Tropics getting very busy as we close out August

There is a lot going on, no doubt about that. It’s the end of August and the hurricane season is kicking in to high gear. Let’s start in the Pacific actually then move east from there…

TS Madeline/Hurricane Lester

TS Madeline is forecast to strengthen in to a hurricane as it tracks generally towards Hawaii in the coming days. It should weaken upon approach and perhaps turn more south with time.

TS Madeline is forecast to strengthen in to a hurricane as it tracks generally towards Hawaii in the coming days. It should weaken upon approach and perhaps turn more south with time.

We have a pair of tropical cyclones to watch closely in the east and central Pacific over the coming days. First up is tropical storm Madeline which is currently situated well to the east-southeast of Hawaii. The forecast calls for the storm to reach hurricane intensity as heads generally westward early next week. While the track suggests a threat to Hawaii, it seems as though less favorable conditions will set in and Madeline will weaken and probably push more south with time, avoiding a direct impact to the islands. However, as we know, this can change so it’s obviously a good idea to keep tabs on the progress of this storm.

Much farther to the east over the eastern Pacific we have hurricane Lester with 100 mph winds. It too is tracking almost due west and could reach the vicinity of Hawaii in about a week. It is something to monitor but remember, it is very difficult for hurricanes to make landfall in Hawaii from the east. We usually see hurricane threats from the south as they turn from lower latitudes and track northward across the region, such as Iniki did back in 1992. While Lester is a strong hurricane, I would not worry too much about it right now – plenty of time to watch.

99L

Morning track plots showing the spread of the various computer models. Most of the more reliable models suggest a landfall, if it were to develop, somewhere along NE Gulf of Mexico coast.

Morning track plots showing the spread of the various computer models. Most of the more reliable models suggest a landfall, if it were to develop, somewhere along NE Gulf of Mexico coast.

Next we have good ole 99L. Seems like it has been with us forever. The area of interest that just can’t seem to develop. So far, it still hasn’t and doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. Upper level winds continue to plague the would-be storm, pushing any deep thunderstorms that try to develop away from the low level center which is currently moving through the Florida straits and Keys area.

It has been a frustrating week tracking 99L with all of the computer model flip-flopping that we’ve had to deal with. About the only one that has been consistent with intensity is the hurricane specific HWRF model which goes bonkers with development on almost every run. So far, none of that has come to pass. The GFS has done fairly well indicating little development thus far and not much more to speak of in the days ahead. The Euro or ECMWF on the other hand has gone back to suggesting a hurricane threat for Florida and possibly the Southeast coast once the system moves back out over the Atlantic.

My feeling is that so far the system has under-performed and until the shear relaxes and we see deep convection wrapping around the low level center and maintaining for 24 hours or more, it won’t pose much of a threat as far as being a strong hurricane. That being said, it is possible that 99L could reach hurricane intensity somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico next week. Water temps are very warm and all it takes is a period of favorable upper level winds for the lid to come off.

I believe the next 24-48 hours is the key here. If we see it develop by Tuesday then folks in Florida could be in for some significant impacts from this system. Unfortunately we will just have to wait and see how things pan out. For now, it remains only a strong tropical wave of low pressure, nothing more.

91L

Invest area 91L with some deep thunderstorm activity near the center. It is moving towards the NC coast but should turn north and back out to sea before reaching Cape Hatteras and vicinity.

Invest area 91L with some deep thunderstorm activity near the center. It is moving towards the NC coast but should turn north and back out to sea before reaching Cape Hatteras and vicinity. (click to view animation)

Next we have invest area 91L between Bermuda and Cape Hatteras and moving westward with a turn more to the west-northwest expected soon.

Right now, strong upper level winds coming from the east are keeping the convection that has managed to develop just west of the well defined low level center. You can clearly see this on the satellite image I have posted here. In fact, this looks to me like it would be classified as a tropical depression but without recon in there to verify right now, it’s not officially anything but an area of interest. We should know later today once the recon crew gets in there – perhaps this becomes TS Hermine? We shall see.

The models are in pretty good agreement that this will turn more to the north and then curve back out over the Atlantic over the next couple of days. The key to any appreciable impacts to the North Carolina coast will be how close the system tracks before doing so. Most of the guidance keeps it just east of Cape Hatteras and vicinity but close enough to warrant concern, especially for off-shore boating interests.

I’ll keep a close eye on this one since recon is planning to investigate later today. Once we get their reports we will know if this has in fact become a next named storm or at least a tropical depression.

Hurricane Gaston

Hurricane Gaston track forecast showing it staying out over the open Atlantic.

