Hurricane Hunter Aircraft Find Depression Still Weak
Besides Tropical Depression Nine, there is another immediate threat to the United States coastline this early Monday morning. Tropical Depression Eight, which formed late Sunday morning, is creeping ever so close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the moment. However, pressures still remain high with the depression, and shower and thunderstorm activity continues to be weak and disorganized.
As of the 8:00 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the depression was located approximately 210 miles to the Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The system was moving slowly to the Northwest at 9 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds were at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the depression actually rose one millibar from our last blog entry to 1011, or 29.86 inches of Hg.
So, the pressures with the depression remain high, which is an indication that the system is still weak and disorganized. Looking at the latest satellite imagery from the Atlantic, clouds from shower and thunderstorm activity remain disorganized. Right now, the depression continues to battle shear and dry air. However, the shear is expected to slacken and more humid air is expected to build in over the next 48 hours. As a result, the NHC intensity forecast calls for gradual intensification over the next 48 to 72 hours.
Looking at the forecast track for TD #8, the system is expected to make a close approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina from sometime on late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning as a minimal tropical storm. Afterwards, the system is expected to turn more toward the northeast and away from the coast while also picking up some forward speed as it falls under the influence of the westerlies. A Tropical Storm Watch
System Still Expected to Drop Significant Rainfall in Cuba and Florida
Nothing much has changed with Tropical Depression Nine since our last blog entry on it on Sunday. Pressure has fallen slightly, but the maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour, and the system overall remains poorly organized. The one thing that is going for the depression right now is that it is moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
As of the 5:00 AM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Tropical Depression Nine was situated some 155 miles to the West-Southwest of Key West in the Florida Keys, or about 95 miles to the West-Northwest of Havana, Cuba. Maximum sustained winds remain at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is at 1007 millibars, or 29.74 inches of Hg (Mercury).
The depression is moving very slowly to the West at 9 miles per hour. There are no watches or warnings in effect since the system is no threat to land at this time. Now that TD #9 is moving into the very friendly confines of the Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures can run between 85 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit, it is possible that the depression could become better organized and strengthen. The NHC believes strengthening could occur over the next 48 hours.
Rainfall is the big concern with the depression at this time. With all the tropical moisture that TD #9 possesses, anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of rain could fall in Cuba with isolated areas there seeing as much as a foot of rain. South Florida and the Keys could see anywhere between 3 to 5 inches with isolated areas seeing as much as 7 inches. The intensity forecast has changed with this system.
Last night, the NHC was a little conservative with its initial intensity forecasts for Tropical Depression Nine because there was great disparity between the Euro and the GFS solutions. In addition, neither model had performed well with the system up and to this point. This morning, however, the NHC is a little more optimistic although still cautious. Upper level winds are currently hostile towards development, but are expected to slacken making conditions more favorable.
In addition, the depression is moving away from land masses and into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where the sea surface temperatures this time of year are very hospitable to tropical systems. However, the global models are beginning to indicate that there will be dry air inserting itself into the area of the storm, and that is a weather factor not favorable for development. So, for the next 48 to 72 hours, the storm may strengthen some, but not a whole lot. Nevertheless, TD #9 should still become a tropical storm sometime within the next 24 to 36 hours.
Looking at the forecast track of Tropical Depression Nine, the system will continue to move westward over the next 18 to 24 hours before curving more to the right, and heading in a more northwestward direction. By Wednesday, the depression will begin to turn more to the northeast and pick up in forward speed. The northeastward motion and increase in forward speed will continue for the next several days as the system is expected to come ashore somewhere in the Big Bend area of Florida as a tropical storm by Friday morning.
All residents along the Gulf Coast, especially from the Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida area to Tampa, Florida should pay close attention to the latest whereabouts and developments with this system since a lot can change in a very short amount of time. Be prepared to take action if necessary.
Anniversary of Irene’s Impact on New Jersey This Weekend
The past two days here in New Jersey were filled with plenty of sun along with heat and humidity. Five years ago this weekend, there was a lot of humidity as well with the approach of what eventually became Tropical Storm Irene here in the Garden State. While the storm had lost much of its punch, it still brought plenty of rain, which many locations in New Jersey didn’t need.
Prior to Hurricane Irene, the Garden State experienced perhaps the wettest August on record. Many locations had over a foot of water thanks to torrential downpours occurring numerous times over the course of the month. Here at GWC in South Plainfield, located in the Northwest corner of Middlesex County, there had been 10 inches of rain.
Then came Irene, which brought to GWC approximately 5.34 inches. Winds gusted to near 70 miles per hour while the barometric pressure bottomed out at 970 millibars, or 28.64 inches of Hg (Mercury), the lowest level ever at GWC at that time. It would be surpassed some 14 months later when Hurricane Sandy came along and shattered it.
