05.10.15

Ana Comes Ashore in South Carolina

Posted in Storm Track, GWC News, Tracking the Tropics at 11:20 pm by gmachos

First Storm of Atlantic Season Lashes Carolinas

Coming ashore a bit ahead of schedule, Tropical Storm Ana moved inland between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina just after sunrise on Sunday morning.  The storm, which became a tropical storm on Saturday after being a subtropical storm since Thursday, weakened somewhat in the six hours prior to landfall.  Winds had slackened from 60 mph at 11:00 PM on Saturday night to 45 mph at the time of landfall.

Nevertheless, the storm still packed a wallop for the Carolinas.  The storm brought a swath of moisture in from the Atlantic that extended from Northeastern South Carolina all the way to the capital of Raleigh in North Carolina.  Ana brought a harsh combination of wind and rain, and even one of its outer bands produced a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in the area of Raleigh during the afternoon on Sunday.  Now that it has moved inland though, the storm has begun to wind down after being cut off from its energy source of the warm ocean water.

As of the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, which was the last one issued on the storm by the NHC, Ana was located some 10 miles to the North-Northeast of Whiteville, North Carolina.  What was left of the storm was moving to the North-Northeast at 8 miles per hour, which is almost three times faster than it was moving late yesterday afternoon.  Tropical Depression Ana has also turned to the right a bit, and expect that to continue as it feels the effects of a storm system moving in from the middle of the country.

Maximum sustained winds as of a few hours ago were down to only 35 mph, and they are probably even lesser now.   Barometric pressure has risen to 1007 millibars, or 29.74 inches of Hg.  The big story with this system will continue to be the rain as the storm continues to unleash tremendous amounts of moisture as it heads to the Northeast.  Rainfall amounts are expected to range anywhere from 2 to 4 inches with isolated areas in Eastern North Carolina and Northeastern South Carolina possibly receiving as much as 6 inches, which will cause the Tar and Neuse Rivers to swell, and spill over their banks.

Ana’s effects are already being felt in other parts of the Mid-Atlantic.  Humidity has been on the rise, and skies have been unsettled as far north as New Jersey.  The temperature climbed up to 84 degrees at GWC in South Plainfield, but the dew point soared to just under 71 degrees.  With the storm system from the west also approaching, showers and storms have been firing up in portions of Pennsylvania and Southern New York.  The storm system to the west has been responsible for producing severe weather throughout the Plains.  From severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in Texas to Blizzard conditions in South Dakota.

As these two storm systems approach the Garden State as well as the rest of the Mid-Atlantic, expect conditions to become more unstable.  The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey is giving a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms developing during the afternoon and evening in Central Jersey.  Tuesday also has a similar probability of thunderstorm development.  As of now though, no hazardous weather outlooks or weather watches have been issued, but that may change as we get into Monday.  We have yet to officially begin the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, but we have already seen a landfalling system in the United States.  Could this be a harbinger of things to come?  Only time will tell.

05.09.15

Ana Becomes a Tropical Storm and Slowly Moves Toward Carolina Coast

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 5:47 pm by gmachos

First Atlantic Storm of 2015 Gains Tropical Characteristics and Begins Moving Toward Shore

Things are still very busy in the Tropical Atlantic, which is still yet to officially start the 2015 Hurricane Season for another three weeks. Ana, which formed as a subtropical storm late Thursday night, completed a metamorphosis into a complete warm core tropical system early Saturday morning. The first storm of the season in the Atlantic also began moving again after being stationary for much of the last 48 hours. Tropical Storm Warnings are now in effect as the storm is within 12 to 24 hours of coming ashore, and tropical storm conditions are possible at that time.

According to the 5:00 PM Saturday Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Ana is located some 65 miles to the South-Southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Maximum sustained winds are up to 60 miles per hour with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Barometric pressure has remained steady at 1001 millibars, or 29.56 inches of Hg. The storm is moving to the Northwest at 3 miles per hour. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Carolina coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Cape Lookout, North Carolina. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to South of South Santee River, South Carolina.

Interests in North Carolina and Virginia as well as points further north in the Atlantic should pay some attention to this storm. Throughout much of this week, Tropical Storm Ana has been fairly well behaved. It formed pretty much as forecast, and has tracked just about as expected. The storm has defied some earlier expectations by converting into a tropical storm, but it has been prognosticated fairly well by forecasters. At its current pace, Ana should come ashore by this time on Sunday. The storm’s biggest threat will be heavy rains ranging from 3 to 5 inches. There will be some issues with surge along the immediate coast, which tides growing one to two feet above normal. Heavy surf and riptides will also be a factor.

