96L: defying the odds, could become “Danny”

Satellite photo showing the position of 96L in the tropical Atlantic

Satellite photo showing the position of 96L in the tropical Atlantic

Despite being surrounded by an impressive plume of Saharan air or SAL, the vigorous tropical wave and associated low pressure area, also known as 96L, continues to get better organized.

Latest satellite images show more deep convection developing along with classic banding “arms” indicating that the low pressure area continues to strengthen over the warm tropical waters of the east Atlantic.

I was not convinced as of yesterday that 96L would amount to much but this morning, my tune is changing somewhat. It seems as though conditions are not quite as hostile as I thought and it looks as though the system has a chance of becoming a tropical storm before too long.

Upper ocean heat content is decent along the path of 96L as it moves west to west-northwest

Upper ocean heat content is decent along the path of 96L as it moves west to west-northwest

If we look at sea surface temperatures and more importantly, upper ocean heat content, we see that 96L is moving over fairly warm water with decent heat content. In other words, the warm water is not just at the surface, it extends down in the ocean for several dozen meters if not more. This allows sufficient moisture to be drawn in to the developing low as it stirs up the ocean’s surface, essentially bringing up more warm water. In addition, the farther west it travels, the warmer the water becomes.

Wind shear is not an issue either right now as it looks like a well-established bubble of high pressure in the upper atmosphere is allowing deep thunderstorms to develop and rise vertically, not being blown off in one direction by shearing winds. If this pattern holds, it will only aid in the development of 96L in to a tropical depression and eventually a tropical storm.

GFS ensemble tracks indicating a general track towards the NE Caribbean and eventually, the southwest Atlantic

GFS ensemble tracks indicating a general track towards the NE Caribbean and eventually, the southwest Atlantic

Let’s say it does go on to develop in to a named storm. If so, it will be “Danny”. The computer models generally agree that it will move west-northwest with time towards the northeast Caribbean Sea. In a way, this could spell great news for the region which has seen little in the way of rain over the past few months. As long as the would-be storm doesn’t get too strong, it could be a huge benefit rain-wise for parts of the Caribbean. It is still way too soon to know for sure about the future track but it looks as though a general west to west-northwest path will continue for the next few days.

As far as intensity goes, this is tricky. Warm water temps and light winds aloft should allow 96L to become our next tropical storm. However, this is where I am skeptical; knowing how hostile conditions have been in the deep tropics for some time now. On the other hand, I also know the limitations of intensity forecasting and realize that anything can happen within reason. It is not completely out of the question that this system becomes a hurricane at some point. It’s also probably fair to say it has just as good a chance of being a weak tropical storm at best. We are simply going to have to wait it out and see what happens.

Fortunately, what ever becomes of 96L will be within range of reconnaissance aircraft in a few days. It won’t be long before we see the NHC task recon to fly out and investigate the system as it closes in on the Caribbean later in the week. Until then, we’ll rely on satellite and possible ship data to determine what the strength of 96L is.

I will have an in-depth discussion on my video blog to be posted this afternoon. It will be accessible via our YouTube channel and in our app, Hurricane Impact for iOS and Android devices. I’ll also post a link to it on our Facebook and Twitter.

M. Sudduth 6:45 AM ET August 18

Android app almost ready as we get ready for peak season

Hurricane Impact for Android - coming soon!

Hurricane Impact for Android – coming soon!

I am happy to announce that the Android version of our app, Hurricane Impact, is almost ready. We’re putting the finishing touches on things now and expect it to be ready for sale on Google Play later this week.

Hurricane Impact is the only weather and hurricane related app that features its own live weather data, live web cam images and video reports from the field, during hurricane landfalls.

We take our own weather stations and set them up in the path of the hurricane or tropical storm. App users then have access to live wind and pressure data coupled with a live web cam image that updates once per minute. This is what we call high frequency data – meaning there is a lot of it! You won’t get a new wind reading every 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. It will be EVERY 60 seconds! Can you imagine watching the data streaming in during the eyewall of a landfalling hurricane? You’ll also watch as the pressure plummets as the eye passes over the weather station.

Add to this a live web cam image from the site of the weather station and you have an incredible, innovative and useful tool for truly knowing the impact of the hurricane at landfall. No other app on the planet has this ability- not a single one, not from equipment that was set up specifically for the hurricane.

This feature alone is awesome enough to be its own app! But, as the saying goes, wait! there’s more!

Hurricane Impact also provides users with our daily blog posts, Twitter and Facebook feeds and a daily video blog as well. We will also have content and blog posts from Mike Watkins and his site, Hurricane Analytics. You’ll have exclusive access to model plots, custom made for Hurricane Impact.

Speaking of video blogs- during our field work, the app is constantly updated with video posts from the landfall area. These are not some canned video reports from reporters who did a live shot for a network or local TV station, these are reports from our team produced exclusively for the app. If we think it’s important or interesting, we shoot it and post it to the app within minutes! You’ll have a chronological listing of all of our field reports during each landfall mission. The quality is outstanding and you can watch in full screen right on your device! It will be like you’re there with us every step of the way.

