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

Tropical storm Bill headed for Texas and beyond

The NHC upgraded 91L to tropical storm Bill and immediately posted a tropical storm warning for parts of the Texas coastline. This is the first significant tropical cyclone to threaten Texas since 2008 when hurricane Ike devastated the region and on in to southwest Louisiana. In 2011, TS Don pretty much died on arrival due to the extreme drought gripping the state.

Bill is likely going to try to intensify through the night and in to Tuesday as it approaches the coast. Water temps are plenty warm and upper level winds are gradually becoming more and more favorable. Fortunately, Bill will run out of real-estate before becoming a hurricane, but it may try to get close. I’ve seen it with these smaller short-fuse storms, so don’t be surprised to see Bill end up as a 65 to 70 mph storm before landfall.

Once inland, the structure will likely remain intact even over land. While the low level center may well dissipate, the NHC mentions that the mid and upper level portions of the storm could remain and this will result in a lot of rain for parts of east Texas and up through Oklahoma and beyond.

WPC 5-day precipitation forecast showing the extent of TS Bill's rain swath around the strong high pressure area over the Southeast

WPC 5-day precipitation forecast showing the extent of TS Bill’s rain swath around the strong high pressure area over the Southeast

Take a look at the Weather Prediction Center’s five day precipitation forecast map. That incredible arc of rain literally rounds the western edge of the heat-ridge sitting over the Southeast right now, resulting in 100+ degree temps in many locations. Bill and its remnants will move up and over the top of this ridge and will likely bring periods of very heavy rain for thousands of miles after landfall. From a meteorological perspective, this will be fascinating to watch.

HurricaneTrack.com has a live feed from Bolivar Peninsula courtesy of one of our good friends and colleague, Kerry Mallory. He has the exact same set up as our “Tahoe Cam” in his Ford truck. We are streaming using our public Ustream feed and encourage you to tune in and monitor conditions from time to time along the vulnerable peninsula. This region was slammed by hurricane Ike in 2008 and the flat coastline, coupled with the shallow offshore water will result in some coastal flooding in this area. Once the center moves ashore later Tuesday, Kerry will continue the stream live as he heads back in to his hometown of Houston. While it looks as though the metro area will escape the worst of the rain, there seems to be plenty of it on the way regardless. We’ll keep the stream up for as long as Kerry is out and about and appreciate his efforts to show us what is going on there locally.

I’ll post more on Bill later in the day on Tuesday.

Link to live video (also showing over on the right hand column of this page): HurricaneTrack Live Video via Ustream

M. Sudduth 2:15 AM ET June 16

A decade has passed since the single most destructive season in history, have we learned from it?

Hurricane Rita in the Gulf of Mexico during the historic 2005 season

Hurricane Rita in the Gulf of Mexico during the historic 2005 season

Here we are on June 1, the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season. Much has already been said about how “slow” it is likely to be so I am not going to delve in to that. We all know, kind of like John Calipari at Kentucky basketball, that it only takes one to ruin your  perfect season. Be ready for anything or be prepared to lose everything. It’s that simple.

Ten years ago we were about to embark on a perilous journey that no one was ready for, not even close. The 2005 hurricane season was the most destructive and one of the deadliest in American history. Hard to believe that a decade has already passed.

What have we learned since the likes of Katrina, Rita, Wilma? Those were the big three that stood out during the historic ’05 season, all of them becoming category five hurricanes at some point in their infamous lives.

I am going to be a pessimist here and say that we have learned very little. The evidence? Massive rebuilding along the same coastline that was all but wiped out 10 years ago. In many cases, more expensive property has gone up in the wake of the hurricanes, inviting an even larger price tag to replace yet again after the next one. And so it goes.

