Gonzalo is moving away from the Caribbean Sea after lashing many of the northeast islands with tropical storm conditions yesterday and last night. So far, the reports I have read about on various message boards indicate that numerous trees were blown down with some damage to roof tiles, etc. This is consistent with a strengthening tropical storm or hurricane.
Now that Gonzalo is moving over the open water of the southwest Atlantic, it has an opportunity to become the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Ophelia in 2011. The current NHC forecast brings Gonzalo to 130 mph – we all know it could go higher, intensity forecasts are notoriously bad, not all the time, but it does happen. One thing is for certain, the 2014 hurricane season has surpassed the very weak 2013 one in terms of intensity. I will talk more about this after we deal with Gonzalo – it is an important point to make but better left for another discussion.
Assuming that the hurricane does in fact continue to strengthen, it could pose a big problem for Bermuda. Obviously Bermuda is a very small target in an otherwise large ocean. The odds of Gonzalo passing directly over the area are slim but not impossible. However, even a pass by of about 50 miles or so would bring hurricane conditions to the island, especially if Gonzalo tracks west of Bermuda. This would keep the area in the right-front quadrant region with several hours of hurricane force winds possible. This is something that we will need to watch very closely and people in Bermuda need to begin thinking about solid preparedness actions.
I am also thinking about Bermuda but for a different reason. I need to decide rather soon whether or not to travel there for an attempt at placing equipment in the path of the hurricane. I would really like to set up one of my weather stations in an open area to try to collect perhaps the highest wind data I have ever recorded. The wind gauge, an RM Young anemometer, is one of the best made on the planet. It can take winds over 200 mph (sure hope I don’t ever see that!) and would be ideal for this situation. I would also have the the ability to post video clips to our app and feed video to The Weather Channel as long as conditions allow. In addition, I would like to place three GoPro cameras in very unique locations to record HD video of the effects all while allowing me to be indoors and out of the elements. With the various mounts and the extra battery packs that I have, the cams would run for about five hours on their own. Considering the fast movement of Gonzalo as it approaches Bermuda, I could turn the cams on just before the arrival of the worst conditions, capturing the full fury without placing myself in danger. It wouldn’t be live, but the video quality would be spectacular both in real time and time lapse. It’s worth a shot, especially if Gonzalo happened to be Bermuda’s strongest hurricane in history – it is possible. I will be watching the track guidance very closely and will make the decision of whether or not to go by tonight probably.
In the meantime, tropical storm Ana, in the central Pacific, has potential to threaten Hawaii as a hurricane this weekend. The CPHC forecasts winds to 85 mph and has the Big Island within the five day forecast cone. Needless to say, interests in Hawaii should be watching the progress of Ana closely. It is very rare to have a hurricane strike Hawaii at all, much less from the east. I will follow this story as it develops.
I will post another update here this evening.
M. Sudduth 8:40 AM ET Oct 14