It won’t be Karl

Tropical storm Karl model plots showing a likely turn to the north and eventually away from the U.S. but possibly threatening Bermuda later this week.

Tropical storm Karl model plots showing a likely turn to the north and eventually away from the U.S. but possibly threatening Bermuda later this week.

It has been almost eleven years since the last so-called “major” hurricane made landfall in the United States. That streak will continue to run strong as Karl passes by well to the east of the East Coast later this week. It won’t be Karl that breaks the streak. Instead, a trough will weaken the ridge over the Atlantic enough to induce a north then northeast turn, and a rather sharp turn at that, which will ultimately send Karl out in to the open Atlantic.

What Karl will do is send some wave action towards the East Coast, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. These waves will mean the surfing community will have a nice couple of days of long period swells moving in. I will know more about what to expect once Karl becomes a hurricane which should be later this week.

The only issue I see for the United States will be the aforementioned increase in wave action which could lead to rip currents and rough breaking wave action right at the shoreline. Swimmers just need to be cautious as this develops. Otherwise Karl will be yet another hurricane to pass comfortably by without making landfall in the U.S.

I am not quite sure that Bermuda goes unscathed as it will all come down to the angle of the turn and when the turn happens. Right now, some models take Karl very close to Bermuda this weekend, others are far enough away to keep hurricane conditions away. This is something we will need to watch closely since it looks like Karl will be intensifying as it turns out and this would mean more dramatic effects compared to a hurricane that has reached its peak. I will be watching this closely as the week progresses.

Meanwhile, the remnants of Julia are still milling around off the North Carolina coast with little overall impact or development right now. It is possible that some regeneration could occur as a front pushes in and adds more energy to the system. This could result in an increase in showers and thunderstorms along with locally gusty winds for parts of the NC Outer Banks and maybe SE Virginia tonight and tomorrow. Otherwise no major concerns from this system.

In the Pacific, another hurricane has developed off the Baja peninsula and is headed in that general direction. Fortunately, it looks as though it will weaken substantially as it moves north and turns towards land. However, the usual threat of heavy rain will be a problem and some of this moisture could make its way in to the southwest U.S. later in the week. I do not anticipate any flash flooding concerns but with tropical moisture you can never be too careful so just keep in mind that this system is out there if you have plans along the Baja this week.

Looking down the road, I see a continued period of a fairly active tropics coming up over the next week or so. Most of the global models are indicating more tropical wave action will move off of Africa and head west over the open Atlantic. One thing that is beginning to concern me a little is the fact that the seasonal shift back to the south of the path of these waves of energy will likely mean tracks closer to the Caribbean instead of north like we’re seeing with Karl. My point is that even though we are heading towards the end of the month, the hurricane season appears to have a long way to go. The very warm water, much of it warmer than normal by several degrees in some places, leads me to believe we will see the season remaining busy well in to October. Just keep your guard up and don’t write off the season just yet. I said in the opening paragraph that it won’t be Karl to break the streak of no major hurricanes for the USA. I am very confident of that statement. However, I am not confident in saying that we will escape the entire season with no major hurricane impacts for the U.S. coast. Hermine was a warning shot of what can be expected when stronger, more robust hurricanes come along. We might get by with nothing else of any consequence but in case we don’t, I urge everyone along the coast from not only the U.S. but elsewhere in the Caribbean to remain prepared and be ready in case our luck takes a turn for the worse.

I will post my daily video discussion here by early this afternoon followed by another blog update this evening.

M. Sudduth 11:55 AM ET Sept 19


Rare January tropical activity in Pacific, possible subtropical storm for Atlantic

You have no doubt heard plenty about the record-setting El Niño in the Pacific. It has been blamed for a litany of foul weather across the globe; whether all of those events are directly related to the El Niño remains to be seen.

Now we can add a rare January tropical storm to the list of El Niño-induced weather anomalies. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) is tracking tropical storm Pali, well to the southwest of Hawaii, not far from the Equator actually.

Check out the tracking map and you’ll see that the storm is located unusually far to the south and this is likely one of the reasons why the storm formed in the first place. Add the very warm El Niño water and a perfectly-timed westerly wind burst from the tropics and the result is a January tropical storm.

