Good evening again everyone. Things got quite busy in the Tropical Atlantic within just the past few days. Talk about rapid development, how about the fact that Humberto was a mere tropical depression on Wednesday morning, and within 24 hours, it was making landfall as a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 85 mile per hour winds, 105 mile per hour gusts, and a minimum central pressure of 29.12 inches of Hg. Now, Humberto has weakened to a depression near Alexandria, Louisiana, and is expected to bring plenty of rain to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Eight has appeared to have hit a wall in terms of its progress. On Wednesday, TD #8 appeared to be well on its way to becoming the next storm in 2007. It formed before, the depression that eventually became Hurricane Humberto developed in the Western Gulf. Well out in the Central Atlantic where conditions are usually at there optimal this time of year, TD #8 emerged on Wednesday morning in virtually the same area that Dean and Felix developed within the past month. However, upper level conditions have now become unfavorable for development, and that has not only hampered chances for intensification, but also slowed the storm down. It is as if the system has moved through a mound of molasses in the Central Atlantic.
There is a possibility that the depression could become a storm within the next 12 to 24 hours. The latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida states that TD #8 is forecast to strengthen to storm status within the next 12 to 24 hours, and actually reach 40 knot, or 45 mile per hour winds within 48 to 72 hours. After that, the system is anticipated to weaken. If the storm does strengthen to become another named storm, the ninth of the season, will be named Ingrid. Beyond that, there are some other waves to worry about in the Atlantic. After talking to Barometer Bob of Hurricane Hollow on the phone on Wednesday night, I took a look at the satellite imagery of the Tropical Atlantic, and Africa.
Returning back to our former hurricane, Humberto, did you know that the third hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic season is the first to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma hit the Florida Keys and South Florida back in October 2005? Well, it is true. If you recall last season, there were only several storms that threatened the U.S. coastline with Hurricane Ernesto making landfall in the Upper Florida Keys and Southern Florida and later on along the North Carolina coast as a Tropical Storm. No hurricanes or major hurricanes threatened in 2006, which was a season that had only 10 named storms (corrected after review of season by NHC determined an unnamed storm formed), five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. In addition to that fact, Humberto went from a Tropical Depression to a strong Category One Hurricane in just 14 hours.
Good evening everyone,
Well, we are still continuing to watch Tropical Storm Humberto as it plods slowly towards the Upper Texas Coastline. The storm as of the 8 PM EDT (7 PM CDT) Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, is located about 35 miles South of Galveston, and is moving slowly to the North-Northeast at 7 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds remain at 50 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 65 miles per hour while its minimum central pressure has dropped slightly to 998 millibars, or 29.47 inches of Hg (Mercury). Meanwhile, we still have Tropical Depression Eight well out in the Central Atlantic, and that may become a tropical storm as well. On top of all that, there are two new waves that haven’t been mentioned about much from the NHC, or any of the major news media, but were brought up in a conversation I had with Barometer Bob of Hurricane Hollow just a little while ago. So, in a nutshell, things are beginning to really pick up in the Atlantic as they’re supposed to this time of year.
Anyway, I wanted to take some time to convey my thoughts on the summer of discontent and controversy at the National Hurricane Center. As most of you on my mailing list probably know, and many of you, who follow the news, Bill Proenza was replaced at the NHC, and reappointed back to his old position within the National Weather Service of Director of the Southern Regional Office out of Fort Worth, Texas. Proenza was hired back in January 2007 to replace long time forecaster and previous NHC chief, Max Mayfield, who retired at the end of the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season. After being on the job for only a few months, Proenza, known to be a no-nonsense and outspoken individual from his last tenure at the Southern Regional Office, became very critical of NOAA’s management of the NWS and NHC.
