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.

September likely to end quiet, but what about October?

With the exception of TS Nadine, which is gradually losing its tropical characteristics, and 94L, itself a sub-tropical type storm system, the Atlantic Basin is very quiet. There are no additional organized areas of deep convection noted and none of the global computer models develop anything over the next several days.

In the east Pacific, invest area 93-E shows signs of becoming the next tropical depression but it will move away from Mexico. Thus we will likely end September without a hurricane threat to the U.S. or Mexico. Leslie did bring near hurricane force winds to Newfoundland earlier in the month but that’s it, we have escaped the peak month without a serious landfall event. Remarkable considering all of the activity that we have seen but since it has all been out of the deep tropics and over the open ocean, the result has been no issues to speak of for land.

The Western Caribbean is favored during the month of October

The Western Caribbean is favored during the month of October

How about October? What can we expect as we enter the last significant month of the hurricane season? Well, climatology suggests that a lot can happen. The patterns shift back to the western Atlantic and especially the western Caribbean Sea in terms of development potential. Sea surface temps in the region are at their peak with plenty of deep ocean heat content available. We’ve seen some incredible October hurricanes with the most notable in recent times being Wilma seven years ago. It developed towards the end of the month and was at one time the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded with a central pressure of at least 882 millibars and a 2 mile wide eye. Wilma went on to menace the Yucatan before making landfall in SW Florida on the 24th of October. That was the last time any hurricane has made landfall in Florida, much less a major hurricane.

Will this October have something to track in the western Caribbean? Obviously I do not know for sure but there are couple of things to look for which might help to uncover a few clues.

First, as I mentioned, climatology suggests that we should see at least one hurricane develop in the western Caribbean or vicinity during October. This region is favored with plenty of development taking place over the past 100 years. In other words, we would normally look to the western Caribbean and/or Gulf of Mexico in October for the highest potential for development.

ECMWF MJO forecast not yet showing a favorable period for the western Caribbean

ECMWF MJO forecast not yet showing a favorable period for the western Caribbean

Second, the MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation. The best way to describe this phenomenon is to think of it as a period of time when upward motion in the tropics is favored, thus allowing for deep convection to develop and sustain. The MJO typically moves around the globe once every 30 to 40 days and helps to kickstart tropical convection. Sometimes it is quite weak and hardly noticeable. Other times, it is very prevalent and leads to a burst of several tropical cyclones over a two week period or more. Right now, the MJO favors western Pacific development and none of the dynamic models indicate that it will move in to the western Caribbean anytime soon. However, once we get past the end of the month, I suspect that we’ll see some changes and as we approach mid-October, I would not be surprised at all to see a chance of something developing. If we get a favorable MJO pulse, those odds will go up considerably.

Finally I think that the lack of a significant El Nino event will also help to increase the chances of an October hurricane in the western Caribbean. El Nino usually means stronger than normal winds cutting across the Caribbean due to an increase in upward motion over the tropical Pacific. So far, the warming in the Pacific has been weak at best and we are not officially in an El Nino yet. This may be just enough to allow for one or two more hurricanes to develop before the season ends on November 30.

For now, the tropics are of no concern and won’t be for the next few days and probably longer. Once we get in to October, we’ll have to watch the climatologically favored areas for the possibility of something coming along to track. Let’s see how these other indicators help with monitoring conditions that may lead to such development. In the meantime, have a great weekend and enjoy the Fall weather. I’ll have more here on Monday.

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Subtropics rule the season

Hurricane Chris set the tone for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Chris set the tone for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season

It has been a rather odd hurricane season so far. I say this because most of the activity, the stronger activity anyway, has developed well outside of the usual breeding grounds of the deep tropics.

Hurricane Chris, which formed back in the latter half of June, did so at 41.1 N latitude! That is incredible for so far north so early in the season.

Next up was hurricane Ernesto, the only hurricane to form south of 20 N latitude this season out of eight total hurricanes so far. However, Ernesto struggled to become a hurricane until right before landfall, another common trait this season as we’ll see with Isaac.

