Weakens Slightly To Tropical Storm After Becoming First Hurricane to Hit Islands Since 1892
After a being tranquil over nearly the first three weeks of August, the Atlantic Basin has heated up with several storms over the last 13 days. The latest, Fred strengthened to become a hurricane early Monday before moving through the Cape Verde Islands. It marked the first time in recorded history since 1892 that a hurricane moved through the string of islands off the West African coast. Fred has been a historic storm so far in its short life.
Fred is the easternmost hurricane to form in the tropical waters of the Atlantic according to an article written on Monday morning by the Washington Post. Vince, one of the last storms in that busy 2005 season, formed not only further east, but also further north of where Fred formed as it briefly reached hurricane intensity as it headed toward Portugal, and thus was outside of the tropical waters. Hurricane Fred generated the first ever hurricane warnings for the Cape Verde Islands as well as the first satellite view of a hurricane in that part of the world since satellites were introduced in 1960.
Reaching peak intensity during the mid-afternoon on Monday, Fred attained maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour as it spun between Ribeira Brava and Ribiera Grande in the Cape Verde Islands according to the 2:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Peak wind gusts at that time were in the area of 105 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure with Fred got as low as 986 millibars, or 29.12 inches of Hg. The storm was a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale while at peak strength on Monday.
As of the 8:00 AM AST Advisory on Tuesday morning from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Fred had moved away from the Cape Verde Islands. The storm, located some 225 miles to the Northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Moving to the West-Northwest at a fairly good pace at 12 miles per hour, the storm is projected to be a fish storm as it turns more toward the north by Sunday morning. Maximum sustained winds with Fred have decreased a bit to 65 miles per hour, but it is still a potent tropical storm with gusts estimated as high as hurricane force. Minimum central pressure has risen to 997 millibars, or 29.44 inches of Hg.
According to the 5:00 AM AST Advisory on Tuesday morning from the NHC, deep convection, or an area of strong to severe thunderstorms, has re-developed over the center of circulation in Fred. Low level circulation is still very solid while it’s low level center is a bit more south than earlier in the day after being affected by southwesterly shear. Intensity forecast calls for Fred to gradually weaken as the storm moves into an environment of more shear, dry and stable air, and cooler sea surface temperatures. The storm should be post-tropical within 5 days. The forecast track has the storm moving between the West-Northwest and Northwest around a mid-level ridge to the north that gradually builds westward over the next 72 hours. After that, the storm is expected to turn north.
Kilo and Ignacio Just the Latest Storms in a Rare Busy Season
After a busy season in 2014 for the Central Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands, the Central Pacific has had even more storms, and there is still time remaining in the season. To date, there has been 8 named storms that have emerged in the Central Pacific including three that crossed into the area from the Eastern Pacific: Guillermo, Hilda, and Ignacio.
Ignacio and Kilo are currently spinning near the Hawaiian Islands. Both storms along with Hurricane Jimena in the Eastern Pacific have done something that has never happened before in recorded history. All three storms reached Category Four strength. It is the first time ever that three Cat Four storms were in existence in the Pacific at the same time. All three have looked impressive on satellite.
Of the eight storms that have emerged in the Central Pacific, five have become hurricanes, and three have reached major hurricane strength: Hilda, Kilo, and Ignacio. Jimena could make it 9 storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes if it can hold up its intensity. Much of this increased activity is attributed to a strong El Nino episode in the Pacific. This current episode of ENSO is very close to matching the El Nino of 1997, which also produced a lot of storms in the Eastern and Central Pacific.
The 2015 Central Pacific Hurricane Season has been the most active since 2005. The numbers posted so far have even surpassed the mark set in 2009 of seven named storms. The last three seasons have combined to produce 19 named storms: 6 in 2013, 5 in 2014, and 8 so far in 2015. Fortunately for Hawaii, none of these storms had a big impact other than some rain and heavy surf for the islands. Cooler sea surface temperatures in that part of the world help protect the Hawaiian Island chain. The last major hurricane to impact Hawaii was in 1992 with Hurricane Iniki, which slammed into the island of Kauai on September 12th as a Category Four Hurricane.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Season runs from June to November. On the average, there are between 4 and 5 tropical cyclones per year in the CPAC. The number of storms in a particular season range from 0 in 1979 to 11 in 1992 and 1994. From 1971 to 2008, there were 163 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific: 59 tropical depressions, 58 hurricanes, and 46 tropical storms. There have only been three seasons with double digit tropical cyclones in the CPAC: 1982 (El Nino year), 1992, and 1994. The most active month in the Central Pacific is August, which from 1971 to 2013 had 74 tropical cyclones. July had 45 during that span, September had 37, and October had 17.
