92L in the Caribbean likely to bring a lot of rain to Yucatan as tropics begin to ramp up

Computer model plots for 92L courtesy of Hurricane Analytics

Computer model plots for 92L courtesy of Hurricane Analytics

Invest area 92L is looking more organized today with deep convection taking on a more curved look in satellite imagery. Also noted is a more well established upper level outflow pattern. This will aid in the development of this system over the next couple of days while conditions remain favorable over the very warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.

The NHC notes that a low pressure center may be forming somewhere between the Caymans and the Yucatan. The low is forecast by most of the computer models to move to the northwest and possibly cross the Yucatan and in to the Gulf of Mexico. This means that a lot of rain and some increase in wind is headed for the region today and tomorrow. Interests in the area need to be aware of this large weather system and understand the rain threat is significant. Fortunately, it does not look like 92L will have much chance to rapidly strengthen but it wouldn’t take much for it to become a tropical depression or tropical storm.

Beyond the next 48 hours, the track is quite uncertain. Some of the model guidance indicates a track towards the U.S. Gulf Coast while others are more west towards Mexico. As we have seen so many times before, it will come down to the timing of how an upper level trough interacts with the system over the coming days.

If the trough can create a weakness in the steering pattern to the north of the disturbance, then it can have a hole, if you will, to move in to and thus towards the Gulf Coast states.

On the other hand, if the trough is not strong enough to erode the high pressure to the north of the disturbance, and the high actually builds back in once the trough lifts out, then it will get pushed westward across the Bay of Campeche and towards Mexico. There’s no way to know which scenario will play out – we’ll just have to wait and see. Right now, most of the reliable guidance is pointing towards the Gulf Coast but this can change as more data becomes available for each new run of the models. If you live along the U.S. Gulf Coast anywhere from Texas to Florida, just keep an eye on this feature over the next couple of days. As I said, intensity forecasts from the various models do not indicate much chance for strengthening and hopefully that will remain the case. We’ll watch and see how things progress today and tomorrow.

Elsewhere, we have invest area 93L far out in the eastern Atlantic. This system has a solid chance of becoming a tropical depression before it moves in to a more stable environment where the mid-level air is drier. It’s only of concern to interests in the Cape Verde Islands right now.

All of this activity is part of the pattern that is slowly beginning to unfold across the tropics. We’ve seen a lot of storm activity in the Pacific, now it’s the Atlantic’s turn. The next several weeks are likely to become increasingly busy throughout the Atlantic as there are signs that the upper level pattern is about to become quite favorable. Despite all the talk of dry air, dust and a lack of activity, it is still going to be a very busy season. There are just too many overwhelming signals in favor of that to be ignored. Now is the time to be prepared. Take that generator to a small engine repair shop to have it looked at in case you need it later. Do the little things now that can help alleviate the stress that comes with an approaching hurricane. It’s about to get very busy out there and as such, people need to be ready.

I’ll have another post here later on this evening.

M. Sudduth 1pm ET August 14

Share

Hurricane season begins

It’s June 1 and that means the official start to the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season had arrived. For the next six months the Atlantic Basin will be monitored closely by hurricane trackers all over the world.

What is it about hurricanes that captivates the imaginations of so many people? A large part of it has to do with proximity: most people who care enough to track hurricanes more than just passively actually live on or very near the coast. Thus, these folks have a vested interest in what may be coming from the tropics.

Still, a large number of people from all over the country and indeed, from around the world, track hurricanes with great interest. I think it is the still mysterious nature of these children of the oceans that draws people in. It’s a power far greater than any of us can begin to comprehend and so we are glued to our computers, our mobile devices and our TVs and radios when the likes of a Hugo, Andrew or Katrina comes calling.

