TD 14 likely to become Maria; new Gulf of Mexico system brewing
Tropical Depression Fourteen formed yesterday from a strong tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa early this week, and is headed west-northwest towards an encounter with the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands. Satellite loops show a large a steadily organizing system with plenty of heavy thunderstorm activity, good upper-level outflow to the north and west, and some respectable low-level spiral bands beginning to form. TD 14 is probably a tropical storm now, and is very likely to be named Tropical Storm Maria later today. Water vapor satellite images show that 95L is embedded in a very moist environment. Ocean temperatures are near 28.5°C, which is 2°C above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed to sustain a tropical storm. With wind shear predicted to remain low to moderate the next five days, the atmosphere expected to stay moist, and ocean temperatures predicted to gradually warm, TD 14 should generally show a strengthening trend. Curiously, most of the intensity forecast models show little strengthening of TD 14, so NHC is keeping their intensity forecast lower than is typical for a storm in these conditions at this time of year.
The track forecasts for TD 14 from the various models agree that the storm will affect the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, though there are some differences in forward speed, resulting in some uncertainty whether the storm will arrive at the islands as early as Friday night, or as late as Saturday afternoon. After it passes the Lesser Antilles, TD 14 has the usual amount of high uncertainty in its 5 – 7 day track forecast. The models are split on how strong the steering influence a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast will have. The ECMWF and UKMET models prefer a more southerly track for TD 14 through the Bahamas towards the U.S. East Coast, while the GFS, NOGAPS, and HWRF models predict a more northwesterly track, with a potential threat to Bermuda. It’s too early to guess which track the models will eventually converge on. Climatology favors a track that would miss land, with Dr. Bob Hart’s track history pages suggesting TD 14 has a 22% chance of hitting Canada, 19% chance of hitting Bermuda, and an 11% chance of hitting North Carolina.
Figure 1. Morning satellite image of TD 14.
Gulf of Mexico disturbance 96L
A cold front swept into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas behind Tropical Storm Lee on Monday, and has stalled out along a line from Tampa, Florida to Mexico’s Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Heavy thunderstorms have begun to build along the tail end of this front in the Bay of Campeche, and this disturbance has been designated Invest 96Lby NHC. Latest visible satellite loops do not show that 96L has a closed surface circulation yet, but buoy and surface observations along the coast of Mexico suggest that there may be a large-scale counter-clockwise circulation present over the Bay of Campeche. Sustained winds at Buoy 42055, about 100 miles to the northwest of the suspected center of 96L, were northeast at 27 mph at 6:50 am CDT this morning. Water vapor satellite loops show that here is a large area of very dry air from Texas to the north of 96L, and this dry air may interfere with 96L’s development. A hurricane hunter mission is scheduled for this afternoon into 96L.
Most of the computer models develop 96L into a tropical depression in the next 1 – 2 days, and these same models did very well at anticipating the formation of Tropical Storm Lee in the Gulf of Mexico last week. Given the moderate wind shear, warm waters, and presence of an old cold front to serve as a nucleus for development, I give 96L an 80% chance of becoming a tropical depression over the next tow days, a bit higher than the 60% probability NHC is going with. Steering currents are weak in the Bay of Campeche, making for a lot of uncertainty in where 96L might go. The only model predicting a U.S. landfall is the ECMWF, which predicts 96L might hit between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle on Monday. A more popular solution is for the storm to meander in the Bay of Campeche for many days, and eventually make landfall on the coast of Mexico between Veracruz and Tampico. None of the models is hinting at a track towards Texas, and the intense dome of high pressure associated with their record drought and heat wave will tend to discourage any tropical cyclones from making a Texas landfall over the coming seven days.
Hurricane Katia Hurricane Katia continues to the northwest as a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds. Latest satellite loops show that dry air has eaten into the southwest side of the storm. The computer models continue to agree that a low pressure system over the Eastern U.S. associated with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee will turn Katia to the north. As the storm moves northwards past North Carolina, Katia will get caught up in west-to-east moving winds associated with the jet stream, and taken northeastwards out to sea. No land areas are in Katia’s cone of uncertainty, and Katia’s outer rainbands should remain just offshore from North Carolina, New England, and the Canadian Maritime provinces at the point of closest approach. Bermuda may see a few rain showers from Katia, but the storm will not cause hazardous weather there. The main impact of Katia will be a multi-day period of high surf leading to beach erosion and dangerous rip currents. The East Coast is lucky that Tropical Storm Lee came along, since Lee helped to create the steering pattern that will keep Katia from hitting the U.S.
Figure 2. GOES-13 image of Hurricane Katia and the remains of Tropical Storm Lee, taken at 11:45 am EDT Tuesday September 6, 2011. At the time, Katia was a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. Image credit: NOAA Visualization Laboratory.
