Tropical Storm & Hurricane Update for the Week

This week, for the hurricane and tropical storm outlook it will be fairly inactive with a little chance of any activity. For now, we are only keeping an eye on the eastern Pacific, as there may be a developing threat for Mexico early into next week.

This hurricane season thus far has been active, yet none of the storms have made landfall or made any large impact, as they have been dissipating as they moved towards land. This season has been all about the wind shear, which is described as unfavorable winds that begin to tear apart thunderstorms before they begin to cluster together and grow into tropical cyclones. The Caribbean has seen near-record high shears this month, and there is no visible sign that it will be letting up this week.

An El Nino for this year has not yet been officiated, but it is definitely beginning to make its presence known, and may be playing a vital role in the upper level flow across the Gulf and Caribbean Oceans. With that said, El Nino is a living and ever-evolving state, and only one factor of many that affects the day to day weather patterns along the many coasts of the U.S and other ocean-bordering countries.

As the El Nino begins to make its way back into the tropical forecast, it is important to keep in mind that its presence alone does not mean that this year will be inactive at all. To the contrary, hurricane seasons during weak El Ninos can still be very active. Even disastrous landfalling hurricanes can occur during very strong El Ninos, when total storm numbers as a whole may be low. Some of the most costly hurricanes that have ever hit the U.S have been during El Ninos to be exact. As the season progresses we will obtain more information.

There is a persistent area of low pressure that has been festering below Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side of Mexico in the eastern Pacific. It has finally buckled against brisk winds, meaning that there is no imminent threat. Soon, it will be moving into cooler ocean waters and a much drier atmosphere, which will put an end to any further developments. The weather models are also forecasting a very strong area of low pressure to develop just south of the Pacific coast of Mexico later on this week, and moving into the weekend. It is still too early to predict what exactly will occur from this cell, but it will definitely be monitored, as there is a slight threat for Mexico into next week.

Check The Weather Channel for an extended tropical storm forecast.

Tropical Storm Karen May be Heading to US Coastline

Tropical storm Karen has taken shape south of the Gulf of Mexico and is being forecast to cause some troubles for the United States. There are already hurricane watches in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Destin, Florida. Surface winds of over 60 miles per hour have been recorded in parts of the storm’s circulation pattern to indicate that this tropical system is very much alive and healthy. No one yet knows for sure how strong Karen will be as it moves toward the Gulf Coast but people in the storm’s path are being told to keep an eye on it as it could develop into a full blown hurricane.

At the very least, Karen could bring with it strong winds, heavy rains of over 5 inches, flooding and storm surge that could reach foot feet above normal tide levels in some Gulf Coast areas. It has been a very quiet Atlantic hurricane season thus far and tropical storm Karen may be the first named storm to strike the United States this season. Forecasters think that Karen will strike the northern portion of the Gulf Coast this weekend as a weak hurricane or a tropical storm.

The National Hurricane Center reported early Friday that the system was over 300 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi Rover and had sustained winds that maxed out at right around 65 miles per hour. Karen is moving only at about 10 miles per hour on a northwesterly path. It’s thought that the storm could be near hurricane strength by late Friday night.

Thus far, residents of south and mid Florida don’t have too much to worry about as the core of the storm is expected to stay well to the west. Karen could however impact the panhandle of the Sunshine State in the form of storm surge. Karen is the eleventh named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season and on average, the eleventh system usually emerges during the last weekend of November.

Some oil platform work crews in the Gulf of Mexico were told to pack up and leave Thursday as Karen is approaching the area that produces about one fifth of daily US oil output. On Thursday, FEMA began recalling workers who were sent home because of the government shutdown to help make preparations for the storm.

Some forecasters think that Karen will become a hurricane by the time it reaches landfall this weekend in the Gulf. However, they also feel that the storm will weaken once it does come ashore. Hurricane Isaac is still fresh in the minds of Gulf Coast residents who suffered flooding last year from the Category 1 hurricane so Karen is not being taken lightly.

2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins Soon What Forecasters are Saying

The first day of June is the start of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season and leading forecasters are predicting that this year’s season will above-average with eighteen tropical storms of which nine will become full-fledged hurricanes. This prediction follows on the heels of a not-so-accurate prediction for last year as twice as many storms formed in 2012 than were predicted.

