08.29.14

GWC Slideshow–August 28, 2014–Trip to Long Beach Island

Posted in GWC News, YouTube Videos, GWC Slideshows at 2:12 am by gmachos

Here is a slideshow from photos taken during a trip to Long Beach Island on the last Thursday in August 2014. After a front came through during the early morning, and temperatures dropped off a bit to the low 80s after temperatures rose to around 90 across much of the Garden State on Wednesday.

08.28.14

Cristobal Generating Rough Surf and Rip Currents Along Jersey Shore

Posted in Storm Track, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics at 12:12 pm by gmachos

Long Period Swells from Hurricane in Atlantic Causing Dangerous Surf Conditions at Jersey Beaches

With the approach of the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, many residents from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are headed to the Jersey Shore for one last fling before summer ends.  Hurricane Cristobal, an unwanted guest at Garden State beaches, is still making his presence felt.  No direct threat to land, the Category One storm is still producing dangerous effects.

Located some several hundred miles from Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Canadian Maritimes, Cristobal is still a minimal hurricane with 75 mph winds.  The storm formed in the Eastern Caribbean last week, and gradually headed northward where it dumped a good deal of rain in the Southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands.  Since then, Cristobal continued on a northward, and then a north-northeastward track between Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States.

With maximum sustained winds that have ranged between 75 and 80 miles per hour, Hurricane Cristobal has been able to generate a good deal of wave action and dangerous surf conditions all along the United States Eastern Seaboard from Florida into New England.  New Jersey began feeling the effects of the long period swells on Wednesday when waves measuring 3 to 5 feet above normal came crashing ashore.  The heavy surf and dangerous rip currents have resulted in advisories being issued by the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly for Jersey beaches.

Still many have gone into the water, and for some, it has come with a price.  On Wednesday, the Asbury Park Press reported that a 17 year old boy drowned in Sandy Hook after being overwhelmed by the treacherous waters.  Further south in Ocean City, Maryland, another person died after being caught up in the dangerous surf.  The long period swells being generated by Hurricane Cristobal are expected to continue for another 24 hours or so.  Wave heights are expected to be anywhere from 3 to 7 feet along the Jersey Shore depending upon, which weather service you follow.

Meanwhile, along ocean facing beaches in Long Island, the surf conditions are expected to be a bit worse.  Wave heights are forecast to be between 5 to 8 feet with some locally being as high as 8 to 10 feet.  Further north near Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, seas could get as high as 12 feet.  So, if you don’t have to be in the water, don’t go in.  On the west coast in Southern California, there have been 130 rescues made by lifeguards there in response to the historic waves and surf created by what’s left of Hurricane Marie in the Eastern Pacific.  If you are in the water, and get caught in a rip current, don’t panic and swim parallel to the shore, the rip current will eventually let up.

GWC and Hurricaneville plan to head to Long Beach Island on Thursday to take in the wave action and surf there.  Pictures and video from the visit will be posted later.

GWC Slideshow–August 27, 2014–Heavy Surf from Cristobal Along Jersey Shore

Posted in GWC News, YouTube Videos, GWC Slideshows at 11:19 am by gmachos

Here is a slideshow from photos take of the heavy surf generated by Hurricane Cristobal along the Jersey Shore at Barnegat Beach on the last Wednesday of August 2014. While Cristobal is churning in the Western Atlantic far from the U.S. East Coast, it is creating long period swells that have spawned dangerous surf conditions from Florida all the way up into New England.

Historic Surf Along Southern California Coast as Marie Fades

Posted in Storm Track, Eastern Pacific, Storm Safety at 10:11 am by gmachos

Once Category Five Hurricane Weakens To Tropical Storm; Still Creating Dangerous Surf and Rip Currents in Southern California

In another twist to what has been a very busy Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season, what was a powerful hurricane, is weakening in cooler waters. Tropical Storm Marie, which was once a Category Five Hurricane, the first in the EPAC since 2010, has weakened to minimal tropical storm strength, and is expected to become post-tropical later on Thursday. However, the ripple effects to the ocean from the storm’s power in previous days, is generating dangerous surf conditions along the Southern California coast.

