Tropics busy but nothing set to impact land

Atlantic looking fairly busy considering the strong El Nino season

Atlantic looking fairly busy considering the strong El Nino season

We are closing in on the mid-point of the hurricane season in terms of climatology- September 10th marks the traditional peak of the season. Despite a fairly strong El Nino currently dominating the Pacific, the Atlantic Basin has managed to eek out enough activity to keep the maps active. Today is no exception with several areas to monitor in the coming days.

First, we have TS Grace which is likely to weaken and eventually dissipate somewhere in the Caribbean, if not before. It may bring additional rain to the region but it shouldn’t be too much and hopefully nothing like what Erika brought to Dominica recently.

Grace has little chance of making it to the United States as a tropical cyclone due to the persistent band of strong upper level winds and dry mid-level air situated over the deep tropics.

Next up is invest area 92L which is situated to the east-southeast of Bermuda this morning. The NHC says that it consists of a broad area of low pressure that is supposed to be nearly stationary over the next day or two. Water temps in the region are quite warm and most computer guidance suggests that this will become a tropical depression and perhaps a tropical storm before heading on out in to the far north Atlantic. No worries in Bermuda except for a possible increase in surf as the system organizes.

Elsewhere, a rather innocent looking tropical wave is moving through the southeast Caribbean Sea that could end up in a position where it could fester and try to develop down the road. The global models have been hinting at development somewhere in the western Gulf of Mexico within about a week. In fact, for what it’s worth, the often reliable ECMWF has been rather consistent with this scenario over the past few days. Right now, it’s just something to take note of but nothing more. I think that within 72 hours we’ll have a much clearer idea of what may or may not take shape in the Gulf of Mexico as we get in to next week.

Hurricane Linda satellite photo

Hurricane Linda satellite photo

In the east Pacific, hurricane Linda remains well offshore of Mexico and is expected to weaken as it moves to the northwest with time. However, this morning, it sure seems like it’s on a strengthening trend with a clearer eye showing up in satellite imagery. There is likely to be an increase in the wave action along portions of the Baja as the hurricane moves past but the heavy weather should remain far enough to the west to limit any additional impact. Some high-level moisture may get pulled northeast in to the Desert Southwest later in the week as the hurricane has a large circulation associated with it.

I’ll have a thorough video discussion posted later this afternoon that will take a closer look at all of the happenings in the tropics.

M. Sudduth 8:50 AM ET Sept 8


Hurricane Blanca likely a problem for Baja then Southwest U.S.

Hurricane Blanca in the east Pacific

Hurricane Blanca in the east Pacific

It’s like 2014 all over again in the east Pacific. Hurricane after hurricane developing over the abnormally warm water in the region. The latest, Blanca, poses a risk to the Baja peninsula and eventually parts of the Southwest United States.

The latest from the NHC indicates that winds are near 110 mph. The forecast suggests that Blanca will become significantly stronger as it moves roughly parallel to the Mexican coastline. Fortunately, the hurricane is far enough off shore to spare the mainland any direct impacts. However, in a few days, the southern tip of the Baja is probably going to have to deal with this system.

Most model guidance and the official track forecast from the NHC suggest that Blanca will turn slightly more to the east with time as the high pressure area over the east Pacific breaks down due to a trough of low pressure off the California coast. This will allow the hurricane to track right in to the Baja region this weekend.

The intensity forecast brings Blanca close to category five due to very warm ocean water and an ideal upper level pattern. In fact, the hurricane is going through a steady period of rapid intensification right now which should last for another day or so. This means at the very least, tremendous swells will begin to impact the coast ahead of the hurricane itself due to the intense winds over the open ocean.

How strong Blanca is once it encounters land along the southern Baja remains to be seen. Water temps cool off along the forecast track close to the peninsula. Also, the NHC mentions upper level winds becoming less favorable with time, inducing shear over the hurricane. All of these factors should result in a weaker system at landfall. No matter, interests in the region should prepare for a hurricane and its associated effects by this weekend.

Once Blanca makes landfall and interacts with the Baja it will decay very quickly. However, the moisture plume that will stream northward from the dying hurricane will inevitably dump heavy rain over parts of southwest Mexico and the southwest United States. Right now, this does not look to be as serious a situation as we saw unfold last year with Pacific hurricanes Norbert and Odile. Moisture will be on the increase across the Southwest by early next week but it is too soon to know just how much and precisely where at this point. The forecast will be refined in the coming days and much will depend on how strong Blanca remains after landfall.

