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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Several areas to talk about

NHC five day outlook indicates several areas to monitor

NHC five day outlook indicates several areas to monitor

The tropics are quite busy with one hurricane and three additional areas to watch in the coming days. Let’s begin with Cristobal…

As of this morning, hurricane Cristobal had winds of 80 mph. Not much change in strength is expected although it could become a little stronger before undergoing transition in to a powerful extratropical storm over the North Atlantic. In fact, interests in the United Kingdom should keep watch over the post-tropical version of Cristobal as it tracks across the Atlantic over the next several days.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the NHC has increased slightly the chance of development for what is now invest 98L. Deep convection developed over night around the northern part of the broad low pressure area. However, upper level winds are quite brisk out of the west and west-southwest and this is helping to push the convection away and not let it organize much around the low. In any case, there is a small window of opportunity for this system to develop further before it moves inland over south Texas later tomorrow.

The biggest impact from 98L will be periods of heavy rain and occasional gusty winds. Local effects such as an increase in waves with any of the heavier thunderstorms will impact boating interests. Hopefully some much needed rainfall will come out of this for parts of south Texas – just as long as it’s not too much of a good thing all at once.

A Hurricane Hunter crew is scheduled to investigate 98L later today if conditions warrant. We’ll know more then about the structure and wind field but again, this is only if the NHC feels the flight is needed.

Farther east in the tropical Atlantic, what was once invest area 97L has now become a non-issue, for now anyway. It appears that the tropical wave energy is likely to to track in to and across the Caribbean Sea over the next several days. Computer models are indicating the chance of development either in the western Caribbean or perhaps the southern Gulf of Mexico early next week. This will be something to keep an eye on but for now, the tropical wave is not organizing but it will bring a brief period of squally weather to parts of the Lesser Antilles as it moves through over the next day or two.

The last area to discuss is a tropical wave forecast to move off the coast of Africa in a day or so. Most computer model guidance suggests that this will develop rather quickly and should become a tropical storm over the far eastern Atlantic. I do not know how many people actually live in the Cape Verde Islands but it appears that they will be impacted by this strong low pressure area and could experience tropical storm conditions as it passes by. Beyond that, it is obviously too soon to even speculate on where it may end up. However, most of the time when something develops that far east, it has no trouble finding a weakness in the high pressure area over the Atlantic and turning north and eventually out in to the open Atlantic.

So there is quite a bit going on as we end August. Things can change quickly this time of year so keep up to date with the latest. I’ll post updates on Twitter as they come in and will have another full blog post either late tonight or certainly by early tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:00 AM ET Aug 27

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Small window for small system to develop in extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

Invest area 90L slowly trying to organize in the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

Invest area 90L slowly trying to organize in the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico

The only area of interest in the Atlantic Basin is 90L, situated way down deep in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

It is a small weather feature but has a chance, perhaps due in part to its small size, that it could become a tropical depression later today. Upper level winds are not especially favorable but it appears that some deeper convection is developing near the center. Water temps are quite warm and so it won’t take much for it to acquire enough organization to perhaps become the first tropical depression of the 2014 season.

The main issue has been and will continue to be rain. Fortunately, with the area being quite small, the impact to land will be limited. Nevertheless, heavy rain over portions of Central America will be something to contend with as this system festers in the Bay of Campeche.

Most computer guidance suggests that it will eventually move inland over southern Mexico, probably well south of Tampico. Even if it is able to attain tropical depression, or even become a tropical storm, it will not have much time to strengthen before upper level winds become too hostile and land interaction becomes a factor. Again, the main impact will be heavy rain and this can cause loss of life and damage due to mudslides and flash flooding.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic and east Pacific are nice and quiet as we enter the first full weekend of the hurricane season.

I will have an update here early this evening once more data becomes available on 90L – including the chance that recon will fly in to investigate.

M. Sudduth 10:11 AM ET June 6

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Invest 90L in southern Gulf not much of a concern

Invest 90L in the southern Gulf of Mexico

Invest 90L in the southern Gulf of Mexico

A weak surface trough of low pressure has draped itself across the southern Gulf of Mexico. Water temps are plenty warm and there is even some growing deep ocean heat content but the limiting factor by far is upper level winds.

Water temps can be 90 degrees and it won’t matter if upper level winds are blowing too strong across a developing system. This is true for tropical waves and other areas of disturbed weather that are “trying” to develop over tropical waters.

The ideal upper pattern is one that allows the clouds to rise, we call this convection, and then be thrown out in a clock-wise direction in an even fashion. It helps to have so-called outflow channels too which aid in further evacuation of the rising air.

Strong upper level winds blowing across 90L will keep it from developing over the coming days

Strong upper level winds blowing across 90L will keep it from developing over the coming days

In the case of 90L, the upper level winds are cutting across the cloud mass which acts like blowing out a candle. The convection cannot thrive and persist and thus the heat engine never really has a chance to get going.

In any case, the NHC is monitoring and so will our team. Mike Watkins will have some interesting model plots at his site and I will post them here from time to time as we track this feature over the next few days.

The bottom line is that nothing leads me to believe this will develop in to anything substantial, at least not wind-wise. Heavy rain is always an issue with tropical weather systems and this will be no different. Fortunately, it is not a large, sprawling area so its impact will be limited in coverage.

The east Pacific is quiet now since TS Boris made landfall early this morning in extreme southeast Mexico. Some of that energy will spread across from the Pacific and in to the southern Gulf of Mexico but again, upper level winds should preclude any significant development.

I’ll have another post this evening regarding a new feature we are unveiling in our app, Hurricane Impact.

M. Sudduth 11:06 AM ET June 4

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Erin Now a Depression, Gulf System Disorganized

As of 11:00AM this morning, most of the deep thunderstorm activity with what is now Tropical Depression Erin has vanished.  The culprit is dry air sitting over the majority of the tropical Atlantic, which has essentially put a lid on convective development – much like throwing a glass of cold water in a boiling pot of water.  Here’s a water vapor image, showing what is left of Erin and the stable environment out in front of the former tropical storm:

Tropical Storm Erin and the Atlantic

Tropical Depression Erin (pink arrow) and the dry environment ahead as seen in Water Vapor imagery

 

Meanwhile, closer to home, a low level swirl has emerged into the southwest Gulf of Mexico.  This is what is left of the tropical system we’ve been watching over the last few days.  Again, dry air and strong upper level winds have created an unfavorable environment for development in the Gulf, even though a distinct low-level swirl can be seen in visible satellite imagery:

Visible image of 92L in the Gulf

Tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico as of Friday morning. Note the low level swirl, free of thunderstorm activity.

 

As long as the environment continues to be hostile like this, it will be very difficult for either system to get better organized.  However, since the Gulf system is close to land – it will continue to be monitored for signs of development over the next few days, and recon is standing by to fly into the system if necessary.

Looking forward a few days, the large-scale environment is about to change across the tropical Atlantic.  A large-scale atmospheric wave called the MJO (or, Madden-Julian Oscillation), is expected to move into a phase which will enhance upward motion in the Atlantic next week.  Generally speaking, this creates an environment with less dry-air, lower surface pressures and more shower and thunderstorm activity across the deep tropics.

As noted in the latest update from Colorado State University, it is possible we will see one or more systems develop in the second half of August as we quickly approach the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

M. Watkins – Friday, 12:31PM EDT 8/16/2013

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