Tropical storm Pali tracking map from the CPHC

Tropical storm Pali tracking map from the CPHC

No worries about Pali – it is forecast to basically meander slowly well away from significant land masses and poses no threat to Hawaii. Still, it is yet another in a series of interesting, if not record setting, events that the current El Nino is at least indirectly associated with.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic, or more accurately, the subtropical Atlantic, has its own storm system worth watching.

Ocean storm in the vicinity of Bermuda that has a chance to become a subtropical storm over the next few days

Ocean storm in the vicinity of Bermuda that has a chance to become a subtropical storm over the next few days

The National Hurricane Center issued a special outlook product yesterday highlighting a strong ocean storm between the Bahamas and Bermuda. While currently non-tropical in nature, meaning that the storm has more or less the characteristics of a Nor’easter over warm water, there is a chance that environmental conditions, part of which also include warmer than usual water temps, could lead to the storm becoming more subtropical in the coming days. This basically means that the storm separates itself from any frontal boundaries in the vicinity and becomes more focused with deeper convection or thunderstorms closer to the center. This is typical of ocean storms that form out of the tropics or what we call the subtropics. Thus, it’s deemed a subtropical storm, kind of a first cousin to a classic warm-core tropical storm that we are more used to tracking during summer and fall.

Right now, the type of storm matters little for interests in Bermuda. The weather has been stormy for the past day or so with periods of heavy rain and gusty winds. The fresh water collected on the string of small islands is always appreciated but this unusual weather pattern is making for an unpleasant few days for the region.

Computer models indicate that the storm system will move generally east-southeast and make its way in to the open subtropical Atlantic. Water temperatures are not warm enough for a pure tropical storm to develop but it is possible that enough energy can be drawn from the Atlantic to allow the storm to acquire what I described before: more subtropical characteristics. If so, it would be named and would be Alex, subtropical storm Alex that is.

Once past Bermuda the storm poses no threat to land and is likely to be on the weather map for quite a few days since steering currents look to leave it hanging around out over the Atlantic in to next week.

So there you have it. The year is starting off with some interesting things to talk about even in the face of an obvious lack of cold and snow for most of the East. Will this change anytime soon? Probably. For now, the most interesting weather seems to be over the oceans with little sign of any big winter storms looming for the Lower 48. However, it’s still early January, as with hurricane season, we know how quickly things can change.

I’ll post more on the Pacific and Atlantic systems over the weekend.

M. Sudduth 8:40 AM January 8


X marks the spot as tropics stay busy

NHC's Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook map showing several areas worth monitoring over the coming days

NHC’s Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook map showing several areas worth monitoring over the coming days

We are in prime time of the hurricane season and with the Atlantic Basin as warm as it is, it comes as no surprise really that there is plenty to talk about.

The NHC has several areas outlined this morning, including the remnants of TS Grace, that bear watching over the coming days.

First up, TS Henri is weak and is moving quickly now to the north. The forecast calls for a turn to the northeast as it transitions from a tropical storm in to a more spread out extra-tropical system over the far reaches of the North Atlantic. Seas will begin to subside in and around Bermuda where some beach erosion took place over the past couple of days due to the constant easterly swell that Henri was generating.

Henri could bring a period of heavy rain to parts of extreme southeast Newfoundland but the fast movement will limit the impact and its duration.

Next we have the remnants of tropical storm Grace moving towards the northern Leeward Islands. There has been a significant increase in deep convection with the system which could lead to periods of heavy rain and gusty winds as the low pressure area moves through. While there is little chance for it to become a tropical storm again, we know by now that rain alone is enough to cause major issues if too much falls at once. The forecast indicates that the remnants will track westward towards Puerto Rico over the weekend. We’ll have to watch and see what happens once the energy gets in to the southwest Atlantic or possibly the southeast Gulf of Mexico some time next week.

Off the coast of Africa is where the next large tropical wave is making its debut. The NHC is giving it a medium chance of development over the next five days and if it does in fact do so, it would be the 5th such development in the MDR or Main Development Region since late August. This is almost unheard of during strong El Nino seasons yet here we are, Danny, Erika, Fred and Grace all developed between Africa and the Lesser Antilles. This next system shows promise to become a hurricane over the open waters of the Atlantic in the coming days. As long as it remains away from land, so be it.