Thanks in part to winds that were once at 160 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure that dropped to an estimated pressure of 918 millibars, or 27.11 inches of Hg, Marie has been able to churn up the seas to historic levels. Residents and experts living in Southern California have not seen surf conditions like this in 25 years.

With waves as high as 25 feet and powerful rip currents, the surf is very dangerous, but it is not keeping people out of the water. Surfers, who are looking to push the boundaries against mother nature, are getting out in these treacherous waters in droves. As a result, some 130 rescues had to be conducted.

Video footage from people at the beach, and drones flying along the coast have shown the dramatic waves from Marie pushing ashore south of Los Angeles in Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach nearby. Surf has pounded the coast from Long Beach to Malibu causing damage to homes there as well as the Malibu Pier. NBC News reports that the powerful waves proved deadly when a surfer was killed along Surfrider Beach on Tuesday morning.

Marie became the most powerful storm of the EPAC season, which has had 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 5 major hurricanes, 3 Category Four Hurricanes, and one Category Five system. Marie is currently located some 820 miles to the West-Southwest of Punta Eugenia in Baja California, Mexico and dissipating with winds down to 50 miles per hour.

Warm, Humid Weather Returning For Labor Day Weekend

Posted in GWC News at 9:26 am by gmachos

Warmest Weather of Month Expected With Storms on Sunday

The Summer of 2014 has been a pleasant summer here in the Garden State. The three month period of June through August of this year has been the coolest summer period in the past four years according to data kept by Greg’s Weather Center. In South Plainfield, the high temperatures for the months of June and July of 2014 were three to four degrees lower than last year, and 6 to 9 degrees below monthly highs for the same months two years ago.

On top of that, the average temperatures for the same three month period this year is running some 4 to 6 degrees below average temps for the same period three years ago. August 2014 has performed a bit better than last year. Before yesterday, the high temperature for the month was just under 90 degrees at 89 in South Plainfield, which occurred on August 5th. Last year’s peak temperature for the month of August was 88 degrees, and that didn’t occur until Labor Day Weekend. On Wednesday though, the warm, humid weather that had eluded New Jersey for much of the summer, made a rare appearance.

At the GWC Weather Station, the high temperature reached just over 90 degrees (90.3) while the dew point peaked at 70 degrees for a heat index of 97 degrees. It was the warmest day of the month here in Tigertown, and it could be a taste of things to come. After nice weather returns later on Thursday, and continues into Friday and Saturday, the heat and humidity will return on Sunday, and linger into the middle of next week. Over the next three days, high temperatures are forecast to be in the low 80s, but on Sunday, the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly is calling for a high of 88 with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms in the evening.

Labor Day is also expected to be warm and humid with the high again climbing to 88, and a chance of thunderstorms. Meanwhile, The Weather Channel is calling for a high of 91 on Sunday with a 50 percent chance of storms. TWC is also indicating temperatures will be in the upper 80s on Monday as well before climbing back into the low 90s on Tuesday with a 50 percent chance of storms. The return of the warm and humid weather had been on the horizon. A dome of high pressure bubbled up in the mid-section of the country within the past week to 10 days, and has pushed eastward. The high is serving as a buffer zone though from Hurricane Cristobal, which is churning between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda.

GWC Weather Footage–August 27, 2014–Hurricane Cristobal Stirs Up Surf Along Jersey Shore

Posted in GWC News, Storm Footage, YouTube Videos, GWC Video Report, Hurricaneville Video Report, Tracking the Tropics at 8:25 am by gmachos

Here is weather footage of heavy surf getting stirred up along the Jersey Shore courtesy of Hurricane Cristobal on the final Wednesday of August 2014. Cristobal, the third named storm and hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, has only been a Category One Hurricane to date with peak winds of 80 mph, but it churned up the surf with wave heights ranging between 3 to 6 feet above normal. The storm stayed away from the U.S. East Coast while staying west of Bermuda. It did dump a good deal of rain on the Turks and Caicos islands and the Southeastern Bahamas earlier in the week.