Despite the tremendous flooding across the Garden State including the worst flooding in the 45 years that I’ve lived in my neighborhood in South Plainfield, NJ (View the video of the flooding from Irene outside of GWC). Places in Monmouth County such as Howell received much more rain (up to 10 inches). Irene also churned up the surf along the Jersey Shore including Raritan Bay at South Amboy’s Waterfront Park (View video of the rising tides at Raritan Bay from Irene).
Driving home from South Amboy was also very treacherous since portions of I-287 and Route 440 had overwash and flooding. The storm produced winds near 70 miles per hour at GWC. Central Jersey as well as other parts of the state were hit with power outages. A tornado was spawned in Lewes, Delaware which is a ferry service away from Cape May on the southern tip of the Garden State. The combination of losing power combined with the rising flood waters in my neighborhood forced my family to evacuate to a hotel in a nearby town. We stayed at the hotel for several days.
All of the chaos from the storm as well as the evacuation to the hotel put a lot of stress on our cat, Socko. Unknown to us, Socko had already been suffering health wise from a cancerous growth that had developed in his chest a few years before. However, the stress of going to an unfamiliar location caused him to suffer panic attacks. He eventually adjusted, but then was brought back to the house, where the air was stifling and had an odor that seemed toxic.
Socko died a week later on the Sunday morning before Labor Day. Our family hasn’t gotten a cat or dog since. To my amazement, the historic flooding in my neighborhood didn’t last long. Within a day, the flood waters had receded, which allowed my family to return home by Thursday of that week. Power and gas came on that day. One great thing that came out of all of this was the fact that the new GWC Wx Station, installed in June, kept running throughout, and I was able to retrieve the historic data.
The storm did damage further north as well. Irene brought storm surge between 3 and 6 feet in New York City and Long Island. It also produced torrential rainfall in New England, especially Vermont, which experienced some of the worst flooding since 1927. Many covered bridges, which dot the landscape throughout Vermont, were destroyed by the raging waters that developed as a result of the heavy rains from Irene there.
Despite all the tremendous damage from Irene, I must say that New Jersey, New York, and New England were very fortunate. Irene could have been much worse. After the storm had ravaged the Bahamas with Category Three strength winds of 120 miles per hour, it had strengthened to 125 miles per hour, but dry air was able to get into the system, and gradually sapped Irene of her strength and fury. The storm became a jogger struggling to get to the finish line. It had simply run out of gas.
By the time, Hurricane Irene had made landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the storm had winds of minimal hurricane strength, but more importantly, the core structure of the system had turned into Swiss cheese from the dry air intrusion. Originally, Irene had reached Cape May, and Brigantine Island as a Category One Hurricane with 75 mph winds, but it was later revised to be a tropical storm with 70 mph winds.
Irene was more typical of tropical systems that affect the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast although it took a more coastal track through the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and eventually up into New Jersey. Sandy was much different in that it was a tropical system that formed in the final days of October, where the upper level winds and jet stream are starting to become more winter like. In addition, blocking high pressure formed to the north of Sandy, which forced it to make its move toward the Jersey Shore.
It was a memorable week or two in New Jersey, but the experience with Irene, which was more of a rainmaker, would pale in comparison to the onslaught brought by Sandy some 14 months later. Irene and Sandy did serve as a reminder that New Jersey is a coastal state and despite the protection from the Carolinas to the south, it is still vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes.
Winds Increase to 115 MPH
After battling shear for a day or two, Gaston re-energized into a Hurricane on Saturday, and deepened some more during the overnight hours. Now, the storm has become the first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season with 115 mile per hour winds as it churns away to the east of Bermuda in the Central Atlantic.
As of the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Gaston was located some 580 miles to the East of Bermuda. The storm is moving slowly to the Northwest at 5 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds have grown to 115 miles per hour with gusts topping 140 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has dropped to 962 millibars or 28.41 inches of Hg.
The latest forecast discussion from the NHC indicates that Gaston possesses a 15 mile wide eye, which can be clearly depicted on satellite. In addition to a clearly visible eye, the storm’s cloud tops are cooling according to infrared satellite imagery, and the combination of a clearly visible eye and cooling cloud tops are indicative of strengthening.
Gaston may have reached its peak. Despite good upper level outflow, a well defined eye, and colder cloud tops, the model forecasts indicate that Gaston is not expected to strengthen further. The intensity forecast from the NHC shows Gaston remaining a major hurricane for the next 24 hours, but beginning to gradually weaken at 36 hours and downgraded to a tropical storm in five days as it moves into higher latitudes and encounters cooler waters and the westerlies.
Taking a look at the forecast track, the NHC guidance shows the storm turning to the east, and picking up forward speed on Tuesday afternoon. Gaston will turn more easterly with time, and be several hundred miles to the southwest of the Azores by Friday afternoon.
