Field mission to Florida about to begin

I am prepping to leave for Florida and the Big Bend region in anticipation of TD9 strengthening to near hurricane intensity as it moves towards the NE Gulf later tomorrow.

There is so much to cover that I figure a video discussion is a good way to get it done. I will post video updates throughout the mission, especially later today and tomorrow. Follow along in our app, Hurricane Impact

I will be setting out two live unmanned camera systems along the Gulf Coast late tonight or early tomorrow morning to show the storm surge as it comes in to the area. I plan to have one in Cedar Key and one in Suwannee and will post the links to view them once they are up and running.

I will not be taking the mobile weather stations with me since I will need to turn around and get back to North Carolina in short order to perhaps set one up along the Outer Banks Friday. It’s going to be a long and grueling few days but the reporting I can do from the ground will be worth it. I hope you will follow along.

M. Sudduth 8:50 AM ET Aug 31

Florida in line for impacts from tropical system

NHC indicating a high chance of development in the red area, meaning impacts for Florida early this coming week

NHC indicating a high chance of development in the red area, meaning impacts for Florida early this coming week

It looks like we are on our way to having another tropical system develop and it’s only June 5th. This time, we are looking at the southern Gulf of Mexico where a broad area of low pressure is taking shape, trying to organize enough to become a tropical depression or maybe even a tropical storm by later today.

The NHC indicates a 90% chance of this happening and the Hurricane Hunters will be flying out in to the system this afternoon for a close up look. At that point we’ll know for sure what is going on in the region just north of the Yucatan peninsula, extending in to the southern Gulf and northern Caribbean Sea.

Water temps in the area are plenty warm and it will not surprise me at all to see this get named – if so, it would be “Colin”.

Now, as I said yesterday, before folks in Florida get too nervous about all of this, let’s take a look at something very important: upper level winds. I think this is what keeps the system from becoming very strong. Looking at the latest 200mb wind forecast from the GFS computer model, we can clearly see very strong winds blowing across the top of the would-be storm at the 36 hour mark. This will likely keep the system from being very symmetrical in shape and with that, it should be rather lopsided with most of the wind and rain on the east side of the low pressure center.

GFS 200mb chart from the 6Z run showing the low pressure area at 36 hours. Notice the strong southerly to southwest winds blowing across the storm. This "shear" is not favorable for strengthening but could aid in severe weather for Florida

GFS 200mb chart from the 6Z run showing the low pressure area at 36 hours. Notice the strong southerly to southwest winds blowing across the storm. This “shear” is not favorable for strengthening but could aid in severe weather for Florida (click to enlarge)

On the other hand, there will be substantial impacts for portions of the Florida peninsula. Exactly where and to what extent remains to be seen.

Winds to tropical storm force, maybe reaching 50 mph in some locations, could be expected but it’s tough to know where right now.

Very heavy rain coming from the warm Gulf of Mexico will move in as early as tomorrow afternoon. This is the biggest impact that I see for now and could cause localized flooding. It will be important to monitor your local NWS information and news sources as this will be a dynamic, constantly evolving part of the storm. In other words, it will come down to where the heavy rain bands or squall line(s) set up. Your area could get several inches of rain, along with strong gusty winds, or very little at all. We won’t know until the system is within radar range of NWS sites along the Florida west coast.

Coastal flooding will be a concern in typical onshore, surge prone areas of the west coast. I’ll know more about this once the NHC issues advisories and releases their storm surge and coastal flooding forecasts. I can highlight this better in my video discussion, especially tomorrow.

Severe weather as a whole could be a problem as well. With the very strong upper level wind pattern, it won’t take much to produce isolated tornadic thunderstorms along with possible strong down burst winds during the passage of the storm system. Again, there is no way to know where this might occur until we can see the storms on radar. The severe weather threat is high enough to warrant considerable concern, it’s just impossible to know precisely where and when.

Once the low moves across Florida on Tuesday, it will quickly move in to the Atlantic and could become stronger as it moves out to sea. The impacts along the Atlantic side won’t be as pronounced but even up the coast from Georgia to North Carolina could see heavy rain from the storm – it all depends on the angle of its track once it emerges in to the Atlantic.

I will post a video discussion shortly to follow up on the blog post for today. As new information comes in throughout the day, I will post updates on Twitter and our Facebook page – so be sure to follow along if you’re not already. We also have an app that consolidates all of our info in to one nice package. Search Hurricane Impact in the app store or Google Play.

M. Sudduth 10:25 AM ET June 5

Deep tropics the place to watch this coming week

Tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic has potential to develop next week

Tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic has potential to develop next week

It’s not much to look at now, but the NHC has mentioned a tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic that has some potential for development over the next few days.

