October in the Northeast Means a Little Bit of Everything

October can be a time of change in the Northeast. While the first thing that comes to mind is the changing colors of the foliage across the region, the weather also changes, sometimes quite frequently. That’s what we’re going to be dealing with for the next few days.

Unseasonably warm weather was observed across much of the Northeast for the past few days, with high temperatures soaring well into the 70s and 80s across much of the region. This resulted in dozens of record high temperatures. However, some changes are coming, and the warm weather will be a distant memory within the next 24-48 hours.

Record high temperatures broken across the Northeast on Monday October 17 and Tuesday October 18. Image provided by NOAA.
Record high temperatures broken across the Northeast on Monday October 17 and Tuesday October 18. Image provided by NOAA.
Record high temperatures broken across the Northeast on Wednesday October 19. Image provided by NOAA.
Record high temperatures broken across the Northeast on Wednesday October 19. Image provided by NOAA.

 

A cold front moved across the region on Wednesday with little fanfare. That front will stall out to the south of New England overnight. On Thursday, a wave of low pressure will start to approach from the west. This will spread rain and showers into the area. Some of the rain will be heavy, especially from New York into Pennsylvania late Thursday into Friday. With rainfall totals of 1-3 inches and locally up to 5 inches expected, some flooding is likely. Across New England, where a serious drought is ongoing, rainfall will be much lighter, with most locations likely receiving under half an inch of rain.

Expected rainfall through Friday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.
Expected rainfall through Friday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

 

As that wave of low pressure moves into Upstate New York on Friday, it will lift that cold front northward across the region as a warm front once again. While Friday won’t be as warm as the past few days, high temperatures will still get into the 60s and lower 70s. With dewpoints also in the 60s, it will be a rather muggy day for mid-October.

Computer model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Bahamas. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Bahamas. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

 

Meanwhile, there is a tropical disturbance brewing near the Bahamas. Upper-level conditions are somewhat favorable for development, and the system could become a tropical depression or subtropical storm on Thursday. The system will likely head northward, moving towards the Gulf of Maine and merging with the cold front approaching from the west as we head into the weekend. This will bring another round of heavy rainfall into Maine and Atlantic Canada, areas that were hit hard by heavy rain from Hurricane Nicole just a week ago.

Expected rainfall between Friday evening and Sunday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.
Expected rainfall between Friday evening and Sunday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

 

Once the system moves into southeastern Canada, it is expected to stall out under an upper-level low pressure area and become a strong extratropical system. It will drag a cold front across the Northeast, bringing much colder air into the region. With strong low pressure nearby and much colder air filtering in, rain will change over to snow across portions of Upstate New York and Northern New England. While the snow will be confined mainly to the higher elevations, this is the first accumulating snow of the season across the area. Several inches may accumulate across parts of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains.

Expected snowfall through Monday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Expected snowfall through Monday evening across the Northeast. Image provided by WeatherBell.

 

While there could be a few wet flakes mixed in with some of the rain across lower elevations of Central New England, accumulating snow is not expected.Sunday will be a chilly day, with highs only in the 40s and 50s across much of the Northeast. These readings are 10-20 degrees below normal. Of course, any mention of snow in October across the Northeast will make residents think back just a few years to the pre-Halloween snowstorm that dropped 1-2 feet of snow across parts of the region, setting numerous records. While this system won’t come anywhere close to that, it should make for some spectacular photos of snow-capped mountains and valleys filled with colorful foliage early next week.

nowfall from the Halloween snowstorm of 2011. Image provided by NOAA.
Snowfall from the Halloween snowstorm of 2011. Image provided by NOAA.

 

The other thing the storm will do and bring gusty winds to much of the Northeast through the weekend. Northwest winds of 15-25 mph may gust to 40 mph at times, especially across New England. This may result in some spotty wind damage across parts of the area. The other effect it will have is to create rather chilly conditions. Just a few days as experiencing temperatures in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, highs will only be in the 40s and 50s across much of the area, with wind chills in the 30s and 40s. This is the type of change that October is known for across the Northeast.

Matthew’s Forecast Just Got More Complicated

At this time yesterday, we thought we had a pretty good idea of what to expect for the forecast for Hurricane Matthew. Then the midday models started rolling in, and we started scratching our heads. Instead of coming close to Florida and then heading up the coast, passing south and east of New England, the models started doing some wacky things. First, one of them had it menace the Southeast, then do a big loop back into the Bahamas before hitting Florida again in a much-weakened state. Then, another model did something similar. “It’s just two outliers” is what we thought, the rest still bring it up the coast. We were still fairly confident in our forecast. Then, the GFS model came out around midnight and chaos ensued.

