Friday, October 26, 2012

Frankenstorm

Much is being said about what could happen once "Sandy" makes its arrival along the East Coast early next week.  It could mix in with a few other features in the atmosphere that could end up causing a big mess. This "Mess of a Storm" if you will, has been dubbed "Frankenstorm", because it could strike near Halloween.

So for you with friends and family along the East Coast, here is what we know.

  • At present, "Sandy" looks very weak on satellite imagery with clear skies,as well as dry air filtering on the Eastern side of the storm.
  • It should weaken and remain as a tropical storm for at least 36-48 hours while it stays a few hundred miles or so away from the US.
  • But, there is plenty of warm water due to the Gulf Stream current, and this could allow it intensify back to a hurricane.

Meanwhile, across Canada, there is an area of low pressure that is pushing along a cold front to the Southeast. Both of these systems are expected to clash somewhere along the Atlantic coast near Halloween.

Key things we should look at is how strong or weak Sandy will be when it gets there. Regardless, this is what the models indicate:



  • Rain: Anywhere between 5-10 inches. Some of this rain could even turn to snow.
  • Flooding: Good possibility along rivers, the coast, and low lying communities.
  • Wind: Depends on Sandy... but maybe even Hurricane Force Winds can't be ruled out.

Sandy has already caused devastation throughout its journey in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. I'm hoping it will only be a scare more than anything else as it approaches the East Coast down the road.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy will make its closest approach to South Florida on Friday when it will be around 200 miles to our east. It should mainly impact the Bahamas directly starting as early as Thursday morning.




This is a huge system and its wind field will continue to grow, that is why we will feel tropical storm force winds over South Florida through Friday at least.  Pockets of heavy rain will move in and out until Saturday.  The main impacts will be at the beach with choppy seas, strong winds, beach erosion, some street flooding and the threat of rip currents. Boating is not advised until Sunday.



The forecast cone calls for Sandy to weaken as it travels north over the Western Atlantic but by early next week it could nudge back to New England as a depression impacting them with rain, rough seas, and breezy conditions.

This is from NHC:

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* CUBAN PROVINCES OF CAMAGUEY...LAS TUNAS...GRANMA...SANTIAGO DE
CUBA...HOLGUIN...AND GUANTANAMO
* THE RAGGED ISLANDS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS
* THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
* THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* HAITI
* FLORIDA EAST COAST FROM OCEAN REEF TO FLAGLER BEACH
* LAKE OKEECHOBEE
* THE REMAINDER OF THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* FLORIDA EAST COAST FROM NORTH OF FLAGLER BEACH TO FERNANDINA BEACH
* FLORIDA UPPER KEYS FROM OCEAN REEF TO CRAIG KEY
* FLORIDA BAY

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

T.S. Sandy

Tropical Storm Sandy is spinning in the Caribbean Sea and aiming for Jamaica. A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica and Eastern Cuba.  The long range models are all in agreement that Sandy will move North eventually impacting the Bahamas before turning NE and drifting toward Bermuda.



As Sandy moves over the Bahamas, we will see an increase in cloud cover, the winds will pick up, and we could received 1-2" of rain from Thursday through Saturday. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Coastal Waters from Palm Beach South through Broward and Miami-Dade, including Biscayne Bay, for increasing winds and choppy to rough seas. Boating is NOT advised.



Right now our thoughts are with our friends in Jamaica and Cuba as they ready for the possibility of Category 1 system rolling over them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Names for Winter Storms?

As we all know, for many decades, NOAA has been naming tropical systems. Who can forget Andrew, Katrina, or Wilma to name just a few. Well, now a national network has decided to do their own naming, not of hurricanes... but winter storms!  What you say?  Yes, The Weather Channel will start naming winter storms for the 2012-2013 winter season.
 
The say the reason for this is to raise awareness on the possible impacts of a winter system and this works better with a "named storm" since it is easier to talk about and remember.
 
Their procedure will be as follows:
  • They will name it no more than three days before impact.
  • They will include the potential for snowfall, ice, wind and temperature.
 
My only question is, since these names are not offered by an official government agency, no other broadcast organization will use them, so there is not one unified voice. This will defeat the purpose of  having a name to simplify the watches and warnings process. While the Weather Channel my use a name, CNN won't, nor will MSN or CBS or etc...
 
What do you think, good or bad idea?
 
 
Here is a list of the winter storm named for 2012:
 
Athena
Brutus
Caesar
Draco
Euclid
Freyr
Gandolf
Helen
Iago
Jove
Khan
Luna
Magnus
Nemo
Orko
Plato
Q
Rocky
Saturn
Triton
Ukko
Virgil
Walda
Xerxes
Yogi
Zeus

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Harvest Moon is almost here

What do you call a full moon that comes close to the first day of Fall? A harvest moon. This name comes from back in the day when there was no electricity and farmers worked their fields at night.