One of the things that Proenza became passionate about was the QuickSCAT satellite, a vital tool in providing critical data used to assist forecasters in accurately forecasting a storm’s track. Within the past few years, the satellite had begun to show its age, and there were concerns that the tool would fail during the 2007 season. Proenza sounded the alarms on this issue by stating to the media that if the QuickSCAT satellite failed, then the accuracy and quality of a hurricane forecast would drop by as much as 10 to 16 percent. Proenza also criticized NOAA for spending an unnecessary amount of money on NOAA’s 200th anniversary, which he believed should have been better used to help the NWS and NHC improve forecasts.
Shortly afterward, when NOAA unveiled its initial 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast in May, Rear Admiral, Conrad Lautenbacher, the NOAA Administrator, was asked about Proenza’s recent comments, and acknowledged the former NHC director’s concern and passion about these issues. However, within weeks of that acknowledgement, Proenza was reprimanded by his superiors at NOAA. Shortly afterward, a team was sent down to the NHC to investigate what was happening down there. While this was all happening, the Atlantic Hurricane Season was underway. Two storms had already formed by the end of June 1st, the official first day of the season as Subtropical Storm Andrea formed in early May while Tropical Storm Barry developed within hours of the start of the new season.
Within weeks Proenza was fighting for his job while staff including prominent forecasters at the National Hurricane Center were calling for his ouster. Proenza was then put on leave shortly after that. The situation with Proenza from the reprimand to the staff revolt, makes one wonder especially in light of what the current administration has done to silence other scientists, who have opposing views on such things as global warming. Take NASA scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, who has been a vocal about the possibility that the planet is at a critical stage in its global warming crisis, and actions must be taken quickly to prevent significant effects from occurring in future years. Well, officials at NASA as well as those in the Bush Administration went as far as to edit his papers in order to silence him, and force him to write about the global warming crisis as if it wasn’t a really troubling issue.
Congress has begun to investigate the tumult not only within the NHC and NOAA, but also with NASA as well. Thank goodness for checks and balances. Between the bureaucratic blundering that occurred in the wake of not only Hurricane Katrina, but also Hurricane Wilma as well, the watering down of FEMA since the beginning of this decade, the addition of Homeland Security and the reorganization that resulted from it, the lack of concern over environmental issues, cutting of funding to critical programs such as the levee improvements needed in New Orleans prior to Katrina, and for the flood walls and barriers to be built on the Raritan River in Central Jersey, it is amazing how this current administration has been able to stay in power without one serious call for impeachment! How many more lives are we going to lose along our coastal regions before something is done?
Good afternoon everyone. Well, we are approaching the peak of hurricane season. Actually, we just passed it. According to my past recollections from listening to Tropical Updates on The Weather Channel, the statistical peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season was this past Monday, September 10th. However, in reading a book on Hurricane Bob, I learned that the peak can be September 15th. Anyway, this week represents the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season with the end coming on November 30th unless a storm forms on or after that date. Living up to form, the Atlantic Basin has perked up again with two new features. One is a strengthening tropical storm in the Western Gulf while the other is a depression in the Central Atlantic closing in on tropical storm status.
Our immediate area of concern is Tropical Storm Humberto, which was Tropical Depression Nine earlier in the day on Wednesday. Humberto has recently strengthened with maximum sustained winds approaching 50 miles per hour with gusts up to 65 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure down to 999 millibars, or 29.50 inches of Hg. According to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the eighth named storm of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season is located approximately 50 miles south of Galveston, Texas, and traveling slowly northward at 7 miles per hour. Currently there are watches and warnings out for the Gulf Coast. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Port O’Connor, Texas to Intercoastal City, Louisiana.
As mentioned earlier the storm is strengthening. As a matter of fact, the latest discussion from the NHC indicates that Humberto has become better organized during the day on Wednesday. The bands of convection associated with the system are beginning to wrap around the core of the storm. While reconaissance aircraft has not detected any increase in winds at flight level, satellite and ship report data suggest otherwise, which resulted in the upgrade in the storm’s intensity. Although there are environmental conditions such as very warm sea surface temperatures in the Western Gulf, and very light winds aloft to support further development, the storm is very close to land, which will probably prevent it from attaining minimal hurricane strength.
