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


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


Erin of no concern, 92L has small window of opportunity to develop while the pattern begins to look very busy

Model plots for 92L in the southwest Gulf of Mexico

Model plots for 92L in the southwest Gulf of Mexico

There’s a lot to talk about this Friday so let’s get right to it.

First up, TS Erin continues to track WNW over the open waters of the east Atlantic but it is really beginning to struggle against the dry air. Add to this the fact that water temps where Erin is are marginal for supporting deep convection and the future of the storm does not look good. It won’t matter as Erin is forecast to move farther out in to the Atlantic, away from any land areas, and never be of concern.

Meanwhile, 92L has a small chance this weekend to become a tropical depression or weak tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Upper level winds are not very supportive for development but, depending upon the track of the low, it could encounter an environment that would allow for some strengthening.

This system is complex and not typical of a potentially developing mid-August tropical system. Most of the heavy weather is located to the north and east of the center and is not wrapping around with distinct banding like we see in a more classic tropical storm structure. This should keep what ever strengthening that does manage to take place at a minimum.

Computer model guidance suggests a track towards the western Gulf of Mexico but I am not so sure that anything would be left to reach land. Most of the more advanced models break the system up over the next few days with minimal impact to land. Maybe we can get a little moisture to move over to Texas where they could use the rain – we will just have to wait and see.

ECMWF forecast for the MJO showing a very favorable pattern evolving over the next few weeks

ECMWF forecast for the MJO showing a very favorable pattern evolving over the next few weeks

The upcoming pattern looks very active as we head towards the end of the month and in to September. We have seen a very notable lack of upward motion or MJO activity in the Atlantic for the past several weeks. This has resulted in quite a bit of sinking, dry air across the tropics and we’ve seen the results of that with anemic tropical storms and no hurricanes forming. It looks like that will change in the coming weeks. The reason is the forecast for the MJO or Madden-Julian Oscillation which is looking more favorable for the Atlantic as we progress through the next several weeks. This should result in a dramatic uptick in activity across the Atlantic with the chance of seeing a hurricane develop as well. It will take a few more days for the pattern to evolve but the signs are pointing to a very busy end of the month and especially September.

I’ll post another update concerning 92L early this evening.

M. Sudduth 8:05am ET August 16


Barbara has very little chance of significant re-development over Gulf of Mexico

It looks as though tropical depression Barbara will move back over water later today in the extreme southwest Gulf of Mexico. Water temps in the region are in the low 80s and can easily support the energy needed to drive a tropical cyclone. The trouble for Barbara will be the upper level winds which are not very favorable right now. However, since the circulation is fairly small in size, it won’t take much relaxation of those upper level winds to allow the system to reorganize and gain tropical storm intensity. If it does, it will remain named “Barbara” and will not take on an Atlantic Basin name. It’s odd but that’s the way it’s handled.

Looking at satellite imagery, there appears to be considerable moisture still lingering over portions of Mexico where more than a foot of rain has fallen along the path of Barbara since yesterday. The slow moving nature of the system has resulted in significant tropical rain fall. It looks as though the pattern will be slow to change and Barbara or its remnants could hang around the southwestern Gulf of Mexico for a few days. Hopefully it will move far enough offshore to take the deep tropical moisture with it.

The rest of the Atlantic and east Pacific are quiet today with no significant areas of convection noted in satellite imagery. None of the global models suggest any solid chance of tropical storm formation through the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, Saturday marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season which lasts six months. We’ll have a special live Ustream event on Monday, June 3 at 8pm via our Ustream channel. I will be joined by Mike Watkins and Jesse Bass as we discuss our plans for the upcoming season as well as the forecasts by NOAA, CSU and others who are predicting a very busy season. Tune in live and we’ll even take questions via the Usatream chat and our own Client Services private chat as well. I’ll have more about this event on Saturday.


Wet weekend ahead for portions of the Gulf Coast as low pressure tries to form

A Wide Swath of Heavy Rain Coming for the Gulf Coast

A Wide Swath of Heavy Rain Coming for the Gulf Coast

It looks like a wet weekend is in store for a good deal of the northwest Gulf Coast due to a low pressure area that is forecast to form. The low drops southeast out of Texas today and tomorrow and begins to tap the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This will supply quite a bit of deep tropical moisture and could lead to some very heavy rains across portions of the I-10 corridor later in the weekend.

The low seems to be part of energy coming out of the east Pacific associated with a developing tropical storm just about on the coast of Pacific Mexico now. What the models are indicating is that some of this energy gets pulled in to a developing trough of low pressure that digs in over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi this weekend. The added heat energy from the Pacific system gets a boost of upper level energy from the trough and a surface low develops in response over the northwest Gulf of Mexico. It is quite complex but the end result should be a non-tropical low pressure area gets going and brings wind, coastal flooding issues and very heavy rains to a good deal of the area from Texas to Alabama between late Saturday through Monday.

While I fully expect to see the NHC mention this system once it gets organized, the processes involved with its development lead me to think that it has almost no chance of becoming purely tropical in nature. However, there is an opportunity here for the formation of a sub-tropical storm which has winds spread out over a larger area and temperature profile that is different from a purely tropical system where the winds are concentrated nearer the center that itself is warmer than the surrounding environment. The bottom line is that a period of rather squally weather is coming and folks need to be aware.

As it happens to be, I am about to head over to the Gulf Coast as I make my way to Houston for continuing interview work for a documentary that I am producing with my colleagues Mike Watkins and Jesse Bass. So I will be right in the thick of what ever develops and can post updates here, stream live via our Ustream channel and send video blogs to our iPhone app. It will be an interesting weekend to say the least.

Meanwhile, the system in the east Pacific, invest area 94-E, is producing heavy rains and winds to near tropical storm intensity in the area near the southern Baja peninsula. Fortunately, the weak low pressure center will be onshore later today but the threat of continued torrential rains across portions of Mexico will persist for the remainder of today and early tomorrow. All of this energy will track across Mexico and become the source of the aforementioned Gulf low.

ECMWF MJO Signal Looking a Little More Favorable in October

ECMWF MJO Signal Looking a Little More Favorable in October

Beyond this weekend, it looks as though a weak MJO pulse could move in to the Atlantic Basin just in time for the second climatological peak of the hurricane season that occurs near the middle of the month. While it is too far out in time to begin looking for signs of development, I suspect that we will see something take shape in the western Caribbean within the next two to three weeks. This fits the time of year we are in and the added influence of the wet phase of the MJO could lead to one more development potential during October. Obviously, we will just wait and see how this plays out as there is nothing indicated in the long range models just yet.

As I mentioned, I am on the road right now, currently in Florida, where I have interviewed quite a few people for the documentary. I’ve been working with Mike Watkins to develop the story and shape the ideas in to something that we think will give you a whole new perspective on hurricanes and their impacts on our nation and our culture. I’ll be producing video blogs for our private clients and for our app later this morning and then I’ll hit the road by this afternoon and begin heading over to the Gulf Coast for more interviews. I’ll keep the site updated with another post coming by early this evening.