Extremely busy time in the tropics – just as the peak of the season arrives

It is September 10 and the peak day of the Atlantic hurricane season from a climatological perspective. We have a lot going on out there and the risk to people from Hawaii to the Lesser Antilles and eventually parts of the Southeast U.S. is increasing as Olivia, Isaac and Florence track closer to land. We also have to monitor a new system trying to develop in te NW Caribbean Sea which could impact the western Gulf region later in the week. I break it all down in my morning video post below.

I will post another update after the 5pm ET advisory package is released from the NHC.

You may also follow all of my updates in our iOS app. Search “Hurricane Impact” on the Apple App Store.

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

TD #2 develops – headed for landfall in SC – then meandering around

Tracking map showing the forecast for TD #2, expected to become TS Bonnie as it approaches the SC coast this weekend

Tracking map showing the forecast for TD #2, expected to become TS Bonnie as it approaches the SC coast this weekend

The NHC upgraded the area of low pressure off the Southeast coast to TD #2 just a little while ago. Top winds are 35 mph with the pressure being 1009 mb. The forecast calls for only modest strengthening to tropical storm intensity before what would be “Bonnie” makes it to the South Carolina coast this weekend.

Obviously this will be a big news story just because it’s there and it’s Memorial Day weekend. The message from most outlets, and I agree with them, is that this will not be a big problem – unless you choose for it to be. If it’s raining hard, slow down or don’t be on the road at all if you can avoid it. Stay put and let the squalls pass. If you’re at the beach, be extra careful in the surf zone – rip currents will be on the increase and this is a killer hazard from “weak” tropical storms. I am very serious about this. Let’s go one season without someone drowning in the surf from a storm that otherwise has little impact on the region.

The forecast shows a fairly slow movement of the remnants of the storm somewhere off the coast of North Carolina in to early next week. While there is potential for heavy rain, I do not see anything in the computer models to suggest a major flood set up. Again, my worry is for traffic issues on I-95, US 17 and I-40 for example. Slow it down and you can avoid being one of those ding-bats who ends up in the heavy chain fence (or worse) along the median of the highway. Common sense – that’s all I’m asking. Otherwise this will not be a major impact except to possibly rain out what would normally be a very nice weekend as we unofficially begin summer.

I might head down to the South Carolina coast tomorrow for live coverage, social media posts and posting video clips to our app. I see it as a good opportunity to test a few things and get the updates rolling like I would if a powerful hurricane were coming. Once I see how things are going in the morning, I’ll decide on what to do and where to go.

I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 6:45 PM ET May 27

Tropical storm looking more likely now

As we begin the long holiday weekend, residents of and visitors to the coast of parts of the Southeast may have to deal with a tropical storm. This is not typical of Memorial Day weekend but this year, it looks like we will break the norm.

The latest info from the NHC tells us that the area of low pressure between Bermuda and the Bahamas continues to get better organized, with a 90% chance of further development. That being said, it is hardly doing so at a rapid pace, this is not peak hurricane season with ample warm water around. As it is, we are essentially at the very beginning of the season and the amount of energy available is somewhat limited.

Intensity guidance from the over night model runs showing what would be a tropical storm forming over the next couple of days just off the Southeast coast

Intensity guidance from the over night model runs showing what would be a tropical storm forming over the next couple of days just off the Southeast coast

As the low moves towards the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream, there is a chance for it to strengthen and it could become a tropical storm before reaching the coast. The other scenario is that the low remains loosely organized and resembles more of a subtropical storm with winds spread out away from the center. Most of the computer guidance, some of which simulates the structure of tropical systems, indicates that this will in fact become purely tropical in nature – meaning that there should be a well defined center with organized bands of showers and thunderstorms closer to that center. This is what most people are used to seeing and I think that is what will happen.

Most of the track guidance suggests a landfall somewhere in South Carolina over the weekend. This means the obvious chance of heavy rain, some gusty winds and a churned up Atlantic. Beach-goers need to be especially mindful of local conditions – rip currents are part of the over all package of hazards that tropical systems bring with them. Do not underestimate the power of rough surf conditions, heed local surf advisories and keep the little ones very close to shore.

As far as other impacts, it’s too soon to know how much rain and who gets it. Once the storm forms and models get a better handle on its structure, that info can be fine tuned. You can bet on some locations receiving a few inches of rain but this is not the set up that we saw last October when hurricane Joaquin was off shore, peeling off insane amounts of moisture. There will be potential for heavy rain, but nothing like what we saw last fall.

The NHC mentions that the Hurricane Hunters will be investigating the low later today. Once we get the info, I will post another blog update here along with a video discussion for our app, Hurricane Impact, and on our YouTube channel.

M. Sudduth 8am ET May 27

Ana now purely tropical but will not amount to much for Carolinas

Recent radar shot showing limited bands of showers moving onshore of the Carolina coastline

Recent radar shot showing limited bands of showers moving onshore of the Carolina coastline

The National Hurricane Center designated Ana as becoming purely tropical overnight. This means that the wind field has contracted more and overall resembles a tropical storm rather than the hybrid mix subtropical storm previously.

None of this will affect the outcome really. Bands of showers and occasional heavy rain will rotate onshore from the Atlantic across parts of the Carolina coastline. These bands will have periods of brief gusty winds, especially right along the immediate coast. Other than that, Ana is not expected to cause any significant issues for the region.

The official forecast track takes the storm inland over North Carolina early tomorrow morning. As the weakening system moves over cooler water beginning today, the coverage of heavy rain will decrease. However, for anyone traveling along I-95 and I-40 through the eastern Carolinas, be mindful of possible reduced visibilities within these scattered rain bands. Slow down, take it easy and don’t let the season’s first storm ruin your Mother’s Day weekend.

If you have plans to visit the beach, keep in mind that the surf is a little roughed up and the risk of rip currents is high right now. Avoid going in the water but enjoy the incredible beaches of the area.

Once Ana moves inland, it will weaken to a remnant low and move northeast and out to sea as nothing more than an interesting beginning to the Atlantic hurricane season. Does this mean we will have a busier than forecast season ahead? Not likely. In fact, storms that form from old cold fronts as Ana did, are common during El Nino years which we are in now. Ana will contribute a few ACE points to the overall score for the season. This is the measure of energy output from tropical cyclones. We typically expect to see anywhere from 95 to 105 ACE points in any given season. This year, some forecasts are calling for the total to be as low as 40. Ana will start things off with single digits and we’ll have to wait and see when and if we get another named storm or hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic to add more to the seasonal score. Right now, there is nothing to indicate any development chances coming up over the next week to 10 days.

I’ll have more here tomorrow.

M. Sudduth 8:55 AM ET May 9