Finally, a small low pressure area has developed well to the southwest of the Azores Islands in the northeast Atlantic. It has only a small opportunity for development and of course wouldn’t be an issue for any land areas; something to watch but nothing to be concerned with.

To sum things up, there is plenty to keep track of but no major issues brewing in the tropics as of now. Enjoy the weekend, nice fall-like weather will be in store for much of the eastern part of the nation but then we return to the summer look and feel to things shortly, so take advantage of the cooler temps while you can! I’ll have a video discussion posted later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 9:40 AM ET Sept 11




Tropics becoming busier as Danny makes a run at becoming a hurricane

Recent microwave imagery showing a clearly developed core of Danny

Recent microwave imagery showing a clearly developed core of Danny

It is approaching late August and all of a sudden the tropics are becoming increasingly busy. We have TS Danny which is probably on its way to becoming a hurricane as well as two other areas of interest to watch over the coming days.

First up, Danny. The little storm has really come to life overnight with a clearly defined eye and eyewall developing as seen in every aspect of satellite imagery. The little bit of room that the storm has for developing is being taken advantage of and it won’t be long now before Danny is a hurricane.

The really interesting aspect to this is that Danny is small in size and so its environment currently in a favorable state makes all the difference. Water temps are warm, shear is light, outflow seems excellent and the dry air has been dealt with for the time being. However, things can and likely will change in a hurry for Danny – no matter how strong it gets in the near term. Its small size is a positive for its growth now but will be a drastic hindrance later on as stronger upper level winds await to the west.

5 day forecast track for Danny as of 5am ET Aug 20

5 day forecast track for Danny as of 5am ET Aug 20

The official forecast from the NHC takes Danny in to the northeast Caribbean during the early part of next week which means some impacts are expected for the region. How much wind and rain accompanies Danny remains to be seen. Obviously, it all hinges upon whether or not the hostile conditions play out as forecast by the major computer models. If all goes according to the forecast, Danny will encounter rather strong shear and this will literally inject any dry mid-level air still around directly in to the core of the storm/hurricane. This is where Danny’s small size can play against it – only a modest increase in shear can easily displace the convection or thunderstorms away from the low level center and weaken Danny rapidly.

We have plenty of time to watch and see how things evolve. The hope by many I am sure is that Danny brings much needed rain to parts of the Caribbean without all of the other nasty side-effects. We will get a better idea of what to expect over the next couple of days but odds are, Danny won’t pose much of a wind threat but it’s not prudent to ignore the storm either. Rain and too much of it at once can be a big problem too, especially in mountainous areas and as such, Danny needs to be monitored closely by interests in the northeast Caribbean.

Two-day tropical weather outlook map from the NHC showing the increasingly active pattern across the Atlantic Basin

Two-day tropical weather outlook map from the NHC showing the increasingly active pattern across the Atlantic Basin

Elsewhere, a complex weather pattern is developing in the vicinity of Bermuda (designated by the NHC as 97L) that could eventually lead to a subtropical storm taking shape. As I said, the situation is complex and involves an upper level area of low pressure interacting with a surface trough. The two will basically intermingle and produce what will best be described as a hybrid type storm or as we know it, subtropical storm. Water temps are certainly warm enough that it’s not out of the question for the system to take on more tropical characteristics but probably not before moving on to the north and away from Bermuda.

Meanwhile, another tropical wave moving off of Africa is likely to try and develop over the coming days as we see conditions becoming more favorable out that way. There is less and less SAL or Saharan Air Layer which means less dry air to battle with. Most global computer models show this next system developing and moving generally west with time. Obviously, we will have plenty of time to track it and observe as the pattern ebbs and flows so no need to worry about it just yet.

Model plots for Central Pacific area of interest 93C

Model plots for Central Pacific area of interest 93C

And not to ignore the Pacific – we have an area of interest, designated as 93C for Central Pacific, well to the southeast of Hawaii. This system looks like it has a strong chance of becoming a hurricane and possibly threatening the western extent of the Hawaiian Islands. Interests in the region should closely monitor the progress as history has shown us that hurricanes approaching from the south are far more dangerous for the area than those coming in from the east. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center will be handling the advisories for 93C once it becomes a tropical depression and eventually a named storm. I’ll have more on this developing situation in the coming days.

