East Pacific hurricane season begins today as does my trip to New York and New Jersey

East Pacific invest 90-E

East Pacific invest 90-E

It’s May 15 and that means the east Pacific hurricane season is now underway. Right on cue, a tropical depression appears to be forming well off the coast of Mexico where waters are warm enough to support the deep convection noted in satellite imagery.

All of the forecast models indicate that the developing low pressure area will move westward and away from the Mexican coastline over the next several days.

The east Pacific season begins two weeks ahead of the Atlantic season though both basins see about the same amount of activity per 100 years during this time of the year – so I am not certain as to why the Atlantic season does not officially begin until June 1. In any case, we do have something to monitor on this opening day of the east Pacific season though it poses no threat to land areas at this time.

In other news – I am heading up to New York and New Jersey beginning later this morning. I have a couple of projects to follow up on in New York City tomorrow and then I am going to travel back to coastal New Jersey where I was when Sandy made landfall. I’ll re-trace my steps in Long Branch and Belmar and might get to travel to other places farther south if time permits.

The unique thing about this trip is that I am going to stream the entire journey live on our public Ustream channel. I want to demonstrate our new “everywhere cam” that we’ll be using for our subscriber site this season. We’ll still have a free live camera streaming but it will be a traditional dash-mounted video camera. This new technology is amazing. There’s no laptop needed and the cam is so small and versatile that I can take it anywhere. The audio is incredible as well. I thought it would be great to test it out while showing anyone viewing a little of the East Coast countryside.

Once I get to the Jersey coast on Friday, you’ll want to tune in and see how things have progressed since Sandy. I’ll provide narration and insight as to what the impacts were and where I was and what I was doing back on October 29 of last year. Watch our Twitter feed for updates as to when something really worthwhile is streaming and then tune in by clicking the link below or simply bookmarking our Ustream channel page: Ustream.tv/hurricanetrack

Click here to watch our live Ustream feed

 

My next post will cover some exciting news about our app which is about to have a major update completed. Plus – is an Android version in the works? Check out the blog on Monday to find out.

M. Sudduth

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Carolinas get ready for wind and rain as Sandy turns your way

Latest GFS forecast showing Sandy in 48 hours off the Southeast coast

Latest GFS forecast showing Sandy in 48 hours off the Southeast coast

I wanted to post an update about the next 48 hours and what the GFS model is showing with Sandy.

As the hurricane turns more to the north after leaving the Bahamas, it looks as though a large area of heavy rain will develop along the western side. This could bring several inches of rain for portions of coastal Georgia, South Carolina and especially eastern North Carolina.

In addition, the wind will pick up to tropical storm force as the overall wind field of Sandy continues to expand. It looks as though all of eastern North Carolina, from around I-95 and points east, will feel the strong winds. And, any heavy convection that develops will help to bring even stronger winds down to the surface.

As Sandy passes North Carolina to the east, the wind will shift to the north and drive the Pamlico Sound southward. This places a good deal of Downeast North Carolina under the threat of storm surge flooding. People who live in the area know the risks already as they have dealt with this type of event many times in recent years. However, Sandy’s wind field will be so large that the duration of these near-storm force winds (50 mph or higher) mean that with each high tide, water levels will increase. Please consult your local NWS site, weather.gov, input your ZIP Code, and read any/all local warnings and statements. These are written by real people who live in your community! They will provide much more specific information as to the impacts expected from Sandy. This holds true for any area that is in the path of the hurricane.

I will post another update later tonight and will begin to address the potential issues for storm surge for the Northeast.

Note: I am adding another video blog to our iPhone right now. It should be in the app within the next 30 minutes. Don’t have our app? Search “hurricanetrack” in the App Store. It will provide you with our blog posts as well as our field mission videos and live data.

 

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Bahamas getting the worst of Sandy now, then it’s time for East Coast of U.S. to be ready

NHC 5-day track map for Sandy puts a large portion of U.S. coast at risk

NHC 5-day track map for Sandy puts a large portion of U.S. coast at risk

Hurricane Sandy has been an impressive system to watch. It strengthened quite rapidly last night and blasted a small portion of southeast Cuba with near category three hurricane conditions.

Today, Sandy is weaker but still quite formidable. The cloud mass is enormous with the cirrus canopy extending all the way up in to the Southeast U.S. Near the core, winds are near 105 mph and the pressure is beginning to drop again. Ocean heat content values are fairly high meaning there is quite a bit of energy for Sandy to tap as it moves through the Bahamas. With quite an impressive outflow pattern established, it is possible that Sandy could intensify some before the pattern changes and begins to affect the structure of the hurricane.

People in the Bahamas will be in for a long duration of tropical storm and then hurricane conditions, depending on exactly where the center tracks. Luckily, hurricane force winds only extend out some 30 miles from the center and this will limit the geographic area affected by hurricane winds.

