08.30.06

John And Ioke Continue To Make The Pacific King in 2006

Posted in General, Storm Track, Commentary at 4:28 pm by gmachos

Tracking Hurricane JohnGood afternoon everybody. I plan to have an edition of both Tracking the Tropics and the Hurricaneville Storm Report out later. Right now, I want to talk about the latest activity in both the Eastern Pacific and the Central Pacific. In case, you haven’t been aware, or have been like me and totally focused on Ernesto, the activity continues to take place in the Pacific. First, in the Eastern Pacific, there are two storms: Hurricane John and Tropical Storm Kristy. The main show here is with Hurricane John, which is not only a major hurricane, but also a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph.

More importantly though, John is threatening the West Coast of Mexico. Located some 170 miles Southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 70 miles Southwest of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, the storm has raised watch and warning flags for portions of Mexico’s Pacific coast. A Hurricane Warning remains in effect from Lazaro Cardenas to Cabo Corrientes and a Hurricane Watch is now in effect for the Islas Marias. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from Acapulco to Lazaro Cardenas while a Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect from Cabo Corrientes to El Roblito.

So far in 2006, the Eastern Pacific has had 12 depressions, 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. By far the strongest storm in this region this year is John. This storm has also been the greatest threat to land with its current status near the coast of Mexico. The last time this region was this active at this point in the season was 1997, which was much more active in terms of major storms and Category Five systems. Ironically that season was a very quiet one in the Atlantic. So far in 2006, the Atlantic has seen only five named storms with one becoming a hurricane for a bit more than a half of a day.

Further west in the Central Pacific, we have a Super Typhoon. Ioke, which was a hurricane in the area of Hawaii last week, crossed the international date line, and is now threatening Wake Island. The storm was a major hurricane at one point as it passed to the south of Hawaii, and made an approach to largely uninhabited Johnston Island as a Category Two storm. Presently, Ioke has maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, which makes it just under the equivalent of a Category Five Hurricane in either the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific. Located some 235 miles to the East-Southeast of Wake Island, Ioke is anticipated to move very close to the island by later tonight or early Thursday (U.S. Time).

This latest round of activity throughout the Pacific continues to show that conditions appear to be favoring an emegence of an El Nino. The Atlantic has had very hostile upper level dynamics while the Eastern Pacific has been busy with storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. The Western Pacific has been busy as well with eight storms alone striking mainland China including the worst typhoon to strike there in fifty years. Will this trend continue? We’ll have to see. Despite the fact that the atmosphere has not been kind to storms in the Atlantic, the region has shown signs of awakening in the past few weeks.

Recalling Katrina One Year Later

Posted in Commentary, Storm History at 1:16 am by gmachos

Good morning everyone,

Well, I’ve been obviously busy working on the web site over the past couple weeks, and particularly the past several days so I haven’t had the chance to take a step back and recall the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. However, with the news specials, and most importantly, Spike Lee’s documentary, I finally took some time to look back and reflect. I recalled how the storm created mayhem in South Florida and the Keys as only a Category One Hurricane.

While I was at work over that fateful weekend, I monitored developments on Katrina, and noticed that it strengthened to a major hurricane on Saturday, and it didn’t stop there. Katrina would strengthen to a monsterous Category Five Hurricane, which is the optimum level a tropical cyclone can go in the Atlantic by that Sunday afternoon before landfall on August 29th. Winds got as high as 175 mph. Seas were as high as 48 feet in the Gulf far from the Central Gulf Coast. I could recall the concern that grew in my mind as I looked at the satellite imagery of Katrina at peak intensity.

The vastness of the storm with all that energy. Not only was this a massive storm, but also a large storm that had a great deal of fury associated with it as you saw the colors of the coldest cloud tops. The only storm that I could compare it to was Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and Hurricane Linda in the Eastern Pacific back in 1997. Little would I know that we would have two storms (Rita and Wilma) in the same season that would surpass Katrina’s power, and make 2005 the year of the Atlantic Hurricane.

