Atlantic remains in shut-down mode while east Pacific remains very busy

The Atlantic Basin hurricane season has been pretty much as anticipated: not very active. We’ve had four hurricanes form since June 1 and only one of them became a major hurricane with winds of 115 mph. This is what was forecast by most agencies and I see little reason to believe that the current hostile pattern will abate before we reach the end of the season in November.

Before we throw in the towel and put away the tracking maps (people still use paper maps, right?), it is important to remember that even one late season hurricane can spell trouble and we’re not just talking about U.S. interests either. Even though the odds are seemingly against it this year, we still have to monitor the tropics in case something develops at just the right time and ruins what was another year of little impact to land. For now, I see nothing to suggest we will have anything to worry about in the near future.

The eastern Pacific is a different story completely. We’ve seen quite a few intense hurricanes form here with significant impact to areas such as the Baja peninsula and even up in to the Desert Southwest and parts of southern California. Perhaps this is part of the developing El Nino which is finally coming in to play. What ever the reason, the east Pacific has had plenty of action this year and it’s not over yet.

Another tropical depression is likely to form off the coast of Mexico and then move generally westward and away from land. There’s a chance it tries to turn back more to the north and east with time but nothing like we saw with Norbert and Odile. Once this system gets a name, it will be Rachel – pretty far down the list of names for the east Pacific.

That’s about it. Nice and quiet means not a lot to talk about. I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 9:00 AM ET Sept 23

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Tropics not much of an issue this weekend

Things are looking good across the Atlantic and east Pacific as we head in to the weekend. The global models are not indicating any significant development, and certainly nothing threatening land, over the next several days.

The only item of note is a non-tropical area of low pressure that is likely to develop off the Southeast coast and track quickly northeast and out to sea. While it will have some convective activity with it which will produce rain and wind over the water, it will not have the true tropical look to it to be classified as a depression or storm. In fact, once it develops, it should have a coma shape to it, meaning it is more of a frontal low than a tropical low, so no worries from this system other than for boating interests well off the Carolina coasts.

In the eastern Pacific, TS Polo is forecast to turn westward and away from the battered Baja peninsula. This is obviously excellent news for the region which is still recovering from the impact of hurricane Odile earlier this week.

Once Polo moves on out in to the open Pacific, it looks as though the region will quiet down finally as I see no additional areas of development brewing.

So enjoy the weekend and don’t worry at all about any threats from the tropics. So far, things are looking great as we get ready to enter the fall season. I’ll post more here on Monday.

M. Sudduth 9:35 AM ET Sept 19

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Quick update before heading back East

I am currently in Tucson, AZ where I have spent the better part of four days tracking the remnants of Odile. The city was prepared, going so far as canceling school in some areas. Fortunately, the largest plume of deep tropical moisture stayed east of the Tucson area and a repeat of the September 8 flooding was avoided.

For areas east of Tucson and extending all the way to west Texas, the rain caused problems but was not as bad as it could have been. The added moisture will, in the end, be beneficial for the region. None the less, Odile is a stark reminder of how tropical cyclones are not always an Atlantic or Gulf Coast threat. Obviously, the folks in Cabo San Lucas know all too well about east Pacific hurricanes.

So what’s next? For now, nothing too menacing is seen looming on the horizon. The NHC did mention the possibility of a low pressure area developing off the Southeast coast this weekend. Right now, computer models suggest that it will remain off the coast enough to keep most of the rain and wind over the water.

In the rest of the Atlantic, Edouard continues to weaken over open water. The NHC also highlights an area of interest just off the coast of Africa but it is likely to remain embedded within the hostile environment that has dominated the deep tropics for most of this season.

Meanwhile, in the east Pacific, hurricane Polo is expected to track more west over time and should remain far enough away from the Baja peninsula to spare that area any further insult to injury in the wake of Odile.

I will be back in NC tomorrow evening and will post another update here as I travel tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 3:20 PM ET September 18

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Odile leaves trail of destruction along Baja, heavy rain poised to inundate parts of Southwest

Tropical storm Odile continues to churn away over the Baja peninsula and the Gulf of California

Tropical storm Odile continues to churn away over the Baja peninsula and the Gulf of California

Even though the Atlantic hurricane season is certainly not very busy, the impacts from tropical cyclones on people and places within the United States cannot be ignored. We are about to see once again how tropical moisture from an east Pacific system gets pulled northward in to the Desert Southwest and causes all kinds of issues.

In this case, it’s the remnant circulation of once powerful hurricane Odile. So far, we are seeing quite a bit of evidence of damage to parts of the southern Baja peninsula where Odile made landfall as a strong category three hurricane just a couple of nights ago. There are a lot of people who are without fresh water and other basic needs due to the hurricane and its unlikely path right in to Cabo San Lucas. That story will continue to play out over the coming days as rescue and recovery efforts unfold.

