Here is a timeline of weather conditions at Greg’s Weather Center in South Plainfield, New Jersey during the day on Sunday as a severe weather event unfolded across the Mid-Alantic.
7:21 AM–Woke up to see that the skies were quite dark.
8:30 AM–Stepped outside, and skies were overcast, but no rain yet.
10:00 AM–Saw the latest update from the Garden State Weather page that indicated moderate CAPE, some shear, but not much in the way of rising air or vertical development yet due to the cloud cover. Severe weather still possible.
11:00 AM–Checked out the Storm Prediction Center web site, which indicated that there is still an enhanced risk of severe weather for much of New Jersey late this afternoon and evening. SPC did point out that the ingredients for severe weather aren’t quite there yet due to cloud cover, but there could still be a significant rain and wind event.
12:00 PM–Rain came through earlier and I posted an article in the blog on both the severe weather threat for New Jersey on Sunday, and the newly formed Tropical Depression Three in the Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall came down fairly intensely in a short period of time. GWC WX Station rain gauge received 0.12 inches of rain.
1:35 PM–Just came back inside after going outside for a walk. Skies remained overcast, but no rain occurred during the walk. Air was very moist, thick, and humid. If there is some sun later this afternoon, things could get interesting.
2:04 PM–Just checked the local weather radar. Showers and storms currently in Central Pennsylvania with a narrow line of strong to severe storms leading the way near State College. The Weather Channel app indicates a large area of severe weather possible from New York to Georgia. Strong storms also possible from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. TWC also indicates thunderstorm possible by 3:30 PM.
4:30 PM–Went outside to do a time lapse video, and noticed that the skies were becoming a bit more threatening. I also learned from the TWC app that a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was in effect for Eastern Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey until 10:00 PM. Made sure that all my electronic devices had enough power available. I also got my weather radio ready.
6:00 PM–Several severe thunderstorm warnings came through for Western New Jersey. Also took a look outside at the latest conditions and shot some video. Clouds definitely moving at a pretty good clip overhead, and continue to become more impressive despite the lack of sunshine today.
7:00 PM–Severe Thunderstorm Warning in effect for Middlesex County. Set up the GoPro Cam on the roof of the house to take some video footage of the storm coming through. A few moments later, at about 7:10 PM, the storm began to come through with heavy rains and really strong gusts of wind. You couldn’t see anything outside because the window was awash with water from the rain and wind.
8:06 PM–Checked data on the GWC WX Station. The storm that came through brought about 0.41 inches of rain with it and at a rainfall rate of 1.63 inches per hour. Winds were about 35 miles per hour. Checked the debris outside the house and there were no trees branches or wires down as well as no structural damage. Only debris from fallen leaves. High temperature today was only 75 degrees, but the dew point peaked at 73. Total rainfall so far for the day has been 0.53 inches for a total of 0.56 inches so far this month, and 13.61 inches so far for this year.
9:20 PM–Just came in from taking a walk around a portion of the town. Didn’t see any serious damage only a few decently sized tree branches by Sacred Heart School, and some more flimsy tree branches down in my neighborhood. Lot of leaves down. My guess that the winds in my neighborhood and surrounding areas on the north side of town had only 40 mile per hour winds.
Much of Garden State Under Enhanced Risk for Severe Storms; TD #3 Forms in Southern Gulf
On Saturday, I had posted several articles on things going on in and around the country weather wise including a potential severe weather event for the Mid-Atlantic United States and a developing tropical disturbance in the Northwestern Caribbean. Well, since my posts on those two entities, things have changed quite a bit with more of New Jersey falling under an enhanced risk of severe weather on Sunday and a new depression forming in the Southern Gulf of Mexico.
First, let’s take a look at the current situation with the severe weather potential in the Mid-Atlantic. We could be looking at the possibility of a very significant if not historic weather situation in places like Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Now while I say that there is this potential for a significant severe weather episode for these locations, I must add that this is not set in stone, or at least yet. Over the last 24 hours, the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma has place a larger area under an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms including some big east coast cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
The latest outlook provided by the SPC this morning indicates that there will be several clusters of storms developing anywhere from Georgia to New York with the highest chance for severe weather in the Mid-Atlantic States. Currently, much of the eastern third of the country is under either a marginal or enhanced risk of severe weather. With dew points peaking in the upper 60s to low 70s during the day across the Mid-Atlantic, and an approaching cold front that has a nice shortwave brining additional energy behind it, there is a chance for severe thunderstorms to develop. However, the most recent model data from this morning is indicating that the threat might not be as significant.