Hurricane Gaston track forecast showing it staying out over the open Atlantic.

Gaston has become the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin for 2016. Top winds are near 90 mph and are forecast to go up from there. The hurricane has developed an eye and is moving away from all of the hostile conditions that were hindering significant development over the past day or so.

The NHC is forecasting Gaston to reach peak intensity of 110 mph before reaching cooler water later this week. I won’t be at all surprised to see the hurricane reach 120 mph or more over the warm water of the sub-tropics. This seems to be the norm in recent years – hurricanes reaching peak intensity well outside of the deep tropics. Fortunately for land areas, Gaston will only be tracking over open ocean.

Future 92L in the far eastern Atlantic

Large tropical wave over Africa that will almost certainly be a named storm in the far eastern Atlantic in the coming days.

Large tropical wave over Africa that will almost certainly be a named storm in the far eastern Atlantic in the coming days.

A well developed tropical wave over interior Africa is forecast by all of the global computer models to move in to the eastern Atlantic and develop over the next five days. Conditions appear to be favorable across the entire swath of ocean this time around and we just might have something to track for days on end.

There is no doubt going to be a lot of talk about this system because the steering pattern looks to be one that could allow it track all the way to the United States. While this is a possibility, it is so far out in time that worrying about a specific location is pointless. Conditions appear to be favorable so let’s just watch and see what happens over the course of the week ahead and go from there. We have plenty of other issues to deal with on the west side of the Atlantic to keep us busy for a while longer.

I’ll post an update here later this afternoon or early evening once we get more info from the recon crew concerning 91L. I don’t think much will change with 99L today but if there is, I’ll certainly update that as well.

M. Sudduth 10:10 AM ET Aug 28

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No real concern about 99L any longer as we focus on other areas over the coming days

Atlantic tropical weather outlook map from the NHC showing the areas of interest and the current position of TS Gaston

Atlantic tropical weather outlook map from the NHC showing the areas of interest and the current position of TS Gaston

Wanted to post some thoughts on 99L this very late hour of Friday night/early Saturday morning. It’s been a long week and tonight I can sleep soundly and not wonder what the future model output will show for the storm that never was.

I also want to comment on the other areas that bear watching as we progress through the weekend. One thing is fairly clear to me: there are no hurricane threats looming so we have that going for us.

As it turned out, the environment just didn’t support the development of the tropical wave that garnered so much attention this past week. Invest area 99L as it become widely known as will just pass in to the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Straits this weekend with little more than passing squalls. While I can’t say development chances are zero, in my opinion, the chance of this becoming a hurricane is as close to zero as one could ask for. It’s just not going to happen this time. Despite the HWRF model blowing it up run after run in to a formidable hurricane, upper level conditions and the lack of overall organization of the system should keep this a scenario only inside of the computer model’s world.

Now we have a couple of other areas to watch – one in the Gulf of Mexico, the other not far from Bermuda over the Atlantic. Neither system look to develop much in the coming days – part of the overall negative pattern we seem to be in right now. Even TS Gaston is struggling as of late but it is forecast by most of the global model guidance to bust through the shear and other limiting factors to finally become a classic open Atlantic hurricane. It too poses no threat to land and I don’t see it ever becoming an issue except for an increase in ocean swells depending on how strong it gets and how far west it tracks.

East Pacific tropical storm Madeline is one to watch if you live in or are planning a trip to Hawaii for next week

East Pacific tropical storm Madeline is one to watch if you live in or are planning a trip to Hawaii for next week

In the east Pacific, tropical storm Madeline is forecast to strengthen and become a hurricane as it moves in the general direction of Hawaii next week. Water temps in the region are running a little above normal so it’s possible that Madeline could make it to Hawaii as a tropical storm. It’s tough as heck to hit the Big Island from the east so we’ll see how this pans out. There is plenty of time to monitor the situation and react as needed as we know more about the track and intensity of this Pacific tropical storm.

Last but not least, I will be watching with keen interest as a new tropical wave emerges from Africa early next week. The GFS in particular has been very consistent in developing it right away and moving west for quite a while. The steering pattern that the GFS has been showing is one that could keep what ever might develop moving along just south of 20N latitude for several days at least. That being said, I do not see this being a threat to the Lesser Antilles, not in the modeling anyway. It’s early and it’s prime time for the Atlantic hurricane season and we know how quickly things can change. This next system will be something to keep an eye assuming the modeling is correct and it does in fact develop. Time will tell.

That’s it for now, time for some deep sleep and then more posts coming over the weekend.