At that point, our forecast went right out the window. What seemed like an anomaly from one or two models, was quickly becoming the consensus. The GFS model, which had been very consistent with a track up the East Coast, suddenly changed gears, and had Matthew threaten Florida and the Bahamas not once, but twice, once from the southeast, then again from the northeast and east. Oh, it still brought Matthew up the coast, bringing rain and gusty winds to parts of New England for the weekend, but now it was doing it NEXT weekend, not this weekend.

Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Matthew from midday October 5. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.
Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Matthew from midday October 5. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

 

Not all of the models are showing this loop, but as you can see in the image above, there are several that do now. Before we get into what we think might happen, we’ll get into what is causing this peculiar forecast. Looking at the upper atmosphere this morning, we see a trough of low pressure across much of the West, and a ridge of high pressure in the East. There’s also a pretty strong jet stream moving into the West Coast and into the Rockies, before it makes a sharp left turn in the Mississippi Valley.

Upper-air analysis for 300mb (approximately 30,000 feet) from 8am on October 5. Image provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Upper-air analysis for 300mb (approximately 30,000 feet) from 8am on October 5. Image provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

 

As this trough of low pressure moves eastward, the models had been projecting that it would strengthen and sharpen up, in effect “capturing” Matthew as the trough neared the East Coast. The southerly winds ahead of the trough would drive Matthew northward or northeastward, and bring it up the coast. Instead, the models are now showing that this trough will actually weaken as it moves eastward, and flatten out. As a result, high pressure will build back in, blocking Matthew from moving northward. This would turn Matthew back towards the south and let it mill around in the Bahamas. Not all of the models are showing this scenario. Some still have the trough just strong enough to draw Matthew northward enough that the westerly winds of the jet stream are able to push it out to sea once it gets up towards the Carolinas.

This leads us to more questions. If Matthew does not get pulled north and head out to sea, then what does its future hold? Some models have it loop around, back into the Bahamas, then back towards Florida before turning northeast and heading up the coast again next week. Another one sends it back into Florida as a much weaker tropical storm, then across the state and into the Gulf of Mexico where it eventually weakens and dissipates. At this point, we’re back to “wait and see” mode.

Radar loop from Camaguey, Cuba showing the eye of Hurricane Matthew. Image provided by Instituto de Meteorología de la Republica de Cuba
Radar loop from Camaguey, Cuba showing the eye of Hurricane Matthew. Image provided by Instituto de Meteorología de la Republica de Cuba

 

What we do know is this: There are hurricane warnings in effect for much of Florida and the Bahamas. Hurricane Matthew is still a Category 3 storm with top winds near 120 mph this afternoon. It is going to move through the Bahamas over the next 24 hours, and then come dangerously close to the Atlantic coast of Florida, with landfall a possibility, but not definite. It will likely head northward, bringing gusty winds and heavy rain to much of eastern Florida, southeastern Georgia, South Carolina, and southeastern North Carolina over the next few days. After that? That’s a really good question that we just can’t answer right now.

Hurricane Matthew Threatens Jamaica, But Then Where Does It Go?

Hurricane Matthew rapidly intensified from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 5 Hurricane in the southern Caribbean today, making it the first Category 5 Hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007. While the track for the next couple of days is fairly certain, there’s plenty of uncertainty in what Matthew will do beyond the weekend.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Matthew from Friday evening September 30. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite photo of Hurricane Matthew from Friday evening September 30. Image provided by NOAA.

Here are the things that we do know: As of 11pm EDT on Friday, Matthew was a Category 5 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.The storm was centered anout 440 miles southeast of Kingston Jamaica, and was moving towards the west at 7 mph. A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for Jamaica while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Haiti from the southern border with the Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince. A Tropical Storm Warning also remains in effect for the coast of Colombia from the Colombia/Venezuela border to Riohacha.

Matthew passed just north of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and northern South America earlier on Friday, which is a fairly rare occurrence. There were a few wind gusts to near tropical storm force in Aruba and Bonaire early Friday, but for the most part, it’s just been a breezy and cloudy day in an area that usually is sunny and warm. When Matthew crossed the island of Martinique a few nights ago, it produced sustained winds of 40 mph and a gust to 60 mph at the airport in St. Pierre, with reports of gusts of up to 89 mph on the island. There were several reports of damage across the island.

