Chances for storm to form off Southeast coast going up

Satellite photo of invest area 90L off the coast of Florida

Satellite photo of invest area 90L off the coast of Florida

It looks like we may have a preseason named storm before too long. The NHC has increased the chances of development for what is now invest area 90L, just off the east coast of Florida. As of this morning, the odds were placed at 60% for either a subtropical or purely tropical storm to form over the next 48 hours or so.

As you can see from the satellite picture, the low pressure area is beginning to organize but it still has that spread out, subtropical look to it. This is common when seeing systems develop from non-tropical origins, especially this early in the (almost) season.

It is interesting to note that some of the computer models do suggest a quick transition in to a purely warm-core, tropical storm before it impacts the coast Friday or Saturday. Water temps are only just warm enough to support such a scenario but we have seen instances when storms have ramped up despite having less-than-ideal conditions to work with.

All that being said, it’s not the heart of the hurricane season and as such, we do not need to be concerned with a high-impact event. However, that is not saying that we need to downplay the impacts and ignore what ever forms off the coast.

At the beach, an increase in surf and associated rip-currents will be an issue from parts of Florida up through the mid-Atlantic. Check your local NWS site for more information specific to your area.

Breezy conditions are likely (winds are already picking up now here in Wilmington, NC where my office is) as the low takes shape and moves slowly northward. I suppose that there is at least a chance for tropical storm conditions in parts of the Carolinas along the immediate coast as we end the week. A lot will depend, obviously, on how well organized the storm becomes while over the warm water of the Gulf Stream.

The other impact will be rain, sometimes heavy as bands move onshore. This is likely to be more of a nuisance than a true flood threat. Any outdoor plans Friday and Saturday should take this in to consideration. We’re looking at a few inches of rain at the most since the system is likely to be rather shallow in terms of deep thunderstorm activity. This should help to keep the rain from being too heavy over a wide area.

The Hurricane Hunters will eventually investigate the area and we will know more about its structure and intensity at that point. This probably won’t be until tomorrow. Kind of ironic that they are touring in Myrtle Beach right now as part of the NHC’s East Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour. Timing could not be better, eh?

I’ll have more here tonight with a brief update. I’ll also post a video blog to our app, Hurricane Impact. If you haven’t opened it in a while, now is a good time. Check the video section later today, I will have the discussion posted by 1pm ET.

M. Sudduth 11:35 AM ET May 6

0
0
0
0

Increasing chance for ‘something’ to develop off the Southeast coast

GFS computer model showing the potential for the coastal storm or what ever it turns out to be impacing the Carolina coast later this week

GFS computer model showing the potential for the coastal storm or what ever it turns out to be impacting the Carolina coast later this week

Quick evening update about the system trying to develop off the Florida coast…

The NHC has increased the chances of development now to 40% over the next few days. While this does not seem like much, it is interesting since the players are on the field, so to speak, to have ‘something’ develop.

When it comes to the ‘something’ part, let me explain.

Since it is only early May and water temps are marginal at best, we’re probably not looking at a true tropical storm here. It’s likely to have limited deep thunderstorms or convection and probably won’t be too well organized on satellite images. However, it has a chance, and some of the model guidance is seeing this, to develop and become a tropical storm by definition. The alternative is that is forms as a subtropical storm meaning that it is getting most of its energy from the atmosphere instead of the warm ocean. Also, a subtropical storm would have a wider, less intense wind field. The results are generally the same: squally weather over the ocean, an increase in rough surf, passing bands of rain for the coast with breezy conditions. If this were August, we would be much more concerned.

As of now, I see this as being a nuisance and something of an anomaly for the region. Any golf plans late this week along the Carolina coast may have to be put on hold. Most computer models indicate a track towards the coast or just off shore. Either way, the beaches will not be the best places to visit unless you like generally gray skies with a nice breeze off the water – with a bit of rain thrown in for good measure.

Stay tuned, it won’t be until later tomorrow or Thursday that we really see this system get going but once it does, it will provide plenty of chatter around the water cooler as we get closer to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. I’ll post more tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 7:45 PM ET May 5

0
0
0
0

Pre-June development more of an interesting feature than anything serious

Latest sea surface temps off the Southeast coast. The red circle indicates the area of likely development of the low pressure area this week. Note that SSTs are just warm enough, 26C, in a narrow area north of the Bahamas

Latest sea surface temps off the Southeast coast. The red circle indicates the area of likely development of the low pressure area this week. Note that SSTs are just warm enough, 26C, in a narrow area north of the Bahamas

Here we are again just a few weeks out from the Atlantic hurricane season beginning and we have something to watch in the waters off the Southeast coast.