 
This "Harvest Moon" is a little different from the average full moon as it rises around the same time on three consecutive nights. This is due to the angle of the moon as it orbits the earth during the Autumnal Equinox. The angle is very shallow, so it doesn't go so far below the horizon and as a result, it comes up again at about the same time each night.


This precious extra natural lighting gave farmers some extra time to work their fields.

Typically, a regular full moon will rise about an hour later each day thus cutting back on available work time.

Here are the "Harvest Moon" facts.
  • The moon may look bigger and seem closer, but it's not.
  • The Harvest Moon will happen on Saturday
  • It will rise this year at 11:19 p.m. ET.
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Drought delivers treasures

Imagine if one of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. suddenly disappeared without a trace and all of its great treasures were gone. It would leave a huge question mark in the soul of our society.

That's what happened to Poland hundreds of years ago and only recently has Mother Nature intervened to help answer the question, "What happened?".

Let me take you to the heart of Poland and the Vistula river which sits right in the middle of the country. This is where everything is answered. 

The worst drought to hit Poland's Vistula River has yielded the best archaeological treasure for the country.

The river is at an all time low, the lowest since they began keeping records in the late 1700's.


The water has dropped so much that it has revealed a National treasure missing for 350 years!

This includes marble artifacts and stonework that once belonged to Polish nobility.

This discovery helps answer a mystery that's been lingering for hundreds of years as to what happened to the royal treasures that were part of Warsaw's Royal Castle.


Most of the treasure which includes sculpted fountains, columns, and other marbles, was stolen during a conflict known as the "Swedish Deluge", taking place during the 17th century. The loot never made it to Sweden and thus the mystery was born.  It turns out the vessel carrying the treasures sank while trying to head home.

The archaeological find has already yielded 12 tons of 17th century marble.  But Mother Nature may fight back.  It appears recent rains are slowly rising the water levels... archaeologists will have to move fast or their hopes for rescuing all the treasures will be sunk. (Sorry!)



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hello Houston!

You may notice the satellite picture above does not look as sharp as usual and it breaks up in the far Eastern Atlantic. This is because a very important satellite used to track storms along the Eastern Seaboard ,as well as the Atlantic, has gone on the fritz.


We are not completely blind as a second satellite unit is taking over temporary duties, but its eyes are not as good nor do they extend that far into the Atlantic.

This is what happened:

Over the weekend, a satellite known as GOES-13 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) began to have problems relaying pictures back to earth. It got so bad with static that NOAA took the unit off line. As of this posting, engineers are working on the problem but have no idea as to when it would be put back into service.

This issue has forced NOAA to use another satellite by the name of GOES 15, which usually only covers the West Coast. They opened the lens as far as it could to capture not only its area of coverage, but also as much of the East Coast and Atlantic as possible. As you can probably imagine the detail is somewhat lost with such a big sector to cover.

This unit is not an old one as it went into space in 2006. What is interesting is that it was never used but placed in reserve until 2010, that's when it was placed into operation. Whatever the fix, it will have to be performed by computer programmers because if its an actual hardware or mechanical issue, a repair mission is not even a consideration.

We may not be completely out of luck, it seems as in the case of this unit, another satellite by the name of GOES 14 is sitting idly by waiting to take over operations if 13 dies.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Too much ice melting

The National Snow and Ice Data Center is reporting that Ice around the Arctic has achieved a near record meltdown this summer with a total of 1.58 million square miles lost to warmer temps. The previous low point was 1.61 million square miles in 2007. The Data Center says the figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979.

They also say that ice is being lost by around 38,000 square miles a day (since June) or about the size of the State of Indiana.  

As you might expect, there is nothing more normal than for ice to melt during the hottest time of the year, but typically a sheet of ice will make it through until winter. This allows Mother Nature to rebuild the ice faster, but with this extra loss, it takes a longer time for the Arctic ice to grow back.
This is problematic for many reasons:
        * It could cause major headaches for  local animal species such as polar bears and walruses.
        * The lack of Arctic sea ice allows the atmosphere to warm faster, causing land ice to melt which can raise sea levels.
        * This rise in ocean water levels could impact coastal communities world wide.

But, this could allow:
        * Easier traffic lanes for shipping, where summers free of ice will allow passage through routes typically clogged with ice.
        * It could also make it easier for detection of oil deposits.


Proponents of Climate Change say:
National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Ted Scambos ,suggests that the meltdown can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. This sharp decline in ice could be a signal of long term climate change.

