After Fred, probably going to be quiet for a little while

Fred was an amazing event- bringing hurricane conditions to a small portion of the Cape Verde Islands yesterday; something not seen in well over 100 years in that region.

Now Fred is weakening as it encounters cooler water and more stable environment overall. The short-lived hurricane added a few ACE points to the season total which is now near 20 for those keeping score. ACE is the seasonal accumulation of actual energy that is output by tropical storms and hurricanes. Normally we see an ACE “score” of around 104 – most predicted 40 or less for this season. We are half way there and it’s only September 1.

Wind shear map from Univ of Wisconsin showing very strong winds (blue-ish color) blasting through the tropics

Wind shear map from Univ of Wisconsin showing very strong winds (blue-ish color) blasting through the tropics

So what’s happening now that Fred is on the way out? In short, not much. Take a look at the upper level winds on the graphic. I have highlighted the strongest band of upper level winds which are literally tearing across the deep tropics right now. We are talking about several thousand miles of ocean and the atmosphere above it that is essentially shut down from a tropical development stand point. Any westward moving tropical wave will be met with strong eastward moving wind that will literally tear the system apart.

There are some signs that this could change in the coming week to ten days but don’t look for anything drastic, maybe a slight relaxation of the shear. This would come as a more favorable MJO or Madden-Julion Oscillation migrates through the Western Hemisphere as indicated by the GFS and the ECMWF models. However, it doesn’t look to be very strong and as such, I don’t see much chance for any development over the next five to seven days.

Meanwhile, the Pacific continues to put on quite a show. Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena all remain out over open water, far from land. The record pace of the Pacific season is not just due to the El Nino but a warm north Pacific as a whole, something we have not seen in quite a while.

TD 14-E track map from the NHC

TD 14-E track map from the NHC

In the east Pacific, TD 14-E is forecast to strengthen in to a tropical storm as it tracks generally northward. However, conditions do not appear to favor a hurricane forming out of it and even if it did, weakening is indicated later in the forecast period. I see no reason for this to be an issue for the Baja or elsewhere along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the fairly quiet start to September. This is typically the busiest month of the season, even in El Nino years. Will we end the month without a hurricane strike along the U.S. coast? Only one way to find out!

I’ll have more tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 11:30 AM ET Sept 1


Erika gone, new tropical storm developing near Africa, Pacific as busy as can possibly be

NHC map showing remnants of Erika (orange) and invest area 99L (red)

NHC map showing remnants of Erika (orange) and invest area 99L (red)

There is a lot to talk about today. I do realize it is also the 10th anniversary of Katrina’s historic landfall but instead of piling on more about that right now, let’s save it for another time, another in-depth blog post perhaps. For now, let’s focus on the current goings on.

Erika caused quite an uproar this past week with model mayhem galore. One day it looked like Florida would see an end to the hurricane drought. The next day, look out Carolinas! It just went on and on and yet Erika completely failed to behave as the models suggested – most of them anyway.

Now, to be clear, Erika had major consequences for some locations in the Caribbean Sea. Dominica has had terrible loss of life and an overwhelming loss of infrastructure. All of this due to one seemingly benign effect: rain. Over the centuries, I bet freshwater flooding has led to more misery than any other hazard from tropical cyclones. Storm surge poses the greatest risk in any one vulnerable location but flooding from too much rain seems to rear its ugly head one time too many as of late.

Erika is now just a remnant low moving across the southern portion of the Florida Straits. I do not see anything that leads me to believe that it has a chance of any significant comeback. While we need to certainly monitor its progress in case of any surprise endings, I wouldn’t worry too much about the left-overs becoming more than a nuisance – though it might bring heavy rain which of course has its own potential for causing issues.

Invest area 99L just off the coast of Africa

Invest area 99L just off the coast of Africa

Meanwhile, another strong tropical wave and associated low pressure system just off the coast of Africa is likely to be our next named storm: Fred. However, it won’t last very long. The favorable environment that it is currently a part of will be short-lived. It will be interesting to see the effects on the Cape Verde Islands as it looks like the system will pass over that location while intensifying some. I fully expect it to die out over the open eastern Atlantic some time next week.