Ignacio Joins Kilo in Central Pacific While Jimena Strengthens to Cat 4
While the Atlantic is beginning to rev up just in time for the peak of the season, the Eastern Pacific continues to roll out storms over the past week, the EPAC created two big storms in Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena. With the emergence of an El Nino that has rivaled the ENSO episode of 1997, activity in the Eastern Pacific has picked up with 13 depressions, 10 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes.
Ignacio and Jimena have been heavy hitters being the most recent of the major hurricanes in the basin. Ignacio, now in the Central Pacific, and causing Tropical Storm Watches to be issued for Hawaii, currently is a major hurricane with 115 mile per hour winds with gusts up to 140 mph. Minimum central pressure was 961 millibars, or 28.35 inches of Hg. Jimena is closing in on Category Five strength with 145 mile per hour sustained winds with gusts up to 175 mph. Minimum central pressure of 940 millibars, or 27.73 inches of Hg.
Before moving into the Central Pacific, Ignacio strengthened to become a Category One Hurricane with 90 mile per hour winds. Ignacio didn’t stop there as it gradually continued to strengthen up and until Saturday morning when it reached major hurricane strength with minimal Category Three strength winds. Later on Saturday morning, Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into Ignacio and found it to be much stronger with 140 mph winds, and a minimum central pressure of 951 millibars, or 28.08 inches of Hg.
Ignacio had some fluctuations in strength over the next 12 hours before peaking at 145 mph with a minimum central pressure of 942 millibars, or 27.82 inches of Hg. Since then the powerful storm has gradually weakened as it encounters cooler waters near Hawaii. Meanwhile, Jimena has put on quite a show in the Eastern Pacific. Satellite imagery has produced classic photos of Jimena’s pinhole eye. Jimena was on the cusp of becoming a Category Five Hurricane with 150 mile per hour winds on Saturday morning, but weakened a bit to minimal Category Four strength with 130 mile per hour winds before rejuvenating on Sunday.
When powerful storms such as Jimena climb into the high end of the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 140 to 150 mph winds, they tend to re-organize with eyewall replacement cycles, which causes some weakening. Jimena probably went through a bit of that on Saturday and early Sunday. According to the 2:00 PM HST Forecast Discussion, the National Hurricane Center indicates that Jimena could strengthen to 155 mile per hour winds within 12 hours. So, it will be very close to becoming a Cat Five storm if it doesn’t break that threshold. This storm is also headed in the direction of Hawaii, which has had several tropical threats this summer including a Category Three storm in Hurricane Kilo.
Mountains of Hispaniola Put the Final Nail in Erika’s Coffin; Fred Forms in Rare Spot
The Atlantic Basin is making up for some lost time. After being mostly dormant for the first 60 percent of August 2015, the region has perked up with three named systems in the last 12 days. One of those storms, Erika, which had been erratic, and struggling to get its act together, finally fell apart on Saturday after being torn up into a trough of low pressure by the rugged terrain of Hispaniola. Meanwhile, a new storm has emerged in the Far Eastern Atlantic.
Erika finally gave way to the mountains of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Odds were already stacked against the storm, which still managed to get further along in the Atlantic than Danny did despite being erratic, and unable to get its act together. Prior to its demise, the air was already going out of the balloon for Erika. Early Saturday morning, the government of the Dominican Republic had discontinued its Tropical Storm Warning. Less than 3 hours later, the storm showed signs of dissipating at Hurricane Hunter aircraft went in to investigate. By 9:30 AM EDT Saturday morning, Erika had officially dissipated.
Despite falling apart, Erika could still pack a punch for Florida. The storm’s remnants are still expected to bring significant rainfall along with winds up to tropical storm force to much of the Sunshine State. Much of South Florida has been fairly dry recently, but West Florida including the Tampa Bay area has had too much rain. Rainfall amounts between 3 to 5 inches with locally higher amounts are expected across Central and South Florida starting on Sunday. The Atlantic isn’t done yet though. A new storm has emerged in Erika’s wake.
