Tropical storm possible for Windward Islands later tonight and tomorrow

The NHC has begun advisories on what they refer to as “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine”. This is a new policy implemented this year to begin advisories and thus the issuance of watches and warnings for a disturbance that has not officially become a tropical depression or tropical storm – but is expected to. The new policy gives an advantage to officials to be able to warn the public earlier instead of having to wait until recon verifies or other data indicates that a specific disturbance has in fact strengthened in to a tropical cyclone. In this case, we are talking about invest area 91L which is located just east of the Windward Islands.

I have prepared a video discussion covering the impacts that are expected for the region as the soon-to-be-storm passes through and then in to the Caribbean Sea. I will have another update and video post later this evening.

M. Sudduth 11:15 AM ET Aug 17

Hurricane season about to kick in to high gear

It’s the middle of August and that means the hurricane season normally begins to ramp up as conditions across the Atlantic Basin become more favorable. I think that this season, however, things are going to be busier than normal and that may be a bit of an understatement.

Right now we are tracking TS Gert well off the Southeast coast of the U.S. Top winds are 60 mph but Gert is almost certain to become a hurricane as it moves around the edge of the Bermuda High, eventually turning away from the U.S.

The soon-to-be hurricane won’t part ways 100% quietly. Beginning as soon as later today, swells generated by the storm (and eventually what will be a hurricane) will begin impacting the coast of North Carolina and points north. This will be great news for surfers but for novice swimmers, children etc. it can mean disaster! I am not kidding about this, larger waves are indeed exciting to play in but they can lead to an increase in rip currents and the energy within the waves can cause physical harm when they crash on top of you. Be careful out there – this is not something to just brush off. As Gert gets stronger, the swells will get larger and this will remain an issue for several days.

Next up we have invest area 91L out in the open tropical Atlantic which has a 60% chance of developing as of the 8am ET NHC tropical weather outlook. All in all, it looks as though the environment is conducive for this system to strengthen and become a tropical storm later this week.

As of this morning, the guidance from computer models is divided between the ECMWF or Euro which is very aggressive with development and a solid west path across the Atlantic and other models such as the GFS which don’t seem to do much with the system. Considering the poor track record of the GFS this season, I am inclined to put more faith in the Euro for the time being. Perhaps once the envelope of energy associated with 91L consolidates and we get a closed low – then the other models will latch on and aid in helping to understand where this feature will track over the next several days. For now, it is out over the open Atlantic and not a threat to any land areas.

I cover these topics and more in my video discussion for today which is posted below.

M. Sudduth

Tropical storm Franklin forms in NW Caribbean Sea, likely to become a hurricane

The NHC began issuing advisories on TS Franklin in the NW Caribbean Sea late last night. Since that time, the storm has strengthened and now has winds of 60 mph with a pressure of 999 mb. The overall appearance and organization of the storm suggests it is strengthening quickly and it would not be a surprise to me at all if Franklin becomes a hurricane before landfall along the Yucatan later tonight.

Due to fairly strong high pressure over the northern Gulf of Mexico region, Franklin in not likely to gain much latitude which means it will track WNW across the Yucatan and in to the Bay of Campeche as the week progresses. Interests in Texas have little to worry about as the pattern does not look to change much which will keep the would-be hurricane well to the south of Brownsville and vicinity.

On the other hand, this means that some location, likely between Veracruz and Tampico, will get the brunt of the impacts from Franklin later on Wednesday and in to Thursday. Obviously, the stronger the storm/hurricane is, the worse the impacts will be. We will focus on on that after the storm crosses the Yucatan tonight and tomorrow.

I go over all of this in detail as part of my video discussion concerning the tropical storm. Check it out via the link below:

M. Sudduth 10:45 AM ET Aug 7

Atlantic quiet for now but that is likely going to end sooner rather than later

The Atlantic Basin is nice and quiet in terms of any potential areas of development over the next few days. Mid to late July is typically a hostile period in the deep tropics as high pressure, Saharan Air and generally unfavorable conditions prevail. This year has been no exception and one could argue that despite its short life, the formation of TS Don during this period this season is a sign that conditions are more favorable than normal.

For the time being, the Pacific will be quite active with several tropical storms, hurricanes and a typhoon or two but nothing too serious or intense and no major impacts to land are seen with any of the systems across the Pacific.

I have prepared a video discussion highlighting the state of things now and what may lie ahead as we end July and head in to the traditional ramping up that begins in August.

M. Sudduth 12:30 pm ET July 27

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 -

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 – 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