Archive for the ‘Hurricanes’ Tag

The Hurricane Season for 2011 Has Begun

Radar Loop of Tropical Storm Fay's Florida Visit - YOU MUST CLICK ON TO ACTIVATE.

By the time you read this, May of 2011 will have ended and the Northern Hemisphere Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico hurricane season will have begun.  The following link will take you to a summary of the NOAA outlook for this season:

Please be prepared if you live in hurricane territory.

The loop above illustrates nicely that a tropical system does not have to be a hurricane in order to cause significant problems including fatalities.  TO ACTIVATE YOU MUST LEFT CLICK ON THE IMAGE.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the 2008 storm:  Tropical Storm Fay was a tropical storm and the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Fay formed from a vigorous tropical wave on August 15 over the Dominican Republic. It passed over the island of Hispaniola, into the Gulf of Gonâve, across the island of Cuba, and made landfall on the Florida Keys late in the afternoon of August 18 before veering into the Gulf of Mexico. It again made landfall near Naples, Florida, in the early hours of August 19 and progressed northeast through the Florida peninsula, emerging into the Atlantic Ocean near Melbourne on August 20. Extensive flooding took place in parts of Florida as a result of its slow movement. On August 21, it made landfall again near New Smyrna Beach, Florida, moving due west across the Panhandle, crossing Gainesville and Panama City, Florida. As it zigzagged from water to land, it became the first storm in recorded history to make landfall in Florida four times.   Thirty-six deaths were blamed on Fay.  The storm also resulted in one of the most prolific tropical cyclone related tornado outbreaks on record. A total of 81 tornadoes touched down across five states, three of which were rated as EF2. Damage from Fay was heavy, estimated at $560 million.

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s coverage of that storm:

Here is a link to my list of 23 Misconceptions About Hurricanes:


Thanks to NOAA's National Hurricane Center for this graphic.

Since only a few degrees of unexpected course change could bring Earl to the mainland, it concerns me for the many folks I know up and down the East Coast.   Here’s hoping he stays out there as predicted by the models today.  In any event, sea conditions all along the East Coast will be influenced a great deal by the storm.  Beach erosion could become an issue.


Two independent left clicks will fully enlarge the image above.  For an even larger image see the link at the end of this post.

A new tropical wave (sometimes called tropical disturbances) has moved off Africa. From my point of view, they are now being shot off that continent toward the west in the manner of a repeating rifle. If this wave becomes a named storm it will be the third Cape Verde type in a row for this season.

Based upon the computer models for Danielle, I don’t believe that she will be a threat to the U.S. mainland.  However, even though the models are also showing an eventual sharp right turn for Earl – I’m uneasy about that.  As for this new wave – it’s too soon to tell.  When tropical cyclonic storms follow each other those not in the lead often are weakened by cooler water that wells up in the wake of the front-runner.  What happens is that the leader sweeps warm surface water away and it is replaced by cooler upwelling water from deeper down.  Let’s hope this happens with these trailing storms but there are certainly no guarantees.  Conversely, when a hurricane moves over warmer water, in most cases it tends to intensify.

I indicate below the cropped full disk image my opinion that it will become a named storm within the next 7 days. I emphasize the term, “opinion.” It is to be noted that I am not a trained forecaster. Professionally my special interest was cloud dynamics. The reason why I say that the name will probably be Fiona is because there is a remote chance that something could develop in the Gulf of Mexico prior to intensification of the new African wave and thus inherit that name.

I am in the habit of cropping the full disk image before posting because it depicts half of the earth and size-wise, eats up a lot of memory. But if you would like to enjoy the latest full discs here is a link:


The most recent Atlantic disturbance has evolved into a tropical storm.  Here is Colin’s general forecast track released at 5 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, August 3, 2010. Left click on the image to enlarge.


Those in or near South Florida including the Keys, in the Gulf of Mexico and on its shores should keep a very close watch on this weather system.  Of course the tragic oil pollution disaster will likely be rendered even more problematic by what appears to be on the way.

