Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hurricane Alex!

The first image I pulled up from my iPhone, just after I landed in Jackson, MS today... AWESOME!!!

What a day! I just got back from California about a hour ago, so I'm pretty darn tired... I'll have my full Alex grades tomorrow, but I will say that I'm really proud of my forecast! And I'm not trying to be arrogant at all... Trust me, I'm wrong a lot! I mainly take pride in knowing that I'll always forecast off my own experience, instead of leaning on the models... I follow the models to pick up on the biases/errors... That way I know how to use them! Whether they are right or wrong, I feel like I can at least interpret them in a useful way... Of course it doesn't always work the way you want it to, but most of the time these biases/errors hold a lot of weight! There has to be a human element in forecasting! Like anything in life, if you want to be great, you have to put a lot of time and effort into it! I'm no where even close to great, but I do try to work hard at it everyday!

I can't tell you how tough it was not to watch Alex as closely as I wanted today... I was flying across the country all day, but at least I have an iPhone! Hurricane Alex made landfall as the second strongest June Atlantic basin hurricane by pressure (recorded)! It made landfall in Mexico (Soto La Marina) as a 947mb hurricane... The only stronger June hurricane by pressure, was Hurricane Audrey in 1957... If I remember correctly, Audrey (Category-4) had an estimated pressure of 946mb... So Alex was very close in terms of pressure! It just goes to show that things are primed for a big year! I'll have a VERY thorough/detailed blog post tomorrow... I'm going to hit on why hurricanes making landfall at a perpendicular angle is important, why a strengthening hurricane at landfall is important, and why using experience will almost always beat the models in the long range... I'll also have my hurricane Alex forecast grades, and a few other cool facts/information on hurricanes...

Look at how impressive Alex still looked well over land... I'll talk about this as well tomorrow... By the way, I got these images from! It's a great tropical site that everyone should check out!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ridge Wins Again!

This will hopefully be my last quick blog post, as I head back to Mississippi tomorrow! Alex was a great example why you can't trust the GFS to resolve heat/heat transfer issues 48 hours + from landfall... I got this forecast correct, because I understand model biases... Experience tells me that the GFS loves to underestimate the strength of the ridge... So even last Monday (8+ days ago), I never bought into the northern movement... Of course you have to be very careful how you use the model biases, but I'll always go with my experience over what the models say... Especially, when it's still only an invest! I'll have a complete grade on my Alex forecast tomorrow night! I'm very proud of my long range forecast, but we'll see how well I do on my shorter range intensity forecast... I thought it would get to at least a solid Cat-2, and honestly I still believe that! I will say there is more dry air than I initially thought...

Brownsville, TX dogged a bullet, but they will still see 50-60mph wind gusts, heavy rain (5+ inches), and tornadoes! I really thought northern Mexico was the more likely landfall region, but I was still always a little worried it could strike Brownsville, as it was my northern possible landfalling point! Not to wish bad on anyone, but I'm glad hurricane Alex is going to miss the US... Unfortunately, the waves heading towards the oil spill will probably be the worse impact on the US! It will push more oil towards the shores of the northern Gulf coast! :-(

Monday, June 28, 2010

No Changes...

I'm really sorry for another quick post, but I'm still in the Sierra Nevada and I have almost zero internet service! I'm honestly surprised I have enough to even post at all... I still have no changes with my forecast! I still think Alex will strike sometime on Wednesday in northern Mexico/extreme southern Texas... I think it's more likely to strike northern Mexico, but the Brownsville, TX region needs to watch this storm closely! Could it go a little north? Again, of course, it is the weather... However, I'm holding strong on my track forecast, and I don't see anything that would make me budge right now! Also, I still think Alex will make it to at least a strong cat-2 at landfall (weak Cat-3 still very possible)... It will deepen rapidly once it starts to really move towards the coast! The slow motion has hurt/impeded Alex today! I should have better internet access tomorrow, so I'll have a more detailed post! I can't tell you how frustrating it has been not to be able to follow Alex like I typically would... I will say though, that the core reasoning for my forecast hasn't changed, so refer to older posts on Alex for more information... I feel like my experience with model bias/errors has led to a strong sound forecast.... We'll see what happens?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not Budging!

