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Weather discussions by Gert & Dave during the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The homepage with the links to local reports from the islands, latest satellite image, current weather outlook can be found here.

Monday, August 6, 2018 10:25AM PDT - Below normal season?
The last post here on the main page was from July 8. Nice that there was nothing to report! A few days ago an updated hurricane forecast was issued by Klotzbach et al at Colorado State University. They still expect a below normal season with a total of 12 tropical storms (we have had 3 already), 5 hurricanes (we have had 2) and 1 major hurricane. The probability of at least one major hurricane tracking anywhere into the Caribbean Sea is 28% ('normal' is 42%). The lower expected activity is mainly due to cooler Atlantic waters and an about 55% chance of an El Nino developing in September. Let's hope it holds true, but remember, just one major hurricane in your backyard will spoil your whole season. So still be prepared, you never know. -Gert

Sunday, July 8, 2018 08:49AM EDT - 1 Up and 1 down

Good morning,

While beautiful weather is here in central Pennsylvania, the same cannot be said off the coast of the Carolinas and soon, the mid to northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

Closest to home, we have TS Beryl, once the Atlantics first hurricane of the 2018 season. About 190 miles ENE of Barbados as of 8 am this morning, the second smallest TS on record in the Atlantic basin is moving at a motivated 20 mph towards the WNW putting it on a collision course with Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. With wind shear increasing ahead plus a healthy ingestation of dry Saharan dust to it's north, TS Beryl will be on life support very soon. Its anticipated to drop to a TD just before tonight or after passing through the island chain. The islands will see some gusty, squally rains and wind gusts to maybe 50 mphÂwith accumulations in isolated spots of 4-6 inches but at her current forward speed, these spots should be a rarity. Regardless, these islands do not need Beryl as recovering from Hurricane Irma has been a slow progression. Some have no power still nor roofs. Further down the line, St. Croix will be the closest to Beryl's core, about 60 miles with again, squally and gusty rains and winds. Puerto Rico's SW coast and Hispaniola might see higher rain accumulations as well. By then, Beryl should have been disconnected from life support and officially become a remnant low of her former self.

Farther out east, a new wave have fell off the African continent drawing scant attention with Beryl and Chris in the picture already. Later on this one around 14W.

Off the Carolinas, about 150 milesÂsouth of Cape Hatteras lies a lurking TS named Chris. Set to sit and spin for a few days due to weak, almost non existent steering currents, Chris is eventually expected to be swept up by a mid week trough and carried outÂto the Canadian Maritimes possibly affecting Halifax and St. Johns with rains saved for a later date with the UK. Main effects continue for the Carolinas in the form of increasing beach erosion, strong dangerous rip currents and scattered pockets of rain. At this time, no US landfalls are predicted although there are a couple spaghetti models making landfall around Rhode Island and Boston. These are in the 1-3% category.

Either way, for both of these systems, it's a good time to get your seasonal hurricane preparations up to speed.ÂThrow out the old stuff expired from last years hurricane kit. Update with fresh. Even bottled water goes stale.

DaveÂ

Friday, July 6, 2018 18:35PM EDT - July Storm Trio?

Good afternoon,

I am traveling so this will be short as my layover is very short.

Hurricane Beryl, small, compact and the little engine that could and did, is making a bee line for the island of Dominica as a Category 1 hurricane and the first of the 2018 Atlantic season. Beryl strengthened quite rapidly, going from TD to hurricane in just over 18 hours and it is possible, maybe probable that Beryl will reach Cat 2 in the next day or so.

Beryl is not expected to grow in leaps and bounds and it also entirely possible it could slip in between islands due to its small, compact size. It also could actually drop down to TS status before it reaches the islands. With that said tomorrow will be a teller as there is much uncertainty with a storm of midget proportions. It can ramp up quickly; it can drop just as quickly, especially if it ingests some yummy Saharan dust to it's north. Chugging along at 15 mph, whatever Beryl remains or becomes remains to be seen. Heavy rainfall will definitely be an issue along it's path although that rain will be in a narrow range.

Computer models are in good agreement of the forecast track and for the VI, Beryl should remain far to the south but still throw some gusty winds and rain squalls our way. Something Dominica and Guadeloupe do not need, especially with the ,mountainous terrain and valleys.

Soon to be TS Chris is making a rambling, wandering appearance off the NC coast but eventually evacuating the area off the outer banks as the second hurricane of July. main effects as it's not supposed to make landfall will be high surf, rip currents, beach erosion, and heavy rain along the NC coast.

Rounding out the spectrum could be the possibility of Debby making her entrance on the stage this July, spawned from the latest tropical wave to hit the Atlantic off the coast of Africa.ÂHer short term potential trek takes her more northerlyÂat this time but time will tell.

