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.

HurricaneTrack 1.0 Available in App Store August 1

HurricaneTrack 1.0 for iOS

HurricaneTrack 1.0 for iOS

I am very excited to announce that our app, HurricaneTrack, will be available for purchase in the App Store beginning August 1. It will be released for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad first followed by an Android version just as soon as possible.

With a wide variety of hurricane and weather related apps already available, what makes HurricaneTrack different? It’s simple. We take you there. HurricaneTrack was designed to keep its users informed before, during and after a hurricane. Here’s how…

Before

Each day, a detailed but concise video blog, the Hurricane Outlook and Discussion, will be posted to the app. It will cover any potential development areas in the Atlantic and east Pacific through the use of satellite pictures, maps and other graphics. Think of it as your daily hurricane video briefing and therefore as a tool to keep you informed. When there is the threat of landfall, the video blog will highlight the potential impacts, what to expect and what our plans are for field coverage. The daily video blog is sure to be a very popular feature. Keep in mind that during the off-season, the video blog will address other severe weather threats such as winter storms and tornado outbreaks. This makes the app useful even when we’re not in hurricane season.

Of course, the app will also have our social media feeds dynamically updating as we post info to Twitter or Facebook. This blog will also update anytime we post new blogs to the site.

During

When a hurricane is threatening to make landfall along the U.S. coastline, the app will become your portal for a vast amount of information and live data. This is the true heart of what HurricaneTrack is all about. From the moment we leave the driveway to head to the landfall zone, HurricaneTrack will keep you up to date. You can track our progress via GPS position right in the app. We have a live web cam that will update the image directly from our specially equipped hurricane tracking Chevy Tahoe 24 hours a day during the entire field mission.

You want video updates? We will deliver. The field mission video blogs will be a fantastic way for you to stay up to date on not only our mission to cover the hurricane, but also what is going on with the hurricane and the region it is forecast to impact. I am not talking about a few video posts each day. This is the next level. I am talking about several video posts each hour, each day, of the entire field mission! Each video will give you a chronological storyline of what is happening on the ground. As the hurricane draws closer, the video blogs will become increasingly important as we will be able to provide you with real information on actual conditions where the hurricane is coming ashore. You will feel like you are right there with us, experiencing the effects right along with us.

Live Weather Data and Web Cam

No other hurricane tracking app provides its own live weather data from instruments set up specifically for that hurricane landfall. HurricaneTrack will feature data from three 5-meter wind towers equipped with high-end RM Young wind and pressure sensors. We are not talking home weather stations here. This is the same equipment that NOAA uses on their Hurricane Buoys and Sentinels to gather live data during the most intense hurricanes. Our wind towers will be deployed to capture the best possible data. Each site will be labeled and ID’d in the app so you will know right where it is. The data will upload to the app dynamically every 60 seconds! You can literally watch the data change – no need to refresh, the app does it for you. In addition to the live weather data, each tower will also have a live web cam running, also posting an image every 60 seconds. There is simply no better way to monitor real time conditions during a hurricane than with HurricaneTrack.

After

When the hurricane has made landfall and the focus turns to the aftermath, we’ll be there. I have learned more and more that the demand for information in the post-hurricane period is almost as high, if not higher, than during the landfall itself. People want to know “what happened?” We will help to answer that question by use of post-hurricane video blogs, photos and reports. Depending upon the severity of the hurricane, we plan to remain in the region affected for several days after landfall. We can then utilize the reach of the app to provide detailed information through our video posts about the aftermath and what areas appear to need the most help. When the wind dies down, we won’t take off and leave the aftermath in our rear view mirror. Our work continues and we will do our best to continue to post info from the affected region. This is what will make HurricaneTrack the complete package.

On August 1 the app will be available for purchase for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (keep in mind we do not have an iPad specific version though HurricaneTrack will work on an iPad). We will have a special introductory price for a limited time only. This is the first version of the app. It is up to you, our audience, to support it and help to make future updates possible. Show us how important it is to you. Post feedback, let us know what we can do to improve and what features would really be helpful in future updates.

Version 1.0 is information driven. There are no tracking maps, model plots or satellite pictures. That will come. I do not want to re-produce what so many other apps already have. Instead, I focused on creating an information based product that will serve as an excellent foundation on which to grow. The maps, model plots, sat pics, etc will come. When they do, they will exceed your expectations. If you want to stay up to date with our brand of hurricane news and information, plus the exclusive field mission features, then HurricaneTrack is a must-have app. Next Wednesday, you can be among the first to get it!