Other experts point out that if present trends continue, the Arctic will be largely ice-free in the summer in 20 or 30 years.

Proponents of  "No Climate Change" argue that an early August storm appears to have helped  break up some of the 2012 sea ice and helped it to melt more quickly.

Other scientists report that global warming doesn't fully explain what's been going on in the Arctic. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by John Michael Wallace of the University of Washington, found that most of the recent reduction in sea ice is due to natural variability.

So no matter what side you are on, all of us will be impacted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weather enthusiasts are looking to get a type of cloud recognized by world meteorological services. It appears this new type, known by its Latin name of "undulatus asperatus" or "agitated waves" for short, is the first new formation since 1951.  Some people say it almost looks like a fluffy blanket covering an area.



It all started when a picture by Jane Wiggins of Cedar Rapids Iowa, went viral on the net in 2006. Since then, weather buffs around the globe have taken their own snap shots and are hoping to formally get it recognized. 

This is now up to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva, who have the final say in cloud classifications. The big question is, what would it be called then?  If it were to make it, it would join the ranks of other well known cloud types as cirrus, cumulus, & stratus.

This new recognition may be worthy, but it may take some time.  The president of the Cloud Appreciation Society, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, says,"the last time they did a new edition of the book was in 1975." 

I have seen these clouds in Minnesota as warm air overruns colder air, almost acting as a blanket. All we can do now is wait and see if WMO will include it in their next reference book update, whenever that may be.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Volcan del Fuego

The eruption of one of the world's most active volcanoes quieted down just a bit on Friday. Local residents were allowed to return home at the foot of the Volcan del Fuego, Spanish for Volcano of Fire, along the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.


This is a brief history courtesy the Global Vulcanism Program:
  •  Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua.  
  • The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. 

  • Construction of Meseta volcano dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene.
  •  Collapse of Meseta volcano may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. 
  • Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango volcano, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. 

  • Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ash falls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

What happened?
The eruptions forced the evacuations of more than 33,000 who live around the volcano. This is almost half the population of that region.

A vulcanologist with the Guatemalan Government, said the eruptions appear to be in the final stages. This is the biggest activity since 1974, when the eruption was five times stronger than this one.

Villagers and farmers living at the foot of the volcano were awoken Thursday by a massive roar during a series of eruptions that darkened the skies and covered surrounding sugar cane fields with ash.

By Thursday evening, the ash plume had decreased to a little more than a mile high, partly due to heavy rain, which diminished the potential risk to aviation

Emergency workers reported that many villagers living around the slopes of the volcano had begun returning home. The Red Cross of Guatemala was winding down operations, according to Government authorities.

The silver lining to this scare, is that the eruption has turned into a draw for delighted tourists. They've been taking pictures of the nearby colonial city and are making plans to take night hikes to see glowing rivers of lava.
      

Friday, August 31, 2012

Isaac Postmortem

Isaac proved to be one of those systems that caused headaches everywhere it moved through, from Haiti with reported deaths there, to South Florida with heavy rain, and finally the Gulf States with devastating floods.

No matter how weak a storm is, as it was when it passed over us, there is always the potential for trouble. When the center of Isaac slid just South of Key West, it brought some gusty winds, rain, and minor flooding, but no major problems. It wasn't until the following day, when it was over the Gulf of Mexico, that South Florida felt its presence.

A feeder band parked itself right along the East coast with tropical storm force winds and heavy rain, leading to widespread flooding in northeastern Broward and Palm Beach.  Trees came down, electrical lines snapped, roofs leaked, and some neighborhoods had water rise up to their front doors. All of these problems happened, not from a direct hit but from a glancing blow form one of its feeder bands.

This is why it worries me when folks say, "Ah, its just a storm", or " A Cat 1 is nothing to be scared about", or "We're out of the cone, so no worries here". With this mentality,  they fail to prepare and then suffer the consequences.

A storm or hurricane is not a dot on a map. That is just the center of circulation or where NHC tracks the system from.  The clouds, winds, rain and surge can be felt hundreds of miles away. Case and point: Isaac.  Even though, much of South Florida was outside the cone of concern, there were advisories up and down both coasts. This is why its so important to prepare and to worry about each system, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is...it can always surprise.

Storms are like people and come in all shapes and sizes.


  • Andrew: When is slammed South Florida in 1992, was a small and compact system with little rain, but a violent storm surge, powerful winds, and isolated tornadoes.
  • Katrina: Its path over South Florida in 2005 saw Cat 1 winds, but loaded with rain, dumping as much as 16 inches over parts of Miami Dade causing flooding.
  • Isaac: While only a tropical storm, it was a huge system in size. It did not make landfall across South Florida, but a back-side feeder band lead to all sorts of flooding problems due to heavy rain.