Gordon became the season’s third hurricane and again, well outside of the deep tropics, attaining hurricane status at 34.0 N latitude while heading for the Azores Islands.

Then there was Isaac. Several times during Isaac’s life span it looked as though it could become a powerful hurricane. Instead, Isaac struggled with dry air and the lack of an inner core all the way in to the north-central Gulf of Mexico. One private weather firm loudly proclaimed that Isaac could be another Katrina or worse! And yet the fourth hurricane of the season only managed to reach 80 miles per hour before making landfall in Louisiana. While Isaac was a large hurricane and caused significant flooding from surge and fresh water flooding, it was not a very convectively active hurricane with a well defined inner core. This kept the winds at flight level that were being measured by recon from reaching the surface. Fortunately for residents of the central Gulf Coast, Isaac was only a fraction of the intensity that we all know it could have been had environmental conditions been more favorable.

It took all the way until hurricane Kirk on August 30 to finally get a category two hurricane. And of course, this happened while Kirk was well out of the deep tropics, affecting only shipping interests.

Leslie also had promise to become a large and intense Atlantic hurricane but it too fell far short of that potential and spared Bermuda with only passing tropical storm conditions. Stronger winds and more pronounced effects were felt in Newfoundland but even here conditions were not as bad as what could have been experienced had Leslie been a much stronger hurricane.

Michael is the season’s only category three hurricane so far and guess what? It made it to this intensity at 29.6 N latitude while out over the open central Atlantic over water temps of about 80 to 81 degrees. That’s it. Just enough to get the small hurricane to really ramp up – and it maintained a strong eye feature for several days. Luckily, Michael was far from land and only padded the ACE index score for the season.

We are still tracking Nadine which has been on the map since the 11th of this month. Nadine became the season’s eighth hurricane on the 14th at 30 N latitude. This is remarkable and a sign that something is definitely “wrong” in the deep tropics this year.

I have heard everything from El Nino to mid-level dry air being responsible for the lack of intense cyclones in the deep tropics. I am sure researchers such as Dr. Philip Klotzbach at Colorado State University will be looking in to the source of this unusual pattern and I look forward to learning more about it myself at next year’s National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans. The obvious benefit here has been a substantial reduction in damage resulting from less intense hurricanes impacting land. What if Ernesto had become a 140 mph cat-4 at landfall along the Yucatan? What if Isaac had become another Katrina and brought 30 feet of surge instead of 12? We know the answers….it would have been horrible. Been there, done that. I am sure no one is complaining about the feeble nature to this season’s hurricanes. I hope too that people are curious as to why? Why would conditions be so hostile in the deep tropics? What was the root cause if it can be pin-pointed down to something that simple? Will this pattern continue for the next several seasons? While we can be thankful for the lack-luster performance of this year’s hurricanes thus far, I think understanding the mechanics of such good fortune (it’s relative, I know, as plenty of people are still cleaning up after Isaac) is important in case we see the reverse take place next season or next month for that matter.

In any case, it all boils down to this: the tropics have been strange this season and strange has meant fairly benign events for us to deal with. So far, it looks to stay that way for the next week at least. Although, once again, we will be looking for possible storm development out in the open central Atlantic, well north of the deep tropics which seem to be closed for repairs….

I’ll have more tomorrow.

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Tropics nice and quiet except for pesky Nadine

The Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf are Mostly Quiet with the Exception of TS Nadine Near the Azores

The Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf are Mostly Quiet with the Exception of TS Nadine Near the Azores

The Atlantic Basin is unusually quiet for this time of the hurricane season and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

We are tracking TS Nadine out near the Azores but that’s it and even Nadine is not that much of an issue.

