It won’t be Karl

Tropical storm Karl model plots showing a likely turn to the north and eventually away from the U.S. but possibly threatening Bermuda later this week.

Tropical storm Karl model plots showing a likely turn to the north and eventually away from the U.S. but possibly threatening Bermuda later this week.

It has been almost eleven years since the last so-called “major” hurricane made landfall in the United States. That streak will continue to run strong as Karl passes by well to the east of the East Coast later this week. It won’t be Karl that breaks the streak. Instead, a trough will weaken the ridge over the Atlantic enough to induce a north then northeast turn, and a rather sharp turn at that, which will ultimately send Karl out in to the open Atlantic.

What Karl will do is send some wave action towards the East Coast, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. These waves will mean the surfing community will have a nice couple of days of long period swells moving in. I will know more about what to expect once Karl becomes a hurricane which should be later this week.

The only issue I see for the United States will be the aforementioned increase in wave action which could lead to rip currents and rough breaking wave action right at the shoreline. Swimmers just need to be cautious as this develops. Otherwise Karl will be yet another hurricane to pass comfortably by without making landfall in the U.S.

I am not quite sure that Bermuda goes unscathed as it will all come down to the angle of the turn and when the turn happens. Right now, some models take Karl very close to Bermuda this weekend, others are far enough away to keep hurricane conditions away. This is something we will need to watch closely since it looks like Karl will be intensifying as it turns out and this would mean more dramatic effects compared to a hurricane that has reached its peak. I will be watching this closely as the week progresses.

Meanwhile, the remnants of Julia are still milling around off the North Carolina coast with little overall impact or development right now. It is possible that some regeneration could occur as a front pushes in and adds more energy to the system. This could result in an increase in showers and thunderstorms along with locally gusty winds for parts of the NC Outer Banks and maybe SE Virginia tonight and tomorrow. Otherwise no major concerns from this system.

In the Pacific, another hurricane has developed off the Baja peninsula and is headed in that general direction. Fortunately, it looks as though it will weaken substantially as it moves north and turns towards land. However, the usual threat of heavy rain will be a problem and some of this moisture could make its way in to the southwest U.S. later in the week. I do not anticipate any flash flooding concerns but with tropical moisture you can never be too careful so just keep in mind that this system is out there if you have plans along the Baja this week.

Looking down the road, I see a continued period of a fairly active tropics coming up over the next week or so. Most of the global models are indicating more tropical wave action will move off of Africa and head west over the open Atlantic. One thing that is beginning to concern me a little is the fact that the seasonal shift back to the south of the path of these waves of energy will likely mean tracks closer to the Caribbean instead of north like we’re seeing with Karl. My point is that even though we are heading towards the end of the month, the hurricane season appears to have a long way to go. The very warm water, much of it warmer than normal by several degrees in some places, leads me to believe we will see the season remaining busy well in to October. Just keep your guard up and don’t write off the season just yet. I said in the opening paragraph that it won’t be Karl to break the streak of no major hurricanes for the USA. I am very confident of that statement. However, I am not confident in saying that we will escape the entire season with no major hurricane impacts for the U.S. coast. Hermine was a warning shot of what can be expected when stronger, more robust hurricanes come along. We might get by with nothing else of any consequence but in case we don’t, I urge everyone along the coast from not only the U.S. but elsewhere in the Caribbean to remain prepared and be ready in case our luck takes a turn for the worse.

I will post my daily video discussion here by early this afternoon followed by another blog update this evening.

M. Sudduth 11:55 AM ET Sept 19

Julia is, well, being Julia while Karl could mean surf’s up!

NHC track map showing Karl heading WNW over the next few days.

NHC track map showing Karl heading WNW over the next few days.

As the NHC has said concerning Julia, it is difficult to accurately predict exactly what the depression will do next. I am not going to spend a lot of time on Julia but will say this: It will remain weak and probably hang out around the Carolina coast for a few more days. Any increase in organization would be too little too late but do keep in mind the possibility of increased rip currents and generally rough seas from time to time until the low departs the area – when ever that is….

Now let’s move on to Karl.

Today the storm is quite a mess. Shear and some dry air are keeping it in check but this could change in the days ahead and Karl may become a hurricane.

The risk to the Lesser Antilles is almost nothing right now as Karl is expected to pass well to the north of the islands as it moves around the edges of a deep layer high pressure area over the Atlantic. Since this high does not extend all the way over to the East Coast, Karl is likely going to slow down and turn north and eventually northeast with time. This should keep any significant impacts away from the Bahamas and the Southeast coast next week.