The real concern will be after it moves inland and heads up the Mid-Atlantic. Another storm system that has been creating quite a bit of chaos in the Great Plains is pushing eastward, and is expected to be in the area of the storm by late Monday into Tuesday. If the two join forces, we could see some severe thunderstorms and more flooding for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The low in the center of the country will most likely lose some power as it pushes eastward, and goes away from its moisture source in the Gulf of Mexico, but it could get re-energized a bit by Ana’s energy and moisture. Temperatures have been fairly summer like here at GWC in South Plainfield the past few days, but some early morning fog, some light rain and clouds for much of the day, kept temperatures down on Saturday.

We will have to see how all of this times out over the next several days. Monday and Tuesday could be fairly interesting in the Garden State.

05.08.15

South Amboy Making Strides After Sandy

Posted in Commentary, Storm Aftermath, GWC News, Tracking the Tropics at 8:56 pm by gmachos

Middlesex County’s Gateway to the Jersey Shore Rebuilds and Reinforces Beachfront Property Nearly Three Years After Hurricane Sandy

During the course of this Spring, Hurricaneville has made a number of journeys over to South Amboy, New Jersey and its Waterfront Park, which faces Raritan Bay.  Nearly three years after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore to the south near Atlantic City, the small town known as the Gateway to the Jersey Shore has rebuilt and refortified its precious beachfront property.  

It took some time, but the plan went into action during the summer and fall of 2014, and by the spring, South Amboy’s crown jewel, Waterfront Park, and adjoining beachfront looks even better than it did before October 29, 2012. I travel over to South Amboy a lot, and for several different reasons.  I drove over to Waterfront Park and the South Amboy beachfront on the night that Hurricane Irene grinded her way up the Jersey coast.  I was also there during the early afternoon on the day that Sandy made landfall in the Garden State.  

Two weeks after Sandy blew through, I headed over there again.  It was night and day as far as what I saw the day the storm hit, and this chilly late fall day in Mid-November 2012.  The beachfront was tattered and torn to say the least, and I didn’t capture the full story.   During the spring and summer of 2013, I got an even better picture of what Hurricane Sandy did to this small coastal community in Middlesex County, New Jersey.

During each visit to the South Amboy beachfront in the late fall of 2012, and the following spring and summer of 2013, I marveled at what I seen.  I saw large boats run aground by the record storm surge that was generated by Sandy.  Beach grasses and other vegetation was wiped out.  Walkways were rendered unsafe by the power of the water undermining it.  The fence along the walkway by the bench was twisted and battered.

To comprehend the shear power of that surge that came in from Raritan Bay, all you would have to do is look at the small bridge that connects Waterfront Park to the beachfront homes nearby.  Bricks in the bridge’s walls were ripped off.  You could see the metal cabling used to hold the bricks in place.  In other words, you could see the actual internal skeleton of the bridge.  Down the part of the walkway that is adjacent to the beachfront homes, places where there were park benches were swept away.

Fast forward to today, over two and a half years after Hurricane Sandy, and the beachfront looks as if the storm never even happened.  The only scars you may see is the refortification of the beachfront properties with berms.  The bridge connecting the park to the beachfront homes has been completely repaired, and looks as good as new.  An improved sea wall protects much of the beachfront properties and the adjacent Waterfront Park.  New vegetation has been planted while others have returned.  

The walkway itself has been completely rebuilt down to the lights that light up the way.  The stairway that allows you to get on the beach, which was badly damaged by the storm, has also been replaced as well as the fencing along Waterfront Park.  It’s hard to imagine how all of this was either heavily damaged, or completely destroyed.  The rebuilt beachfront has taken some lessons from Irene and Sandy with the enhanced sea wall and berms to better protect homes near the water.  Views of the water are obscured, but it is all for the best.  I don’t know exactly how all of this came together, but the final result is a job well done.

South Amboy has been a resilient community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Less than two months after the storm.  Residents of the town got together to have a benefit for other residents of the town hit hard by the storm.  It became known as the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Games, which were basketball games between both the boys and girls teams from South Amboy High School, and crosstown rival, Cardinal McCarrick.  It was the first time that these two schools played each other since 2008, and it was a thrilling boys hoops game that went to overtime to cap the evening.

Two years later, they are still playing the benefit games, but now for different causes.  Nevertheless, these contests have brought out the best of the town, and it all began in the hours and days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.  This rebuilding project shows South Amboy and Middlesex County’s can-do spirit.

Subtropical Storm Ana Forms Off South Carolina

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Warning, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 10:36 am by gmachos

2015 Atlantic Season Gets an Early Start With Pre-Season Storm

On Thursday night, Hurricaneville was tracking an area of low pressure off the Southeast coast near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina.  At the time, winds were high enough at 40 to 45 miles per hour to christen a named storm, but these winds were located in the northern and western sectors, and the low wasn’t organized enough to become the first storm of 2015 in the Atlantic.