If you have been in the habit of examining forecast cones of uncertainty from the National Weather Service – this might look a little different to you this year.  There has been quite a debate over the straight black lines that heretofore have run through the cones, connecting the dots where the storms are projected to travel.   Notice, on this map, such a line does not appear.  Many meteorologists, myself included, believe that the lines have too often been mistaken as landfall predictions and that it has caused some people on the outer margins of the cones to have a false sense of security about where the storms might go.  My guess is that some (television, websites, web-logs) will choose to stick with the old style of depictions and others will prefer to leave that center line out.  I fall into the latter category.

Conditions have changed aloft such that wind shear has been reduced.  This favors intensification of the system.  Also, when air is heated from below, particularly if by warm water with high evaporation rates, intensification is favored.  This could happen as the system moves over elements of the Loop Current of the Gulf of Mexico.  What follows is a time sensitive forecast depiction of the Loop.

Courtesy National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Hurricanes and the Gulf Oil Slick

*Note about the illustration (above) at the end of this posting.

The effect of a hurricane (or hurricanes) upon the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has countless people concerned. Also, some have wondered how the oil might effect a hurricane. NOAA addresses both topics in the following recent publication (PDF format) answering the following questions:

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?

What will happen to a hurricane that runs through this oil slick?

Here is a link to the PDF file from NOAA.

hurricane fact sheet_Layout 1

Initially, I had planned to write on the subject myself, sharing my “notions” about interrelationships between the spill and hurricanes. However, I recently read the splendid treatment on the subject by Dr. Jeff Masters and it was clear to me that I’d simply be repeating, in one way or another, much of what he had written – and doubtfully as comprehensively. Rather than walk that thin line between “being a bystander who conveys the ideas of another” and “plagarism”, I’ll simply link you to his recent work published in the WeatherUnderground website. It is in two parts:

What would a hurricane do to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

How oil might affect a hurricane .

More links:

*With apologies to Katsushika Hokusai and the gigantic number of people who admire his work – I took the liberty to be creative late this afternoon with his most famous work, The Great Wave off KanagawaThough this does not depict the Gulf of Mexico near whose shores Fuji would most certainly appear out of place, it seems fitting that such a strange and wild fantasy scenario is no less shocking than what has really happened in the Gulf of Mexico.  As I was painting the dark gray matter upon the modern water I was thinking “oil.”  But if you interpreted it to be floating pumice ash or something akin to that – it makes our present situation even more sad because at least a volcanic eruption is a natural event.

In my opinion this ongoing oil spill was triggered by mans’ stupidity, laziness, greed, incompetence, and failure to seriously address our need for clean and relatively safe sources of energy.  I feel strongly that we should have addressed the crisis years ago, at least by the mid-70’s, with as much vigor and determination as we addressed the attack upon Pearl Harbor.  I feel that we should focus upon geothermal energy as our principle source – utilizing heat beneath us to flash water into steam to turn turbines connected to generators making electricity.  We could then use much of that electricity to disassociate water into hydrogen and oxygen.  Hydrogen should be our fuel used to propel us from place to place.  It burns cleanly and it does not pollute.  Hot rock is everywhere beneath us – close in some places and deeper in others.  Our oil drillers would have plenty of work to keep them busy.  Try a search of “geothermal energy” and see what you find.

Ida – Some Model Plots released tonight – 11-9-09

Here are some model forecasts for Ida (release time 10 PM EST.  Left click the image to enlarge.


