Storm Loses Some Punch As It Becomes Ragged and Disheveled in Gulf
Tropical Storm Karen has been fighting a valiant fight since it formed on Thursday morning, but the odds may be just too much for the storm to overcome. While a Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Destin, Florida, Karen weakened slightly to just have maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour with gusts to 70 mph. Minimum central pressure has risen slightly to 1003 millibars, or 29.62 inches of Hg.
With tropical storm force winds extending some 140 miles from the center of circulation as of the 8:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Mouth of the Pearl River, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from west of Grand Isle, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana including the City of New Orleans, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Pontchartrain. A Tropical Storm Watch is also in effect for portions of the Florida Panhandle from east of Destin, Florida to Indian Pass, Florida.
As it pushes ahead to the North-Northwest at 10 miles per hour some 275 miles to the South-Southwest of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, Karen’s appearance looks much more ragged and disorganized than it did yesterday, and it was a lopsided storm at best before then with the bulk of its convection to the east of its center of circulation. The storm has also slowed down a bit from its forward speed of 13 miles per hour on Thursday. A turn to the right is expected to begin on Friday.
Karen is still over very warm water in the Gulf, but it continues to battle dry air and shear to the north and west of it. The wind shear affecting Karen is as high as 20 to 25 knots, or about 25 to 30 miles per hour. The intensity forecast is problematic at best due to the interaction between Karen, dry air, westerly shear, and a small upper level trough. The strengthening of this system is also dependent on whether or not it begins to make its more easterly turn over water. Some models such as the Canadian model indicate that the turn to the east will not occur until after landfall in Louisiana while the GFS has a much more dramatic turn to the right.
Right now, the European model calls for a 10 millibar drop in pressure with Karen after the turn to the right while the GFS, HWRF, and GFDL indicate much more significant deepening. Regardless of how much it strengthens, the biggest concern with this system will be the rain with rainfall amounts anticipated to be anywhere between 4 to 8 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as a foot. This much rain is the last thing that areas in the Southeast need after a very wet summer with a rainfall surplus of over a foot. Storm surges along the Gulf Coast could be as high as 3 to 5 feet.
All residents along the Gulf Coast from Morgan City to Tampa should continue to monitor the situation with Karen, and make necessary preparations.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Is Expected To Dissipate In A Couple Days
With all concerns focused on Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf over the past couple days, what was left of Tropical Storm Jerry faded away in the Central Atlantic. After becoming a depression on Wednesday night, Jerry continued its downward spiral on Thursday as it became a remnant low by late afternoon.
Forming as a depression in the Central Atlantic late last Saturday night, Jerry became the tenth named storm of the season on Monday, but didn’t really strengthen much during its life. The storm peaked with 50 mile per hour winds on Monday night, but began to weaken in the face of hostile atmospheric conditions in its vicinity. Winds dropped to minimal storm strength on Tuesday night as it meandered some 1,300 miles to the east of Bermuda.
Jerry capped a modest month of September by Tropical Atlantic activity standards. Five depressions, four named storms, and two hurricanes formed during the statistical peak month of the season. However, there were no major hurricanes, and none of the systems made landfall in the United States. With the development of Karen in the past 24 hours, there have been 11 depressions, 11 named storms, 2 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes.
The bulk of the season is behind us now, but there still remains a secondary statistical peak in October, and another 58 days left in the season.
Watches Issued for Portions of Gulf Coast; Storm Already Has 60 MPH Winds
Almost 18 years to the day, a storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and could deliver a blow to the Northeastern Gulf Coast. Within the past few minutes, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida has classified the disturbance in the Southeastern Gulf as Tropical Storm Karen. The storm already has maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 1004 millibars, or 29.65 inches of Hg.
Currently, Karen is located some 500 miles south of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, and the storm is moving to the North-Northwest at 13 miles per hour. Hurricane Hunter aircraft has been flying in and around the storm since yesterday, and finally detected a closed circulation just to the north of the Northern Yucatan coast. The storm is a lopsided or asymmetrical system with the bulk, if not all of its convection, to the east of the center of circulation. However, high pressure aloft has developed over the storm, and sea surface temperatures in this region are always very warm. So, further strengthening is not out of the question. There is some discrepancy though on how strong Karen will become and where it will go.
The reason for the disagreement between the various forecast models such as the European and the GFS is because there is dry air pushing into the Western Gulf to the west of the storm. The models are in general agreement that Karen will move around the periphery of a mid-level ridge ahead of a mid-level trough. But they differ on the exact track into the Gulf Coast. The European has Karen going further west into Louisiana and Southern Mississippi while the GFS has the storm taking a more easterly track into Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The discrepancy in these tracks has an impact on how strong Karen will be at landfall.