Odds were still high that the low would become a named storm with an 80 percent chance of formation within the next 48 hours and 5 days, and late Thursday night, it reached that threshold.  Subtropical Storm Ana emerged in the Atlantic according to the National Hurricane Center some 170 miles to the South-Southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  

For the first time in three years, we have had a named storm during the month of May.  It also marks the fourth time since 2003 that there has been a named storm prior to the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Since forming late Thursday night, Ana hasn’t moved much.  As a matter of fact, the National Hurricane Center currently indicates that Ana is nearly stationary, and in the same location that it was in when it formed.

Maximum sustained winds with Ana are at 45 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour.  Minimum central pressure with the storm is 1005 millibars, or 29.68 inches of Hg.  A Tropical Storm Watch is currently in effect for portions of the Southeastern United States coastline from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.  Knowing your Watches and Warnings, a Tropical Storm Watch means that Tropical Storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

The storm is expected to begin moving to the north-northwest later on Friday, and make a gradual turn toward the Northwest with an increase in forward speed over the weekend.  The storm could also strengthen some more.  Even though it doesn’t have much in the way of real estate to strengthen, it is moving at such a crawl that it still has a good deal of time to intensify.  While there is going to be some wind, heavy surf, and minor surge, the main threat will be rain.  Two to four inches of rainfall are expected over portions of North Carolina.

The past two Atlantic Hurricane Seasons have been fairly quiet.  Last season, there were only 9 depressions, 8 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes, and in 2013 there were 14 depressions and 13 named storms, but only 2 hurricanes and no major hurricanes.  Ironically, the last busy season in the Atlantic was 2012 when Tropical Storm Alberto formed in May that year.  There has been no landfalling major hurricanes in the United States in nearly 10 years.

05.07.15

Early Taste of Summer Weather in Store for NJ

Posted in GWC News at 7:44 pm by gmachos

Nice Weather Thursday Followed by Increase in Heat and Humidity During the Weekend

Earlier this week, temperatures reached their highest levels of the year to date at GWC in South Plainfield.   On Monday, the mercury climbed to within a few tenths of a degree of 85 degrees.  On Tuesday, temperatures managed to get up to just under 83 degrees before clouds moved in with some sprinkles on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The clouds and sprinkles were part of a frontal boundary that ushered in high pressure, and great weather for Thursday.   Driving around to several locations around Middlesex County, I didn’t detect a cloud in the sky until about sunset when some high cirrus clouds developed near South Amboy.  High temperature at GWC on Thursday was just under 80 degrees (79.6) with the heat index topping out at 80.5 degrees.

Winds were somewhat light at about 5 miles per hour with gusts up to 15 mph.  The dry air and slight breeze did enhance the fire risk today, and while I was at Waterfront Park in South Amboy, fire trucks came in to investigate a small fire that developed in the brush along the beachfront.  The nice weather is expected to last for about another day with pleasant conditions and about the same temperature forecast for Friday by the NWS office in Mount Holly.

However, as we move into the weekend, there are a couple things that will begin to come into play.  First, we have a disturbance off the Southeast coast. Located a few hundred miles to the east of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, this disturbance already has winds of 40 to 45 mph in some parts, and is in an area currently favorable for development.  Conditions will continue to be favorable, and there is an 80 percent chance of tropical formation within the next 48 to 120 hours.

With this disturbance to our south, a more southerly flow will develop thanks to the counterclockwise flow around the low.  This will usher in warmer temperatures and high humidity as we move into Saturday and Sunday.  There will also be a slight chance for a shower or thunderstorm, particularly in the morning and early afternoon of each day.  In addition to our low off the Southeast coast, there is another low pressure system currently creating havoc in the nation’s midsection.

On Wednesday, the storm system pushed into the Great Plains and spawned some 46 tornadoes across Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.  One tornado in particular came very close to Oklahoma City.  The storm also caused the first ever Flash Flood Emergency to be issued in Oklahoma.   This storm system will continue to push eastward into the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys this weekend, and perhaps join forces with our currently non-tropical entity off the Southeast coast.

As a result, we will have more and more in the way of increased instability through the weekend, and Monday and perhaps Tuesday look to be a bit on the stormy side here in the Garden State with temperatures again rising into the upper 70s to low 80s, or perhaps a bit warmer.

First Atlantic Storm of 2015 Becoming More Likely

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Tracking the Tropics at 6:53 pm by gmachos

Rare Early May Storm Possible Within Next 48 Hrs to 5 Days

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season is scheduled to start on June 1st, but Mother Nature has had other ideas over the past several days.  Since late last week and this past weekend, models had been suggesting that some sort of low pressure system whether it be subtropical, hybrid, or even tropical was going to form off the Southeastern United States coastline by this time.   