 

 

 

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Signs of change as we approach August

As we enter the last week of July and look ahead to early August, it appears that some changes are in store across the tropical Atlantic.

I think it is safe to say that most people know that hurricanes are a result of the build up of heat in the tropics. The warm oceans provide the fuel. However, warm water alone does not support tropical cyclones, there are several other factors involved. One of them is moisture in the mid-levels of the atmosphere. A dry or stable air layer will simply not allow the deep convection that drives tropical cyclones to develop, much less thrive. For the last couple of weeks or so, we have seen enormous areas of dry, dusty air (Saharan Air Layer) move off of Africa and spread west across the Atlantic. I mentioned this in a previous blog post. This phenomenon is typical for July in any year and usually abates by the time we get to August.

Right on cue, the SAL is beginning to weaken and move farther north, allowing the tropical waves that emerge from Africa to retain their energy longer, having a chance to develop more over the warm Atlantic.

In response to this change, several of the global computer models are beginning to hint at possible development over the next week off the coast of Africa. While I think it is still just a little bit too early and conditions are just not quite there yet, it is only a matter of time before we begin to see real signs of life out in the deep tropics.

Meanwhile, in the east Pacific, invest area 90-E has struggled somewhat since yesterday but could still become a tropical depression over the open waters of the Pacific. It will not pose any threat to land areas so even if it does develop, it won’t be an issue.

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Atlantic Basin looking quiet as new storm brews in east Pacific

All is quiet across the Atlantic Basin as we start the week. The tropical wave that flared up yesterday near Florida has all but vanished – at least in terms of deep convection. Conditions just do not favor development here or anywhere else across the Atlantic right now. As I posted last week, the Saharan Air Layer has been quite dominant in recent weeks, providing plenty of dry, dusty air and some incredible sunsets for south Florida. I do see signs of the SAL beginning to lose its grip and it won’t be too many more days until we have to begin watching the coast of Africa for signs of development from the westward moving tropical waves.

In the east Pacific, invest area 90-E is likely to become a tropical depression before too long but it will move generally westward and not pose any problems for land areas.

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Saharan influence to keep tropical Atlantic quiet

Saharan Air Layer

Saharan Air Layer

This part of the hurricane season is typically very quiet and for good reason. It is during this portion of the year that we see the strongest of what are called “SAL” outbreaks. SAL stands for Saharan Air Layer and it is a the equivalent to spraying Raid on insects: it kills hurricanes.

The reason is simple. The low to mid level dry air originates from the Sahara and North Africa. Often times the SAL is populated with fine dust and other suspended particles such as sand. This acts to squash any chances of tropical convection and moves generally westward, eventually reaching the Caribbean and even the United States.

During especially strong SAL outbreaks that end up moving in to the Southeast, the result is often an incredible sunset for a few days as the dust filters out just enough sunlight to create a brilliant deep orange to red glow. It is also not uncommon for dust to collect on car windshields.

The good thing about SAL is that it means no hurricanes. With a strong layer of dry, stable air, there is absolutely no chance of development in the tropical Atlantic; not until the environment moistens up. This usually begins to happen around the second week of August. If the SAL outbreaks continue past that time period, then we may start to wonder about whether or not there will be much of a hurricane season left. However, I would bet that this is yet another typical July SAL event and a month from now, we’ll be talking about the potential for development across the same region that is so hostile right now.

Until then, enjoy the quiet, and perhaps the brilliant sunsets, courtesy of SAL.

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New tracking maps coming soon

I am pleased to announce that we are close to completing a new version of our popular Java-based hurricane tracking maps.

We first introduced the JavaTrack maps in 2001 and have had a good run with the first edition. It is now time for an upgrade.

The new version will be more visually appealing, showing contour lines in the oceans and land areas to indicate elevation change to some extent. They will also feature the “cone of uncertainty” by virtue of displaying the average track error for each forecast position. What is nice is that you will be able to toggle the cone on and off as needed.

The maps will be fully interactive as well, just like the original version. Any place name that you see on the map will be “mouse-over-able” and will reveal more information such as links to additional info, etc. This was a hugely popular feature of our original edition and I am glad to continue that tradition.

We’ll also bring back the historical tracking data which will contain past tracking info to 1851. This too was a very popular product of HurricaneTrack.com and it will be back soon.

The new JavaTrack maps will be made available within the next couple of weeks and in plenty of time for the start of the peak of the hurricane season.

JavaTrack 2.0

JavaTrack 2.0

 

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