Gordon about to pass through southern Azores as western Gulf and 94L keep things interesting

Hurricane Gordon Approaching the Azores

Hurricane Gordon Approaching the Azores

Hurricane Gordon is headed for the southern Azores Islands and is beginning to weaken as shear and cooler water begins to impact the circulation. This process will likely continue and should bring Gordon to under hurricane intensity as it tracks through the region over the next day or so. After that time, a more rapid weakening is probable and Gordon will be just a remnant low pressure area.

In the western Gulf, we have the left over energy associated with what was once TS Helene trying to flare up again over the very warm water. A substantial increase in convection is noted this afternoon and we’ll have to see if the NHC outlines it for any kind of potential for re-development. I do not see anything significant in the major computer models, just pulses of weak low pressure areas moving northeast out of this general area of disturbed weather. We also have a cold front entering the northern Gulf and this will add to the piling up of tropical moisture across the region, resulting in fairly unsettled weather as we start the week. While it’s possible that we could see some development in the western Gulf, I doubt that it would be anything to worry about as it would likely stay weak.

Next we have 94L which has been quite interesting to watch over the last few days. It seems that there is a big of cat and mouse going on with the global models, especially the GFS. At first, that model was indicating quite a significant hurricane developing and impacting the eastern Caribbean. Then, within just a few forecast cycles, the model kind of said, “Oops, never mind” and keeps 94L very weak as it approaches the Lesser Antilles. However, the SHIPS and LGEM intensity models both make 94L a powerful hurricane, contrary to what the global models indicate, including the ECMWF which has never really done much with 94L.

Heat Content Map- Notice Increase Between 50 and 60 W

Heat Content Map- Notice Increase Between 50 and 60 W

In this case, I think we need to go by what we see. Looking at 94L right now, it is definitely not organizing or developing much. Convection is weak and limited although it has a noticeable circulation and a large envelope of moisture to work with. I think that it is reasonable to expect that as it moves westward towards higher ocean heat content, between 50 and 60 west longitude, that we can expect to see it begin to strengthen. The overall lack of development in the deep tropics this season is apparently not going to be easily overcome and this, so far, spells good news for the islands.

In the longer term, the track of 94L depends largely on its strength. A shallower, less intense system will tend to track more west. On the other hand, if it develops deep convection and starts to increase its size in the atmosphere, it will feel the deeper layers of the steering pattern better and could gain more latitude over time. This all boils down to weak = track through the Caribbean while strong = track likely north of the Caribbean. Stay tuned, there’s no easy answer for what will happen with this system.

I’ll cover the very latest on all of the goings on in the tropics on today’s video blog which will be posted to our iPhone app later this afternoon. If you have the app, remember to completely close it and then open it again to refresh the video blogs page. This was a flaw that will be fixed during the first update coming out soon that will allow you to pull down and refresh the video page. For now, simply closing the app completely and restarting it will refresh everything.

I’ll post another update here this evening as well.

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Gordon reaches cat-2 intensity as we watch 94L in the east Atlantic

Category Two Hurricane Gordon

Category Two Hurricane Gordon

Hurricane Gordon proves once again that high ocean heat content is not needed to produce a significant hurricane. Top winds have made it to 110 mph which is just under major hurricane intensity. It also noteworthy that it reached this strength well out of the deep tropics, a common phenomenon in recent years it seems. However, cooler water temps await and Gordon should begin to weaken before passing the southern portion of the Azores Islands. It should then dissipate completely before having a chance to impact Portugal…yes, Portugal. We shall see, could be an interesting week ahead if it does not weaken as much as forecast.

Meanwhile, invest area 94L is slowly becoming better organized and now has a 60% chance of becoming a tropical depression over the next couple of days. The large envelope of energy is clearly getting a little more concentrated but it is likely to be a slow process overall.

It is interesting to note that the Euro and GFS both now indicate a very weak system as opposed to the probable hurricane that the GFS was forecasting in recent days. Both models have flip-flopped back and forth on their predicted intensity so it’s hard to know what to believe. I am a little skeptical of 94L’s chances to become much of anything due to the mere fact that nothing else has developed in the deep tropics this season and held on for any length of time. Why should things change now? Maybe they will and what would be “Isaac” could be a major player in the weather next week. For now, all we can do is watch satellite images and see what is going on in the real world. The numerical models are useful but not always right. Time is on our side right now and nothing is going to happen very quickly. Even if 94L does become a hurricane this coming week, it is still several days away from impacting the Lesser Antilles, if at all.

The rest of tropics are quiet as the remnants of Helene are washing out over Mexico. Even the east Pacific is very quiet now which is typical when the Atlantic becomes active. I’ll have more here tomorrow.

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Gordon now a hurricane, Helene just about on the coast and 94L looks like it could be an issue

Satellite Shot of an Increasingly Busy Tropics

Satellite Shot of an Increasingly Busy Tropics

There is a lot to go over at this early morning hour that I am posting this blog update. The tropics have indeed become quite active and we are probably only just getting started. Notice in the satellite photo the marked increase in convection across the Atlantic Basin. This is part due to a slightly more favorable upward motion pattern or MJO pulse that is currently passing through the Basin. Just a few days ago, there was hardly a cloud to be found much less any deep thunderstorm activity. I think this is a sign that things are changing and the tropics are about to get busy.

First, Gordon. It is now a hurricane, the 2nd one of the Atlantic season. It could bring tropical storm conditions to portions of the Azores Islands over the next few days but should weaken over progressively cooler waters. This will keep the overall effects to a minimum. Still, it’s rare to have a tropical storm pass through the Azores, it does happen, but it’s not often.