So what’s in store for 2013? Every respected hurricane forecasting entity from universities to NOAA to private firms have all suggested that this season could be quite busy. What none of them can tell us though, not with any degree of accuracy, is where these future hurricanes will end up. Will it be your back yard? Will they remain just far enough off the East Coast to warrant only concern but little else? There’s just no way to know for sure. We can venture to guess based on past patterns but I think it is better to be aware and be prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, what does that mean? For me, I think it is two-part concept. First, it’s about education and knowing the enemy. The more you know about something that can potentially harm you, the better you can prepare for it. Second, it’s about doing what you can to mitigate loss over the long term. Sure the preparedness tips are helpful: stock up on this and that for the storm event itself but what about long term plans to lessen the impacts over time? Simple things like having a generator and knowing how to properly use and maintain it can help to save your refrigerated goods and provide some level of comfort after a landfall. Perhaps it’s getting to know your insurance agent and your policy a little better. Why wait until everyone in your community is calling for help to get to know what’s covered and what’s not? The little things that can be done ahead of the watches and warnings will go a long way in minimizing stress and you may fare a little better because of it.

This season we will be promoting our iPhone (and soon to be released) Android app. It’s called Hurricane Impact and is exactly what it sounds like. We focus on the impact from tropical storms and hurricanes and that’s what it comes down to, right? If they all stayed out to sea, the hurricane app market would be a shadow of what it currently is. Hurricane Impact is affordable at $2.99 in the App Store and will give users a daily video blog, field mission video blogs, live wind and pressure data from our own weather stations, live web cam images and a new and innovative “Surge Cam” that we’ll set up to monitor storm surge along the coast. Add our own tracking maps, blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds and it’s a great addition to your weather apps collection. Click here to get it now.

One this first day of the season I am happy to report that there are no areas of concern in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf. We may see a low pressure area evolve in the Gulf of Mexico later this week but it looks to remain weak and rather disorganized. Still, rain chances may be on the increase for the Florida peninsula as we move through the week so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll be hosting a special live Ustream broadcast on Monday night – 8pm ET – to discuss the season and talk about our plans for field coverage. To watch live, simply go to our Ustream channel: Ustream.tv/hurricanetrack on Monday evening. I will have Mike Watkins and Jesse Bass, both long time colleagues and great friends of mine, on with me to round out the discussions. Hope you can tune in – if not, I’ll save it for later viewing anytime.

I’ll post a blog at least once a day, every day of the season. With that said, I’ll have more tomorrow.

M. Sudduth

Share

Storm surge is major threat from hurricanes

Storm Surge From Hurricane Isaac in 2012

Storm Surge From Hurricane Isaac in 2012 as captured from one of our older generation Surge Cams. Top image is before Isaac on August 28 while the bottom image is during the height of the surge along the Mississippi coast. The water rose several feet at this location along Gulfport Harbor.

This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week and as such, each day has a topic related to hurricanes and being prepared.

Today’s topic is storm surge – one of the most devastating effects from a tropical cyclone. Historically, storm surge kills more people than any other tropical cyclone hazard. We saw a period of time from 1970 through 2004 when few people lost their lives due to surge. Then, in 2005, Katrina changed all of that with scores of lives lost due to surge from the Missisisppi Sound as well as the catastrophic flooding from storm surge coupled with the failure of New Orleans’ levee system.

Sadly, the trend continued, though not to the same scale fortunately, with Sandy last October as storm surge swept in to areas along the New York and New Jersey coasts. A vast majority of the damage from Sandy was the result of storm surge and battering waves.

Most people do not understand storm surge and how it can affect them. Almost all evacauations in a hurricane are because of the threat of storm surge flooding. Studies are done to predict traffic flow, behavior patterns and response to evacuation orders. In most cases, people will wait as long as possible to determine whether or not the threat to their immediate location is substantial enough to warrant the trouble of leaving. While this is an understandble trait of human nature, it could lead to deadly consequences.

Let’s take hurricane Ike from 2008 as an example. It was an especially large hurricane that generated an enormous surge of water that was quite literally pushed towards the northwest Gulf of Mexico coastline. The NHC had forecast Ike to become an intense category three hurricane for several days before its landfall near Galveston on September 13. Yet, thousands of people remained on Galveston Island despite A) the city’s infamous history with hurricanes and B) the warning that people would face “certain death” if they remained behind.

