08.19.17

Countdown to the Solar Eclipse Is On

Posted in General, GWC News at 10:16 pm by gmachos

Less than 48 hours until the 1st Solar Eclipse in North America Since 1979

The strong storms that moved through the Mid-Atlantic on Friday are gone, and fair weather has moved in for the most part over the Garden State. There was an area of thunderstorms pushing through Central Pennsylvania earlier tonight as the result of an upper level low that moved through Ohio and Western Pennsylvania earlier on Saturday.

This upper level low has produced a bow echo with these storms, but they are likely not going to affect New Jersey. There could be some clouds that we could be dealing with at times over the next few days, but conditions are expected to be mostly sunny, which looks good for the eclipse that is expected to begin across New Jersey a few minutes before 1:30 PM on Monday afternoon.

Since New Jersey is not in the path of totality, which means it is not in the area where there will be a complete eclipse. However, it will still get about 75 percent of totality so many across the Garden State will be able to see a good sky show. If you have been trying to get a pair of solar eclipse glasses like I have over the past few days, you are running out of options.

Stores such as Lowe’s and 7-Eleven, which have been selling eclipse glasses are out of stock. Meanwhile, there are some local libraries that may offer a pair although mine didn’t have any, and actually never received them. According to Friday’s NJ.com, Amazon.com, Unique Photo on Route 46 West in Fairfield, and B & H Photo in New York City still have glasses in stock, or will be restocking them. However, to have a good chance to get the glasses in time, orders had to be made within the past 24 hours. Otherwise, you will have to get them in person.

This will be the first total solar eclipse to occur across North America since February, 1979. Back then, I was in 3rd grade, and I do recall that the weather didn’t cooperate here in New Jersey. Instead skies were cloudy on that day. I recalled that I stayed home from school that day, and ended up watching the live news coverage of the 1979 eclipse on television. I can recall hearing on TV that the next eclipse wouldn’t be until 2017, and wondered if I would ever see it.

As Monday’s date has become closer, I have become more excited, but also more cautious since the weather played a factor in the last one in 1979, and forecasts earlier in the week suggested that clouds would affect the viewing of this one. The weather forecast has been much more promising since then, especially now that Friday’s storms have pushed through. There is still a chance that clouds could hinder viewing on Monday, but the latest forecast by the NWS office in Mount Holly is calling for sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 80s in Middlesex County.

The next chance you have to see a total eclipse here in the United States will not be until April 8, 2024. After that, you will have to wait a little more than 20 years to see the next one on August 23, 2044. Then, a year later, there will be a chance for another one on August 12, 2045.

Harvey Weakens to a Depression

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Tracking the Tropics at 9:00 pm by gmachos

Eighth Named Storm of 2017 Battling Northerly Shear Is Downgraded

On Thursday, Tropical Storm Harvey emerged in the Atlantic just east of the Windward Islands. Traveling a more southerly track, the storm headed toward the island of Barbados, where it brought significant flooding on Friday.

Rain began on the island of Barbados as early as Thursday night according to an article from The Loop, which reports local news in the Caribbean. The flooding was the worst on the island since 1984. The tropical moisture that produced the heavy rain was the only significant effect from the storm so far.

Presently, Harvey is located 140 miles to the North-Northwest of Curaçao, or approximately 885 miles to the East of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras according to the 5:00 PM Advisory from the Natonal Hurricane Center. Tropical Depression Harvey has been moving very rapidly to the West at 22 miles per hour.

Winds have only been between 35 and 40 miles per hour through its short lifetime. Barometric pressure has been between 29.68 and 29.77 inches of Hg. Currently, the minimum central pressure in the low is at 29.74 inches. Here is one thing to consider though. Over the past 24 to 36 hours, Harvey has been moving through the Central Caribbean including the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.

The Central Caribbean and the ABC islands are usually not an area for fertile tropical cyclone development and formation. Historically, there have been very few tropical systems that have moved through and flourished. So, I wouldn’t write this storm off yet since Harvey is going to be moving into the very warm waters of the Western Caribbean. The problem that Harvey has been encountering is northerly shear.

This northerly shear, which has ranged between 15 to 20 miles per hour, has literally beat the storm up. Harvey’s rapid movement could also be a factor since its circulation could be outrunning its convection. The structure of this tropical cyclone has eroded to the point where there is not really any solid convection, and the look of the depression has more of an open wave like feel to it according to the most recent forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center (5:00 PM EDT on Saturday).

