Atlantic Sat Image

Atlantic Sat Image
Clouds over Atlantic

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tropical rain next week?

I want to mention the possibility of tropical downpours impacting South Florida by early next week.
For the time being, we'll settle into our typical rainy season pattern of plenty of heat, humidity, and afternoon storms through the weekend. By the upcoming Monday and Tuesday, models are hinting at more rain across the area coming up from the Caribbean and Central America.  

Forecast models:

The GFS shows that by Monday, and area of low pressure develops bringing heavy rain with it.

As of the latest run, most of the big downpours remain offshore, but still with rain from I-75 and Tamiami Trail South.

By Tuesday, it appears the rain sticks around for at least another 24 hours. The unsettled weather should improve by late midweek.

The European model also calls for the rain, but instead of keeping it offshore it draws it more over us.

We'll be monitoring over the next few days.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Hurricane Season 2016 Forecast

Its that time of year when Floridians are on-guard hoping to avoid a direct hit from the world's strongest storm...a hurricane. The season runs from the first of June through the end of November, but this is a man-made time frame, hurricanes can happen at anytime. 

As a matter of fact, we are already tracking Tropical Depression #2 which is aiming for the Carolinas. NHC thinks it could become TS Bonnie over the next 24 hours. We we've already seen a hurricane this year, in the month of January by the name of "Alex". The last time a hurricane developed this early was January of 1938.

"Alex", was born on January 13th as a Sub-Tropical Storm in the middle of the Atlantic and by the following morning it reached hurricane status.

It threatened the Azores in the far Eastern Atlantic but it eventually fell apart on Friday January 15th.

The main ingredient for hurricane formation is hot sea surface water, on average 80 degrees and above. Anything lower and there is not enough fuel for systems to develop. This is why hurricane season spans the months of June through November when you get the warmest waters in the Atlantic basin.

Seasonal Forecasts:
The hurricane center is calling for 10 to 16 named systems, out of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes, and out of that number, maybe 1 to 4 can reach Major Hurricane status (category 3 or above). If you compare to what is average, it appears we may see a typical season. What these projections can't tell you is where a hurricane may strike, or how strong it may be. Plan as if we will get hit, and you will be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws our way.

The Colorado State University outlook
(The last issued by the combo of  Philip Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray. Dr. Gray passed last month at age 86. He was a pioneer in long range forecasting.) The forecast calls for, 12 named systems, out of which, 5 could be hurricanes, and out of this number, 2 may reach Major Status with winds of over 111mph.

Key Factors to watch for:
Sea Surface temps: Models are not in fair agreement as to how hot the Atlantic Ocean may be in 2016. Some suggest a pool of cold water in the Northern Atlantic (highlighted in blue South of  Greenland) dipping South inhibiting or at least slowing down hurricane formation.

Others, like the North American Multi-Model Ensemble shown here, illustrates very warm waters all along the East Coast, Florida, and even in the Gulf of Mexico for the months of August, September, and October.

This warm water scenario could in turn make for a more active season.

El Niño / La Niña: This phenomenon will also be a key player in 2016. We've had one of the strongest "El Niño" event on record since last season.

As you know, "El Niño", is a warming of the Equatorial Waters of the Pacific Ocean. It not only disrupts marine currents, but atmospheric ones as well.

It also causes strong upper level winds that move from the Pacific into the Caribbean and Atlantic cutting down the tops of developing systems. It usually means a quieter season.

But "El Niño" is weakening and expected to cool down below average by late summer/early fall turning it into "La Niña"

"La Niña is a cooling of the Pacific waters and it tends to weaken that upper air shear that keeps systems in check. In turn we tend to see more activity during "La Niña" years. Add this to possibly warmer water temps and it may turn out to be an active year. All we can do is watch and wait.

You can see in this animation how the Pacific waters are already transitioning from warm to cold. This could lead to more activity later in the season. It is something worth watching.

But why the seasonal forecasts?
Check out what Dr. Richard Knabb, the director of the hurricane center had to say recently regarding long seasonal outlooks.

Here lays the problem. We all want to alert you and let you know how active a season may be. But are we doing a disservice?  If the forecasts are low, do you prepare less and let your guard down? More preps if season is to be active?

Why don't we all just prepare accordingly and be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way? It is going to take plenty soul searching from the Media, NHC, insurance companies, and you to figure out how we proceed in the long run. Seasonal outlooks or none.

But we must prepare just in case:
  • If an earthquake were to happen right now, I could not give you any warning. 
  • A tornado? A few minutes heads up could be a lifesaver. 
  • A Hurricane?: Unlike the above mentioned events, you will never be taken by surprise. You will get bored of seeing all of us weather people alerting you ad nauseum, sometimes up to a week out.  So you can prepare. Now is the time to review your hurricane plan.

The most important thing to do is to make sure your property is protected. Shutters or wood panels are all good to protect your windows and doors. If you have impact resistant windows, be aware, it doesn't mean proof. While they may resist a direct projectile impact, they may shatter on the inside and if you are standing right by it, you could get hurt.

If you live in an area prone to flooding or near a body of water, make sure you are ready to evacuate when told to do so. Make those arrangements now.

For a complete list on preparedness info, check out our on-line hurricane map and guide:
Link to WSVN's Hurricane Map and guide. Click here

Also, don't do it all at once. Buy a couple of water bottles here and there, some extra canned foods, a flashlight with batteries now, maybe a solar phone charger down the road. The trick is to do it within your means and way before a system threatens.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hurricane Center watching the Bahamas

As of  3:30pm Tuesday, NHC is watching an area by the Bahamas for possible development. There is an area of clouds and rain that extends from the Florida Straits, NE into the Western Atlantic. This is part of a front that has brought us the storms over the last few days.