Farther to the west a pair of typhoons are roaming the warm waters with typhoon Goni expected to pass fairly close to Taiwan this weekend before turning northward – perhaps towards southwest Japan. There is certainly plenty to watch across the tropics as we head in to the last third of August.

I’ll have an in-depth look at Danny and the rest of the tropics in my video discussion to be posted later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 10:25 AM ET August 20


Bermuda in recovery mode, won’t take long, as we watch the Gulf of Mexico next week

More development possible as we continue in a favorable period as we move through the remainder of October

More development possible as we continue in a favorable period as we move through the remainder of October

I cannot say enough about the people of Bermuda. They are as warm and kind as I have ever met on any of my field missions. Their island is also about as prepared for hurricanes as you can get with buildings that are able to withstand the elements already – without having to panic and prepare all at once in rush-mode. The recovery process is well underway and it won’t be long before Gonzalo is talked about only as a memory. So far, I have not heard of any loss of life or serious injury, another testament to the respect that these folks have for the weather.

Planes are starting to come back to Bermuda to both bring people in and allow people to head home who have been here on business or pleasure over the past several days to a week or more. I head out this evening and should be back in North Carolina by late tonight. I will miss the friends that I have made here but I’m leaving them in good spirits, knowing that they are going to be just fine. If you’ve never been here, you owe it to yourself to come on out.

Hurricane season is not over with the passage of Gonzalo. When I get home, it will be time to pay attention to the Gulf of Mexico for possible development next week.

Computer models are suggesting that we will see a low pressure area take shape but it’s not clear as to where or how strong. One thing I am not seeing in the models, yet, is a clear-cut well organized system. Instead, I see a more spread out storm without much concentrated energy around the center. Now, one of two things could be going on in the models. Either this is what will in fact happen and we see a larger, strung out system with a lot of rain and not much wind or the models simply cannot resolve the fact that we will eventually end up with a more focused tropical storm somewhere in the Gulf. Needless to say, water temps are plenty warm and conditions will be generally favorable for development. This will be something to monitor closely in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Gonzalo is racing off in to the Atlantic, now east of Newfoundland and headed rapidly towards the northern United Kingdom as a powerful extra-tropical storm.

In the Pacific, Ana passed well south of Hawaii and should turn northward across the many atolls that are spread out west of Hawaii. Ana is forecast to become a hurricane again after some weakening from its current hurricane status. For the most part, the impact to Hawaii has been minimal and will remain that way until Ana is well away from the region.

I am working on processing all of the data and video that was collected here in Bermuda. Right now, I do know that our laptop used with our weather station shut off, went in to hibernation actually, 12 hours after we turned it on for the hurricane. There was an advanced setting that I overlooked when testing the equipment that allowed the computer to hibernate when not being actively used and plugged in to a power source. I did manage to capture 12 solid hours of wind data which is better than zero hours of wind data. The peak gust in the front part of Gonzalo was 104 mph on top of the roof of the house I was utilizing near Shelly Bay. I did not see any sustained winds to hurricane force but I am still analyzing the data to make sure. The gusts are what typically cause the damage and there were numerous gusts in the upper 90s within the front side.

Sadly, since the laptop did exactly what it was set up to do, and that is hibernate after 720 minutes, the data was lost from about the beginning of the eye until Gonzalo passed by. I will never know how strong the winds were at that location during the much talked about stronger back side.

On a positive note, several other wind instruments on the island recorded exceptional data and this is important for understanding the wind field of Gonzalo. I am bummed about the laptop but now I know about that setting and can make sure that it does not happen again on future field missions. Live and learn, no doubt about it.

The video that I collected, besides any hand held shots of effects, will be fascinating to process in to time lapse to see the evolution of the hurricane. I will be working on all of that this coming week and will share what I can as soon as it is ready.

Thank you for following along. Many more people are now following my work on Twitter and other social media. Hurricanes are part of our active weather patterns and need to be dealt with. It is quite an honor to know that people trust what I say and rely on me for information. I have a great team of supporters and colleagues who assist in ways you cannot imagine. I may be the face of but it is a team effort. I have been in the eye of two hurricanes now this season – will there be a third? Stay tuned….