Right now, the environment is not very suitable for anything to get going but that may change as indicated by some of the global computer models. A more favorable upward motion pattern, coupled with less dry air (perhaps) just might allow for a tropical low and eventually a depression to develop. It is close enough to August that this scenario seems plausible, especially considering the fact that TD2 formed within this general region just a few days ago. Even though that depression literally dried up, it is still a sign that this part of the deep tropics is becoming more and more favorable.

On the other hand, there has been an overwhelming amount of dry air across this region for a good part of the hurricane season to date. If this pattern does not ease up, it will be extremely difficult to believe that much will come out of the area south of 20N between Africa and the Lesser Antilles. All it takes is a few weeks of less hostile conditions and the lid could come off but for now, I am skeptical of seeing much – we’ll see what happens in the coming days.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic Basin is quiet this weekend.

In the east Pacific, things remain very busy with several systems on the map this morning. However, none pose any threat to land areas and that looks to remain the case over the next several days at least.

I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 11 AM ET July 26

Every mile counts now

Zoomed in track map showing just how close the center of Arthur may track to the Outer Banks of NC

Zoomed in track map showing just how close the center of Arthur may track to the Outer Banks of NC

Arthur is poised to become a hurricane and a fairly significant one at that. The NHC is forecasting winds to reach at least 90 mph before the cyclone transitions in to a more mid-latitude type storm. This has prompted the issuance of a hurricane watch for portions of the North Carolina coast – specifically from Bogue Inlet to Oregon Inlet. This encompasses all of the Crystal Coast and Outer Banks region. The time to prepare is at hand.

The hurricane watch is flanked on its north and south sides by a tropical storm watch as conditions look to deteriorate over the next day or so moving from south to north.

The storm strengthened overnight and now has winds of 60 mph as the pressure has dropped to 996 millibars. This represents a substantial reduction in air pressure over the last few days considering that the weak low pressure area emerged in to about a 1016 millibar environment. This tells me that the storm has potential to keep on strengthening once it rids itself of the pesky dry air and develops deep convection around its center. Warm water and light winds aloft could allow Arthur to become strong, possibly stronger than the forecast indicates. I always caution people who are dealing with hurricanes to prepare for one category higher – might as well be ready, right?

Right now, the storm is moving northward but the key time is when it makes the turn more to the east.

Even though the effects extend out well away from the center, it is going to be extremely important for the residents and visitors of the Outer Banks, especially Ocracoke and Hatteras, just how close the eye tracks to them. The reason is the storm surge from Pamlico Sound. If the radius of maximum winds moves over the sound then a storm surge exceeding 5 feet is possible on the north side of Hatteras and Ocracoke. This is where every mile will count. The closer the core of Arthur tracks to land, the more wind will push the sound southward, piling up the water against the land. It could mean the difference between “wow, that was close” and “wow, there’s a lot of damage here!”

Since there is no way to know even this close to the event happening, it is best to assume the worst. People in the area who have hurricane experience will know what to do. Visitors and newcomers may think this is a novelty and somewhat exciting. It is but that comes with a price. Storm surge is nothing to mess with. It can obviously be lethal but it also causes damage to automobiles and structures alike. Sound side flooding sneaks in – pours down Highway 12 and fills up Hatteras like a shallow basin. Don’t believe me? This is what hurricane Alex did in 2004.

I know because I shot this video. That is 105 mph wind coming across the sound pushing the water on to Hatteras. While no loss of life occurred, damage was extensive, especially to cars and trucks. Take this seriously folks, no two hurricanes are ever the same and comparing Arthur to Alex could be a big mistake. Take Arthur at face value and prepare accordingly.

For interests north and south of the hurricane watch area, the impacts will be less severe but they too should be taken seriously. It’s all about common sense which seems to be lacking more and more these days. The ocean will turn rough, stay out unless you’re an expert swimmer or surfer. Be careful driving in the torrential rains that are certain to fall along a wide swath as Arthur moves by. In short, don’t do anything dumb. Tropical storm conditions can bring trees down and knock power out. Take it easy, respect the storm and you’ll do fine. Take some pictures, share your experience on social media but do so with safety in mind.

Hurricane Impact for iOS and Android - get it today on the App Store or Google Play

Hurricane Impact for iOS and Android – get it today on the App Store or Google Play

I am preparing to head to the Outer Banks later today and plan to meet up with long time friend and colleague, Jesse Bass. We will be setting up one of our high-end weather stations which will feed wind and pressure data to our app, Hurricane Impact. The station also has a camera that sends an image from the site location every 60 seconds. You’ll be able to literally watch the impact of Arthur (that’s why we call it Hurricane Impact).