On the other hand, tropical storm force winds reach out to 140 miles from the center and this puts a large area of the Bahamas within some fairly stormy conditions. As long as we do not see any significant strengthening, and keep in mind the forecast calls for some weakening, I think the Bahamas should be prepared enough to withstand this hurricane without too many issues. People are used to hurricanes for the most part and Sandy is not an extreme case for the region. However, it is still a hurricane and it needs to be respected as such. We’ll see how things go with the intensity situation over the next 12 to 24 hours.

As for Florida’s east coast, there are some rain bands moving in that are well out ahead of the main circulation of Sandy. So far, this rain is confined to the southeast part of the state. A general increase in wind and rain is forecast but it looks now as if Sandy will remain far enough east of the peninsula to avoid any hurricane winds.

It should be noted that the surf will be quite rough as the long fetch of tropical storm winds will continue to build the seas offshore. Breaking waves that are much larger than usual will lead to some beach erosion, especially at high tide. I think that Florida is looking a lot better as of late with the forecast track keeping Sandy farther off the coast. Keep in mind though that the large wind field is expected to expand and this means that there is a chance for tropical storm conditions, winds of 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts, for a good deal of the eastern coast and just inland of Florida. Conditions will improve quickly later in the weekend as the hurricane pulls away.

Next up we have concerns for North Carolina, especially the Outer Banks. Here too, a long period of tropical storm force winds will drive the ocean onshore and with each high tide, the water levels will just go up and up. Wind is not a big factor here, though it will cause its share of issues. I think the biggest concern will be from ocean and soundside flooding. This region was heavily impacted by hurricane Irene last season and can ill afford another large storm event. Unfortunately, it looks like Sandy will cause additional flooding concerns – particularly in the usual spots where over wash takes place. We will know a lot more about the specific impacts for North Carolina in another day or so as Sandy moves out of the Bahamas. Obviously, people in the region need to prepare for what could be a significant storm surge/wave event. How bad is tough to say this early. I will be in the Outer Banks tomorrow evening to begin reporting on conditions from Hatteras to Kitty Hawk. I’ll talk more about my plans, which include working with long-time friend and colleague, Jesse Bass, this evening.

The next big question is what happens with Sandy along the mid-Atlantic and Northeast? Well, as much as I would like to jump in to details right now, I simply cannot except to say that the potential is there for a very disruptive coastal and inland storm event. A lot will hinge on exactly what the structure of Sandy is. This is very complicated and I want to address it separately in another blog post. Right now, we know that the official forecast aims what is left over of Sandy the hurricane right at the New Jersey coast. This is very serious as we are looking at the chance for a region that is simply not used to hurricanes at all having to deal with something that is far more complex than the public realizes.

My advice for people north of Cape Hatteras within the cone of uncertainty is this: begin preparing now. Think about how you will deal with the power being out, what you will do with kids, family members, pets. Stock up on some items now and be ahead of the situation. Get some gas cans just to be safe. Use this time as we await the future track and intensity to be more prepared. As we move through the next day or so, we’ll know much more about what to expect in terms of conditions, storm surge, rain, snow, wind and rain. Yes, I said snow. You see, it is THAT complicated and even I need to research this to better explain what is going to happen….at least what we think is going to happen.

I’ll have another major update posted here this evening and will have my first video blog posted to our iPhone app within the hour. I’ll then post another video blog to the app later this evening.

Speaking of our app, if Sandy does in fact hit the U.S. East Coast, you will absolutely want to get our app to keep up with what is going on right where it is happening. We will have video posts, live weather data, web cam images and even live tracking of where we are. There is simply no other app with this kind of landfall information directly in the teeth of the storm. This is what we do, we’ve done it for 15 years and now the power of our landfall reporting and info is available in our app. Click here to learn more. I’ll talk more about the app and what it is capable of in another blog post soon. If you have our app, may I please ask you to review it? Good or bad, we need feedback. So please take a moment to leave a review, what ever you think of it, let us know.

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Sandy nearly a hurricane and poised to become historic event one way or another

Sandy's wind field will ikely expand and could bring tropical storm conditions to a large part of the Southeast U.S.

Sandy's wind field will ikely expand and could bring tropical storm conditions to a large part of the Southeast U.S.

It is going to be a rough day in Jamaica as Sandy is nearing hurricane intensity this morning. Luckily, there is no eye readily apparent in satellite imagery which would indicate significant strengthening but I think it is only a matter of time before Sandy becomes the 10th hurricane of the season.

Jamaica will feel the effects today and tonight followed by a landfall in Cuba early tomorrow morning. The interaction with the higher terrain of eastern Cuba will disrupt the inner core of Sandy and should keep it from being too strong once in the Bahamas. However, sea surface temps are plenty warm there and it would not be surprising to see Sandy regain hurricane intensity while passing through the Bahamas.

Late tomorrow and in to Friday, Florida’s east coast will begin to feel the effects of Sandy wit an increase in wind and surf. Right now, the upper Keys and a good portion of SE Florida is under a tropical storm watch. Since the wind field of Sandy is forecast by the global models to expand significantly, I feel that it is almost a certainty that winds to at least tropical storm force, perhaps up to 50 mph, will be felt across portions of southeast Florida.

