Alberto a slow-moving and odd storm – headed for Florida Gulf Coast tomorrow

Alberto is still classified as being subtropical in its structure. Time is running out for it to transform in to a more typical tropical storm but the effects won’t matter much: heavy rain at times, gusty winds and some storm surge issues in the usual areas will be the calling card for this storm.

I have posted a video discussion with the latest info from the NHC regarding Alberto and what to expect tomorrow. This includes important inland impacts which will be widespread over the next several days.

 

M. Sudduth 11:55 PM ET May 27

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Matthew moving along the North Carolina coast – once it exits, the freshwater flooding event begins and could be dangerous

Updated: 6:45 PM ET Oct 8

I am back in my office and home from a grueling but successful trip to Florida to intercept hurricane Matthew. I will go over the data collected etc. at a later time. Right now, the focus is shfiting to the threat of record inland flooding from excessive rain fall as a result of Matthew interacting with a trough of low pressure. Please watch the video discussion below and for interests in the eastern North Carolina region and parts of NE South Carolina, you need to be ready for this flooding. It will happen over the next few days and has potential to exceed the record set by Floyd in 1999. I will have another video update early tomorrow afternoon.

M. Sudduth 6:45 PM ET Oct 8

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Joaquin terrible for central Bahamas, likely misses U.S. coast as separate major storm system unfolds

Weather map showing the complex set up along parts of the East and Southeast

Weather map showing the complex set up along parts of the East and Southeast

For parts of the central Bahamas, Joaquin will go down in history as being one of the worst hurricanes in memory. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for the people in the region – enduring more than 24 hours of major hurricane activity, pounding the region relentlessly.

The only sliver of good news for that area is that the hurricane is finally beginning to move northwest but it is at quite a slow pace. This will prolong the conditions that include hurricane force winds, torrential rain and storm surge. Eventually, Joaquin will clear the region but not before leaving a devastating mark on several islands of the central Bahamas.

At this point, the forecast calls for no landfall along the U.S. coastline. The ECMWF idea of an out-to-sea track was apparently right all along. In this complex pattern, it is in fact very impressive that the model caught on early and held on to the run-to-run consistent turn away from the United States.

While it’s never over until it’s over, the confidence in the forecast track has increased considerably over the past 24 hours. There is still a chance that New England or the Canadian Maritimes could be impacted but even there, the risk is low. It’s also possible for Bermuda to be in the path of the hurricane but again, it’s too soon to know for sure, especially in this strange set up.

We won’t ignore Joaquin but another, completely separate, weather event is unfolding across a good deal of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Basically we have a stalled frontal boundary over the coastal waters that is the focusing point for extremely heavy rain moving in from the warm waters of the Atlantic. Add to the mix a potent upper level low, which was initially thought to be likely to capture Joaquin and bring it in to the region, and the set up is there for catastrophic flooding in some areas.

Before getting in to the potential for how bad this could be, note that all along the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region there will be an increase in strong winds, especially from the Delmarva and in to southern to central New Jersey. The strong high pressure over Canada combined with the low pressure associated with the stalled front will increase the pressure gradient or a tightening of the winds across the coastal waters. Some locations along the New Jersey coast may see winds gust over 55 mph. Additionally, higher than normal tides, large waves bashing the immediate coast and possible heavy rain will make this weekend quite miserable.

However, it appears that the rain will have the most impact from this weather system. After reading some of the forecast discussions from area NWS offices, it seems apparent now that the chance for “life threatening flooding” could occur in some areas, especially in South Carolina and more specifically, in and around Charleston.

The culprit is NOT Joaquin – probably not even indirectly. Instead, it’s the powerful dynamics of the upper level system dropping across the region. This will tap in to the abundant moisture plume coming up from the southwest Atlantic to drop incredible amounts of rain. It is not out of the question that isolated areas will see more than 15 inches of rain when all is said and done. This is obviously too much too soon and will certainly create dangerous conditions. The problem is, there is no way to know exactly what geographic locations will be impacted the most. It seems likely that widespread flooding is possible with a concentration on parts of South Carolina from the midlands to the coast. Needless to say, slow down while driving, keep kids out of flood waters and completely avoid flooded roads even if you “know the area” or have an SUV/truck. Common sense must prevail or people will die, it’s that simple.

The storm system will last through the weekend and gradually come to an end by Monday. Joaquin should stay well out to sea by that point and the region can begin to dry out. Between now and then, there is chance for historic flooding but the issue is not knowing precisely where this could take place. Your best bet if you live in or are traveling through the Carolinas is to be aware of possible rapidly changing conditions.

I will be working with my colleague from Houston to cover this event in North and South Carolina. We will have live video starting early this afternoon as we work to figure out where to set up some of the equipment we would normally use during a hurricane. Wind is not our main concern though I probably will set up our weather station along the Outer Banks today, along with a live camera feed from Kitty Hawk along the beach road.

From there, we will more than likely go to Charleston and vicinity and set out more unmanned cameras normally used for storm surge flooding. These new generation cams last for around 36 hours each and have audio. It will be quite something to hear the excessive rain hitting the boxes as we watch the water rise.

All of our live video will be available via a special page I have set up on the site. I will post a link to it later today once we get rolling. The video will be on Ustream and free to access and share.

