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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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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StormGeo hurricane seminar – 28th edition – coming July 20 in Houston

Trpical storm Cindy as seen just prior to landfall in SW Louisiana. Will the early action of Bret and Cindy equal a busy rest of the season ahead? We will disucss at the 28th annual StormGeo Hurricane Seminar on July 20 in Houston, TX.

Trpical storm Cindy as seen just prior to landfall in SW Louisiana. Will the early action of Bret and Cindy equal a busy rest of the season ahead? We will disucss at the 28th annual StormGeo Hurricane Seminar on July 20 in Houston, TX.

Each year I have an opportunity to speak about the work that I do in studying the impacts of hurricanes via various seminars, conferences and symposiums. It allows me to showcase the technology that has been developed to get closer to the dangerous impacts of hurricanes than ever before – all without putting myself or my colleagues in harm’s way. The results of our efforts are always compelling to see on a big screen, emanating from a high-tech projector, almost like a movie premier.

While I enjoy the privilege of speaking and presenting my work, I also relish the opportunities to learn from others. Whether it be about the future of hurricane forecasting or the latest updates from a private sector vendor (think Radarscope) or the stunning first-hand accounts of dealing with typhoons and hurricanes from the likes of Josh Morgerman, these events fuel my inner weather geek like nothing else can (except being in the eye of a hurricane of course).

Before the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season kicks in to high gear, there is one more opportunity coming up – not just for me, but for you as well.

StormGeo, a global weather decision-making, forecasting and analytics company (among other things), is hosting a seminar in fabulous Houston, Texas on July 20. The venue is none other than the brand new Marriott Marquis right in the middle of downtown Houston.

Check out the list of who will be presenting:

  • Sean Sublette from Climate Central (@SeanSublette), “Climate Change Discussion”
  • Mark Sudduth (@HurricaneTrack), “State-of-the-art hurricane data acquisition, recording and live-streaming from inside the hurricane”
  • Dr. Neil Frank, “Climate Change Discussion”
  • Josh Morgerman (@iCyclone), “First-hand view of the consequences of a failure to prepare”
  • Hurricane Response and Business Preparedness Panel discussion with execs from:
  • Whataburger, Belarmino Castellanos, @Whataburger
  • Texas Children’s Hospital, James Mitchell, @TexasChildrens
  • USAA, Rob Galbraith, @robgalb, @USAA
  • StormReady Certification with the NWS’ Dan Reilly, #StormReady, #WeatherReadyNation
  • Advanced Analytics merges with decades of global weather data to form the next generation of weather forecasting, DeepStorm

And the emcee of the event? None other than former Director of the National Hurricane Center, Bill Read. He is about as good as it gets for events like this and we all look forward to seeing and working with him once again.

But there’s more to it than just being in the audience. The setting provides a unique opportunity to those who attend to mingle with not only the speakers from the list above, but with other top-notch meteorologists who know hurricanes inside and out. Chris Hebert, who heads up StormGeo’s Tropics Watch will be discussing the future of the 2017 hurricane season. Got questions after the fact? Ask him. He, and the rest of us, will be around to chat it up with the group. It’s a rare chance to really get to know the people behind the stories whether it be someone from the National Weather Service, a legend like Neil Frank, or how about someone who has been in the strongest hurricane EVER? You’ve seen Josh on TV, now meet him in person – see if he is made of steel or is in fact a real, living person (ha ha). Seriously, seminars like this afford the attendees a rare chance to really get to know the presenters like few events can.

As for me? I will be presenting a history of the technology that we use to capture not only the close-up video of even the most dangerous of storm surge events but also the all-important wind and pressure data that helps to fill in holes during landfalls where data is so badly needed. Plus, I will talk about the exciting potential behind our HURRB weather balloon project and what our chances are to finally launch in the eye of a hurricane this season. I also look forward to just sitting back and listening to the other presentations, a chance to learn more than I knew before I walked in.