The shear is expected to slacken over the next day or so, which should allow for some intensification, especially considering that Harvey will be moving into the Western Caribbean where sea surface temperatures are very warm. Sea surface temperatures in this portion of the Atlantic Basin could be almost as high as in the Gulf of Mexico. The concern is that it might be too late since the shear has torn apart the storm so well that it may not be able to recover.

The National Hurricane Center’s intensity forecast still hangs on to the belief that Harvey will recover, and likely become a tropical storm again on either Sunday or Sunday night. The intensity forecast is calling for Harvey to strengthen to a moderately strong storm with 50 mile per hour winds within 48 to 72 hours before making landfall somewhere in Belize on Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever form Harvey takes, it will be making landfall somewhere across Belize on Tuesday afternoon, then cross the southern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula while weakening to a depression before re-emerging in the Bay of Campeche on Wednesday afternoon. The system could become a storm for the third time by mid-afternoon on Thursday.

Keep in mind though, that the NHC also suggests in its discussion that there is a possible scenario that continues to fall apart, become an open wave, and not regenerate for 72 hours. Looking at the current state of the system, it is very plausible that Harvey may be a mess and could get into the Bay of Campeche in such a state that it doesn’t even become a depression or a storm.

Interests in the Western Caribbean, Northern Nicaragua, Northern Honduras, Belize, and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico should pay close attention to the developments with Harvey over the next few days. A Tropical Storm Watch may be issued for the coasts of Northeastern Nicaragua and Northern Honduras later tonight.

08.18.17

Gert Becomes Strongest 2017 Atlantic Hurricane to Date Before Dissipating

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Tracking the Tropics at 2:16 pm by gmachos

Season’s 2nd Hurricane Peaked With 105 MPH Winds on Wednesday

Over the past week, the Atlantic Tropics have picked up in earnest with the development of several storms and possibly another one in the making. One of those storms was the seventh named storm of the season, Gert, which eventually not only became the second hurricane of the 2017 season, but also grew to the strongest hurricane to date.

After battling some difficulties with the dry air in the Atlantic, Gert finally found a favorable area for development in the Western Atlantic and became a tropical storm on Sunday afternoon approximately 505 miles West-Southwest of Bermuda. Gert continued to grow and became the second hurricane in the Atlantic for 2017 some 30 hours later on Monday night.

While being no threat to land during its lifetime, Gert generated swells that resulted in rough surf and rip current conditions around Bermuda and along the North Carolina, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast coasts of the United States. Hurricane Gert deepened further to a Category Two storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale by dropping another 12 millibars over the next 24 hours to 967 millibars, or 28.56 inches of Hg while its winds increased to 105 miles per hour.

Although it had deepened fairly quickly in the Western Atlantic by dropping some 19 millibars in 48 hours from Monday night to Wednesday night, Gert dissipated even more rapidly as it entered the cooler waters of the North Atlantic. Within 18 hours, the pressure in Gert’s circulation rose 18 millibars, its winds decreased to tropical storm force at 65 miles per hour, and it became post-tropical.

Nevertheless, Gert could be an indication that the Atlantic is finally ratcheting up as expected for this time of year. Prior to Gert, there had only been one hurricane, Franklin, which was just minimal hurricane strength with 75 mph winds. All the other tropical systems had just been storms or depressions. Most of those storms have been weak to mild with Cindy being the strongest with 60 mile per hour winds.

In Gert’s wake, there is a new storm in the Atlantic as Tropical Storm Harvey formed on Wednesday, and is currently moving through the Windward Islands as a minimal storm with 40 mph winds. In addition, there are two other disturbances in the Central and Western Atlantic including one, Invest 92L that has a 60 percent chance of development within the next 48 hours to 5 days. So far this season, there have been 9 depressions, 8 named storms, and 2 hurricanes in the Atlantic.

Severe Weather Possible Across New Jersey on Friday

Posted in Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Warning at 1:29 pm by gmachos

Flash Flood Watch in Effect; High Winds, Hail, and Even Tornadoes Possible

Over the past few days, the heat and humidity has been on the increase across New Jersey. Skies have been overcast and conditions have been muggy throughout the morning and early afternoon at Greg’s Weather Center in South Plainfield, NJ after some showers and storms came through earlier on Friday.

