Karl headed out as we focus on next system

Satellite image showing low pressure area over eastern Atlantic. Most of the global computer models suggest it will gradually develop over the next several days as it moves west.

Satellite image showing low pressure area over eastern Atlantic. Most of the global computer models suggest it will gradually develop over the next several days as it moves west.

Karl passed within about 60 miles of Bermuda in the over night hours bringing tropical storm conditions to the area. The storm is now moving away and will do so with increasing forward speed throughout the weekend. Winds and seas will subside and by sunset this evening, it will be quite gorgeous in Bermuda. There is still a chance that Karl becomes a hurricane over the open Atlantic but it will only be an issue for shipping lanes.

As we say goodbye to Karl, we will need to become more and more vigilant as we monitor a tropical wave and low pressure area moving across the deep tropics. This one has potential for becoming a strong hurricane at some point as all signs point to a change in the conditions that have been preventing the storms this season from reaching their full potential.

The GFS model in particular has been extremely consistent with its run to run depiction of a gradually developing tropical cyclone headed right for the eastern Caribbean Sea. We’re not talking five or seven days out any longer, this looks like it could happen as early as Monday with a possible tropical storm threatening the Windward Islands.

Right now, satellite data indicates¬† a large area of energy associated with a tropical wave that moved off of Africa a couple of days ago. The moisture content is high, also known as precipitable water. There is increasing vorticity meaning spin in the atmosphere and water temperatures are plenty warm. I see no reason to believe that this system won’t develop as it moves steadily west over the coming days. In fact, the NHC is now indicating a 50% chance of development over the next five days and says that a tropical depression could form as it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

NHC graphical outlook map showing the increasing chance for development of eastern Atlantic tropical wave as it moves west towards the Caribbean Sea.

NHC graphical outlook map showing the increasing chance for development of eastern Atlantic tropical wave as it moves west towards the Caribbean Sea.

For now my concern is for the Lesser Antilles and specifically the Windward Islands. It is impossible to know which area could see the most significant impacts from a system that has not even developed yet. This one looks like the real deal and as such, interests in the Lesser Antilles and eastern Caribbean as a whole need to be paying attention to this feature. Even if it is slower to develop than the GFS is indicating, the threat of heavy rain seems to be almost a certainty at this point. Anything beyond that will be determined by just how quickly it organizes over the next few days.

I will be watching this system very closely. Look for an in-depth video discussion to be posted later this afternoon here, our YouTube channel and to our app.

M. Sudduth 7:30 AM ET Sept 24

Share

Karl getting stronger, will pass close to Bermuda as we watch low latitude system in tropical Atlantic

Recent satellite image showing strengthening tropical storm Karl closing in on Bermuda. The storm should pass just east and south of the island late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Recent satellite image showing strengthening tropical storm Karl closing in on Bermuda. The storm should pass just east and south of the island late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Karl is getting stronger and better organized after sputtering for most of its days on the map. Upper level winds are allowing for development and it won’t be too long until Karl becomes a hurricane.

The official forecast keeps the center of Karl just to the south and east of Bermuda very late tonight or early tomorrow morning. It is likely that tropical storm conditions will be felt in Bermuda with isolated hurricane force wind gusts possible in the higher terrain of the island. Winds and seas will begin to subside quickly once Karl tracks farther away over the weekend.

Eventually there will be some increase in the swell activity along portions of the U.S. East Coast and the north-facing beaches of the Caribbean islands. Surfers can expect at least some beneficial wave action in the coming days so be sure to check your favorite surf report site for specific info.

NHC 5 day tropical weather outlook map indicating an area of interest moving across the deep tropics towards the Lesser Antilles next week.

NHC 5 day tropical weather outlook map indicating an area of interest moving across the deep tropics towards the Lesser Antilles next week.

Once Karl clears the pattern we will need to begin watching a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic that has potential to develop as it moves west towards the Windward Islands next week. In general, computer models are supportive of development and it is possible that we could see a tropical storm headed for the eastern Caribbean next week. The low latitude track suggests more favorable conditions and certainly very warm sea surface temperatures. Right now the NHC indicates a low chance of development over the next five days. I suspect we will see that begin to increase with time as the energy gathers and moves steadily west over the tropical Atlantic. There’s plenty of time to monitor the situation and see how things evolve. For now, interests in the Lesser Antilles should keep a close eye on this feature and be ready for possible impacts from it next week.

M. Sudduth 7:55 AM ET Sept 23

Share

Tropics look to remain busy as we leave summer behind

Aside from Karl and Lisa which will both turn out to sea, I will be watching this area of energy moving off the coast of Africa. Several of the computer models indicate the chance for this to develop next week as it moves westward.

Aside from Karl and Lisa which will both turn out to sea, I will be watching this area of energy moving off the coast of Africa. Several of the computer models indicate the chance for this to develop next week as it moves westward.

Summer is over. Football season is back. Baseball begins to look ahead to the World Series and soon enough the big box stores will roll out the Christmas displays. Yes, fall 2016 is here but will the hurricanes follow? So far, it’s been fairly benign with the exception of Earl and Hermine – both category one hurricanes with limited overall impacts. As we begin to look ahead to cooler nights, shorter days and eventually frost on the pumpkins, we still have to be wary of potential threats from the tropics.