The 12z, or 8:00 AM run of the HRRR indicated that while the CAPE levels, or measure of potential energy critical for storms was moderate and there could be a decent amount of shear available for rotation, there is not enough rising motion in the atmosphere since the lapse rates aren’t running as high. Part of the reason for this is the fact that there has been significant cloud cover on Sunday morning across much of the Mid-Atlantic. The translation of all of this is that not all the ingredients are there for really severe weather to develop. However, while there may not be all the classic ingredients for supercell thunderstorm and tornado development, there still could be enough upper level energy for significant straight line winds to come through along with heavy rains.
Things could change though. Another model run is expected around 18z or 2:00 PM this afternoon, and by that time, things could clear out enough following the warm front passage for the sun to come out and heat things up. If the sun is able to do that, its energy could provide the spark that could alter the atmosphere enough to bring about a more significant severe weather event. The bottom line is that it is very important to pay attention to the weather and sky conditions if you are out today. Also, make sure that you are keeping track of the weather through resources on your mobile phone, Internet, television and weather radio. Speaking of your weather radio, you also may want to make sure that you have plenty of backup power available for all your devices in the home.
Remember, this could be, and I emphasize could be a very dangerous weather situation developing. The ingredients for it may not be there right now, but that could rapidly change if certain things occur. The fact that the Storm Prediction Center has placed places such as New Jersey under an enhanced risk is very significant since it is very rare, and it should be taken seriously. Another important weather system that we are watching is the newly formed Tropical Depression Three in the Gulf of Mexico, which emerged late this morning after being a disturbance in the Caribbean for the past several days. Tropical Storm Warnings are already up for portions of Florida with the development of this depression.
The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season is already off to a busy start with three tropical cyclones now after this depression formed. Currently, Tropical Depression Three is located 120 miles to the Northwest of Cozumel, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, or about 550 miles to the Southwest of Tampa, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are at 35 miles per hour with gusts close to tropical storm force. The minimum central pressure is down to 1005 millibars or 29.68 inches of Hg. TD Three is presently moving slowly to the north at 8 miles per hour, and that motion is expected to shift more to the northeast with an increase in forward momentum.
The latest track forecast is calling for the depression to be in the area of the Big Bend region of Florida sometime on Monday afternoon thanks to a push from a storm system currently over Texas. A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for that region of the Sunshine State from Indian Pass to Englewood. There will be several impacts to worry about for residents that could be impacted by this system: Rain, Surge, Wind, and Tornadoes. Rainfall is the biggest threat with affected areas expected to receive anywhere from 3 to 5 inches with isolated locations getting up to 8 inches. Storm surge could range from anywhere between one to three feet above normal. Tropical storm force winds of over 40 miles per hour are anticipated in the areas closest to landfall on Monday afternoon, and with any landfalling system, you have the possibility of tornadoes.
The intensity forecast is calling for the depression to become Tropical Storm Colin within the next 12 to 24 hours. Peak intensity in terms of wind strength is expected within 72 hours as a moderate strength tropical storm with 60 mile per hour winds before coming a post tropical system. All residents of Florida’s Big Bend region as well as inland areas in the Central and Northeastern part of the state along with Southern Georgia need to closely monitor the progress of this developing system.
Invest 93L Bringing Heavy Rains to Cayman Islands; Could Threaten Florida Early Next Week
The Tropical Atlantic continues to bustle with activity despite the fact that the calendar says it is June, and normally things aren’t that busy yet. With Bonnie beginning to depart from the scene, more of a focus has been placed on the disturbance in the Caribbean. Now classified as Invest 93L, the disturbance has been looking better and brining lots of rain to the Caymans, but is still poorly organized.
However, the models have been indicating that this storm will become a tropical cyclone, and bring a good deal of rain to Florida early next week. According to discussions earlier on Saturday afternoon, there is a 70 percent chance that this disturbance located near the Yucatan Peninsula, but is spreading rains across much of the Caribbean, will develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 70 hours, and has an 80 percent chance of development over the next five days.
