If GFS is right, we are in for a busy week

On Friday, I wrote about the possibility of the season’s first hurricane developing from a tropical wave that was about to emerge from the coast of Africa. At that point, two of the major global computer models, the GFS and ECMWF, were both indicating the development of the tropical wave as it approached the Lesser Antilles.

Now, here we are on Monday and the GFS essentially stands alone. The ECMWF has all but completely dropped the notion of development while the GFS is about as consistent as it can be.

If we follow the evidence we can try to figure out what may end up happening – while also either confirming or denying the GFS and its ability to forecast the development of a tropical storm in the deep tropics.

I have prepared a video discussion covering this intriguing situation by taking a close look at not only the model forecast but also what we see in front of us right now. What does the evidence show? Is there enough there to support the idea of a tropical storm forming later this week? Check out the video below to learn more.

M. Sudduth July 10, 2017

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East Pacific and tropical Atlantic becoming active

July is starting off quite busy with areas to watch in both the Atlantic Basin and the east Pacific. Fortunately, none of the systems pose any threat to land and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

The east Pacific system, designated as invest area 94-E is situated well to the southwest off the coast of Mexico and is forecast by the model guidance to continue moving westward and away from land. It may eventually become a tropical storm over the open Pacific but the cooler water temps out ahead of it will be a challenge. None of the intensity models indicate that 94-E will become a hurricane, something that is unusual for this part of the east Pacific but a sign that conditions are not as favorable out that way this season.

In the Atlantic, we are keeping a close eye on invest area 94-L which is located in the deep tropics, about mid-way between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.  The NHC is giving it a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next five days. Curiously, the system is not moving much right now, which is rare to see in the deep tropics in early July. Normally the trades are quite strong across the region and we see tropical waves moving westward at 15-20 mph or faster. The fact that 94-L is moving so slowly indicates that conditions in the tropical Atlantic are quite different than we have seen in recent years – meaning that things are much more favorable for development even this early in July.

I have produced a video discussion covering these topics and more. Check it out via the YouTube video below.

M. Sudduth 1:45 pm July 4, 2017

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Tropical Storm Cindy will make landfall tomorrow along the TX/LA border – biggest threat is rain and isolated tornadoes

Radar animation showing the strong bands of rain and storms moving in off the Gulf of Mexico towards the northern Gulf Coast

Radar animation showing the strong bands of rain and storms moving in off the Gulf of Mexico towards the northern Gulf Coast

Cindy has made a mess of things across a large swath of the Gulf Coast states with heavy rain, storm surge and even a few tornadoes being reported. It’s all part of the package when it comes to tropical systems, no matter how weak/strong they are.

In the overnight hours tonight, the main threat will continue to periods of very heavy rain and strong bands swing northward off the Gulf of Mexico and in to the northern Gulf Coast. You can see this on the radar animation that I have included with this update. Some of the cells could produce brief but strong tornadoes so please keep your NOAA Weather Radio handy or have a way to receive EAS alerts even while you’re asleep.

If you have travel plans across I-10 from FL to TX, please leave extra time in your schedule so as to be able to slow down during periods of heavy rain. Some of the bands can produce blinding rain, reducing visibility to near zero in an instant.

By tomorrow afternoon, the brunt of the storm will be inland over Louisiana and eastern Texas but the rain and severe weather threat will likely continue for a few more days as the remnant low pressure area moves across the eastern U.S.

I go over all of this in my latest video discussion which is posted below:

M. Sudduth 5pm ET June 21, 2017

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Possibility of Gulf of Mexico development next week

I posted recently that a window of opportunity for development could be lurking and it looks as though that chance is beginning to arrive.

The NHC has outlined an area of interest centered on the Yucatan peninsula that could become the focal point for possible tropical development early next week.

Right now, there is little to even monitor but the overall consensus of the global models is to gradually lower the pressures across the region as upper level winds become more conducive for something to take shape. It will be a fairly slow process and all indications are that the low will large and spread out meaning more rain and low wind impacts for a larger area – assuming this is what in fact happens.

I have prepared a detailed video discussion concerning the potential for development – check it out below. I will have more posted here tomorrow early afternoon.

