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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.

Friday, August 2, 2019 14:29PM PDT - 96L
Dave forecasted the initiation of Invest 96L last Tuesday. Things are looking a bit better now. That is, less threatening. It is still a few days away, and it could still become Tropical Storm Chantal before it reaches the islands in 3-4 days or so, but it is not likely to reach hurricane strength in the near future. Below a snippet from the Tropical Weather Discussion regarding 96L:
Looking ahead, this wave will
continue to generate limited showers and thunderstorms. Some
slow development is possible, and a tropical depression could
form well east of the Leeward Islands by early next week. Upper-
level winds are forecast to become less conducive for development
as the system approaches the Leeward Islands Tuesday into Wed.

Check also the track forecast from ral.ucar.edu and accompanying intensity guidance above for the latest developments. Regardless what I say here, we still need to track this one, because you never know... -Gert

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 21:08PM EDT - 96L soon

Good evening all,

It has been a while and I hope you are well, and ready.

While the tropical Pacific is getting all the attention at the moment, which is usually the case at this time of the year, the tropical Atlantic and GOM is starting to wake up from it's spring slumber, post Hurricane Barry. Hurricanes Erick and Flossie will menace Hawaii with Erick the more formidable of the two and the vanguard of both with most models forecasting him to stay to the south and basically bashing the southern coasts with high surf and erosion. Flossie, hundreds of miles behind on his coattails, is expected to weaken upon approach as most do from this direction but also forecast to become the closer encounter of the two systems. I expect Flossie to surprise: either a dramatic re-curve close to Hawaii or, at a minimum, a good TS lashing directly. Time will tell. Now to our arena of the tropics where time will tell as well on our two waves of interest with a non performer in the middle.Â

95L. Quite the nuisance especially in eastern Puerto Rico with flooding, is broad in scope with no closed circulation at any level and about to tangle with the Dominican Republics mountainous eastern flank. While dropping some needed rainfall on the Virgin Islands, it has soaked east and southern parts of Puerto Rico with almost 8 inches of precipitation and there is more on the way. Once it makes it's way to the Florida Straits and southern Bahamas, it will have a narrow window for development before being carried off by an approaching front. In the meantime, rains and squalls will affect the DR, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and make Florida's weekend from Friday through Monday wet and rough, especially on the east coast with high surf and rip currents. Hopefully, the turtle nests which have been laid already are far enough out of the surfs range as this is looking to be a record breaking turtle nesting season from Florida to NC.Â

The non performer in the middle. Almost hidden behind 95L, this one will just contribute to the current shower and thunderstorm activity while enhancing the flooding potential in Puerto Rico along with some rough seas and surf.Â

96L. An early, for season, potential Cabo Verde storm looking to make a name for itself, 96L will be lurking for the next few days fighting the SAL to the north and relatively cool, under 80 degrees F waters ahead of it while chugging ahead at a steady 15 mph clip. By Friday to Saturday, the dry air intrusion will lessen (less dust), wind shear will be more friendly, and sea surface temperatures, aka SST's, will be above the heat engine's 80 degree threshold which is considered the minimum for cyclogenesis although it has happened below that metric a few times in the past.Â

It's too early at the moment to obviously make concrete predictions on where, how big, what and will occur. However, this might turn in to a wake up call for the Eastern Caribbean if conditions pull themselves together in a few days. A TD, TS or another surprise is not off the table so just get prepared if you haven't as season is heating up for real. Preparation is the key to it all. I'll have more as the week moves on. Be safe!

Dave

Monday, July 22, 2019 14:51PM PDT - Tropical Depression Three
Tropical depression #3 formed near the Bahamas. It is moving northwestward, and since it is also not expected to strengthen much (it might not even reach tropical storm 'named' status), it is not a threat. You can use the tools above to evaluate the possible threat to you. -Gert

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 09:25AM EDT - 92L and a bit more

Good morning,

Things have been quiet since the beginning of June as they usually are but 92L has jump started July with dreaded anticipation along the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to investigate 92L later this afternoon and might find a surprise or two. Unusual but not unprecedented for it's formative trek through the Midwest diving southeast towards the GOM, 92L is now poised to become the next named storm in the young season, Barry.