The other issue will be the huge wave set up that is going to happen as a result of Sandy’s massive wind field. Beach erosion is likely to be a major concern for east facing beaches along the Florida coast and working up the Southeast coast in to North Carolina. I cannot emphasize this enough and with the growing Moon phase towards full, we could be looking at a major coastal flood event for some areas of the Southeast U.S. coastline. A lot will depend on how far west Sandy tracks as some of the models are indicating a brief jog back to the northwest in a few days. Interests along the Florida east coast all the way up to the North Carolina Outer Banks should be paying close attention to this situation. The chance for substantial ocean overwash, especially in the Outer Banks, seems to be increasing with time.

Then we have the issue of the ECWMF’s idea of an unprecedented impact to the Northeast with Sandy or what ever it becomes once past about 35 N latitude. The model has not given up on its forecast of a general northward track, just passing the Outer Banks and then slamming the Northeast with what looks like hurricane conditions over a large area of coastline. While the GFS remains strong in its forecast of an out-to-sea track, it has been getting a little more west and north with each run. Even if the Euro forecast turns out to be dead wrong, Sandy will leave its mark down south along the Florida east coast and probably the North Carolina Outer Banks. If the Euro is right, then we will remember the ending of the 2012 hurricane season for many years to come.

I’ll have another update posted here by early this evening.

Keep in mind that we do have our iPhone app which is a great way to keep up to date with the latest on Sandy and other tropical news and info. I post video blogs to the app each day with several of them posted daily as needed during such events as this with Sandy. During field missions, our app is the ONLY one that offers live weather data from our own instrumented wind tower. Plus, we set up live web cams and post video updates from the field on a regular basis. You simply cannot find this level of dedication and information WHERE THE ACTION IS from any other hurricane tracking app. To get HurricaneTrack for iPhone, iPod Touch and even the iPad, click here.

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A few thoughts on Sandy

TS Sandy developing banding as it gathers strength in the Caribbean Sea

TS Sandy developing banding as it gathers strength in the Caribbean Sea

There are no sweeping changes to discuss tonight with Sandy but I did want to pass on a few observations and thoughts before turning in for the night.

First, Sandy appears to be getting better organized with deep convective bands beginning to develop and wrap around the east side of the circulation. There is still some drier mid level air and perhaps a little bit of wind shear along the western half but all in all, the structure looks improved over the last few hours. This should equate to a gradual lowering of the surface pressure and an increase in the winds. Interests in Jamaica need to be ready for an intensifying hurricane later tomorrow. If Sandy were to begin a period of rapid strengthening, then the effects of the wind will be quite dramatic, especially in higher elevations.

The other item to note is the almost certain effects that Sandy will have on Florida and elsewhere along the Southeast coast. People need to remember that hurricanes are not points on a map. Just because the center is not forecast to strike Florida does not mean all will be fine and dandy – especially along the east coast. High surf, an increase in rip currents, strong east to northeast winds will all be factors as we approach the weekend.

What people in Florida, along the east and southeast portion mainly, need to realize is that Sandy is going to grow in to a much larger system over the next few days. Its wind field is going to expand and reach out far from the center. This means effects will extend in to areas such as the Keys, Miami, West Palm Beach and all across southeast Florida. Exactly what conditions will be felt is impossible to forecast but it looks about as certain as can be that there will be some impact from Sandy for Florida.

Of course, in the Bahamas, hurricane conditions are possible and probably expected. Here too the surf will increase with larger and larger waves developing around this growing storm system.

I think that too many people ask “what category is it?” and if it’s not a three or four, they don’t worry too much. It’s not about worrying at all. It’s about understanding the weather and its potential to cause harm to you and your property. It is possible that winds to 50 or 60 mph will impact areas of SE Florida. This can cause damage to weak structures and trees. These trees can fall on people, buildings and cars and have bad results.

I want people to try and get the bigger picture of what is going on here with Sandy. Sandy is not an “it” as in, “where will IT go”. I think people are asking about the center when they say “IT”. Sandy is a large, powerful tropical cyclone that has wind, rain, storm surge and the chance for down burst winds and tornadoes in its outer rain bands. When you think of “IT” think of the whole package.

These conditions may spread across a huge geographic region from Florida north through the Carolinas and eventually in to New England. It is extremely important to grasp what the effects will be and why they will take place. Do not focus on category this or that, that does little good. Instead, ask yourself “what impacts will I have here?” and then do your part to read up on those. Where can you do that? Your local National Weather Service site for one. Go to weather.gov and put in your ZIP Code. Read the forecast discussions, learn about the impacts. There is a lot to gain from educating yourself about possible effects from any weather system, much less a hurricane or powerful ocean storm.

For now, we will watch and hope for the best for people in Jamaica, eastern Cuba, Haiti and eventually the Bahamas. Just remember, Sandy is not a dot on a map, paper or computer, it is a huge weather machine and it’s on the move. Be ready.

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