About Mark Sudduth

Greetings! I am Mark Sudduth, the founder and editor of HurricaneTrack.com. The site began in 1999 as a way to post info concerning tropical storms and hurricanes for any interested visitors. Little did I know how big it would become in the years since. Now, we have millions of visitors from all over the world who have come to rely on the site as a no non-sense, tell it like it is resource for all things hurricane related. We are supported by a combination of corporate sponsors and our loyal Client Services members who subscribe to premium content on our sister site, premium.hurricanetrack.com. I am married with six energetic and intelligent children and live in southeast North Carolina. I graduated UNC-Wilmington in 1995 with a BA in Geography and have studied the effects of hurricanes on our society ever since.

Quiet Atlantic as we watch powerful hurricane Fernanda in the Pacific

This will be short and to the point. The Atlantic Basin is very quiet right now which is typical for this time period of July. I see nothing within the major global models, nor in the general background state of things, to suggest that we will see development anytime soon. As I said, this is well within the reasonable climatological norm for this time of year.

Hurricane Fernanda in the eastern Pacific - NHC tracking map

Hurricane Fernanda in the eastern Pacific – NHC tracking map

On the other hand, a strong hurricane is moving westward in the eastern Pacific and it could get stronger. The NHC is tracking Fernanda which is located over 1000 miles southwest of the Baja peninsula. Top winds are 130 mph and we could see some additional strengthening as the hurricane moves over generally warm water with favorable upper level winds.

For now, Fernanda will just be a satellite novelty to watch since it is so far from land. We’ll see how close it manages to get to Hawaii many days down the road but almost always, hurricanes coming in from the east do not bring much in the way of impacts to the String of Pearls. Hopefully, this hurricane will not break the rules.

I will have more here on Monday including an in-depth video discussion covering topics from SST anomalies to the current state of the El Nino (or lack thereof) plus a look ahead at the next week to ten days. Have a great weekend.

M. Sudduth 6:15 pm ET July 14

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If GFS is right, we are in for a busy week

On Friday, I wrote about the possibility of the season’s first hurricane developing from a tropical wave that was about to emerge from the coast of Africa. At that point, two of the major global computer models, the GFS and ECMWF, were both indicating the development of the tropical wave as it approached the Lesser Antilles.

Now, here we are on Monday and the GFS essentially stands alone. The ECMWF has all but completely dropped the notion of development while the GFS is about as consistent as it can be.

If we follow the evidence we can try to figure out what may end up happening – while also either confirming or denying the GFS and its ability to forecast the development of a tropical storm in the deep tropics.

I have prepared a video discussion covering this intriguing situation by taking a close look at not only the model forecast but also what we see in front of us right now. What does the evidence show? Is there enough there to support the idea of a tropical storm forming later this week? Check out the video below to learn more.

M. Sudduth July 10, 2017

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Models hinting at possible first hurricane of 2017 season

Graphic from Colorado State University's July hurricane season forecast outlook showing the below avg wind shear (blue color) across the MDR for the month of June.

Graphic from Colorado State University’s July hurricane season forecast outlook showing the below avg wind shear (blue color) across the MDR for the month of June. Click for full size.

The update from Colorado State University to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season forecast made mention of the fact that, during the month of June, sea-level pressures were well below average across the deep tropics – also known as the MDR or Main Development Region. This is the area between Africa and the Lesser Antilles and has seen its share of powerful hurricanes over the decades.

In recent years, however, the MDR has been notably quiet. Dry air, strong upper level winds and generally higher than normal pressures have kept the region much more benign – resulting in far less hurricanes such as what we saw in 2004 with Frances and Ivan, as examples.

This year, it is becoming more and more obvious that the sleeping giant is awakening, so to speak. Water temps across the MDR are above normal, wind shear is below normal and surface pressures are below normal. The result thus far has been the formation of tropical storm Bret last month (extremely rare to have MDR tropical storms in June) and now, most recently, tropical depression four – technically a tropical cyclone though below tropical storm intensity. The only significant mitigating factor keeping TD4 in check has been a large Saharan Air Layer or SAL event that has pushed ample dry air in to the deep tropics, smothering the depression and keeping it from strengthening further. This SAL outbreak is typical for July, having a tropical depression in the MDR is not.

ECMWF model at day 5 from last night's run showing energy or vorticity at the 850mb level of the atmopshere (circled in green). Image courtesy of Levi Cowan - tropicaltidbits.com

ECMWF model at day 5 from last night’s run showing energy or vorticity at the 850mb level of the atmosphere (circled in green). Image courtesy of Levi Cowan – tropicaltidbits.com. Click for full size image.