This is why we should always monitor tropical systems no matter how big or small or whether we're in the cone or not. If its close by, keep your eyes on it, and prepare accordingly. Preparation is key.

I always tell my friends that if an earthquake were to happen right now, I could not give them any warning. If I could give you a few minutes notice that a tornado was coming, I would be on  my A game... unlike any of these phenomena, a hurricane will never take you by surprise. Sometimes I will be on TV ad nauseam warning you of its presence, letting you know its coming.

I hope we don't see any more activity this season, but if we do.... prepare and you will be fine. Whats the worse that can happen? You got ready and nothing hit?  Then think of it as a fire drill, in this case, a hurricane drill.

Stay safe.


Friday, August 24, 2012

What next for Isaac?

UPDATE: As of LATE Friday morning, Isaac is a little stronger but remains disheveled. Even though there is plenty of rain with this system, most of it is to the south over the Caribbean Sea. Wind speeds have picked up somewhat, but the northern end of Isaac is being interrupted by the high terrain of Hispaniola. How much more strengthening Isaac will undergo remains to be seen.



Overnight recon detected a center that was being stretched out. Imagine if you will the core of a paper-towel roll, stand it up right, and that would be the center of a well organized storm. Good inflow at the bottom, and just like an exhaust, good outflow at the top.  In this case however, tilt the roll almost at a 45 degree angle and this is Isaac's center. It is elongated, stretched out, and with little organization.

About the only thing in its favor is the available fuel from the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Even with that NHC says it does not expect for Isaac to get that much stronger in the short term.

For the next day or two, it will aim for Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, and then.... this is where it gets interesting. Most models point it towards the Keys, but any slight deviation or change in forward speed, and those models could change. As a matter of fact, if the system keeps slowing down, it could give it a chance to grow stronger and nudge more in our direction.  DON'T LET DOWN YOUR GUARD.

From NHC earlier:

  • THE LONG TERM INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS A HIGHLY UNCERTAIN AS THE INITIAL POSITION ESTIMATE IS BASED ON A BLEND OF RECENT FIXES AND CONTINUITY. 
  • THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE CONTINUES TO BE IN GENERALLY GOOD AGREEMENT ON THE RESUMPTION OF A WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AND THEN NORTHWESTWARD MOTION IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS AS THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE NORTH OF ISAAC WEAKENS. 
  • THIS GENERAL MOTION SHOULD CONTINUE THROUGH DAY 4...WHEN A TURN MORE TOWARD THE NORTH IS SHOWN AS A SHORTWAVE TROUGH AMPLIFIES OVER THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. 
  • LATE IN THE PERIOD THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN BETTER AGREEMENT ON THIS SCENARIO...AS THE ECMWF HAS TRENDED EASTWARD TOWARD THE REST OF THE MODELS THIS CYCLE. 
  • THE NEW NHC FORECAST HAS BEEN ADJUSTED ABOUT A DEGREE SOUTHWARD IN THE FIRST 12 HOURS DUE TO THE INITIAL POSITION AND MOTION...AND IS THEN BLENDED BACK TOWARD THE PREVIOUS TRACK BY 48 HOURS. AFTER THAT TIME...THE NHC FORECAST IS ESSENTIALLY AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS ONE...AND IS BETWEEN THE ECMWF ON THE LEFT AND THE GFS AND TVCA CONSENSUS ON THE RIGHT. 


IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO FOCUS ON THE EXACT TRACK DUE TO UNCERTAINTIES IN THE INITIAL LOCATION AND THE TRACK FORECAST...AND THE FACT THAT ISAAC HAS A LARGE AREA OF TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ASSOCIATED WITH IT. 





Keep monitoring.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Isaac Aims for Hispaniola

Isaac will swing South of Puerto Rico this Thursday, but its sights are set on Dominican Republic and Haiti.



During the overnight hours, Isaac appeared to have gotten its act together. There is much more banding,  strong storms are developing along the center, and shear is relaxing . However, that center is hard to find.

There is plenty of information to convey from NHC, so here goes:



  • AN AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INVESTIGATING ISAAC THIS MORNING HAS FOUND A POORLY DEFINED INNER CORE WITH A LARGE AREA OF LIGHT WINDS AROUND A CENTER...WHICH IS SIMILAR TO WHAT AN EARLIER NOAA RESEARCH MISSION INDICATED.
  •  RADAR DATA FROM GUADELOUPE AND SAN JUAN ALSO INDICATE A POORLY DEFINED INNER CORE CONVECTIVE PATTERN.