Also – tonight I will be a guest on the popular Internet show Storm Front Freaks talking all things hurricanes. To watch live via YouTube, click this link – the show begins at 9pm ET and will be archived for later viewing and available as a podcast via iTunes.

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Window of development opportunity coming up?

It’s still early June and typically this time of the hurricane season means that things are usually quiet. Every once in a while we will get a June tropical storm or hurricane, but it’s not the norm. As most of you know, the season really begins to ramp up from about mid-August on. Usually….

This season might not be usual.

I am seeing the beginnings of signs that may point to a development window opening over the next week to ten days and beyond.

GFS and its ensemble members indicating a more favorable MJO state coming up for portions of the Western Hemisphere over the next couple of weeks

GFS and its ensemble members indicating a more favorable MJO state coming up for portions of the Western Hemisphere over the next couple of weeks

For starters, the Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO is forecast by the GFS and Euro models to be moving in to the phase that often supports development somewhere within the Atlantic Basin. The MJO phenomenon is easy to think of as a period of fertility in the tropics, when deep convection can form and blossom, not just fizzle out and dissipate. While the MJO helps to enhance development it does not necessarily mean that development is a certainty.

The upcoming signal from the MJO is not especially strong but it is there (forecast to be there anyway) and could lead to better upper level winds over parts of the southeast Pacific and extending in to the western Caribbean and western Gulf. With water temps plenty warm in the region, all we need is a kick and it could lead to development in one basin or the other, maybe both. We will have to just wait and see.

If we look at the GFS operational model at the 850 millibar level which is about 5k feet up, we can see one week out from today that a wind shift or monsoonal trough begins to set up from the southeast Pacific, across Central America and in to the western Caribbean. This would act like a focusing mechanism for the air to come together or converge, probably leading to enhanced convection (thunderstorms) across the region.

GFS model at 168 hrs showing (yellow area) a wind shift and overall troff of low pressure stretched out over a large area, we call this a "monsson trough" and it can lead to development if conditions allow

GFS model at 168 hrs showing (yellow area) a wind shift and overall troughof low pressure stretched out over a large area, we call this a “monsoon trough” and it can lead to development if conditions allow

This large counter-clockwise “gyre” is so spread out that in and of itself it wouldn’t develop. We would need to see if an area of concentrated energy or vorticity breaks off and tries to develop out of this larger area of energy. If so, then a low pressure area could get going either in the Pacific or the western Caribbean – leading to the chance of a tropical depression or storm at some point.

As you can tell, the process is long and complex. I am not going to dwell on it day after day for two weeks but it is something to keep an eye on. At the very least, more rainfall than normal may be setting up for portions of Central America and it may lead to a named storm on one side of Central America or the other. Time will tell.

Then there is this interesting set up taking shape: The ECMWF (Euro) is indicating the possibility of an easterly wave (tropical wave) trying to develop way out in the deep tropics between Africa and the Lesser Antilles. Remember, water temps out this way are running above the long term average. If we do in fact see a strong area of energy emerge from Africa, it could take advantage of the warmer water and more favorable conditions overall  and try to develop some. This would be highly unusual and a significant sign in my opinion that this season could be quite busy. Again, time will tell.

We live in an age when computer guidance and satellite information allows us to see in to the future of weather forecasting better than ever before. These early warning signs are helpful since we should no longer be totally caught off guard. It may not prevent a “Labor Day hurricane of 1935” scenario in which case we saw a TS become a Cat-5 hurricane in a very short amount of time but the advances in technology now allows us to be more aware than ever that a threat from the tropics is looming (or could be looming). My point is, do not be alarmed or worried. There’s no reason for that. Instead, be aware. We were told the season could be busier than average and these are possible signs of that happening. So just take note and pay attention a little more than normal perhaps. Applaud the fact that we have such tools at our disposal and as long as we know how to interpret them, it can be a good thing. After all, with such much at stake along our coastlines (all of us, not just the USA), the more lead-time the better; at least I think so anyway.

I’ll have more on Monday during my video discussion.

M. Sudduth 1:20 pm ET June 9

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