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Maria Finally Departs the Caribbean and Jose Fades. Whats Next?

Good Evening

Back on Monday we highlighted the potential for Maria to become an extremely dangerous Category 4 or even 5 Hurricane before reaching the small island of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles, and unfortunately that is exactly what happened. Maria rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds just before making landfall on the small island, and then preceded to head from SE to NW, leaving the entire island in its core for at least three hours. The storm was the second Category 5 land falling hurricane this season, tying the 2007 with Dean a Felix. Details are still very spotty, but the pictures, video, and first-hand accounts of Dominica are heart-breaking. Most, if not all of the homes on the island have suffered severe damage, with some houses being completely destroyed. Due to the topography of the island, devastating mud slides and land slides were common, which swept away homes, roads, and well-built concrete structures. Its hard to believe that we’d have a storm that would rival the total devastation that Hurricane Irma caused just a few weeks ago, but we could be looking at yet another situation  where an entire island community has seen complete devastation. With the peak of the Cape Verde season quickly coming to a climatotlogical end, we should see the frequency of storms impacting this region begin to wind down, but I would not be surprised to see one or two more systems during the month of October given the active state that we are currently in.

Damage from Hurricane Maria when it hit the island of Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of up to 160 miles per hour (Credit: The Guardian)

Damage from Hurricane Maria when it hit the island of Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of up to 160 miles per hour (Credit: The Guardian)

Due to the high, mountainous peak of Dominica and the amount of time that Maria spent traversing the island, the inner eyewall of the storm become disrupted and fractured, but not for long. On Tuesday the storm began to rapidly regain strength after dropping to a Category 4 hurricane. Recon missions throughout the day found that the storm had an incredibly compact eye of around 5-8 nautical miles and the winds rose from 155 mph to 175 mph during the course of the day, with the pressure falling to an incredible 908 millibars, making the storm the tenth strongest on record for the Atlantic basin.

Recon also released numerous dropsonde instruments which provide a vertical profile of various locations in the storm, and some of these probes happened to measure extreme winds of around 190-195 mph at the surface, but it is not certain whether these were instantaneous gusts or actually representative of the storms strength. Regardless, the storm began to approach the US Virgin islands late in the day on Tuesday and into the evening. Very deep convection began to develop quite rapidly around the center of the storm, and before long, concentric eye walls began to develop. This marked that the storm was about to attempt an eyewall replacement cycle before hitting Puerto Rico. It was clear that the storm would have issues completing this process and then intensifying once again due to the storms intensity and the size of the outer eyewall, but it also signaled for new dangers to arise. The storms wind field grew quite substantially as it approached Puerto Rico early Wednesday morning, causing the carious weather stations to be blown apart in addition to both weather radars on the island.

The storm raged ashore with winds in the 155 mph range, making Maria a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Maria went on to produce prolific flooding, wind damage, and cut a path of carnage across the island that would send all of its inhabitants into darkness as all of the power facilities went down during the storm. Details are also still rolling in slowly on the extent of the damage to the island, but it may be safe to say that the Puerto Rico that existed before Maria is no longer there. Estimates say that power may not be restored to some portions of the island for possibly up to 4-6 months. Additionally, much of the infrastructure will need to be rebuilt, which will be a daunting task in of itself. The next few weeks and months may be quite rough for the locals, but with resilience and endurance the people of the island will be able to overcome this disaster and restore their home to levels greater than before Maria.

GOES 16 imagery of Hurricane Maria making landfall on the island of Puerto Rico with winds of up to 155 miles per hour

GOES 16 imagery of Hurricane Maria making landfall on the island of Puerto Rico with winds of up to 155 miles per hour

Maria has since left the Caribbean, and land interaction along with an increase in vertical wind shear have been affecting the system. The storm weakened down to a Category 2 on Thursday, but has since regained some strength and is now a 125 mph Category 3 hurricane. The storm is currently located very close to the Turks and Caicos, producing winds up to tropical storm force on the islands along with torrential rainfall as it slowly heads NNW at around nine miles per hour. Maria should keep this heading over the weekend and into the early portion of next week, but some key aspects of this forecast remain in question. While it is quite likely Maria misses the United States, the American model has been trending strong with the riding out ahead of Maria in the past few runs, bringing the storm precariously close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Again, such a solution looks unlikely right now, but with the remnants of Jose still meandering around, we truly will not know just how close the storm passes to the east coast before it makes its famed passage out to sea.