08.26.14

Active 2014 Season in Eastern Pacific

Posted in Storm Facts, Eastern Pacific, Tracking the Tropics at 4:37 pm by gmachos

Stormy Season Has Already Yielded Five Major Hurricanes Including One Cat 5

While the Atlantic has been very quiet so far in 2014, the Eastern Pacific has been very busy. Although the El Nino that was forecasted earlier this year has not developed yet, the Eastern Pacific’s tropical waters have been a fertile breeding ground for tropical storms and hurricanes. As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Three of those major hurricanes have reached Category Four strength while another, the most recent Hurricane Marie, had strengthened to become the first Category Five hurricane in the region since 2010.

Most of these storms did not directly impact land along the Mexican West Coast, Baja California, or Central America. Some storms have trekked further west in the Central Pacific zone while others have affected relatively uninhabited islands such as Socorro and Clarion. Tropical Storm Genevieve, Hurricane Iselle, and Hurricane Julio all went into the Central Pacific, and even threatened Hawaii. Genevieve went to the south of the island chain, Iselle went passed to the south of Maui County on the Big Island, and Julio moved to the north of the islands. Recently, Hurricane Marie impacted Clarion Island.

Most of these storms, particularly the major hurricanes, have created high surf and tremendous waves along Baja California, Southern California, and Hawaii. The season started off with a bang as Hurricane Amanda became the first storm of the season quite early (May 22nd), and eventually peaked at Category Four intensity with 150 mph winds. After Tropical Storm Boris developed and dissipated, Hurricane Cristina developed within the second week of June, and rapidly intensified into a Category Four storm with 145 mph winds on June 12th. The storm would peak with 150 mph winds a few hours later on the 12th.

Four tropical storms and a Category One Hurricane followed with Douglas, Elida, Fausto, Genevieve, and Hernan before Iselle developed. The storm fluctuated in between Category Two and Three intensity on August 3rd before becoming a Category Four Hurricane on the morning of the 4th. After that, the storm gradually lost strength as it entered cooler waters and moved out of the Eastern Pacific zone on August 5th. The storm eventually reached the Big Island of Hawaii on Friday, August 8th. Right on its tail was Hurricane Julio, which formed originally on the evening of August 3rd, and didn’t reach major hurricane strength until it moved out of the EPAC basin on the evening of August 7th. Julio would reach peak intensity at 120 miles per hour on that same evening. The storm then entered cooler waters, and stayed to the north of the islands as it passed by on August 9th.

Then, there was Karina, Lowell, and Marie. All three storms were active at the same time at one point in the Eastern Pacific (August 21st) and all three later became hurricanes with Marie becoming the strongest of the trio. Marie became a major hurricane early in the morning on August 24th, and a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale later that Sunday afternoon. The storm has since moved into cooler waters and gradually weakened to a Category Two storm as of the time of this article on Tuesday afternoon, August 26th. There is still a ways to go in this season in the Eastern Pacific so there could be many more storms and powerful hurricanes on the way.

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season To Date

Posted in Commentary, Storm History, Storm Facts, Hurricane Intensity, Tracking the Tropics at 2:11 pm by gmachos

While El Nino Hasn’t Formed Yet, Atlantic Still Quiet Thanks to Dry Air and Shear

Are we at the end of the cycle of active Atlantic Hurricane Seasons? Perhaps not, but the past several seasons seem to indicate that something is happening in the Atlantic. Recently in the news, there was a report about how global warming might have leveled off or paused thanks to changes in circulation in the Atlantic ocean as well as other southern oceans. The pause in global warming could be related, but while the El Nino has not formed yet, and isn’t expected to be strong, activity in the Atlantic the past two seasons including this year have been relatively quiet thanks to dry air and hostile upper level wind conditions in much of the Tropical Atlantic.

