NHC outlining two areas to watch over the coming days

NHC map showing two areas to watch over the coming days

NHC map showing two areas to watch over the coming days

While the deep tropics remain quiet with no sign of development anytime soon, we do have a couple of areas to monitor farther west, and closer to land.

The first is a disturbance or weak surface trough situated in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. It is nearly stationary for the time being and could form a low pressure area within the next couple of days. However, the main issue here will be the very heavy rain that is forecast by several of the computer models. In some cases, rain could be excessive, especially for portions of Florida, southern Georgia and Alabama as the low pressure area just mills around in the region.

I do not see much chance of this becoming a tropical storm and so wind won’t be a factor but the rain is sure to be. If you live in the area or plan to travel to or through, be advised that the potential exists for flooding rain which will make travel difficult. It is impossible to know precisely which areas will receive the heaviest rain but widespread areas of several inches seems likely for parts of the Florida panhandle and along portions of the western peninsula.

Meanwhile, what was once invest area 96L is back again with convection beginning to develop in an area north of the Leeward Islands.

The NHC indicates only a 20% chance of development over the next few days as it tracks generally west-northwest and eventually turns more north with time.

Several global models develop this system once it gets in to the southwest Atlantic. How strong and how far west remains to be seen but it looks like we just might have something coming together off the Southeast coast sometime next week. It certainly bears watching and it probably won’t be too long until it gets termed as an “invest” once again. At that point, we will begin to see more computer models run on the system and have a better idea of where it will go and what the intensity looks like. Until then, it’s just a vigorous tropical wave that looks to slowly organize.

In the east Pacific, an area of showers and thunderstorms near the coast of Mexico, not far from Manzanillo, will move northwest and merge with the remnants of what was once hurricane Earl in the western Caribbean and Bay of Campeche. The system is expected to develop and track northward towards the Baja peninsula, probably as a tropical storm. Interests in the area should be monitoring closely over the coming days.

I will have a video discussion of all the goings on in the tropics posted later this afternoon followed by another blog post tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 10:45 AM ET Aug 6

Deep tropics closed – so we look west, closer to land

Recent satellite photo showing the areas of interest, and the shut-down eastern Atlantic

Recent satellite photo showing the areas of interest, and the shut-down eastern Atlantic  (click for full-size image)

Another large, suppressing surge of dry, stable air is moving off of Africa as of late and this will all but shut down the chance for development in the deep tropics – at least for now. With the eastern Atlantic out of play, where might we look for possible development over the coming days? The answer: farther west, closer to land areas.

Before I get in to what may be coming down the road, let’s look at the latest on Earl, which is still alive and somewhat well in the Bay of Campeche.

After making landfall in Belize, Earl managed to remain intact as a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan peninsula. It is now situated over the extreme southern portion of the Bay of Campeche and remains at tropical storm strength. The main threat to land will be continued heavy rain along with some gusty winds. The storm will make landfall again this evening in Mexico and begin to dissipate.

Something interesting will happen after landfall with Earl. It seems that energy from the storm will survive the terrain of Mexico and merge with a disturbance over the southeast Pacific, just off the coast. The NHC indicates that all of this will result in the formation of a low pressure area that is likely to become a tropical depression over the next few days. Since this will be happening so close to land, interests along the Pacific side of Mexico should be monitoring closely. Heavy rain is likely and eventually a tropical storm may form and affect the southern Baja peninsula.

Meanwhile, a complex situation is developing in the northeast Gulf of Mexico that bears watching. The NHC mentions that a trough of low pressure is forecast to develop over the warm waters of the northeast Gulf this weekend. This focal point for showers and thunderstorms could lead to the potential development of a tropical depression at some point. The longer it remains over the water (and farther out from land) then the higher this chance becomes.

Rain forecast for the next seven days showing an alarming amount for portions of the northeast Gulf Coast region. This will change and evolve over time but this gives you an idea of how much is forecast by the computer models.

Rain forecast for the next seven days showing an alarming amount for portions of the northeast Gulf Coast region. This will change and evolve over time but this gives you an idea of how much is forecast by the computer models.

One thing that seems almost certain is that an incredible, dangerous amount of rain is setting up for portions of the Gulf Coast states – mainly from southeast Louisiana eastward in to Florida. In fact, some of the rain totals that are being suggested by computer models are astounding. This is something that needs to be watched very closely. Even if nothing develops in terms of a tropical depression or more, the rain by itself will be a major problem.