Right now, we have two tropical storms, both of which have been struggling due to stronger upper level winds than normal across the tropical Atlantic. One of those storms, Karl, should become a hurricane as it turns north and eventually northeast and away from the United States. Karl may pass close enough to Bermuda to warrant a tropical storm warning at some point but the impacts should be minimal since the track will be to the south and east of the region. Hopefully, for the sake of the surfing community along the East Coast, Karl can strengthen over open water and at least send some increased swells back towards the coast. We’ll have to just wait and see about that.

Meanwhile, Lisa is also suffering from adverse environmental conditions which will limit strengthening as the storm moves on a path towards the open Atlantic as we get in to the weekend.

This leaves us with a new pattern setting up as we get in to early next week. There are two distinct areas that I will be watching: the western Gulf of Mexico and the deep tropics between Africa and the Windward Islands.

The first significant cold front of the season will finally drop in to Texas and push off in to the western Gulf of Mexico where we might see a low develop sometime next week. How strong and organized this low might be remains to be seen but dropping a frontal boundary in to the Gulf where water temps are in the upper 80s is just asking for something to pop up. Obviously this needs to be watched closely since it would be close to land already.

The other area I will be watching is the deep tropics as we get in to next week as well. For several days in a row, the general consensus of the global models is to develop a low pressure area at quite a low latitude and send it west towards the Windward Islands. Right now, there is a tropical wave and weak area of energy moving through west Africa that would be the seedling of this potential low pressure system. It’s days away from getting better organized but the remarkable consistency in the models leads me to believe it is at least worth watching. Given the lower latitude that it would be tracking along, the odds of it turning out to sea early are reduced and as such, it could be an issue for the eastern Caribbean later next week.

I will go over all of these areas in greater detail during my daily video discussion which will be posted early this afternoon here, on our YouTube channel and in our app.

M. Sudduth 9:15 AM ET Sept 22

Share

Karl struggling to intensify, Lisa stronger but staying well out to sea

TD Karl seen in early morning visible satellite image.

TD Karl seen in early morning visible satellite image.

The theme of weak, sheared storms continues in the Atlantic Basin this morning as we see that Karl has weakened to a tropical depression in the overnight hours.

Strong upper level winds have taken a toll on Karl and as such, the NHC has reduced the wind speed down to 35 mph. It is possible that Karl has completely fallen apart and is now just a sharp tropical wave again. We won’t know for sure until more satellite images come in later this morning and we can see from visible pictures whether or not there is a coherent low level center.

Assuming that Karl is going to survive the next 24 hours, it could still strengthen as it moves westward and eventually turns north and northeast away from the United States. The turn should be sharp enough to avoid any direct impacts for Bermuda.

Meanwhile, TS Lisa is up to 50 mph now over the open tropical Atlantic. There’s not much to say about this storm except that it will remain well away from land and will track harmlessly over open water until it dissipates in a few days.

I am also keeping an eye on a curious feature that the GFS model in particular seems to develop rather consistently run after run as of late. It comes from energy that will emerge from the coast of Africa in a couple of days over the deep tropics. In fact, the development takes place near 10N latitude and moves generally west towards the southern Windward Islands. This lower latitude would likely shield the system from the strong upper level winds we’ve seen prevalent as of late across the Atlantic. I won’t worry about this too much yet since it’s still five to seven days out. There are other global models which show a similar scenario as well and so it’s worth keeping an eye on, especially in the Windward Islands. I’ll go over this in more detail during my video discussion which I will post later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 7:45 AM ET Sept 21

Share

Karl expected to become strong hurricane well offshore of the U.S.

Recent satellite photo showing TS Karl over the open Atlantic.

Recent satellite photo showing TS Karl over the open Atlantic.

The latest from the NHC tonight indicates that Karl has begun strengthening. The strong upper level winds and dry air are slowly giving way to more favorable conditions. This means that Karl is likely on its way to becoming a hurricane and probably a strong one.

Fortunately for the East Coast of the U.S. the steering pattern is such that Karl is almost certainly going to be turning away and back out to sea before the weekend. The only area that might see some effects is Bermuda and it’s too soon to know how close Karl will pass to the region. Obviously, interests in Bermuda should be watching the progress of Karl closely over the next few days.

I expect Karl to become a major hurricane which is higher than the official forecast right now. It looks “good” in the global model fields which tells me that it will likely be a very intense hurricane once it makes the turn and away from the U.S. and hopefully Bermuda.

A strong hurricane will do two things: boost the ACE score and send swells towards the coastal areas of parts of the western Atlantic Basin.

The ACE score doesn’t matter much to the lay person but in science, it’s important. It tells us much more about the quality of the storms and hurricanes that form. The higher the wind speed is the more ACE points a single storm or hurricane achieves. I suspect that Karl could add 20 to 30 ACE points when all is said and done. This will help to show that the 2016 hurricane season was more intense than the past few which is precisely what most forecasting entities were predicting. A bunch of weak, short-lived storms is usually a sign of a struggling weather pattern. We’ve already had a cat-3 hurricane occur with Gaston a few weeks back. Assuming Karl attains that status, it will boost the seasonal ACE quite a bit.

As for the surf community? Karl will help to give you a boost as well. I don’t know the specifics on it just yet since we need to wait and see how strong Karl actually gets but I think we’ll see a period of decent swells hitting the shores from Bermuda to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and eventually the U.S. coastline. While this is inviting to skilled surfers, keep in mind that breaking waves have a lot of energy associated with them and weak swimmers will need to be careful. I’ll talk more about this potential hazard in the coming days as Karl strengthens.

M. Sudduth 11:05 PM ET Sept 19

Share