In other news, I am heading out beginning today for a trip to Houston, Texas for the annual Ready or Not Houston/Galveston Hurricane Workshop this Saturday. It is probably the largest event of its kind in the country and is well worth the time of anyone who stops in for a visit. Numerous agencies, news media, hurricane experts and relief organizations participate in order to bring the public exceptional hurricane information and preparedness info.

I will have the HurricaneTrack Chevy Tahoe on display along with several pieces of brand new equipment that we have developed for observing hurricanes up close and personal using technology. I will also have our HURRB (Hurricane Research Balloon) payload to show off as well. In fact, after the workshop wraps up Saturday, the team and I head up to Amarillo to prepare for a test launch of HURRB on Monday morning.

Our goal is to have a successful launch and recovery of the payload via high-altitude weather balloon. The on-board weather computer will store air pressure, temperature and humidity data every two seconds for the entire mission. If all goes as planned, the payload will ascend to at least 100,000 feet above Earth before the balloon bursts due to extreme low pressure. HURRB will then fall back to the ground via parachute to be retrieved by our team using satellite and ground based tracking. We’ll get to see it all from the point of view of two GoPro cameras mounted on the outside of the payload.

I will stream the entire trip out to Texas and back live on our public Ustream channel. On Monday, bright and early at that, I will also have the HURRB test streaming live as well. It’s all part of our own preparedness activities for the season ahead, no matter what it brings. Despite the forecast for fewer than average hurricanes, we need to be ready just as you do for that one landfall possibility that could change everything. If you live close enough to Houston to make it worth your while, I invite you to come out to the George R. Brown center on Saturday. Stop by the Tahoe and say hello. It’s an important event and we are proud to support it by our participation. No one knows for sure what kind of season we will end up having, being ready makes sense, no matter the numbers being forecast.

I’ll have more from the road including blog posts concerning Blanca and its projected impact on the Baja and the Southwest U.S.

M. Sudduth 9:35 AM ET June 3


Edouard on its way to becoming a major hurricane but the major news story is Odile

NWS news and information graphic concerning upcoming flood threat in AZ and NM

NWS news and information graphic concerning upcoming flood threat in AZ and NM

Hurricane Edouard is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin in over two years. We have to go back to Sandy in late October of 2012 to find a stronger hurricane than Edouard – that’s how slack the Atlantic has been as of late. Never the less, the NHC is forecasting Edouard to become a major hurricane with winds peaking at 120 mph. I suspect it will be stronger given the nature of intensity forecasting. This will help to boost the ACE score for the Atlantic which is now in the mid-20s and climbing. The only issue from Edouard will be swells that eventually reach Bermuda and parts of the East Coast and of course shipping interests in the open Atlantic.

The remainder of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf are free of any areas of concern for the time being.

In the east Pacific, the mega-season continues. Hurricane Odile made landfall last night near Cabo San Lucas as a strong category three causing significant damage to the region. It will be some time before we get a full picture of what happened but rest assured, the region took a hit last night and it’s still going on as Odile tracks up the spine of the Baja peninsula today.

The NHC forecast track keeps the hurricane over the peninsula and then turns it northeast across the northern portion of the Gulf of California. With most of the circulation of Odile over water, it may not weaken as much thus the risk of hurricane conditions spreading northward over the next day or so is high.

As Odile makes its way northward, deep tropical moisture will spread in to parts of the southwest United States. This will lead to an increase in rain chances as the week progresses and may result in significant rain fall for some locations. It is impossible to know which areas will receive the most rain but it is not out of the realm of possibility that we could see 3 to 5 inches. Flooding will once again be a big concern, especially in Arizona and New Mexico where it looks like a bulk of the moisture is headed. It is important for people in the region to pay close attention to NWS watch, warning and other info this week. Tropical cyclone impacts to the Southwest are rare but when they do happen, the results are often dramatic and dangerous.

I am going to be traveling out to Arizona later today – arriving in Phoenix this evening. I will have a full crew to work with utilizing two vehicles and plenty of equipment to document this potentially extraordinary event as it unfolds.

Our goal is to capture a flash flood as it happens using some of the same unmanned camera systems that we use in deadly hurricane storm surge. We can also provide on-site reports to our followers via Twitter, Instagram and of course, our app, Hurricane Impact. In addition, I will be providing The Weather Channel with several reports and live video throughout the field work over the coming days. We will go where the weather takes us, it’s not like a hurricane landfall where we need to be where the eye crosses the coast. The Desert Southwest is vast and often harsh, I have last week as somewhat of a guide to know what to expect but each trip is different and Odile is likely to bring an entirely new set of problems to the region. I cannot stress enough how important it will be for people in the area to keep up to date on the ever-changing situation.

