Ernesto likely headed for Yucatan then where?

TS Ernesto certainly has improved its appearance since this time yesterday. As noted in the latest NHC discussion, appearances can be deceiving and Ernesto has, in fact, weakened some. I see this as probably temporary as the storm is pulling in air from South America and to some extent, the Caribbean islands to its north. Remember, tropical cyclones can be very sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment. Once Ernesto gets to about the same longitude as Jamaica, it should start to intensify and become a hurricane.

It is very puzzling as to why the various global models do not “see” Ernesto very well. This is called initialization and the models are not initializing the storm very well. I have read quite a bit on various message boards about how this could be throwing the future track forecast off. The logic is that if the models do not see the storm at the beginning of the run, then how can they predict where it will go later in the run? Let’s look at it from an entirely different point of view.

Forget that Ernesto is even in the picture. Then look at the computer models. I’ll take the GFS as an example. What does the large scale pattern look like three to five days down the road? Is there going to be a weakness in the big high pressure area over the Gulf of Mexico that would allow the would-be hurricane to turn more to the north? Not really. There seems to be just enough subtropical ridge nosing in from the Atlantic, across the eastern Gulf, to keep Ernesto on a WNW track towards the Yucatan and then in to mainland Mexico. So whether or not Ernesto is strong, weak, picked up in the models or not, I do not think it matters. The steering pattern strongly suggests that it will not directly impact the U.S. down the road. The only possibility that I see right now is south Texas but even that is a long shot in my opinion. So all this talk about the models not initializing the storm and thus not trusting them is non-sense to me. The trend has been more west with the tracks and since we are not quite in to the time of the season when deep troughs dig in to the Lower 48, I just don’t see a way for Ernesto to hit the U.S. Can there be a sweeping change coming up? I suppose so, you never say never but track forecasts are getting pretty good these days so I wouldn’t count on there being any big changes over the coming days.

TCHP Track Map

TCHP Track Map

With all that being said, let’s focus on the Yucatan now. Obviously with a hurricane aimed at that location, people need to be aware and ready to take action. Ernesto has to cross some fairly high ocean heat content (see graphic where the track is plotted on the current TCHP map). However, it is not forecast to go over the highest values, none the less, the western Caribbean is notorious for creating strong hurricanes and I urge people along the eastern side of the Yucatan from Belize to Cancun to watch this system carefully. It has the potential to be a serious hurricane for the region next week.

Beyond the Yucatan, as I said, the data suggests another landfall in mainland Mexico, south of Texas. We’ll worry about that later since it is still perhaps over a week away.

Next we have Florence out in the tropical Atlantic. This will be an interesting feature to track but should not pose a problem for land areas. It is already at a fairly high latitude and developed well east in the Atlantic, meaning that is destined to head out to sea. While there are certainly instances when long track hurricanes have made it all the way across, most do not and Florence is likely to not break precedence here.

The other feature to watch is just off the Florida coast. I think the only issue here is the increase in showers and thunderstorms for boating and beach interests. Otherwise, ignore it, nothing will come of it that will have any great consequence on your weekend plans.

I’ll post a video blog detailing Ernesto’s future in our HurricaneTrack app for iPhone shortly with another full post here this evening.

Ernesto gaining organization as we usher in new tropical depression

TS Ernesto with Increasing Convection

TS Ernesto with Increasing Convection

TS Ernesto has developed rather deep convection tonight right over the center of circulation. You can plainly see this improvement in structure on various satellite imagery. The question is, will this be a temporary stay of execution before the inevitable happens and it’s ripped up or are we seeing the start of a significant intensification process? Wish I knew. This part (intensity forecasting) is the toughest aspect of tracking tropical cyclones. So many factors are at play and it is impossible for today’s computer models to grasp the totality of the complex nature of the inner core. So, we can only sit back and watch sat pics as they refresh, giving us another frame to the movie, quite literally. Of course, it helps to have recon out there as well but when none are flying, the eye in the sky, some 22,500 miles above the Earth, is how we watch these systems wax and wane. And tonight, it appears that Ernesto is on the up-tick, how long it lasts remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, out in the far eastern Atlantic, we now have tropical depression six. The NHC began advisories a little while ago and this too will have to be watched as it begins the long trek across the tropical Atlantic. There are some hurdles along its route but conditions seem to be a little more favorable than perhaps was earlier thought this year across the deep tropics and we may see quite a pattern coming up of several developments over the coming weeks.