Now that we’ve gone over what we know, here’s what we are fairly sure about: Matthew should turn more towards the northwest and eventually north this weekend as a powerful hurricane, with some fluctuations in intensity, as is normally the case with strong storms. Unfortunately, Matthew is expected to pass very close to Jamaica on Monday. It may even make landfall on the island. Even a glancing blow will likely result in widespread damage across the island. After that, Matthew should continue northward, and it will pass very near or over extreme western Haiti or eastern Cuba before heading into the Bahamas. Some slight weakening is possible due to interaction with the land areas, but Matthew should still be a strong hurricane (Category 2 or 3) when it enters the Bahamas.

GFS model forecast for wind speeds Monday morning associated with Hurricane Matthew while it nears Jamaica. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
GFS model forecast for wind speeds Monday morning associated with Hurricane Matthew while it nears Jamaica. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Now, the part that nobody knows with any certainty right now – what happens after Matthew gets into the Bahamas. This is the big question, and a lot of it has to do with what the upper-level pattern looks like. A trough of low pressure will be starting to move out of the Northeast while another one moves into the Great Plains. In between, a ridge of high pressure will be moving into the East. Exactly how quickly these features move eastward will determine which way Matthew goes.

Forecast tracks for Matthew from the GFS Ensemble. Image provided by Brian Tang, University at Albany
Forecast tracks for Matthew from the GFS Ensemble. Image provided by Brian Tang, University at Albany
Forecast tracks for Matthew from the ECMWF Ensemble. Image provided by Brian Tang, University at Albany
Forecast tracks for Matthew from the ECMWF Ensemble. Image provided by Brian Tang, University at Albany

As you can see from the images above, there are dozens of possibilities as to where Matthew might go. Based on the most recent model runs, a track through the Bahamas and then northward off the Carolinas is the most likely outcome, but there are still some models that have the storm stall in the Bahamas or even drift closer to Florida or even possibly into the Gulf of Mexico. Once it gets up towards the Carolinas, there are even more possibilities to consider. The storm could continue up the coast and threaten the Northeast. It could start to turn northeastward and threaten Atlantic Canada. It could turn more east-northeastward and head harmlessly out to sea. At this point, there isn’t really one scenario that stands out as more likely than any of the others.

At this point, we really have to wait and see how the pattern evolves before we’ll have a better idea as to what Matthew is going to do.  So, if you are along the East Coast or have plans along the East Coast later next week, keep an eye on Matthew’s progress if you have plans for that time frame.

Storms, Storms, and More Storms – The Peak of Hurricane Season Has Arrived

The peak of hurricane season is normally a 6-week period from late August until late September. This year is no exception. We currently have five active tropical systems that we’re tracking, and more may be on the way. Of the five that are currently out there, all of them are a threat to some land areas, four of them to parts of the United States.

Satellite photo and forecast track for Hurricane Madeline. Image provided by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Satellite photo and forecast track for Hurricane Madeline. Image provided by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

We’ll start in the Central Pacific where Hurricane Madeline is bearing down on parts of the Hawaiian Islands. As of 8am HST Tuesday, Hurricane Madeline was centered about 415 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii, moving towards the west at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph, making Madeline a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning have been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii, and a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The current forecast calls for Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island with some weakening expected. Madeline should pass close enough to Hawaii to bring strong winds and heavy rain to some of the southernmost islands. Rainfall totals of 5-10 inches and locally heavier are possible, especially in the windward sides of the islands. Rough surf will pound most of the islands for the next several days.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Lester. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Hurricane Lester. Loop provided by NOAA. (Click for Loop)

Next up is Hurricane Lester, which was centered about 1350 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii at midday, moving toward the west at 14 mph. Lester has top winds near 120 mph, is expected to steadily weaken over the next few days while continuing in a general westward direction. While Lester is not a threat to land for the next few days, that could change by the end of the week. The current track calls for Lester to gradually turn more towards the west-northwest and northwest by Friday and Saturday, passing a little north of the Hawaiian Islands. While this track would likely spare the islands from most of the wind and rain, if Lester makes that turn a bit later, it would pass a lot closer to the islands. Residents of Hawaii should make sure to keep tabs on Lester’s progress once Madeline moves away from the region.

Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Gaston. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Gaston. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Gaston is the strongest of the three active storms, but also the one that is farthest from land at the moment. as of midday Tuesday, Gaston was centered about 700 miles east of Bermuda, moving towards the east-northeast at 8 mph. Gaston has maximum sustained winds near 105 mph, but is expected to start to steadily weaken over the next few days. A track towards the east-northeast or northeast is expected to continue for the rest of the weak. On this track, Gaston may move right through the Azores as a weakening hurricane or strong tropical storm towards the end of the week.