The National Hurricane Center has outlined an area of interest associated with a remnant frontal system that has managed to park itself over fairly warm water (for this time of year). The atmosphere and ocean could work together to spawn a semi-tropical storm system later this week. Before anyone gets too worked up about it, let’s look at some facts.

First of all, it is May. We typically don’t see much tropical or sub-tropical activity during the month of May. However, of all the off-season months that we do get development, May is the most active. In fact, it is active enough, around two dozen or so developments over the past 100+ years, that I am not sure why the hurricane season doesn’t officially begin in May. That’s a story for another day perhaps.

This time of year, water temperatures are warming but are not typically warm enough to allow for the deep moisture content needed to support a tropical storm or hurricane. On the other hand, the southwest Atlantic is running a bit above normal right now with the 26C line (79.5F) extending northward out of the Bahamas just off the Southeast coast. This region of marginal water temp threshold is narrow and limited. It is surrounded by much cooler water temps, mid-70s or so. This gives us reason to believe that what ever tries to develop will have very limited conditions to work with.

The other aspect of this potential development, as noted in the NHC’s Tropical Weather Outlook (actually they issued a special version of it since it’s not officially hurricane season yet), is that the low pressure area that is forecast to develop is non-tropical in origin. This means it lacks the true deep warm-core structure that we see in say a tropical wave origin storm or hurricane. Take Gonzalo last October, its birth can be traced back to a tropical wave, full of heat and moisture, that emerged from Africa. The low pressure that is likely to spin up off the Southeast coast will come from a non-tropical environment off of an old frontal boundary. While this is often an excellent genesis point for tropical storms and hurricanes to grow from, it usually takes longer for them to acquire full tropical characteristics. This simply means that we are likely going to see a very shallow, limited convection based storm system develop by mid-week.

As far as impacts go, a storm over the ocean is always a concern for boaters and beach interests. An increase in swells, rough surf and winds along the coast from northern Florida up through the Carolinas is likely later in the week. Think of it as a kind of hybrid storm, not fully what we would look for during the height of the hurricane season. Thus, the bottom line here is that while it’s possible we’ll have something interesting to talk about this week, the effects will be confined to the coast and just inland and shouldn’t amount to more than passing rain showers, breezy conditions and rough surf.

One note about this: the North Carolina Outer Banks took quite a beating from a departing ocean storm late last week. Some beaches sustained heavy erosion and can ill-afford any additional aggravation right now. Hopefully this potential storm system will not meander far enough north to rough up the area any more than has already taken place. That being said, interests along the Outer Banks in the usual flood prone areas should pay close attention to what happens with this low pressure area. It’s been a rough few years, dating back to Irene in 2011. Since then, storm after storm has lashed the region and even weak systems add more to the problem.

I’ll have more here on this developing system throughout the week ahead. I’ll also be posting a video blog to our app, Hurricane Impact, as well as to our partner app, Hurricane Pro and HD, later today. It’s that time of year again, well, almost anyway…

M. Sudduth 9:10 AM ET May 4

 

0
0
0
0

Hurricane immunue system needs a booster shot

Busy seasons with a lot of landfalls like 2005 may actually help us in the long run to be better prepared

Busy seasons with a lot of landfalls like 2005 may actually help us in the long run to be better prepared

I just returned from the 2015 National Tropical Weather Conference in South Padre Island, Texas. The event was fantastic, giving everyone who attended the chance to interact in ways that the larger conferences simply are not capable of fostering. I came away with a renewed sense of hope that the nation is, as a whole, in pretty good shape when it comes to forecasting and tracking hurricanes. However, the preparedness side of things leaves a lot of questions that we may or may not get answers to during the upcoming season.

The single biggest problem that I see, believe it or not, is that we have not had many high-impact hurricanes in a long time. Sandy was an exception in 2012 but that was also in an area that very rarely has to deal with anything like that at all.

I am beginning to see something take shape that worries me. The lack of hurricanes intruding in to our normal, busy lives is leaving us vulnerable and susceptible to disaster later on. Just like being exposed to germs that don’t kill us helps to strengthen our immune system, being exposed to hurricanes on a regular basis teaches (forces) us to take action against future events. We literally build up a resistance for hurricanes and their nasty impacts. We won’t become immune but we can become more disaster resistant.

However, if you isolate yourself in a sterile environment for a number of years, then suddenly go to Chuck-e-Cheese on a busy weekend, I can assure you that the attack to your immune system, what little of it there is, will be swift and severe. The same will likely hold true in the hurricane world. It’s been too long without a major test and thus people simply won’t be prepared to fight.

