East Pacific stays busy, Atlantic quiet for now

East Pacific satellite photo showing dying tropical storm Agatha (small convective blob) along with strengthening tropical storm Blas which is forecast to become a powerful hurricane over the open Pacific

East Pacific satellite photo showing dying tropical storm Agatha (small convective blob) along with strengthening tropical storm Blas which is forecast to become a powerful hurricane over the open Pacific

It looks like we will see a parade of storms and hurricanes in the eastern Pacific over the coming days. Right now, we have TS Agatha which is weakening over cooler water and TS Blas which is about to become a hurricane. Both systems continue to remain well off the Mexican coastline and will have virtually no impact on land.

The recent burst of activity in the east Pacific can be partially attributed to a more favorable pattern overall that has allowed convection to develop and thrive. This phenomenon is called a convectively coupled Kelvin wave or CCKW. What is that you ask? It is difficult to explain but essentially it is an eastward moving wave of energy, bound by the equator to its south, that seems to enhance convection and vorticity (spin) in the atmosphere. Another way to look at it – the spark that lights the fire. Often times the passage of a CCKW will trigger the development of tropical waves as they progress across the ocean. In this case, the east Pacific took advantage of the passage and now we have two tropical cyclones and a third likely later this week. The good news is that none of the systems seem bound to affect land areas.

Will the CCKW make its way in to the western Caribbean and/or Atlantic and thus set up potential development there? So far, I am not seeing much evidence to support that. The global models all indicate generally quiet conditions over the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf for the next several days. This is not surprising considering that when the east Pacific is active, the Atlantic is usually not. It’s also early July and from a climatology perspective, we are not supposed to see much activity right now anyway.

Radar image showing the eye of hurricane Arthur and my location over the Oregon Inlet early in the morning of July 4, 2014

Radar image showing the eye of hurricane Arthur and my location over the Oregon Inlet early in the morning of July 4, 2014

In other news, it’s now been two years since a hurricane of any strength made landfall along the U.S. coastline. That hurricane was Arthur in the very early morning hours of July 4, 2014.

I was in the eye of the category two hurricane over the Oregon Inlet in fact where the wind was about as calm as could be for about 20 minutes. Arthur produced moderate storm surge flooding, in some cases 4 to 5 feet of it, along portions of the Outer Banks, mainly south of Oregon Inlet. The disruption to tourist season was a major issue but the area rebounded quickly and fortunately, no other hurricanes had direct influence on the Outer Banks that season.

I will cover Arthur’s anniversary and more in my video discussion which will be posted later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 10:15 AM ET July 4

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Two storms in east Pacific – one forecast to become major hurricane

NHC map showing the positions of tropical storms Agatha (left) and Blas (right). Boh systems are forecast to remain well off the coast of Mexico.

NHC map showing the positions of tropical storms Agatha (left) and Blas (right). Boh systems are forecast to remain well off the coast of Mexico.

And just like that, we now have two tropical storms in the east Pacific. After a very quiet start to the season in that region, things have become quite busy as of late.

First up is tropical storm Agatha, situated about 1000 miles WSW of the Baja peninsula of Mexico. There’s not much to say about Agatha as it is forecast to weaken over cooler water during the next few days and obviously will not be a problem for land.

Next we have tropical storm Blas, also well offshore of the Mexican coastline. Top winds are 60 mph and Blas is forecast to reach hurricane intensity by tomorrow. After that time, conditions appear favorable for Blas to continue to grow in to a major hurricane with winds of at least 120 mph. Fortunately, the steering currents are such that no matter how strong it gets, it won’t affect land either. There could be some additional ocean swells generated by the hurricane, especially if it gets stronger than forecast. Outside of that, neither system will pose any threat to Mexico.

In the Atlantic Basin, sinking air and a fairly dominant Saharan Air Layer (SAL) are keeping things quiet for the time being. This is quite typical for July when surface pressures are generally high and these SAL outbreaks are common. I do not see anything in the global models to suggest development over the next five to seven days.

Enjoy the celebrations this weekend and tomorrow! Be safe out there – especially if traveling. I’ll have more here tomorrow afternoon.

M. Sudduth 12:30 PM July 3

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East Pacific hurricane season about to spring to life; Atlantic remains quiet

NHC outlook map showing what is now invest area 94-E (red area) well off the coast of Mexico. The other area in yellow is not forecast to develop.

NHC outlook map showing what is now invest area 94-E (red area) well off the coast of Mexico. The other area in yellow is not forecast to develop.

It’s been a long time coming but the east Pacific is about to get its first named storm and eventually, very likely, a hurricane.

The NHC mentions an area of low pressure that is currently situated well to the south and west of Mexico. It is currently not very well organized but a combination of overall favorable atmospheric conditions should allow it to become a tropical depression over the weekend.