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IDA FORECAST – 11-8-09

Some of the information on this site is published close to “real-time”  particularly as it applies to tropical weather.  But it is important to remember that the only “official” source of information is the National Hurricane Center. Decisions concerning life or death, property, and such should not be made based solely on the information found on this site or any other sites that are recommended here. unless they are official. Listen to your local authorities when conditions are life-threatening or there is possible loss of property.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

The forecast for Ida

Posted: 10:21 AM EST on November 08, 2009

“The high wind shear of 20 – 25 knots currently affecting Ida is forecast to persist at that level until Monday night. Some slow intensification is still possible while Ida remains over the exceptionally warm water of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico, through tonight (Figure 2). Late tonight, Ida will be crossing over waters of 26°C, which is barely enough to support a hurricane. With shear still expected to be at 20 -25 knots, I expect weakening to begin early Monday morning and accelerate on Monday afternoon. At that time, Ida will encounter 40 knots of wind shear associated with a cold front over the Gulf of Mexico, and begin transitioning to an extratropical storm. Exactly how strong Ida will be when it reaches the coast early Tuesday morning–and indeed if Ida even does reach the coast–is a forecast with high uncertainty. The computer models have a tough time forecasting the evolution of a tropical cyclone into an extratropical cyclone, and the models are all over the place on what will happen. Most of the models foresee a landfall near 1 am EST Tuesday between Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida, then a path northeastward over the Southeast U.S. However, Ida could come to halt before reaching the coast and turn west towards Tampa (the UKMET model’s forecast), or turn south back over the Gulf of Mexico (the NOGAPS model’s forecast). In any case, storm surge and heavy rain appear to be the main hazards from Ida. The GFDL model (Figure 3) is forecasting rain amounts of 4 – 8 inches for a large swath of the Gulf Coast, and there is a risk of tornadoes if the warm air from the core of Ida pushes ashore.”  END QUOTE

From my point of view, (this is Cloudman23 writing) everyone on the Gulf Coast  from Mississippi to Key West should have a “heads up” mindset while Ida is out there.  As Dr. Masters said, the computer models have a difficult time when the tropical to extratropical metamorphoses takes place.  Furthermore, the chance of tornadoes (mentioned by Dr. Masters) in association with warm, moist air from Ida and its inherent instability in such situations, this storm should not be taken lightly.

11-8-09 Ida 3pEST

Ida’s Current Model Forecasts – 11-7-09

The total amount of thermal energy at the surface in the Western Caribbean is high and wind shear aloft is relative low so it is anticipated that Ida will intensify before striking the Yucatan Peninsula.  The Yucatan does not have the type of topography that we associate with significant weakening of a storm due to friction.  But, read what Dr. Jeff Masters says this morning about the fate of Ida after she enters the Gulf of Mexico:

“Once Ida crosses into the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday night, the storm will encounter much cooler SSTs and a strong trough of low pressure that will dump cold air into the storm and bring 40 knots of wind shear. This will cause Ida to lose its tropical characteristics and become a powerful extratropical storm with 45 – 55 mph winds. It is highly unlikely that Ida will hit the U.S. as a tropical storm, but it could still bring tropical storm-force winds of 45 mph to the coast next week as an extratropical storm.”

As for me, I have been favoring the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Model (GFDL) for the path that Ida will take; currently,  if I had to depend upon only one of the many models, that would be the one – in most instances anyway.  I have no real science to back that up – only my perception based upon experience.  Call it a “gut level” good feeling about the model’s past performance if you will.  Therefore I expect Ida to eventually curve rightward as the GFDL shows in the plot below.  By the time it does I expect it will have lost its tropical characteristics though the winds will still be strong.  In other words, it will become extratropical.  TO GET INSTRUCTIONS ON OBTAINING THE GFDL ANIMATION CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK:

The prefix, extra, means “outside of” or “beyond.”  Extratropical cyclones are sometimes called cold core lows whereas tropical cyclones are warm core lows.  When a tropical cyclone draws in cold air (as usually happens when a front interferes with the storm) it becomes extratropical.  The majority of the world’s extratropical cyclones develop in the middle latitudes (30 degrees to 60 degrees latitude) and for that reason are often referred to as middle latitude cyclones.

Graphic courtesy of Jonathan Vigh of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University


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Thanks to the very fine work by Jonathan Vigh of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University I am able to provide you this morning’s model forecasts for Ida.  Left click to enlarge image.


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