If someone told you that if you remained in your car on a hot July day with the power off and the windows rolled up that you would face certain death, what would you do? I am guessing that 100% of you would not remain in your car under those conditions. Why? Because you know what will happen. You have felt the car get really hot before and have the A/C to fire up in order to make it tolerable. The point is, you’ve experienced the conditions that could kill you before yet you have the tool (A/C) to mitigate the worst from happening. It is that experience with a very hot car that has taught you not to remain inside of it for any length of time during warm to hot days.

The same cannot be said of storm surge. Most people who live along the coast have never experienced a storm surge from a tropical storm or hurricane. Thus, they have no idea what they’re dealing with. They have not seen it with their own eyes and do not grasp the concept of how much energy moving water has. They are shown maps on TV and the Internet and are told to evacuate. Often times, most people do not unless they sense danger.

I suppose that as Ike approached, some people did not sense any danger and chose to remain behind. The resulting storm surge as at least 20 feet high in some locations with thousands of homes either destroyed or seriously damaged by the flood waters. Lives were lost because people did not evacuate though scores of lives were indeed saved because of adequte warnings and people heeding them.

I guess since seeing is believing that we have to do something to further convince people of how bad storm surge can be.

As I announced in a blog post a few months ago, we are going to provide a publicly accessible, brand new, completely redesigned “Surge Cam” that will stream live video from the teeth of the next hurricane and its storm surge. We have been using an older technology for the past seven seasons that ended with Sandy last October. Now, we have new and more effecient technology that will allow us to place un-manned cameras anywhere we wish with almost no risk to either ourselves or to the equipment. We’ve made a decision to make one of these units available through our public Ustream channel at no cost to those who watch. The idea is to show people the effects of storm surge and convince them through live video that storm surge is a lethal, destructive force. We hope to place the Surge Cam in an area where a significant impact from storm surge is expected. The new camera systems last for at least 30 hours now, allowing us more time to place them in locations that no humans have any business being in as the hurricane and its surge sweep in. Perhaps this will help to motivate people to evacuate and take the appropriate measures to mitigate loss to property as well.

We will have three other Surge Cams dedicated to our Client Services members – after all, it’s their funding that supports this effort in the first place. We just thought it would serve the public and local officials, as well as the media, to provide one Surge Cam feed free of charge. Thanks to advances in technology, we can do that starting this season. Once we have a threat of a landfall, I’ll post the URL of the Surge Cam in a blog post and on our Twitter and Facebook pages. People are encouraged to share and embed the player as much as they wish. Anyone in the media may use the feed on-air and on their websites as they see fit. Just credit HurricaneTrack.com please – that’s all we ask.

It looks like a very busy season ahead. I hope that folks along the coast, especially newcomers, do their part to better understand the risk from tropical storms and hurricanes. For more info, including excellent video resources, check out the NHC’s preparedness page here: NHC Hurricane Preparedness

Share

Latest run of GFS puts Florida peninsula in Isaac’s path

As Isaac tries to gain organization today, its future track remains a big question mark. It seems fairly certain that over the next day or so that the storm will pass over parts of Hispaniola and Cuba. It’s what happens after that part of the track forecast that has huge implications for Florida.

As you may recall, the computer model guidance has been shifting west over the past couple of days and the threat of a significant hurricane landfall along the central Gulf Coast seemed to be growing. This westward trend has apparently come to a halt today and now the threat to southeast Florida and the peninsula as a whole is back in play.

Latest GFS Model Run Showing Threat to SE Florida

Latest GFS Model Run Showing Threat to SE Florida

The key elements are a trough and ridge. The ridge is a large area of high pressure situated over the western Atlantic that acts to push on Isaac like a large water balloon. The trough is like a wedge that comes in and is stronger than the water balloon and pushes on it, creating a space for Isaac to move through. If the ridge is strong enough and resists the trough, then Isaac tracks farther to the west. If the trough is strong enough, then Isaac takes that weakness in the atmosphere and comes in to the Florida peninsula. It is not out of the question that the trough energy would be enough to pull Isaac up to the east of Florida either though nothing right now shows that happening. We did see with Irene last year how much the five day forecast can change, even day to day.

