Tag Archive for Florida

Karen a remnant low, still bringing some heavy rain to Gulf Coast

Recent radar image showing rain bands coming onshore as the remnants of Karen pass by

Recent radar image showing rain bands coming onshore as the remnants of Karen pass by

Karen never made it to land. The October storm that had potential to become a hurricane succumbed to relentless strong upper level winds and dry air. This constant battering finally overwhelmed the storm and it is now just a remnant low pressure area over the Gulf.

The moisture that remains will stream northward today and impact portions of the northern Gulf Coast where flood watches are posted for some areas. Rain could be heavy at times and there is the possibility for isolated tornadoes so keep your NOAA Weather Radio handy just in case.

Once the cold front sweeps through, the weather will return to more fall-like and bring a nice pattern back to the region.

Looking ahead – there is a chance we’ll see another tropical storm form out in the open Atlantic this coming week. I’ll have more on that plus the chance of a hybrid storm developing off the Carolinas later in the week as well. October can be a very active month as the clash of the seasons mixes tropical activity with winter-like storms – just as we saw lately with Karen and the incredible blizzard for parts of the upper Midwest.

I’ll have more here tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:20 AM ET Oct 6

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A few showers and some breezes or a possible hurricane in the making?

500 millibar vorticity from the latest GFS model run showing well developed cyclone approaching the Gulf Coast

500 millibar vorticity from the latest GFS model run showing well developed cyclone approaching the Gulf Coast

This has got to be one of the most unusual tropical events I have ever seen. Invest 97L as it has been known for some time now just can’t seem to get over the hump and become a tropical cyclone in the technical sense of the word. It has lacked a well defined low level center as reported by the Hurricane Hunter crew that flew in to check things out personally yesterday. Despite the very classic look to the satellite presentation last evening, the system remained just a well defined tropical wave but not a tropical storm or even a depression.

So what happens now? Well, first of all, remember the computer models showing this going over the Yucatan peninsula today? That’s not going to happen. The center of what ever is forming will pass just to the east of the northern tip of the Yucatan and emerge in to the southern Gulf of Mexico with zero time over land. Perhaps this will be the impetus to allow the formation of a tropical storm later today….not that anyone is necessarily routing for that. But for avid watchers of the tropics, this sure seems to have taken a long time for being so well defined in satellite imagery. Just goes to show the incredible value of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron out of Keesler – without them, we would be errant in calling this a tropical storm over night.

However, what I am worried about it the look to the system in one particular model – the GFS. I know a lot of people adore the Euro or ECMWF and it surely does have its strong points. But for the past couple of days at least, the GFS has shown 97L or Karen-to-be becoming stronger and stronger with each subsequent run. In fact, looking at the 500 millibar vorticity signature, it’s as strong as one would expect when analyzing a hurricane. The reason being – it appears the GFS brings the would-be storm northward with the flow and does not rip it apart with shearing winds – a lot like Wilma in 2005 when it came off the Yucatan and was forecast to be not much more than a category one. Look how that turned out. Ironic that it was an October event, eh? Maybe there is something to that, maybe not.

What I see is the potential for this to become a hurricane and do so right near landfall. I also see where the other model guidance could be just as correct in sending a weak, sheared system with rain and wind but little else. This is why paying attention and being prepared no matter what makes such good sense. While it’s true that upper level winds don’t really look favorable for this to strengthen much, I have to wonder why the GFS shows over and over again that it does in fact strengthen. Even if it is injected with so-called baroclinic energy, kind of like Sandy was but WAY less, it still looks rather strong in the model field right at landfall.

Bottom line – be ready if you live along the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to the Big Bend area of Florida. Keep an eye on this system – there is potential for it to do something few people expected. Odds are, it won’t but odds can change, they often do otherwise nothing would ever happen.

I will be leaving North Carolina for Florida later in the morning to meet up with colleague Mike Watkins. I’ll have the live streaming video going from the HurricaneTrack.com Tahoe the whole way there and back. Hope you can join in from time to time and see/hear what’s up. We’ll rest in Lake City tonight and then plan our course of action for data gathering and on-site reporting tomorrow and through the weekend. Stay tuned, I have a feeling this story has an interesting ending. Only one way to find out…

M. Sudduth 6:20 AM ET October 3

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Potential is there for 97L but will that potential be reached or squandered?