Officially Hurricane Season kicks off on Saturday , June 1st, but this is a man-made time frame.

Storms can happen at any time as long as there is plenty of fuel in the form of hot water, 80 degrees or above.

Water temps:
Right now most of the Caribbean is registering sea surface temps in the low to mid 80s, with an area between Cuba and the Bahamas in the mid to upper 80s.

There is enough energy to sustain whatever develops. This is one of the main reasons why NHC is issuing this Formation Potential update.

 January Hurricane 

If you recall, we already had a hurricane in January in the Atlantic by the name of Alex. .

Alex was the first hurricane to form in January since Alice in 1955 and also the first to form in the month of January since 1938. 

It originated as an extratropical cyclone near the Bahamas on January 7, 2016. The system initially traveled northeast, passing Bermuda on January 8, before turning southeast.

It eventually got stronger and reached hurricane-force winds by January 10.

Nothing has Developed Yet!

NHC keeps the chances of something developing at zero over the next 48 hours. The chances go up to 30% over 5 days. If anything were to develop, it would do so in the area highlighted in yellow.

What are the models saying?:

The European:
This model keeps the feature as a tropical wave or a disturbance through the weekend, with plenty of rain for the SE Bahamas and Eastern Cuba.

If this model pans out, there is a possibility places like Haiti, Dominican Republic, the Central Bahamas, and Eastern Cuba could see some flooding from total rain accumulations.

The GFS model:
It suggests a possible area of low pressure near Georgia come Sunday night into Monday, Memorial Day.

In this outcome, coastal rain is a possibility across the Carolinas and as far inland as West Virginia.

Our In-House model:
It keeps the area of clouds and rain, as just that, with most of the downpours staying offshore by Saturday afternoon.

With these model variations, we have narrowed it down to 2 possible scenarios. Everything will depend on high pressure sitting over the Western Atlantic.


Scenario Number 1:
Will keep the area of disturbed weather over the Bahamas, drawing in rain that should eventually reach South Florida by the Holiday Weekend.

Scenario Number 2:
Has the high weakening and moving East, opening the door for whatever develops to head for the Southeast or even the Middle Atlantic States.

Bottom Line:
Nothing has developed yet. I repeat, nothing has popped up. NHC is issuing formation chances as a precautionary measure. All we can do right now is watch and wait. This is a good reminder that hurricane season starts on June 1st and you should be ready.  WSVN will air our hurricane preparedness special entitled, "Surviving a Storm" Friday at 8 pm.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tropical Activity Early Next Week?

Many of you have texted/e-mailed me regarding the possible development of an area of low pressure next to Florida by early next week.  It seems that the weather channel has been making a big deal of this.

They say:
"SOME computer models are HINTING at the development of a weak surface low off the Southeast coast or in the eastern Gulf.  This possible low could gradually acquire either subtropical or tropical characteristics and become a depression or named storm."

There are plenty of coulds and possibles regarding this low.  So lets take a look at what is happening and what may happen.

The Big View:
The satellite imagery covering the entire Atlantic Basin is quiet. Clouds by Cuba are related to a weak front moving East, away from us. Skies are clear over the Gulf, most of the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. It is hard to foresee anything developing over the next 5 days. But stranger things have happened.

The GFS model is suggesting an area of low pressure north of the Bahamas in around 102 hours. In this scenario, most of the rain is to the north of the low.

The CMC or Canadian Model is also looking at an area of low pressure right around the same spot but in about 5 days.

What these models can't tell us, is how strong any of this may be. It is just a projection. This may just be an area of clouds and rain, or as the Weather Channel is hinting, it could be something stronger. Based on the sea surface temperatures which are already above 80 degrees in many areas, there is enough energy for something to form. Its just too early to tell.

Bottom Line:
One should never reach a conclusion based on a handful of models. Nothing has developed yet so there is no clear starting point. If there is no clear starting point, the ending point is also an educated guess. The National Hurricane Center has not issued anything related to this. When and if they do, then we'll have something to follow and forecast.

For the time being:
Hurricane season begins June 1st. Regardless of development offshore, you should be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way. Get ready now and you'll avoid the crowds and the headaches down the road.  By the way, WSVN will air a preparedness special entitled "Surviving a Storm" Friday May 27th at 8 pm.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

True North is Slipping

The magnetic North Pole drifts just under 25 miles every year. It also varies in intensity. A new report by the European Space Agency suggests it may be moving faster and also weakening.

  • The magnetic field is very important to our health. It blocks harmful radiation, solar storms and cosmic rays.
  • Scientist have known for awhile that the global magnetic field has weakened, 10% since the 19th century.

The new report shows our protector is weakening.
The map shows in blue where the field is weak, and in red where its strong.

According to :
The European Space Agency's report indicates that the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has strengthened about 2% over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and weakened further by about 2%. These changes have occurred over the relatively brief period between 1999 and mid-2016.

With less protection, more radiation can filter through the atmosphere causing a higher danger for skin burns.

Magnetic Field History:
These changes have occurred in the past with a greater impact. At times it will flip completely with the Magnetic North heading South and vise versa. Its an unpredictable event, but it appears to take place roughly every 300 thousand years with the last switch taking place almost 800 thousand years ago.
Scientist have prove of these reversals etched in the magnetism of ancient rocks.

Will we see a huge flip soon?  All we can do is watch and wait.