Trend loop of the GFS model showing the westward trend over the past 5 runs (Courtesy of TropicalTidbits)

Trend loop of the GFS model showing the westward trend over the past 5 runs (Courtesy of TropicalTidbits)

So What Else? 

Well, we have the remnants of tropical storm Jose which has finally become post-tropical after 70 advisories by the National Hurricane Center. For reference, this storm has been ongoing since Hurricane Irma was north of Hispaniola! The remnants of this storm should gradually dissipate over the next few days and really should not be much of a threat besides increased wave action and showers. Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Lee has come back to life after shedding about three different low level circulations over the past three days and is located well out in the open Atlantic, just east of a large upper level low. Lee is an extraordinarily small system and is reminiscent of Hurricane Michael from 2012 in that of it is relying heavily on baroclinic process to form convection and strengthen. Given its size and the upper level conditions, I would give the storm a higher than normal odds of becoming a small hurricane over the next few days.

Lastly, our eyes turn to the western Caribbean as the month of September begins to fade. Medium and long range models are showing that this area of the Atlantic basin may become much more active during the next few weeks as a large area of upper level divergence sets up right over extremely warm sea surface temperatures of around 31-32 Celsius. This upper level divergence over very warm waters would promote a large amount of deep convection to form, which could eventually lower pressures in the Caribbean and cause a tropical system to form. This is all at least 8-12 days out at this point, but the signals are there that we should begin to monitor this region for potential tropical cyclone development as we near the beginning of October.

I will have a full update on Maria and any other threat that may pop up on Monday!

ECMWF model showing large scale rising over the western Caribbean in about 10 days. Conditions could become quite favorable for tropical cyclone genesis by this time.

ECMWF model showing large scale rising over the western Caribbean in about 10 days. Conditions could become quite favorable for tropical cyclone genesis by this time.

Have an excellent weekend!

Steven Copertino

JoseVisbile

Jose Impacts on the New England & Mid-Atlantic Coasts

Happy Tuesday! Hurricane Jose remains well offshore. But will still have some relatively minor impacts over coastal parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the next few days or so. Meanwhile, more attention has turned to Hurricane Maria which has become extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane, as moved over Dominica last night. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may take a direct hit from by Wednesday. But this article, will mostly discuss impacts from Jose

Based on latest observations and model guidance, Hurricane Jose will be tracking further southeast of the 40/70 benchmark, than previously expected. So only some outer fringe rain and wind impacts are expected for most coastal areas of between the Delmarva and New England through Wednesday. Showers and breezy conditions are generally expected, as outer rainbands from Jose push inland from off the ocean. Some locally heavier downpours with possibly higher wind gusts to around 40mph, especially along the New Jersey, Delaware and Long Island shores. But true tropical storm conditions aren’t largely anticipated.

 

 

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Attention Turns to Jose, Two More Systems Active Over the Open Atlantic

Good Afternoon! 

The tropics have begun to really ramp up yet again, with Jose still meandering north of the southern Bahamas, newly formed Tropical Depression 14, and a vigorous tropical wave that has been designated Invest 96L.

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Tropical storm Jose has been on the upswing over the past 18 hours or so, as the strong wind shear that has been blasting it ever since Irma made landfall has finally abated to some degree. The storm developed very cold convection right over the center last evening, and this likely worked to help reorganize the storms core a bit, since earlier microwave passes showed that the system had become severely tilted to the point that the mid level and low level centers were no longer aligned. At this post is being written, the hurricane hunters are currently investigating the system, and have found winds just around the threshold for a Category 1 hurricane along the southeast portion of the circulation. Typically the strongest winds are found in the northeast quadrant, so I would no be surprised if this mission found winds of around 80 mph, but I will wait for the NHC to make that official decision of reclassifying it as a hurricane. As stated, shear has begun to weaken, and Jose will be over very warm sea surface temperatures of around 29-30C for the next 36 hours, along with relatively moist mid level atmospheric conditions. This should allow the system to strengthen back to a high-end Category 1 Hurricane, or even a low-end Category 2 before shear really begins to increase to high levels in about 48-60 hours.

Current hi-res visible satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Jose over the open Atlantic with 70mph winds.

Current hi-res visible satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Jose over the open Atlantic with 70 mph winds.