The bottom line is that Isaac remains as a Storm, but is expected to strengthen as it nears Hispaniola.



The cone suggests Isaac could be over us sometime late in the weekend, or early next week.

Here is what we can expect today, according to NHC:

  • TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OVER PUERTO RICO AND THE U.S. AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS ON THURSDAY.  



By Friday:

  • HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BY EARLY FRIDAY...AND OVER PORTIONS OF HAITI ON FRIDAY.  


  • TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS BY LATE FRIDAY.

Impacts:

  • MAXIMUM RAIN AMOUNTS OF 6 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE OVER PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS.  
  • TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 12 INCHES...WITH MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 20 INCHES...ARE POSSIBLE OVER HISPANIOLA.  THESE RAINS COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.




In the long haul:
Everything depends on where Isaac makes landfall. If it strikes Hispaniola, the high terrain there should slow it down and weaken it.  The down side to that is that it will dump allot of rain across Dom. Republic and Haiti causing dangerous floods along with land and mudslides.

It should emerge as Tropical storm and move into Cuba over the weekend.
Everyone in the area highlighted on day 5, should monitor this system carefully.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

This Wednesday starts with little change for T.S. Isaac. Its still in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred miles East of the Leeward Islands.  Overnight there were a few t-storm flareups around the center of circulation and some spiral banding began to appear giving it a more typical hurricane-like look.

Isaac is still fighting off some drier air to the north as well as some light to moderate shear just ahead of it. This combo should keep it as a tropical storm over the next 24 hours.





High pressure will continue to push it due west through the end of the week, then by the weekend most models indicate a turn to the north/northwest. This turn puts South Florida in the cone of concern.




While the track is coming more into focus, the question of how strong it will be, is still a mystery. If Isaac tracks over the Islands, specially Hispaniola, high terrain here (the highest in all of the Caribbean. Pico Duarte in Dom. Rep. is over 10,000 feet high) could shred it apart. This may sound good, but that process could dump allot of rain over Dominican Republic and Haiti leading to flooding, land and mudslides.

If Isaac misses the islands and stays over the warm waters of the Caribbean, there is plenty of hot water here that it could use as fuel for growth.

This what NHC is saying:

THE INTENSITY FORECAST
IS COMPLICATED BY HOW MUCH THE CORE OF THE SYSTEM INTERACTS WITH
THE MOUNTAINOUS LAND MASSES OF HISPANIOLA AND EASTERN CUBA.  THE
OFFICIAL WIND SPEED FORECAST IS FAIRLY CLOSE TO THE STATISTICAL-
DYNAMICAL GUIDANCE FOR THE FIRST 48 HOURS AND THEN TRIES TO TAKE
INTO ACCOUNT THE LAND INTERACTION.  NEEDLESS TO SAY...THERE IS
CONSIDERABLE UNCERTAINTY IN THE INTENSITY OF ISAAC IN THE 3 TO 5
DAY TIME FRAME.



Because of this UNCERTAINTY, everyone throughout the Caribbean and South Florida should continue to monitor the track of Isaac. Another recon mission is set for today to get a better handle on Isaac and where it may eventually end up.

Tropical Depression 9

As of Tuesday morning we are now tracking a brand new depression just east of the Lesser Antilles.

Tropical Depression 9, is a good looking system. There is good spiral banding around the storm. Plenty of t-storm activity is spotted around the center of circulation, and there is only limited shear to its north.

This shear should subside over the next 24-48 hours.





High pressure to the north is keeping this system on a W/NW track, but by the weekend some models suggest that strong winds will veer out of the Southeastern USA. This will force the Bermuda high to move east, away from Florida, and force TD 9 to slow down.  This slow-down will allow TD 9 to grow stronger, it could be a Cat 2 by then.

As the high moves away, it opens a door in the atmosphere for the storm to take, and unfortunately, some of the models place the storm CLOSE TO FLORIDA sometime next week.



Watches and warning are already in effect for most of the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, as well as parts of the Dominican Republic. Many more will be added over the next day or so.

This is what NHC is expecting over these areas:


WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE WARNING
AREA BY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON...MAKING OUTSIDE PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT
OR DANGEROUS.

RAINFALL...TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE
OVER THE NORTHERN WINDWARD ISLANDS AND THE LEEWARD ISLANDS.

SURF...DANGEROUS SURF AND RIP CURRENT CONDITIONS WILL AFFECT THE
WINDWARD ISLANDS AND THE LEEWARD ISLANDS DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF
DAYS. PLEASE CONSULT PRODUCTS FROM YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE FOR
MORE INFORMATION.


