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.

Depression survived the night, heading towards Lesser Antilles



TD 5 almost fizzled out last night as environmental conditions are only marginal enough to keep it on life support. A combination of rather dry mid level air and some shearing wind from an upper level low (a large one at that) to the north took a toll on the fledgling cyclone.

This morning, however, the deep convection is making a comeback and a large curved band is seen on the southeast side of the depression. This will give it at least a chance to become a tropical storm before it moves through the Lesser Antilles and in to the Caribbean Sea.

Interestingly enough, the fairly reliable SHIPS model for intensity shows only slight strengthening in the short term followed by a modest increase to 75 knots by day five. This would make the system a hurricane over the very warm waters of the central Caribbean Sea. For now, it remains weak and disorganized but could become a tropical storm and bring squally weather to portions of the Lesser Antilles. I see no evidence that this will become a hurricane before passing through the islands.

In the longer term track-wise, there is not much change to the five day forecast from the NHC. A strong area of high pressure to the north (Bermuda High) will push the system generally westward with a gradual bend to the WNW with time. Obviously, people want to know if it will affect the U.S. coast. My answer is: too early to know. First we have to deal with the effects to Jamaica, the Caymans and possibly the Yucatan, all of which are potentially in the path of the soon-to-be storm. Any impact to the U.S. will be more than a week away.

In other news, we released our iPhone App yesterday and hope that you will pick it up in the App Store. For more information and to purchase your copy of HurricaneTrack, click the link in the main menu above.

We also have our JavaTrack Hurricane Tracking Maps back up and running with a new and improved look. Plus, we have added the error cone to the track. Check it out also via the link in the main menu bar at top. For additional maps, including our exclusive offering of Stormpulse maps, check out our subscription Client Services site.

The rest of the tropics are quiet and look to remain that way for the next several days. I’ll have another update here this evening with periodic posts to Twitter throughout the day.


Hurricane season kicks in to busy mode with TD #5

August is considered the start to the main part of the hurricane season- and for good reason. This time of year the oceans are just about at their warmest and the atmosphere is calming down enough to allow for tropical cyclone formation. Actually, it is August 15 that many regard as the traditional start to the peak season period.

Today things are quite busy with the NHC beginning advisories on TD #5 – situated well east of the Windward Islands. It is forecast to become a hurricane once it reaches the central Caribbean Sea in about five days.

It is interesting to see this development take place because the region that TD5 is coming from was supposed to be fairly inhospitable this season with cooler than normal sea surface temps, etc. Instead, we see the opposite. Water temps across a good deal of the tropical Atlantic are running anywhere from .25C to 1.0C above normal. The below normal prediction definitely did not come to pass. So now we have an active tropical Atlantic and a depression to track.

First up for impact will be the Lesser Antilles as the depression slowly strengthens and moves on a WNW track. Luckily, it appears that conditions do not favor it becoming a hurricane before reaching the islands but this cannot be ruled out. A strengthening tropical storm can bring bursts of gusty winds to the surface, especially if it becomes convectively active. This can be monitored via satellite imagery. Watch to see how this plays out. If TD5 shows signs of developing deep thunderstorms, it is likely that it will cause some wind damage across the islands as it passes. I’ll examine this in the Hurricane Outlook Video that will be posted in our newly released HurricaneTrack App for iOS devices.

Water temps along the forecast track only get warmer and warmer. As long as upper level winds do not impede development, and the system does not track too close to South America, there is plenty of room for development. The official forecast shows it reaching hurricane strength near Jamaica in about five days. Obviously people in that region and beyond need to monitor the situation very closely.

As is usual with any tropical system, people want to know where it will ultimately end up. I wish I knew but I don’t. The steering pattern could lead it anywhere from Central America to some place along the U.S. Gulf Coast or across the Yucatan and in to Mexico. We’re simply going to have to wait for the guidance to help point the way as the days unfold. It certainly is a good time to be thinking about preparing for a hurricane no matter where you live. August is here and things will only get busier.

As I mentioned, the long awaited release of our mobile app took place today. It is available in the App Store as HurricaneTrack. That’s all one word, nothing else. Look for our logo with the HurricaneTrack.com in it, you’ll know it when you see it. The app will be a great way to keep up with news and info. It does not have maps or satellite pics, not yet. What it does have is information. In fact, when the time comes for us to head out in to the field for a hurricane mission, users of the app will have an incredible tool to keep up to date. Click on the “iPhone/Android App” link at the top banner for more info and to purchase today. The Android version is in the works and will be released just as soon as possible.


