Category: Tropical weather

President Obama recently signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the National Act (WIIN) into law. Like many major spending acts, there’s a lot of “stuff” in this bill. It includes funding to help Flint, Michigan recover from its lead crisis, help for water projects in California, as well as re-authorization of several big conservation and restoration acts.

For those of us in Southeast Texas, there was one potentially important item in the bill. It includes a provision to speed up feasibility studies for a coastal storm surge protection system for Galveston Bay and the Houston area. This is what is more commonly known as the “Ike Dike.” The provision was added by Senator John Cornyn.

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Long time readers of mine will be familiar with the date of Sept. 24th, the point at which the historical chance of a hurricane striking Texas falls very nearly to zero. Just three hurricanes have struck Texas after that date in the last 160 years, the most recent being Hurricane Jerry, in 1989. (The storm’s landfall, on Oct. 16, is the latest a hurricane has ever hit Texas. It had 85-mph winds and came ashore along Galveston Island).

I’ve waited a few days later this year to make an “end of season” post because I wanted to follow the evolution of Hurricane Matthew (which now, clearly, will not come into the Gulf of Mexico), and because the upper-atmosphere pattern still has a September feel about it. What I mean by this is that the fast-flowing jet stream in the upper levels of the atmosphere really hasn’t dug that far south yet, bringing with it strong wind currents that are hostile to hurricane formation and intensification.

This GFS model forecast for upper-level winds next Thursday morning shows that the jet stream isn't far enough south to provide really strong upper-level winds along the Texas coast. (Weather Bell)

This GFS model forecast for upper-level winds next Thursday morning shows that the jet stream isn’t far enough south to provide really strong upper-level winds along the Texas coast. (Weather Bell)

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When tropical systems get going, the internet can be a noisy place. So Eric and I thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a user’s guide to the next tropical system that you’ll be hearing about.

What is it?

Invest 97L is the current classification of the tropical wave on the way to the Caribbean. Satellite imagery from late this afternoon shows Invest 97L approaching the Leeward and Windward Islands.

Invest 97L is rotating toward the Caribbean islands this evening. (NOAA/NHC)

Invest 97L is rotating toward the Caribbean islands this evening. (NOAA/NHC)

 

“Invests” are the classification given by the National Hurricane Center to tropical disturbances that may develop into organized depressions, storms, or future hurricanes. There are numerous “invests” each hurricane season, and the cycle runs from 90 to 99 and then repeats. Basically, it’s a nice way to keep disturbances orderly in their computer systems for tracking and monitoring purposes.

The National Hurricane Center sent out reconnaissance aircraft today and were unable to find a center of circulation at the surface, so they’ve held off on classifying this as a tropical depression or tropical storm (which will be named Matthew, assuming it gets there).  Read More…

After what seems like months of build-up, speculation and watching, Tropical Storm Hermine has finally formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The system still looks somewhat ragged, but its wind speeds have come up, and there’s now the potential for further development before it nears the Florida coast in about 36 hours.

The system has gotten a lot of hype for a mere tropical storm. Part of this is because about a week ago the respected European model really showed strong development (which hasn’t occurred yet), and the fact that it has been nearly three years since a hurricane formed or passed through the Gulf of Mexico. And while this system, formerly known as Invest 99L and Tropical Depression Nine, has been subject to some derision it now should be taken seriously—not only by Florida but much of the east US coast.

Right now this is a big tropical storm, with tropical-storm force winds out to about 100 miles from its center. Those winds may well intensify as the storm has the potential to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before landfall, although this is far from certain. Hermine also is both a rain (10-15 inches for some locations of Florida is possible) and surge threat to the west coast of Florida. The National Hurricane Center has these threats covered in its rainfall and storm surge products.

Track models for Tropical Storm Hermine. (Weather Bell)

Track models for Tropical Storm Hermine. (Weather Bell)

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As one might expect at the end of August, the tropics are very active today. Here’s a Sunday roundup of everything that’s going on, with an emphasis on what might affect the Gulf of Mexico.

GOES-East image as of 2:47pm CT Sunday. (NOAA)

GOES-East image as of 2:47pm CT Sunday. (NOAA)

Hurricane Gaston

Gaston may be a beast, but we can only admire his eye and 105-mph sustained winds beauty from afar. A quick summary:

No one stays away from land like Gaston!

No storm is worth ignoring like Gaston!

Tropical Depression 8

This storm developed quickly on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and may become Tropical Storm Hermine during the next day or so. This system is going to move toward the North Carolina coast by Tuesday or so, but shouldn’t strengthen much further due to increasing amounts of wind shear. Should still be a rainmaker for the Carolinas and possibly Virginia this week before it moves back out to sea.

Invest 99L-Now Tropical Depression #9

Ahh, our old friend Invest 99L. It seems like we’ve been tracking this undeveloped tropical wave since about 2013. Matt joked that it might be the first Invest to ever get “retired” by the National Hurricane Center. With that said the system does look a little bit better on satellite today, and the hurricane center just upgraded it to a tropical depression. Here’s a look at the track models:

12z track models for Invest 99L. (NCAR)

12z track models for Invest 99L. (NCAR)

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