With the European model’s more western track, Karen moves into the drier air moving into the Western Gulf, and comes ashore on Saturday as a minimal tropical storm or depression. On the other hand, the GFS’ more eastern track has the storm over more moist air in place in the Eastern Gulf, and as a result, Karen is a much stronger storm. As a result of this discrepancy in the models, the GFS has put Karen as a minimal hurricane within 36 hours, and has posted both hurricane and tropical storm watches for the Gulf coast. This could be a dangerous situation developing in the Gulf. We could have a scenario very similar to Hurricane Opal in 1995.
Opal formed further west in the Bay of Campeche before rapidly developing into a high end Category Four Hurricane, and picking up forward speed before crashing into the Florida Panhandle on October 5th. Another similarity between Opal in 1995 and this storm is that the country is distracted with other news headlines. Back in 1995, the country was gripped with the suspense of the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial while this time, the nation is dealing with a federal government shutdown that has even closed down some NOAA web sites. The NHC and NWS are not affected by the shutdown since they both help protect life and property.
Karen is aiming at a portion of the Gulf Coast that has finally recovered from the impacts of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. So, a significantly stronger storm for this region later in the weekend would not be ideal. Up to this point in the season, there have been 11 depressions and 11 named storms, but only two hurricanes and no major hurricanes. Could that change with Karen. It is very possible that this storm could become the season’s third hurricane, but can it become the first major hurricane of 2013. Too early to tell.
Could Impact the Central Gulf This Weekend; Jerry Meanders In Central Atlantic
The Tropical Atlantic has been relatively quiet for much of this season. Yes, there has been 10 named storms already, which is still ahead of the average pace, but there has been only two hurricanes, and most importantly, no major hurricanes, and no landfalling systems.
Normally, September is an active month, and this year, it was more active than August was. There were five depressions, four named storms, and the season’s only two hurricanes this past month. Nevertheless, the activity by September standards were still rather tepid. There is still two months officially remaining in the 2013 season, and there is usually a second peak in tropical activity during the month of October.
Looking around the tropics on this late Wednesday afternoon, there are a couple of trouble spots. Tropical Storm Jerry is still churning in the Central Atlantic. As of the 5:00 PM EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Jerry is located some 1080 to the West-Southwest of the Azores. Maximum sustained winds remain at 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour while minimum central pressure is still high at 1009 millibars, or 29.80 inches of Hg.
The storm is moving to the Northeast at 7 miles per hour, and that general motion is expected over the next few days with an increase in forward speed. Little change in strength is expected over the next 72 hours, and the storm is expected to become post-tropical within four days. A larger concern lurks in the Northwestern Caribbean as an area of disturbed weather that has been monitored over the past several days, is becoming better organized, and could be the next storm in the Atlantic.
Located some several hundred miles from the Yucatan Peninsula, the disturbance has looked more impressive over the past several hours as showers and thunderstorms have become better organized. Chances of this disturbance becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours have increased from 40 percent on Wednesday morning to 70 percent on Wednesday afternoon, and up to 80 percent in the next five days. A depression could form at any time according to the latest tropical outlook from the NHC. Currently, the disturbance is in a favorable environment for development. Sea surface temperatures in the Western Caribbean are always very warm, and there is very little in the way of shear.
Taking a look at the long range forecast for this disturbance, the storm is expected to impact somewhere along the Central Gulf Coast over this coming weekend. However, the cyclone is not expected to intensify into a major storm by the time it reaches the Gulf because of strong upper level winds developing over the region by the time the storm comes ashore. Regardless, residents along the Gulf should closely monitor the progress of this system as it heads into the region later in the week.
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.
Humberto Emerges and Is Poised to Become Season’s First Hurricane; Gabrielle Regenerates
Today is the statistical peak of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and almost on cue, the tropics seem to be finally firing up. Not only did the disturbance that Hurricaneville had been monitoring develop into the season’s eighth named storm, but it is also poised to become the season’s first hurricane, and the seventh named storm of the season also regenerated.
Tropical Storm Humberto became a depression late Sunday afternoon and has been gradually strengthening ever since in the Eastern Atlantic. Bringing Tropical Storm conditions to the Southern Cape Verde Islands on Monday, Humberto was classified as a storm early Monday morning, and now has winds of 65 miles per hour as it heads off to the West-Northwest at 9 miles per hour in the Eastern Atlantic some 150 miles to the West of the Southernmost Cape Verde Islands.
Satellite imagery estimates that Humberto has wind gusts in excess of hurricane force at 75 miles per hour while the minimum central pressure in the storm is estimated to be about 998 millibars or 29.47 inches of Hg (Mercury). Tropical storm force winds extend some 80 miles from the center of circulation. Humberto is currently on a gradual strengthening trend according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, and should become a hurricane later today. If it does, it will be the second latest that an Atlantic hurricane season has gone before having its first hurricane. The longest wait was in 2002 before Gustav formed on September 11th.