NHC is sending out a recon plane this afternoon to get a better handle on the situation.

For South Florida, now is the time to prepare. Make sure you have all your supplies. Pick up a FREE channel 7 Map & Guide at your local Publix and follow all the tips and suggestions offered there to help you weather the storm.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tropics, back in Action

It has been a little hectic at the Ferro household, with summer vacation coming to an end, and getting the kids back to school... my free time has been hard to come by.  Thankfully the tropics have been rather quiet, but low and behold as the kids get settled in, something has popped up in the Atlantic that may have its sights set on South Florida.




NHC is keeping tabs on 4 areas. One near Mexico in the Gulf, aiming for that country. Gordon is in the Eastern Atlantic apparently aiming for Portugal as a depression or a weak low down the road.  A tropical wave near the Cape Verde Islands, and a good looking tropical low a few hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles. This last one is the one we should watch. If it does develop, it will be called "Isaac".




Most models forecast this feature to impact the Leeward Islands, track over Hispaniola, and Cuba, and then be near Florida or the Bahamas in about 7 days.

Here is what it has going for it:

  • It will travel over the Caribbean Sea where Sea Surface temps are very warm and should provide enough fuel for growth.


Working against it:

  • If it directly impacts the islands, it will be traversing over some of the highest terrain in the region. Some peaks in Haiti are over 8,000 feet tall. This in essence should shred the storm.
  • If El Nino, is gaining strength, then upper winds should be counterproductive for this system to get stronger.


Lets watch this carefully.

I will be posting another update regarding the wave next to the Cape Verde Islands as it gets its act together .  Long range models place this one too near the Leewards Islands.  The Peak of Hurricane season is next month. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cape Verde Season is here

The tropics are heating up. We are following five areas from Mexico through the Far Eastern Atlantic.

They are:

  • Ernesto over Mexico
  • Tropical Wave over Cuba
  • Remnants of Florence in Mid Atlantic
  • Tropical Depression 7 in Eastern Atlantic
  • Low pressure by the Cape Verde Islands.


Speaking of Cape Verde, with all this recent activity developing near that area, we can safely say Cape Verde Season is underway. This short season within a season runs from roughly August through the end of September. Lets give you a quick rundown of all the activity.

Ernesto: After making two landfalls over Mexico, one over the Yucatan as a hurricane and the other as a storm across Central Mexico, it has now dissipated. It continues to dump plenty of rain over the region. The remnants of Ernesto may emerge into the Eastern Pacific and have another shot at regeneration.



Tropical Wave over Cuba:  The area of clouds and rain near us is made up of two features. There is an upper low over Cuba and a tropical wave stretching from the Caribbean Sea north through the Bahamas. The low will drag the moisture from the wave here, and if it doesn't fall apart, we could be soggy from today through Sunday.



This is what the local NWS office is saying:

THUNDERSTORMS: SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BEGIN TO

SPREAD ACROSS THE ENTIRE SOUTH FLORIDA PENINSULA LATER TODAY. THE
MAIN IMPACTS WILL BE FREQUENT LIGHTNING, LOCALLY HEAVY DOWNPOURS,
AND GUSTY WINDS.

WIND: THE STRONGEST STORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING WIND GUSTS
OF 40 TO 50 MPH.

FLOODING: AS DEEPER MOISTURE MOVES INTO THE AREA, LOCALIZED
FLOODING MAY OCCUR WITHIN HEAVIER SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS,
ESPECIALLY IN URBAN AREAS.


You can keep track of the rain here:




Next is Florence, once a proud tropical storm, it weakened so much a few days ago that NHC no longer issued advisories on it. But since then, its been trying to come back firing up t-storms every so often. It has been hovering around a 10% chance for regeneration but as of this writing, NHC has it down to zero. Right now it is just a small area of clouds to the north of Puerto Rico.



Tropical Depression 7 could be an Ernesto Redux.  It appears to be gaining strength and could become Tropical Storm Gordon soon. It will threaten the Lesser Antilles, and be near the Yucatan in about 5-7 days. All our friends throughout the Caribbean should monitor TD 7 closely.



Finally, there is an area of low pressure next to the Cape Verde Islands. NHC is giving this feature a 50% chance that it could become the next system to track. Most model runs however, keep whatever develops in the open waters of the Atlantic and only a worry for shipping lanes.





Plenty to follow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Down to two

If you are a viewer of WSVN, you have probably heard me say many times in the past that tropical waves and disturbances are very difficult to forecast. They can grow quickly or fall apart just as fast. Case and point , the disturbance that we had approaching us from the Bahamas. It dumped plenty of rain on Friday, was forecasted to move over us and provide more tropical downpours, and at one time even NHC had given it a chance for development. Well.... it fell apart providing us with a rather nice Saturday.



