Hurricane Hunter Aircraft Finds Depression Still Weak
While Tropical Depression Nine became Tropical Storm Hermine in the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico, the other tropical depression in the Atlantic, TD #8, is still struggling to gain tropical storm strength as it moves away from the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon.
As of the 11:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the center of Tropical Depression Eight was located some 135 miles east of Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The system is moving briskly to the Northeast at 15 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour.
The minimum central pressure with TD #8 continues to be high at 1010 millibars, or 29.83 inches of Hg. The pressure has only dropped one millibar in the last 24 hours or so. All the tropical watches and warnings that were in effect on Tuesday, are no longer in effect since the depression has begun to pull away from the North Carolina coast and Outer Banks.
Looking at the forecast track, Tropical Depression Eight is expected to continue the general motion to the Northeast with an increase in forward speed over the next 24 hours. The intensity forecast indicates that the system could still strengthen to a tropical storm within the next 12 to 24 hours, and reach a peak of 50 miles per hour before becoming post-tropical in three days.
Storm Going Through Fluctuations in Intensity
While we continue to watch two tropical depressions off the coast of the United States, Hurricane Gaston continues to head rapidly to the east in the Central Atlantic. The storm has returned to major hurricane strength, and actually peaked at 120 miles per hour yesterday before weakening slightly to minimal Category Three Strength. Gaston could threaten the Azores later in the week.
Currently, as of the 11:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Gaston was located some 1,150 miles to the West of Faial Island in the Central Azores, or approximately 1,235 miles to the West of Lajes Air Base in the Azores. Maximum sustained winds are down slightly to 115 miles per hour with gusts up to 140 miles per hour.
Minimum central pressure is 961 millibars, or 28.38 inches of Hg (Mercury). Gaston is a fairly good sized system with hurricane force winds extending some 45 miles from the eye, and tropical storm force winds reaching out some 175 miles from the center of circulation. The storm is beginning to enter an area more hostile towards development with cooler sea surface temperatures.
Looking at the latest forecast track from the NHC, Gaston is heading rapidly to the East-Northeast, and is expected to reach the Western Azores as a tropical storm by mid morning on Friday, and will be through the entire Azores chain by Saturday. The intensity forecast has the hurricane going through a slow weakening phase as it continues to move into gradually cooler water, and also encounters some shear. Gaston will remain at least a Category Two Hurricane over the next 24 hours.
However, once Gaston gets beyond 36 hours, the storm will weaken to a minimal hurricane, and then a tropical storm by 48 hours before becoming post-tropical within four days. Residents of the Azores should closely monitor the progress of this system, and be prepared to take action if the storm does do as forecast, and come this way. This will be the second time that a hurricane or tropical storm will be affecting the Azores.
Back in January, there was a rare Atlantic Hurricane when Alex developed from a subtropical storm into a Hurricane, and approached the Azores with 85 mile per hour winds. Alex kicked off what has been a wild and more active season in 2016 by being the first of four named storms to form by the end of June. So far this season, there have been 9 depressions, 7 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and one major hurricane (Gaston).
Depression Expected to Become Tropical Storm on Wednesday
The National Hurricane Center continues to monitor developments with Tropical Depression Nine, which is poised to strengthen, but hasn’t done so yet. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Florida West Coast from Anclote River to Indian Pass while a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Anclote River to the Walton/Bay County Line. A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect from Altamaha Sound in Georgia to Marineland, Florida as of 10:00 AM CDT.
As of the latest advisory from the NHC, Tropical Depression Nine was located approximately 395 miles to the South-Southwest of Apalachichola, Florida, or about 415 miles to the West-Southwest of Tampa, Florida. The depression is just about stationary at the moment, but is expected to begin moving again. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour, but further strengthening is expected, and TD #9 could become a tropical storm later on Wednesday.
Wind gusts are still at 45 miles per hour, but the pressure has dropped to 1001 millibars, or 29.56 inches of Hg. A couple days ago, it was still fairly high at 1009 millibars. So, the system seems to be getting its act together again. There are indications that the depression could eventually strengthen into a hurricane prior to landfall somewhere along the Florida Gulf Coast.
The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that the depression is beginning to look more organized, and firing up very deep convection. The system is also moving into an environment that has moderate shear, and of course very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico, which should help it strengthen over the next day and a half. The intensity forecast indicates that the depression should be a very strong tropical storm with wind close to 65 miles per hour before making landfall.
As far as the forecast track goes, the storm is on a forecast trajectory that should take it over land somewhere in the Big Bend area of Florida by Thursday evening. Then, the track continues across the northern portion of Florida, and into Southern Georgia before it re-emerges into the water off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina by late Friday morning.