Please prepare!! Even if you do not get affected, it will be a good practice run! More detail tomorrow. Have to catch a plane!!

DaveÂ



Friday, July 6, 2018 10:09AM PDT - Hurricane Beryl
Greetings from the Netherlands! Tropical Depression 2 has surprisingly become a hurricane. Quite unusual for a storm that far east this early in the season. It is a very small storm, with hurricane force winds extending only 10 miles outward from the center. Nevertheless, it might strengthen a bit more and even become a Category 2 storm before it reaches the islands. Right now it is forecasted to cross the island chain at Dominica late Sunday/early Monday. Just what they need... It should be moving fast, so not much time to drop a lot of rain, but still... Because it is such a small storm its intensity is hard to forecast, so hopefully it won't be more than a Cat-2, but actually lower. -Gert

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 08:35AM EDT - 95L

Good morning on this 4th of July,

Hard to imagine it's hurricane season again but time moves inexorably on and we are now in the second month of official Tropical Atlantic hurricane 2018 season. Many still haven't recovered yet from the 2017 season with no power still, blue roofs, and non paying insurance companies.

Normally the average for tropical storm development in July is one a year and are usually weak in intensity. Hurricane Bertha, a bare 10 months after Hurricane Marilyn's appearance, in July of 1996, was an anomaly. Now it's possible we could see not one but two named systems within a week although the window is not open for long for both of them.

The first, not even labeled an invest yet, is a trough of low pressure a couple hundred miles south of Bermuda, which has a chance to become Beryl but must do so by Sunday when a trough is expected to sweep it out to sea. SST's are warmer in the sub tropical Atlantic and wind shear moderate so it has a good chance. All models forecast no interaction with Bermuda or the East Coast except high surf and dangerous rip currents.

The second, definitely more interesting to us here in the Caribbean, is an invest and it's 95L. Yes, the NHC skipped a few numbers but that's their prerogative. Categorized at the moment as a "vigorous" wave, 95L is located approx. 33W with most convection south of 16N and a 1009mb center located at 10N. Moving mainly west at 10-15 mph, 95L is showing slight signs of organization as it moves toward warmer, more friendlier waters. The computer models are in pretty tightÂagreement already, with a few outliers of course, that 95L will be over the Lesser Antilles late this weekend but as a what? Due to increasing wind shear and a ton of dry air courtesy of the Saharan Dust annual invasion, 95L is forecast to develop into a TS but peter out before reaching the islands on Saturday. 95L also has to break free from the ITCZ and strengthen in order to turn more WNW as if it remains weak, it will take a more westerly track. Will or can it make Cat 1 status? Yes, possible but probably not although, as evidenced by the last few years, do not take anything for granted.

Bottom line is a good rain producer with windy conditions are to be expected this weekend at some point. We do need the rain but not the wind. If you still have a blue roof, I suggest you tighten it up. Good time to upgrade your hurricane supplies as well as I'm sure some have expired. This season has been downgraded forecast wise due to the possible formation of El Nino and cooler than normal SST's across the MDR or Main Development Region. While that may be true, it only takes one.

Stay safe and aware!

Dave

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:25AM PDT - Sargassum
No hurricane news, but I saw this interesting article in Science on the Sargassum that is washing up on some of the beaches in the islands since 2011. A lot of research has been done on this new phenomena. I always thought that the Sargassum came from the Sargasso Sea, a gyre (a large basin-size circulating current) between the Caribbean/North Atlantic Equatorial current and Bermuda. But apparently it is coming from the south and is possibly a different species with wider 'leaves' Researchers from U. Southern Mississippi traced the Sargassum mats all the way back to the east of Brazil. They report 3 generic pathways for Sargassum to float into separate regions of the Caribbean (see this article).

Researchers from U. South Florida publish monthly outlooks based on satellite data. The latest outlook unfortunately shows that this year might be a bad one, with a high chance that the Sargassum will be polluting some beaches through August. It might actually be a worse year than 2015, the worst so far. Unfortunately there is not that much that can be done about it. It is very labor intensive to clean it up, and then what to do with it? There is some good news, a company in Guadeloupe has developed a system that can remove large quantities of Sargassum out of the water using a conveyor belt that dips below the surface. Apparently the 'Sargator' can collect up to 10 tons of Sargassum before it reaches the beaches (see this article). -Gert

Thursday, May 31, 2018 09:56AM PDT - Forecast lowered
Tomorrow is the official start of Atlantic Hurricane Season. Are you ready? Let's hope it won't be as disastrous as 2017! On a good note, the forecasters at Colorado State have just lowered their forecast a bit from their April 5 one. Now they expect 13 named storms (was 14, 12 is 'normal'), 6 hurricanes (was 6, 6.5 is normal) and 2 major hurricanes (was 3, 2 is normal). The probability of at least one major hurricane tracking through the whole Caribbean region (a big area) is 41%, which is about average. Although it doesn't look like an El Nino will be forming this Summer (lowering activity), they base the lower estimate mainly on the current cooler sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic. Read more on their website.