We will also post video reports to the app on a regular basis. So if you cannot watch our live Tahoe cam feed, you can at least stay up to date via the video reports which get posted minutes after we shoot them.

We will also deploy, if conditions warrant, four storm surge cameras. These are our unmanned camera systems that capture and stream live video from places that we have no business being in. These will feed to our private clients who support our work with their subscriptions to our suite of hurricane information and live video feeds. We will always have the Tahoe cam, also known as the “everywhere cam”, available on our Ustream channel free of charge. We’ll literally take you in to the worst conditions that Arthur brings to the area. Along the way, you’ll learn a lot about how tropical cyclones work, their impacts, history and so much more. It’s like a live science show during a hurricane – nothing else like it anywhere. I hope you can watch the free stream and consider signing up to catch our Surge Cam feeds as well. The mission is to gather data and document the impact. We are as ready as we have ever been in our 15 year history.

I’ll post another update later tonight on this page with continuing shorter posts on Twitter and Facebook.

To follow us on the go on your iOS or Android device – search Hurricane Impact and you’ll be good to go. It’s the only hurricane app that actually takes you in to the storm you’ve been tracking.

M. Sudduth 5:30 AM ET July 2


Critical week ahead for parts of the Southeast

Computer guidance has shifted west over night, resulting in a track that poses a threat to the Carolinas later this week

Computer guidance has shifted west over night, resulting in a track that poses a threat to the Carolinas later this week

This week is probably one of the worst weeks out of the entire year that a potential hurricane could threaten the United States. It’s coming up on Independence Day and a huge monkey wrench is likely to be thrown in to the plans of thousands who are wanting to relax at the beach. While nothing is etched in stone, far from it, the chances seem to be going up that something rather unpleasant is in the making as we move through this all-important week.

The issue is, of course, 91L and what will very likely become TS Arthur. The NHC continues to indicate a high chance of development over the next few days.

As of early this morning, the area of low pressure was situated to the east of Florida, about the same latitude as Melbourne and vicinity. So far, organized deep convection remains limited. It appears that northerly winds are continuing to blow over the circulation, injecting some dry air while keeping a lid on tropical thunderstorm formation. However, all indications are that this pattern will change and we will have a tropical depression before too long.

At this point, the forecast guidance is in pretty good agreement that a tropical storm will form and move northward, actually somewhat west of north for a time. Then, the crucial turn to the northeast will commence ahead of an approaching trough swinging down from the upper Midwest. This acts like a soccer player kicking the ball (Arthur to be) out to sea. Well, it’s more complicated than that, but in keeping with current sports news, I thought the soccer analogy worked. The idea is that the supposed-storm would be pushed out to sea at some point – when this happens is very important.

The overnight runs of most of the models indicate that there is a good chance that the system could move over parts of extreme eastern North Carolina. To be fair, there is also a good chance the center remains just offshore. However, we should all know by now that the center is not the only area to watch – effects can reach out 50 to 100 miles or more from the center. We’re talking rip currents, bands of heavy rain, increasing winds and seas and the possibility of tropical storm or even hurricane winds affecting some part of the North Carolina coast. I do not say this without backing it up. The SHIPS intensity model, often cited in NHC advisories, brings the system to hurricane strength – so this needs to be considered. Add to the complication the fact that intensity forecasting is where the least amount of skill lies. Do not gamble on this being a weak, sheared storm with little to worry about. There is enough room for error that I would not be at all surprised to see this system become a hurricane.

For now, we have a slowly developing tropical cyclone just off the Florida coastline. That region will be the first to feel impacts. Higher surf, rain bands and an increase in wind will likely put a damper on vacationers along the east coast of the Sunshine state for a day or two. After that, we need to wait and see what develops and take it from there.

People along the Southeast coast are generally hurricane savvy. The one thing that concerns me is the crowds of people coming in to the region from some inland state and thus having zero hurricane experience. While I may be jumping too far ahead, this is something to consider since we are coming up on a massive beach holiday. This is not going to be “fun” or “exciting”, not in a good way. If what could be the season’s first storm and/or hurricane comes close enough to the coast, people need to be ready or the results could be very rough to deal with.

I will post another update on this developing situation later in the afternoon. I’ll also have the daily video blog posted to our app, Hurricane Impact, by 4pm ET. Follow along with the app which is available for iOS devices and Android. Simply search Hurricane Impact and stay connected where ever you are.

M. Sudduth 8 AM ET June 30