Current computer guidance suggests that it will continue to strengthen and become a tropical storm and eventually a hurricane over the open water of the east Pacific.

Fortunately, no matter how strong it manages to get, there are no indications from the global models that it will affect Mexico directly. There could be some impact from ocean swells generated if the system becomes a hurricane. We can worry about that later if need be. The bottom line is that the east Pacific has been very quiet up until now but this system poses no threat to land.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Basin remains quiet although the tropical waves are getting a little more pronounced as they cross the MDR (Main Development Region). They are not likely to develop due to generally unfavorable conditions across the region which is typical for this time of year.

None of the global models are showing any significant development across the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico over the coming week or so. This means the July 4th time period will be problem-free along the coast as far the tropics are concerned.

And as an FYI – Dr. Phil Klotzbach from Colorado State University issued an update to the 2016 seasonal outlook this morning. So far, no changes appear in order for his forecast of an average season overall. Conditions appear reasonably favorable for perhaps 5 more hurricanes to form with two of them becoming category three or higher. It is interesting to note that between the four named storms that already occurred this year (Alex, Bonnie, Colin and Danielle), the total ACE points generated is only 6 units. The ACE index is a way to gauge the quality, if you will, if a storm or hurricane. The stronger and longer lasting it is, the higher the ACE units generated. So while much has been made of having four named storms already, the energy output has been meek to say the least.

All in all, it looks like a run of the mill season shaping up which means we probably won’t see much until later in August and in to September and beyond. This is typical of an average season but does not preclude the chance of something developing later this month. Right now, I see nothing to worry about.

I’ll have more on the east Pacific system throughout the long weekend ahead. Stay safe if traveling – it’s a busy weekend coming up!

M. Sudduth 11:30 AM ET July 1

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No major issues in the tropics right now – just one area to monitor in NW Caribbean

Map showing location of invest area 95L over the NW Caribbean Sea

Map showing location of invest area 95L over the NW Caribbean Sea

The tropics remain quiet for the most part as we begin to approach the end of June. Only one area, tucked away in the NW Caribbean Sea, is of any concern and even it has a low chance of development.

This morning’s update from the NHC indicates that a tropical wave and a weak area of low pressure is present just off the coast from the Yucatan peninsula, over the northwest Caribbean Sea. It is rather disorganized with limited convection associated with it.

As with the precursor to what became TS Danielle, the main threat here will be periods of heavy rain for portions of Central America as the wave/low moves across over the next few days. And, as was the case with Danielle, if the low has enough warm water to work with once over the southern Bay of Campeche, there is potential for some additional development. Right now, nothing indicates any major issues arising from this system but it is something to monitor.

Computer models indicate that a track similar to Danielle would be likely which means more rain possible for eastern Mexico over the weekend. I see no reason to believe that this system would be of any concern to Texas or elsewhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, the Pacific remains virtually shut down, quite a stark contrast to last year when several hurricanes had formed by now. This is truly remarkable and I do not see the trend ending anytime soon. Perhaps within the next 10 days something will try to get going as a strong upward motion (MJO) pulse is forecast to move through the region, helping to promote tropical convection and thus increasing the chances for development.

I will have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 10:50 AM ET June 23

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Danielle forms this morning – heavy rain spreading in to eastern Mexico

Track map showing TS Danielle which will be inland over Mexico by later today

Track map showing TS Danielle which will be inland over Mexico by later today

The NHC upgraded TD4 to TS Danielle this morning and thus setting a record for the earliest formation of the 4th named storm. I am beginning to wonder if this is in fact a sign of things to come? Danielle originated from a tropical wave and not an old frontal boundary or other non-tropical feature. Water temps across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are warmer than average and it’s only June. I suppose it’s a bit early to speculate on August and September but at this pace, it will be a very busy season if things keep going like they have been.

As for Danielle, the obvious major hazard for Mexico will be continued heavy rain, this is especially true for the high-terrain areas as the storm makes landfall. Once inland, as is typically the case in this region, the system will quickly die out. Fortunately for Texas, where more rain is the last thing anyone needs right now, Danielle is too far south and has no chance of making in to the Lone Star State.

The rest of the tropics, including the east Pacific, are nice and quiet as we begin the first official week of summer. I don’t see anything in the global models so suggest further development any place else in the near future. However, the GFS is remarkably persistent in showing a low pressure area in the northwest Caribbean Sea around the 10 day time frame. This is just a bit too far out in time for me to be very concerned about it but the pattern suggests that perhaps this isn’t too far-fetched, especially considering how busy the season has been already. It’s something to monitor but nothing is imminent.

I’ll have more here later today when I post my video discussion.

M. Sudduth 9:45 AM ET June 20

 

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