M. Sudduth 12:35 AM ET Aug 27

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Plenty to monitor over the next several days but beware of “scary maps”

NHC map showing potential for development in the eastern Atlantic, spreading towards the Caribbean, as the days progress

NHC map showing potential for development in the eastern Atlantic, spreading towards the Caribbean, as the days progress

We have several areas to monitor in the Atlantic Basin and one area in the east Pacific. Fortunately, none pose a direct threat to land for the time being but one area, in particular, warrants close scrutiny in the days ahead.

First up, tropical storm Kay in the eastern Pacific. Not much to say here except that it will weaken as it tracks well off of the Baja peninsula and eventually turns westward over cooler water. I do not see any appreciable impacts from this storm for the southern Baja except some added moisture. Once Kay dissipates early next week, that should do it for the time being in the eastern Pacific with no additional areas of development seen.

Next we have tropical storm Fiona in the open central Atlantic. Top winds are only 45 mph with limited deep convection noted on satellite imagery. Overall the dry mid-level air, partly due to the incessant Saharan Air Layer (SAL), is keeping Fiona from strengthening and this will likely remain the case over the next five days. In fact, the NHC is forecasting the storm to weaken as it moves farther to the north and west, well to the southeast of Bermuda. While I do not anticipate any issues arising from this storm, we never just ignore them until they dissipate or are headed away from land areas.

Of greater concern, especially for the eastern Caribbean islands, is invest area 99L deep in the eastern tropical Atlantic. The NHC gives it a 50% chance of becoming a tropical depression or stronger within the next five days.

The overall envelope of energy with the tropical wave is impressive. The large sprawling size makes me believe that development will be gradual at best. The SAL is far enough to the north to allow for slow but steady organization and it should go on to become the next named storm. If so, it will be “Gaston”.

Computer models are very aggressive with strengthening, perhaps a little too much so. Most of the intensity guidance suggests 99L will become a hurricane but I think its large size and overall state of the deep tropics will limit intensification until later in the period.

Interests in the Lesser Antilles should be watching 99L closely. Almost all of the track models indicate a general westward movement in to the eastern Caribbean early next week. As we have seen time and time again, it does not take a strong tropical storm or a hurricane to cause life-threatening flooding. The people in parts of Louisiana know this all too well and we need only to look back at Erika last season as a reminder for the Caribbean. There’s not much you can do to prepare for heavy rain, just being aware and making sure there is safe haven is at least something as opposed to nothing.

There is no doubt going to be a lot of speculation about where 99L and its eventual transition in to a tropical storm (or hurricane) will end up. In today’s world, computer model forecast maps can be shared with literally millions of people at a moment’s notice. Under the wrong context, this can be harmful. Not everyone has the weather geek know-how to realize that a 5, 7 or 10 day map has extreme limitations. On top of that, graphs showing intensity will only lead to more anxiety when it is probably unwarranted.

My point is, we are likely going to have to deal with a tropical storm and possibly a hurricane some time next week. The first area of concern is for the eastern Caribbean Sea. Beyond that, it’s wait and see just like it has been since I began this site back in 1999. Sure, the Internet has made things a lot faster, more weather models are available and so forth but with great access comes great responsibility (sorry Spiderman, had to borrow your uncle’s catch-phrase). Staring at a map that shows a giant hurricane on it 10 days out is not helpful to most people. If you see such things in social media, say to yourself, “Hmmm, guess I better keep an eye on that one”. Worrying about it this soon is futile – instead, maybe do a little more to prepare in case this, or any future storm/hurricane, comes your way. I’ve said my piece on this issue but just know, it’s coming (the scary weather maps) and you’ve been warned. Be smart and don’t spread the fire by sharing such images.

Last in my list of things to cover, the NHC has highlighted the area just off the African coast, out in to the eastern Atlantic by a few hundred miles for possible development next week. This too is just something to monitor but hey, if you live in the Cape Verde Islands, you could be impacted by squally weather as this tropical wave moves by.

It’s getting towards late August and we were told this hurricane season could be the busiest in four years. So far, it has generally lived up to that expectation. We are headed in to a busy period with a lot to keep up with. Considering the world around us and the inherent, constant distractions, it will be more important than ever to stay aware and be ready….just in case.

I’ll have more in my video discussion later this afternoon followed by another blog post in the morning.

M. Sudduth 2:30 PM ET Aug 19

 

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Tropics about to get quite busy as we head deeper in to August

Satellite image of the eastern Atlantic where TS Fiona is moving out over open water. We are also watching for more tropical wave energy just off the coast of Africa for possible development.

Satellite image of the eastern Atlantic where TS Fiona is moving out over open water. We are also watching for more tropical wave energy just off the coast of Africa for possible development.