The atmosphere over New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic is just taking a brief respite at the moment. Things will be changing again as we get into the mid to late afternoon and evening. Showers and storms are already organizing in Central Pennsylvania and they are moving to the east. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, has already put most if not all of New Jersey under a slight risk of severe weather on Friday.

In addition, the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the Garden State from 2:00 PM this afternoon until midnight on Saturday. Many of the big cities in the Mid-Atlantic are also under the slight risk for severe weather including: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

Over the past couple days, the temperature has ratcheted up a bit toward 90 degrees while the dew point has pushed up into the low to mid 70s at GWC in South Plainfield, NJ. The high on Wednesday at GWC was 86 degrees, and on Thursday, it went up to 88 degrees. Right now, the temperature at GWC is 80 degrees, but the dew point is very high at 76 for a heat index of 85 degrees even under cloudy skies.

On top of the Flash Flood Watch, the NWS office in Mount Holly, NJ has also issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook, which indicates that some thunderstorms could become strong this afternoon and evening with damaging wind gusts. CNN reported this morning that the severe weather possible this afternoon and evening in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic could also produce hail and isolated tornadoes.

Reviewing some of the technical lingo from the Storm Prediction Center, the Mid-Atlantic area currently has daytime heating of a very moist boundary layer east of the Appalachian Mountains. This daytime heating and some sunlight could be a catalyst for severe storms during the afternoon and evening. There is also a very solid west-southwest flow across the region in addition to a very good flow aloft to the north of the most instability. Moderate CAPE values are expected to develop during the afternoon.

Looking at the local NWS forecast for GWC and South Plainfield, there is a 30 percent chance of severe thunderstorms this afternoon increasing to 70 percent early this evening before falling off. Some of these storms could produce damaging winds, heavy rain, and frequent lightning. Rainfall amounts could range between 0.75 and 1.25 inches. There is also a chance of patchy fog during the early morning hours on Saturday. Friday’s severe weather should help clear things out for this weekend and the solar eclipse on Monday afternoon.

08.15.17

Tracking the Tropics–August 15, 2017

Posted in Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Tracking the Tropics at 1:51 pm by gmachos

With the development of our first hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season last week (Franklin), and the emergence of a second (Gert) along with another impressive disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic, things appear to be picking up again in the Tropical Atlantic after some talk that things were not going to be as busy as indicated.

There are three disturbances other than Hurricane Gert being monitored around the Atlantic this afternoon by the National Hurricane Center. One of them has a medium chance of just 40 percent of developing over the next five days while the other two have a low chance of about 20 percent. One of the disturbances is expected to move off the African coast on Wednesday. Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening around the Atlantic Basin this afternoon.

Gulf of Mexico

First stop on Hurricaneville’s trip around the tropics this Tuesday afternoon is the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures are still ripe for development. Throughout the region, SSTs are running between 29 and 31 degrees Celsius, or approximately 84 to 88 degrees. There are some pockets of cooler waters around the Yucatan Peninsula and the East Coast of Mexico, where Hurricane Franklin passed through last week.

Looking at the latest visible satellite imagery from the Gulf, skies are mostly clear. The most clouds can be found along the Central Gulf coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. Within those clouds are some scattered showers and thunderstorms. There are no other threats around the region. No development is expected here over the next 24 hours.



Caribbean

Taking a look at the Caribbean, we can see some pockets of very warm water around the Southwestern tip of Florida and Southwestern Cuba. The warmest SSTs can be around Southern Florida, the Keys, Cuba and Hispaniola. The skies around the Caribbean are mostly clear with the exception of some cloudiness near the Dominican Republic. No development expected in this area over the next 24 hours.



Atlantic Ocean

Going further out into the Tropical Atlantic, we can see that the activity begins to pick up. We have above average ocean temperatures throughout the Atlantic. Now, some promising waves in the Eastern part of the region is trying to take advantage of that. The first one is located in the Central Atlantic some 1,000 miles from the Lesser Antilles. It is a rather vast area of low pressure, and is moving to the west at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Conditions will become more favorable for development as it moves the Caribbean over the next couple of days.