Regardless of whether it reaches named status, which it probably will, the real threat at this moment is more flooding along the Mississippi River. While forecast to crest just 1 foot above the levees in New Orleans, areas to the west of New Orleans could actually use some good rain due to moderate drought. Problem is, if this plays out, there will be much more rain than bargained for.

Until a COC is formed, forecasting the track and intensity will be difficult. If it stays close to the coast, it's intensity will be stalled due to land interaction even though most land along the coast is pretty flat which limits friction. The farther south then west it moves, then it's over extremely warm water, like 86-90 degrees, which is prime fuel for intensification. Normally thisÂcan leadÂto RI (Rapid Intensification) but wind shear should limit that possibility.

Landfall is now forecast to occur in western LA/TX border. While population levels are far less, the eastern and northern sides will would receive the bulk of the rain and wind where the more populous areas reside. It is not out of the realm of possibility, at the moment, that Houston could be in the crosshairs as well as a Cat 1 hurricane.

Preparations should be well underway regardless as it will land with heavy rains, flooding and possibly strong winds. In the Atlantic, it's quiet with copious amounts of Sahara Dust doing it's normal, seasonal protective duty suppressing formation and rain activity as a whole. We in the NE Caribbean could use some regular rain as it's been droughty since December.

Dave


Monday, July 8, 2019 16:14PM PDT - Sargassum...
For some islands it has become a big (smelly) nuisance... Sargassum on beautiful beaches. Recently Wang et al published an article on it in Science, calling it the biggest bloom. Since 2011 Sargassum has become much more prevalent in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. In the last couple of years it has been so bad that you can see on satellite images a large belt of Sargassum extending from West Africa and northern South America to the Caribbean Sea.

The authors think that the increase has to do with higher nutrient (nitrate and/or phosphate, similar to what is in fertilizer) input to the ocean. They see correlations with increased upwelling off West Africa (bringing nutrient rich deep ocean water to the surface) and increased nutrient load of the Amazon River, due to deforestation and increased fertilizer use in Brazil.. Also, if a lot of Sargassum survives the previous winter, it will also make it a bad Sargassum year. Unfortunately they don't think it is going to get much better in the future. They also propose a method to predict how bad "the Sargassum season" (it peaks in July) is going to be a few months ahead. Read the full article here, it is pretty easy to follow, not too "sciency".

In hurricane news... There is an area of disturbed weather in the southeastern US (Georgia/Alabama) that is moving south. It might become something one it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean islands are not threatened. -Gert

- - - Sargassum distribution July 2018 - - -

Saturday, June 1, 2019 09:08AM EDT - New season starts with #2

Good morning,

And, so it begins. The official start of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. While today is considered the official start, we have already had our first named storm, sub tropical storm Andrea which was close to Bermuda on May 20th.ÂPicked up by a cold front, Andrea was only a threat to shipping and fishing, and rode off into history soon after.

Right on cue, June 1st, we now have a second opportunity for a named storm which for now is labeled Invest 91L. This system is now located over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and is expected to shortly enter the very warm Bay of Campeche where the NHC gives it, as of now, a 50% chance of development. The next storm name would be Barry but a short lived one at that if 91L intensifies into a TS. With only a few days to form, it likely will just make TD status but stranger things have happened, especially over the last few years.

Major effectsÂfor Mexico will be blustery winds, torrential rain, flooding and mudslides. There will also be potentially heavy rainÂaffecting Texas and the flood ravaged central Midwest with Oklahoma, Missouri, etc. as this moistureÂis drawn up from Mexico next week, further exacerbating an already devastating situation.

