I am in Bermuda where people are taking Gonzalo seriously as Hawaii braces for possible impact from Ana

The tropics are busy but in a unique way this evening. Two sets of islands are under fire from two separate tropical cyclones, nearly half-a-world apart.

First, we have hurricane Gonzalo about to make the turn towards Bermuda. The hurricane is having trouble remaining its earlier intensity but it is still packing quite a punch as a category three.

What matters now is how close it gets to Bermuda. With a track going up west of the island (actually several islands in the group out here) this will put the entire population within the dreaded right-front quadrant. This is where we typically find the strongest winds, not always, but in most cases.

Large waves will begin to impact Bermuda tomorrow from the south with an increase in wind soon there after. By tomorrow night and early Friday, the onslaught will commence. Anyone who does not want to be here had better leave when given the chance tomorrow. There is always that outside chance that Gonzalo finds a sweet spot within the ocean-atmosphere regime and intensifies substantially before strong shear sets in.

I am in Bermuda and for the most part, people are preparing as best they can. They do not have Lowe’s, Walmart and other so-called big box retailers who can bring in tons of supplies at the drop of a hat. Everything has to be flown in or brought in by boat. What supplies are here now is what people will need to rely on over the coming days. It’s a beautiful area, my first time here, but the isolation from mainstream commerce will mean self-sufficiency has to rule. People are so well connected and warm that I see little to fear in terms of them working together to weather this latest storm.

My plans are to try and set up the one weather station that I brought with me as checked bagged on my flight. There is a home I am going to visit tomorrow that may be the perfect site to set up the high-end anemometer that can give us incredible and accurate wind data. Of course, the station also reports pressure and sends a picture up every 60 seconds. The data goes in to our app, Hurricane Impact, and if all works as I hope it does, you can watch Gonzalo over take the area from a meteorological perspective, something that I feel is very important. I am drawn to hurricanes for reasons that I do not fully understand but part of that is the geek side of me – I love the data. I feel privileged to get to actually measure the fury with state-of-the-art equipment. Even if I cannot get the data out and in to our app, it will record on to a laptop so I will return home with a wealth of high-end data.

The ability to stream live video is tough here. I am working on that and if I can get something set up, I will stream to our public Ustream channel from the hotel I am staying in. The view would be sensational. Here’s hoping.

In addition, I should be able to upload video clips to our app as well as to Instagram. In fact, our app consolidates all of this in to one easy to access interface. Anything I post to Instagram will show up on Twitter and I plan to post a lot of video clips, especially if I cannot get a live feed going.

Tomorrow is strategy and planning day. If all works out, I will nail this field mission and have some incredible data and video documentation of Gonzalo as it passes by, or perhaps over, Bermuda.

Meanwhile, the Hawaiian islands are under the gun from what is soon going to be hurricane Ana. The forecast track is complicated but it looks like a wide swath of the island chain will feel possible hurricane conditions during the weekend. The one saving grace would be if Ana tracks farther south, which is possible, keeping the strongest winds away from the islands.

Either way, this is going to be a big problem for Hawaii. Wish I could be in two places at once! I chose Bermuda due to the higher impact potential from a weather data perspective but Hawaii could see some serious issues with flooding and wind damage. Interests there need to prepare and take it very seriously. I will be watching this closely even as I prepare for my own hurricane here in Bermuda.

Beyond that, the tropics are mostly quiet. There is some potential for development in the southwest Gulf of Mexico in the coming days but nothing is jumping out as being too serious in the long range models.

I will post another blog update tomorrow with numerous posts on Twitter, Instagram and to our app. If you’re interested in knowing what’s going on here in Bermuda, I am not above saying that I have it covered to the best of my ability.

On a side note – my good friend whom I have known for 14 years, Jim Edds, is here. He is one of the kindest and most dedicated people I have known in this business. You know his footage from hurricanes dating back 10 years or more. He has a plan of attack to document Gonzalo here that will really impress you. It’s dangerous work, no doubt, but some people are clearly cut out for it and Jim Edds is one of them. I will feature him in a few of my video posts, so look for that over the next couple of days. We had dinner tonight, pizza no less, as he welcomed me to Bermuda for my first trip out of the good ole USA. Good luck Jim! Glad you’re here, I know I made the right call now ;-)

M. Sudduth 9:38 PM ET Oct 15

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Gonzalo poised to become strongest hurricane in three years for Atlantic

Intensity model plots showing an alarming amount of strengthening over the next few days as Gonzalo approaches Bermuda

Intensity model plots showing an alarming amount of strengthening over the next few days as Gonzalo approaches Bermuda

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

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Gonzalo not the only issue, Hawaii faces threat of a hurricane this weekend

Track map of TD Two-C in the central Pacific

Track map of TD Two-C in the central Pacific

While a lot of attention is being placed on hurricane Gonzalo, and rightfully so, there is another developing situation that needs attention.