One positive benefit, if you are a surfer anyway, will be swells that get generated from the would-be hurricane as it passes well offshore. As long as it becomes a hurricane, we could see a few days of decent swell activity along the East Coast and with the warm water temps and seemingly endless summer pattern, I imagine that quite a few avid surfers will be taking advantage of the conditions. I do caution that with the increase in swells comes the risk of injury to those who don’t realize the power of breaking waves in the surf zone. I’ll address this more later if warranted but for now, it looks like Karl will miss the East Coast well to the east but could bring nice sets starting later next week.

We do have to watch for possible impacts from Karl in Bermuda but even this remains to be seen. Bermuda is a small geographic area on the map and as such it’s way too soon to know how close Karl might pass, if at all. I’ll be keeping a close watch on this situation since it looks like Bermuda would be the only land area to be directly affected – again, this is only a heads-up for the area since we’re talking more than five days out in time.

In the meantime, tropical storm Paine, in the east Pacific, is moving northward well off the coast of the Baja peninsula and should strengthen to near 50 mph before it encounters less favorable conditions farther to the north. Moisture from the storm will spread over the Baja and perhaps in to southern California next week but we’re talking fairly low amounts of rain since the storm is not very robust. Still, any rain is better than no rain in that part of the country so what ever falls will be beneficial as long as it’s not too much at once.

I’ll have more here tomorrow including an in-depth video discussion covering all of the goings on in the tropics.

M. Sudduth 3pm ET Sept 18

Karl to be focus of attention over next several days

Satellite image showing TS Karl which is currently sheared quite a bit along with a new tropical wave emerging from the coast of Africa. Click for full size image.

Satellite image showing TS Karl which is currently sheared quite a bit along with a new tropical wave emerging from the coast of Africa. Click for full size image.

The main area to watch this weekend and in to next week will obviously be tropical storm Karl. While the odds are in favor of it turning away from the United States at some point, there is nothing that tells me this is a sure thing.

Right now, Karl is dealing with strong upper level winds and a dryer than normal mid-level portion of the atmosphere. Despite these inhibiting factors, deep thunderstorms are trying to develop in association with the vigorous low level center. Each time a burst of convection manages to pop up, the strong winds blowing against the storm quickly removes the clouds and pushes them back to the east. This bursting pattern as we call it will not lead to any appreciable strengthening but will keep the storm moving west and even south of west this weekend.

As we get in to early next week, both the intensity and the steering of Karl will become very important. The global models seem to be waffling back and forth between making this a hurricane and doing very little with it at all. Other intensity guidance suggests some strengthening next week but the extent of that is still an unknown. Water temps are plenty warm but the upper level winds are questionable. The recent uptick in shear across the Atlantic could remain in place, keeping Karl weak. If the pattern changes and the shear relaxes then it’s likely that Karl will become a hurricane.

As of now, it looks like the Lesser Antilles will not have any direct impacts from Karl. It should track well to the north of the Caribbean and be positioned somewhere between Bermuda and Puerto Rico in about five days. After that, it’s a question of whether or not a trough of low pressure passing by to the north of Karl will be enough to lure it out and drag it back in to the open Atlantic. It stands to reason that the weaker Karl is in to next week, the further south and west it will track. Then, as the trough goes by it misses Karl and we’re left with wondering what happens next. Seems like we’ve done this before once or twice, eh? So for now, we shall watch and just keep track of it with no issues for land areas seen anytime soon.

Meanwhile the weakening low pressure area that was once TS Julia continues off the Carolina coast. I see no reason to be concerned with this making any dramatic comeback but it’s out there, sheared to bits, but something to at least keep an eye on this weekend.

The only other area of interest is a tropical wave coming off of Africa now. It too could develop in the deep tropics as it moves generally westward. Interests in the Cape Verde Islands should be prepared for passing squalls and gusty winds as the tropical wave energy passes by this weekend.

I’ll have a video discussion posted here and to our YouTube channel as well as our app by later this afternoon.

M. Sudduth 9AM ET Sept 17

Tropics going to be very busy for a while

TS Karl track map from the NHC. Click for full size.

TS Karl track map from the NHC. Click for full size.

We are past the mid-way point of the month and the climatological peak of the hurricane season. However, I do not think that means things will begin to calm down. Instead, it looks as though the Atlantic Basin will be very busy over the next few weeks.

Let’s begin with Julia. It’s interesting that the storm is even there in the first place since it was not forecast by any of the global models – yet, there it is. Ever since it was named it has defied almost every forecast that the NHC has put out on it. Fortunately Julia is far enough off the coast and is being sheared to the point where it is not much of an issue anyway. Strong upper level winds will likely keep it from wrapping the deep thunderstorms around the center. As for movement? Probably a slow drift pretty much where it now for the next couple of days. This will result in continued elevated rip currents for the Carolinas and Georgia but the rain and any wind will likely be well offshore.