Now comes the next chapter in this story. Both the GFS and the ECMWF are now indicating the development of a tropical storm originating from a tropical wave that is about to emerge from the African coastline. I want to be clear, the development happens beyond the 5-day time frame but well within the next 10 days. Since both of these global models now indicate this happening, it has my attention. In fact, both models go on to develop the system in to what would likely be a hurricane later on in their forecast periods but again, not at some ridiculous time frame such as 10 to 14 days out – what many consider to be “model fantasyland”.

What concerns me about this is the mere fact that it is still early July, several weeks ahead of the traditional beginning to the normal run-up to the peak of the season and we’re talking about yet another MDR system trying to develop. In other words, if it’s this busy now, when climatology says it should not be, how busy will it be when the natural background state is inherently favorable? That usually sets in around August 15-20 and lasts until the end of October.

I make it a point to refrain from being an alarmist – those who have followed my blogs and video discussions know this and I stand firm behind that belief. At this point, I am beginning to worry that this season could end up exceeding all of our expectations in a bad way. The time-tested saying of “it only takes one” remains intact but this is the kind of season where we could be looking at multiple “it only takes one” events. Please keep in mind too that I am not talking about just the United States in terms of impact. The Lesser Antilles are front and center for any action that rolls out of the MDR and west of there we have Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba. This is the kind of season that could affect a lot of people across the Atlantic Basin and in areas that can least afford such bad luck.

I am going to say it, the signs are ominous right now. We’ve gone a long time without experiencing a category three or higher hurricane in the United States. They’ve also been somewhat rare elsewhere with the exception of Matthew and its devastating impacts on Haiti, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas last year (Joaquin in 2015 also impacted portions of the Bahamas). It is time to take notice and be ready to act.

Needless to say I am going to be watching the evolution of this next potential system very closely over the coming days. Perhaps it is just a blip in the models and subsequent runs will drop the storm/hurricane completely and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I will post a detailed video discussion concerning this potential development later this afternoon once the morning model runs complete and are available.

M. Sudduth 7:45 AM ET July 7

 

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East Pacific and tropical Atlantic becoming active

July is starting off quite busy with areas to watch in both the Atlantic Basin and the east Pacific. Fortunately, none of the systems pose any threat to land and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

The east Pacific system, designated as invest area 94-E is situated well to the southwest off the coast of Mexico and is forecast by the model guidance to continue moving westward and away from land. It may eventually become a tropical storm over the open Pacific but the cooler water temps out ahead of it will be a challenge. None of the intensity models indicate that 94-E will become a hurricane, something that is unusual for this part of the east Pacific but a sign that conditions are not as favorable out that way this season.

In the Atlantic, we are keeping a close eye on invest area 94-L which is located in the deep tropics, about mid-way between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.  The NHC is giving it a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next five days. Curiously, the system is not moving much right now, which is rare to see in the deep tropics in early July. Normally the trades are quite strong across the region and we see tropical waves moving westward at 15-20 mph or faster. The fact that 94-L is moving so slowly indicates that conditions in the tropical Atlantic are quite different than we have seen in recent years – meaning that things are much more favorable for development even this early in July.

I have produced a video discussion covering these topics and more. Check it out via the YouTube video below.

M. Sudduth 1:45 pm July 4, 2017

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July begins with an area to monitor in the tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific

NHC monitoring tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic for possible development next week.

NHC monitoring tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic for possible development next week.

June is now behind us and we had two named storms form that month: Bret and Cindy. Both had significant impacts despite the overall lack of wind energy (both systems were low-end tropical storms wind-wise) and showed us that, once again, it is the rain that we need to focus more attention on, not the wind.

Now that we are entering the second month of the Atlantic hurricane season, what can we expect? Typically July is a quiet month with little overall threat from hurricanes, especially in the early part of the month. Saharan dust outbreaks and high pressure over the Atlantic tends to keep a lid on things – in most years. Will 2017 follow “most years?” Perhaps not.

The NHC is monitoring a tropical wave way out in the eastern Atlantic that has potential for additional development over the next 5 days. In fact, the odds are at 40% in the longer term which is quite unusual for the early part of July this far east.

Take a look at my latest video blog for a detailed discussion concerning this system plus a look at what the first 10 days of July typically looks like from a climatological perspective.

M. Sudduth 2:10pm ET July 1

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