Looking elsewhere it appears pretty tranquil with heavy rains affecting areas of the NE Caribbean which are in severe drought. The MDR (Main Development Region) is quiet with a fewÂlow latitude tropical waves meandering across the Atlantic. This area already is showing warmer SST's whish is fuel for tropical storms but increased wind shear, courtesy of El Nino, is expected to counteract this rise. However, we have seen recently several storms survive and intensify in the face of moderate wind shear. So that by itself is not necessarily comforting. Saharan Dust levels are moderate as well which has been one of our protectors, especially into August.

This seasonÂhas many different predictions and it hard to read with the prime suspect, El Nino,Âlawyering up, not giving any answers as to whether it will continue a strong presence
inhibiting storm formation all through the season or will it fade in August/September, thus ushering in an open door policy for storm formation with major implications.

As usual, time will tell but that time moves fast so please start thinking about updating your hurricane evacuation plans and supplies. For those of us who went through Irma and Maria, you know not to downplay the possibilities.

DaveÂ
The list of names for 2019 is as follows:

Name           Pronunciation    Name            Pronunciation
-------------------------------------------------------------
Andrea         AN-dree-uh       Lorenzo         loh-REN-zoh
Barry          BAIR-ree         Melissa         meh-LIH-suh
Chantal        shahn-TAHL       Nestor          NES-tor
Dorian         DOR-ee-an        Olga            OAL-guh
Erin           AIR-rin          Pablo           PAHB-lo
Fernand        fair-NAHN        Rebekah         reh-BEH-kuh
Gabrielle      ga-bree-ELL      Sebastien       suh-BASH-chuhn
Humberto       oom-BAIR-toh     Tanya           TAHN-yuh
Imelda         ee-MEHL-dah      Van             van
Jerry          JEHR-ee          Wendy           WEN-dee
Karen          KAIR-ren

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 09:16AM PDT - NOAA predicts near normal hurricane season
Not that it really means much, since one hurricane can spoil your whole season, it is still interesting to look at the different long-term forecasts. NOAA just came out with their's and they predict that there is a 40% chance of a near-normal season, 30% chance of above-normal and 30% below normal... They expect 9-15 named storms (12 is average), 4-8 hurricanes (6 is average), of which 2-4 could become major hurricanes (3 is average), the ones we fear most.

They do note that even though an El Nino is going on which normally suppresses hurricane activity, the above normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean plus an enhanced west African monsoon kind of cancels out the 'negative' impact of the El Nino.

With the better satellites up in space hurricane forecast models should become better. NOAA's GFS weather model has gotten a major upgrade as well. Models have been getting very good at predicting the path of the storm. Intensity is another story. We have seen many times in the last couple of years that seemingly tame hurricanes all of a sudden became Cat-5 monsters. Last but not least, NOAA's National Hurricane Center and weather office in San Juan will this year also issue coastal storm surge watches for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. I am actually surprised that they hadn't so far...

So, only a few days left for the official start, we already had one storm, now is a good time to start your preparations.... You know what to do, you have been through it before! Just don't wait for the last moment. -Gert

Monday, May 20, 2019 19:42PM PDT - Andrea
Guess I was just in time with updating my website, or maybe I jinxed it? In any case, we have our first (sub) tropical storm on our hands, Maria. It is currently about 300 miles southwest of Bermuda, and expected to move south of it (see the Closest Point of Approach-tool). It actually might not get close to the Rock at all, since Andrea is expected to dissipate in about 2 days and merge with a cold front. Storms like this we like! One (almost) down! -Gert

Sunday, May 19, 2019 15:46PM PDT - 2019 Season
An annual ritual, making my website ready for the new season... New names are posted above. The names repeat every six years, so this is the same list as 2013. Sometimes names of 'big ones' get retired. The only new name on this list is Imelda, which replaced Ingrid. Ingrid was retired becaue it created a lot of damage in Mexico, which with hurricane Manuel attacking from the Pacific side, struck Mexico within a 24 hour period. Manuel was retired as well.