The average Atlantic hurricane season has twelve tropical storms of which seven are hurricanes. A tropical storm is one which has sustained winds of 39 miles per hour. When those winds are sustained at speeds of 74 miles per hour, the tropical storm is then classified as a hurricane. The Atlantic season opens on the first of June and runs through the end of November. Forecasters are agreeing that there is over a 70 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall along the US eastern coastline this year. The first five hurricanes which form this year will be called Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian and Erin.

After the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012, residents along the Atlantic coast are being told to prepare for an another active season. The warm waters in the Atlantic combined with less frequently occurring wind shear could make the formation of storms more frequent. Last year, two storms formed before the seasoned opened on June 1st but forecasters aren’t expecting that to happen in 2013.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA is set to release its season outlook on the 23rd of May. As the season nears, NOAA is busy going over what improvements could be made following Sandy’s heavy damage along the northeastern coast of the United States. The administration did release a report this week which states that emergency officials and coastal residents could have benefited from more clear storm surge forecasts.

Based on what the major forecasters are saying, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season should be similar to the season last year. In 2012, there were nineteen named storms of which nine became hurricanes. 2012 was the 7th consecutive year that a hurricane did not make landfall in Florida and those living in the Sunshine State and particularly coastal residents are keeping their fingers crossed that the streak continues.

Hurricane Sandy Could Cause Billions In Damages What Areas Are Most Vulnerable

Here Comes Sandy!
Hurricane Sandy. The Frankenstorm. Whatever you want to call it, a large portion of the east coast of America and as far inland as eastern Ohio is in for a monster of a storm over the next several days. Due to a “perfect storm” conversion of hurricane Sandy pushing north\northwest and colliding with two other winter storm systems pushing eastward from the heartland, this storm could produce conditions as bad as or worse than other “fabled” storms such as the 1991 Perfect Storm or 1938s’ Long Island Express.

Hurricane Sandy has already been blamed for 43 casualties in the Caribbean as it continues its’ journey towards mega population centers of the U.S. such as Washington, D.C. and New York City. Current projections are calling for Sandy to make landfall anywhere from North Carolina to as far north as Long Island, N.Y. A direct hit by Hurricane Sandy there, with her storm surge and heavy rains, would in fact render the entire New York subway system vulnerable. It is just too difficult to predict exactly where the storm will come ashore, but its’ wrath is going to be widespread and felt by millions of citizens along the eastern seaboard.

One of the primary concerns with a storm of this magnitude is the tidal surge. Initial models are calling for a storm surge of three to six feet in size. Heavy, gale-force winds, accompanied by a full moon, will “push” water inland as the storm continues to churn. Rainfall totals from Hurricane Sandy are expected to be as much as 12 inches. This rain, coupled with the storm surge, is certain to produce flooding anywhere near the landfall zone. Currently, the Delaware coast is the likely landfall target for Sandy, with ten inches of rain expected. Further off to the west, parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio are preparing for significant snow events, as much as two feet in certain areas as Sandy merges with another storm front bringing colder air into the mix.

High winds of 50 miles an hour or more are expected to remain constant, with gusts up to 70 miles an hour. These high winds are expected to knock down trees and power lines across the entire east coast and as far inland as Ohio and Western New York State. In fact, Governor Cuomo of New York has already declared all of the states’ counties as disaster areas, already making them eligible for assistance from the National Guard if required. Compounding the high wind problem could be the snow that lands on trees that still have their leaves on them, falling over under the additional accumulated weight of the snowfall.

NOAA’s Tropical Weather Outlook

On August 18th, NOAA raised the 2012 hurricane season prediction. The new outlook still indicates a fifty percent chance of a near normal Atlantic hurricane season but increases the chance of an above normal season to thirty-five percent and decreases the probability of a below normal season to just fifteen percent from the initial outlook that was issued in May.

Right now there are wind patterns and warmer than average water temperatures in the Atlantic which are very conducive to tropical storms and hurricanes. The tropical wave that’s in the Atlantic now continues to gain strength and momentum as a new wave is developing near Africa. The tropical wave in the Atlantic is becoming more organized and is likely to develop into a storm within the next couple of days. As of Monday a.m., the system was over 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, moving in a westerly direction at about twenty-five miles per hour. It is still too early to tell if the storm will pose a threat to land but most forecasters agree that it will aim right for the islands this week. Just behind that system is the area over the African coast that could develop into storm.