Just hours after the demise of Erika, and not too long after departing the West Coast of Africa, the tropical disturbance that had been labeled as Invest 99L by the National Hurricane Center, was reclassified as Tropical Storm Fred, the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Fred has already made quite a name for himself. NHC Hurricane Specialist, Eric Blake noted on late Saturday morning that what had been Invest 99L was unique in that was already quite organized right on the African coast. Forming in the wee hours of Sunday morning as a depression, Fred then became only the fourth named storm on record to form east of 19W longitude.
As of the most recent advisory by the National Hurricane Center at 8:00 AM AST, or EDT, Tropical Storm Fred was located some 315 miles to the East-Southeasts of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands, which is already under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch. Seeing those watches and warnings that far east in a season that has been mostly quiet, is quite remarkable. Fred is only a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour with estimated gusts up to 50 miles per hour. Wind speeds and gusts are estimates based upon satellite imagery interpretation. Minimum central pressure is estimated to be 1005 millibars, or 29.68 inches of Hg.
Fred is currently moving at a nice and easy pace to the West-Northwest at 12 miles per hour. The forecast track shows the storm continuing on this pace through Tuesday. Tropical Storm Fred is expected to move through the Cape Verde Islands sometime late Monday night, and into Tuesday. The two impacts from Fred will be wind and rainfall. Tropical storm force winds are expected to begin arriving in the Cape Verde Islands by early Monday. Hurricane force winds are also possible through Tuesday. Rainfall amounts are forecast to be anywhere between 3 to 5 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 8 inches.
Looking at the most recent Tropical Weather Discussion on Fred from the NHC, the storm is expected to gradually strengthen over the next 36 hours to be a very strong tropical storm, and on the cusp of being a minimal hurricane with 70 mph winds. This is due to the favorable environment including light upper level winds, an abundance of tropical moisture, and sea surface temperatures between 81.5 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit that will be in the area of Fred. The storm is expected to level off at that point for the next 36 hours before weakening slightly. Within five days, the NHC believes Fred will still have 60 mile per hour winds.
Still plenty of time to watch Tropical Storm Fred unless you are in the Cape Verde Islands, which should begin making the necessary preparations.
Danny’s Development and Erika’s Emergence Sparks Atlantic Basin out of August Doldrums
Up until about a week ago, the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season had many similarities to the 1997 season. Back then, the world’s climate was in the midst of the strongest El Nino on record, and the Atlantic Basin was feeling the impact. After a decent start to the 1997 season that had four named storms by the end of July including hurricanes Bill and Danny, the season had an unexpected calm during a time when the season was supposed to be peaking.
In a rare occurrence, the Atlantic Basin had no named storms or hurricanes for the entire month of August 1997. By contrast, the Eastern Pacific was pumping out storms left and right, and many of them including hurricanes Guillermo, Ignacio, Jimena, Linda, Nora, and Rick. Guillermo and Linda grew to be very powerful and even threatened to impact Southern California, a region that has not been affected by a tropical cyclone since 1939. In the end, the Eastern Pacific ended up with 19 depressions, 17 named storms, and 9 hurricanes.
By contrast, the Atlantic in 1997 was very tranquil with only 9 depressions, 8 named storms including an unnamed subtropical storm, 3 hurricanes, and one major hurricane, which ironically was named Erika. A similar thing has happened this year. The Atlantic got off to a pretty fast start with a rare mid-May named storm, and three named systems over the first two months of the season. Once again though, the basin grew quiet as we moved into and through the month of August. For the first 18 days of the month, there were no depressions or named storms let alone hurricanes.
Then came Danny, which became the strongest storm to date in the Atlantic. Forming on August 18th, Danny, which is the only hurricane in the Atlantic so far in 2015, grew to become the first major hurricane of the season in the Central Atlantic with sustained winds estimated to be up to 115 miles per hour. The storm peaked in intensity within 72 hours of first becoming a tropical system. Fortunately, for not only residents of the coastal United States, but also the Lesser Antilles, Danny, a classic Cape Verde system, began to feel the affects of dry air in the Atlantic, and dissipated into a trough of low pressure west of Guadeloupe.
