Several Powerful Typhoons And A Major Hurricane Make Headlines In Last Month
Over the past week, Hurricaneville has been tracking what is now Tropical Storm Rina in the Northwestern Caribbean. This latest storm in the Atlantic Basin was the first storm in several weeks. Prior to that, there had been Ophelia at the end of September, and Philippe in early October. These two storms ended up being hurricanes. Ophelia battled difficult circumstances, but eventually became a major hurricane with 140 mile per hour winds.
Before Rina emerged in the Western Caribbean, and threatened the Yucatan Peninsula in the past week, activity had picked up quite a bit in the Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific. There had been several powerful typhoons in the West Pacific including Typhoon Roke, Typhoon Nesat, and Typhoon Nalgae. All three had the intensity of a major hurricane with two of them being classified as super typhoons with Category Four strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Nesat and Nalgae moved over the same part of the Philippines, and left a great deal of flooding and devastation there. Meanwhile, Roke made landfall over Japan.
Nesat and Nalgae as well as Tropical Storm Haitang all ended up making their final landfalls over Vietnam. While these storms were much weaker when they came through these areas, they brought significant rainfall to Indochina, which has resulted in major flooding in places such as Thailand. The capital city of Bangkok is still under siege from floodwaters. So far this year, there have been 34 tropical depressions, 20 tropical storms, 8 typhoons, and 4 super typhoons in the WestPAC. The storms have left 459 people dead, and an estimated $4.4 billion in damages. The Western Pacific Basin is the most active in the world with some of the most powerful storms forming there.
Further east in the Pacific, there had been an increase in activity as well with the development of several storms and a depression. When we last reported on the tropics in late September, we were dealing with a powerful storm in Hurricane Hilary. A little while after that, Hurricane Irwin developed, and then Hurricane Jova emerged. For a while, it appeared that the West Coast of Mexico was going to get a one-two punch of powerful storms. With these latest storms, there have been 12 tropical depressions, 10 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes.
Jova was the biggest threat to Mexico as a Category Three major hurricane with maximum sustained winds topping out at 125 miles per hour. Irwin was only a Category One storm with 90 mile per hour winds. Hilary was a Category Four system, but stayed offshore. Before making landfall near Jalisco, Mexico, Hurricane Jova began an eyewall replacement cycle, and weakened to a Category Two Hurricane with 100 mile per hour winds. Even after dissipating, the storm still produced significant rains in the interior of Mexico. Jova left eight people dead, and caused some $28 million in damage. With climate conditions turning back to a mild La Nina episode this summer, the Eastern Pacific has had to deal with cooler than normal sea surface temperatures.
Cold Front Moving Through Jersey Could Set Stage For Coastal Storm On Saturday
Good evening. Yesterday morning as I was getting breakfast with my morning paper, I was alerted to an article in the Wednesday Star-Ledger saying that snow was possible late this week into this weekend. I didn’t really pay any mind to it. It is one thing to see October snowstorms and blizzards in places such as Colorado, but it is another to see a significant snowfall in Central Jersey, or any part of the Garden State for that matter.
However, as the day progressed on Thursday, and I’ve been watching the weather reports from the various media outlets, I’m becoming more convinced that we could have some snow on Saturday, particularly later in the day and evening. The earliest significant snowfall that I’ve recalled here in New Jersey was back in 1989 when a storm system brought six inches of snowfall to South Plainfield and other parts of Central Jersey. In the weeks leading up to that snow, there had been a couple significant storm systems that brought severe weather including 80 mile per hour winds to Middlesex County College and an EF3 Tornado to Belle Meade in Southern Somerset County.
Now, we have had a series of fronts come through over the past month including one that brought some strong thunderstorms on October 14th. Those storms got stronger, and brought more wicked weather to Monmouth County. However, none of that weather was as severe as that back in 1989. It has been quite a year of weather here in Central Jersey as well as the rest of the Tri-State area. Actually, since the middle of September last year, the weather has been extraordinary. If there is significant snow on Saturday, it will be another event among a long list of weather occurrences in the past 13 months that have left me scratching my head.
Right now the latest snowfall amounts forecast for Northwestern Middlesex County from the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly, New Jersey is close to 2 inches. Points eastward are looking at an inch at most while points westward are looking at 3 to 6 inches from Central Somerset County to Western Hunterdon County into Eastern Pennsylvania. The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch out for portions of Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey.