This is my 24th year of doing this! I started in 1996, 2 years before Google started, and when 'blogging' was not even a word. Maybe for its 25th anniversary I will change the look of this website and give it more 'modern' feel :-). Making the website ready for a new year involves moving a lot of files around, updating some scripts that download/process images, advisories, and making sure that my special tools will keep working. Hopefully I didn't break anything :-). In any case, welcome again to a new season. Hope that it will be a boring one! Also, don't forget that in order for me to keep the website running I am dependent on donations from you... -Gert

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 18:23PM EDT - New Season

Good afternoon!

After a "winter" and a spring, the new 2019 hurricane season is at our doorstep officially in 18 days. This June 1, 2019. I hope everyone has at least thought of it's impending approach and also had those storm preparation plans somewhere in their thoughts as well.

Currently all is calm on the Eastern front with a few waves starting their migration off the coast of Africa but as is customary at this time of year, far south along the monsoon trough close to the inter tropical convergence zone. This, along with early season cool surface water temperatures aka SST's, wind shear and that always present Saharan Dust Layer aka SAL, usually mean none will develop or get close to developing this early. So far so good.

Here in the Virgin Islands, a drought has ensued. The island is dry, brown, getting bereft of foliage and brings back visions of everything stripped after a hurricane. Water trucks are running rampant, farmers are suffering immense troubles with crops and livestock, with no respite in short sight. Hopefully, in a few weeks, the drought should break but Âhopefully not all at once. A deluge will be harmful as well with flooding, runoff, and erosion.

Yes it's that time again. Preparation time, emergency kit time, evacuation if necessary planning time, check your generator time, hey you know the drill!

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. We have been there done that Caribbean. Let's do it again!

Dave

Friday, May 3, 2019 13:55PM PDT - Cyclone Fani in India
Fani made landfall in India just below Category 5 strength. One hundred million people are apparently in its path and more than a million have been evacuated. Hopefully it won't be as bad as in 1999 when more than 10,000 people died. The path takes it also close to Bangladesh. A lot of people live in river delta areas which are just above sea level, so even a minor storm surge could give a lot of problems... Read more on Google News. -Gert

Friday, April 5, 2019 09:51AM PDT - Normal season ahead?
It is that time of the year again that Klotzbach et al., researchers at Colorado State issue their forecast of Atlantic Hurricane activity. They expect this season to be slightly below normal, with 13 named storms (12.1 is normal), 5 hurricanes (6.4 is normal) of which 2 become major (Category 3 or higher, 2.7 is normal). The probability for at least one major hurricane tracking through the Caribbean (a large area) is 39% (42% is normal).

The big question mark is as usually if El Nino conditions occur this Summer, which suppresses hurricane formation and strengthening. Right now we are in an El Nino, and although models are all over the place, most predict that the El Nino will still be there later this year. Good for us! Also, sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are a bit below normal, which is good as well.

They also issued an Excel spreadsheet with landfall probabilities for the Caribbean and Central America region. Below is the top 7 of the chance that at least one tropical storm (TS), hurricane (H) or major hurricane (MH) will track within 50 miles. I sorted the list by hurricane.

  Region               TS     H    MH
  Bahamas, The         68%   41%   22%
  Cuba                 66%   40%   20%
  Mexico               74%   40%   14%
  Dominican Republic   40%   24%    8%
  Haiti                35%   19%    9%
  Antigua and Barbuda  32%   19%    7%
  Cayman Islands       32%   19%    7%

As always, take these forecasts not too serious. They are not set in stone for sure, esp. the April forecast has modest skill. Nevertheless, it is nice to hear that it will probably be an about normal season, better than a forecast that predicts a highly active season. In any case, keep in mind that just one hurricane in your backyard will spoil your whole season! We still have to prepare as best as we can. A good time to start checking your hurricane shutters, possible flying/falling hazards around your house, emergency supplies, etc., is now. -Gert

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


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