Low pressure is expected to form along with these showers and thunderstorms in the Northwestern Caribbean, and gradually move northward into the Central and Eastern portions of the Gulf of Mexico, and develop into either a depression or tropical storm early next week. Whether this scenario comes about remains to be seen, but there will most likely be a good deal of rainfall for the Yucatan, Western Cuba, the Florida Keys, and even parts of mainland Florida itself early next week.
On Friday morning, forecast models were indicating very high QPF amounts for Florida over the next week, which translates into a ton of rainfall. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Florida indicated that rainfall amounts from widespread rain and thunderstorms could range anywhere from two inches in Southeastern Georgia to six inches in places near Orlando and Ocala in Central Florida. There also could be isolated amounts between 7 to 10 inches across portions of the Sunshine State.
Within the past 24 to 36 hours, those numbers have been downgraded a bit by NWS Jacksonville to only be anywhere from an inch and two thirds in Southeastern Georgia to about four inches near Ocala. If this disturbance does get strong and organized enough to become a tropical storm, it will be named Colin, the third named storm of the year already in the Atlantic. Keep in mind that it would only be the end of the very first week of the official season calendar. So, the various season predictions look pretty much on the money for a active year.
Enhanced Risk of Severe Weather for Southern Jersey; Marginal Risk for Rest of Garden State
After a wet month of May with 3.40 inches of rain for places like GWC in South Plainfield, there has been a bit of a lull at the start of June for much of the Garden State. We are already into the fourth day of the new month, and so far, only 0.03 inches of rain has been received by the GWC rain gauge here in Northern Middlesex County. However, all of that is expected to change when a storm system comes through on Sunday afternoon and evening.
As of this morning, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, portions of the Garden State will be under an enhanced risk for severe weather while others will be under a marginal risk. Usually, portions of New Jersey never get placed under an enhanced risk. It is usually a pretty big deal when the Garden State gets put under a slight risk. So the fact that the SPC is calling for an Enhanced Risk of severe storms for parts of Southern Jersey is a really big deal.
According to the Day Two Outlook from the SPC, the area under the enhanced risk of severe weather include: Eastern Virginia, Northeast North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Southern New Jersey. Meanwhile, areas from Georgia into the Mid-Atlantic including the rest of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are under a slight risk. Conditions that could occur in all of these areas include: Damaging straight line winds, a few tornadoes, and severe hail. There also could be a great deal of rainfall.
The cause of all of this is a negatively titled shortwave that is currently moving through the Ohio Valley and helping to cause trouble in the Appalachians and Ohio River Region, which is presently under an enhanced risk by the SPC for Saturday. The shortwave will push east and help intensify a low pressure system coming out of Eastern Canada and provide a temperature and moisture contrast with the relatively warm and humid air in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic to make things just enough unstable for severe weather in parts of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Areas further north will get more isolated severe weather.
Looking at a recent forecast discussion and analysis from Garden State Weather, rainfall amounts could range from anywhere from a half inch or so in Atlantic City to close to over an inch and a half in Western Jersey near the Delaware River Valley. The rainfall could be a huge help though since despite the good amount of rain in May, there are many parts of the state that are still well below normal for this time of year. Middlesex County as a whole is averaging about 17.0 inches of rain so far this year, which is about an inch and a half below what it should be.
Other counties are much further below normal such as Monmouth, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris, and Sussex, which all range from 2.5 to 4 inches below normal. Many of these places of key reservoirs such as Round Valley and Spruce Run in Hunterdon County or Manasquan Reservoir in Monmouth County. More urban counties such as Passaic, Bergen, Essex, Union and Hudson are also running several inches below normal for this time of year. All of this is in spite of the massive blizzard that took place toward the end of January.
So, try to enjoy the weekend, which could be rough at times, but on Sunday, keep an eye to the sky and watch for changing weather conditions, and stay tuned to local media and your NWS web site and social media pages for further developments with this potentially dangerous situation.
Storm Now Moving East Away from Land and Expected to Weaken
After making landfall in South Carolina as a depression and eventually dissipating into a remnant low while moving offshore, many including myself thought that was the last we would see of Bonnie. However, the second named storm of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season, would prove us wrong with a resiliency that not only had it regenerate into a depression, but also re-intensify into a tropical storm.