There are indications that things are going to be busier and busier over the coming days and weeks as far as the Atlantic Basin goes. You may recall that the east Pacific was producing storm after storm, with a few hurricanes thrown in too, back in July? While I do not see that much activity coming, I do think there is potential for several more development areas over the next two weeks.

First up is tropical storm Fiona. Obviously this system poses no threat to land and probably won’t as it moves generally northwestward over the open Atlantic.

The combination of dry mid-level air being ingested from time to time and some stronger upper level winds will likely keep Fiona from becoming too strong. Water temps gradually increase out ahead of the storm and if the background environment changes enough, the chance for it to become a hurricane is there. However, this would only affecting shipping lanes and add to the ACE score for the season. I just don’t see any reason right now to be concerned with Fiona directly impacting land.

As we watch Fiona, we also need to monitor activity just off the African coast for possible development down the road. Computer models are suggesting the possibility of additional development from one or two more tropical waves over the next five to seven days. This would be the most active the MDR or Main Development Region has been for quite some time. It also fits in perfectly with the time of year we are in as the latter part of August tends to see an increase in potential for development across much of the tropical Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the east Pacific will likely have a new named storm before too long. The NHC is tracking invest area 97-E well off the coast of Mexico. Conditions appear favorable for this to continue to develop and become a tropical storm as it moves northwest but off shore of Mexico and the Baja peninsula.

I will have more in my video discussion which will be posted here and to our app, Hurricane Impact, later this afternoon – followed by more blog coverage here tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:20 AM ET Aug 18

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Deep tropics closed – so we look west, closer to land

Recent satellite photo showing the areas of interest, and the shut-down eastern Atlantic

Recent satellite photo showing the areas of interest, and the shut-down eastern Atlantic  (click for full-size image)

Another large, suppressing surge of dry, stable air is moving off of Africa as of late and this will all but shut down the chance for development in the deep tropics – at least for now. With the eastern Atlantic out of play, where might we look for possible development over the coming days? The answer: farther west, closer to land areas.

Before I get in to what may be coming down the road, let’s look at the latest on Earl, which is still alive and somewhat well in the Bay of Campeche.

After making landfall in Belize, Earl managed to remain intact as a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan peninsula. It is now situated over the extreme southern portion of the Bay of Campeche and remains at tropical storm strength. The main threat to land will be continued heavy rain along with some gusty winds. The storm will make landfall again this evening in Mexico and begin to dissipate.

Something interesting will happen after landfall with Earl. It seems that energy from the storm will survive the terrain of Mexico and merge with a disturbance over the southeast Pacific, just off the coast. The NHC indicates that all of this will result in the formation of a low pressure area that is likely to become a tropical depression over the next few days. Since this will be happening so close to land, interests along the Pacific side of Mexico should be monitoring closely. Heavy rain is likely and eventually a tropical storm may form and affect the southern Baja peninsula.

Meanwhile, a complex situation is developing in the northeast Gulf of Mexico that bears watching. The NHC mentions that a trough of low pressure is forecast to develop over the warm waters of the northeast Gulf this weekend. This focal point for showers and thunderstorms could lead to the potential development of a tropical depression at some point. The longer it remains over the water (and farther out from land) then the higher this chance becomes.

Rain forecast for the next seven days showing an alarming amount for portions of the northeast Gulf Coast region. This will change and evolve over time but this gives you an idea of how much is forecast by the computer models.

Rain forecast for the next seven days showing an alarming amount for portions of the northeast Gulf Coast region. This will change and evolve over time but this gives you an idea of how much is forecast by the computer models.

One thing that seems almost certain is that an incredible, dangerous amount of rain is setting up for portions of the Gulf Coast states – mainly from southeast Louisiana eastward in to Florida. In fact, some of the rain totals that are being suggested by computer models are astounding. This is something that needs to be watched very closely. Even if nothing develops in terms of a tropical depression or more, the rain by itself will be a major problem.

Next we have the energy associated with what was once 96L and another tropical wave coming in from the east. While there is not much to look at now, there is some evidence in the computer models to suggest we see development in the southwest Atlantic in a few days. I do not see any indication of anything strong at this point, just something to watch since we are in August and the water temps in the western Atlantic are so very warm.

All in all, it looks to be an interesting few days ahead. The east Atlantic won’t be an issue at all due to the strong SAL or Saharan Air Layer that is dominating the region. So we must look closer to home, so to speak, and with that we do see a few areas of potential trouble brewing. I will add more with my daily video discussion to be posted later this afternoon followed by another blog update here tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 11:45 AM ET Aug 5

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