Hurricane Gordon caused some minor flooding as it struck the Azores island off the coast of Portugal early Monday morning. Gordon is now losing its strength and is headed in the direction of continental Europe. The National Hurricane Center said Monday that Gordon will most likely become weaker and turn to a post-tropical cyclone later in the day. Gordon did earn the status of a Category 2 hurricane before it lost its momentum after passing over cool waters before hitting the Azores.

The next two named storms of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season are Isaac and Joyce. The tropical wave that’s located west of the Cape Verde islands stands a good chance of becoming a tropical depression and later a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center stated Monday that the system has a sixty percent chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday.

It Isaac does develop into a full blown hurricane, it could very well impact the United States. We are now just approaching the middle of the 2012 hurricane season which is when history has shown is the most active period for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic ocean. Tropical depression Helene is now dissipating over northern Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas. That storm was very dis-organized but it still will bring up to eight inches of rain in some areas of northeastern Mexico over the next week before it dies out.

New Tropical Storm Forms in Pacific

Forecasters report that Tropical Storm Carlotta in the Pacific ocean is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches Mexico’s southern coast on Friday. The wind speeds of the tropical storm were at 64 miles per hour Thursday night. In order to be a hurricane, the wind must sustain winds of at 75 miles per hour so it’s close.

There is a hurricane warning already in effect for the Pacific coast of Mexico as the storm is now about 200 miles southeast of Puerto Angel and about 430 miles southeast of the very popular tourist city of Acapulco. The system is moving along on a northwesterly path at just over 12 miles per hour. Flooding is expected to occur Friday along Mexico’s coast as up to twelve inches of rain could fall.

The storm is the 3rd of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season which started on the 15th of May. In addition to the warning, hurricane watches are also in effect for areas in Mexico where the storm is headed. When Carlotta does come ashore, a foot or more of rain could fall over the states of Oaxaco, Guerrero and Chiapas and over portions of southern Guatemala.

Carlotta is expected to move along the southern coastline just south of Acapulco and pass north of Mexico’s largest oil refinery that pumps over 300,000 barrels of oil per day. The refinery is operating as usual and is not expected to be affected, although refinery officials are keeping a very close eye on the storm.

In Guatemala, the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction called for urgent action Thursday because it said that heavy rainfall amounts could damage bridges along the coastline. It also stated that the storm could trigger land and mudslides as well as cause widespread flash flooding. Heavy rains leave hundreds of people dead and causes billions of dollars in losses each year in Central America. During the month of May which is the beginning of the rainy season, two dozen people were killed as a result of floods, mudslides and landslides.

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center says that it expects a below normal hurricane season in the Central Pacific basin this year. The Center also said that it is predicting two to four tropical cyclones in 2012. An average season has four to five storms which include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Tropical Storm Bud now a Hurricane

It is now official: the tropical storm which has been meandering over 150 miles off Mexico’s coast is now a hurricane, named Bud. Top winds with hurricane Bud are around 110 miles per hour, making it a Category 3 hurricane which is a major storm.

Bud is forecast to fluctuate in strength through Friday morning before weakening. Even though the hurricane is going to grow weaker, it is still set to reach the Mexican coastline as a hurricane by late Friday or early Saturday. In light of this, a hurricane warning has been put into effect for portions of the Mexican coastline as Bud could cause some damage within the next day or two.

Bud is forecast to dump heavy rainfall in and around the port city of Manzanillo Friday
. The hurricane also could hit near the very popular tourist town of Puerto Vallarta. Up to twelve inches of rain could fall on some areas, raising the chance for flash flooding and landslides. Every Mexican port on the Pacific coastline remained operational Thursday afternooon as the storm was still well off-shore.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA predicts a less-active hurricane season for 2012 compared to recent years. However, in spite of the outlook, the Administration is reminding anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone areas that they should be prepared for the possibility of a large hurricane strike.