During the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, there were a total of 14 depressions, 13 named storms, 2 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. The first hurricane of 2013 didn’t come until the day after the statistical peak on September 10th. So far this season, there have only been 4 depressions, 3 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. So, we are looking at nearly two years since there had been a major hurricane in the Atlantic. In 2012, activity was much busier with 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes, but only 1 major hurricane (Michael). The year before, 2011, also was more active with 19 depressions, 18 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Tallying all of those numbers up, there have been 56 depressions, 53 named storms, 21 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

So, the ratio of hurricanes to named storms is less than half, and only 1/14th of all depressions that have formed over the past four seasons including this year, have become major hurricanes. The strongest storm during this period were Hurricanes Ophelia and Irene back in 2011. No hurricanes in the Atlantic have peaked higher than 125 mph winds. Returning back to the 2014 Atlantic season, the season began quietly with no storms for the entire month of June. However, toward the end of the first month of the season, a disturbance stirred up in the Western Atlantic. It would eventually become Arthur, which peaked as a Category Two Hurricane with 100 mph winds. The storm made landfall along the North Carolina coast near Shackleford Banks, between Cape Lookout and Buford during the late evening hours of July 3rd.

The storm did make the Fourth of July holiday a wet one for those along the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, and it almost put a damper on the fireworks displays in New York and New Jersey, but things just cleared out in time for those to be run without a hitch. I personally was able to see the Macy’s Fireworks display along the East River, and the Jersey City Fireworks, which began a little earlier. Tropical storm force conditions developed over Nantucket in Massachusetts, but the storm eventually pulled away and raced toward the Canadian Maritimes while losing its tropical characteristics on July 5th. See details on Arthur in another blog article. While the Eastern, Central, and Western Pacific showed an abundance of activity including several powerful typhoons and hurricanes during July and August, the Atlantic didn’t stir up much until the beginning of August when Bertha, the second named storm of the season, developed.

After TD #2 formed and faded during the days of July 21st to July 23rd, there was a lull in Atlantic activity for about a week to ten days. Then, on July 31st, Bertha began to take shape as a depression. It gradually strengthened to a minimal Category One Hurricane with peak winds of 80 mph during the late morning on August 4th. Bertha only lasted as a hurricane for about 18 hours before being downgraded to a tropical storm in the early morning of August 5th. The storm was no threat to land as it headed out to sea between Bermuda and the United States East Coast. Now, we have Cristobal, which appears to be following a similar path to Bertha. While this storm could surpass Bertha in terms of intensity, no major impacts are expected.

The general tracks of the three hurricanes that have formed in the Atlantic this year have been fairly similar with Arthur taking the westernmost track along the U.S. East Coast while Bertha and Cristobal tracking more to the east between the U.S. East Coast and the island of Bermuda. The storms have not really been that strong either. Arthur was the strongest to date with only 100 mph winds (Category Two) while Bertha was a Category One and Cristobal is only expected to peak at 90 mph winds.

Cristobal Becomes Third Hurricane of 2014 Atlantic Season

Posted in Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Storm Safety, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 8:37 am by gmachos

Expected to Pass to Northwest of Bermuda on Wednesday; Heavy Surf and Rip Currents Main Threat to U.S. Coast

On Monday, Cristobal continued to gradually strengthen as the light to moderate shear that was affecting it on Sunday lessened, and the storm fed off the warmer waters around the Bahamas. By a little after 8:00 PM in the evening, the storm had strengthened and organized just enough to be classified as the third hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season by the National Hurricane Center. Although it is still dumping a good deal of rain on the Turks and Caicos islands as well as the Southeastern Bahamas, the storm is moving away from the Bahamian island chain, and now setting its sights on Bermuda.

As of the most recent advisory on the storm, the 8:00 AM advisory from the NHC, Cristobal was located some 590 miles to the Southwest of Bermuda, and moving to the North at 12 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are minimal hurricane force at 75 miles per hour with gusts up to 90 mph. Minimum central pressure with the storm is down to 988 millibars, or 29.18 inches of Hg. Since this time yesterday, the pressure has dropped some 6 millibars. Currently, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Bermuda. Looking at the most recent discussion (5:00 AM Tuesday morning) from the NHC, the intensity forecast indicates more strengthening is possible and Cristobal could be a strong Category One Hurricane with 90 mph winds within 48 hours. Taking a peek at the satellite imagery of the storm, you might think that this storm is more of an extratropical system with the bulk of its clouds and convection to the east of the center.