One thing to note – if this system (99L) does in fact become a tropical storm or even a hurricane, it will be the third in a row to come from the so-called MDR or Main Development Region. I bring this up because this alley-way was supposed to be almost completely dead this year due to hostile conditions. I believe the warmer than normal water that has developed across much of the MDR has changed things somewhat. But, the upper level winds are still just too strong and as we saw with Danny and Erika, we may have MDR development but it will be tough for it to survive or thrive very long.

In the Pacific, we have three incredible hurricanes going on at once: Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena. None pose a substantial threat to land but all three are a testament to the remarkably warm water of the northern Pacific Ocean. This really has little to do with the El Nino itself, just a much warmer Pacific, away from the Equator, than we are used to seeing.

Hurricane Ignacio forecast track map from the CPHC

Hurricane Ignacio forecast track map from the CPHC

Hurricane Ignacio could bring tropical storm conditions to parts of Hawaii and as such, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center has posted a tropical storm watch for the Big Island. As long as Ignacio remains on track, the overall impact will be minimal to the area.

It has been a busy couple of weeks and it looks to remain that way going forward. So far, the United States has had little to deal with from the tropics. As we saw 10 years ago, that can change and have long-lasting effects that linger for generations. As August draws to a close, we know that September is traditionally the peak month for hurricane activity. We’ve been fortunate so far in 2015 (except for Dominica) and we can hope to have a quiet second half ahead of us. Only time will tell.

I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 5:10 PM ET August 29


Danny prompts tropical storm watch for portions of Caribbean islands

Danny put on quite a show yesterday, becoming the first major hurricane to form in the MDR or Main Development Region in quite some time. Its small size almost certainly aided in its impressive strengthening, shielding the tiny core from any dry air intrusions.

Things are different today for Danny as it heads in to a region where stronger upper level winds will pound away at the deep convection located around the center. This will also help to force drier mid level air in to the core which will induce fairly rapid weakening. As such, Danny is forecast to be of tropical storm intensity once it reaches the vicinity of the Caribbean Sea. In response to this forecast, several governments of a handful of Caribbean islands have issued a tropical storm watch (see graphic). This does not mean the center of Danny is expected to pass over any particular location but rather that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area within the next 48 hours.

I think that most people in the region will welcome Danny because of one major benefit that it will bring: rain. The Caribbean is going through a serious drought right now and any rain will at least curb the situation even if only a little bit. Fortunately, Danny is not a large, moisture-rich hurricane and thus it won’t be able to dump more rain than the region can handle. Perhaps this truly will be a small blessing for the region as Danny passes by over the next few days.

The forecast is interesting beyond the next three days as models have shifted the track of Danny more north with time. In fact, it won’t surprise me at all to see Danny’s center miss the Caribbean islands entirely. This would keep what ever center remains intact after doing battle with the dry air and shear over very warm water. That is probably going to be the only plus in Danny’s favor as most of the reliable computer guidance strongly suggests that Danny will weaken to a tropical depression and likely dissipate in to a trough of low pressure as it travels close to the southern Bahamas. It goes without saying, you never just ignore a tropical system in late August in the southwest Atlantic – we’ll see what happens with the modeling in the coming days but odds favor Danny being very weak to non-existent by early next week.

Meanwhile, another area not too far off the African coast is being monitored for possible development over the coming days. Water temps are plenty warm and it seems that the dry air is not much of an issue over much of the tropical Atlantic right now so we may see a period of time with several named storms coming up as we head in to September. So far, with the exception of Danny, none pose a threat to land and all will give us plenty of time to monitor.

Out in the central Pacific, tropical storm Kilo has managed to kick up quite a bit of buzz about being a possible threat to Hawaii. So far, it looks like the storm (and probably a hurricane at some point) will track well west of the string of islands before it turns back to the north and east. Of course, it needs to be monitored to make sure that does in fact happen. Hurricanes approaching from the south are much more likely to impact Hawaii than those tracking in from the east. Hurricane Iniki in 1992 comes to mind but it looks like Kilo won’t be a repeat of that event.

I’ll have a Saturday edition of my video blog posted later this afternoon and will go over in great detail what the impacts from Danny are likely to be for the Caribbean.

M. Sudduth 1:35 PN ET August 22