The thing about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that strikes me the most is that many do not realize how much worse it could have been. Hurricane Katrina spared New Orleans by turning slightly to the right in the hours preceding landfall. In addition, the storm moved away from the Loop Current, and into waters less conducive for the explosive development that it had some 24 to 36 hours earlier. There could have been much more damage, death, and devastation had Katrina stayed on course for the Big Easy and maintained Category Five intensity. As a matter of fact, the Crescent City at first appeared to have emerged from the storm relatively unscathed compared to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. However, leeves along the Industrial Canal were breached, and what ensued was a terrible flood that consumed eight percent of this cultural gumbo that many have called home or spent time in over the years.

All levels of government from the federal on down to the state and local levels deserve their fair share of the blame. The Army Corps of Engineers failed to design an adequate system of leeves and pumps to protect New Orleans from even what was expected following the devastation by Hurricane Betsy in 1965. In a book that I’m reading for one of my next book reviews, Path Of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms, John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune of New Orleans fault the corps for not getting the job done in the 40 years since Betsy, and prior to Katrina.

FEMA and Homeland Security contributed to the federal government bungling by placing an unwanted wall of bureaucracy in front of those who survived the storm and tried to live in the days following it. President Bush failed to sense the urgency of the situation not just early on, but for almost a week after the storm. More ironically, he didn’t apparently learn one of the big lessons he should have learned from his father’s experience with Hurricane Andrew, and not talk about things such as the “blame game”, and appear disengaged with what was happening.

State and local officials appeared to be unprepared for the event as well. Even as recent as a month and a half before the cataclysmic event, there were problems with evacuation when Hurricane Dennis threatened the Central Gulf, and eventually came ashore along the Alabama and Florida border, McQuaid and Schleifstein mention how there were problems with evacuation. Jefferson Parish President, Aaron Broussard, known for his emotional plea on Meet the Press on the Sunday after the hurricane made landfall, indicated that the state government in Louisiana was not acting quickly enough in revising its evacuation plans and he didn’t see reason to continue following them.

This stemmed from the year before. During the 2004 season, Hurricane Ivan threatened the Gulf Coast, and made landfall very close to where Dennis made landfall. State police waited too long to order contraflow be set up on the interstates out of the New Orleans area and the Southeastern Parishes. What resulted was a massive traffic jam to Baton Rouge. In July, 2005, Broussard learned from this lesson, and defied state procedures by calling for an evacuation before it was clear for him and his residents to do so.

Despite the false alarm created by Dennis, the evacuation of Jefferson Parish caused a tremendous firestorm as Governor Blanco chided Broussard for acting to quickly, and Broussard replied by stating that he couldn’t in good faith support the current state procedures for evcauating the region. The call for a mandatory evacuation took too long to occur because of the legal ramifications.

According to Quaid and Schleifstein’s book, Mayor Nagin had spoken with Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center on the Saturday evening before the storm hit on August 29th, and after that call, the mayor talked to the city attorney about making an evacuation mandatory. Prior to that, Nagin waited until that Saturday afternoon to declare a voluntary evacuation since he wanted to do things according to the state procedures in place, and not cause the controversy that occurred during Hurricane Dennis.

There are also personal stories that come out of this terrible storm and its aftermath that remind me of certain things that have to be done when a storm threatens you. You must have all your important documents in a safe place so that you don’t lose them if your house is flooded, or swept away by wind and surge. You must have in place a evacuation plan to be in touch with those out of the area to let them know your safe, plenty of cash and gas with you since ATM machines, credit cards, and gas stations will be out of service. Have a safety kit with such things as batteries, bandages, and other medical supplies. Don’t forget plenty of food and water for your family. And finally, make sure you have flood insurance on your house, and even more importantly, know what is covered in your plan.

08.28.06

Interesting Situation Developing With Ernesto

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, GWC News at 11:29 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone,

Listening and watching the latest reports, particularly from the Weather Channel, it appears that we could have a very interesting situation developing. Regardless if Ernesto regenerates into a hurricane, or tropical storm (if it does weaken to a depression), the tropical system is still going to pump in moisture ahead of the approaching cold front in the Midwestern United States. Meanwhile, a blocking pattern is developing over the Northeastern United States, which poses no exit for Ernesto.