Satellite loop of Tropical Depression 8. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Tropical Depression 8. Loop provided by NOAA.

Closer to the mainland we find Tropical Depression Eight. The storm was centered about 70 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina early Tuesday afternoon and was nearly stationary. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph. A slow drift toward the north is expected tonight and Wednesday, with some strengthening possible as the storm moves over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet. Wins gusts to 30-40 mph and locally heavy rainfall are expected over the Outer Banks of North Carolina tonight and Wednesday. After that, the system should start to head out into the Atlantic and dissipate by later in the week.

Finally, we get to Tropical Depression Nine, which was centered about 340 miles west of Key West, Florida at midday Tuesday. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and was moving towards the west-northwest at 7 mph. The forecast for this system calls for a turn more towards the north and eventually northeast as an upper-level trough of low pressure starts to steer the system. Strengthening is expected, and the depression could become a tropical storm tonight or early Wednesday. Tropical Storm Watches will likely be issued for parts of the Gulf Coast later today or tonight. Some of the models show the possibility of the storm becoming a hurricane before making landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast later this week. Once it makes landfall, it should quickly cross the Southeast, then emerge into the Atlantic, where some re-strengthening is possible. The system will likely bring heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the Carolinas, but beyond that its future is uncertain. Some models indicated that it will continue northeastward, out into the Atlantic, while others try to slow it down and head northward up the East Coast in a much-weakened state. Since this could have an adverse impact on the Labor Day Weekend for parts of the East Coast, anyone with interests in that region should keep an eye on the system’s progress.

Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Finally, a new tropical wave has emerged from the coast of Africa. This wave will cross the Cape Verde Islands tonight, then head westward across the Atlantic. Conditions are favorable for further development, and many of the forecast models show the possibility of this system strengthening over the next several days. It is still at least 5 days away from impacting the eastern Caribbean, so there is plenty of time to monitor its progress before it threatens any land areas.

 

Plenty to Watch, Not Much to Track in the Tropics

As we get into the end of August, we are moving into the peak of hurricane season. As expected, the tropics have awakened, with plenty of activity to watch, but thus far, much of it remains disorganized.

In addition to Tropical Storm Gaston, there are 3 disturbances being watched in the Atlantic. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.
In addition to Tropical Storm Gaston, there are 3 disturbances being watched in the Atlantic. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Starting in the Atlantic, we have Tropical Storm Gaston. Gaston was centered about 900 miles east-southeast of Bermuda Friday evening, moving towards the northwest at 15 mph. While Gaston was briefly upgraded to a hurricane earlier in the week, it currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Conditions are favorable for Gaston to strengthen this weekend and become a hurricane once again. The storm should turn more toward the north and eventually northeast, remaining over open waters into the start of the upcoming week.

Current water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Southwest Atlantic Ocean. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Current water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Southwest Atlantic Ocean. Image provided by WeatherBell.

A disorganized area of showers and thunderstorms is moving across the Central Bahamas this evening. For several days, many of the forecast models have been showing the potential for this storm to develop and possibly impact Florida and/or the Gulf Coast. Despite this, the system has not developed, and conditions will be unfavorable into the weekend for any further development. Several models are still showing the potential for the system to develop once it gets into the Gulf of Mexico. Water temperatures are very warm across the Gulf, which would help to fuel any developing system. Anyone with interests in and around the Gulf Coast should keep an eye on the progress of this system.

Expected rainfall through Monday evening. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Expected rainfall through Monday evening. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Meanwhile, there is a weak trough of low-pressure already located in the northern Gulf of Mexico this is being watched. Upper-level conditions are not favorable for development of this system, but it will bring heavy rainfall to portions of Louisiana and Texas this weekend. This is not good news for areas that were hit hard by flooding just a few weeks ago.

Another disturbance has developed just south of Bermuda this evening. This system is expected to remain weak for the next few days while moving very little. Eventually it should start drifting westward, and some slow development is possible. This system may bring some showers and thunderstorms to Bermuda this weekend and parts of eastern North Carolina during the early part of the upcoming week, but otherwise should not have much of an impact on any land areas.

Model forecasts for the track of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the track of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.

 

While the Atlantic is filled with potential tropical systems, the Pacific has a couple of named systems, one of which could be a threat to land.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Lester. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Hurricane Lester. Loop provided by NOAA.

Hurricane Lester was centered about 550 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Friday evening. Lester has maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, and additional strengthening is expected.  Lester is currently moving toward the west at 9 mph, and a general westerly track is expected to continue through the weekend. Lester is not a threat to land for the next several days, however, some models are showing that it could have some impacts of Hawaii towards next weekend.