Pressures Still High with TD Eight
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect along the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet including Pamlico sound this Tuesday morning as Tropical Depression Eight inches closer to the coastline. The depression is still weak with pressures continuing to run high, but the forecast is still call for the system to become a tropical storm within 24 to 36 hours.
As of the 8:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Depression Eight was located some 85 miles to the South-Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The system is presently moving slowly to the North-Northwest at 5 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour.
Minimum central pressure with Tropical Depression Eight remains high at 1011 millibars, or 29.86 inches of Hg. As a matter of fact, the pressure really hasn’t changed much over the past 24 hours. Satellite imagery indicates that shower and thunderstorm activity has picked up and become more organized, but Hurricane Hunter aircraft detected that the system remains weak, and thus there is no change in the classification of TD #8.
Interests along the North Carolina coast will need to continue to monitor the situation with Tropical Depression Eight. Already, tropical storm force conditions are expected to commence in the warning area during the afternoon on Tuesday. In addition, the tropical moisture from the depression is forecast to generate rain amounts between one to three inches with isolated areas receiving as much as five inches.
The intensity forecast is calling for TD #8 to peak at 45 mile per hour winds as a tropical system, and 50 mph winds as an extratropical system within the next 72 to 96 hours. The official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center indicates that Tropical Depression Eight will be just off Cape Hatteras as a tropical storm by the early morning on Wednesday.
Then the storm will turn more east-northwestward and accelerate. By early Thursday morning, the storm will be several hundred miles to the east of Cape May, New Jersey. Three days from now, the system will be post tropical some several hundred miles to the east-southeast of the Canadian Maritimes. Portions of the East Coast should be on the lookout for possible rough surf and rip currents during the course of the week.
Storm Still at Category Two Strength
Beginning to encounter hostile environmental conditions, Hurricane Gaston weakened as expected on Monday. After becoming the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic season on Sunday with 115 mile per hour winds, Gaston began to decay as expected in the Central Atlantic.
As of the 5:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Gaston was located some 430 miles to the east of the resort island of Bermuda. The hurricane was moving slowly to the Northeast at 6 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds with the storm are down to Category Two strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale at 100 miles per hour.
Wind gusts are estimated to be at 120 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure with Gaston has risen to 971 millibars or 28.68 inches of Hg (Mercury). The storm has grown with hurricane force winds extending some 40 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out about 140 miles from the center. The storm is not expected to change much in intensity over the next two days.
Looking at the forecast track, Gaston has been well behaved up to this point with its motion coming as expected. The forecasted turn to the east on Monday did occur, and now it is anticipated to move in a general East-Northeast direction with an increase in forward speed over the next 48 to 72 hours. The storm could have some sort of impact on the Azores in the Northeastern Atlantic by this weekend.
Taking a look at the forecast discussion, Gaston is expected to continue moving over relatively warm waters in the Central Atlantic over the next 48 hours. As a result, the intensity is expected to remain at 100 miles per hour through Thursday. Beyond that though, Gaston is expected to move into cooler waters and encounter a mid to upper level trough and that will result in more of an influence from the westerlies. Within five days, Gaston is expected to weaken to a minimal tropical storm.
Hurricane Hunter Aircraft Find Depression Still Weak
Besides Tropical Depression Nine, there is another immediate threat to the United States coastline this early Monday morning. Tropical Depression Eight, which formed late Sunday morning, is creeping ever so close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the moment. However, pressures still remain high with the depression, and shower and thunderstorm activity continues to be weak and disorganized.
As of the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the depression was located approximately 210 miles to the Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The system was moving slowly to the Northwest at 9 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds were at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the depression actually rose one millibar from our last blog entry to 1011, or 29.86 inches of Hg.
So, the pressures with the depression remain high, which is an indication that the system is still weak and disorganized. Looking at the latest satellite imagery from the Atlantic, clouds from shower and thunderstorm activity remain disorganized. Right now, the depression continues to battle shear and dry air. However, the shear is expected to slacken and more humid air is expected to build in over the next 48 hours. As a result, the NHC intensity forecast calls for gradual intensification over the next 48 to 72 hours.
Looking at the forecast track for TD #8, the system is expected to make a close approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina from sometime on late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning as a minimal tropical storm. Afterwards, the system is expected to turn more toward the northeast and away from the coast while also picking up some forward speed as it falls under the influence of the westerlies. A Tropical Storm Watch
System Still Expected to Drop Significant Rainfall in Cuba and Florida
Nothing much has changed with Tropical Depression Nine since our last blog entry on it on Sunday. Pressure has fallen slightly, but the maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour, and the system overall remains poorly organized. The one thing that is going for the depression right now is that it is moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
As of the 5:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Tropical Depression Nine was situated some 155 miles to the West-Southwest of Key West in the Florida Keys, or about 95 miles to the West-Northwest of Havana, Cuba. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is at 1007 millibars, or 29.74 inches of Hg (Mercury).