Hurricane Impact features the exclusive Surge Cam to monitor storm surge in real time

Hurricane Impact features the exclusive Surge Cam to monitor storm surge in real time

New for 2013, we have added an exclusive Surge Cam to the app. Storm surge is a major issue that coastal residents have to deal with when tropical cyclones make landfall. The National Hurricane Center is working on new storm surge products that will debut in the coming years. We went ahead and added a new Surge Cam to the app for this season. We will place a live, weather-proof camera unit in an area where storm surge is forecast to be significant. There will be a marker in the view of the camera to indicate how high the water is rising. App users may then watch as the water rises, creeping up the marker as the surge gets higher. The cam images will update at least once per minute right inside the app – no need to refresh, the image refreshes automatically. We will even show you where we placed the cam via a map so you can know right where you’re seeing the surge and its effects. Again, no other app has this innovative technology. We plan to add more Surge Cams in future updates – this is only the beginning.

We also have our very own tracking maps within Hurricane Impact. Most hurricane apps use NHC maps and just re-link to them. Not Hurricane Impact. We include our own, in-house generated tracking maps which include our exclusive ocean heat content tracking maps. These show the plot of the tropical cyclone over official TCHP or ocean heat content maps. This helps us to understand the heat potential in the ocean and how much energy may be available along the path of the storm or hurricane.

All of these incredible features are part of what makes Hurricane Impact a must have weather app for anyone interested in hurricanes. The cost for iOS or Android is $2.99 – one time fee. There are no hidden add-ons or annoying ads. Buy it once, we make updates and keep it fresh each season.

I’ll post an update the moment Hurricane Impact is available in the Google Play store. If you’re an iOS device owner, get it now for your device from the App Store. Search Hurricane Impact or click the “Get our app” link at the top.

As for the tropics, things are quiet in the Atlantic and look to remain that way for the week ahead at least. In the east Pacific, TD Gil and TS Henriette pose no threat to land as they move across the open waters of the Pacific.


August begins the ramp up in activity and this August probably no different

Hurricane season climatology graph showing where we are today

Hurricane season climatology graph showing where we are today

August 1 is to hurricane watchers as March 1 is to college basketball fans. While we don’t call it “August Madness”, that would be a little over the top, this is the month that things begin to get busy. And yes, despite the hoopla over the enormous dust outbreak over the east Atlantic, this August has all the signs of being just as busy as usual.

First, let’s look at where we’ve been so far this season. I know that many hurricane researchers say that June and July have little bearing on what August and September will bring but one has to wonder if that is always the case.

We began the season with two tropical storms in the western Atlantic Basin – both in the Gulf of Mexico actually. This is typical of climatology in that we normally would expect to see development in this region during June. No surprises there. While neither storm became a hurricane, they also did not form from an old front or other non-tropical seedling. Their genesis was related one way or another to a tropical wave or weak surface trough. During El Nino years, we often see frontal development early in the season and for 2013, this was not the case as there is no El Nino present in the Pacific.

During July, we saw two Cape Verde tropical cyclones form: Chantal and Dorian. Both originated over Africa from easterly waves and both exhibited excellent structure despite the hostile conditions around them. Obviously, neither storm posed much of a threat to land but their existence in the deep tropics in July seems to suggest that the peak months could be especially busy.

Now we are at August 1. What happens from here? While I certainly have no crystal ball, I do have experience and climatology to go by. Logic would dictate that August will have at least one hurricane, maybe two. It won’t happen anytime soon due to unfavorable conditions across much of the Atlantic right now. Is this unusual? Not at all. Look at the chart I posted with this blog. The green arrow shows where we are now in the climatology scale. We’re just now beginning the ramp up. It takes a couple of more weeks for pressures to lower across the Atlantic and for the tropical waves to encounter a more moist environment.

While a lot has been made of the exceptional outbreak of the Saharan Air Layer or SAL in recent days, this too is part of most hurricane seasons. July usually features the highest pressures of the season over the Atlantic and this promotes SAL outbreaks, dry air, sinking air and fast moving tropical waves. If this were not the case, we would be plagued by hurricanes from June through November. This is part of the reason why August and September are the peak months. It takes time for things to settle down and become conditionally favorable for development. I see no reason to think this season will be any different.

Tropical Atlantic sea surface tmperature anomalies

Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies

Also of note are the sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic. They are running slightly to moderately above the long term average right now. More importantly, I think, there are no areas with below average SSTs in the deep tropics. This could lead to above average development across the region between Africa and the Lesser Antilles. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes but the presence of warmer than average water should help to foster the growth of tropical waves as they move off of Africa over the next couple of months.