The official start to the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is the first of June. Forecasters are predicting that there is a good chance this season will have between nine to fifteen storms with wind speeds of at least 39 miles per hour. Of those, one to three are expected to develop into Category 3 or stronger. Cat 3 hurricanes have winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

NOAA is reminding people who live in hurricane-prone areas to stay informed and to be prepared. It’s advisable to have an emergency kit on hand and to make a family communications plan. It’s also essential to know your community’s evacuation routes and to come up with a place to meet if family members are not together. Pets also need to be taken into consideration as do elderly family members. Homeowners should check their insurance coverage as flood damage is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Officially Starts Today, May 15th

It’s official: the Eastern Pacific hurricane season is upon us as today, May 15th is the official start of the 2012 season. Since the beginning of the 1970s the season has averaged fifteen named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes of Cat 3 or higher. The season starts two weeks earlier than normal this year because of warmer Pacific waters and weaker wind shears earlier in the season compared to the Atlantic.

The Atlantic hurricane season gets a lot of attention and press coverage in the U.S. However, the Pacific hurricane season which can whip up some powerful tropical storms and hurricanes is a major source of worry for those people living in the southwestern portion of the country. While it’s true that most of the tropical storms and hurricanes which occur during the Pacific hurricane season do not affect landmass and are mostly of concern to those in the shipping industry, the weather patterns at the start and end of the season are capable of producing tropical storms and hurricanes which can impact Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Arizona is the state in the U.S. that has seen the most storms during the Pacific hurricane season. The National Weather Services tells us that eight tropical storms have make their way into that state since the mid 1960s. Five of these storms were significant including Tropical Storm Nora in ’97 that caused widespread, significant flooding and which packed winds of over 50 miles per hour.

Flooding is the biggest threat to the southwest during the Pacific hurricane season. Even when a tropical storm has dissipated before reaching U.S. soil, it’s moisture can dump heavy, drenching rains on the coastline as it moves along on its course. Serious flash floods can and have occurred during this season which have resulted in some fatalities across central and southern Arizona. This is what happened with Tropical Storm Norma in 1970 as heavy flooding occurred – resulting in two dozen people losing their lives.

Right on schedule is the first tropical depression that has formed in the eastern Pacific, more than 600 miles off the coast of Mexico. The storm, named Aletta, took shape yesterday from a thunderstorm cluster in the Pacific. This storm is only packing winds of 40 miles per hour and is forecast to weaken before it breaks apart in the open ocean in a day or two. The development of Aletta is a sure sign that more storm activity in the Pacific is coming. The stirred-up appearance in the clouds in the eastern Pacific do suggest that there may be a new storm developing there over the next few days.

Developing a Plan for Hurricane Safety

Every year, up to a dozen tropical storms form over the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. On average, one or two of these storms become hurricanes and make landfall in the U.S. They range in intensity from a category 1 (sustained winds of 74 -95 mph) to a category 5 (sustained winds in excess of 155 mph.), and wreak destruction through flooding, storm surge, wind damage, and spawning tornadoes. Being prepared is the key to your personal safety.

The first step in being prepared is to develop a plan well ahead of time. To do this you must assess your proximity to the coastline, the geographical conditions of your surrounding area, and the type of structure you live in. You also need to find out whether you live in a designated evacuation zone or a flood zone. Take all of these into consideration in developing your plan.

For instance, if you know you live in a flood zone, making plans to take cover in your basement are not practical. Your plan should include a place you can go away from the flood zone along with several routes to get there if need be. On the other hand, if your home is not in a flood zone or designated evacuation zone, your plan might include means to take cover inside your house.

Next, you should determine how much food and clean water you’ll need to survive; at least for several days, if not a week or two. Gradually build up a supply of canned foods and dry goods, as well as batteries, a portable radio, blankets, first aid kit, and empty bottles for water. At the issuance of the first hurricane watch, be sure to fill your water bottles in preparation.

Finally, your plan should include a meeting place for all family members prior to the storm. When a hurricane watch becomes a warning, usually about 36 hours before landfall is expected, family members should begin meeting at the designated spot to prepare or evacuate.

Loss of life during hurricanes is frequently due in part to individuals not being properly prepared. Developing a plan now, and reviewing it regularly with your family, helps you to know exactly what to do if a hurricane threatens. In the event one does make landfall, your plan allows you to do what’s needed without panic or poor decisions.