What does this all mean? Well, for starters there is another Flood Watch for my neighborhood here in New Jersey. Rainfall amounts for on Tuesday are expected to be in the area of two inches. Those potential amounts are in addition to the occasional heavy rainfall our area received over the weekend. There were several downpours that occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, particularly during the evening hours.

If you were watching Monday Night Football on ESPN, you saw that officials stopped the pre-season game between Cincinnati and Green Bay because of a severe thunderstorm in the area. A Tornado Watch is in effect for portions of Ohio, and while that kind of weather is not expected here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, but there will be plenty of rain. Then, there’s Ernesto, which is expected to move off the Cuban coast sometime, and begin to move toward the Southeastern United States. Indications at this time are that Ernesto will move over the Florida Straits into South Florida, and then turn more eastward as it feels the effects of the approaching trough from the West.

However, Ernesto will continue to head northward. It will even re-enter the water somewhere off the East Coast of Florida, where it could strengthen to a Category One Hurricane prior to making landfall in the Carolinas sometime on Thursday. After that, what is left of the storm could (and I emphasize the word COULD) move northward into the Mid-Atlantic and bring heavy rains to Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. With this possibility in mind as well as the heavy rains that affected the Garden State earlier this summer, we could have some big problems later this week, and into the Labor Day Weekend.

Ernesto Ready To Re-Emerge Over Water

Posted in Storm Track at 7:12 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone. Sorry that I was away, but I was very tired on both Sunday and most of Monday. During that time though, I’ve been watching the situation with Ernesto. Ernesto actually became the season’s first hurricane for a brief time on Sunday morning. However, it was already situated to both Cuba and Hispaniola, which have very mountainous terrain that cut off the circulation. Ernesto then moved inland over Cuba, and weakened further to just a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds, and an increase in pressure of 10 mb since Saturday afternoon.

Presently located some 60 miles to the East of Camaguey in Eastern Cuba, Ernesto, the fifth named storm of 2006, is approaching the communist country’s northern coast, and is anticipated to move over open water again very soon. The current forecast, which has gradually shifted to the right over the past couple days, now has the storm affecting some portion of Florida, and moving up the eastern seaboard. Coastal areas in North and South Carolina, and Georgia are now under the cone of uncertainty.

With these latest developments, talk has now begun about the possibility of this storm affecting the Northeast and New England over the next week. There is still a long way to go with this system, but it has become more and more likely in the past couple days. Nearly two weeks ago, there was a model run that indicated a storm would form and affect the Northeast around the Labor Day Weekend. Quite often obviously, model runs that far out are often dismissed, but sometimes as events transpire, they turn out correct.

All will have to depend on other players in this weather game. Looking at the national maps from the Weather Channel, there is a double barreled low pressure system stretching from across the Mid-Atlantic into the Midwest and over the Southern Great Plains. A trough is trying to move in behind the cold front situated in the Midwest and Great Plains. The presence of this trough has been having an impact on the forecast track for Ernesto, which if you recall was previously focused on the Gulf late last week, and over the weekend.

As of right now, the track doesn’t favor this storm becoming a major hurricane at this time because Ernesto doesn’t appear to be out over water for very long. Even being a Category One prior to moving ashore along South Carolina later in the week may be a bit of a stretch. However, as things progress that could change, especially as the front trudges to the east. So, residents along the Eastern seaboard will have to watch this situation closely because it could come to pass. For now, folks in Florida need to be getting prepared for a visit from Ernesto.

08.24.06

Debby Doesn’t Appear To Be A Threat, But Disturbance Could Be

Posted in Storm Track at 9:24 am by gmachos

Good morning everyone,

Well, I’ve just updated the home page with the latest information on Tropical Storm Debby. As of 5:00 AM Thursday morning, things remained status quo with the minute tropical storm. Maximum sustained winds remained about 45 mph with gusts over 50 mph while the minimum central pressure rose slightly to 1003 mb, or 29.62 inches of Hg (Mercury). The fourth named storm of the 2006 season continues to move rapidly to the West-Northwest at 20 mph.