The U.S. based GFS or Global Forecast System model in its most recent run shows Isaac bearing down on southeast Florida in about 48 hours and beyond. This is in response to a clear break in the ridge of high pressure over the western Atlantic. While this development is excellent news for the central Gulf Coast, it brings back the possibility of hurricane conditions for the large population center of south Florida and the Keys. Furthermore, the GFS then brings Isaac up the west side of Florida and we all know what is going on next week in Tampa. It will be really interesting to see what the European model, aka ECMWF, shows on its run which will come out later this afternoon. The Euro model lead the charge for a westward track for several days in a row and has only recently begun to swing more east as it too sees a stronger digging by the trough over the eastern United States.

I know the public would like a perfect forecast with each storm but it’s just not possible yet. The NHC has an incredible amount of talent and modern computer guidance to utilize for each forecast cycle. But when we are talking three, four and five days out or more, there are just so many variables that can come and go, making each forecast a potential challenge. Fortunately for now, Isaac remains quite weak. That aspect of the forecast is also equally tough since rapid intensification can happen almost without warning. This is why people need to just be prepared and not waffle back and forth with the models or the forecasts. If you’re in the cone of uncertainty, then that means there is an uncertain amount of risk to you posed by that tropical entity. If a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning is posted, then it’s time to act. Trying to second guess the guidance or the forecasts is never a good use of time. Just be ready in case Isaac tracks your way and keep in mind that it is a very large storm. This means the effects, wind, rain etc, will be impacting the areas affected well in advance of the center.

I am working on my video blog for our iPhone app now and will have it posted shortly. I will take a graphical, in-depth look at the latest GFS run and what the potential impacts could be for Florida this weekend and in to next week.

I will also be working on packing up equipment for a field mission to Florida where I will work with colleague Mike Watkins to cover Isaac’s impacts on the region. I may leave as early as this evening depending on the future forecast info from the NHC.

I would like to invite you to consider following along LIVE via our Client Services site. It is a subscription service that allows you to watch our progress live while being able to interact with us and other members via our own chat program. It is not open to the public so there are no trolls or troublemakers. Your subscription also gives you access to our expanded set of tracking maps, including our exclusive offering of Stormpulse maps. In addition, we set out our own live streaming video cam systems right in the heart of where the worst of the storm or hurricane is expected. This too is available, 100% ad free, to our subscribers. We have over 380 members from around the world, many from Florida. If you feel that having access to live coverage from a team who has over 15 years of experience in the field, then Client Services can serve you well. Click here to sign up today.

I’ll post another blog update early this evening or sooner if need be.

Share

Isaac’s first impact will be to the Lesser Antilles but to what extent?

TS Isaac With Some Deep Convection Tonight

TS Isaac With Some Deep Convection Tonight

TS Isaac is making news headlines and for good reason. While plenty of people are looking down the road, several days in fact, let’s not forget what’s in store for people in the Lesser Antilles over the next day or so.

While Isaac may be fairly weak right now, it could intensify rather quickly and if it does so while passing over the islands, it could mean a day of rather rough conditions. What I will be looking for is to see if very deep convection forms and takes the shape of a ball. This would tell me that a CDO or central dense overcast area of intense thunderstorm activity has developed. It is underneath these intense cores of copious rain fall that the strongest winds usually occur. If we see Isaac pushing up deep convection, then look out below as strong gusts of wind will likely result. This is why people in the warning area need to be prepared. It is impossible to forecast these convective bursts and we can only monitor via satellite and perhaps local radar where available. It’s just something to keep in mind since the Lesser Antilles are first in line to deal with Isaac.

As for later issues? We’ll have to take it one day at a time and see what happens as Isaac moves in to the Caribbean Sea. We’ve been through this enough times to know that there are no clear cut answers this far out. Different sets of models will show different results at different times of each day. For now, let’s see what happens as the storm passes through the Lesser Antilles. Hopefully it won’t be much but in case Isaac suddenly ramps up, people need to be prepared.

Share