Living up to the computer model guidance expectations, the low has formed, and while it doesn’t have a closed circulation yet, it is very close to becoming the first named storm of 2015 in the Atlantic Basin.  On Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into the disturbance, which is now stationary off the coast of the Carolinas, and found 40 to 45 mile per hour winds mostly to the north and west of the center of circulation.

Odds of formation with this low have been gradually on the increase since Tuesday, and now are at a very high probability of 80 percent within the next 48 hours, and 80 percent within the next 5 days.  The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida has been keeping a constant eye on it, and issuing Special Tropical Disturbance Statements periodically.  The NHC doesn’t issue advisories regularly yet until the start of the season on June 1st.   Interests along the Southeastern U.S. coast from North Carolina to about Northern Florida should monitor this situation.

Right now, environmental conditions are quite favorable for development.  The low is in the vicinity if not in the Gulf Stream so sea surface temperatures are warm enough and upper level winds have been light.  The winds have been so light that the storm has been barely moving.  A north to northwest drift is forecast over the next several days.  

This is not the first time that there has been a storm of some kind forming in the Atlantic prior to the official start of the season.  Recent examples include Tropical Storm Ana, which formed in April 2003.   In May 2007, Subtropical Storm Andrea developed in the Atlantic.  Finally, in Mid to late May 2012, Tropical Storm Alberto formed off  the coast of South Carolina.

Ironically, 2012 was the last very active season in the Atlantic Basin, and was capped off of course by Hurricane Sandy, which became the second hurricane ever to make landfall in New Jersey.  There has been a wide range of forecasts on how the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season will go, but if what is stirring up right now is any indication, we could be in for a long season.  

Let’s keep this in mind, it only takes one storm to make a season regardless of how much activity stirs up in the Atlantic.  Hurricane Andrew proved that in 1992.  Nevertheless, the entire coast of the United States from Maine to Texas, especially the hurricane belt of the Southeastern coastline is long overdue for a major hurricane.  The last Category 3 strength or higher storm to impact the U.S. coast was in 2005.

05.01.15

GWC Time Lapse–April 22, 2015–Gusty Storms

Posted in YouTube Videos, GWC Web Cam, GWC Time Lapse at 8:41 pm by gmachos

Here is a time lapse video of a cold front passing through the Central Jersey region that brought some gusty storms. Prior to the storms arriving in mid-afternoon, the high temperature at GWC in South Plainfield was 73 degrees. Following the frontal passage, the temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees to 54 in about 2 hours. Barometric pressure dropped to 29.50 inches of Hg at the time the front passed through. Winds gusted to 60 mph. The storms brought 0.25 inches of rain at GWC.

04.24.15

GWC Car Cam Footage–April 22, 2015–Gusty Storms

Posted in GWC News, Storm Footage, YouTube Videos, GWC Web Cam at 5:49 pm by gmachos

Here is car cam footage of a cold front passing through the Central Jersey region that brought some gusty storms. Prior to the storms arriving in mid-afternoon, the high temperature at GWC in South Plainfield was 73 degrees. Following the frontal passage, the temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees to 54 in about 2 hours. Barometric pressure dropped to 29.50 inches of Hg at the time the front passed through. Winds gusted to 60 mph. The storms brought 0.25 inches of rain at GWC. During the trip, the car cam captured some of the weather chaos as the leading edge of the front pushed through South Plainfield, and then caught some cloud to cloud lightning at both Keyport and Old Bridge, New Jersey.

GWC Car Cam Footage–April 10, 2015–Drive Home from Sandy Hook

Posted in GWC News, Storm Footage, YouTube Videos, GWC Web Cam at 1:54 pm by gmachos

Here is some video footage of a drive home from Sandy Hook that I had a couple weeks ago on April 10th. Footage is courtesy of the GWC Car Cam. On this day, a front was forecast to come through, and bring some severe weather, but due to a strong marine influence, temperatures never got much high than 50 degrees, and no rough weather materialized.

03.22.15

GWC Storm Footage–March 20, 2015–Snowstorm on First Day of Spring

Posted in GWC News, Storm Footage, YouTube Videos at 7:15 pm by gmachos

Here is video footage of the snowstorm that brought several inches of snow to Greg’s Weather Center in South Plainfield, New Jersey on the first day of Spring 2015. Video footage taken is from a number of different vantage points around town. The snowfall started out as wet snow thanks to the warmer temperatures and higher sun angle. However, as the day progresses, the temperature dropped just enough to make the snow stick, and it accumulated on the roadways as well as the grassy surfaces. The snowfall continued until around 11:00 PM several hours after the official start of Spring 2015.

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