In Danny’s wake came another system from the Eastern and Central Atlantic. Erika, which has still caused quite a bit of damage in the Leeward Islands with heavy rains, especially on the island of Dominica, first developed within 12 hours of Danny’s demise. While the Atlantic’s fifth named storm of the year has been erratic and difficult to forecast, it has managed to survive to this point thanks to more moisture in the tropics. The problems that Erika has been dealing with include wind shear, a rapidly moving circulation, and now, the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola. The storm is a fledgling system with only 50 miles per hour, and the odds of it becoming a hurricane or a major hurricane are falling.
Regardless of the struggles of these two storms, their development reminds us all that we are entering the peak season in the Atlantic. The statistical peak is still two weeks off on Thursday, September 10th. Activity in Africa as well as the Eastern and Central Atlantic have started to fire up as demonstrated by the development of these two storms. With Erika lurking in the Caribbean, residents in Florida are under a State of Emergency, and others in nearby coastal states such as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have to closely monitor the progress of this storm. The 2015 season may end up being below average, but things have begun to heat up, and most importantly, all it takes is one storm, and people must be always prepared for that.
On the eve of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina landfall along the Gulf Coast, portions of the United States coastline is on alert for another tropical troublemaker. Tropical Storm Erika, which formed earlier this week is moving through the Eastern Caribbean, and is headed for the rugged terrain of the island of Hispaniola.
According to the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory on Friday, August 28th from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Erika continues to be erratic. After weakening a bit on Thursday night, Erika rejuvenated a bit today, and now has winds of 50 miles per hour again. Wind gusts are up to 60 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is still quite high at 1009 millibars, or 29.80 inches of Hg.
The storm is moving quite briskly to the West at 21 miles per hour. The strong westward motion is not the only problem with Erika. Now, the storm is moving into a very mountainous region as it lies just to the south of the island of Hispaniola, which contains the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Erika is presently located some 95 miles to the West-Southwest of the capital of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Mountains in the Dominican Republic and Haiti can get as high as 8,000 feet in places. This rugged terrain is very likely to tear the fledgling circulation of Erika apart. A struggling storm like this interacting with land is usually difficult, but when you factor in mountains, the environment and obstacles are too much to handle. The forecast is calling for Erika to weaken to a depression before re-emerging over water again to the north of Hispaniola. The track of the storm after that is expected to push northward toward Florida.
Within the past 24 hours, the Sunshine State was put under a State of Emergency. The forecast with Erika has been very difficult. The NHC has had a tough time getting a good fix on this storm, and that is probably because of the fact that it is still a weak system. The cone of uncertainty has the storm ether ending up slightly west of Florida, or slightly east over the next 5 days. So, people along the Gulf Coast and even further up the Southeast coast in Georgia and South Carolina must pay close attention to this storm. Either scenario could lead to strengthening since Erika would have access to sufficiently warm water.
However, Erika’s expected weakening over the mountains of Hispaniola could significantly change the game for its track, and could cause it to move further to the west. A scenario that could have it end up further along in the Gulf, where waters are extremely warm this time of year. Despite the late start to the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the emergence of El Nino, which has contributed to the slow start, and dearth of hurricanes, things are showing signs of picking up just in time for the peak season.
Here is video footage taken from a trip to Belmar, New Jersey, located in Southern Monmouth County along the Shark River, and near Manasquan Inlet and Lake Como. It was a great beach day along the Jersey Shore as temperatures climbed to near 90 ahead of a slow moving cold front. Took in people sailing along the Shark River and others laying in the sun at the beach.
Here is a slideshow of photos taken from a trip to Belmar, New Jersey, located in Southern Monmouth County along the Shark River, and near Manasquan Inlet and Lake Como. It was a great beach day along the Jersey Shore as temperatures climbed to near 90 ahead of a slow moving cold front. Took in people sailing along the Shark River and others laying in the sun at the beach.
Here is video footage of storm clouds approaching in South Amboy’s Waterfront Park in the late afternoon of August 10th. The storm eventually brought about two-thirds of an inch of rain to GWC in South Plainfield.
Here is a slideshow of photos taken of weather conditions over a two day period on August 10-11, 2015. During this time, skies became ominous as a storm system that was forecast to bring a lot of rain moved in. The storm ended up only bringing about two-thirds of an inch to GWC in South Plainfield. It did provide for a great sky over South Amboy’s Waterfront Park.