Next we have TS Helene just hugging the coast of eastern Mexico as a minimal tropical storm. It should move inland within a few hours and slowly dissipate. However, the threat of localized heavy rain will persist in the region for the next several days. It is also possible that Helene will emerge back out over the western Gulf early next week. We’ll have to keep an eye on that since if that happens, the pattern would be such that it could turn to the northeast and bring unsettled weather to portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast by mid-week.

Then there is invest area 94L out near the Cape Verde Islands. This system certainly has the look of becoming quite a potent tropical cyclone over the next three to five days. The GFS model is seemingly the most aggressive with development while the latest run of the ECMWF or Euro model indicates quite a weak system moving across the Atlantic and through the northern Caribbean. While I suppose this scenario has to be considered since the norm this season has been for lack-luster performance in the deep tropics, I think we are in enough of a favorable pattern to see some significant development from 94L.

The future track of what ever 94L becomes will depend a lot on how strong it gets and how soon. It does look as though a fairly substantial subtropical ridge will be in place over a good deal of the Atlantic for the next several days at least. This should keep the system on a general westward track and it could pose a threat to the Lesser Antilles in about five days or so. Obviously, if it does not develop much as the Euro shows as of late, then it won’t matter much in terms of impact to the islands. However, the GFS model depicts quite a strong cyclone moving through the eastern Caribbean. Considering the time of year we are in and the potential, I think it’s fair to say that folks in the Windwards and Leewards need to pay close attention to 94L in the coming days.

Other than that, there are no imminent threats for our coastal areas this weekend. I’ll post another update here later in the afternoon with the video blog coming around that time as well for our HurricaneTrack app. As I mentioned yesterday, if you have an iOS device, then you will want to add our app to your collection. It is a great way to keep up to date on the go but will also serve as an outstanding source of information, live weather data, web cam images and numerous video posts during any field missions that we have. Plus, we are about to push an update that will include our own set of tracking maps to round out a great start to our entry in to the app market. Search “hurricanetrack” (all one word) in the App Store and get it connected on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

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New depression forming in the SW Gulf while 94L develops in east Atlantic

Remnants of TD 7 in the SW Gulf

Remnants of TD 7 in the SW Gulf

Early morning satellite imagery shows that what was once TD 7 is coming back to life again in the southwest Gulf of Mexico. The NHC is indicating a 70% chance of it becoming a tropical depression again before it moves inland this weekend.

Computer models suggest a WNW to NE track towards Mexico as a tropical storm or category one hurricane (SHIPs model shows it reaching hurricane intensity). The overall circulation is fairly small and will only affect a limited area of the southwest to western Gulf and I do not see much impact for Texas. However, it is possible that some of the northern rain bands will move in to south Texas over the weekend. The main threat will be very heavy rains for Mexico with the possibility of a strengthening tropical storm at landfall. The NHC has tasked a recon plane to investigate the area later today if conditions warrant.

Meanwhile, we have a new area of interest just off the African coast that certainly bears watching. It has been designated as invest 94L and should steadily develop as it moves westward over the deep tropics.

All of the global computer models indicate that it will develop and it is likely to become a hurricane at some point since conditions are becoming more favorable along its path. This will be one to watch very closely as we move through the week next week. For now, it is in its early stages of development and we’ll just monitor how it develops over the weekend.

In the east Pacific, Hector has dissipated and there are no other areas of concern brewing in that region. I’ll post another blog here later this afternoon or early evening and will cover all of the goings on in the tropics thoroughly in the video blog to be posted in our app early this afternoon.

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TS Gordon forecast to become hurricane while we also watch southwest Gulf

Heat Content Track Map Showing TS Gordon

Heat Content Track Map Showing TS Gordon

The NHC is issuing advisories on TS Gordon now which originated as a strong tropical wave several days ago after emerging from the coast of Africa. Gordon is forecast to become a hurricane as it moves off to the east-northeast over the sub-tropical Atlantic. I mention “subtropical” because Gordon formed well outside of the usual “MDR” region between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, south of about 20 N latitude. Conditions in that corridor have been quite unkind to development over the last few weeks and this was the case when the tropical wave that became Gordon traversed the region in recent days.

Now that environmental conditions have improved, we have a tropical storm to track. Note that the ocean heat content is not high at all along Gordon’s path but there’s just enough energy to push the storm to hurricane intensity over the next few days. The forecast track takes Gordon just to the south of the Azores Islands as it moves back towards the eastern Atlantic and eventually, cooler waters.

The next area to monitor will be the southwest Gulf of Mexico as energy from what was once TD 7 moves in to the very warm water and a more favorable environment for development. Several of the global computer models are indicating that a weak area of low pressure will eventually form somewhere in the southwest Gulf within the next five to seven days. I do not see any indications just yet of a strong system which is good news considering that water temps in the western Gulf are quite warm. I think that at the very least, interests in the region can expect an increase in squally weather as the low takes shape though it should be a fairly slow process.

Elsewhere, it seems that the models are also hinting at a potential Cape Verde storm developing over the next week or so from a tropical wave that will move off of Africa. Both the GFS and the ECMWF show this and have been a little more consistent with this scenario over the last few runs. We’ll see – I am not convinced just because of how negative the conditions have been up through the present time. I also know that things can change and we may have an active period coming up that includes a long-track storm originating from Africa. Time will tell…

I wanted to mention too that in today’s video blog that will be posted to the HurricaneTrack app, I will take a look back at hurricane Andrew from 1992. We are coming up on the 20 year anniversary of that category five hurricane and as one of our private clients suggested, it would be good to compare how things were then in terms of information, evacuation orders, etc. and what might happen if an Andrew type hurricane were to happen again today. That, and a detailed look at the tropics, will be part of today’s video blog so check it out later this afternoon. Remember that, unfortunately for now, you have to completely close the app and restart it to get the video blogs to refresh. We will have a nice pull-down refresh coming in the next update which is coming soon!

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