But as always, it only takes one big one to spoil your season! Be prepared as best as you can. Check your hurricane shutters and see what you can improve about your house's structure to better withstand high winds and torrential rains... -Gert

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 11:15AM PDT - Puerto Rico Death Toll
A Harvard study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine that estimates the number of people that died because of Hurricame Maria at about 4,600! That is far higher than the official number of 64. It is very sad how Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are mostly ignored by the United States, esp. if you compare how the US dealt with Houston vs. Puerto Rico. There are still people without power and running water on the island... Very frustrating! More info in this New York Times article. -Gert

June 1 update: Maybe some clarification needed... The researchers did not estimate the number of deaths at about 4600. The 95% confidence interval is 793-8498 casualties. 4,645 (a much reported number) is the average of those two extremes. Other studies have estimated the death toll at about 1,000. Read more in this Washington Post article.

Friday, May 25, 2018 10:08AM PDT - Number 1
Subtropical storm Alberto formed just to the east of Tulum, Mexico. It is subtropical because the heavy thunderstorms are far removed from the center. If they move closer to the center it might become a tropical storm. Don't confuse this with an extratropical storm. Those have a cold core and don't derive their energy from the warm seawater. Rain, rather than wind, will be the main threat for the Yucatan and later the Gulf states.

This one sneaked in just before the official start of the hurricane season. This doesn't mean a more active season. But there seems to be a trend of an earlier start of the season over the years...

Incidentally NOAA's Climate Prediction Center came out with their hurricane forecast. They predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season. Not really sure how they came to this conclusion because they also write that sea surface temperatures are expected to be near-normal and that a weak El Nino might be forming. This would result in a near-normal or below-normal season. But they also note that "atmospheric and oceanic conditions" in general are more conducive to more and stronger hurricanes forming. I guess they mean climate change, but are not allowed to call it that... See the NOAA website for more.
-Gert

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 21:10PM EDT - It's time for Invest 90L (Again)

Good evening all,

Doesn't seem right now does it? Already, here we are about ready to start off another hurricane season and we haven't even fully recovered from last season's twin sister Cat 5's Irma and Maria.

Congratulations to Lisette Stevens on the island of Dominica who went 8 months without power and just received it yesterday, May 21st. To put it inÂperspective, I went 111 days without power.ÂLisette went 258 days and nights!! Sadly, there are still others without power and will continue to be down island and in Puerto Rico.

Invest 90L. Starting things off a tad early to the start of the 2018 hurricane season but not unusual at all. Having been declared an Invest by the NHC, 90L will get more scrutiny from the high end hurricane models the NHC uses is addition to more attention from the local authorities potentially in 90L's path. That path is uncertain right now as, east of Belize, there is high wind shear and unfavorable SST's which will deter development, for the meantime. However, as 90L moves slowly towards the NNE, it will pass over marginally warm enough waters with diminishing wind shear which should enable it to become a TD and potentially our first named system, Alberto.

Not expected to reach hurricane status, the main issues will be coastal erosion, gusty winds which some models have reaching 65 mph at landfall, and copious amounts of rain between Louisiana and Florida. Florida and the SE coast look to pick up plenty to wipe out any remaining drought which is one plus to this system regardless of development.

More in the next few days. Be vigilant people. Start stocking up your hurricane supplies now. If you went through any of last years systems, you should know better and if you didn't, I hope you learned some hard lessons from those of us who did.

Dave

Thursday, April 12, 2018 06:50AM PDT - No more Irma and Maria
The World Meteorological Organization has retired the names of Irma and Maria, as well as Harvey and Nate. They will be replaced with Idalia, Margot, Harold and Nigel, resp. Irma was retired on its first use (after replacing Irene in 2011). The 'I'-storm are apparently notorious since it is the most commonly retired, so far 11 times. -Gert