Disturbance Finally Reaches Elusive Tropical Depression Strength
Over the last 24 hours, things have begun to pick up with what had been a beleaguered Invest 99L. On Saturday afternoon, shower and thunderstorm activity associated with the disturbance began to blossom as it hugged the north coast of Cuba. On Sunday, a weak circulation began to develop, and Hurricane Hunter aircraft declared it as a depression as of 5:00 PM EDT.
Currently, Tropical Depression Nine is located in the Florida Straits some 55 miles to the Northeast of Havana, Cuba, or approximately 60 miles to the south of Key West, Florida. Maximum sustained winds are at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 mph. Minimum central pressure is at 1009 millibars or 29.80 inches of Hg (Mercury). TD #9 is moving to the West at 9 mph.
There are no watches or warnings for any coastal areas. However, the depression is producing tremendous rainfall along the northern coast of Cuba, and is expected to generate anywhere between one and four inches of rainfall in South Florida and the Florida Keys through Wednesday. Residents along the Gulf Coast need to monitor the progress of this system, especially now that it is moving away from the rugged mountains of Cuba and into the high octane waters of the Gulf.
Looking at the forecast track of TD #9 from the National Hurricane Center, the depression will continue moving away from Cuba and the Florida Keys on Monday, and then gradually make more of a turn to the north on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the system will be heading a little more to the North-Northeast in the Central Gulf of Mexico. The intensity forecast is murky, which is understandable due to not only the the current state of the depression, and the performance history of both the GFS and Euro on this system.
Right now, the European model (ECMWF) indicates that the depression will dissipate in the Gulf while the GFS is showing development over by days four and five. Keep in mind, experts have bee critical of the performance of these two models with this system, and the depression is still a fledgling system. So, the NHC remains cautious with a bit of a conservative forecast calling for TD #9 reaching 50 mile per hour winds within 72 hours and staying at that intensity through five days.
TD #8 Emerges on Sunday Morning; Tropical Storm Watch for Outer Banks May Be Issued on Sunday night
While a lot of the focus in the Atlantic Tropics has been on Invest 99L, a couple other disturbances have spun up in the basin over the last 24 hours. One of those new features was Invest 91L, which acquired a weak circulation along with an increase in shower and thunderstorm activity earlier today.
The depression was classified by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida late Sunday morning. Since then, the system hasn’t strengthened much. Much of the shower and thunderstorm activity associated with TD #8 is to the north and west of the center of circulation. As of the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory from the NHC, the depression was located some 355 miles to the Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
TD #8 is presently moving slowly to the west at 9 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are currently at 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure is still quite high at 1010 millibars, or 29.83 inches of Hg. The depression could strengthen some over the next 48 hours or so, and could become a tropical storm on Monday.
At this time, there are no watches or warnings out for any land areas. However, residents along the Outer Banks of North Carolina should closely monitor developments with this tropical system. A Tropical Storm Watch could be issued later tonight. According to the latest NHC track guidance, the depression is expected to come very close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina by Tuesday before turning to the Northeast and away from land.
Looking at the intensity forecast, the depression is expected to reach minimal tropical storm strength within 24 hours, and maximum sustained winds could increase to 45 miles per hour within 72 hours. The forecast expects TD #8 to dissipate within four days.
Winds Now up to 85 MPH; No Threat to Land
Unlike Invest 99L, which has been a little more difficult to figure out since it has been a fledgling tropical system, Gaston has been well behaved. The storm has pretty much lived up to expectations as it traverses the waters of the Central Atlantic. As forecasted, Gaston has become a hurricane again.
Located some 655 miles to the East-Southeast of Bermuda as of 11:00 PM EDT, Gaston was moving slowly to the Northwest at 8 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds in Gaston have increased to 85 miles per hour with gusts up to 105 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure has decreased to 980 millibars or 28.94 inches of Hg (Mercury).
The storm is growing in size as well. Hurricane force winds extend some 15 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reach out about 140 miles from the center. Gaston is expected to continue strengthening. The most recent discussion by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, indicates that the hurricane could come very close to being the first major hurricane of 2016.
The NHC indicates that Gaston could grow into a strong Category Two Hurricane with 110 mile per hour winds within 24 to 36 hours. Upper level conditions are expected to remain favorable for development. The only hinderance to intensification over time would be the slow motion of the storm, which could lead to the upwelling of cooler waters to the surface.
Some models have indicated that Gaston could become a major hurricane, and the NHC has ratcheted up the winds a bit in its intensity forecast. Nevertheless, Gaston poses no threat to land, and there are no watches or warnings out presently. The storm is not forecast to affect any land masses in the coming days. It is expected to remain to the east of Bermuda, and then head northeast as it falls under the influence of the westerlies.
