storm with 40 mile per hour winds.

The forecast track of Gabrielle calls for the storm to head to the North-Northeast and accelerate over the next 48 to 72 hours. The storm is expected to be transitioning into a post-tropical or extratropical storm by the time it moves through the Canadian Maritimes on Friday and Saturday. Another area of trouble in the Atlantic is located over the Yucatan Peninsula. A broad area of low pressure exists over this region, and is expected to move into the Bay of Campeche region of the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday with the possibility of cloud and shower activity increasing. Right now, the NHC gives this low a 40 percent chance of development within the next 48 hours, and a 70 percent chance within the next five days.

11.01.12

Cost From Superstorm Sandy Will Surpass Katrina

Posted in Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Aftermath, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics at 5:36 am by gmachos

Price Tag For Damage From Sandy Will Be Even More Staggering

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Northern Gulf coast with a ferocity that devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the price tag of that storm was $108 billion dollars. It stands as the costliest natural disaster in United States History surpassing that of Hurricane Andrew, which cost South Florida some $27 billion dollars in damage. Hurricane Ike became the second costliest storm on record with $29.5 billion dollars in damage to the Houston and Galveston area of Texas in 2008. However, the damage produced Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will dwarf them all. For those, who don’t think that the cost of this storm will surpass Katrina, think again.

It’s very early in the game. The aftermath of Sandy is just two days old, and the recovery process is in its infancy, but the scenes of damage along the Jersey Shore, New York City, Long Island, and Coastal Connecticut alone has been overwhelming. The storm produced record storm surges at Battery Park in New York City (13.88 feet) and Sandy Hook (13.3 feet). Here in South Plainfield, New Jersey which is far inland in the Northwestern corner of Middlesex County, there is significant wind damage. The scope of Superstorm Sandy’s impacts are so vast with blizzard conditions in West Virginia, and as far south as the mountains of Eastern Tennessee (Mount Leconte had 34 inches at last count), waves of 20.3 feet on the south shores of Lake Michigan near Chicago, and severe thunderstorms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Earlier this year, Hurricane Irene was ranked as the seventh costliest storm ever after the devastation it produced across the Northeast in late August of 2011. The price tag for that storm was $10 billion, and the storm only produced a storm surge of 4 to 5 feet in New York City, and along the Jersey Shore. Irene was no Sandy either. While Irene was a storm that was fading as it came through New Jersey and New York last year, Sandy was a much more energized storm. I was in South Amboy’s Waterfront Park for both storms, and Sandy’s surge was already at the same level that Irene was when it was coming up the Jersey coast last year, and Sandy was still a number of hours from landfall. Furthermore, Sandy was a much stronger and larger storm with size that was almost twice that as Irene, and a barometric pressure that was 946 millibars at landfall, a good 14 millibars lower than Irene was when it came up through Jersey. Sandy’s path also resulted in a more direct impact to the Jersey Shore and New York City.

By making its landfall in South Jersey, Sandy was able to deliver the brunt of its power to the very expensive properties that lie along the Jersey Shore in places such as Long Beach Island, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Sea Bright, and Rumson as well as the financial capital of the world in New York City, and the casinos and entertainment hot bed of Atlantic City. Very expensive homes also lie along the coast in both Long Island and Coastal Connecticut, which were hit hard by the surge coming in from the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. These places were also hit in the post-Katrina era where insurance premiums have skyrocketed in the wake of that monumental storm. In 2001, the site also discussed the studies by insurance companies that indicated that a major hurricane hitting the Jersey Shore would cause some $50 billion dollars in damage, and this was almost five years before Katrina. Back in 2006, Hurricaneville had written an article that discussed another article by the Newark Star-Ledger that pointed out the building of multi-million dollar homes along the Jersey Shore in spite of the changing weather patterns and insurance climate.

This storm’s effects were also felt well inland. Entering the third day of the aftermath of this storm, and there were still numerous traffic lights down around South Plainfield, and many adjacent municipalities in Middlesex County. Many secondary and tertiary roads in New Jersey are still closed, especially in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County. Many trees have been uprooted, telephone poles snapped, and cell phone towers have been damaged. Power is still out for many in the Garden State, and cell phone communication has been spotty at best. Add to all of this the other events that have occurred as a result of the storm such as the 130 homes that were destroyed by fire spread by the winds from Sandy in the coastal community of Breezy Point, New York, and you have a very staggering price to pay for this storm.

The devastation along the coast in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut as well as significant damage to inland areas to those states and others from Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will ultimately dwarf that of Hurricane Katrina when it hit the Northern Gulf Coast in 2005. In a climate where weather patterns have made places such as the New York City Metropolitan area, the Jersey Shore, Long Island, and Connecticut more vulnerable, and insurance premiums in these areas as well as New England have risen significantly in a post-Katrina world, the cost could easily be billions of dollars alone. Add to that the cost of damage further inland to communities far away from the coast and as far south and west as West Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee, and we could have our first 100 billion dollar storm.

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