Archive for Atlantic Basin

TD Two has nothing going in its favor

Dry air, part of the typical Saharan Air Layer, will keep TD2 from developing further

Dry air, part of the typical Saharan Air Layer, will keep TD2 from developing further

I am actually impressed that tropical depression two formed at all. If you look at the water vapor satellite image in this post, you’ll notice the bronze color that dominates the image. That, my friends, is dry air. How dry? Well, it’s not Las Vegas “dry heat” dry but the moisture content is low enough to show up quite well on satellite.

Conversely, the limited amount of milky white color is moisture. We all know by now that tropical cyclones need a warm, moist environment to thrive. As you can clearly see, TD2 is an island of moisture embedded within a vast expanse of dry Saharan air.

This is not at all uncommon during this time of year. In fact, I would be more worried if there was a lack of this so-called Saharan Air Layer and TD2 were well on its way to becoming a hurricane. That would be a big problem and most certainly a harbinger of things to come.

As it stands, I believe that while the presence of the tropical depression is interesting, it does not mean we are in for a busier than normal season down the road. Until we see the SAL break up and deep tropical moisture takes over the region, there’s little to be concerned about between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.

The NHC forecasts the depression to weaken in to a remnant low before it reaches the islands. The dry air will win out, slowly and steadily starving the system of the moisture and energy it needs to survive. It’s all part of the tropical “circle of life”.

I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 11:05 AM ET July 22

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Time to head to the Outer Banks

Hurricane warnings are up and it is time for action. People along parts of the North Carolina coast will have to endure a hurricane threat, and possible direct hit, this Fourth of July. It’s a very rare event indeed and not one that people will want to remember the holiday period for. None the less, it is part of living on the coast and this too shall pass – but not without some anxious moments ahead for sure.

My best advice at this point for people in harm’s way is to listen to your local officials. Seek out local information via social media and Web sites. Weather.gov is a great resource with Hurricane Local Statements that give detailed information about what to expect and when. For people who know the drill, they are springing in to action now. For visitors who may think this is exciting, well, it is by the very nature of the beast but it’s a dangerous kind of excitement and this situation needs to be taken seriously. If you’re asked to evacuate, do it. I know it stinks to lose vacation time but you don’t want to get stuck on the Outer Banks for 10 days with no food or water – trust me on that.

Speaking of being stuck, hopefully that won’t happen to me. I’ll be heading out to Hatteras Island tonight. Gotta get there before 5am tomorrow or I can’t get in. I will deploy my equipment and then seek out high ground to ride it out in relative safety. I have enough supplies for 3 days so I will likely be ok – if not, my fat reserves will kick in ;-)

Follow along live via Ustream as I travel to the Outer Banks. I’ll stop in Williamston for a couple of hour’s nap later tonight and then it’s on to Hatteras.

Click here for the link to the live Ustream feed. It will be active for as long as I can possibly keep it going.

You may also follow along in our app, Hurricane Impact. I will post video reports often throughout the next few days. The app is a fantastic way to keep up with what is going on and will have the live weather data and web cam image feeding in to by later tomorrow. Search Hurricane Impact in the App Store and on Google Play.

I wish my friends and other folks who follow our work the best of luck with Arthur. Hopefully it won’t be too bad but I am fearful that we are looking at a potential ugly situation for a portion of the NC Outer Banks. I will do my best to provide accurate, non-sensational information for you, thanks for following along!

Mark Sudduh 7:15 pm ET July 2

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Depression now forecast to become a hurricane

Three day track map showing just how close it could be for the North Carolina Outer Banks

Three day track map showing just how close it could be for the North Carolina Outer Banks

The biggest news regarding the first tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season is that it is now forecast to become a hurricane. The latest information from the NHC indicates that environmental conditions should allow for the depression to strengthen in to a category one hurricane. Water temperatures are plenty warm and upper level winds look to be favorable for steady strengthening over the coming days. I will not be surprised at all if we see what will soon be “Arthur” surpass the NHC forecast and be stronger. I have seen too many smaller systems like this take advantage of improving conditions to think that 75 mph is the upper limit for intensity.

For now, the depression is moving slowly off the Florida coast with very little in the way of rain impacting the region just yet. We should see a northward movement begin later today as the steering pattern changes and the developing storm is turned along the west side of a high pressure system over the western Atlantic.

It’s possible that enough of the circulation could reach the coast that tropical storm conditions would impact the area from Fort Pierce northward to Flagler Beach. The main issue that I am concerned with is the increase in rip currents and perhaps larger than normal wave heights at the beaches. A lot of people are heading out this week and need to know their limits in the potentially rough surf. Please pay attention to local life guard information/warning flags and use common sense, especially with children who may not think of larger waves as a hazard.

Once the depression makes the turn northward, the next part of its journey becomes critical in terms of the effects on areas in the Carolinas.

The overnight runs of the various major computer models did not change much but some subtle differences should be noted. The ECMWF model, which is highly regarded as perhaps the best in the world, shifted its track a little more east – keeping the worst conditions away from the Outer Banks. For the most part, however, the consensus has not changed much at all and so the official NHC track followed suit. It’s going to be a close call and it is still too soon to bank on a direct hit or a swipe by the would-be hurricane. Changes in the strength and timing of the approaching trough can mean all the difference for the Outer Banks and other areas of the Carolinas.

