Pacific about to get very, very busy while Atlantic remains closed

A very strong MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation pulse is setting up across the tropical Pacific and once it reaches its full potential, we are likely to see a string of tropical cyclones develop.

The MJO is an interesting phenomena which is best described for the sake of simplicity as a period of fertility in the tropics. Think of upward motion as being “good” for development and downward motion as being “bad” for development. The more the air can rise and spread out evenly, the better the odds for tropical storms and hurricanes (typhoons) to get going. Conversely, if the air is sinking, this literally suppresses tropical convection and makes it very difficult for tropical cyclones.

Satellite photo of the Pacific where a strong MJO pulse is leading to an increase in tropical convection and eventually, numerous tropical cyclones

Satellite photo of the Pacific where a strong MJO pulse is leading to an increase in tropical convection and eventually, numerous tropical cyclones

Over the next couple of weeks a very favorable period for the tropical Pacific is likely. The major global models are indicating a very strong MJO signal and you can actually see it starting in the hemispheric satellite that shot I’ve included. The gathering of clouds just north of the Equator is no accident and fits in nicely with the coming MJO pulse.

As a result, the models are showing several tropical cyclones developing over the coming days across the Pacific. There are likely to be a few that reach incredible intensity, mainly due to the abnormally warm water across the region (El Nino).

Interests across the Pacific should be monitoring conditions as we enter this period of increased tropical cyclone activity. Even Hawaii has a chance for at least some impact once the central and east Pacific enter the favorable phase of the MJO – which won’t be too far off.

In the other basin, the Atlantic, things could not be more hostile. Dry, sinking air along with very high levels of wind shear (the change of wind direction and speed as you go up in the atmosphere) is literally keeping a lid on development chances. We typically do not see much during most of July anyway but right now, conditions are especially unfavorable and should remain that way for the next week or so at least.

Enjoy your 4th of July along the U.S. coast with no worries from the tropics. If you’re in the Pacific, as I mentioned, keep an eye on things over the next several days as the MJO ramps up and creates very favorable conditions. I’ll post another update here over the weekend to address any significant development that does occur in the Pacific.

Be safe this holiday period and I’ll have more this weekend.

M. Sudduth 11AM ET July 2

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Remnants of Bill still alive and well, tropics as a whole quiet for now

Tropical depression Bill as seen via visible satellite photo on June 20, 2015

Tropical depression Bill as seen via visible satellite photo on June 20, 2015

Tropical storm Bill made landfall early Tuesday morning along the central Texas coast and has since left a tremendous amount of rain in its wake. Fortunately, the flooding situation in Texas was not as severe as it could have been but in parts of Oklahoma, it’s a different story.

Bill once again underscores the importance of the public having a grasp on the total package, so to speak, that tropical cyclones bring. It’s not just categories of hurricanes or the amount of storm surge, rain and the resulting freshwater flooding has a way of sneaking in and seemingly catching people off guard.

Today, the remnant low pressure area of Bill is currently moving through parts of Arkansas and Missouri. Heavy rain is falling in areas such as St. Louis and will spread up the I-70 corridor in to Indiana over the weekend. The satellite presentation is still rather impressive for a depression that has been over land for several days. The low is forecast to track through Kentucky and eventually off the Mid-Atlantic states within the next few days, spreading more heavy rain along its path.

As for the tropics going in to the weekend – nothing to worry about at all. We are currently within a period of time that is not likely to allow for much development in either the east Pacific or the Atlantic. This should last for about 10 to 15 days, maybe more, we’ll see. In addition, dry, dusty air from Africa is traversing the Atlantic right now, keeping a literal lid on any development chances out that way. So enjoy the weekend along the shores, tropical storms and hurricanes won’t be an issue anywhere. I’ll have more here on Monday.

M. Sudduth 1pm ET June 20

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Tropical storm Bill headed for Texas and beyond

The NHC upgraded 91L to tropical storm Bill and immediately posted a tropical storm warning for parts of the Texas coastline. This is the first significant tropical cyclone to threaten Texas since 2008 when hurricane Ike devastated the region and on in to southwest Louisiana. In 2011, TS Don pretty much died on arrival due to the extreme drought gripping the state.

Bill is likely going to try to intensify through the night and in to Tuesday as it approaches the coast. Water temps are plenty warm and upper level winds are gradually becoming more and more favorable. Fortunately, Bill will run out of real-estate before becoming a hurricane, but it may try to get close. I’ve seen it with these smaller short-fuse storms, so don’t be surprised to see Bill end up as a 65 to 70 mph storm before landfall.

Once inland, the structure will likely remain intact even over land. While the low level center may well dissipate, the NHC mentions that the mid and upper level portions of the storm could remain and this will result in a lot of rain for parts of east Texas and up through Oklahoma and beyond.

WPC 5-day precipitation forecast showing the extent of TS Bill's rain swath around the strong high pressure area over the Southeast

WPC 5-day precipitation forecast showing the extent of TS Bill’s rain swath around the strong high pressure area over the Southeast

Take a look at the Weather Prediction Center’s five day precipitation forecast map. That incredible arc of rain literally rounds the western edge of the heat-ridge sitting over the Southeast right now, resulting in 100+ degree temps in many locations. Bill and its remnants will move up and over the top of this ridge and will likely bring periods of very heavy rain for thousands of miles after landfall. From a meteorological perspective, this will be fascinating to watch.

HurricaneTrack.com has a live feed from Bolivar Peninsula courtesy of one of our good friends and colleague, Kerry Mallory. He has the exact same set up as our “Tahoe Cam” in his Ford truck. We are streaming using our public Ustream feed and encourage you to tune in and monitor conditions from time to time along the vulnerable peninsula. This region was slammed by hurricane Ike in 2008 and the flat coastline, coupled with the shallow offshore water will result in some coastal flooding in this area. Once the center moves ashore later Tuesday, Kerry will continue the stream live as he heads back in to his hometown of Houston. While it looks as though the metro area will escape the worst of the rain, there seems to be plenty of it on the way regardless. We’ll keep the stream up for as long as Kerry is out and about and appreciate his efforts to show us what is going on there locally.

I’ll post more on Bill later in the day on Tuesday.

Link to live video (also showing over on the right hand column of this page): HurricaneTrack Live Video via Ustream

M. Sudduth 2:15 AM ET June 16

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