Next we have the energy associated with what was once 96L and another tropical wave coming in from the east. While there is not much to look at now, there is some evidence in the computer models to suggest we see development in the southwest Atlantic in a few days. I do not see any indication of anything strong at this point, just something to watch since we are in August and the water temps in the western Atlantic are so very warm.

All in all, it looks to be an interesting few days ahead. The east Atlantic won’t be an issue at all due to the strong SAL or Saharan Air Layer that is dominating the region. So we must look closer to home, so to speak, and with that we do see a few areas of potential trouble brewing. I will add more with my daily video discussion to be posted later this afternoon followed by another blog update here tomorrow morning.

M. Sudduth 11:45 AM ET Aug 5

Danielle forms this morning – heavy rain spreading in to eastern Mexico

Track map showing TS Danielle which will be inland over Mexico by later today

Track map showing TS Danielle which will be inland over Mexico by later today

The NHC upgraded TD4 to TS Danielle this morning and thus setting a record for the earliest formation of the 4th named storm. I am beginning to wonder if this is in fact a sign of things to come? Danielle originated from a tropical wave and not an old frontal boundary or other non-tropical feature. Water temps across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are warmer than average and it’s only June. I suppose it’s a bit early to speculate on August and September but at this pace, it will be a very busy season if things keep going like they have been.

As for Danielle, the obvious major hazard for Mexico will be continued heavy rain, this is especially true for the high-terrain areas as the storm makes landfall. Once inland, as is typically the case in this region, the system will quickly die out. Fortunately for Texas, where more rain is the last thing anyone needs right now, Danielle is too far south and has no chance of making in to the Lone Star State.

The rest of the tropics, including the east Pacific, are nice and quiet as we begin the first official week of summer. I don’t see anything in the global models so suggest further development any place else in the near future. However, the GFS is remarkably persistent in showing a low pressure area in the northwest Caribbean Sea around the 10 day time frame. This is just a bit too far out in time for me to be very concerned about it but the pattern suggests that perhaps this isn’t too far-fetched, especially considering how busy the season has been already. It’s something to monitor but nothing is imminent.

I’ll have more here later today when I post my video discussion.

M. Sudduth 9:45 AM ET June 20


Hurricane Patricia a record setting event

It’s been quite a year for tropical cyclones globally. After several years in a row with few intense hurricanes and typhoons, 2015 has seen a remarkable turnaround. The latest is Patricia, now poised to strike Mexico near Manzanillo later today, and it is about as intense as they come.

There is not much I can say in terms of preparedness actions. Simply put, people in the path of this hurricane need to leave, period. If they haven’t done so already, they need to get moving. That being said, there’s actually some good news.

Patricia is NOT a 100 mile wide or 60 mile wide EF-5 tornado. I’ve seen people saying this on social media and it’s just wrong. Let me explain…

A hurricane like Patricia is very rare, obviously. One thing we do know because of the recon flights that have provided incredible in-situ data is that the radius of maximum winds (RMW) is very narrow. In fact, the ENTIRE extent of hurricane force winds, 74 mph to 200 mph in this case, is ONLY 30 miles from the eye. This is extremely important because it limits the amount of real estate that will have to deal with those winds. In other words, if you live just 40 miles from the eye, you would hardly notice as the core passed by. Move 20 miles closer to the eye and it’s a terrifying siege of flying debris and flesh-stripping wind. So while it will be awful for those who have to endure the core, it’s not like we’re talking about 100 miles of coastline laid to waste.

Another aspect of the small RMW is the storm surge. Katrina had a storm surge of 28+ feet in some locations due to its enormous RMW – more than 90 miles at one point. The result was a surge of water pushed onshore from Louisiana to Florida. In the case of Patricia, it will be a small area, maybe 10 to 20 miles, that receives a possible catastrophic storm surge. Wind drives the surge and the wind is only 200 mph very close to the eye.

I bring this up because it is important to keep the facts straight and not let the historic moment become clouded with information that is simply incorrect. Patricia is bad enough on its own and for those who remain in its path, today will be one not soon forgotten.

Texas to receive Patricia remnants

What happens after Patricia makes landfall? First, it will weaken extremely fast over the higher terrain of interior Mexico. Sadly, there will be potential for loss of life due to the flash flooding and mudslides as the torrents of rain impact those same mountains.