The forecast for the next 24 hours calls for slow, but gradual strengthening while the long term forecast anticipates Debby to be a hurricane within the next 72 hours. As previously mentioned, Debby is moving very briskly to the West-Northwest over the open waters of the Atlantic. Located some 845 miles to the West-Northwest of the Cape Verde Islands, the tropical system is already quite far to the North for a storm out in the Eastern and Central Atlantic. So, it is not expected to be a threat to the United States although it may pose a problem for Bermuda next week. There has been some debate on whether or not this system would keep moving westward, or recurve eventually.

That debate seems to be hinging on the overall strength of the storm. If the storm stays weak, its circulation would be more likely to continue westward while its convection was ripped apart. On the other hand, if it gradually strengthened, it would be a more formidable structure and less likely to be sheared apart, and more likely to be steered northward into cooler waters. Currently, there is a ridge of high pressure to the Northeast of Debby, and a mid to upper trough to the Southwest. A break in the ridge is to the west, and the present thinking is that Debby will take advantage of that gap since tropical cyclones like to take the path of least resistance, and turn Northwest and then North into the open waters of the North Atlantic.

With that you would think that residents along the East Coast of the U.S. from Maine to Texas could rest easy, but that is not the case. As I have briefly been mentioning the past couple of days, there is another tropical disturbance lurking in the Atlantic. Nearing the Windward Islands, this disturbance has been getting its act together over the past two days or so, and there are indications that this will be our next depression, or perhaps even a storm. If it does become a tropical storm, it will be the fifth one of the year, and named Ernesto. Although tropical cyclones have some difficulty gaining strength once they move into the Central Caribbean, the waters are plenty warm in this region, and upper level conditions are more favorable for development.

Elsewhere in the tropics, we still have Hurricane Ileana, which recently was a major hurricane with 120 mph winds and gusts to 145 mph making it a strong Category Three Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. However, it appears to be waning this morning as the satellite imagery depicts warmer cloud tops and a more ragged structure although the system still does have a discernible eye. Further west in the Pacific, we still are dealing with Ioke, which past to the North of Johnston island, which is uninhabited. At last report, maximum sustained winds with the Central Pacific hurricane were at 105 mph making it a Category Two. Twelve people had to take shelter on the island in order to weather the storm according to news reports, but there were no casualties.

08.23.06

Way To Go Rockey!

Posted in Commentary at 5:08 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. As you probably have noticed if you’re a frequent visitor to the web site, I’ve been working hard on changing some things around as well as update the site with new material. I’ve added a couple more book reviews for the months of July and August, and as I have mentioned to members of my mailing list, I am in the process of reading two more books for reviews later in the season.

There are also some new links that I’ve added to the links page. Just go there, and scroll down to the end of the page to see the latest ones I’ve added. The Hurricaneville Almanac has also been updated with new info and corrections. Finally, before I move on to the crux of this post, I would like to make everyone aware of the various ways you can support the Hurricaneville web site. You can help by either making a donation through Amazon’s Honor System, purchasing a poster, video or DVD, book, or weather equipment via either AllPosters.com or Amazon.com.

Now, on to what I really want to talk about. For those of you, who have not been following the news. A Louisiana man, Rockey Vaccarella, from Meraux in St. Bernard’s Parish, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Katrina drove across the country to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Bush, and to remind him that a lot more work needs to be done along the Gulf Coast, and not to forget those who are struggling down there.

Vaccarella, who originally intended to have President Bush sit down with him in his FEMA trailer, and have an old fashioned cajun meal, had to settle for Bush’s Gulf Coast Recovery Czar, Don Powell, who visited him for the special cajun and creole cookout, and discussed Rockey’s current plight. Despite the fact that Rockey didn’t get the President to sit down with him and have a meal, he still managed to get Bush to meet with him and talk about the situation down there. In addition, Vaccarella stayed positive and didn’t get upset about the President not having dinner with him. He understood in his words that the President was busy. The bayou resident was content with making sure his message got across.