The depression is moving very slowly to the West at 9 miles per hour. There are no watches or warnings in effect since the system is no threat to land at this time. Now that TD #9 is moving into the very friendly confines of the Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures can run between 85 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit, it is possible that the depression could become better organized and strengthen. The NHC believes strengthening could occur over the next 48 hours.
Rainfall is the big concern with the depression at this time. With all the tropical moisture that TD #9 possesses, anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of rain could fall in Cuba with isolated areas there seeing as much as a foot of rain. South Florida and the Keys could see anywhere between 3 to 5 inches with isolated areas seeing as much as 7 inches. The intensity forecast has changed with this system.
Last night, the NHC was a little conservative with its initial intensity forecasts for Tropical Depression Nine because there was great disparity between the Euro and the GFS solutions. In addition, neither model had performed well with the system up and to this point. This morning, however, the NHC is a little more optimistic although still cautious. Upper level winds are currently hostile towards development, but are expected to slacken making conditions more favorable.
In addition, the depression is moving away from land masses and into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where the sea surface temperatures this time of year are very hospitable to tropical systems. However, the global models are beginning to indicate that there will be dry air inserting itself into the area of the storm, and that is a weather factor not favorable for development. So, for the next 48 to 72 hours, the storm may strengthen some, but not a whole lot. Nevertheless, TD #9 should still become a tropical storm sometime within the next 24 to 36 hours.
Looking at the forecast track of Tropical Depression Nine, the system will continue to move westward over the next 18 to 24 hours before curving more to the right, and heading in a more northwestward direction. By Wednesday, the depression will begin to turn more to the northeast and pick up in forward speed. The northeastward motion and increase in forward speed will continue for the next several days as the system is expected to come ashore somewhere in the Big Bend area of Florida as a tropical storm by Friday morning.
All residents along the Gulf Coast, especially from the Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida area to Tampa, Florida should pay close attention to the latest whereabouts and developments with this system since a lot can change in a very short amount of time. Be prepared to take action if necessary.
Anniversary of Irene’s Impact on New Jersey This Weekend
The past two days here in New Jersey were filled with plenty of sun along with heat and humidity. Five years ago this weekend, there was a lot of humidity as well with the approach of what eventually became Tropical Storm Irene here in the Garden State. While the storm had lost much of its punch, it still brought plenty of rain, which many locations in New Jersey didn’t need.
Prior to Hurricane Irene, the Garden State experienced perhaps the wettest August on record. Many locations had over a foot of water thanks to torrential downpours occurring numerous times over the course of the month. Here at GWC in South Plainfield, located in the Northwest corner of Middlesex County, there had been 10 inches of rain.
Then came Irene, which brought to GWC approximately 5.34 inches. Winds gusted to near 70 miles per hour while the barometric pressure bottomed out at 970 millibars, or 28.64 inches of Hg (Mercury), the lowest level ever at GWC at that time. It would be surpassed some 14 months later when Hurricane Sandy came along and shattered it.
Despite the tremendous flooding across the Garden State including the worst flooding in the 45 years that I’ve lived in my neighborhood in South Plainfield, NJ (View the video of the flooding from Irene outside of GWC). Places in Monmouth County such as Howell received much more rain (up to 10 inches). Irene also churned up the surf along the Jersey Shore including Raritan Bay at South Amboy’s Waterfront Park (View video of the rising tides at Raritan Bay from Irene).
Driving home from South Amboy was also very treacherous since portions of I-287 and Route 440 had overwash and flooding. The storm produced winds near 70 miles per hour at GWC. Central Jersey as well as other parts of the state were hit with power outages. A tornado was spawned in Lewes, Delaware which is a ferry service away from Cape May on the southern tip of the Garden State. The combination of losing power combined with the rising flood waters in my neighborhood forced my family to evacuate to a hotel in a nearby town. We stayed at the hotel for several days.
All of the chaos from the storm as well as the evacuation to the hotel put a lot of stress on our cat, Socko. Unknown to us, Socko had already been suffering health wise from a cancerous growth that had developed in his chest a few years before. However, the stress of going to an unfamiliar location caused him to suffer panic attacks. He eventually adjusted, but then was brought back to the house, where the air was stifling and had an odor that seemed toxic.
Socko died a week later on the Sunday morning before Labor Day. Our family hasn’t gotten a cat or dog since. To my amazement, the historic flooding in my neighborhood didn’t last long. Within a day, the flood waters had receded, which allowed my family to return home by Thursday of that week. Power and gas came on that day. One great thing that came out of all of this was the fact that the new GWC Wx Station, installed in June, kept running throughout, and I was able to retrieve the historic data.