A new tropical depression formed today in the central Pacific area of responsibility, about 900 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. It is moving WNW at around 10 mph and should become a tropical storm tomorrow. If so, I believe its name will be Ana. The CPHC (Central Pacific Hurricane Center) is forecasting it to become a hurricane by Wednesday as it tracks generally towards the Hawaiian islands.

Remember when hurricane Iselle tracked towards the region back in early August? It fell apart just shy of reaching Hawaii and brought limited tropical storm conditions to parts of the Big Island.

It is very difficult to get a hurricane to hit Hawaii, especially from an easterly track. Iselle came close but did not make it. Will Ana-to-be do it? The CPHC is showing a 90 mph hurricane not far from the Big Island this weekend. This is something that people will have to watch very closely in the coming days.

Forecast model plots for Gonzalo - remarkably tight even out several days

Forecast model plots for Gonzalo – remarkably tight even out several days

Meanwhile, Gonzalo continues to steadily strengthen over the northeast Caribbean Sea, about 180 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hurricane will move out of the Caribbean during the remainder of the night, leaving improving conditions behind as the day begins tomorrow. I am very glad I did not travel to Puerto Rico today – it would have been an enormous waste of time and money. Sadly, I can’t get to any island that I wish, just don’t have those kinds of resources. I would love to have data from some of the smaller islands that the hurricane passed over this evening. Maybe in Bermuda….just maybe.

Speaking of Bermuda, that looks to be the next target for Gonzalo. We’re talking between 4 and 5 days away though and any small change in course heading would equate to a wider miss margin for Bermuda. On the other hand, computer models are in remarkable agreement with a fairly tight track cluster headed in that general direction over the next few days. Folks there don’t need me to tell them what’s up….you know what can happen. Be ready for Gonzalo, it has the makings of a big set of problems for Bermuda if the current forecast holds.

I will be deciding on whether or not to travel to Bermuda by some time tomorrow. I also have to consider Hawaii but the island chain can do some pretty weird things to approaching hurricanes. Either place is though, and both are expensive to travel to. If anyone in Bermuda has a home or business that has good exposure to the wind, let me know via email please. If I come out, I would bring my state-of-the-art weather station for a chance to record incredible wind speeds. When traveling to a location that I’ve never been to before, it’s always nice to have local assistance. Email me: ms@hurricanetrack.com if you are there and would like to volunteer your place as a hurricane lab :-)

That’s it for tonight. A lot is going on and I feel like it’s the middle of the hurricane season, not mid-October. We have more to watch for in the coming weeks I think too as the MJO looks to really amplify over the Western Hemisphere. We just might end up with a hurricane season that is right on average after all. As they say, not over until…..

I’ll have more tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:30 PM ET Oct 13

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Gonzalo likely to become a hurricane within next 24 hours as it passes through NE Caribbean

Track forecast for Gonzalo showing it passing east of Puerto Rico tonight

Track forecast for Gonzalo showing it passing east of Puerto Rico tonight

The overnight model runs and latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center dictate that I not go to Puerto Rico today for Gonzalo. This does not mean I think the island will have zero impact but I don’t believe it will be significant enough to warrant me traveling there. Sometimes the weather makes the call and this is one of those cases I do believe.

So far, Gonzalo is managing to steadily increase in strength. Winds are now 60 mph with a falling pressure. The storm is quite small in size compared to something like Irene which passed through this region three years ago in August. This should serve to keep the strongest winds confined to a rather small radius around the storm. It also means that, if an inner core can become established, Gonzalo has a chance to increase in intensity quickly.

For the Caribbean islands today and tonight, it’s all a matter of where the bands of convection set up, rotate through and how that impacts the various islands in the path of the storm. Computer models cannot possibly resolve this to any degree of accuracy and thus local radar is the best tool for watching in real time.

Right now, the movement is steady at around 12 mph. The heading is 280 degrees which would bring the storm through the northeast Caribbean, probably passing 60 miles or more to the east of Puerto Rico but directly over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Almost all of the computer model guidance suggests this path as being quite likely over the next 18 to 24 hours. This would keep Puerto Rico on the west side of the small circulation and unless a more westward motion ensues, I see little wind impact for the island. Rain, on the other hand, could be problematic as and bands that move through could drop a quick inch or more, adding up to over 4 inches in places, especially at higher elevations.

Obviously, boating interests throughout the region need to simply stay in port until the storm passes by later tonight. Winds and seas will be highest between now and the next 24 hours or so with much better conditions setting up for mid-week and beyond.

Once Gonzalo gets out of the Caribbean and in to the Atlantic, the set up is quite ripe for substantial strengthening. Model data suggests that Gonzalo could reach near category three intensity over the very warm water of the Atlantic. This will send swells back towards the northern Caribbean islands as well as the Bahamas and parts of the Southeast coast later this week. Surfers will love this but swimmers should be on the lookout for potential dangerous surf conditions. I will address this more in tomorrow’s post.

The track forecast after the Caribbean is extremely important for one small area: Bermuda. The odds of the center passing directly over Bermuda are quite small yet Fay did it just the other night. It is possible that Bermuda will have to deal with a direct impact from Gonzalo but it’s too soon to know for sure right now. We’re talking about 5 days out, maybe less. Needless to say, interests in Bermuda should be watching Gonzalo very closely over the next couple of days.