The bottom line is that the next two months or so will likely define the season – as is usually the case in any season. There are plenty of forecasts for this or for that out there but in the end, and I know it is old hat to keep saying this, but it is about that one hurricane or tropical storm that impacts YOU. If your home or business is adversely affected, then it was a bad season for YOU. No one can predict whether or not you will be directly impacted this season or any season. The signs are there for a fairly busy couple of months ahead. Perhaps luck will side with us and the hurricanes that eventually form will stay away. A good friend of mine in emergency management once pointed out to me that luck is not a planning tool. Instead, luck favors the prepared.

At least for now, the tropical Atlantic is very quiet. I see nothing in the long range models to indicate any development over the next five to seven days. Use this time to review your hurricane plan or at least think about what you’ll do if a storm or hurricane heads your way. Know the risks and prepare for the potential impacts the best you can. It’s that simple.

In the east Pacific, we are watching small hurricane Gil move westward. It will hang on for a few more days and then weaken as it moves over the open Pacific, posing no threat to land.

In app news: our iOS app, Hurricane Impact, is about to get an update for the peak of the season. I’ll have more on that when it becomes available. We are also excited that the Android version of Hurricane Impact is being prepped for sale on the Google Play store very soon. I will have a full blog post dedicated to the app for both platforms some time next week. We have some innovative, one-of-kind features built in to Hurricane Impact and know that it will serve its users well these next few months as we move through the busiest time of the season.

M. Sudduth 10:35am ET, August 1


July likely to end without much to talk about

East Atlantic tropical wave with low chance of development

East Atlantic tropical wave with low chance of development

Even though the NHC does have an area outlined in yellow today off the coast of Africa, I think that July will finish up without much to really be concerned about.

There is a formidable tropical wave located just off the African coast today and the GFS model in particular has been suggesting that this would develop. However, conditions in the tropical Atlantic are marginal at best with plenty of mid-level dry air present and a distinct lack of upward motion. As such, I think that this tropical wave will have a tough time developing much in the coming days. It is still July and climatology is a big part of the equation. There is a reason why we do not see much development in the tropical Atlantic this time of year – give it a couple of more weeks and things will change.

In the east Pacific, the NHC is monitoring invest area 98-E for slow development over the next several days. In this case, conditions are fairly favorable but what ever comes of it will move away from Mexico and not pose any threat for folks there.

In other news, our app, Hurricane Impact, is almost ready for Android devices. I am going to be testing it myself later today and will have a good idea of when we can expect it to hit the Google Play store. The app will feature the same features as our iOS version: daily video blog, HurricaneTrack.com blog, live Surge Cam, live weather data feed, field mission video blogs, our own tracking maps along with Twitter and Facebook integrated in to the app. It will also feature content from Mike Watkins of Hurricane Analytics which will be a new addition to our iOS version as well in the coming weeks. We are excited to have both platforms covered and know that the Android users out there will be equally excited. As soon as I know the release date, I’ll post a special blog with the announcement.

Enjoy the quiet pattern while it lasts. August is approaching and a month from now, I would venture to guess that we’ll have a lot to talk about.

M. Sudduth

Thoughts on Andrea plus the tropical Atlantic

This is a fairly active Tropical Weather Outlook Map for early June

This is a fairly active Tropical Weather Outlook Map for early June

Andrea made landfall early this evening along the Big Bend area of Florida as a solid tropical storm. Heavy rain bands produced some flooding as well as tornadoes across portions of the Florida peninsula today. Now that the center is over land, a steady weakening will take place though the threat of additional impacts from Andrea is not over.

Bands of heavy rain will rotate onshore across coastal Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina throughout the remainder of the night. These spiral bands are capable of dropping a quick inch or two of rain if they train over an area for an extended period of time. There is also a slight risk of tornadoes tonight though without daytime heating to help elevate those thunderstorms within the rainbands, this risk is quite low.

The main issue will be tomorrow as the storm moves up the I-95 corridor and continues to dump excessive rain fall over a large area. This will make travel difficult and I know that people, despite the storm, will be headed to the area beaches as school is now out for a lot of families. Please, take my advice and slow down, leave extra time to get to your destination. I have driven in many a hurricane and know the dangerous of not just the roads but OTHER DRIVERS who could not care any less about others. I want you back reading the blog Monday, so drive safe!

I know this will be a rainy and generally nasty start to the weekend for the region but, no worries, by Noon Saturday, skies will clear and places such as Tybee Island, Hilton Head, Wrightsville Beach and the Outer Banks will be fine and dandy – so do not cancel plans if you’re headed there this weekend.

Elsewhere in the tropics, we have 92L which went mostly un-noticed by most until late this afternoon when it became a little better organized over the deep tropics. I believe this is a sign of things to come as the atmoshphere is more unstable across the deep tropics this season and it will not surprise me to see an active July out that way considering the distinctly different set up than we’ve seen in recent years. For now, 92L is fighting against one heck of a shear machine which is common for June. If this were late August, we’d be looking at our next named storm already with this system. It’s just something to monitor and will not have a negative impact on any land areas anytime soon, if at all.

I’ll post more here in the morning and plan to add a few video clips to our iPhone app, Hurricane Impact, throughout the day tomorrrow from the Wilmington, NC area.

M. Sudduth