As far as the forecast track goes, Humberto appears to have gotten around the periphery of a subtropical high pressure ridge in the Central Gulf of Mexico, and should make landfall within the next 12 to 24 hours. Moving on to the next system, Tropical Depression Eight, we see that it is approaching tropical storm strength with 35 mile per hour sustained winds, gusts in excess of 45 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 1006 millibars, or 29.71 inches of Hg (Mercury) as of the 5 PM EDT Advisory from the NHC. Located approximately 1,065 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, the depression is moving to the West-Northwest at 12 miles per hour. Showing signs of better organization on Wednesday, the depression could become a tropical storm later Wednesday night, or during the day on Thursday.
If the depression does indeed get upgraded to a storm, it will be the ninth named storm of the 2007 season, and it will be called, Ingrid. So far in the Atlantic in 2007, there have been nine depressions, eight storms, two hurricanes, two major hurricanes that eventually became Category Five systems. Also, keep in mind that since we are in the peak of hurricane season, we are also in the midst of the Cape Verde Season, where waves off the coast of Africa develop into the more memorable, deadly, and devastating hurricanes we’ve come to know through the years.
Good morning everyone. Well, there is a lull in the tropics right now, but it may not last for long as there are three areas of disturbed weather including a tropical wave about 1200 miles east of the Windward Islands that may become a tropical depression. You can at least say goodbye to Gabrielle, which is still a depression as it heads out to sea away from the Northeastern Coast of the United States. Gabrielle had come ashore along the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, gusts up to 65 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 29.68 inches of Hg, or 1005 millibars.
With those preliminaries out of the way, I wanted to shift focus briefly to another book that has recently come into my possession. About a week or so ago, I was contacted by Jeff Lyon with regard to his book, The Destruction Diary of Hurricane Bob. If you recall, I had written an article on the 15th anniversary of the storm last summer. Hurricane Bob was a Category Two Hurricane that came up the East Coast of the United States, and hammered New England with winds as high as 100 miles per hour in August 1991. It even wreaked havoc on then President George H.W. Bush’s vacation at his family retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine. Returning to our story, Mr. Lyon sent me a copy of the book to read, and I received it on Monday. I just glanced at the book, and there are a lot of nice articles and stories about the storm as well as a myriad of photos of the destruction left behind by the storm.
I do recall Hurricane Bob coming up the East Coast. The storm moved well east of the Jersey Shore as it just brushed the tip of Long Island. While there were some clouds, showers, and gusty winds, by no means was it a bad storm for the Garden State, but it certainly was for New England. The region has seen its share of storms over the years including the Great Hurricane of 1821, the Long Island Express of 1938, the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, storms of the 1950s (Carol is one example), Hurricane Donna (1960), Hurricane Belle (1976), and Hurricane Gloria (1985). I look forward to reading this book more in depth over the coming days. In the meantime, I invite you to get a copy of the book for yourself. Jeff Lyon is selling a limited number of copies on the Craigslist web site.
Good afternoon everyone. Well, as promised, I’ve completed the book, Killer ‘Cane by Robert Mykle earlier this week, and I plan to have a book review about it soon. I also intend to have articles on Hurricane Felix, Hurricane Henriette, and the interesting topic of Paleotempestology as well as commemorative articles on Hurricane Agnes, Hurricane Audrey, Hurricane Beulah, and Hurricane Iniki. So, continue to keep your eyes peeled. I’ve been busy getting accustomed to my new job so I’m a bit behind right now. With that out of the way, it’s time to move on to the latest topic in the tropics, Subtropical Storm Gabrielle.