Meanwhile, the moisture from what is still tropical storm Odile will continue to move northward towards Arizona and New Mexico. As a result, flash flood watches have been posted for most of Arizona, parts of southeast California and southern Nevada and a good deal of southwest New Mexico. The threat of excessive rainfall across the region is high over the next few days and this could lead to major issues for areas not used to this much rain.

It looks as though the heaviest rain will come tomorrow and in to Thursday when the bulk of the moisture from Odile arrives. The possibility of seeing 3 to 5 inches of rain raises the odds that significant flooding will occur but the exact location of this is impossible to know right now. Being alert for rapidly changing conditions and being ready to move to high ground will be essential to keeping safe. Anyone traveling across the region is advised to keep a close watch on the local weather conditions and do not try to cross any flooded roads, no matter what you’re driving. Swift moving water can overpower your vehicle in a matter of seconds, we saw this during last week’s flash flood along I-15 northeast of Las Vegas. This is a serious flood threat for the region and people need to take it as such.

I am currently in Tuscon working to document and report on the situation over the next few days. My team and I will will make use of some of the same equipment we use in hurricane storm surge with the idea being that we try to capture video of a dangerous flooding situation without having to be there ourselves. There are numerous low spots, washes, dry stream beds, etc that we can place an unmanned camera close enough to capture video of a flash flood. With the amount of heavy rain forecast for the area, I don’t think we will have too much trouble and in fact, will have to make sure we are well away from those areas when the flooding begins.

I will post updates from time to time using Instagram – follow along @hurricanetrack. These posts automatically hit our Twitter feed as well. In addition, I will have longer duration video blogs posted to our app, Hurricane Impact, throughout the next few days. If you know people in the region, let them know that this is a very serious situation. We may think of rain as being a necessary element of survival, especially in the desert, but too much in too short a period of time can bring havoc. I’ll keep you updated from the ground from the Tuscon area up to Phoenix and over towards New Mexico over the next few days.

As for the Atlantic – no worries anytime soon, Edouard will continue to move on out over open water and no other developments are seen within the global models for the time being.

I’ll post more here later tonight from southern Arizona.

M. Sudduth 10:19 AM ET Sept 16

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Edouard on its way to becoming a major hurricane but the major news story is Odile

NWS news and information graphic concerning upcoming flood threat in AZ and NM

NWS news and information graphic concerning upcoming flood threat in AZ and NM

Hurricane Edouard is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin in over two years. We have to go back to Sandy in late October of 2012 to find a stronger hurricane than Edouard – that’s how slack the Atlantic has been as of late. Never the less, the NHC is forecasting Edouard to become a major hurricane with winds peaking at 120 mph. I suspect it will be stronger given the nature of intensity forecasting. This will help to boost the ACE score for the Atlantic which is now in the mid-20s and climbing. The only issue from Edouard will be swells that eventually reach Bermuda and parts of the East Coast and of course shipping interests in the open Atlantic.

The remainder of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf are free of any areas of concern for the time being.

In the east Pacific, the mega-season continues. Hurricane Odile made landfall last night near Cabo San Lucas as a strong category three causing significant damage to the region. It will be some time before we get a full picture of what happened but rest assured, the region took a hit last night and it’s still going on as Odile tracks up the spine of the Baja peninsula today.

The NHC forecast track keeps the hurricane over the peninsula and then turns it northeast across the northern portion of the Gulf of California. With most of the circulation of Odile over water, it may not weaken as much thus the risk of hurricane conditions spreading northward over the next day or so is high.

As Odile makes its way northward, deep tropical moisture will spread in to parts of the southwest United States. This will lead to an increase in rain chances as the week progresses and may result in significant rain fall for some locations. It is impossible to know which areas will receive the most rain but it is not out of the realm of possibility that we could see 3 to 5 inches. Flooding will once again be a big concern, especially in Arizona and New Mexico where it looks like a bulk of the moisture is headed. It is important for people in the region to pay close attention to NWS watch, warning and other info this week. Tropical cyclone impacts to the Southwest are rare but when they do happen, the results are often dramatic and dangerous.

I am going to be traveling out to Arizona later today – arriving in Phoenix this evening. I will have a full crew to work with utilizing two vehicles and plenty of equipment to document this potentially extraordinary event as it unfolds.

Our goal is to capture a flash flood as it happens using some of the same unmanned camera systems that we use in deadly hurricane storm surge. We can also provide on-site reports to our followers via Twitter, Instagram and of course, our app, Hurricane Impact. In addition, I will be providing The Weather Channel with several reports and live video throughout the field work over the coming days. We will go where the weather takes us, it’s not like a hurricane landfall where we need to be where the eye crosses the coast. The Desert Southwest is vast and often harsh, I have last week as somewhat of a guide to know what to expect but each trip is different and Odile is likely to bring an entirely new set of problems to the region. I cannot stress enough how important it will be for people in the area to keep up to date on the ever-changing situation.

I will post another update here late tonight, probably past Midnight ET and then more tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:25 AM ET Sept 15

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