The track of Jose is what remains the hot-ticket item. Over the past few days, there has been a noticeable shift westward, with some global models even showing Jose making landfall along the east coast. Once Jose is positioned between Bermuda and North Carolina on Monday, steering currents will begin to break down and the storm should begin to slow a bit while moving to the north. As the storm slows down, the consensus from the reliable models seems to show that more mid level ridging will build over and around Jose to slow it down even more once we get to the Tuesday afternoon period. By this time, a the storm will likely be encountering very strong wind shear and much cooler waters, which should force it to become a large extra-tropical system near the 40/70 ‘benchmark’ by Wednesday. While direct impacts are unlikely from this system outside of some gusty winds and possible rainfall along with coasts, strong wave action and life-threatening rip currents are likely to last well into next week as the storm slowly moves eastward over time. There will also be an enhanced threat for beach erosion, especially if the storm slows down as it nears the area. We will have a special update this weekend if conditions change, and direct impacts from Jose seem to be on the increase.

This afternoons ECMWF model showing Jose south of New England and heading towards the east

This afternoons ECMWF model showing Jose south of New England and heading towards the east

Invest 96L East of the Lesser Antilles 

A strong tropical wave with a healthy amount of spin is currently located about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and has become much better organized over the past day and a half. This system was a par of a large eastern Atlantic monsoon trough, which split into two halves, with the right side of the trough organizing into TD14. During the day today, the system has been able to sustain moderate to heavy amounts of convection over its presumed center of circulation. Visible satellite imagery shows that this system may have a weak surface reflection, with banding beginning to show up on the southern periphery of the invest. However, we have not had a reliable scatterometer pass of this system that is able to show whether or not a system has a closed surface circulation. Regardless, the system is currently within a very favorable area of windshear which lies around the 5-10 knot range. Additionally, the system is over warm waters of 28-29C, and remains embedded within a very moist pouch that surrounds the system. The environment looks very favorable for continued development of this system over the next day or so, and I would not be surprised to see the system become a tropical depression or storm as early as Saturday evening.

Invest 96L this afternoon showing the system gradually becoming better organized

Invest 96L this afternoon showing the system gradually becoming better organized

Over the next few days 96L should continue heading west/west northwest towards the Lesser Antilles, possibly reaching the islands as soon as Tuesday. With favorable environmental conditions, it appears likely that the system will at least be a mid-grade tropical storm at that point, with some of the other model guidance showing a hurricane nearing the islands. Due to the fact that we do not even know whether or not the system has a closed circulation, it is very heard to gauge exactly how strong this will be once it nears the islands, but the Islands should very closely monitor the progress of this system over the next five days, especially the island of Antigua, which is currently housing the population of Barbuda, which was completely destroyed by Irma when it was a 185 mph hurricane. The track of this system beyond the islands will be heavily reliant on the future of Jose, so make sure to check back over the next few days when these details become clearer.

This afternoons GFS model showing 96L becoming a strong tropical storm/hurricane just before reaching the Lesser Antilles

This afternoons GFS model showing 96L becoming a strong tropical storm/hurricane just before reaching the Lesser Antilles

Tropical Depression 14-No Threat To Land

TD14 formed over the far eastern Atlantic from a strong tropical wave, and was designated by the NHC yesterday evening. The system seems to be experiencing some moderate amounts of mid level shear this afternoon, which has displaced the heaviest convection from the low level center. Despite this, the system will be over warm waters and within a moist environment over the next 72 hours, and is expected to become a tropical storm over the next few days as it gradually heads WNW. TD 14 is thousands of miles away from land, and most models show the storm eventually dissipating as it encounters very strong shear and dry air from an upper level trough over the central Atlantic. Depending on what 96L does over the next 48 hours, the next two names on the list of Lee and Maria.

We will have a full update on Monday!

Afternoon visible shot of Tropical Depression 14 over the far Eastern Atlantic

Afternoon visible shot of Tropical Depression 14 over the far Eastern Atlantic

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Have a great weekend!

Steve Copertino

gfs-ens_z500a_us_23

Unsettled Weather Today, More Pleasant This Weekend, Watching Jose for Next Week

Good morning! More unsettled weather is likely today. First, some areas of patchy fog will clear out later this morning. Then a large mid-upper trough over OH/TN Valley will be moving eastward  with more cloud cover and scattered showers and thunderstorms today over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions today. Shortwave energy and wind fields with the trough will gradually be weakening, as it approaches the coastline. So we don’t anticipated any more organized convection or severe weather. For most part today is just looking more dreary, more warm and muggy conditions.

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