It is no longer a big rain threat for us this Sunday  It is but merely a wrinkle in the atmosphere across Northern Florida. The local weather office is still hinting at enough leftover moisture for a few afternoon storms.

This is what they say:

.UPDATE...
THE DEEPEST MOISTURE AND LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE REMAIN TO OUR
NORTH, WE STILL EXPECT SCATTERED TO NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON, AIDED PARTIALLY BY SEA BREEZES.
LATEST GUIDANCE STILL INDICATES THE MOST CONCENTRATED ACTIVITY
OVER INTERIOR PORTIONS OF THE REGION, PEAKING BETWEEN 19Z-22Z.


In the Tropics: 
It appears El Nino is kicking in. What is happening now is what usually takes place  during an El Nino episode. Strong upper winds keep systems in check, as is the case of Ernesto, or they tend to curve storms out into the middle of the Atlantic, as is happening with Florence.

Ernesto is now a worry for parts of Central America and the Yucatan.

It should remain as a storm aiming for Belize. Even though winds are not that strong, it is still a rain maker.

Large amounts of rain could lead to land and mudslides specially over high terrain.

Ernesto could still become a hurricane if it survives landfall and then moves over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.





Tropical Storm Florence will be a nuisance for the shipping lanes.

It is losing steam and the forecast calls for it to be a depression in about 5 days. If it survives, it could brush by Bermuda in the long run.






Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jamaica, Grand Cayman Info

I have many friends with roots in the Caribbean and they are all worried about family members in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Ernesto continues to look better organized and could soon be a hurricane.

As Tropical Storm Ernesto makes its way through the Caribbean Sea and with the possibility of further strengthening... the islands are already taking precautions.



Ernesto will first come close to Jamaica.

This is the latest from the Jamaican Meteorological Office:



  • The centre of Tropical Storm Ernesto was located about 760 kilometres (470 miles) east-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica or 410 kilometres (255 miles) south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Ernesto continues to move towards the west near 30 km/h (18 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue during the next 48 hours. This will bring the centre of the tropical storm near 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Jamaica by late Sunday morning.
  • Maximum sustained winds are now near 95 km/h (60 mph), with higher gusts, and some strengthening is possible during the next 48 hours. Ernesto could become a hurricane by tomorrow. Tropical storm force winds now extend outward up to 220 km (140 miles) mainly north and east of the centre of Ernesto.
  • Based on current projections, southern parts of Jamaica are likely to be within the range of tropical storm force winds (over 63 km/h or 40 mph) and heavy rainfall, exceeding 100 millimetres (4 inches) on Sunday and early Monday. 
  • All small craft operators, including fishers from the cays and banks, should by now have completed all the necessary safety precautions and are advised to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been discontinued and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal.



This is the latest from the Cayman Islands:
  • The Cayman Islands (especially Grand Cayman) is now in the 'Alert' phase - 72 hours before possibly being affected by Ernesto.
  • Based on its current path, the 'Watch' stage (48-hours before) begins Sunday afternoon, Ernesto is expected to be south-east of Jamaica by Sunday morning; west of that island by Monday morning; and about 150 miles south-west of Grand Cayman by Tuesday morning.
  • Government workers spent Friday afternoon securing the main government administration building, while others (such as PWD shuttering crews and the hurricane shelter staff) have been put on alert.
  • "The civil service should ensure the continuity of government's operations," said a government official. He noted that a decision will be made by Sunday afternoon if offices will open for business or not.


As more information becomes available, I'll pass it along.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Its getting active!

The weather office is busy following three areas in the Tropics, from activity near Florida, and the Caribbean, to the far Eastern Atlantic. Lets take them one at a time.

1) Disturbance near Florida.





NHC is looking at an area of clouds and rain near the Bahamas for possible development. They are giving it a small chance for growth but even if it doesn't develop, it will bring heavy rain to South Florida over the weekend.


Models are split on where it may end up with some taking it into the Gulf and others, into the Atlantic. Conditions remain unfavorable for growth.

With so much moisture around us, we can expect pockets of heavy rain from the Bahamas through South Florida, through the weekend and possibly into Monday.





2)  The second area is Tropical Storm Ernesto which is looking a little better on Saturday.

By Monday, conditions in the atmosphere will improve allowing it to get stronger.

It could become a hurricane by then, close  to the Cayman Islands.

Caribbean waters are very warm and this could allow Ernesto to intensify.






The long range cone pushes Ernesto into the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week.

