Some thoughts on TD7

Wide Atlantic Tracking map showing TD 7

Wide Atlantic Tracking map showing TD 7

We now have TD7 in the tropical Atlantic and it is forecast to become a tropical storm as it passes through the Lesser Antilles and in to the Caribbean Sea. The path looks very similar to Ernesto’s though TD7 has formed quite a bit farther to the east than Ernesto.

It is interesting that once again, the global models, namely the GFS and ECMWF, do very little with the depression while the less “sophisticated” statistical intensity models make it a moderate to strong tropical storm. As I mentioned in this mornings video blog for our app, there seems to be a lack of vertical instability across the Atlantic Basin again this season and this is perhaps putting a literal lid on things. We saw this time after time last season and ended up with a lot of named storms but not many intense ones overall.

Never the less, we’ll be tracking yet another tropical cyclone in to the eastern Caribbean over the next few days and since it is on the maps, we need to take it seriously- just in case the global models have missed some piece of info that would otherwise make TD7 something more than they depict it.

Note that the fast motion of the depression is also something that needs to be considered. When they move fast, like we saw with Ernesto, they tend to outrun their own deep convection and lose organization. It will be another interesting duel between the dynamic models and the statistical models as we track TD 7 steadily westward. I’ll have more tomorrow morning.

New update to HurricaneTrack for iPhone coming soon

Atlantic Wide Map to be added to HurricaneTrack

Atlantic Wide Map to be added to HurricaneTrack

I wanted to let you all know that we are pushing an update to HurricaneTrack that will include our very own tracking maps as well as a few other enhancements that will make the app more functional and easier to use.

The tracking maps will be a great addition to the app. In fact, we are adding five total maps in this update: wide Atlantic, western Atlantic, and three TCHP (tropical cyclone heat potential) maps.

All of the maps are generated by our servers and will be updated within minutes of each advisory package, including intermediate advisories.

One of three TCHP Track Maps coming to HurricaneTrack

One of three TCHP Track Maps coming to HurricaneTrack

The TCHP maps are exclusive to HurricaneTrack and will plot tropical cyclone tracks over tropical cyclone heat potential background maps. This will give the user a look at not only past, current and forecast positions, but also WHERE the track forecast shows the track over NOAA’s heat potential maps. As you may know, oceanic heat content is a big driver in hurricane intensity and giving our app users a constantly updating look at the track over the TCHP map will prove to be a useful tool, especially when combined with the daily Hurricane Outlook and Discussion videos.

We are also implementing an auto-refresh feature for the video blogs and some improvements to the Twitter feed that I think users will really appreciate.

Looking ahead, we have some major upgrades planned for the future and are limited only by funding resources. So, the more apps we sell now, the better we can make it for everyone later. Get the word out, share the link to the App Store on your social media feeds and please, above all else, leave a review. We’ll take everything in to consideration, the great and the not-so-great reviews, it all matters. This app is for YOU and we are working on making it live up to its full potential and your feedback is part of that.

Of course, I still believe that, for now, the real power of the app will be during landfalls as we will be able to post video blogs, photos and live weather data right from where the tropical storm or hurricane is making landfall. No other app will get you in to the middle of the storm like HurricaneTrack. After all, it’s what we’ve done on the site since day one in 1999.

And for those who are wondering about the Android version….we’re working on it. Once this update for iPhone is complete, we can finish up work on the Android version and set a release date.


Ernesto skirting the southern Bay of Campeche as rest of tropics brew but not yet boiling

Atlantic Conditions

Atlantic Conditions

TS Ernesto is close to making its final landfall along the Mexican coast this morning in the extreme southern Bay of Campeche. Top winds were near 70mph as of the latest NHC advisory at 5am ET. There is still a window of opportunity for Ernesto to become a hurricane again but time is running out – luckily. Once Ernesto is on shore, it will obviously weaken and do so quickly over the increasingly rugged terrain of Mexico. However, the threat of excessive rain fall will exist for a couple of days until the circulation completely dissipates.

Elsewhere, hurricane Gilma in the east Pacific poses no threat to land and never will. There is also invest area 93-E (E for east Pacific) which bears watching over the next few days but should not become a problem for land areas either, at least not in the near term.

The Atlantic Basin, aside from Ernesto, is not looking too bad. Even though 92L is out in the open Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, I see little reason to believe that it will amount to much over the coming days. The pattern is actually quite negative in the upper levels for development right now. A series of large and persistent upper level low pressure areas is creating a lot of strong winds aloft which in turn is preventing much from happening in the deep tropics. None of the global models, which handled Ernesto very well, show 92L developing in to anything to worry about. It may still bring a period of squally weather to the Lesser Antilles this weekend but that should be about it.

A large tropical wave is about to emerge from Africa and it could develop once it reaches the warm Atlantic but here too, the global models simply do not show much happening. Perhaps the warming of the Pacific is finally taking its toll on the Atlantic in terms of strong upper level winds. Perhaps it is something else. I don’t know for sure but the signs are not there right now for anything serious to brew up over the next few days. We know how quickly this can change so we’ll certainly want to keep tabs on conditions as we move deeper in to August.

I’ll have another blog post later this morning concerning the first update we’re about to push to the HurricaneTrack app.