Recall the past couple weeks or so, we had been dealing with a couple tropical disturbances in the Western Atlantic off the southeast coast. One disturbance formed several hundred miles off the North Florida coast, and after that disturbance faded another one formed nearby, and brought drenching torrential rains to the Georgia, South Carolina coast including Savannah, Hilton Head, Tybee Island, and St. Simon’s Island. Then, the disturbance, which had been part of an old frontal boundary began to move eastward into the Atlantic. Earlier in the week, around Labor Day, there were indications that the disturbance was not only going to develop into a storm eventually, but also head back toward the coast. Analysis suggested that high pressure was going to build in further north in the Atlantic, and block the only escape route out.
Over the past couple days, this disturbance became better organized, and on Friday night, strengthened into a Subtropical Storm that was given the name Gabrielle, the seventh named storm of 2007. As of the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the subtropical system has maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, with gusts reported to be as high as 70 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has dropped slightly to 1009 millibars (29.80 inches of Hg) from 1011 millibars (29.87 inches of Hg), and the storm is located some 240 miles Southeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Tropical storm force winds extend some 115 miles from the center as the system is quite small in size.
The forecast track for Gabrielle has the storm approaching the Outer Banks region of North Carolina over the next couple days, and the turning back out to sea by Tuesday morning. The latest discussion from the NHC indicates that there will be some more strengthening with the system prior to nearing the coastline. Winds could get as high as 65 miles per hour, but not much higher since there is not a lot of convection with this system presently, and while upper level conditions could become more favorable, there is a very small window for development. Currently there are watches and warnings out for the Mid-Atlantic Coast. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the North Carolina shoreline from Surf City to the North Carolina/Virginia border, and Tropical Storm Watches are in effect from Surf City southward to Cape Fear, and north of the Virginia/North Carolina border to Cape Charles Light.
Earlier in the week, forecasters indicated that a La Niña may be forming in the Atlantic, and that could mean a very busy final three months of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The reason for that possibility is because when a La Niña forms, cooler than normal sea surface temperatures develop in the Pacific, which means fewer tropical systems in regions such as the Eastern Pacific. Consequently, there is less turbulence and wind shear entering the Atlantic Basin to inhibit fledgling disturbances, which means there is a greater chance for weaker storms to become better organized, and strengthen. In recent years, October and November have been more active than usual. Only 1997, 2002, and 2006 were execptions.
Good evening everyone. I recently made an update to the web site regarding Hurricane Felix, which made landfall along the Northern coast of Nicaragua early Tuesday morning, but not before it managed to re-intensify into a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Felix had gone through an eyewall replacement cycle on Monday night, and had been degraded to a minimal, but still very powerful Category Four storm with maximum sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, gusts in excess of 160 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 953 millibars, or 28.05 inches of Hg (Mercury). In addition, if you haven’t noticed already, I’ve updated the news section with two more articles including one on Hurricane Dean, and another on Hurricane Flossie in the Eastern Pacific. Finally, I continue finishing up my reading of the book, Killer ‘Cane by Robert Mykle, and I should complete the book tonight.
However, what I wanted to talk about tonight is how the internet and video have combined not only to bring the world closer together, but also provide tremendous storm coverage from those, who are actually experiencing it head on. I’ve been looking at some of the video postings to the Weather Channel’s User Video section, and I saw a number of great postings for both recent hurricanes: Dean and Felix. The Hurricane Dean user video page at the Weather Channel had exactly 120 videos posted from all around the Caribbean and Central America including St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize, and Mexico. The footage I saw particularly from Jamaica was incredible. Video footage from places such as Red Hills outside of Kingston, and Clarendon, were amazing. There was also nice footage from Grand Cayman and Belize as well as great video of wave action along the coast of the Dominican Republic.