Bonnie’s remains meandered around the Mid-Atlantic for a few days and then a day after the official start of the season, was reclassified as a tropical depression only a few miles off of Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The depression brought rough surf and heavy rains ranging between one and three inches with isolated areas getting up to five inches. Roads along the Outer Banks were washed out by the combination of surf and heavy rain.
While all of this was occurring on land, Bonnie continued to get better organized and energized off the coast. For 30 hours, Bonnie remained a depression until the late afternoon on Friday when the National Hurricane Center in Miami upgraded the depression to a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds. Barometric pressure had dropped to 1006 millibars, or 29.71 inches of Hg. Within six hours at the 11:00 PM EDT Advisory on June 3rd, forecasts were calling for Bonnie to become a remnant low on Saturday.
Since becoming a tropical storm again, Bonnie has flatlined in terms of its intensity. The storm has not strengthened any further over the past 12 hours and remains very minimal with 40 mph winds and a pressure of 1006 millibars. In addition, the storm has been moving east and away from land. According to the 5:00 AM EDT early morning advisory on Saturday from the NHC, Bonnie is expected to continue moving east and pick up in forward speed as it falls under the influence of zonal flow in the jet stream over the Eastern U.S. The forecast is also calling for weakening to begin and it becoming a remnant low later on Saturday.
The storm is also no longer expected to affect any land areas. So now, attention should begin to shift to the disturbance in the Caribbean, which could bring a lot of wet weather to Florida and the Southeast.
Two Named Storms Already in the Books in What Could be an Active Year
On Wednesday, the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially kicked off with a little bit of fanfare. With an area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean near the Florida Straits and the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie still lurking off the Mid-Atlantic coast, there were some things to talk about and monitor on what usually is a quiet day. The season is still off to a very active start in what could be a busier year.
The season has already seen two rare early season named storms with Alex forming in the Central Atlantic near the Azores as a subtropical storm in the Central Atlantic during the middle of January, and becoming a strong Category One Hurricane with 85 mph winds and a minimum central pressure of 981 millibars or 28.97 inches of Hg before eventually weakening and dissipating. Alex only last three days.
Fast forward to late last week when Tropical Storm Bonnie emerged off the Southeastern United States after being an area of disturbed weather in the Bahamas earlier in the week. The storm did eventually weaken and come ashore as a tropical depression but still brought a good deal of rain to South Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic states. Here at GWC in South Plainfield, the storm combined with an approaching cold front to produce an impulse of disturbed weather that resulted in 0.82 inches of rainfall. Other areas received even more.
The next named storm on the Atlantic list is Colin, which replaced Charley on the list of storm names in the 2010 season after Charley was retired following its devastating landfall in Punta Gorda, Florida in 2004. Charley was one of several storms in 2004 that were retired. Others included Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Colin may emerge sometime early next week. Long range models began hinting on Tuesday that something may develop in the Northern Caribbean near the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico by early next week. Right now the NHC gave the disturbance a 20 percent chance of formation over the next five days on Wednesday.
However, the feature now being closely monitored is Bonnie, which reformed late Thursday morning off the outer banks of North Carolina as a depression, and is expected to bring more rainfall to the Mid-Atlantic. Right now, Tropical Depression Bonnie is located some 25 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds with Bonnie are a nuisance at 35 mph with gusts up to 40 near the coast, but the big story with this system will be the rain. The latest NHC advisory indicates anywhere from one to three inches of rain could fall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Isolated areas could see up to 5 inches.
Returning to the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season itself, there have been several seasonal forecasts issued by Colorado State, the Weather Channel, NOAA, and Accu-Weather, and while they may differ on the exact number of potential storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes, they all agree that the 2016 season could be a more busy one compared to recent years. Keep in mind that the United States has not experienced a landfalling major hurricane since 2005 when the likes of Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma ransacked the United States coastline from Texas to Florida. The recent El Niño that has hindered development in the Atlantic for the past couple years or so has diminished while a La Niña is forecast to emerge.
The only ingredient that is preventing an active season from becoming a clear certainty in the Atlantic is the varying sea surface temperatures around the Atlantic Basin. While some areas are normal to above normal, there are others such as in the Northern Atlantic near Greenland and in the Eastern Atlantic that are running cooler than usual. With the two named storms including a hurricane already forming this year, the signs may be there for a busy and perhaps dangerous Atlantic Hurricane Season.