And, it has gotten across alright. Not only has Rockey been successful with reminding the President, but also the entire country, which may have forgotten what happened along the Gulf Coast, and the fact that there are still a ton of problems there with the height of the current Atlantic Huricane season upon us. This along with the many special commemorative programs on Katrina this week will help reinforce this country’s determination to rebuild the Crescent City, and most importantly, help those who have been much less fortunate. It also serves as a reminder that we must deal with a growing hurricane problem along our coastlines.

Way to go Rockey! Thanks for making that trip. Not just for you, your friends, and fellow Gulf Coast residents, but also for all of us, who need to be reminded that there is still a lot of work to do, and that nothing should be taken for granted.

08.22.06

Tropical Researchers Put Aside Differences To Warn About U.S. Hurricane Problem

Posted in General, Commentary, Storm Preparation at 9:12 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone,

I had quite a busy day today. Went to the dentist, did some shopping, and most importantly, have begun to write up some new articles for the web site. Anyway, I’ve been updating some aspects of the web site including my links page. In the course of finding new links for the web site, I stumbled across Kerry Emanuel’s home page, and a link to a statement he and other scientists have made with regard to the Hurricane problem in the United States. The significance of this statement is the fact that the researchers that came together to make this joint statement have been involved in a heated debate over the issue of global warming, and the link to stronger and more intense hurricanes.

However, for this statement, Emanuel and others such as Chris Landsea of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, and Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center, have put those differences aside to state their unanimous and unequivocal concern for the rapid growing of populations along our coastlines, particularly in hurricane prone areas from Maine to Texas. This statement continues to echo a long line of statements made by the likes of previous directors at the NHC such as Dr. Bob Sheets, Neil Frank, and Jerry Jarrell.

Scientists such as Daniel Sarewitz and Roger Pielke, Jr. shared similar ideas in a paper written for the July, 2000 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. In the concluding statement of their paper both stated that, “Environmental prospects for the coming century depend far less on our strategies for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions than on our determination and ability to reduce human vulnerability to weather and climate.” In other words, while the global warming issue is still important, it is still not as imperative as the need for people to stop building along the coastline, and densely populating our coasts. In addition, those coastal communities must do whatever they can to be properly equipped to handle such extreme weather.

People have to realize that current building policies coupled with sub-standard building codes, and poor enforcement of those codes, is creating the possibility of another Katrina or Andrew like scenario. Moreover, residents of these vulnerable areas must recognize that they are vulnerable, and make the proper precautions. Unfortunately, the latest polls from various media seem to indicate that the opposite is happening, which is especially alarming in light of the disasters from both the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

08.21.06

Pacific Still Where The Action Is

Posted in Commentary at 11:47 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone,

Well, as usual I’ve been away with other things over the past week. The lull in the Atlantic has a lot to do with it. However, I usually try to at least post some articles by this time. Thank goodness for the blog. Hopefully, this latest tropical depression that formed near the Cape Verde Islands late Monday afternoon will finally get the hurricane blood flowing through my veins again. Speaking of the Cape Verde Islands, when was the last time there has been a Tropical Storm Warning issued for the Cape Verdes? I know that many of the powerful and classic hurricanes form in that part of the world, but they usually don’t issue any warnings for those areas.

Anyway, despite the latest developments in the Tropical Atlantic, which also has another area of disturbed weather moving toward the Lesser Antilles as of this time, the action continues to largely be occurring in the Pacific. First, and foremost, Tropical Storm Hector developed over the past week, and is now just a weak swirl of clouds in the open waters of the Pacific. Once the storms in the Eastern Pacific move away from the Mexican coast, the combination of cooler waters, and lack of any land, makes these storms no longer a threat. In the meantime, another tropical system has been spending this Monday rapidly developing into a storm.

Tropical Storm Ileana, which developed from a vast area of clouds and showers associated with a tropical low in the area of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, has winds of 40 mph, and is getting its act together in a hurry. Looking at the satellite, Ileana has developed a decent core of convection, and appears to have nice outflow, particularly in the southern semicircle. So, expect the National Hurricane Center to upgrade this system in the next advisory or two. But, that’s not all of it as far as the Pacific is concerned. While there isn’t much to talk about in the very busy Western Pacific on this evening, we have a major hurricane in the Central Pacific.