As for 91L, the disturbance off the Florida coast, while it looks rather impressive on satellite imagery. it still lacks a well defined surface low and without that, it won’t develop much. However, these tropical disturbances can dump a lot of rain and bring gusty winds with any rain squalls that move over your area. Be aware of that this weekend across SE Florida. While there is a chance of further development, I do not see this system becoming a big problem for anyone outside of the heavy precip that is possible.

I’ll have regular updates throughout the weekend with frequent posts on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll also keep adding video blogs to the newly released HurricaneTrack iPhone app. Check it out in the App Store via the banner ad up on the top right column.

August starting out on the busy side with Ernesto and now 90L

Busy Atlantic

Busy Atlantic

Things sure are busy for the first few days of August. We are tracking Ernesto and now have a new area to monitor out near the coast of Africa.

First, let’s take a look at Ernesto. As I mentioned yesterday, the fact that the storm was not exhibiting much deep convection should limit its ability to bring strong winds down to the surface. None the less, a gust to 63 mph was reported on the island of St. Lucia not too long ago as Ernesto passed by.

The fast motion is not allowing the storm to develop and sustain deep thunderstorm activity. Instead, we see bursts of convection that try to wrap around the center but fail to do so on a consistent basis. I think this is part of the reason why the GFS and ECMWF weaken Ernesto in to a tropical wave over the next few days. It will be interesting to see if the current NHC forecast holds as right now, it looks as though Ernesto is going to have a tough time surviving its trek across the eastern Caribbean. Thus, a weaker system will move considerably farther south of the forecast track. Interesting days ahead for sure.

Next we have newly designated 90L out in the east Atlantic. The NHC mentions this strong, well developed tropical wave on their latest outlook and indicate that it has potential for additional strengthening as it moves westward. Here too, the global models are not seeing much so once again, it will be interesting to see if human perspective will win out over what the sophisticated computer guidance suggests as a whole lot of nothing out there. There have been instances when the models did not pick up on development in spite of the fact that we could plainly see it taking shape. A recent example is Felix in 2007 which the GFS model did very poorly with even though it went on to become a category five impacting Central America. Sometimes you go with what you see and not with computer model predictions. In this case, it looks as though 90L has potential for additional development so we’ll watch it closely throughout the upcoming weekend.

Closer to the U.S. there is a surface trough or weak boundary that acts as a focusing mechanism for showers and thunderstorms situated in the region of the Bahamas. At the risk of reading between the lines, the NHC notes that conditions are not favorable for the next couple of days. Perhaps after that time frame they will be and so folks in FL and GA need to monitor the situation closely. Even without tropical storm formation, the surface trough will bring squally weather to the offshore waters and this needs to be considered by anyone with boating interests in the region. Water temps are plenty warm in the area so any decrease in the shearing winds could allow for a quick ramp up of any low pressure center that tries to develop along the trough.

I will cover all of these items in the daily Hurricane Outlook and Discussion video to be posted in our new HurricaneTrack app later this morning. I’ll also post another blog entry early this evening with an update on all the happenings in the tropics. It looks to be a busy weekend ahead with a lot to keep up with!


Depression survived the night, heading towards Lesser Antilles



TD 5 almost fizzled out last night as environmental conditions are only marginal enough to keep it on life support. A combination of rather dry mid level air and some shearing wind from an upper level low (a large one at that) to the north took a toll on the fledgling cyclone.

This morning, however, the deep convection is making a comeback and a large curved band is seen on the southeast side of the depression. This will give it at least a chance to become a tropical storm before it moves through the Lesser Antilles and in to the Caribbean Sea.