What is causing this? Well, right now, we have a very long cold front stretching from the Northeastrn United States to the Southern Great Plains. We had some snow earlier in the week in parts of Colorado near Denver. The rainy weather that we are experiencing right now is just the first part of what is about to transpire over the next few days. Temperatures have dropped from the low to mid 50s earlier in the day to the mid 40s right now. While there hasn’t been any torrential rains, the rainfall has been steady. A little more than a half an inch has fallen in Northwestern Middlesex County.
The front will push off the East Coast by Friday morning, and cold air is rushing in behind it. Temperatures will struggle to get into the low 50s for highs on Friday, which conditions remaining unsettled. The second punch in this one-two is expected to start rolling in late Friday into Saturday. Much of the precipitation in the Eastern portion of the Garden State will start out as rain. As the day progresses though, more colder air will build in, and that will lead to the development of snow in South Plainfield and other locales around the Central Jersey area. Up to a half a foot could occur in places such as Sussex, Warren, Morris, and Hunterdon counties. Everything just depends on the track of this storm.
Some forecasts from local media outlets are holding off on making any projections on how much snow we are going to get. The storm track is still a bit uncertain. The closer the coastal low gets to our area, the more likely we could see some sort of snowfall. Things should become clearer as we get into Friday. Greg’s Weather Center will continue to monitor the developments with this storm, and if snow does materialize on Saturday, we’ll try to capture it on video.
Storm Fails To Become Major Hurricane As Dry Air And Shear Tear It Apart
Two nights ago, Hurricane Rina appeared to be on the cusp of becoming the fifth major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic Season. The storm was bathing in warm water, and had winds just shy of Category Three Hurricane strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. However, dry air swooped in from the north while wind shear built up from the southwest thanks to convection near Nicaragua and Honduras.
As a result, the once powerful storm decayed under the weight of the dry air and shear. Closing in on the resort locations of Cozumel and Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula, Rina was being torn apart. Despite a blow-up of convection during the day on Thursday, the low level circulation began to get exposed to the elements around it. Maximum sustained winds first dropped to minimal hurricane status, then Rina was downgraded to strong tropical storm status, and now it is at moderate tropical storm strength.
According to the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the storm was located some 50 miles to the South-Southwest of Cozumel, Mexico, and 115 miles Northeast of Chetumal, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to only 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Barometric pressure has risen to 992 millibars, or 29.29 inches of Hg. Tropical storm force winds reach 70 miles from the center.
A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the northern and eastern coasts of the Yucatan from Punta Gruesa to Progreso. While the storm has picked up some forward speed, it continues to move very slowly. Rina is moving to the North at 7 miles per hour. The forecast discussion is calling for Rina to continue to weaken with it becoming a depression within 48 hours, and a post-tropical low in 72 hours. The model tracks are beginning to agree on a track towards the south and the northern coast of Honduras by the end of five days.
Here is weather footage that I took with my cell phone camera at Washington Rock in Green Brook on October 26, 2011. The fall foliage there continues to head toward peak colors. Add to that a nice mid-fall day, and you had quite a site for viewing.
Here is a time lapse video of weather conditions in South Plainfield, New Jersey on October 20th. The weather was in transition from a couple of storms that passed through the day before. Cloudy skies and gusty winds accompanied the fall colors that were starting to develop.
Here is a time lapse video of weather conditions in South Plainfield, New Jersey on October 19, 2011. On this day, two storm systems combined to bring some rain and wind to Northwestern Middlesex County. The storms ended up tallying nearly another inch of rain to this part of the already waterlogged Garden State.
Here is a time lapse video of weather conditions in South Plainfield, New Jersey on October 14, 2011. On this day, there was a strong thunderstorm that moved through Northwestern Middlesex County with a good downpour along with gusty winds and a couple cracks of thunder. Total rainfall was about 0.60 inches. Prior to the storm, temperatures were near 75 in the area. After, they fell into the 40s for lows.
Slow Moving Storm Nearing Major Hurricane Strength
It has been a while since we’ve reported on the tropics. Not just in the Atlantic, but also in the Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific, where the bulk of activity has been taking place since the beginning of this month. We’ll have details on all of that in another blog post soon. Right now, Hurricaneville is monitoring a new threat in the Atlantic Basin.