Hurricane Ioke, is presently moving to the southwest of the Hawaiian Island chain. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph, which makes it a major hurricane at Category Three strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Despite the fact that the satellite imagery depicts a ragged northern semicircle, Ioke, has a tight well defined eye, and it is expected to intensify according to the latest info from the Weather Channel. Ioke is forecast to turn to the Northwest, and threaten Johnston Island in the Central Pacific.

With the development of Ioke in the Central Pacific, memories come to mind of another major hurricane that rampaged through the Hawaiian islands nearly 15 years ago. Hurricane Iniki, which was a powerful hurricane with 140 mph winds, which made it a Category Four Hurricane. The storm, which moved right over the island of Kauai on September 11, 1992, was the first hurricane to affect the island chain since the 1982 season, and the first major hurricane to strike there since the year Hawaii earned statehood. Many people forget about Iniki because of the massive impact Hurricane Andrew had on the economy and collective psyche of South Florida only a few weeks earlier.

These latest developments in both the Eastern and Central Pacific continue to support the notion that we may be entering an El Nino cycle. Could the activity in the Atlantic be affected by all this action? Well, perhaps because the outflow from the systems in the Eastern Pacific, particularly Ileana could create a hostile upper level flow that could spread into the Atlantic. Those hostile upper air dynamics could impact the unorganized disturbance that is currently east of the Lesser Antilles. Only time will tell.

Could The Fourth Time Be The Charm?

Posted in General, Storm Track, Commentary at 7:06 pm by gmachos

Well, if you are a person living along the coastline of the United States from Maine to Texas, you certainly hope not. So, far this Atlantic Hurricane Season, things have been quite tranquil even by normal standards. Early on, it seemed that things were on par for a above normal season. By the second week of August, there had been at least a named storm in each month of the 2006 Season (June, July, and August). However, with the tranquility of the past couple weeks, and most importantly, no hurricanes, things are pointing toward not only a much less hectic season, but perhaps, an average or below average year.

However, on this late Monday afternoon, there may be a sign that the notorious Cape Verde Season may be finally kicking into gear. As you know, we are entering the peak season for Atlantic Hurricanes. The actual statistical peak is around the date of September 10th. This is the case because of the lag between land temperatures and sea surface temperatures. Even though the sun angle in the Northern Hemisphere sky is changing, and the amount of daylight is decreasing, the ocean has the ability to retain more heat so the Atlantic, which has been baking under the warmth of the tropical sun, is now reaching is peak temperature while land peak temperatures occur earlier on in the summer solstice. Bottom line, we now have to look at tropical disturbances much farther east.

And despite being a bit behind schedule, we now have a very vigorous tropical wave moving off the African coast, and moving westward toward the Cape Verde Islands. Last week, there was a similar wave in the Eastern Atlantic, but it fizzled out quickly after hitting the cooler waters there. This impressive wave, which had been more impressive than the one last week (and that was the best wave of the season to that point!) has now become a tropical depression, only the fourth of the 2006 season. Winds are presently sustained at 35 mph while pressure has dropped to 1007 mb as the tropical system heads to the West-Northwest at 12 mph, or about 250 miles Southeast of the Southernmost island in the remote island chain.

The significance of this depression developing near the Cape Verde Islands is very important because many of the tropical systems that emerge in this part of the world usually become the devastating killer storms such as Andrew, Gilbert, Hugo, Gloria, the Long Island Express, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and so many more. This season has been somewhat dormant by recent standards. The past twelve seasons of activity have been in a realm without equal, and that puts even more emphasis on the dormancy that has occurred thus far.