Model forecasts for the track of a Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.
Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.
Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.
Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

Tropical Storm Madeline could be a more immediate threat to Hawaii. Tropical Depression 14-E developed earlier on Friday about 1250 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Madeline Friday evening. Madeline has maximum sustained winds near 40 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Madeline could become a hurricane by the end of the weekend or beginning of next week. The storm is expected to track towards the northwest this weekend before turning more towards the west. On this track, Madeline could approach the Hawaiian Islands towards midweek. Residents of the region should keep an eye on Madeline’s progress during the next few days.

Forecast track for Typhoon 12w (Lionrock). Image provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Forecast track for Typhoon 12W (Lionrock). Image provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Lionrock has been slowly meandering around south of Japan for much of the past week, but that looks like it is about to change. As of Friday evening, the storm has maximum sustained winds near 110 mph, and some additional strengthening is possible this weekend. A track toward the northeast is expected this weekend, but a turn more toward the north and eventually northwest is likely by Sunday or Monday. On this track, the typhoon would make landfall in southeastern or eastern Japan on Monday.

Change is in the Air

As we head into the end of August, some familiar things start to happen. Children will start to head back to school. Baseball’s pennant races heat up while football at all levels gets ready for the start of the season. Halloween candy starts to appear in stores and it will be followed shortly by pumpkin-flavored everything. In terms of the weather, familiar things happen there too. The tropics start getting more active and the cold fronts dropping southward from Canada pack a little more punch than they usually do during the summer.

One of those cold fronts will be moving across the Plains states and into the Midwest over the next few days. Ahead of the front, summertime heat and humidity remains in place, with temperatures well into the 80s and 90s common. Behind the front is much cooler and drier air. By Friday morning, temperatures will be 10-20 degrees below normal across much of the Plains states and Rocky Mountains as a large area of high pressure builds in from Canada. Low temperatures will drop into the 40s and 50s across the Northern Plains, with 30s and even some upper 20s from the Rocky Mountains into interior portions of the Pacific Northwest.

Temperature anomaly map based on the GFS model for Thursday morning. Image provided by Pivotal Weather,
Temperature anomaly map based on the GFS model for Thursday morning. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

As that cooler air settles into the region, some snow is possible across the higher elevations of the Northern and Central Rockies. Snow levels will remain fairly high, but a few inches of snow may accumulate on top of some of the higher peaks in Wyoming and Colorado.

Snowfall forecast based on the GFS model through Friday morning. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Snowfall forecast based on the GFS model through Friday morning. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Ahead of the front, a warm and humid airmass will remain in place, with high temperatures well into the 80s and 90s for the next few days. As the front approaches, it will trigger showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could be strong to severe, with hail and gusty winds possible, along with a few tornadoes. The biggest threat looks to be heavy rain and flash flooding. Because the front will be moving fairly slowly, some of the heavier storms will linger over the same areas. Rainfall totals of 1-3 inches will be common across parts of the Eastern Plains and Mississippi Valley, with some heavier amounts possible. This will likely lead to flooding in some areas.

Expected rainfall totals across the Midwest through Friday morning. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Expected rainfall totals across the Midwest through Friday morning. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, we’re keeping an eye on a disturbance east of the Lesser Antilles and Tropical Storm Gaston out in the Central Atlantic. There was a third system, Tropical Depression Fiona, but it fizzled southeast of Bermuda earlier today.

Satellite loop showing Tropical Storm Gaston (far right) and a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite photo showing Tropical Storm Gaston (far right) and a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. (Click for loop) Provided by NOAA.

Tropical Storm Gaston is centered about 700 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands this afternoon, heading towards the west-northwest at 21 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Gaston should become a hurricane by Wednesday afternoon. The forecast for Gaston is to turn more towards the northwest, heading out in the Central Atlantic Ocean before starting to weaken in a few days. Gaston will likely bot be a threat to any land areas.

Meanwhile, a disturbance located a few hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles is being carefully monitored for signs of development. United States Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigated the system earlier today and found it to be a weak system with an ill-defined center. Conditions are still somewhat favorable for further development, and anyone with interests in the northeastern Caribbean should continue to monitor the progress of this system. The future of this system is still a big question mark. Most of the forecast models bring the system towards the Bahamas over the next several days, though a few have the system dissipate completely before then. Once it gets to the Bahamas, there is considerable spread among the models as to where it will go, assuming it even survives that long. Some have it turn northward and head towards the Carolinas or Georgia. Some bring it into Florida, then up into the Southeast, and others bring it across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. As for how strong it could be, that’s an even bigger question mark. As mentioned previously, some of the models have it dissipate completely. There are other models that keep the system as a tropical depression or weak tropical storm into the Bahamas. There are others that have it as strong as a Category 2 hurricane. Once the storm actually forms (assuming it actually does), the computer models should start to get a better handle on its future.