Interestingly enough, the fairly reliable SHIPS model for intensity shows only slight strengthening in the short term followed by a modest increase to 75 knots by day five. This would make the system a hurricane over the very warm waters of the central Caribbean Sea. For now, it remains weak and disorganized but could become a tropical storm and bring squally weather to portions of the Lesser Antilles. I see no evidence that this will become a hurricane before passing through the islands.

In the longer term track-wise, there is not much change to the five day forecast from the NHC. A strong area of high pressure to the north (Bermuda High) will push the system generally westward with a gradual bend to the WNW with time. Obviously, people want to know if it will affect the U.S. coast. My answer is: too early to know. First we have to deal with the effects to Jamaica, the Caymans and possibly the Yucatan, all of which are potentially in the path of the soon-to-be storm. Any impact to the U.S. will be more than a week away.

In other news, we released our iPhone App yesterday and hope that you will pick it up in the App Store. For more information and to purchase your copy of HurricaneTrack, click the link in the main menu above.

We also have our JavaTrack Hurricane Tracking Maps back up and running with a new and improved look. Plus, we have added the error cone to the track. Check it out also via the link in the main menu bar at top. For additional maps, including our exclusive offering of Stormpulse maps, check out our subscription Client Services site.

The rest of the tropics are quiet and look to remain that way for the next several days. I’ll have another update here this evening with periodic posts to Twitter throughout the day.

Hurricane season kicks in to busy mode with TD #5

August is considered the start to the main part of the hurricane season- and for good reason. This time of year the oceans are just about at their warmest and the atmosphere is calming down enough to allow for tropical cyclone formation. Actually, it is August 15 that many regard as the traditional start to the peak season period.

Today things are quite busy with the NHC beginning advisories on TD #5 – situated well east of the Windward Islands. It is forecast to become a hurricane once it reaches the central Caribbean Sea in about five days.

It is interesting to see this development take place because the region that TD5 is coming from was supposed to be fairly inhospitable this season with cooler than normal sea surface temps, etc. Instead, we see the opposite. Water temps across a good deal of the tropical Atlantic are running anywhere from .25C to 1.0C above normal. The below normal prediction definitely did not come to pass. So now we have an active tropical Atlantic and a depression to track.

First up for impact will be the Lesser Antilles as the depression slowly strengthens and moves on a WNW track. Luckily, it appears that conditions do not favor it becoming a hurricane before reaching the islands but this cannot be ruled out. A strengthening tropical storm can bring bursts of gusty winds to the surface, especially if it becomes convectively active. This can be monitored via satellite imagery. Watch to see how this plays out. If TD5 shows signs of developing deep thunderstorms, it is likely that it will cause some wind damage across the islands as it passes. I’ll examine this in the Hurricane Outlook Video that will be posted in our newly released HurricaneTrack App for iOS devices.

Water temps along the forecast track only get warmer and warmer. As long as upper level winds do not impede development, and the system does not track too close to South America, there is plenty of room for development. The official forecast shows it reaching hurricane strength near Jamaica in about five days. Obviously people in that region and beyond need to monitor the situation very closely.

As is usual with any tropical system, people want to know where it will ultimately end up. I wish I knew but I don’t. The steering pattern could lead it anywhere from Central America to some place along the U.S. Gulf Coast or across the Yucatan and in to Mexico. We’re simply going to have to wait for the guidance to help point the way as the days unfold. It certainly is a good time to be thinking about preparing for a hurricane no matter where you live. August is here and things will only get busier.

As I mentioned, the long awaited release of our mobile app took place today. It is available in the App Store as HurricaneTrack. That’s all one word, nothing else. Look for our logo with the in it, you’ll know it when you see it. The app will be a great way to keep up with news and info. It does not have maps or satellite pics, not yet. What it does have is information. In fact, when the time comes for us to head out in to the field for a hurricane mission, users of the app will have an incredible tool to keep up to date. Click on the “iPhone/Android App” link at the top banner for more info and to purchase today. The Android version is in the works and will be released just as soon as possible.