The good thing about Humberto is that it appears at this time to be a storm for the fish in the Atlantic. The latest forecast track from the NHC has the storm turning towards the north by Wednesday afternoon, and not turning back to the west until Saturday. By then, Humberto will already be at a latitude of the Northern Bahamas and it will still be in the Central Atlantic. So, it is unlikely that it will affect land in the United States, but it is still too early to tell. Hurricanes and tropical storms can be fickle and unpredictable storms, and although forecasts have improved greatly, these storms can still occasionally pull off a trick or two.
Meanwhile, closer to home in the Western Atlantic, the remnants of Gabrielle regenerated early Tuesday morning some 185 miles south of Bermuda. The storm has continued to track north in the past few hours, and a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for Bermuda. Maximum sustained winds with Gabrielle are at minimal tropical storm force at 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 1008 millibars, or 29.77 inches of Hg. The storm is moving to the north at 14 miles per hour, and it is expected to strengthen a bit to have 50 mile per hour winds before it becomes post-tropical in the next five days.
Gabrielle Becomes Seventh Named Storm of 2013 Season Before Weakening to Depression
There has been a lot of talk about how quiet things have been in the Tropical Atlantic this season. The region is still waiting for its first hurricane of the season. However, contrary to popular belief, the season is still ahead of the average pace for the Atlantic. With the formation of Tropical Storm Gabrielle on Thursday, there have now been seven depressions and seven named storms so far this season. Climatologically speaking, the Atlantic usually doesn’t see its seventh named storm until September 16th.
Still looking at climate, the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season is still not for another five days (September 10th), and on average, 69 percent of all tropical energy (tropical storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes) etc, is created over the last three months of the season (September, October, and November). Most of that energy is in September. Despite all of that, there is still some surprise at the fact that we didn’t have a hurricane for the entire month of August, which is only the sixth time since 1960 that has occurred and the first time in 11 years. There is also a possibility that this season may have the latest first hurricane to form.
Coming into this year, the latest date that the first hurricane formed in the Atlantic during the satellite and radar era was 2002 with Gustav (September 11th). In 2002, there were only 12 named storms and 4 hurricanes. Looking at records, the Atlantic has only had its first hurricane form on or after September 1st a total of 25 times in 161 years. Will Gabrielle become the season’s first storm? Not likely. According to the 11:00 AM EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Gabrielle weakened to a depression. While it will bring copious amounts of rain to Puerto Rico and the Northern Leeward Islands, it is not forecast to get any stronger, and is actually expected to dissipate within 24 hours.
The combination of mountainous terrain over the Dominican Republic, wind shear, and the presence of another area of disturbed weather to the northeast has hindered Gabrielle’s development, and will bring about her demise. The storm has had a short life. It had just formed on Thursday afternoon to the south of Puerto Rico as a depression with 35 mile per hour winds. Within six hours, the depression became Gabrielle with winds of 40 miles per hour, gusts of 50 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 1008 millibars, or 29.77 inches of Hg. The storm peaked at that point though as it remained very disorganized before being downgraded this morning with winds decreasing to 35 miles per hour, and pressure rising to 1011 millibars, or 29.85 inches of Hg.
Nevertheless, Gabrielle has brought with it a lot of rain. Earlier forecasts called for average amounts to be between 3 to 6 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as a foot. Those forecasts have been revised downward to just 2 to 4 inches with isolated areas possibly receiving 8 inches. Looking at the latest satellite imagery, there appears to be a lessening of the convection over Puerto Rico, but still a lot over the Virgin Islands. Further to the north, there is a lot more deeper convection associated with another disturbance, which may be absorbing Gabrielle into itself. This disturbance, which extends northward from the Northern Leeward islands into the Atlantic only has a 20 percent chance of developing over the next 48 hours to five days.
Sixth Named Storm of 2013 Atlantic Season Develops in Bay of Campeche Region of Gulf
The tropics are trying to fire up again in the Atlantic. A disturbance that developed in the Northwestern Caribbean late last week, moved through the Yucatan, and gradually became better organized. The National Hurricane Center with its Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the region, began to notice the development, and reclassified the disturbance as Tropical Depression Six late Sunday afternoon, and a few hours later, Fernand emerged.
Located in the Bay of Campeche region of the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Fernand is only several miles off the coast of Veracruz, or approximately 140 miles to the Southeast of Tuxpan. Maximum sustained winds are currently 50 miles per hour with gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in Fernand is at 1001 millibars, or 29.56 inches of Hg. Tropical storm winds extend some 35 miles from the center of circulation. Wind gusts in Veracruz Harbor topped out at 72 miles per hour as of the most recent report. Rain will eventually be the key factor with this storm. Rainfall amounts across Mexican provinces in the storm’s immediate path are expected to range between 4 and 8 inches with isolated amounts of up to 12 inches.