97L with decent outflow developed as it heads towards the Gulf of Mexico

97L with decent outflow developed as it heads towards the Gulf of Mexico

Looking only at satellite images of 97L tonight, one would think a tropical storm has formed in the NW Caribbean Sea. Fortunately, we have the Hurricane Hunters who risk their lives to go out and see for sure. They did just that earlier today and found that there was not quite a well defined surface circulation. However, it’s close and it won’t take much for 97L to become tropical storm Karen.

In fact, the upper level outflow pattern is very impressive. Couple this with very warm water underneath the system and it should go on to develop. But should is far different than will. A lot is still unknown about what is called tropical cyclogenesis – a fancy word for the birth of a tropical cyclone. Sometimes we see explosive development when there appears to be little to work with. Other times, the opposite is true and we are left wondering, quite gratefully I might add, why nothing really happened.

In the case of 97L, the potential is there for it to become a tropical storm and perhaps a hurricane. I need only cite past experience to say that without laughing as I do not say things like that without meaning them. Intensity forecasting is where there is the least amount of skill. There have been plenty of times when a storm or hurricane fell way short of forecasts and plenty of time when they exceeded the forecasts and shocked us all. In this case, it is likely that what ever forms will be weak, sheared and no major issue for the Gulf Coast. On the other hand, I can see where there is the slightest of chance that the shear is not as bad and the would-be storm lines up just right, moving with the flow to allow it to deepen and cause some real problems along the coast.

This is why it is so important to be informed and not just dismiss something because it looks like no big deal right now. For the time being, it is an issue for part of the Yucatan and western Cuba as bands of rain pass through. Over the next few days, it will enter the Gulf and could bring heavy rain, rough seas and the chance for high winds to some portion of the region. As for how strong and exactly where, that part of the plot has yet to be written.

So, let’s find out together, shall we? Tomorrow morning, on the off chance that this does become a strong tropical storm or a hurricane even, I am going to head to Florida where I will meet up with long-time colleague Mike Watkins. We will then provide our audience with live real-time coverage of what ever happens this weekend along the Gulf Coast. We’ll stream live on our Ustream channel or right on the HurricaneTrack.com homepage. You may also follow along in our app which is available for iOS devices AND Android. It’s called Hurricane Impact and is easy to find. Just go to the App Store or Google Play and search “Hurricane Impact”. You’ll know the logo when you see it. We’ll post frequent video blogs along the way to keep you informed no matter where you are. We’ll also set up one weather station somewhere along the coast to provide live weather data and a live cam image to the app. And, if conditions warrant, we will set out the special Surge Cam which sends a live image to the app right from the water – where the surge and wave action is expected to be the highest. Hurricane Impact – get it now and we’ll keep you posted like no other app can.

I’ll have another update here in the morning and then will switch over to our live coverage. I should be on the road by 10am ET heading from North Carolina down to Lake City, Florida to meet up with Mike. We’ll see what happens over night.

M. Sudduth 9:20 PM ET Oct 2

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Will 97L become Karen and if so, how strong might it be?

Satellite shot of 97L

Satellite shot of 97L

There has been a noticeable increase in shower and thunderstorm activity associated with the disturbance in the NW Caribbean Sea over night. This makes sense due to the light winds aloft and very warm waters below the area of low pressure. Now the question is – will this trend continue?

For the most part, it looks like it will and we should see a tropical depression form from the system over the next day or so. This is in agreement with almost all of the intensity guidance. But just how strong the system gets over the weekend remains in question with most of the global model guidance suggesting “not very”. The main limiting factor appears to be what would amount to quite a bit of shear tearing the would-be storm apart. However, there is a chance that it could be moving with the flow enough to mitigate some of this shear and strengthen more than the global models indicate.

Also, the models show a fairly small tropical cyclone and those are very hard to predict intensity-wise. This is where the finer resolution models such as the GFDL and HWRF might help although they tend to over-do things more often than not.