Cristobal is still feeling the effects of a mid-latitude trough to the north of it, which is why the system has more of a baroclinic feel to it. Also feeling the pinch from a subtropical ridge to the east and high pressure over the Southeast United States, the storm will continue to push northward over the next 36 hours or so. After that, Cristobal will start feeling the effects of another trough pushing into the Eastern United States and begin to head out to sea. Despite not being a threat for landfall along the United States East Coast, the storm is still expected to create long period swells stretching from Florida to New York. Today that threat will be most likely from Central Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Then, as the week progresses and the storm continues northward, the threat of heavy surf and rip currents will push northward into the Mid-Atlantic.

With Cristobal becoming a hurricane, the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season scorecard now reads: 4 Tropical Depressions, 3 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 0 major hurricanes. We are still some two weeks away from the statistical peak of the Atlantic season (September 10th). However, activity in August has been below normal to date, and the season overall is running below average and well under the pace of recent seasons. Dry air and hostile upper level conditions throughout much of the Atlantic have been mostly the cause.

08.24.14

All Eyes Along East Coast Watching Cristobal

Posted in Storm Track, Commentary, Storm Facts, Storm Preparation, Tracking the Tropics, Model Forecasts at 6:04 pm by gmachos

Third Named Storm of the Atlantic Season Forms on Saturday; Bringing Rain To Turks and Caicos

In what has been a dull season by recent standards in the Atlantic, the fourth tropical cyclone and third named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Cristobal, is departing from the waters near the Southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. The fact that Cristobal has even gotten to this point is a testament to its fortitude. The question is will it ramp up into the season’s third hurricane, and more importantly, will it impact anywhere along the East Coast of the United States. The answer to the latter question is not likely.

The storm originally formed modestly off the West African coast last week, and pushed its way westward. It was a fairly impressive tempest upon arrival in the Eastern Atlantic, but the waters and atmosphere there have not been kind to nurturing Cape Verde Storms this season. The combination of dry air over much of the Tropical Atlantic Ocean this season as well as hostile upper level winds have made it difficult for storms to fire up. Tropical Depression #3 and Hurricane Bertha encountered these difficulties. Bertha was able to withstand it to become the season’s second hurricane in early August.

The models from last week were hinting though that Cristobal would form. It took a bit of time, but things are slowly beginning to come together for the storm. Some northwesterly shear has been the hindrance so far, but that is forecast to slacken within the next 72 hours. Combine that with the presence of adequate sea surface temperatures (around 29 degrees C), and we could be seeing a hurricane by Tuesday or Wednesday. The latest intensity model forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates that Cristobal will be just below minimal hurricane strength in 48 hours, a hurricane within 72 hours, and an 80 mph hurricane in 4 days.

Bryan Norcross of The Weather Channel had a good breakdown of the storm on Saturday night with several players in the environment that could play a role in the future course of the storm. One is the subtropical ridge in the Atlantic, which is driving the storm westward. Another one is a trough that is draped just to the north of the storm off the east coast of North Carolina of the United States. These two players will continue to battle for a bit and Cristobal will be slugging through the Bahamas for the next couple days. The trough off the Carolinas is then forecast to move to the Northeast, Cristobal will try to take advantage of the gap between the trough and the ridge, and turn towards the coast, but a second trough is supposed to move across the United States, and kick the storm away from a US coastal impact.

There is some disagreement among the models, but they are generally in agreement with the American (GFS) model and the European (ECMWF) model. Timing and speed is the key difference. According to the 5:00 PM Sunday afternoon discussion from the National Hurricane Center, the GFS solution has the system moving more slowly and lags behind the other models by about 500 nautical miles within 5 days. Overall though, Cristobal’s forecast track appears to be heading in the same direction as Bertha’s earlier this month. The NHC guidance has the storm pushing northward, and between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda, and then turning out to sea.

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