Tropical Storm Lee moving ashore; Katia continues northwest
Posted by: JeffMasters, 1:53 PM GMT on September 03, 2011
Tropical Storm Lee is marching steadily northwards towards landfall in Louisiana, and continues to slowly intensify. The storm’s central pressure is now down to 993 mb, as measured by an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft at 7am CDT. However, the center of Lee is now very close to the coast, and the storm doesn’t have much time to intensify further before the center moves over land. The main impact from the storm on the coast thus far has been heavy rains. At New Orleans Lakefront Airport, 5.88″ inches of rain had fallen from Lee as of 8 am CDT this morning. Top winds were 35 mph, gusting to 55 mph. Though Lee’s top winds are rated as being 60 mph, it is difficult to find any land stations that have reported sustained winds of tropical storm force, 39 mph or greater. One station that has is at the tip of the Mississippi River Delta, where Southwest Pass measured sustained winds of 40 mph, gusting to 58 mph, at 7:03 am CDT. Upper-level winds out of the southwest are creating a moderate 10 – 20 knots of wind shear over Lee, keeping the storm’s heavy thunderstorms pushed to the east side of the storm. Latest satelllite loops show Lee is becoming increasingly organized. Figure 1. Radar-estimated rainfall from Lee from the New Orleans radar. Lee has dumped a large region of 4 – 8 inches so far (orange colors.)
Figure 2. Predicted rainfall for the 5-day period ending at 8 am EDT Thursday Sep 8, 2011. Lee is expected to bring a large swath of 4+ inches of rain all the way to New England. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.
Forecast for Lee
Lee’s large size, ill-formed circulation center, and the presence of dry air on its west side due to an upper-level trough of low pressure make Lee look a lot like a subtropical storm on satellite imagery, with a broad center and the majority of the heavy thunderstorms in a broad band well removed from the center. Subtropical storms can undergo only relatively modest rates of intensification, and Lee is unlikely to become a hurricane. Also tending to slow intensification will be the fact that much of its circulation is over land. Damages from Lee are likely to be less than $100 – $200 million, with the greatest threats being fresh water flooding from heavy rains. Given that much of the region Lee will traverse over the next few days is under moderate to severe drought, the storm’s rains may cause more economic benefit than damage. Since Texas is on the dry side of the storm, that state will see very little rainfall from Lee, except very close to the border with Louisiana. The rains from Lee appear to have mostly ended across extreme southern Louisiana, so the feared 10 – 15 inches of rain does not look like it will materialize there. One possible concern for Lee’s rains will be the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where recovery efforts from the devastating flooding due to Hurricane Irene may be hampered by the additional 2 – 4 inches that may fall from Lee’s remnants by the middle of the week.Tornadoes from Lee are potential hazard today, as NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center is highlighting the Northern Gulf Coast in their “slight risk” area for severe weather. A tornado watch is posted for the region, but no tornadoes have been reported as of 8 am CDT.
Lee is the 12th named storm this year, and came eight days before the half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologically, September 10 marks the half-way point. A typical hurricane season has just 10 – 11 named storms, so we’ve already had more than a whole season’s worth of storms before reaching the half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 24 – 26 named storms, making it the 2nd busiest season on record, behind 2005. Lee’s formation date of September 2 puts 2011 in 5th place for earliest date of arrival of the season’s 12th storm. Only 2005, 1995, 1936, and 1933 had an earlier 12th storm.
The latest set of model runs show very little change in the outlook for Hurricane Katia. Katia will continue its long trek across the Atlantic Ocean, and will not pose a danger to any land areas over the next five days. Katia is still struggling with dry air and wind shear that has risen to a high 20 – 25 knots. Latest satellite loops show a lopsided hurricane that is suffering from the impacts of dry air and wind shear on its southwest side.
(TheWeatherSpace.com) — Tropical Depression 12 has formed and should become Tropical Storm Katia within the next 12 or 24 hours.
Katia will be a very strong Hurricane within then next five or six days as it heads west-northwest through the Atlantic Ocean. There are factors to put this into perspective and one of those is the troughing expected along the Eastern U.S. as Katia moves into the Western Atlantic Ocean this weekend.
Right now this far out is a long shot, however looking at where I think the storm will be in five to six days time; including the intensity, have decided on a track similar to Hurricane Igor in 2010.
Igor moved northwest and then eventually northward into Bermuda Island. My reasoning would leave the Gulf of Mexico as the least probability in the forecast, giving the strongest one for Cape Cod to Bermuda Island and then into Nova Scotia.
Hurricane Katia will be about the size of Texas, much smaller than Irene was.
There are key factors such as a low out ahead of the system, and a low behind the system at the current time. This will help establish a healthy upper level outflow signature over the next couple of days and this will rapidly become a Hurricane, reaching Category Two in a couple days and shooting to Category Three and Four fast after day five.