I will post another update here late tonight, probably past Midnight ET and then more tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:25 AM ET Sept 15

Dangerous hurricane Odile heading closer to the Baja peninsula, likely to spread more flooding rain in to Southwest U.S.

Powerful hurricane Odile off the Baja peninsula

Powerful hurricane Odile off the Baja peninsula

Hurricane Odile in the east Pacific has strengthened significantly over the past 24 hours and is now a solid category four. This is an extremely dangerous hurricane capable of inflicting serious wind damage as well as accompanying heavy rain, storm surge and enormous waves. People along the southern Baja peninsula should be ready by now, if not, time is running out quickly.

The forecast track keeps the core of the hurricane just off the extreme southern part of the Baja, sparing Cabo San Lucas the worst of the category four winds. However, hurricane force winds are likely to occur and any deviation to the east would bring the eyewall that much closer to the coast. Indeed, it will be an interesting and potentially frightening night along the southern Baja peninsula.

Further up the coast, conditions should be less intense as the hurricane begins to weaken over cooler water, partly due to being disturbed by category three hurricane Norbert just last week. Never the less, the entire southern region of the Baja is at risk from this hurricane and preparedness measures need to be taken. From what I am seeing, a category four hurricane has never passed this close to the area – it needs to be taken very seriously.

Seven day total precip for Southwest U.S. showing large area of 1-2 inches of rain

Seven day total precip for Southwest U.S. showing large area of 1-2 inches of rain

Once Odile moves northward over the coming days, its circulation will begin to push deep tropical moisture in to the Southwest U.S. setting the stage for another possible high-impact flood event next week.

After dealing with the rains from Norbert, coupled with Gulf of Mexico moisture being funneled in around a large high pressure area, this part of the country is vulnerable to serious flooding issues throughout the week ahead.

It is important for people living in or traveling to the area to monitor local National Weather Service information. If you have a Smartphone, use it to stay up to date on the latest information. It won’t be long now before flash flood watches are posted for the region. We could be looking at several days of heavy rain setting up and the problem is, it is impossible to know precisely which locations will get hit the hardest with rain.

Once again, I am heading out West to cover the event. I spent several days out there last week and learned a lot about how the desert interacts with tropical cyclone moisture. It is not something to mess around with. We saw instances where I-15 was washed out northeast of Las Vegas, almost taking the lives of several people who were caught up in the flash flood. Phoenix set its all time rain fall record during this past event with numerous flooding issues and a dust storm. Areas from southern California through southern Nevada, southwest Utah and most of Arizona could be impacted by slow moving, torrential downpours as the week progresses. Flooding is a major concern and I will be in the region to provide live coverage via our Ustream channel and for The Weather Channel. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for people to realize that tropical cyclones are not just about wind or storm surge. They have several weapons that they can hit you with and rain is most certainly one of them. Be aware and keep up to date on the very latest. I will post frequent updates to our app, Hurricane Impact, which include video blogs in the video section. I never thought I would be covering more hurricane related activity out West than I am along the East Coast or Gulf Coast but here we are – it’s that type of year.

In the Atlantic, hurricane Edouard is forecast to become the season’s first major hurricane but it will remain well out in the open Atlantic, bothering only shipping interests. One weather geek factoid about it – we’re likely to see quite a few ACE points pile up with Edouard as it looks to remain on the map for several days to come. ACE or Accumulated Cyclone Energy is the measure of how much energy a hurricane season outputs based on each individual tropical storm or hurricane. The typical ACE number for the Atlantic is around 100-103 in any given season. Right now, we are in the low 20s but are climbing now due to Edouard. We ended last season around 36 I believe and it’s possible that Edouard will allow this season to eclipse last year, especially if Edouard becomes a major hurricane and stronger than forecast. It’s just something I like to keep track of as it tells me much more about the quality of the season instead of the numbers of named storms, etc.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, nothing to be concerned with for the time being though I cannot imagine that we will go the entire month of September without something forming in the Western Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Long range models are sketchy at best but some do indicate activity brewing within about 10 days in the Western Caribbean or Gulf. No matter how quiet a season is, you never turn your back on it.

I’ll post more here in the morning including details about the field work coming up for the Desert Southwest this week.

M. Sudduth 2:32 PM ET Sept 14