Weak low pressure in northeast Gulf of Mexico bringing rain to FL but nothing more

Weak low pressure in the Gulf is producing rain for Florida but little else in the way of development is expected

Weak low pressure in the Gulf is producing rain for Florida but little else in the way of development is expected

The tropics are fairly quiet as we start the week. About the only area worth watching as of now is a weak low pressure and associated surface trough draped across portions of the northeast Gulf of Mexico.

There was concern late last week that we could see tropical development from this stalled out frontal boundary but it looks as though that won’t happen now. However, very heavy rain has been falling across portions of the Florida peninsula in recent days, causing flooding with the risk of more to come. Computer models generally agree that the low will move over Florida as the week progresses and as such, the chance for widespread rain, heavy at times, will be part of the forecast for the region.

Why won’t this develop in to a tropical storm?

Strong northeast flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere will likely keep the low from developing further

Strong northeast flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere will likely keep the low from developing further

Normally, low pressure sitting over water temperatures that are in the upper 80s would be cause for alarm. While the heavy rain threat is enough of a problem, it looks as though that will be the only issue Floridians face with this system. So why won’t it develop in to a tropical depression or a tropical storm? The biggest reason are the upper level winds. Right now, they are blowing over the top of the low from the northeast, pushing the deep thunderstorms or convection away from the low center itself. This does not allow the low to strengthen by way of convection wrapping around itself, allowing pressures to drop and the process to get going.

There might be a small window for the low to become better organized but the forecast from computer models indicates that the strong northeast flow across the region will continue.

The bottom line for interests in Florida, especially the central peninsula and points south to an extent, is that heavy rain is possible over the next couple of days as the low moves across. If you have travel plans, leave extra time for that and slow down during the downpours – tropical showers can be very heavy with blinding rain. Also be aware of any flooding that may take place and keep kids away from swollen ditches, creeks and rivers – remember, water is not the only danger when we’re talking about Florida and flooding.

As for the rest of the tropics? The Atlantic is mostly dead right now with a pattern in place that does not promote upward motion in the atmosphere. I do not see this changing anytime soon and so we will likely end July without any hurricanes to worry about.

In the eastern Pacific, there are two low pressure areas to monitor far from land over open water. None of the computer model guidance suggests that either will become a hurricane nor will they impact land anytime soon.

That’s about it for this Monday. I’ll have a special blog post later this week concerning our new generation of storm surge camera systems and how we plan to utilize them when the next hurricane makes landfall along the U.S. coast.

M. Sudduth 12:10 PM ET July 27

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Tropical Atlantic quiet but we may have to start watching things off the Southeast coast

As we start the new week, nothing is brewing in the tropical Atlantic. There are some robust tropical waves out there but the stable air mass in place is keeping them from developing.

I have posted a video discussion which highlights all of the current goings on in the Atlantic Basin as well what is happening in the east Pacific.

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Pacific about to get very, very busy while Atlantic remains closed

A very strong MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation pulse is setting up across the tropical Pacific and once it reaches its full potential, we are likely to see a string of tropical cyclones develop.

The MJO is an interesting phenomena which is best described for the sake of simplicity as a period of fertility in the tropics. Think of upward motion as being “good” for development and downward motion as being “bad” for development. The more the air can rise and spread out evenly, the better the odds for tropical storms and hurricanes (typhoons) to get going. Conversely, if the air is sinking, this literally suppresses tropical convection and makes it very difficult for tropical cyclones.

Satellite photo of the Pacific where a strong MJO pulse is leading to an increase in tropical convection and eventually, numerous tropical cyclones

Satellite photo of the Pacific where a strong MJO pulse is leading to an increase in tropical convection and eventually, numerous tropical cyclones

Over the next couple of weeks a very favorable period for the tropical Pacific is likely. The major global models are indicating a very strong MJO signal and you can actually see it starting in the hemispheric satellite that shot I’ve included. The gathering of clouds just north of the Equator is no accident and fits in nicely with the coming MJO pulse.

As a result, the models are showing several tropical cyclones developing over the coming days across the Pacific. There are likely to be a few that reach incredible intensity, mainly due to the abnormally warm water across the region (El Nino).

Interests across the Pacific should be monitoring conditions as we enter this period of increased tropical cyclone activity. Even Hawaii has a chance for at least some impact once the central and east Pacific enter the favorable phase of the MJO – which won’t be too far off.

In the other basin, the Atlantic, things could not be more hostile. Dry, sinking air along with very high levels of wind shear (the change of wind direction and speed as you go up in the atmosphere) is literally keeping a lid on development chances. We typically do not see much during most of July anyway but right now, conditions are especially unfavorable and should remain that way for the next week or so at least.

Enjoy your 4th of July along the U.S. coast with no worries from the tropics. If you’re in the Pacific, as I mentioned, keep an eye on things over the next several days as the MJO ramps up and creates very favorable conditions. I’ll post another update here over the weekend to address any significant development that does occur in the Pacific.

Be safe this holiday period and I’ll have more this weekend.

M. Sudduth 11AM ET July 2

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Remnants of Bill still alive and well, tropics as a whole quiet for now

Tropical depression Bill as seen via visible satellite photo on June 20, 2015

Tropical depression Bill as seen via visible satellite photo on June 20, 2015

Tropical storm Bill made landfall early Tuesday morning along the central Texas coast and has since left a tremendous amount of rain in its wake. Fortunately, the flooding situation in Texas was not as severe as it could have been but in parts of Oklahoma, it’s a different story.

Bill once again underscores the importance of the public having a grasp on the total package, so to speak, that tropical cyclones bring. It’s not just categories of hurricanes or the amount of storm surge, rain and the resulting freshwater flooding has a way of sneaking in and seemingly catching people off guard.

Today, the remnant low pressure area of Bill is currently moving through parts of Arkansas and Missouri. Heavy rain is falling in areas such as St. Louis and will spread up the I-70 corridor in to Indiana over the weekend. The satellite presentation is still rather impressive for a depression that has been over land for several days. The low is forecast to track through Kentucky and eventually off the Mid-Atlantic states within the next few days, spreading more heavy rain along its path.

As for the tropics going in to the weekend – nothing to worry about at all. We are currently within a period of time that is not likely to allow for much development in either the east Pacific or the Atlantic. This should last for about 10 to 15 days, maybe more, we’ll see. In addition, dry, dusty air from Africa is traversing the Atlantic right now, keeping a literal lid on any development chances out that way. So enjoy the weekend along the shores, tropical storms and hurricanes won’t be an issue anywhere. I’ll have more here on Monday.

M. Sudduth 1pm ET June 20

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