Ernesto about to make landfall along Yucatan while the rest of the tropics remain fairly active

Hurricane Ernesto is only hours away from making landfall along the eastern coast of the Yucatan. Top winds were last reported at 85 mph with higher gusts. The pressure has fallen all day and as of 8pm ET was down to 980 mb. From the looks of the size of the hurricane, it is a good thing that Ernesto had so many problems intensifying as it could have turned out to be a powerful hurricane.

As it stands, the effects will be pronounced but not severe. That is to say, we should not see the kind of damage that a much stronger Caribbean hurricane would cause (obviously). However, because Ernesto is currently in strengthening mode, it will likely have more damaging wind gusts than would a weakening or steady-state hurricane. This is due to the convection or thunderstorm activity reaching up in to the wind field, bringing the strong winds down to the surface in downbursts within the heavy rain. Anyone who has been through and intensifying hurricane knows what I am talking about. It’s not pleasant but at least Ernesto is not a major hurricane.

The fairly quick pace of movement will get Ernesto inland and weakening rather quickly and thus the rain threat will not be too bad. However, any tropical rainfall that is dumped over an area can produce flash floods and mudslides along hilly terrain. We’ll hope for a quick transit of Central America by Ernesto, thus lessening the overall effects.

Elsewhere, the east Pacific has a new named storm, Gilma, but it is forecast to track generally westward and away from land, so no worries there.

In the tropical Atlantic, we’ll be watching things closely as invest area 92L marches west and a series of large, organized tropical waves move off over the coming days. There is pretty good agreement among the major computer models, the ones that predicted almost exactly what Ernesto has done up to now, that we’ll see development between Africa and the Lesser Antilles over the next few days. In fact, I would not be surprised to see two or three systems get going over the next week to 10 days. Keep in mind that there is no evidence to suggest any threat to land areas, not yet. So even though some of the long range guidance might be interesting to watch, it is to be considered only for “hmmm” value and nothing more. We know we are entering the peak time of the hurricane season is that it is time to watch things a little closer. As far as getting worked up over something in the long range models? There’s no use in doing so, just keep up to date and what ever happens, happens. We’ll know in plenty of time for people to react if need be.

I’ll have more here tomorrow including a continuation of the daily video blog for our new HurricaneTrack app for iPhone. I’ll also be announcing plans for our first update to the app in the coming days as well as progress on the Android version.

Ernesto on its way to becoming a hurricane as it heads towards Belize

TS Ernesto over the Caribbean Sea

TS Ernesto over the Caribbean Sea

Conditions around Ernesto have improved and now the storm is really starting to ramp up. The main issue was dry mid-level air and the storm’s fast forward motion. It simply could not line itself up vertically and allow for the convective process that drives its heat engine to work efficiently.

Water temps are plenty warm and it is obvious by looking at satellite imagery that the outflow is well established now. Ernesto should become a hurricane before the day is out.

The threat to the U.S. is all but gone now and so the focus will be on Central America, specifically Belize.

As it looks now, Ernesto will be intensifying as it makes landfall. This is never good news. As I have written about before, it has been our experience in dealing with hurricanes in the field that when they hit while intensifying, their effects are amplified. This is due to the convection or upward motion of the clouds that act to bring the strong winds down to the surface. We noticed this most notably during hurricane Charley in 2004 and never forgot what it was like. While Ernesto is not expected to become as strong as Charley, I hope that folks in Belize realize that this is not going to be a weak, sheared and dried out tropical storm when it hits- not anymore. Wind damage could be a real issue with Ernesto along with the other hazards of coastal storm surge and torrential rains.

Farther up the Yucatan where Cancun and Cozumel are, the impacts will be far less. Since Ernesto is not an especially large storm, its effects will be confined to the areas south of the northeast tip of the Yucatan. There may very well be some passing squalls from the outer rain bands but I do not see any reason to believe that Ernesto will post any big problems for Cancun and vicinity. In fact, that area is only under a tropical storm watch at this time. If you have plans to visit the area, do not cancel as Ernesto is only a problem farther south.

Once the soon-to-be hurricane crosses the Yucatan, it could get buried over Central America and rain itself out. This will obviously have negative impacts on the region with excessive rainfall a possibility. The official track does take the storm back out over the extreme southern Bay of Campeche with a final landfall in Mexico near the end of the week. How much time Ernesto spends over land will likely determine how strong it can get once it reaches the water again, if it does not simply die out over land.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic is quiet for now. Florence has dissipated and will likely not be able to make any appreciable comeback. We’ll see, you never know in August.

In the east Pacific, the NHC is keeping tabs on invest area 92E which is forecast to become a tropical depression and eventually a hurricane by many of the intensity models .However, the steering pattern continues to favor a general westward track away from Mexico. This is not typical of an El Nino year and lends more evidence to the fact that the atmosphere is not behaving as if we were in El Nino conditions. With a fairly strong high pressure area over the eastern Pacific it is no wonder that recent hurricanes in the east-Pac have moved westward. It is also keeping the progress of the developing El Nino at a slow pace which could have implications on the Atlantic season from here on out. I’ll discuss that in more detail in tomorrow’s blog post.