The storm did damage further north as well. Irene brought storm surge between 3 and 6 feet in New York City and Long Island. It also produced torrential rainfall in New England, especially Vermont, which experienced some of the worst flooding since 1927. Many covered bridges, which dot the landscape throughout Vermont, were destroyed by the raging waters that developed as a result of the heavy rains from Irene there.
Despite all the tremendous damage from Irene, I must say that New Jersey, New York, and New England were very fortunate. Irene could have been much worse. After the storm had ravaged the Bahamas with Category Three strength winds of 120 miles per hour, it had strengthened to 125 miles per hour, but dry air was able to get into the system, and gradually sapped Irene of her strength and fury. The storm became a jogger struggling to get to the finish line. It had simply run out of gas.
By the time, Hurricane Irene had made landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the storm had winds of minimal hurricane strength, but more importantly, the core structure of the system had turned into Swiss cheese from the dry air intrusion. Originally, Irene had reached Cape May, and Brigantine Island as a Category One Hurricane with 75 mph winds, but it was later revised to be a tropical storm with 70 mph winds.
Irene was more typical of tropical systems that affect the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast although it took a more coastal track through the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and eventually up into New Jersey. Sandy was much different in that it was a tropical system that formed in the final days of October, where the upper level winds and jet stream are starting to become more winter like. In addition, blocking high pressure formed to the north of Sandy, which forced it to make its move toward the Jersey Shore.
It was a memorable week or two in New Jersey, but the experience with Irene, which was more of a rainmaker, would pale in comparison to the onslaught brought by Sandy some 14 months later. Irene and Sandy did serve as a reminder that New Jersey is a coastal state and despite the protection from the Carolinas to the south, it is still vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes.
Winds Increase to 115 MPH
After battling shear for a day or two, Gaston re-energized into a Hurricane on Saturday, and deepened some more during the overnight hours. Now, the storm has become the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season with 115 mile per hour winds as it churns away to the east of Bermuda in the Central Atlantic.
As of the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Gaston was located some 580 miles to the East of Bermuda. The storm is moving slowly to the Northwest at 5 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds have grown to 115 miles per hour with gusts topping 140 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has dropped to 962 millibars or 28.41 inches of Hg.
The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that Gaston possesses a 15 mile wide eye, which can be clearly depicted on satellite. In addition to a clearly visible eye, the storm’s cloud tops are cooling according to infrared satellite imagery, and the combination of a clearly visible eye and cooling cloud tops are indicative of strengthening.
Gaston may have reached its peak. Despite good upper level outflow, a well defined eye, and colder cloud tops, the model forecasts indicate that Gaston is not expected to strengthen further. The intensity forecast from the NHC shows Gaston remaining a major hurricane for the next 24 hours, but beginning to gradually weaken at 36 hours and downgraded to a tropical storm in five days as it moves into higher latitudes and encounters cooler waters and the westerlies.
Taking a look at the forecast track, the NHC guidance shows the storm turning to the east, and picking up forward speed on Tuesday afternoon. Gaston will turn more easterly with time, and be several hundred miles to the southwest of the Azores by Friday afternoon.
Disturbance Finally Reaches Elusive Tropical Depression Strength
Over the last 24 hours, things have begun to pick up with what had been a beleaguered Invest 99L. On Saturday afternoon, shower and thunderstorm activity associated with the disturbance began to blossom as it hugged the north coast of Cuba. On Sunday, a weak circulation began to develop, and Hurricane Hunter aircraft declared it as a depression as of 5:00 PM EDT.
Currently, Tropical Depression Nine is located in the Florida Straits some 55 miles to the Northeast of Havana, Cuba, or approximately 60 miles to the south of Key West, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 mph. Minimum central pressure is at 1009 millibars or 29.80 inches of Hg (Mercury). TD #9 is moving to the West at 9 mph.
There are no watches or warnings for any coastal areas. However, the depression is producing tremendous rainfall along the northern coast of Cuba, and is expected to generate anywhere between one and four inches of rainfall in South Florida and the Florida Keys through Wednesday. Residents along the Gulf Coast need to monitor the progress of this system, especially now that it is moving away from the rugged mountains of Cuba and into the high octane waters of the Gulf.
Looking at the forecast track of TD #9 from the National Hurricane Center, the depression will continue moving away from Cuba and the Florida Keys on Monday, and then gradually make more of a turn to the north on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the system will be heading a little more to the North-Northeast in the Central Gulf of Mexico. The intensity forecast is murky, which is understandable due to not only the the current state of the depression, and the performance history of both the GFS and Euro on this system.
Right now, the European model (ECMWF) indicates that the depression will dissipate in the Gulf while the GFS is showing development over by days four and five. Keep in mind, experts have bee critical of the performance of these two models with this system, and the depression is still a fledgling system. So, the NHC remains cautious with a bit of a conservative forecast calling for TD #9 reaching 50 mile per hour winds within 72 hours and staying at that intensity through five days.
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