I also took a look at some of the footage from Hurricane Felix collected by TWC Weather Warriors. While much of the storm footage is not as vivid, or exciting as Dean’s was since Felix avoided many land areas during its travels through the Caribbean, it was still nice to see folks capturing the storm from such remote places as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Doing this kind of stuff myself, I can truly appreciate what these people are trying to do. Although I’ve never really been caught up in severe weather such as what has transpired in the Caribbean over the past several weeks, I have captured and documented a number of storms in the New Jersey area over the past few years. Despite the fact that some of these people taking videos of storms take dangerous risks, it is a great thing to be able to capture a news story, which a major hurricane such as Dean and Felix are, and be able to provide it to the news outlets to allow viewers a more intimate look at the story from a native person’s perspective. Sometimes, the local people caught up in these maelstorms, or other news stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings know more about the situation occurring as well as the lay of the land, and can give us the true story of what’s happening.
The combination of the internet with a small video camera, cell phone, or other digital device has changed the media landscape in such a way that anyone can become a news reporter, or cameraman, and bring a major event to homes throughout the world with very little financial cost. One thing that really surprised me in terms of the Dean video is that there was no storm footage from the Yucatan when the storm struck as a Category Five, and the third strongest hurricane to make landfall ever recorded in the Atlantic. Intrigued by what I found at the Weather Channel web site, I decided to move on over to YouTube, and see if I could find more storm footage from both Dean and Felix there. My curiosity was satisifed in that there was plenty of video on Dean hitting the Yucatan including several from Chetumal and Quintana Roo were the storm made its first landfall nearby. One in particular showed footage at the height of the storm as well as photos of the aftermath.
Comparing the two sites, I thought that the footage from the Weather Channel was much better in the sense that it wasn’t from people capturing TV footage on their VCRs, and converting them into stuff to post on YouTube. TWC video coverage was all purely from individuals chasing the storm, and documenting its effects on their area. However, there was plenty more video coverage of the storm damage from the Yucatan on YouTube as supposed to the Weather Channel. Nevertheless, technology has found yet another way to bring weather to your fingertips!
Good morning everyone. This continue to get busy in the Tropical Atlantic as Felix became a hurricane on Saturday night, and then strengthened to a strong Category Two storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 100 mile per hour winds on Sunday morning. The latest information I’ve heard from the Weather Channel is that Felix is still showing signs of strengthening as colder cloud tops are beginning to show more and more on the composite infared satellite, and its well defined pinhole shaped eye. It is quite possible that in the 11 AM EDT Advisory from the NHC, Felix will be reclassified as a major hurricane. If that does happen, the storm will become the second major storm of the season along with Dean. More details will be coming in both the Hurricaneville Storm Report and Tracking the Tropics.
However, what I really wanted to focus on in this particular blog entry is another storm, Tropical Storm Henriette. Henriette is the eighth named storm to form in the Eastern Pacific basin in 2007, and it is very close to making it up to hurricane strength. If it does, Henriette will be the first hurricane in the EPAC since Hurricane Flossie, which went on to threaten Hawaii several weeks ago. Currently, Henriette has winds of very strong tropical storm force at 70 miles per hour while its minimum central pressure has dropped to 994 millibars, or 29.35 inches of Hg. The system is still quite small with tropical storm force winds extending some 85 miles from its center of circulation. Now located some 125 miles West-Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or 395 miles Southeast of the Southern tip of Baja California.
Earlier this weekend, Tropical Storm Henriette caused a ton of problems along the West Coast of Mexico, particularly in the resort areas such as Acapulco. Torrential rains have produced flooding and mudslides that have forced boulders to come down out of mountainsides into local villages. So far the death toll stands at six people killed from the storm’s effects. Over the past 12 to 24 hours, Henriette has pulled away from the Mexican West Coast out into the open waters, where it is not only expected to strengthen, but also forecast to move up north to threaten the area around Baja California. So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has had 11 depressions and 8 named storms, but only two hurricanes and one major hurricane. By contrast, the Atlantic Basin has had six named storms including one subtropical system, two hurricanes, and one major hurricane. However, if Felix continues to strengthen, the Atlantic could have more major hurricanes than the EPAC.