Computer model forecasts for the track of a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the track of a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the intensity of a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the intensity of a disturbance approaching the Eastern Caribbean. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

The Tropics Are Getting Active in a Hurry

In the Northern Hemisphere, tropical activity normally peaks during the latter half of August and much of September. So far, it looks like 2016 will follow that pattern, as there are currently five active systems around the world, and a couple of other areas being monitored for development.

Satellite image showing 3 active tropical systems and a potential system in the Western Pacific Ocean. Image provided by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Satellite image showing three active tropical systems and a potential system in the Western Pacific Ocean. Image provided by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The most active area right now is the Western Pacific Ocean, where there are three active systems, a third that is dissipating in northern Vietnam, and another disturbance that could develop in the next day or two. We’ll get to the Atlantic in a bit. If you don’t care about the Pacific, then scroll down.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm 10W (Mindulle). Image provided by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
Forecast track for Tropical Storm 10W (Mindulle). Image provided by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

Tropical Storm 10W (Mindulle) is probably the most immediate threat to land. The system is located several hundred miles east of Japan, moving towards the northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Mindulle could become a typhoon this weekend. Computer model forecasts indicate a northerly track over the next few days, with landfall possible in southern Japan towards the end of the weekend or beginning of next week.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm 12W (Lionrock). Image provide by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Forecast track for Tropical Storm 12W (Lionrock). Image provide by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Tropical Storm 12W (Lionrock) is actually closer to the south coast of Japan right now than Tropical Storm Mindulle, but is less of a threat. Lionrock is expected to head westward to southwestward over the next few days, with some slow strengthening expected. Lionrock could threat some of the islands southwest of Japan during the early to middle portion of next week.

Elsewhere in the Western Pacific, Tropical Storm 11W (Dianmu) made landfall in northern Vietnam earlier today. The system will continue moving inland while dissipating. It will continue to bring heavy rain to parts of the region, with flooding likely. Another disturbance in the Western Pacific, located about 1000 miles southeast of Japan, is being monitored for development. The system could become a tropical depression this weekend while heading on a general northwesterly track. It could be a threat to parts of northern and eastern Japan towards the middle of next week.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm Kay. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.
Forecast track for Tropical Storm Kay. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Kay has formed. As of midday Friday, Kay had top winds near 40 mph and was passing very close to Socorro Island, off the coast of Mexico. Some slight strengthening is possible tonight and Saturday before Kay moves over colder waters and starts to weaken and eventually dissipate. Once Kay moves away from Socorro Island this afternoon and evening, it should not be a threat to any land areas.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Fiona. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Fiona. Loop provided by NOAA.

Finally, we get to the Atlantic, where we have Tropical Storm Fiona. As of Midday Friday, Fiona was centered about 1300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, moving towards the west-northwest at 10 mph. Top winds are near 45 mph, but conditions are not favorable for additional strengthening. Indications are that Fiona should remain a weak system over the open waters of the Central Atlantic right through the weekend, with no threat to any land areas.

Farther to the east, a tropical wave located about 600 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, is being monitored for further development. The system should remain weak through the weekend, but conditions should become favorable for development as it moves into the Central Atlantic Ocean by the beginning on next week. Many of the computer models are forecasting the system to develop into an organized tropical system during that time frame. If these forecasts are correct, the system could be a threat to the islands in the eastern and northeastern Caribbean by the middle of next week. Anyone with interests in that region should keep an eye on the system and it’s progression.

Computer model forecasts for the track of a disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by WeatherBell.
Computer model forecasts for the track of a disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Hurricane Earl Hits Belize

After a quiet July across the Atlantic Ocean, August began with Tropical Storm Earl forming southwest of Jamaica on Tuesday. Earl strengthened into a Hurricane Wednesday afternoon while approaching Central America, with landfall expected in Belize around midnight.

Radar loop showing the center of Hurricane Early approaching the coast of Belize. Loop provided by the National Meteorological Service of Belize.
Radar loop showing the center of Hurricane Earl approaching the coast of Belize. Loop provided by the National Meteorological Service of Belize.

As of 10pm CDT, Hurricane Earl was centered about 40 miles east of Belize City, moving towards the west at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph, with little additional strengthening expected in the next few hours before Earl makes landfall.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Earl. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Hurricane Earl. Loop provided by NOAA.