This is where I will be focusing my attention now as well. If it looks like a close enough pass of Gonzalo will take place in Bermuda, then I will head out there as soon as Thursday to be ready. It’s a tough, tough call since the island is quite expensive to travel to on many levels. Yet, an October hurricane hit from the southwest is something that rarely happens there, so the chance to gather data and document the event with video is something I don’t take lightly. I think that even passing within 50 miles of Bermuda would bring hurricane conditions and so it is something I will be monitoring quite closely today and tomorrow.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Fay is moving quickly across the northern reaches and will soon transition in to a more typical large ocean storm than a concentrated tropical cyclone. Only shipping interests will be concerned with its progress.

In the Pacific, a low pressure area, labeled as invest 95C (for Central Pacific) is likely to become a tropical storm and eventually a hurricane to the east-southeast of Hawaii. As rare as it is, there is at least a chance that it will move in that direction over the next several days. For now, it’s just something for folks in Hawaii to monitor but after a quite tumultuous season in the Pacific, it would not surprise me in the least to see one more impact for the String of Pearls. I’ll talk more about this in tomorrow’s update as well.

The MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation is likely to be quite favorable for development over the next couple of weeks

The MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation is likely to be quite favorable for development over the next couple of weeks

Things are quite busy for mid-October and we’re likely not done yet. Long range guidance suggests that the Gulf of Mexico or western Caribbean Sea could become more active as we move through the next week to 10 days. It is part of a quite favorable period called the Madden-Julian Oscillation moving through the Western Hemisphere over the next couple of weeks. This means that the overall upward motion of the atmosphere is enhanced and allows for more tropical convection to flourish. There will be quite a bit to keep track of I believe before the month is over. For now, we’ll see what Gonzalo does but do not be shocked if we’re talking about a potential storm brewing somewhere in the western Caribbean of southern Gulf of Mexico next week.

I will have another update on Gonzalo here tonight and a full run down of the tropics tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 8:47 AM ET Oct 13

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Tropics going to be news maker this week

It seems more like mid-September than approaching mid-October in terms of activity in the Atlantic Basin. We have a hurricane, Fay, and newly designated TS Gonazlo, forecast to become a hurricane and move through portions of the northeast Caribbean Sea. It is going to be a busy week ahead.

First up, Fay. After lashing Bermuda with 80+ mph winds last night, the storm strengthened in to a hurricane and is now moving quickly out in to the north Atlantic. There’s not much else to say about Fay except that it just goes to show that intensity and track forecasts are not exact sciences. No one thought that Fay would bring hurricane conditions to Bermuda several days ago when it was a mere “subtropical storm”. Fay will track out in to the open Atlantic and only be an issue for shipping interests.

Now we turn our attention to Gonzalo. The NHC upgraded 90L to tropical storm Gonzalo this afternoon. The forecast is aggressive and makes the storm a hurricane as it passes by Puerto Rico on Tuesday. As noted in the 5pm NHC discussion, there is a chance that Gonzalo undergoes rapid intensification if it develops a well defined eye. If this happens before cross in to the Caribbean, then numerous islands in the path will have to deal with a potentially powerful hurricane.

Right now, the forecast calls for strengthening and a track that would cut across the northeast Caribbean, passing very close or over eastern Puerto Rico. This would put the U.S. and British Virgin Islands right in the middle of the core of the potential hurricane – not a good place to be obviously!

The next 24 hours will be extremely important as Gonzalo fights off dry air that occasionally tries to disrupt the intensification process. Water temps are very warm and only the dry air is an inhibiting factor right now. Interests across the northeast Caribbean need to be making preparations for a strengthening hurricane. Remember too this is not just about wind but also rain. The mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico is susceptible to flash flooding and mudslides as Gonzalo passes by.

With all of this going on, I am preparing to head to Puerto Rico tomorrow morning. I will be working with The Weather Channel to provide (hopefully) exceptional live video and weather data from the area. This is my first time leaving the Lower 48 to intercept a hurricane. I arrive mid-afternoon and will have to quickly get things set up and running. Along the way, I will post video blogs and updates via our app, Hurricane Impact, and through Instagram (follow @hurricanetrack). The weather data will stream to the app and update every minute with wind, pressure and a live image from the station’s location in Puerto Rico. A lot will depend on the exact track and intensity of Gonzalo but odds are that hurricane conditions will be felt in parts of Puerto Rico and surrounding areas. It is going to be an interesting mission to say the least. I am ready and look forward to capturing what ever Gonzalo dishes out.

I will do my best to update the blog throughout the next few days. I am going to ask colleague Mike Watkins to fill in while I am out, so look for posts from him starting tomorrow.

I leave North Carolina at 7:30 AM – I’ll have more from Puerto Rico tomorrow afternoon.

M. Sudduth 8:45 PM ET Oct 12

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