For now, the disturbance, or 97L as it is also known in the weather world, should move towards the Yucatan peninsula today, spreading periods of heavy rain and gusty winds. This should clear out by later tomorrow as the system moves in to the southern Gulf of Mexico. From there, a general track towards the north and eventually northeast seems plausible with impacts reaching parts of the Gulf Coast by some time Friday and lasting through the weekend.

There is a good chance that we will see a lot of rain from this system as indicated by some of the model guidance. It also looks like would could be TS Karen at that time may slow down – further adding to the rain threat for some portion of the Gulf Coast.

With it being the weekend and a lot of football and other outdoor activities slated to take place, I know people are wondering exactly where this potential storm might track. As of this morning, the focus of most of the reliable track guidance indicates the western Florida panhandle to as far west as Alabama, maybe Mississippi. As I mentioned, the models show a small tropical cyclone, not the typical large system that folks are used to seeing such as Ivan. Thus the impacts will be confined to a smaller area, making it more difficult to determine who will see what and when.

The bottom line here is that there is potential for a tropical storm to develop in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend with some impacts to the Gulf Coast there after. I think the main issue will be heavy rain but it is possible that other impacts such as wind and its related effects will also be of concern. Obviously, seas will be rough and in typical flood-prone areas, storm surge flooding may be a consideration as well. However, the relatively small size should limit the amount of surge with this particular system. I am more concerned with the threat of flooding from too much rain – something we’ll need to keep a close watch on.

If trends continue and it looks like 97L will in fact develop, then I will head down to the Gulf Coast with colleague Mike Watkins for local coverage and reporting. This will be a good opportunity for us to test out some of our new technology without having to worry too much about the storm itself. I will be talking with Mike later this morning to determine our plan and will post an update here early this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 7:50 AM ET Oct 2

 

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Tropics showing signs of activity and of possible impacts in coming days

Area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean Sea that has potential for development over the coming days

Area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean Sea that has potential for development over the coming days

Just as we are about to end September, which was as quiet as you will likely ever see it, things begin to become more active across the Atlantic.

Here is a run down of what’s going on and where…

In the central Atlantic, a tropical wave that had been tangled up with an upper level low pressure area has become better organized today. The NHC says it could become a tropical depression over the next day or so as it remains well out to sea and away from any land areas. It could eventually become a weak tropical storm but it should not last too long considering the fairly hostile environment over the Atlantic right now.

The other area to watch, which is of greater concern right now, is in the Caribbean Sea. An area of showers and thunderstorms has developed in association with a large pressure fall in the region. Several of the global models go on to develop this system as it moves northwest and eventually in to the southeast Gulf of Mexico.

Ocean heat content is still quite high across the Caribbean Sea and in to parts of the SE Gulf of Mexico

Ocean heat content is still quite high across the Caribbean Sea and in to parts of the SE Gulf of Mexico

While none of the guidance shows anything very strong at the moment, one must keep in mind that the water is very warm in this area and will be along much of the track of this potential system. The mitigating factor seems to be upper level winds which do not appear to be very conducive for significant strengthening over the coming days. Nevertheless, rain and squally weather is likely to spread across portions of the Caribbean Sea and eventually impact Jamaica and Cuba before reaching the southeast Gulf of Mexico.

Beyond that time, we will just have to see what we’re dealing with in terms of storm structure, upper level winds and steering flow. Speculating about potential impacts to Florida beyond the five day time period is pointless right now except to say that folks along the west coast should be keeping an eye on this feature – just as you would any October tropical development. With the recent heavy rains for parts of the state, a tropical cyclone of any intensity would not be good news. We’ll see how things play out over the next few days and whether or not we actually have a tropical depression or storm develop from this system.

Elsewhere, the eastern Atlantic looks to try and spin up another weak storm as the pattern tries to make up for lost ground in recent weeks. There are some indications that the MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation, which promotes tropical convection and upward motion, could become more favorable across the Atlantic Basin in the coming weeks. This could result in a very busy October, especially considering the warm water temps that are in abundance right now. It is important to at least pay attention to the tropics as the old saying goes about it not being over until it’s over…

I’ll have more here tomorrow, sooner if something develops and warrants an additional post.

M. Sudduth 2:10 pm ET Sept 28

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