Info-graphic concerning the threat to parts of Texas from the remnants of hurricane Patricia

Info-graphic concerning the threat to parts of Texas from the remnants of hurricane Patricia

Interestingly, it looks as though the low level center will be stripped away but the mid and upper level energy will remain fairly intact. This means that there is a slim chance that once the remnants reach the warm Gulf of Mexico, some regeneration could take place. While this is NOT being forecast by the NHC right now, it would not surprise me to see it happen over the weekend or on Monday. What is more likely to happen is that Patricia’s energy leads to more of a non-tropical low pressure area to develop and bring gale force winds and extremely heavy rains to a large part of Texas. All of this will combine with a frontal boundary draped across the region and will help to focus the moisture feed, dumping excessive rain over a large swath of Texas.

In addition to the rain, coastal flooding is a real possibility with the strong onshore flow that is forecast to develop. Water levels could rise several feet in typical flood-prone areas away from the Galveston Seawall. In short, Patricia will leave a mark, even if only indirectly, long after its historic landfall in Mexico.

I will have a video discussion posted this afternoon that will highlight the landfall of Patricia and what to expect after tonight for Texas and vicinity.

M. Sudduth 9:40 AM ET Oct 23

New storm developing in southeast Pacific, Atlantic remains quiet

A new tropical storm is likely developing in the southeast Pacific not too far off the Mexican coastline. The National Hurricane Center will almost certainly begin advisories on the system later today (right now it is designated at invest area 97-E). The development of this soon-to-be-storm is important for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, it will have a direct impact on the weather across portions of Pacific Mexico over the next few days. Heavy rain with the usual threat of mudslides and flash flooding will an issue due to the fairly close proximity to the coast.

Model plots for 97-E in the southeast Pacific

Model plots for 97-E in the southeast Pacific

Computer models indicate that a track to the west with a gradual bend back to the northwest and eventually northeast is probable over the coming days. This means that there is the threat of a hurricane making landfall in Mexico as the system is forecast to intensify significantly over the very warm waters of the southeast Pacific. Interests along the coast of Mexico should pay close attention to this developing storm. It would not surprise me at all to see a hurricane watch posted for a portion of the Mexican coastline by sometime tomorrow.

The other interesting aspect of this system is where it developed. Right now it is situated just south of the Gulf of Tehuantepec which is itself not far from the Bay of Campeche in the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico. If you remember your geography, the strip of land that separates the two bodies of water is called an isthmus. The developing storm is on the Pacific side of the isthmus and likely precluded any development from taking place in the southern Gulf of Mexico. It is rare to have two tropical cyclones going at the same time so close together – and as such, the Pacific disturbance took over and is now on its way to becoming yet another hurricane for the region.

However, something very interesting may happen down the road. Tropical cyclones are incredible heat engines, driving their convective bursts with warm water. The transport of this energy in to the subtropics can often times lead to larger storms that have part hurricane, part mid-latitude cyclone characteristics. There is a chance that we see that happen with the Pacific system after it makes landfall in Mexico.

WPC precip forecast over the next 5 to 7 days indicating a lot of rain possible for parts of Texas and New Mexico

WPC precip forecast over the next 5 to 7 days indicating a lot of rain possible for parts of Texas and New Mexico

Some of the global models are indicating that at least some of the remnant energy will survive the trek across Mexico and combine with an upper level low coming out of the Southwest to produce a potentially heavy rain event for Texas and New Mexico. While the rain is needed, we could be faced with another instance of too much, too soon. The latest forecast from the WPC (Weather Prediction Center, formally known as the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) suggests that a wide swath of Texas and part of eastern New Mexico could receive several inches of rain beginning later in the week. The timing of when and where is tough to call this far out but your local NWS office will have the best info concerning local impacts from this rain event.

Remember back in April and in to May, parts of Texas were inundated by very heavy rain as wave after wave of energy moved across the region dumping incredible amounts of water, resulting in widespread flooding issues. While this storm will not be nearly as prolonged, there is potential for more flooding so please pay close attention as the week wears on.

As I mentioned in the headline, the Atlantic Basin remains very quiet right now. I do not see any solid evidence of development happening anytime soon. It appears that a slow moving MJO pulse will eventually make its way in to the region as we get in to early November and it’s possible that we could see more activity flare up at that point, probably in the western Caribbean Sea. We’ll deal with that when and if the time comes.

I’ll have more in the developing storm in the southeast Pacific on my video discussion later today.

M. Sudduth 8:45 AM ET Oct 20