Gulf Stream aiding in comeback for Bonnie? Also, southern Gulf area to watch in coming days

Tropical depression Bonnie as seen in early morning visible satellite very near the NC Outer Banks

Tropical depression Bonnie as seen in early morning visible satellite very near the NC Outer Banks

The NHC will begin issuing advisories again on what was once TS Bonnie, now a tropical depression again very near the North Carolina Outer Banks.

It seems that the close proximity of the warm Gulf Stream has helped to refuel enough organized convection to aid in the recovery of the system. The main threat will be continued heavy rain and some gusty winds, along with locally rough seas (ocean and sound). I do believe the Hurricane Hunters will be flying a mission in to the area later today and we’ll know more about the wind field at that point. Right now, I am not seeing anything to suggest rapid strengthening though it would not be unreasonable to suggest that Bonnie could attain tropical storm intensity before all is said and done.

Unfortunately, the steering currents are still quite weak across the region and thus Bonnie will be aggravatingly slow to move out. It looks like by later tomorrow, the pesky storm system will finally move on out to sea. Until then, if you have plans to visit the Outer Banks or are there now, just keep in mind the fact that occasional bands of heavy rain will impact the area.

Meanwhile, we will soon need to turn our attention to the southern Gulf of Mexico where it looks like we may see yet another system try to develop some time next week.

Almost all of the reliable computer models are suggesting a broad area of low pressure will develop from energy piling in to the western Caribbean over the next few days. Upper level winds won’t be ideal but water temps are certainly warm enough and there is a decent chance that a tropical depression or even a tropical storm could form and head generally towards Florida.

GFS 850mb map showing energy associated with a broad area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico in about 5 days

GFS 850mb map showing energy associated with a broad area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico in about 5 days

One thing to keep in mind, the models are not indicating a very strong system, at least not yet. As an example, I have posted a pic of the overnight GFS model which shows the winds and vorticity (spin in the atmosphere) at the 5,000 foot level or what we all the 850 millibar level. This gives me an idea of how well organized or compact a given storm might be. The more round and “bundled” the energy, the stronger it is likely to be in the real world. Notice in the image, the energy is spread out over a fairly large area, not concentrated and totally symmetrical. This tells me that what ever develops could be more spread out and thus weaker than say a hurricane would be. Obviously this can change but for now, it looks like a lopsided, sheared system with plenty of heavy rain potential, which should never be underrated. From the wind and surge perspective, so far, there is not much to indicate any major issues. I will obviously continue to monitor the situation and will post regular updates here and via my daily video discussions over the coming days.

Last but not least, a tropical depression is likely to form in the east Pacific well to the southwest of Mexico over the next few days. No matter how strong it becomes, the track will be away from land with no impact what so ever for Mexico.

I’ll have more here early this evening on Bonnie and an update on the potential Gulf system as well.

M. Sudduth 8:55 AM June 2

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Warm Gulf Stream could provide shot of energy for Sandy

The Gulf Stream awaits Sandy as it tracks northeast and then heads back towards the coast

The Gulf Stream awaits Sandy as it tracks northeast and then heads back towards the coast

There are many factors involved with what will ultimately shape the intensity and track of Sandy as it affects the Eastern Seaboard over the next few days. One of these factors is the location and strength of the Gulf Stream.

Take a look at the graphic. You can clearly see the outline of the current position and temperature of the Gulf Stream. Sandy’s forecast track has been added to the graphic but this is just the center location forecast. Sandy is obviously a huge hurricane and will have its circulation over a great deal of warm water for the next several days.

Then, the track will actually cross a portion of the Gulf Stream before Sandy heads for the coastline. All of this heat energy, water temps in the low 80s, will add fuel to aid in the deep convection of Sandy that, combined with upper level energy being injected from the massive trough digging in, should lead to a period of intensification before landfall.

The main thing to consider is to not focus on “what” Sandy is structurally. Sure it’s fascinating from a meteorological perspective but the result is practically the same: there will be wind, rain and surge that will affect millions of people. That’s the bottom line no matter what Sandy is called in the end.

The warm waters of the Caribbean gave rise to this enormous storm and now the western Atlantic and its Gulf Stream could provide the last piece of energy needed to energize Sandy once more before it makes a run for the coast.

I’ll have more here throughout the day.

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