Everyone from Jamaica, the Caymans, Western Cuba, and the Yucatan Peninsula should be on the lookout as rapid intensification could turn Ernesto into a very dangerous system.

If it impacts the Yucatan, heavy rain could lead to land and mud slides. We'll be following it carefully over the next few days.




3) Finally, there is a new Tropical Storm by the name of Florence, in the Far Eastern Atlantic. Its a few hundred miles Southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and will continue to move west over the next few days.  You can barely make out the red dot on the far right of the image.  It should stay as a Tropical Storm  this weekend, but strong upper winds should weaken it by Monday.




Originally, most models kept it over the open waters, but the latest cone has it aiming for the Lesser Antilles in about 8-10 days.




Stay tuned for the very latest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Caribbean Worry

Invest 99 was updated to Tropical Depression #5, Wednesday afternoon. It is located around 500 miles East of the Windward islands with 35 mph winds. Very little has changed since then.



What we are looking for on Thursday is to see if the depression can get its act together. The last 24 hours have not been kind to it as strong upper winds are keeping it in check. After a flare up of thunderstorm activity on Wednesday, most of that has fallen apart. This could just be a flux in organization.



The official forecast cone takes the low through the Windward Islands on Friday, possibly as Tropical Storm Ernesto by then. After that, the intensity forecast gets a little dicey.

  • The models suggest little strengthening due to moderate shear over the region. It should stay as a storm until next Monday when the models  project it to become a hurricane.
  • However, as it travels through the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, they could provide the fuel it needs to grow stronger. 
  • With all this uncertainty, a recon plane is scheduled for Thursday to check out the depression and get much needed first hand data.


This is the latest info from NHC:

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* BARBADOS...ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES...AND DOMINICA
* ST. LUCIA
* MARTINIQUE AND GUADELOUPE

INTERESTS ELSEWHERE IN THE LESSER ANTILLES SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM.

The impact on the Lesser Antilles will be in the form of squally weather with periods of rain and gusty winds.



What South Florida needs to watch out for is the long range models. While the consensus is for the system to stay in the Caribbean, a few models are now trending a possible turn north putting us closer to its path.  We should just keep an eye on it over the next few days as we get a better idea as to where it may end up.

Invest 99 looking better

Invest 99 is getting its act together in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is now sitting about 1000 miles east of the Southernmost Windward Islands. As of Wednesday morning, there are more showers and t-storms around its center of circulation.



NHC is giving it a 60% chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm over the next 48 hours . Upper air conditions are favorable for that to happen since there are no wind currents to stop it or cut it down.

Most models push this low west, impacting the Windward Islands in a few days. By then it could be "Ernesto".



Everyone in the Caribbean should monitor this system closely.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Invest 99 Changes Little

NHC is following a large wave with a weak low level circulation roughly 1150 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. They are giving it a 20% chance it could grow stronger over the next few days as it moves west at a speed of 10-15 mph.



Here are the stats as of Tuesday morning. Lat: 9.3 N,  Lon: 39.6W, with top winds of  23 mph, and a pressure of  1010mb. Not that impressive, but it does have some showers and thunderstorms embedded along the low level center keeping it as an area worthy of watching.

Lets take a look at what is working for and against INVEST 99.

For:

  • It continues to travel over warm waters that will provide more fuel for this tropical engine.
  • Upper winds remain light so it should not encounter any major roadblocks in its possible development .


Temperatures are running in the low 80's along the Lat/Lon that Invest 99 is traversing.


Against:

  • Still plenty of Saharan dust in the atmosphere that could absorb all of its moisture and dry it out




Everyone throughout the Caribbean Basin should watch this feature closely as it could impact the area in a few days. Most models now take the possible system through the Lesser Antilles, and into the Caribbean Sea where there is a good chance it could grow further.  These new runs keep it further south than they did on Monday when they showed it moving more towards the Bahamas.  We'll keep monitoring it.


Monday, July 30, 2012

New area to watch

The National Hurricane Center is watching an area of disturbed weather out in the Far Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

It is a weak tropical wave located about 800 miles Southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. This feature is producing showers and thunderstorms that could, in the long run, develop into something stronger. NHC is giving it a 20% chance for growth over the next 48 hours. NHC has deemed it an area worthy of further investigation and are now calling it INVEST 99L.






Right now the wave appears disheveled as it moves west, however, the Atlantic waters here are very warm so it will have enough fuel for growth. Upper winds appear weak and should not be a road block to the wave.




What is worrisome is the possible track this system could take if it develops. A series of early model runs suggest it could aim for the Lesser Antilles, then Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, followed by the Bahamas. It may end up impacting millions of people along its route.

All we can do right now is watch it carefully.