The storm is moving slowly to the West at 9 miles per hour. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Gulf Coast of Mexico from Veracruz northward to Barra de Natula. The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that conditions are still favorable in the vicinity of the storm for further strengthening before it makes landfall. The recent reports from the area around Veracruz, and infared satellite imagery showing a burst of convection provided the basis for the NHC’s upgrade in the storm’s strength to 50 mile per hour winds. Once the storm comes ashore though, it will gradually wind down after being cut off from its energy source of warm ocean water. The forecast calls for Fernand to weaken to a minimal tropical storm in 12 hours, and dissipate within 24 hours.
With the formation of Fernand, there have now been six depressions and six named storms in the Atlantic. However, none of them have yet to become hurricanes. So far, only two named storms have formed during the month of August. Eight named storms developed during the month of August last year, and climatologically speaking, the month is usually more active than what we’ve seen so far this season. Things could be changing though. The African pipeline continues to produce storms moving into the Atlantic. As a matter of fact, a wave just moved off the West African coast, and has a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the next several days. Behind the wave, is another potent thunderstorm complex in West Africa.
Downgraded to Depression after Briefly Becoming Fifth Named Storm of Season
On Wednesday night, the Tropical Atlantic had become the most active it had been since the end of July when two disturbances emerged. A short time later, one of those disturbances became Tropical Depression Five in the Eastern Atlantic just to the south of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. Less than 12 hours after that, TD #5 became the fifth named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Erin. Unfortunately, conditions in the Atlantic continue to make things difficult for tropical systems to get their act together and flourish.
Battling cooler sea surface temperatures and relatively stable air, Erin has not been able to get any stronger than a minimal tropical storm with 40 mile per hour winds after first being classified as a tropical storm on Thursday morning. According to the latest forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, conditions will remain hostile towards development as the downgraded depression is expected to encounter more southwesterly shear as well as continue to move west within a stable environment of sinking air. Tropical storms and hurricanes need warm, moist air that rises and becomes unstable. Rising, unstable air are key ingredients for thunderstorm development, and thunderstorms are essential for tropical formation.
Currently, Erin has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 1008 millibars, or 29.77 inches of Hg. Wind gusts are estimated to be around 45 miles per hour. Located some 540 miles to the west of the Cape Verde Islands, Erin has picked up a bit of forward speed to the West-Northwest at 17 miles per hour. Intensity forecast is now calling for Erin to experience little change in strength throughout the entire duration of the five day forecast period. The forecast track is calling for Erin to continue moving to the West-Northwest for the next 48 to 72 hours before turning more to the right. As of now, Erin doesn’t appear to be a threat to the United States.
So far this season, there has been five depressions and five named storms in the Atlantic. No hurricanes have developed yet despite calls for an above average season with anywhere from 13 to 19 named storms, 6 to 9 hurricanes, and 3 to 5 major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
Tropical Disturbance Near Cape Verde Islands Becomes Fifth Depression of Atlantic Season
The Atlantic Tropics are beginning to stir again after a quiet couple weeks. The disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic that was mentioned earlier in a previous blog post has been classified as a tropical depression by the National Hurricane Center in Miami late Wednesday night. This is the fifth depression in the Atlantic so far this season. August is the beginning of the peak season in the Atlantic as the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast are now becoming a prime breeding ground for powerful hurricanes.
As of the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center has TD #5 located some 80 miles to the Southeast of the Southernmost Cape Verde Islands in the Eastern Atlantic. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued by the government in the Cape Verde Islands for the islands of Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. Currently, maximum sustained winds with the depression are at 35 miles per hour with gusts estimated at 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the depression’s center of circulation is down to 1008 millibars or 29.77 inches of Hg. Wind and pressure data is based on satellite interpretation.
The depression is moving gradually to the West-Northwest at 14 miles per hour. Wind and rain will be the primary effects from this storm with tropical storm force winds expected across the Cape Verde Islands and rainfall amounts between 2 to 4 inches possible. The forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that the storm will have fluctuations in strength over the next five days. Over the first 48 to 72 hours, the depression is expected to strengthen to a strong tropical storm with 60 mile per hour winds, but then will wane in days four and five with winds decreasing to between 45 and 50 miles per hour.
Reasons for the pessimism beyond day three are because of cooler sea surface temperatures and more stability in the Central Atlantic. In addition, there may be less moisture available in the Central Atlantic for the depression to tap into. TD Five is the third tropical cyclone to form in the far Eastern Atlantic so far this season. Both Chantal and Dorian formed further west and had some obstacles including their own fast moving circulations to hinder their development. So far, the new depression is moving much slower, which will give it a better chance to have showers and storms develop around and over its center of circulation. There is plenty of time to watch this depression, but there is also another disturbance to worry about in the Northwestern Caribbean, and that could become a depression soon as well.
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