River flooding continues in NC, Nicole likely to pass close to Bermuda and western Caribbean becomes area of interest soon

We are getting close to mid-October and the tropics are still very much a major topic of conversation. The aftermath of Matthew from Haiti and Cuba through the Bahamas and in to the Southeast U.S. is the top story outside of the political craziness that has dominated the news cycles for most of the year.

Right now, the clean up process has begun and unfortunately, so have the plans for saying goodbye to those killed in the hurricane. Last I heard from news sources, at least 23 people have died in the United States with hundreds more lives lost in Haiti. This saddens me but it also underscores the need for better hurricane preparedness across the Western Hemisphere. We have so much technology, so much information, yet we still lose people in ways that should not ever happen. I will re-visit this grim topic at a later date and offer some suggestions for doing better in the future.

Hydrograph for Kinstron, NC along the Neuse River showing the slow rise of the river to near record flood stage by Friday.

Hydrograph for Kinstron, NC along the Neuse River showing the slow rise of the river to near record flood stage by Friday.

In eastern North Carolina, the river flood situation continues. Parts of I-40 and I-95 remain closed as flood waters are slow to recede. In places such as Kinston, along highway 70, the flood has only just begun and will not peak until Friday. Other locations are also experiencing record to near-record flooding even as skies are clear and temps are finally fall-like.

I am going to head to Kinston on Thursday to place one or two unmanned cams to monitor the rising water in real time. I will share the link here and on social media so that residents who need to evacuate can still see what is going on in their town. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Nicole is slowly gathering strength south of Bermuda and is expected to become a hurricane again before passing very close to the island on Thursday. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning has been posted for Bermuda in anticipation of this event. It looks as though Nicole could be nearing category two intensity and as such, residents in Bermuda need to be ready for yet another hurricane over the coming days.

GFS model at day-5 showing the first signs of weak vorticity or spin in the lower levels of the atmosphere over the western Caribbea Sea.

GFS model at day-5 showing the first signs of weak vorticity or spin in the lower levels of the atmosphere over the western Caribbean Sea.

Once Nicole clears the pattern later this week, we will need to begin watching the western Caribbean for one last development cycle. All of the major global models are suggesting a large, sprawling area of low pressure will develop between days five and ten. Different models have different solutions for what happens after that so it’s best to just wait and see. For now, know that the western Caribbean is favored this time of year and, perhaps more importantly, the water temps in the region are as warm is it gets right now. Upper ocean heat content is nearly off the chart warm – so any disturbance that gets going in the region will more than enough fuel to become a powerful hurricane. This is an area we will need to monitor very closely as we get in to the weekend and early next week.

I will have my daily video discussion posted later this afternoon covering the latest river flooding info for eastern NC, Nicole and the western Caribbean potential for next week.

M. Sudduth 9:10 AM ET Oct 11

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Inland flooding from Matthew continues as Nicole takes aim on Bermuda

Flooding along the Neuse River in Smithfield as seen from one of our unmanned camera units placed there yesterday afternoon. Watch the LIVE cam here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/C6kGCZ3uJCF

Flooding along the Neuse River in Smithfield as seen from one of our unmanned camera units placed there yesterday afternoon. Watch the LIVE cam here: Smithfield, NC along Neuse River

Matthew is gone, part of hurricane history now but its impacts will linger for days, weeks and even years across many locations of the Southeast. As bad as it was, I cannot emphasize enough how close the United States came to seeing catastrophic damage and likely significant loss of life. Matthew managed to keep the core of the strongest winds just offshore of the Florida and Georgia coastlines and was weakening as it did so. Just a 20-30 mile westerly change in its course would have resulted in massive wind damage, a storm surge like we have not seen since Sandy and maybe even Katrina and power outages that would have boggled the mind. To say we were lucky is putting it mildly but what did happen is bad enough and we are dealing with the effects even as skies have cleared and cooler temperatures have moved in.

The most serious threat from Matthew’s relentless rain will be continued river flooding across parts of eastern North Carolina and northeast South Carolina. Several river gauge sites are in major flood stage with more expected to reach that point in the days ahead. Visit the link below to view gauge data and learn more about the expected impacts from the various river systems that are expected to flood as the week progresses:

Southeast River Forecast Center Website

Latest track map for Nicole indicating a threat to Bermuda late week.

Latest track map for Nicole indicating a threat to Bermuda late week.

The next area of concern will be Bermuda as tropical storm Nicole gathers strength in the wake of hurricane Matthew. Upper level winds are forecast to become favorable and this will allow Nicole to become a hurricane again, probably a category two, as it approaches Bermuda late in the week. It’s still too soon to predict just how close Nicole will track to Bermuda but the models are in fairly good agreement on quite a close call, if not a direct hit, by Friday. I will be keeping a close eye on this and may be planning a trip to Bermuda to cover the impacts if in fact Nicole gets close enough to the island.

Beyond Nicole there are no other areas to worry about for the time being but a robust MJO pulse is forecast by the major global models to set up in the Atlantic Basin over the next two weeks or so. This would favor widespread upward motion and period of favorable upper level winds – mainly across the western Caribbean where climatology tells us to look this time of year. As a result, the GFS and ECMWF models both suggest development between seven and ten days out. Something to watch for but nothing appears imminent.

I am back in the office now in Wilmington, NC after quite a saga tracking down Matthew from the east-central coast of Florida and then up through the Carolinas. I covered a lot of ground and captured some useful wind and pressure data along with compelling live video from our unmanned cams. I will post some of the data soon along with video highlights of the field mission.

I’ll have a video discussion posted early this afternoon followed by a blog update this evening concerning Nicole and what the latest trends are regarding impacts for Bermuda.

M. Sudduth 8:15 AM ET Oct 10

 

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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

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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

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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

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