99L getting a little better organized as we round out July

A look at invest area 99L indicates that it is getting somewhat better organized today. A general increase in shower and thunderstorm activity can be seen in satellite imagery although it is still rather poorly organized.

For the most part, the global models are not very bullish on 99L developing much in the coming days. The GFS suggests some strengthening and it is possible that this system becomes a tropical storm as it moves towards progressively warmer water. There is still some dry air around, enough so to limit the deep convection needed to allow 99L to thrive and grow at a rapid pace.

The NHC’s intensity model, SHIPS, shows modest intensification but keeps 99L below hurricane intensity. Yesterday, that same model suggested that it would in fact become a hurricane.

The ECMWF model or Euro, shows very little in the way of strengthening as the system moves towards the Lesser Antilles.

The bottom line here is that it appears some slow development is possible as 99L tracks generally westward towards the Windward Islands. Interests there should be ready for at least an increase in shower and thunderstorm activity in the coming days. I would not be surprised to see 99L become a tropical storm but it would probably be fairly weak and not very organized. Once it moves in to the Caribbean Sea, conditions are generally not very favorable for continued development.

Elsewhere, another tropical wave is moving through the Greater Antilles islands today and will spread showers and thunderstorms across Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and eventually Cuba. None of the reliable computer models indicate that this wave will develop in the coming days. Keep in mind that tropical waves often bring periods of gusty winds and squally weather. Conditions will improve across the region by tomorrow as the wave passes on by.

Speaking of tomorrow, our app, HurricaneTrack, hits the App Store. I will have a full blog post about it and the special limited time price that we will be offering as we officially roll out version 1.0. The app will feature a daily video blog plus live weather data during hurricane and tropical storm landfalls. This version will be just the start as we plan to add more features- but that will depend on YOU to help make it a success. We will have an Android version available just as soon as possible so no worries for our Android device users, we’ve got you covered too!


Invest area 99L forms in tropical Atlantic as conditions become more favorable

The NHC is monitoring an area of low pressure well to the south and west of the Cape Verde Islands for possible development. It appears that conditions across the region are becoming more conducive for tropical cyclone formation. The dry, dusty air seen in recent weeks has significantly decreased and water temps are just warm enough to support development.

Vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic

Vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic

Looking at some of the parameters typically associated with tropical cyclone formation, we see that vertical wind shear, the difference in wind speed and direction with height in the atmosphere, is right where it should be for this time of year. In other words, shear is not a factor. It is running at about the climatological average. This should allow for a steady growth in deep tropical thunderstorms or convection. In turn, this will allow the pressures to continue to fall as the fairly large envelope of energy gradually consolidates as it moves westward.

Vertical instability in the tropical Atlantic

Vertical instability in the tropical Atlantic

On the other hand, vertical instability, which is more or less a way of saying how stable is the atmosphere. Yet another way to put it is how difficult is it to lift the air and get the vertical motion needed to create tropical convection? Right now, vertical instability is running quite a bit below the average for the tropical Atlantic. This means that we will not see rapid development of 99L. However, this is not necessarily good news. The reason? Typically, the sooner a system develops, the more chance it has to be picked up by a weakness in the subtropical ridge and track out to sea. The later the development takes place, the farther west we usually see storms and hurricanes track. So even though vertical instability is running below normal right now, it likely only means a delay in development and should not be enough to limit it completely.

Looking at the global computer models, the GFS seems to be the most consistent with development and an eventual track through the Windward Islands. The ECMWF has basically no development from this system while the Canadian CMC model seems a little too aggressive and thus has a more northerly track over the next five to six days. It during these early stages of what is called cyclogenesis that the models will waver and not be of much use. The good news is that 99L is way out in the tropical Atlantic and we will have several days to monitor its progress.

I do think that it is a good reminder that we are entering the busy months of the hurricane season. Whether or not 99L develops, August is fast approaching and the need to be ready for what the next 90 days or so brings is critical. For the next few days, folks in the Lesser Antilles should be watching 99L closely. It has a chance to develop and at least bring inclement weather to the region. How much it develops remains to be seen. It is very early in the process and much will change over the week ahead. I’ll post regular updates here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep in mind that beginning Wednesday, August 1, you will be able to purchase our brand new HurricaneTrack app for iPhone/iPod Touch (it will work on an iPad though it is not formatted for that device per se). The app will feature an in-depth daily video blog that will keep you informed through the use of graphics and narration concerning any goings on in the tropics. I’ll have a special link and blog post on Wednesday once the app is available.