Friday, April 6, 2018 09:46AM PDT - Another forecast
Yesterday I wrote about the hurricane season forecast released by Colorado State University. They expect a slightly above normal season. Another forecast was issued yesterday by the British company Tropical Storm Risk. They call for a below normal season with 12 named storms (the 68 year climate normal is 11), 6 hurricanes (6 is normal) of which 2 become a Category 3 or higher (3 is normal) with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index (ACE) of 84 (103 is normal). They say that there is a 40% probability that we will have a below average season, 33% normal and 27% probability of a above normal season. However they do note that the forecast skill of the April forecast is pretty low, not much better than using climatology as a forecast. The skill is a lot better for the August forecast. They show that the forecast by Colorado State University has surprisingly even less skill... So I guess we really should not focus too much on these early forecasts, and as we all know, regardless of the forecast we have to prepare as best we can. It only takes one! -Gert
     Comparison TSR and CSU (Colorado State)
                          TSR     CSU
     tropical storm        12      14
     hurricanes             6       7
     major hurricanes       2       3
     ACE index             84     130
 

Thursday, April 5, 2018 10:09AM PDT - "Normal" season ahead?
It is that time again! Klotzbach et al of Colorado State released their new forecast for the upcoming Atlantic Hurricane Season. They forecast a total of 14 named storms (12 is normal), 7 hurricanes (6.5 is normal) and 3 major hurricanes (2 is normal). So a bit above normal hurricane season...

The probability of at least one major hurricane tracking somewhere through the Caribbean is 52% (42% is normal). They also publish a spreadsheet with landfall probabilities for the Caribbean and Central America. For example, for the USVI the probability that at least one major hurricane will pass within 100 miles is 16%, for Anguilla (which I guess includes St.Maarten/St.Martin, St.Barths) it is 11%.

The slightly above forecast is based on two major factors, the state of El Nino/La Nina (ENSO) and sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Atlantic. Right now it looks like that the ENSO conditions during the peak of the season will be neutral or maybe slightly positive. An El Nino (positive ENSO) will normally reduce activity, a La Nina the opposite. There is also some uncertainty regarding SST in the Atlantic. Right now the far North Atlantic is cooler than normal, which is a good thing, but the western tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal. The balance of forecasted neutral or slightly positive ENSO conditions and above normal SST results in the slightly above normal forecast of hurricane activity. More technical details on the Colorado State website, or read the blog post by Brian McNoldy in the Washington Post. Regardless what the forecast is, be prepared! Now would be a good time. We for sure don't want another Irma or Maria! -Gert

Saturday, March 10, 2018 12:13PM PST - GOES imagery
GOES-16 (aka GOES-East) is a new and improved GOES satellite that became operational in December, 2017. It features more spectral bands and a higher spatial and temporal resolution. These enhanced images should improve forecasts of hurricane tracks and intensity. Nice! NOAA did changed the way they distribute the images. They now get served from the GOES-East Image Viewer. I would recommend checking out that website, the 'GeoColor' images look beautiful (see example below). Unfortunately, this resulted in many 'broken' images on my website, incl. the one above and on the Satellite Imagery page. I have updated my scripts and links, so all should be ok now. Enjoy! -Gert

- - - New GOES-East imagery, focused on N.E. Caribbean (large island is Puerto Rico) - - -

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 10:02AM PST - Possible downtime
Update Feb.17: The move has been completed. There were only minor issues. All is good!

My website will be moved to 2 new servers. They will be faster and have more memory. Hopefully we will never need this extra power though, because that means another Irma/Maria! Since the operating system will change, as well as newer versions of PHP, MySQL, etc., there might be some glitches. I will try to fix them asap, but I would not be surprised if there will be some downtime. Thanks again to my excellent web host pair Networks! They have been very supportive of stormCARIB. -Gert

Monday, January 1, 2018 19:37PM EST - 2018

Good evening and Happy New Year! 

While 2017 was devastating to many Caribbean islands who still
struggle to recover from the 2017 hurricane seasons events, 2018 will
start off on the same note but positiveness resounds, albeit
tentatively.

Lets pray and hope 2018 starts another period of many years of
relative peace, both worldwide and weather wise!

Dave

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, January 1, 2018 10:46AM PST - Happy New Year
A happy new year to all my stormCARIB friends! Hopefully 2018 won't bring us the devastating hurricanes last year did from which we still try to recover. Normally the forecasters at Colorado State issue a forecast in early December. They only give a qualitative forecast (no exact numbers) at this time. Apparently, it all depends on the phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and if there is going to be an El Nino or not. If the AMO is strong, but no El Nino, it is expected to be a well above normal season. If the opposite, then it is going to be a very slow season. Chances are about 60-40, so a slightly higher chance for an above average season... In April we will know more when they come out with a quantitative forecast. But as we saw last year, it all depends where a hurricane makes landfall..., so let's be prepared as best we can and hope for the best! -Gert

Maintained & moderated by: Gert van Dijken (gert@gobeach.com).
Weather discussions also by Dave McDermott, St.Thomas, USVI.


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