The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season starts a couple weeks earlier than the Atlantic. Starting on May 15th every year, the season lasts until November 30th. Last season, the EPAC was the most active it has been since the memorable season of 1997. Both last year and 1997 were El Niño years. Each of those seasons were below average in the Atlantic Basin. The reverse has happened in all the other seasons since 1995. El Niño is a climatic condition that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Pacific become warmer than normal. When this climate pattern develops, it can have far reaching effects around the world including tropical activity in both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic Basins. Tropical Storm and Hurricane activity increases in the EPAC while it decreases in the Atlantic. La Niña is the exact opposite of El Niño. During a La Niña event, sea surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the Pacific, and that usually means fewer storms and hurricanes in the EPAC while more in the Atlantic.
Good evening everyone. Before I begin to discuss my thoughts on Tropical Storm Felix, I thought that I would mention that I plan to work on articles about Hurricane Dean and Hurricane Flossie to post to the web site this weekend. So keep your eyes peeled. In addition, I’m closing in on finishing my latest book, Killer ‘Cane: The Deadly Hurricane of 1928. I only have about 45 pages to read. After I finish, I will get to work on the book reviews. Thank you all for your patience and continued support for the web site. With that out of the way, it’s time to talk about what’s been happening with Felix.
On Friday, August 31st, the sixth named storm of the season began to take shape as a depression in the Western Atlantic less than two hundred miles from the Lesser Antilles. Early on Saturday morning, the depression became the fourth named storm to form in just the last 32 days, and it was named Felix. Later in the morning, the newly formed storm had winds of 45 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 1004 millibars, or 29.65 inches of Hg (Mercury). More importantly, the tropical storm force winds only extended some 45 miles from the center of circulation. So, this was a very small storm. However, that would gradually change.
During the course of the afternoon, Felix defied some of the expectations set before it by the sophisticated tropical computer models such as the GFDL and the HWRF. Both of those models didn’t appear to be as enthusiastic as the SHIPS statistical intensity model, which has performed quite well with Felix so far. Over a span of about nine hours, maximum sustained winds with the system gradually increased from 45 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour while pressure dropped some five millibars to 999 mb, or 29.50 inches of Hg. The most dramatic growth occurred with the diameter of the storm’s wind field. Tropical storm force winds with Felix expanded by some 311 percent to 140 miles from the center. Listening to the Weather Channel throughout the morning, you had the sense that Felix wasn’t going to become anything significant right away. And, that assumption wasn’t necessarily a bad one. Despite the very warm sea surface temperatures, Felix has been located in the Southeastern and South Central Caribbean, which aren’t really favorable areas for development. Being at such a low latitude is not a good thing for tropical cyclones because they need spin, or rotation to develop. The closer tropical storms and hurricanes are to the equator, the more difficult it can be for them to strengthen.
However, there have been past instances of storms developing in this area. One classic example was Hurricane Ivan back in the 2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Ivan struck the Southern Windwards as a strong Category One Hurricane before moving into the Central Caribbean. After bringing a blitzkreig to the island of Grenada, which had 90 percent of its buildings either destroyed or damaged by the hurricane, Ivan continued to intensify as it eventually became the second of what would become seven Category Five Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin in just the past five seasons. Let’s also keep in mind that the trends that forecasters go on when talking about this region of the Atlantic as well as others is based on records that are only 156 years old. So, it is quite possible that there were more storms in this area, but the scientists just don’t know for sure.
Felix has an opportunity to become the season’s second hurricane, and perhaps a major hurricane over the next several days. The latest discussion from the NHC indicates that Felix could have sustained winds as high as 110 knots, or approximately 125 miles per hour when it makes landfall somewhere in Central America from the Yucatan to Northeastern Nicaragua. Most significant is the fact that once again Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and the Yucatan Peninsula appear to be in the crosshairs of another potentially devastating and deadly storm.