So, if you’re in the Houston area or can travel there for this event, I encourage you to do so. The city is amazing, I have spent a lot of time there doing R&D work on many of our newest projects. The venue is outstanding, we’re talking about a lazy river on the roof of the place that’s shaped like Texas itself! You gotta be there – even if it’s just for that 😉

How can you be a part of it? Check out StormGeo Hurricane Seminar

Use my special promo code: HurrSem17MARK and save 20% but you have to register before the end of June to take advantage of this discount.

If you can’t make it, no worries, follow #HurricaneSeminar and you’ll be able to keep up with what is going on via the awesome power of social media. Nothing beats live, so if you can attend, you won’t regret it and please, by all means come up and say hello, not just to me but to any of the folks who will make this seminar a memorable one, believe me, we love talking to YOU!

Any questions? Email me: ms@hurricanetrack.com or the seminar folks themselves: cst@stormgeo.com

Hope to see you in Houston next month!

M. Sudduth 11:20 AM ET June 27

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Hurricane Dora in east Pacific to be short-lived, no threat to Mexico

Hurricane Dora track map from the NHC

Hurricane Dora track map from the NHC

It took a littler longer than we’ve seen in recent years, but the east Pacific finally has its first hurricane of the season: Dora.

Top winds are 85 mph and it is forecast to strengthen more as it moves west-northwest off the coast of Mexico. Fortunately, the small size of the hurricane will mean that very little impact will be felt along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

The forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates a steady track to the west-northwest which will bring the hurricane over cooler waters, ultimately leading to its demise later this week. In fact, sea surface temperatures in the region are running below the long-term average by almost a full degree Celsius. This will equate to a quick weakening trend as the hurricane moves farther out in to the open Pacific.

In the Atlantic Basin, all is quiet for now. I will have a new video discussion posted later this afternoon which will address topics such as the weekly SST anomalies, current ENSO update and a look back at tropical storm Cindy and its impacts to the Gulf Coast and inland areas of the Southeast.

M. Sudduth 10:40 AM ET June 26

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Bret moving WNW quickly as we turn attention to the Gulf of Mexico

5 day track map for tropical storm Bret

5 day track map for tropical storm Bret

Tropical storm Bret has moved past the Windward Islands, doing so during the overnight hours last night. Winds have increased some to near 45 mph and the movement remains at a brisk pace of 21 mph. The track forecast from the NHC takes the storm just north of the coast of South America, likely passing through the “ABC Islands” of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Interests there should expect a period of squally weather, including gusty winds and brief periods of very heavy rain and locally rough seas. Fortunately, the storm is moving fast and will clear the region in a very short period of time.

The future of Bret is likely going to short as well as upper level winds are not favorable for its continued viability. The official forecast shows Bret diminishing in intensity, eventually in to just a remnant low pressure area, in just a few days. We’ll watch and see how things play out but none of the reliable models suggest a threat to any land areas later on as the remnants of the storm move across the Caribbean Sea.

Meanwhile, what we’ve referred to as “93L” in the Gulf of Mexico is now what the NHC calls “Potential Tropical Cyclone Three” – about as close as you can get to having a named storm. It’s only a matter of time now as the latest advisory (8am ET) suggests that the system is getting better organized. I think that once we get a better look during daylight hours of the level center, the NHC will upgrade this to tropical storm Cindy later today.

I have prepared a video discussion covering both areas, you may view it by clicking the player below.

Note that I will be hitting the road for Louisiana and/or Texas later this morning for live coverage of the impacts from what will almost certainly be TS Cindy. I will be streaming the field mission live via our YouTube and Facebook Live channels. Be sure to follow on Twitter (@hurricanetrack) or get our app in the App Store (Hurricane Impact) for easy access to all of our coverage and updates on the go. I’ll embed the live video from YouTube here in a follow-up post just before I head out in a couple of hours. While on the road, I will continue to post video blogs as often as possible with live coverage continuing non-stop over the next several days.

 

M. Sudduth 9:15 AM ET June 20

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