Some people are blaming El Nino for the quietness, I do not think that the tropical Pacific is really all that warm compared to normal and we are certainly not in an official El Nino period as of yet. In fact, the central Pacific SST anomalies cooled by .30 degrees C in the recent week – and this is also not typical of an El Nino. So what is the reason behind the quiet time? It’s most likely the MJO phase which is currently not favorable in the Atlantic Basin. In other words, we are not in a pattern that supports upward motion in the tropics across the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. The lack of instability and generally unfavorable conditions are simply not allowing for any new development.

Looking at the long range models, I do not see any signs of change over the next week to 10 days either. We may escape September with no additional named storms in the Atlantic.

As for October? We’ll wait and see. Without a solid El Nino in place, it is possible that we could have a normal October with a couple of hurricanes developing somewhere – but that’s the key, where? Time will tell. For now, the tropics are of little concern and look to stay that way for quite some time.

Be sure to catch today’s video blog in our iPhone app as it covers these topics graphically. Also, we are anticipating a new update to the app within the next few days that I will address in tomorrow’s blog post.

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No worries from the tropics this week unless you live in the Azores

Heavy Rains Streaming North Out of the Gulf of Mexico

Heavy Rains Streaming North Out of the Gulf of Mexico

The tropics are of little concern as we begin the week and the second half of September. The two areas of interest, 92L and 93L, have both become non-issues within the last several hours and development is not expected from either system.

However, copious amounts of rain are headed in to the central Gulf Coast region and throughout much of the East over the next few days as a cold front taps deep tropical moisture. Be aware of this heavy rain threat and drive with caution if you’re caught in any of these downpours. With the change of seasons beginning to progress, these cooler air masses can squeeze out plenty of water since the Gulf of Mexico is still very warm.

The only item of interest this week continues to be Nadine which will still be on the map this time next week it looks like. Folks in the Azores Islands may have to deal with some of the effects from the storm as it meanders slowly in the eastern Atlantic. Nadine’s longevity will add several more ACE points which stands Accumulated Cyclone Energy. This is a more accurate measure of how much energy was expended by this season’s tropical storms and hurricanes. Right now, we are just above 80 which is about what was expected for this season by most forecast entities. I think we will likely see another hurricane or two before the season is finished, adding another 10 to 20 points for the year. We have already had eight hurricanes, about two more than the 100 year average. Fortunately, no intense hurricanes have affected land thus far and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

In the east Pacific, the NHC is tracking hurricane Lane which is well out to the southwest of the Baja and poses no threat to land. There are no other areas of interest in the east Pacific right now and things should remain quiet there for the next several days.

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A lot of rain for the eastern 3rd of U.S. but no tropical troubles per se

A lot of rain heading for the East as deep moisture rides out of the warm Gulf of Mexico

A lot of rain heading for the East as deep moisture rides out of the warm Gulf of Mexico

The tropics are busy with hurricane Nadine and now two areas of interest, 92L and 93L, to keep an eye on over the coming days.

However, conditions are just not ripe for anything significant to develop across much of the western and central Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. A combination of dry mid-level air and fairly high wind shear should limit any development of either of these two invest areas.

Meanwhile, hurricane Nadine is stuck in the pattern it seems and will be bothering the Azores Islands this week with possible hurricane conditions. After that, Nadine is going nowhere fast as the steering flow is such that we could be talking about it a week from now; still out over the eastern Atlantic.

One side effect of 93L in the western Gulf is its moisture that will feed in to an approaching cold front sweeping across Texas right now. Plenty of deep moisture will be lifted north and east over the week ahead and with it, the chance for heavy rains across portions of the eastern U.S., especially in the mountains. Just be aware of this as too much rain in short order can cause quick flooding problems.

We’ll watch 92L as it moves in to and across the Caribbean Sea. This is the time of year to look for development in that region but as of now, none of the dynamic global models indicate much at all.

I have covered all of this and more in our daily video blog for the HurricaneTrack app for iPhone. If you own it, check it out now. If not, get the app today via the link above or by searching “hurricanetrack” in the app store from your device. I’ll have much more here tomorrow morning.

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