Hurricane warnings are in effect from Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico southward to the Belize/Guatemala border. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Puerto Costa Maya to Punta Allen, Mexico.

Most of the strong winds are in the northeastern quadrant of Earl, which will spare coastal locations in Honduras and Belize from significant wind damage. Right along the immediate coast, a storm surge of 4-6 feet, along with large waves will result in coastal flooding, especially near and north where the central makes landfall in Belize. The biggest threat by far is flooding and mudslides from torrential rainfall. Rainfall totals of 10-15 inches, with isolated totals in excess of 20 inches, are expected across Belize, Guatemala, and southeastern Mexico over the next few days.

GFS model forecast for rainfall over the next 4 days. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.
GFS model forecast for rainfall over the next 4 days. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

Once Earl moves inland, it would steadily weaken, likely being downgraded to a tropical depression by Thursday night. Earl should continue on a westward track, but the exact track will be critical for Earl’s future. If Earl remains over land, it will dissipate over southern Mexico. However, if the center can emerge in the southern Bay of Campeche, it could regain a little strength before making landfall again in Mexico.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, things are mainly quiet. A tropical wave will bring showers and thunderstorms along with some gusty winds to the Lesser Antilles late Thursday, moving across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Thursday night and Friday.  Further development isn’t expected at this time.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Ivette. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Ivette. Loop provided by NOAA.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Ivette continues to gather strength this evening. As of 11pm EDT, Ivette was centered a little more than 1000 miles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, moving toward the west at 16 mph. Ivette has maximum sustained winds near 45 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Ivette could become a hurricane in the next day or two while moving over open waters in the Eastern Pacific.

The Tropics Are Getting Active Again

As we approach the end of July, tropical cyclone activity normally starts to ramp up across both the Atlantic and the Pacific. This year, that is the case once again, with one active system right now and three other areas of disturbed weather that are being monitored for development.

Forecast track for Tropical Depression 06z. Image provided by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Forecast track for Tropical Depression 06z. Image provided by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The only active tropical system right now is located in the Western Pacific Ocean. Tropical Depression 06W formed Friday afternoon about 450 miles east-southeast of Manila in the Philippines. The system is expected to steadily strengthen on Saturday, likely becoming Tropical Storm Nida. The current track calls for the system to become a typhoon before passing very close to northern Luzon on Sunday. This track will likely bring very heavy rainfall to northern portions of Philippines. Rainfall totals of 10 to 20 inches are possible, with some heavier amounts. Flooding and mudslides are likely across this area. After passing near or over northern Luzon this weekend, the storm will head west-northwestward into the South China Sea. A track towards southern China seems likely, with a landfall near Hong Kong possible. Flooding has been reported in southern China recently from heavy monsoonal rains, and additional heavy rain from a tropical system will likely worsen flooding in the region.

Heading eastward, a cluster of showers and thunderstorms centered about 750 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is being watched for signs of development. Although the shower activity is disorganized right now, conditions are favorable for the development of a tropical depression this weekend. Some slow but steady strengthening is expected into early next week. The system will not be a threat to any land areas.

Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance in the Eastern Pacific. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance in the Eastern Pacific. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Eastern Pacific. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Eastern Pacific. Image provided by NCAR.

In the Atlantic, after a record setting start to the season, things have been quiet throughout the month of July. As we flip the calendar into August, that could change.

There are two disturbances in the Atlantic that are being monitored for development. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.
There are two disturbances in the Atlantic that are being monitored for development. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

During the first part of hurricane season (June/July), attention is mainly focused on the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and the Bahamas for tropical development. These are the areas where water temperatures are warm enough to sustain tropical systems, but also areas where conditions are usually more favorable for systems to develop. Out across the open waters of the Atlantic, strong easterly winds can bring surges of Saharan dust off of Africa and send them across the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. This dry, dusty air inhibits the development of thunderstorms. As we get into August, the easterlies usually calm down a bit, and tropical waves start rolling off of Africa every few days. Some of these waves look impressive as they exit the coast, with plenty of shower and thunderstorm activity, only to quickly collapse when they hit the colder waters right off the coast of Africa. Others survive that part of the trip and make their way across the Atlantic. The ones that develop quickly into tropical systems are known as “Cape Verde Storms”, since the often form not far from the Cape Verde Islands. With plenty of time to cross the Atlantic, some of these storms are the most powerful storms we’ve seen.