Within the past several days, we’ve had a new named storm emerge in the Western Caribbean. Hurricane Rina first became a depression on late Sunday afternoon near the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. In the past 54 hours, the storm has exploded to the point where it is on the cusp of becoming the fourth major hurricane of the 2011 season. Rina has benefited from a rapid intensification that has taken advantage of the conducive conditions currently in the Western Caribbean.
As of this time on Monday night, Hurricane Rina was a Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds of 85 miles per hour. By Tuesday morning, the storm had strengthened further to a Category Two system with 100 miles per hour, and a minimal central pressure of 970 millibars, or 28.64 inches of Hg (Mercury). After going through a bit of a holding pattern during the day on Tuesday, Rina intensified to be just shy of becoming a major hurricane. Churning slowly to the West at 3 miles per hour, Rina is now located some 250 miles to the Southeast of Cozumel or 240 miles to the East-Southeast of Chetumal on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Maximum sustained winds associated with this hurricane are now at 110 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 130 miles per hour. Barometric pressure has fallen to 966 millibars, or 29.53 inches of Hg. Hurricane force winds extend some 30 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out some 140 miles. The eye has a diameter of 10 nautical miles. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from north of Chetumal to Punta Gruesa along the East Coast of the Yucatan. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Belize from Belize City northward, and for the islands of Roatan and Guanaja in Honduras.
Looking at the latest forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center, Rina is in a very favorable area for development with light wind shear at the upper levels and very warm sea surface temperatures. The storm could become a major hurricane within the next 12 to 36 hours. However, with a major trough over the Eastern United States extending into the Gulf of Mexico, Rina should begin to weaken to a Category Two storm by 48 hours. Within three days, the storm is forecast to be a Category One storm, and weaken below hurricane status by four days.
The latest forecast track shows Hurricane Rina approaching Cancun by this time Thursday night before turning to the right toward Western Cuba. Earlier on Tuesday, the GFDL model was showing Rina moving across South Florida in a track very similar to Hurricane Wilma back in 2005. However, the storm is not expected to stay that strong for long, and that will prevent the jet stream from picking up this storm, and carrying it eastward into South Florida. Hurricaneville will continue monitoring developments with this hurricane.
So far this month, the temperatures have been above average for the most part. There were thunderstorms this time last week with some of them being strong or severe. The thermometer has been kind by keeping the mercury at more comfortable levels. However, that is going to change a bit on Friday and carry over into the weekend.
The diurnal range of temperature this month in South Plainfield has been about 41 degrees with a high of 82 degrees and a low of 41. The average temperature is just under 60 degrees. On Friday morning, the temperature bottomed out at 49.4 degrees after reaching a high of 64 on Thursday. Winds still remain brisk. Top wind gust on Thursday was 8 miles per hour while so far on Friday, there has been a 6 mile per hour gust.
After dealing with some rain on Wednesday, and windy and cloudy conditions on Thursday, the barometric pressure is on the rise. Earlier this week, the pressure dropped to 29.27 inches of Hg. At the time of this report, the barometer had risen to 29.91 inches of Hg. There was only a little bit of rain on Thursday, and so far no measurable precipitation on Friday. The two storm systems that impacted our area the past two days brought in change.
The change is in the form of more fall like conditions. After seeing high temperatures climb into the upper 60s to low 70s for the past week, the mercury will have to fight to just get into the 60s on Friday afternoon. Add a west wind that will be blowing between 20 to 30 miles per hour during the day, and 10 to 20 miles per hour at night, it will be a bit chillier than it has been. While we will not have conditions for radiational cooling overnight, temperatures will fall into the mid to upper 40s.
Skies will be clear and sunny on both Saturday and Sunday, but temperatures will struggle to reach the mid 60s. Finally by the beginning of next week, we will see a warm up with temperatures reaching the mid to upper 60s with a chance of some showers on Tuesday.
Here is video footage of weather conditions at Washington Rock in Green Brook, New Jersey on October 20th. It was a very nice fall day despite the windy conditions. Took in the changing fall colors at the top of Washington Rock. Colors haven’t peaked here yet, but they are getting there.