Then, there is another wave further east some several hundred miles to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Slow development with this disturbance is expected over the next several days. While the odds for development with the broad low in the Central Atlantic is about 40 percent over five days, the chances of development with the wave in the Eastern Atlantic is only about 20 percent over the next five days. More disturbances are coming off the coast of Africa as well.



Africa

Moving into the African continent, we continue to monitor areas of thunderstorms moving to the west toward the Eastern Atlantic. Right now, there is a tropical wave poised to move off the West African coast on Wednesday. Looking further to the east, there is quite an impressive swirl of clouds over the Central portion of Africa including parts of Chad, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. More cloudiness is seen over Central and Southern Sudan as well as Northern Ethiopia.

Gert Becomes 2nd Hurricane of 2017 Atlantic Season

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Tracking the Tropics at 12:46 pm by gmachos

The Atlantic’s 7th Storm Becomes the Latest Hurricane

Now that we have reached the midpoint of August, things are beginning to show signs of picking up in the Atlantic. Finally, Invest 99L got its act together over the past couple of days to not only become the season’s eighth named storm, but also the second hurricane of the year.

Gert is a name that is not a stranger to the annual Atlantic storm names list. The 2017 season marks the fifth time that a storm has been given such a name. The strongest of the previous iterations of Gert was in 1999, which reached a peak intensity of 930 millibars, or Category Four on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. This year’s version of Gert is not likely to reach that intensity, nor is it expected to impact any land masses.

As of the 11:00 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Gert, was located some 420 miles to the west of Bermuda in the Western Atlantic. The storm has begun to make its turn to the northeast as it moves to the North-Northeast at 10 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are at minimal hurricane force at 75 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure have dipped just below minimal hurricane category at 986 millibars, or 29.12 inches of Hg.

Hurricane force winds extend 25 miles from the eye of the system and tropical storm winds reach out some 105 miles. While the hurricane doesn’t pose a threat to land, swells generated from the storm churning away will gradually affect the East Coast of the United States from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to as far north as Long Island. These swells are expected to produce dangerous surf and rip currents. Deaths from drowning at the Jersey Shore have been on the rise, and not necessarily because of these dangerous rip tides, but because a lack of swimming skills according to a recent article from the PhillyVoice.com web site yesterday.

Looking at the latest forecast discussion from the NHC, the intensity forecast is calling for Gert to strengthen a bit more over the next 36 hours with its peak winds climbing up to 75 knots or 85 miles per hour. Northerly shear that impacted the system during the overnight hours appears to be abating for now. The decreasing shear should provide a window of strengthening. Shortly afterward, Gert should begin to weaken as it moves into more cooler waters and shear picks up again by the end of 48 hours. Gert is expected to become extratropical within 3 to 4 days.

08.12.17

Quite a Bit of Storms in the Atlantic So Far, But Nothing Great

Posted in Commentary, Storm Facts, Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Anomalies, Hurricane Intensity, Hurricane Records, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 7:21 pm by gmachos

The Peak of the Season Still Remains; It Only Takes One!!!

It has been a while since I last posted to my blog, but I have been dealing with a lot of personal issues over the last 20 months or so. Anyway, at first glance, you could say that the Tropical Atlantic has been quite active so far this season with 7 depressions, 6 named storms, and one hurricane (Franklin). However, these above average numbers are deceiving.

The 2017 season did get off to a very fast start with the first named storm emerging on April 19th. There were two more storms over the next two months to produce a very unusually high three named storms by the end of June. Usually, there is a named storm once every two years in the Atlantic by the end of June. Since then, there were four depressions, three named storms, and a hurricane.

However, in terms of tropical intensity, these storms have been fairly weak. First and foremost, Hurricane Franklin, which made two landfalls in Mexico this past week, has been the strongest storm to date in the Atlantic this season as a minimal hurricane with 75 mile per hour winds. Only one storm other than that, Tropical Storm Cindy had winds of over 50 mph (60 miles per hour).

Franklin was also the longest lasting storm with a duration of five days. The rest of the tropical cyclones in the Atlantic so far this season have only lasted about 2 to 3 days on average. Some of the storms such as Bret and Don were questionable storms in some ways. I myself have scratched my head at times this season about the development of certain storms.