Location of all tropical storms and hurricanes that formed between July 21 and 31 during the years 1851-2009. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.
Location of all tropical storms and hurricanes that formed between July 21 and 31 during the years 1851-2009. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Right now, there are two areas of disturbed weather we’re watching in the Atlantic. One of these is a cluster of thunderstorms passing south of the Cape Verde Islands. Although the system is disorganized at the moment, conditions are favorable for some development this weekend. As we head into the beginning of next week, conditions look less favorable. Most of the forecast models indicate that the system should remain weak, if it develops at all, and remain over open waters, with no threat to any land areas.

Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance near the Cape Verde Islands. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance near the Cape Verde Islands. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance near the Cape Verde Islands. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance near the Cape Verde Islands. Image provided by NCAR.

The second disturbance is the one that bears watching, and will have impacts on land areas. A tropical wave is centered about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles this evening, producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. The wave is moving along rather quickly (around 20-25 mph), and this fast motion will likely preclude much development over the weekend. The wave will bring showers and thunderstorms along with gusty winds to the islands of the eastern and northeastern Caribbean this weekend. Parts of this region are still recovering from a drought, so the rainfall will be welcome. As this system moves into the Caribbean, we’ll need to keep a close eye on it. Some models have the center of the system pass north of the islands, and towards the Bahamas, some have it pass directly over the islands, and others have it pass south of the islands and across the Caribbean, then possibly towards the Gulf of Mexico. The exact track it takes will determine whether it has a chance to develop or not. At this time, it’s far too early to tell which way it will go, so we’ll need to keep an eye on it.

Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the track of a tropical disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by NCAR.
Model forecasts for the intensity of a tropical disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by NCAR.

As we head into August, tropical activity should continue to ramp up across the Atlantic and the Pacific as we head towards the peak of the season, which is usually from late August to late September.

 

Trouble in Paradise? Tropical Storm Darby Threatens Hawaii

After a rather slow start to the Hurricane Season, the Eastern Pacific has gotten very active, setting records in the process.

Satellite photo of the Eastern Pacific showing 4 active tropical cyclones (from Left to Right: Darby, Estelle, Georgette, Frank). Image provided by NOAA.
Satellite photo of the Eastern Pacific showing 4 active tropical cyclones (from Left to Right: Darby, Estelle, Georgette, Frank). Image provided by NOAA.

Late Friday morning, Tropical Depression Eight-E strengthened into Tropical Storm Georgette, the seventh named storm to form in the Eastern Pacific this month. This ties July of 1985 for the record for most storms to form during the month of July in the Eastern Pacific. as of 8am PDT, Georgette was centered about 870 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, moving toward the west-northwest at 13 mph. Georgette had maximum sustained winds near 45 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Georgette could become a hurricane this weekend while moving across the open waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Computer model forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Georgette. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Georgette. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Storm Georgette. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.
Computer model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Storm Georgette. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Closer to Mexico is Tropical Storm Frank. As of 8am PDT, Frank was centered about 235 miles west-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico with top winds near 50 mph, moving towards the northwest at 14 mph. Frank is expected to continue moving toward the northwest this weekend with some additional strengthening possible. Frank could become a hurricane before a weakening trend starts. By the end of the weekend, Frank is expected to start weakening while moving over colder waters west and southwest of Baja California. While Frank does not appear to be a threat to land at this time, anyone with interests in the Southern Baja Peninsula should monitor Frank’s progress, in case it tracks a bit farther east of the current projections.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Frank. Loop provided by NOAA.
Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Frank. Loop provided by NOAA.

To the west, Tropical Storm Estelle was centered about 1500 miles west of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico as of 8am PDT. Estelle continues to weaken, with maximum sustained winds down to 40 mph. Estelle is expected to dissipate over the open waters of the Eastern Pacific this weekend.

Despite all the activity in the Eastern Pacific, most of the attention is centered on the Central Pacific Ocean, where Tropical Storm Darby is bearing down on Hawaii.

Satellite phot and track forecast for Tropical Storm Darby. Image provided by NOAA.
Satellite photo and track forecast for Tropical Storm Darby. Image provided by NOAA.

As of 5am HST, Darby was centered about 390 miles east of Hilo, HI moving toward the west at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 60 mph, and some additional weakening is expected. Darby is expected to turn more towards the northwest this weekend, passing very close to or right over portions of the Hawaiian Islands. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the island of Hawaii, and a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. While Darby may bring gusty winds, possibly to 50 mph at times, to portions of Hawaii this weekend, the main threat will be rainfall and resultant flooding. Rainfall totals of 5-10 inches are possible, with some heavier amounts expected. Conditions should improve across the islands by Monday as the storm pulls away from the region and continues to weaken.

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