Now, more than a quarter of a generation later, more people than ever are living in harm’s way. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the hurricanes have become more legend than year-to-year threat. This has almost certainly created a silent but very real problem for emergency managers and those who would respond to even a singular major hurricane event. Look at Sandy just three years ago come late October. The Mid-Atlantic region was devastated and Sandy was nowhere close to the intensity of Katrina, Rita or Wilma at landfall. The system was overwhelmed and far too many people lost their lives. Lack of experience more than likely played a key role. We react on what we know, not what we are told. People were told to evacuate but they didn’t know the cost of staying. For those who survived, they do now.

We have to look at each hurricane season as an opportunity, an opportunity to finally get it right. It is time to put the lessons learned from a season like 2005 to good use. Learn what you can about your local hurricane history. Read books, find videos online (I know of a few hint hint) and educate your self and your family. Hurricanes are not scary. Being woefully unprepared is scary. Take the fear and anxiety out by knowing the enemy. Once you do that, you can better formulate a plan to combat that enemy. The goal is not to win but to persevere and survive. Protect what you can of your property and live to tell the story of how you dealt with hurricane-X with minimal problems. Even if another Katrina comes your way and you are faced with losing your entire home, there are ways to mitigate the loss and make it far easier to bounce back, probably stronger than before.

Or, you can do nothing. Sit back and hope, hope that nothing with a name on it comes your way. If it does, you can hope that it won’t be too bad. If it is, you can hope that you have enough food and water to last for maybe 10 days or more. If you don’t, you can hope that FEMA or other relief organization swoops in to save you. While you’re at it, hope for a good hair day so that when TIME Magazine takes your picture as you stand in line waiting for one serving of food and a drink of water, that you at least don’t look like a victim.

Hope is not a planning tool. Be hurricane prepared.

M. Sudduth 9:00 AM ET June 1

Favorable MJO pattern to set off east Pacific hurricane season

National Hurricane Center 5-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook map for the east Pacific indicating two areas of interest over the coming days.

National Hurricane Center 5-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook map for the east Pacific indicating two areas of interest over the coming days.

The east Pacific hurricane season officially began on May 15. So far, we have not had a named storm in that region but it’s still early. I am seeing signs that point to a change in the pattern which should allow for some activity to begin flaring up in the coming days.

As for the Atlantic, the season begins on June 1 but we’ve already had one tropical storm: Ana. Right now, there are no indications of anything trying to organize on the Atlantic side so I will focus on the east Pacific.

As of this morning, the NHC was outlining two areas of disturbed weather, both well to the southwest of Mexico, that have potential for additional development. The eastern most disturbance seems to have the best chance right now as it moves generally westward over the open waters of the Pacific.

The Pacific is now in an El Niño state which means that water temps along the Equator and then several degrees of latitude north (not so much south) are quite a bit warmer than normal.

GFS MJO status and forecast

GFS MJO status and forecast

Add to the El Niño the fact that a more favorable MJO or upward motion pattern is setting up and we have the makings of a busy time coming up for the eastern Pacific. The MJO can be thought of as a period of enhanced upward motion in the atmosphere, mainly in the tropics. Since tropical storms and hurricanes need vertical motion to thrive, a favorable upward motion pattern helps this process and leads to more convection (thunderstorms) over the tropics. Both the GFS and the ECMWF global models agree that a favorable MJO pattern is setting up shop across the region. This should act to enhance the probability for tropical storm formation in the region.

Fortunately, what ever does manage to get going is likely to remain far away from land areas due to a steering pattern that will keep any storms or hurricanes moving generally westward.

We are likely going to see quite a busy east Pacific hurricane season, similar perhaps to last year. It won’t be long before we see development closer to Mexico but for now, the action is taking root much farther to the southwest and is of no concern. It does mean, however, that the hurricane season is about to commence beyond just a point on the calendar. Pacific Mexico residents and tourists alike will need to be ready this season as El Niño years can feature powerful hurricanes due to the warmer water temperatures.

I will have more on the east Pacific activity throughout the weekend.

M. Sudduth 8:40 AM ET May 22