Next up is a tropical disturbance with limited thunderstorm activity over the northwest Gulf of Mexico. Time is running out for this to develop much further but it could bring periods of showers and thunderstorms with locally gusty winds to Texas and Louisiana before moving inland this weekend.

My main concern right now is tropical storm Karl. It was upgraded from TD12 last night and is moving west over the tropical Atlantic. The overall area of energy with Karl is very impressive but it means that it could take some time for it to consolidate and strengthen. Dry air out ahead of it will likely slow its growth but this will allow it to track well to the west with time.

The NHC, along with several of the intensity models, indicate that Karl will eventually find itself within an environment more conducive for strengthening. Warmer sea surface temperatures along with less and less shearing wind just might allow the storm to become a hurricane later in the forecast period.

As we track Karl, we should see a notable bend to the south in a couple of days as strong high pressure builds to its north. I do not think that this southward push will be enough to make it a direct threat to the Lesser Antilles. All of the guidance suggests a path well to the north of the islands but we cannot be 100% sure just yet.

As for what happens beyond the five day time period – a lot will depend on how far west Karl has tracked and how strong the western Atlantic high pressure area is at the time. It is simply impossible to know this far out whether or not the pattern favors any impacts for the East Coast or Bermuda for that matter. We are going to have to wait and see how things pan out as we move through mid-week next week. I suspect that Karl will have a lot of people talking and speculating on where it’s headed. For now, we have ample time to watch it and let the pattern evolve. It’s peak time during hurricane season – we should be ready for anything.

After Karl moves farther west across the Atlantic, I suspect we will have another area of low pressure to move off of Africa and try to develop. The global models are in generally good agreement on this and it’s possible that we could have Karl and Lisa on the map at the same time.

I will be watching things very closely over the weekend. Check back here, or our app, for new blog posts. I’ll also post video discussions covering what to watch for with all of these systems over the next several days.

M. Sudduth 12:40 PM ET Sept 16

Julia sheared, Ian headed out, TD 12 struggling

TD Julia seen in this visible satellite photo showing a sheared pattern. This will keep the heavy rain bands well offshore of North and South Carolina.

TD Julia seen in this visible satellite photo showing a sheared pattern. This will keep the heavy rain bands well offshore of North and South Carolina.

The tropics are definitely busy as we reach the half-way point of September but we still have not had a hurricane form this month. Hermine became a hurricane on August 31 so that does not count towards September. As it stands, the systems we have seen since Hermine have all struggled with strong upper level winds and abundant dry air. That theme continues today.

Julia is milling around off the South Carolina coast and will do so for the next several days. Fortunately for flood-weary residents of the Palmetto state, strong upper level winds are keeping any solid convection or thunderstorms well away from the coast. This should reduce or even eliminate the threat of heavy rain for South Carolina for the time being. However, I caution you that Julia has done nothing but defy forecasts ever since the first advisory. In fact, the depression “should” be well inland over south-central Georgia today. Instead, it’s over the warm water of the Atlantic – more than 200 hundred miles from where it was forecast to be for today. As long as the shear stays strong, the heavy rain will remain off the coast but it’s something to monitor just in case.

The forecast is for Julia to basically sit and spin over the water south of Wilmington and east of Charleston with little overall change in strength. This should result in seeing Julia literally run out of energy and become a remnant low. This will act to take some of the heat out of the ocean which has been running above normal all summer – that could help later in the season if something of significance were to track over the same location.

Next up is tropical storm Ian. Not much to say here except it’s yet another Cape Verde storm that failed to become a hurricane despite warm Atlantic waters. It is forecast to continue to move out in to the far reaches of the North Atlantic as a large, strong extra-tropical storm system. Ian poses no threat to land areas and is only of concern to the shipping lanes along its track.

Then we have TD12 out in the eastern Atlantic. The overall area of energy associated with the depression is enormous – like a pre-typhoon low pressure area in the west Pacific. However, in this case, I do not think it will live up to anywhere near its potential. Once again conditions are mysteriously unfavorable throughout the MDR or main development region. Dry mid-level air and strong upper level winds, typical of a season like last year, remain dominant. This will keep TD12 from strengthening but will allow the energy to travel west for several days. It is possible that it could end up somewhere in the Caribbean or southwest Atlantic in a week but none of the global models indicate that it ever amounts to anything.

So for now, we have no major issues to be concerned with in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

M. Sudduth 10:45 AM ET Sept 15