Bermuda about to be hit by Gonzalo, Ana not as much of a threat to Hawaii

I am in Bermuda where conditions are steadily getting worse as hurricane Gonzalo closes in. I am going to keep this fairly short as I will be posting video clips, Twitter updates and Instagram video clips as often as possible. I can do a better job of keeping you updated that way than trying to write blog posts.

The hurricane is weakening which was expected. However the wind field has expanded and this means Bermuda will be within hurricane conditions for a longer period of time. One of the biggest concerns is storm surge, it is tough to say how high it will get, but Fabian in 2003 brought 10 feet of surge to areas of Bermuda. We shall see, it looks like Gonzalo could be stronger. Time will tell.

The worst looks to arrive in Bermuda after dark, unfortunately, and then conditions will rapidly improve tomorrow morning as the hurricane quickly moves off to the northeast. In between will be several hours of damaging wind and battering waves. Rain fall will likely be less than 6 inches, possibly higher in some locations.

Meanwhile, TS Ana is forecast to move south of the Hawaiian islands enough so that I see its threat diminishing over the coming days. High waves and some passing squalls could still impact the islands but this is not going to be a big issue.

I will post as much and as often as I can via social media and our app, Hurricane Impact. The app features a live weather data feed here in Bermuda that I set up yesterday at the home of a local contractor. He was very helpful and generous to let me do this in a location that could see very high winds.

I wish the people of Bermuda the best of luck. I’ll keep plugging away and posting updates for as long as the infrastructure will allow.

Mark Sudduth 11:30 AM ET Oct 18


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


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


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


Tropics getting more active as favorable conditions show up in western Atlantic

99L well on its way to becoming a sub-tropical storm later today

99L well on its way to becoming a sub-tropical storm later today

The Atlantic hurricane season is about to get busier than we have seen it in quite some time. By later today, we will likely have a new sub-tropical storm (more on what that means in a moment) and a new area has developed east of the Lesser Antilles that needs to be watched closely in the coming days.

First, invest area 99L, which is situated to the south-southeast of Bermuda by about 600 miles or so, looks poised to become the next named storm in the Atlantic. However, it is not purely tropical in nature and resembles a blend of a mid-latitude storm system with more of a comma shape to it. This means too that the wind field is not as symmetrical as what we would expect in a purely tropical storm. In this case, most of the strong winds will be felt on the north and east side of the large center of circulation. In a well-developed tropical storm or hurricane, the wind would be more focused near the center and in all quadrants (at least to some extent).

The developing storm has very warm water underneath to work with and this is driving areas of very deep convection which could help to strengthen it enough to be classified and get a name later today. If this happens, the name will be Fay.

Interests in Bermuda should closely monitor the future track and intensity of this system as it could pass fairly close by later this weekend. In this case, if it passes to the west of Bermuda, then the effects will be significantly stronger than if it passes to the east. It’s too soon to know for sure just yet how this will play out but an increase in winds and seas, along with general squally weather, is likely for Bermuda in the coming days.

Once past Bermuda, the low should move on out in to the open Atlantic and not pose a threat to the United States except for an increase in swells some time next week.

Two other areas to watch in the tropical Atlantic

Two other areas to watch in the tropical Atlantic

The next area to watch is a tropical wave well to the east of the Lesser Antilles, over the tropical Atlantic. This area has not been favorable in recent weeks but things are changing within the atmosphere and it is likely that we will see something develop out of this feature.

Water temps are still very warm in the western Atlantic and now upper level winds are becoming more favorable as the MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation becomes more conducive in the Western Hemisphere. This allows for a protective bubble, if you will, of upper level winds that allows for upward motion in the atmosphere. It is this upward motion that is needed to allow for convection or thunderstorms to form and flourish. We are entering a period of time where by this pattern will favor development across the western Atlantic.

Computer models are in excellent agreement that we will see a tropical storm, perhaps a hurricane, form from this system. This time, we have the GFS and the ECWMF models showing development. It would not surprise me at all to see two named storms develop within the next five to seven days.

So far, the global models suggest that any development that takes place would steer north of the Lesser Antilles enough to warrant only minor concern there. However, it’s early and we’re talking about the very beginning stages here, probably too soon to worry about track, there will be plenty of time for that later on.

Last, but not least, a large area of convection, associated with a tropical wave, is noted just west of the Cape Verde Islands. This area is typically not favored this time of year but it too looks like it has potential to develop more in the coming days. The NHC did not mention it just yet in their outlook but I think it’s coming sooner or later. We will have a lot going on as we progress through the weekend.

Did I mention it’s not over until it’s over? I think we are going to get a solid lesson in that before the month is out.

I’ll have more here later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 9:00 AM ET Oct 10