The one plus with this system is that it is not especially large in size. We’re not talking about a huge hurricane that had its origin from a large tropical wave like we often see later in the season. This might be what can help to spare the Outer Banks the worst of the winds and storm surge. A larger hurricane would obviously mean more area is impacted by high winds and related effects. I think that the fairly small size, so far anyway, may end up helping out but we’ll have to wait and see.

For interests further up the coast towards Cape Cod and New England as whole – there is little concern that this system will affect that region much at all. An increase in surf is possible which, again, needs to be considered if venturing out to the beach later this week.

I also think the threat to Nova Scotia is minimal right now partly because of the track but also because water temps are quite cool that far north.

In the east Pacific, we have two tropical storms in fairly close proximity to each other. The good news here is that both are forecast to track away from Mexico so there is little concern there.

I’ll post another update here early in the evening with plenty of in-between updates on Twitter and our Facebook page. I’ll also have the daily video discussion posted to our app, Hurricane Impact, early this afternoon.

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El Niño or El Nada?

Well, well, well. Look at what we have here. Yet another substantial El Niño forecast, by some, that is not likely to come to pass. There was talk earlier in the year that an ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) event that could rival the 1997 “Super El Niño” was in the making. Finally, we had a new buzzword to supplant “Polar Vortex” and my how people ran with it. The prospects of a record-breaking El Niño seemed destined for the history books. I have to admit, the evidence seemed to support the possibility but then something happened, something quite simple: It didn’t happen.

Actually, it is much more complicated than that but that’s the bottom line, right? There is no super-sized El Niño in the making. In fact, we may barely make it to El Niño status before the year is out. But forecasters seemed so sure. What happened? For what ever reason, the atmosphere and the ocean failed to get married. They had a nice engagement but it was not meant to be. So we see parts of the Equatorial Pacific beginning to cool and the subsurface, that’s where the real story is. Let’s take a look.

Subsurface anomalies dated April 23, 2014

Subsurface anomalies dated April 23, 2014

Here is a subsurface analysis from April 23 that showed a large pool of very warm water compared to average. This warm pool was headed east and set off many people thinking that THIS was IT! Super El Niño was coming! You have to admit, that is one large area of positive anomalies but look west (the left side of the graphic). Even by April 23 it was obvious (to me anyway) that there were no reinforcements! I thought surely this warm pool would be followed by another one, maybe even stronger. Nope. None came.

Subsurface anomalies dated June 22

Subsurface anomalies dated June 22

In fact, as you can see in the second graphic, which is the most recent analysis, not only did the warm pool not get a reinforcing shot, the existing one shrank! And, wait a minute, what’s this? COLD WATER? Yep, that is a large pool of cold anomalies that has crept in to the picture. Hard to believe that just a few months ago, we were looking at the prospects of a globally challenging ocean/weather phenomenon the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1997! Unless something completely unexpected happens over the next few months, I think it is safe to say that a minimal El Niño event is in store if we even get to that point. Those cold anomalies are really interesting since they were not forecast to be there right now.

So what does this all mean? It means that computer guidance still has a long way to go when dealing with ocean/atmosphere coupling. El Niño doesn’t just happen – a complex series of mechanisms needs to be set in to motion and remain in motion for a period of time. If one side gives up, the whole system crashes. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be or perhaps I am wrong and a Super El Niño will put me in my place before the end of the year. It had better get going soon, we’re almost to July and after that, the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season arrive. With no substantial El Niño in place, I have to wonder….are the forecasts for a slack hurricane season also going to bust? After all, go back and read them, most make mention of El Niño and its negative influence on Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. No El Niño, no negative influence. Naw, that’s too simple, it can’t possibly be right.

I guess we’ll see. Let’s re-visit this on November 30, shall we?

In the meantime, we will watch the Southeast coastal areas for possible development over the next few days. Some of the global computer models are trying to cook up a low pressure area over the warmer-than-normal water that is lurking in the southwest Atlantic. I’ll have more on this over the weekend.

M. Sudduth 8:30 AM ET June 27

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Tiny area of low pressure off FL east coast won’t amount to anything

Weak area of low pressure just off the FL coast

Weak area of low pressure just off the FL coast

The NHC has outlined an area of interest just off the east coast of Florida, roughly 70 miles from Daytona Beach. It is a very small area of low pressure that has virtually no chance of developing. Strong upper level winds will not allow for deep thunderstorms to form and remain persistent enough to lower pressures and allow the chain reaction of a tropical cyclone to begin.

The low is expected to move northward and then be pushed out in to the open Atlantic by an approaching upper level trough. This acts like a bulldozer and will turn the low northeast and away from the Southeast coast.

Other than that, there are a few tropical waves scattered across the Atlantic Basin but none show any signs of further development. The global models are also quiet with no development seen in the short or long term. It looks like another quiet weekend in the tropics – and this includes the east Pacific as well.

I’ll have more here on Monday unless conditions warrant another post over the weekend.

M. Sudduth 1:24 PM ET June 20

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