Disturbance Getting Its Act Together Along North Coast of Cuba
During the late afternoon and early evening on Saturday, I had indicated that Invest 99L was still struggling to rebound after the hit it took on Thursday. Upper level atmospheric dynamics were still hindering the storm as it continued to progress westward along the north coast of Cuba.
However, satellite imagery is starting to show a different trend with Invest 99L. The area of low pressure associated with the disturbance is beginning to get better organized and defined. Much of the clouds and convection remain to the north and east of the low, but it is definitely more significant that it was on Friday or earlier on Saturday.
Conditions will gradually become more favorable toward development as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico, but right now Invest 99L is still battling the rugged and mountainous terrain of Cuba, and that is hindering further development. Right now, the National Hurricane Center has increased the odds of formation to 40 percent in the next 48 hours, and 50 percent over the next five days.
As of 8:00 PM EDT, there were reports coming out of Cuba of approximately 3 to 5 inches of rain that has fallen in towns and villages there. So, there is a ton of tropical moisture to work with. We could see a scenario similar to Hurricane Frederick in 1979, where the storm was torn apart by the rugged terrain of Cuba and Hispaniola only to rebound and become a Category Three Hurricane when it slammed into Mobile Bay.
The reason why I say that is because Invest 99L is headed toward the Gulf of Mexico where water temperatures can be much like bath water, especially the area called the Loop Current, which served as high octane fuel for the last major hurricanes to make landfall in the United States back in 2005: Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. There are still a lot of unknowns here, but there is a chance that this disturbance could blossom into a powerful storm.
Andrew was another storm that appeared to be given up for dead in the Western Atlantic before it showed tremendously resiliency and found an area where it rapidly intensified into the monster that slammed into Homestead in South Florida some 24 years ago this past week. The moral of the story here is that people along the Gulf Coast from Texas to the West Coast of Florida should continue to monitor this disturbance, and be ready for the possibility of a dangerous storm In the coming days.
Upper Level Winds Continue to be Hostile Towards Development
While Gaston appears to be re-energizing in the Central Atlantic, our more immediate threat, Invest 99L, continues to have difficulty recovering after losing significant punch on Thursday. Upper level conditions in the vicinity of the weak area of low pressure between Northern Cuba and Andros Island in the Bahamas continue to be hostile towards development.
In addition, shower and thunderstorm activity remain disorganized as much of the activity is confined to the south and east of the low. The disturbance continues to move to the west-northwest through the Florida Straits. Heavy rainfall is expected to continue for portions of Eastern and Central Cuba while the rain along with gusty winds is forecast to move into the Southern Bahamas, South Florida, and the Florida Keys.
Currently, chances of formation within the next 48 hours is low at 30 percent while probability of development within five days stands at 40 percent. Hurricane Hunter aircraft was scheduled to fly into the area on Saturday, but the mission was cancelled. Residents in portions of Florida as well as the Gulf Coast should continue to closely monitor the situation with this disturbance.
Activity is starting to percolate in other areas of the tropics with three more areas of disturbed weather throughout the basin, but none of them appear to be an immediate threat with a broad area of low pressure near Bermuda having a 30 percent chance of formation within 48 hours and 5 days.
Storm Re-Energizing in the Central Atlantic
The Atlantic tropics remain active on this late Saturday afternoon with several disturbances around the region including Invest 99L. However, none of them are expected to become storms any time in the near future. So, Tropical Storm Gaston remains the only show in town, and it is poised to become a hurricane again.
As of the 5:00 PM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Tropical Storm Gaston was located 675 miles East-Southeast of Bermuda, and moving to the Northwest at a bit of a slow pace at 9 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are 70 miles per hour with gusts up to 85 miles per hour.
Tropical storm force winds with Gaston extend some 150 miles from the center of circulation while the minimum central pressure is down to 993 millibars. Gaston is expected to strengthen more over the next 48 hours as upper level atmospheric conditions in its vicinity will continue to be conducive for development.
Not only is Gaston expected to become a hurricane again, but it is forecast to reach Category Two strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Some models including the GFS and the ECMWF project Gaston to be a major hurricane over the next three to five days. The ECMWF, or the European model indicates that Gaston could reach an intensity where the minimum central pressure drops to 945 millibars or 27.91 inches of Hg.
Gaston has been behaving pretty much as expected over the past couple days. The storm has been moving generally to the northwest, and has slowed down some as previously anticipated. This general motion is expected to continue until Sunday afternoon before it begins a general turn to the north and northeast in response to a break in the subtropical ridge, and increased influence from the westerlies.
So far this season, there have been three hurricanes of the seven named systems that have formed. However, there is yet to be a major hurricane. If the GFS and Euro intensity forecasts pan out, we could see our first major hurricane of 2016.
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