What is the solution? Simple, we need to have hurricanes to keep our minds focused on being hurricane prepared. Now before you get all tense and full of angst against me for making such bold claims, consider this: in 2005 after Katrina, it became clear that we needed to do something better as a country to prepare for hurricanes. Thus, when Rita and Wilma came along, people really took notice. Sure there were some mistakes, but I am talking about building up resistance to hurricanes. The 2004 and 2005 seasons forced people along the Gulf Coast to become more hurricane resistant. Now, we need a booster shot of sorts.

Again, I go back to my medical analogy. We get regular booster shots to keep our resistance up against deadly diseases. If we falter, we are open for invasion and our immune system is throttled, sometimes with lethal results.

I believe that the lack of hurricanes is actually hurting us in the long term. Out of sight, out of mind, right? We have discussed Florida on numerous occasions: no hurricanes in almost 10 years. NONE. Not a single one. Talk about being vulnerable! Florida is a prime example and when the next hurricane does make landfall, it could overwhelm the system, literally, and lead to a rather unpleasant experience.

If we had hurricanes making landfall along the U.S coast every year, on a regular basis, we would do more to combat their effects. The absence of such malevolent weather leads to apathy and eventually we forget about such monumental events like Andrew or even Wilma. Hurricanes become more about legend and history and less about a real and serious threat.

I cannot blame anyone for not having the urge to prepare for something that seemingly doesn’t happen much anymore. What’s the reason why anyone should? Play the odds and just hope this year isn’t the one when the next “it only takes one” comes knocking.

There really is no solution to this quietly growing problem. Local television stations will continue to run their annual hurricane specials over the next few weeks. Conferences such as the one I just attended will go on as they always have. In the grand scheme, these efforts will reach only a small fraction of the people who would eventually be impacted by a hurricane or tropical storm. The die-hard weather geeks will tune in to the hurricane specials or pick up the latest hurricane guide at the grocery store. Everyone else will go about their various concerns and the complacency will grow beyond our ability to cope when the next great storm is upon our doorstep.

I will say this, the men and women who will forecast such an event are the best in the world. They will stand ready to defend against what is probably going to be a very weakened immune system that we call our coastline. The forecasts will be the best the science can bring us but will it be enough to combat nearly a decade of major hurricane landfall drought? I guess we will find out sooner or later.

M. Sudduth 9:20 AM ET April 14

0
0
0
0

Strong coastal storm has me bound for Cape Cod

GFS model valid Sunday morning showing strong coastal storm impacting parts of New England

GFS model valid Sunday morning showing strong coastal storm impacting parts of New England

The relentless winter for New England continues this week and weekend as a series of storms affects the region with bitter cold, snow and the chance for a significant coastal storm. All of the elements are in place for what could be an infamous Valentines Day weekend ahead for places like Boston, Cape Cod, Portland and elsewhere across the region.

I am making plans now to head up to Cape Cod beginning later today to document and cover this storm event. The similarities to a hurricane are striking though the obvious differences mandate that I prepare adequately for the elements.

According to the latest discussions from the National Weather Service in Boston, it appears that all of the ingredients are lining up to produce a significant coastal storm with the potential for blizzard conditions across parts of southeast New England.

From what I have read, Cape Cod and vicinity would be in the cross-hairs for high wind, near zero visibility at times and the chance for coastal flooding along Cape Cod Bay.

Since I have equipment that is designed to withstand severe hurricane conditions, some of it relatively new coming right out of our own R&D work, I would like to test it when ever possible and this storm gives me that chance.

My plan is to head up to Cape Cod, probably staying in the Eastham area, arriving there by tomorrow night. I will stream live on our public Ustream channel for the duration of the trip and come Sunday morning, conditions are likely to be quite spectacular in the region. I will be able to provide up to the second wind data right from the anemometer mounted on the Chevy Tahoe. In addition, since the low pressure area is forecast to deepen rapidly as it passes by, I think it will be important to post that info from my barometer as well. Computer models are suggesting air pressure that rivals a solid category one hurricane – enough to create one heck of a winter storm. I just can’t pass this up, especially considering the historic nature to the winter season for New England.

I hope you will follow along. As I said, I will have the live cam running the entire time and will post pics and videos to Twitter, Instagram and our iOS/Android app. I look at it as an opportunity to practice things for the upcoming hurricane season – knowing that at least I am that much better prepared and it will be substantially warmer this summer too :-)

I will have more from the road beginning later this afternoon….

M. Sudduth 8:55 AM ET Feb 12

0
0
0
0