While the season has been somewhat lackluster to this point, lets keep in mind that in 2011, there were eight tropical storms that formed before Hurricane Irene developed in the Atlantic, went through the Bahamas, and then came up the East Coast of the United States. Back in 1999, Hurricane Bret emerged during the month of August that year, but by the middle of September, we had Dennis and Floyd, which damaged much of Eastern North Carolina and New Jersey with flooding rains.

It doesn’t take much for a season as tame as the 2017 season has been to date to turn into a much more deadly and devastating one. Not every season is going to be like 2005 (30 depressions and 27 named storms), 1995 (19 named storms), 1969 (18 named storms), or 1933 (21 named storms). The first storm of the 1992 season, didn’t develop until the 2nd half of August, and was written off at one point, but then became the monster that was Hurricane Andrew that ended up causing some $27 billion in damage to South Florida.

The 1935 season was also quite similar. During that year, the first named storm actually emerged in May, but the second storm didn’t arrive until mid-August that year. However, by the end of the Labor Day Weekend that season, the United States and particularly, the Florida Keys experienced what would be the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic for over 50 years before Hurricane Gilbert came along. Two hundred people including many World War I Veterans were killed. Ultimately, there were only 8 named storms in the Atlantic in 1935, yet it remains one of the more memorable seasons due to the Labor Day Hurricane in the Keys.

Fast forward three years later, and the 1938 Atlantic Season. Like 1935, it was also a below average season with 9 named storms. The first named storm also occurred earlier than normal in January that year, but the second storm didn’t arrive until August. However, within six weeks or so, people were talking about the very rapid and devastating track of the Long Island Express of 1938, which ended up killing over 400 people. Let’s move ahead now to a year before Hurricane Andrew.

The 1991 season is also another year that wasn’t great in terms of numbers. There were eight named storms that season as well. The first named storm didn’t emerge until July. However, within a month and a half, Hurricane Bob came up the east coast, and went into New England. Two and a half months later, Hurricane Grace, which was actually only a Category Two Storm rather than the Category FIve storm that it was portrayed as in the movie, the Perfect Storm, but it contributed to that monster East Coast Storm late in October and early November of that year.

The moral of all of these stories is that it only takes one, and you don’t have to have a massive number of tropical storms and hurricanes to have a season to forget. We are closing in on 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States. During quite a few of those seasons, there have been bountiful numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes, but alas, none of them became major, nor impacted the United States directly.

Seasonal forecasts and projections are nice to have because they do serve the purpose of making us aware that hurricane season is coming, or is reaching its peak, and we need to be vigilant. However, the numbers they suggest are not always a guarantee that we are going to have that one big storm like an Andrew, Camille, Floyd, Gilbert, Hugo, or Katrina. Although they can definitely increase the odds of that unique monster storm, they are not the absolute final word.

So goes for a season like this because as I have just illustrated clearly with numerous examples, things can drastically change. Another thing to point out about this season so far is the large amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific. Today, we are tracking what is left of Tropical Storm Jova, the 10th named storm of the season in that basin. The lesson here is that whenever you have a high amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific, it is usually relatively quieter in the Atlantic.

There is also things such as sustenance and Saharan dust that tend to often cause problems for a period of time in the tropics during a particular season. Sometimes more than others. Those things can change. One thing that really has bothered me about people’s reactions about the season, and that is that some have written this season off already, and ironically after spewing out every single model run that hints at a huge storm some two weeks out.

All year round now, whether it is a winter storm or a tropical system, many jump to conclusions over every single model run. Whether it is the GFS, Euro, or other model. Any that may show that monster storm lurking somewhere off the coast of the United States from Maine to Texas, even if the storm hasn’t yet to come into its own. There is too much reliance on models, and too much jumping too conclusions about model runs that are two weeks out. I’ll admit that I have given into this frenzy in the past, but now I see many others doing it to a point that I don’t really like adding myself to the chaos. Even those who are so called experts.

Living in New Jersey, I don’t see as many hurricanes or even tropical storms as much as those in Florida or the Gulf Coast, and until six years ago, a hurricane hadn’t made landfall in the Garden State in over 100 years, and a major hurricane hadn’t struck in almost 200 years. Then, within a span of 14 months, the Garden State experienced two tropical systems (Irene and Sandy) that had been hurricanes at one point, and each caused a great deal of destruction in their own way. It only takes one to make a season.