It is worth saying that even though hurricanes are vastly interesting to me, I have to admit that Joaquin likely missing the U.S. coast is going to go down as being one of the best case scenarios we’ve seen in recent memory. It is hard to fathom how bad things would be across the region if we added a category one or two hurricane with its massive arsenal of effects on top of the current epic weather event unfolding. Luck was on our side this time…

I’ll have more later including a brief video update before we head out.

M. Sudduth 8:30 AM ET Oct 2

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Ida going to be around for a while as we begin to watch Caribbean and Gulf

TS Ida tracking map from the NHC

TS Ida tracking map from the NHC

Ida has become stronger over the weekend with top winds of 50 mph as of this morning. The forecast keeps Ida on the maps for the next five days, eventually strengthening it in to a hurricane over the open Atlantic. Some of the long range models suggest that it could become quite a strong hurricane as the pattern changes and becomes more favorable for intensification. There are no indications that Ida will ever impact land, at least not directly. Perhaps, if it becomes strong, it could generate swells that would eventually impact the East Coast but that remains to be seen.

As we move through the week ahead, we will need to begin watching the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for possible development. Almost all of the global model guidance now suggests that something will form around the Yucatan peninsula and move in to the southern Gulf.

Climatology suggests that this is the area to watch as we begin to shift away from the Cape Verde storms (we have had several this season) and focus more on the western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico regions.

GFS day 6 map showing a broad area of low pressure in the western Caribbean Sea

GFS day 6 map showing a broad area of low pressure in the western Caribbean Sea

So far, the long range guidance seems to want to develop a low somewhere in the vicinity of the western Caribbean with a track towards the north to north-northwest. This would bring the system in to the Gulf of Mexico where water temps are still very warm. From an ocean heat content perspective, there is plenty of potential for development.

However, I am skeptical because the upper level winds look way too strong for anything purely tropical to get going. A large and expanding area of high pressure does seem to build in across the region but the low-shear environment appears to me to be to the south and east of where the low would be. None of this makes much difference right now since we have more than five days to monitor the situation. In any case, it is a region that becomes more favorable towards the end of September in most seasons. Whether or not that is the case this year remains to be seen. I’ll be watching the evolution of the pattern very closely over the next several days.

Satellite image showing deep thunderstorms moving across Mexico towards Arizona

Satellite image showing deep thunderstorms moving across Mexico towards Arizona

Meanwhile, another possible significant flood event is taking shape out in the Desert Southwest as moisture from a tropical depression is moving north from the Pacific and in to Mexico and Arizona. The region from southeast California stretching across all of southern Arizona and in to New Mexico is under the threat of flooding from excessive rainfall. Anyone with travel plans to the region needs to keep a very close eye on the situation and be ready to avoid any and all areas of flooded roadways, etc. This event has the potential for widespread flooding across several major population centers across the Southwest. The worst of the weather is likely to take place over night tonight and in to tomorrow, mainly across southern Arizona.

I’ll have a video blog posted later this afternoon with more details on all of the goings on in the tropics.

M. Sudduth 7:30 AM ET Sept 21

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Weak low pressure in northeast Gulf of Mexico bringing rain to FL but nothing more

Weak low pressure in the Gulf is producing rain for Florida but little else in the way of development is expected

Weak low pressure in the Gulf is producing rain for Florida but little else in the way of development is expected

The tropics are fairly quiet as we start the week. About the only area worth watching as of now is a weak low pressure and associated surface trough draped across portions of the northeast Gulf of Mexico.

There was concern late last week that we could see tropical development from this stalled out frontal boundary but it looks as though that won’t happen now. However, very heavy rain has been falling across portions of the Florida peninsula in recent days, causing flooding with the risk of more to come. Computer models generally agree that the low will move over Florida as the week progresses and as such, the chance for widespread rain, heavy at times, will be part of the forecast for the region.

Why won’t this develop in to a tropical storm?

Strong northeast flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere will likely keep the low from developing further

Strong northeast flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere will likely keep the low from developing further

Normally, low pressure sitting over water temperatures that are in the upper 80s would be cause for alarm. While the heavy rain threat is enough of a problem, it looks as though that will be the only issue Floridians face with this system. So why won’t it develop in to a tropical depression or a tropical storm? The biggest reason are the upper level winds. Right now, they are blowing over the top of the low from the northeast, pushing the deep thunderstorms or convection away from the low center itself. This does not allow the low to strengthen by way of convection wrapping around itself, allowing pressures to drop and the process to get going.

There might be a small window for the low to become better organized but the forecast from computer models indicates that the strong northeast flow across the region will continue.

The bottom line for interests in Florida, especially the central peninsula and points south to an extent, is that heavy rain is possible over the next couple of days as the low moves across. If you have travel plans, leave extra time for that and slow down during the downpours – tropical showers can be very heavy with blinding rain. Also be aware of any flooding that may take place and keep kids away from swollen ditches, creeks and rivers – remember, water is not the only danger when we’re talking about Florida and flooding.

As for the rest of the tropics? The Atlantic is mostly dead right now with a pattern in place that does not promote upward motion in the atmosphere. I do not see this changing anytime soon and so we will likely end July without any hurricanes to worry about.

In the eastern Pacific, there are two low pressure areas to monitor far from land over open water. None of the computer model guidance suggests that either will become a hurricane nor will they impact land anytime soon.

That’s about it for this Monday. I’ll have a special blog post later this week concerning our new generation of storm surge camera systems and how we plan to utilize them when the next hurricane makes landfall along the U.S. coast.

M. Sudduth 12:10 PM ET July 27

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