Since the very end of the 1994 season, when there were two named storms that particular month, the only season, which was below average was the 1997 season, where there were only eight named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane. The 1997 season occurred in the midst of the strongest El Nino to date. With the recent dearth in activity throughout the Atlantic Basin, it has raised the question of whether or not, we have entered an El Nino phase. While the Atlantic has been tranquil, the Eastern and Western Pacific has seen a great deal of storms. Recently, China saw its worst typhoon in 50 years while seven others have also hit the Communist mainland. Over in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Hector was once a hurricane, and another disturbance has become the ninth named storm of 2006 in Ileana.

Usually when there is a lot of activity in the Eastern Pacific, there is little activity in the Atlantic, and vice versa. Last season, there were a good deal of storms in the Eastern Pacific, but it was still below average by that basin’s standards. Meanwhile, the Atlantic had its record breaking season in 2005 with 27 named storms, 15 hurricanes, 7 major hurricanes, and 4 Category Five Hurricanes according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale. On the other hand, in 1997 while the Atlantic was relatively dormant by recent standards, the Eastern Pacific had a very busy season with a number of powerful storms including Enrique, Felicia, Guillermo, Linda, Nora, Pauline, and Rick. Hurricanes Linda and Nora threatened the West Coast of the United States at one point that year. The last time that happened was in 1939 when a tropical cyclone hit Southern California.

This relationship in activity between the Eastern Pacific and the Atlantic is not coincidental. The reason for that is kind of similar to the idea of of troughs and ridges across the continental United States. Usually, when you have a ridge in the Western portion of the U.S., there is usually a trough in the East while a ridge in the Eastern U.S. usually means a ridge in the West. With hurricanes, you have outflow, where energy generated by these ocean monsters are exhausted out of the top of the system. The exhausts from say an Eastern Pacific hurricane head eastward across Mexico into the Atlantic side, and create hostile upper level conditions in the Atlantic. Consquently, storms, especially in formative stages struggle to mature into hurricanes.

There is a very long way to go for this current depression in the Atlantic. Well out in the Far-Eastern Atlantic, the depression is at least a week or so away from threatening the United States, and while it is out over open water, upper level conditions, and pressures, which have hampered development thus far in ‘06, will play a pivotal role ni what kind of lifetime this tropical cyclone will have.

08.15.06

Activity Trying To Percolate In The Atlantic

Posted in General, Storm Track at 9:26 pm by gmachos

Good evening everyone. Well, the past couple days, I’ve been watching like everyone else the tropical disturbance trying to take shape off of the Southeast coast. The disturbance formed along an old frontal boundary that had been stationary across the Bahamas and Southern Florida. Sometimes, you can get a tropical depression or storm to emerge from along an old stationary front.

Looking at the 5:30 PM Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center, the shower and thunderstorm activity associated with this new disturbance continues to lack in abundance despite the fact that there is a broad area of circulation. However, there are indications that upper level wind patterns are gradually becoming more favorable, and we could have a depression later in the week. Air Force Reconnaissance Aircraft is scheduled to fly into the area sometime on Wednesday if necessary.

Meanwhile, there is another area of disturbed weather in the Gulf of Mexico as a large cluster of showers and thunderstorms fired up during the day. According to the latest report from the Weather Channel’s Hurricane Central, the thunderstorm activity has waned during the evening hours. Usually that isn’t the case with most tropical systems, especially well developed ones. However, if the thunderstorms can persist, and build up more around the center of circulation, we could have another tropical depression.

As far as the vigorous tropical wave that came off the African coast over the last 24 hours, it has completely fizzled in the not yet warm enough waters of the Eastern Atlantic. Looking at the satellite imagery last night, it appeared that this disturbance was going to be a tropical depression or storm within time. It was probably the most impressive wave to leave West Africa so far this season. However, by the afternoon, it was apparent that the thunderstorm action with this disturbance had diminished and the wave had dissipated. Over in the Eastern Pacific, we have our ninth depression of the year some 700 miles to the South-Southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Finally, the Western Pacific continues to be active with a tropical storm and a tropical depression. Southern Japan is awaiting the arrival of Tropical Storm Wukong, which has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph while another tropical system, Sonamu, has weakened to depression status. Although the Atlantic has been relatively quiet compared to the record breaking 2005 season, there has been plenty to talk about worldwide with respect to the tropics.

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