This is going to be very short, but I'm not budging on my track forecast! I still think Brownsville, TX is as far north as Alex will come! I honestly really believe northern Mexico is the more likely landfall region... Could it head more north towards north-central Texas? Of course it's possible, but I have felt since last Monday that the ridge will hold strong, and I don't see anything to change my mind... I will say, while I thought it would be stronger (minimal hurricane) than the 18z HWRF (which I liked the most yesterday), I now think it is very possible that Alex will make it to a solid Cat-2, or even a Cat-3... Just look at the satellite presentation as it enters the Bay of Campeche! Alex made landfall weak enough in Belize, that it will have no problem spinning up quick! Plus the conditions are near perfect for rapid intensification! The only thing that will stop Alex, is the second landfall... This storm is going to be HUGE! The envelope/coverage on Alex is massive! So expect a large powerful hurricane to strike northern Mexico/extreme south Texas sometime on Wednesday!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brownsville, TX South!

Brownsville, TX is the absolute furthest north I would personally forecast Alex to track! The 18z GFS/GFDL are out to lunch! I can't say this enough, but the GFS just can't resolve heat/heat transfer issues!!! I have been following the tropics pretty hardcore since 2002, so I have seen this error too many times to count... I don't have the exact odds, but the majority of the time the GFS is to the right of the actual track, especially more than 48 hours out from landfall... It typically starts to catch on by about 48 hours out, but honestly it should by then!

It notoriously underestimates the strength of the ridge... This error is especially bad when you have a major hurricane releasing mass quantities of latent heat in the atmosphere, which will only pump (strengthen) the ridge even more! Please keep that in mind for later in the season, when I almost guarantee you we will be faced with this! The GFS has this error year round, as it is typically too quick/cold with cold fronts as well... It breaks down the ridge too fast/too much, thinking the cold air will not only head more south, but head more south way too fast! I will say the GFS was able to overcome this problem this winter, as a strong -SOI (El Nino) added momentum to the westerlies... Plus you had a strong -NAO amplifying the pattern, because of blocking downstream in the Atlantic! So it was able to do ok this winter for the wrong reasons... Of course this is only a bias, so it doesn't always happen this way, but again the GFS is HORRIBLE with understanding the amount of heat present in the atmosphere...

I like the 18z HWRF right now the best... I think it will be the closest, even though I do think that Alex has a good shot at becoming a minimal hurricane at landfall... Of course that depends on how much water Alex will have to work with once it pops out in the Bay of Campeche... It went into Belize fairly weak, without having the most defined inner core... Refer to last night's blog post for more information on why that is important in regards to strengthening... I really believe it will spin up fairly quick, but run out of room in the end... I think northern Mexico is the most likely target as of now! I may actually end up being a little too far north in the long run... However, I'll take my forecast from Monday (Southern Texas/Northern Mexico), especially when you consider that almost every model wanted to break down the ridge and allow a path for Alex to strike the northern Gulf coast! Since day one of 93L, continuing tonight, I have always thought the ridge will win!

Notice the GFDI (Similar to the GFDL, but interpolated) on the 0z CSU early track... What a surprise! The GFDL, even with its great resolution, will ALWAYS struggle with the strength of the ridge because it is initialized off GFS model data... In a sense, the GFS fills in the gaps... All I can do is shake my head...

Friday, June 25, 2010

South Texas/Northern Mexico...

I'm sticking to my guns no matter what! I have been saying since Monday that I liked a Southern Texas/Northern Mexico landfall... Of course it's so darn tough until a tropical cyclone forms, but I never really bought into this trough split idea... Of course it's possible, but again I just don't see it... The ridge is strong across the Deep South, and the GFS just can't handle heat/heat transfer... It consistently underestimates the strength of the ridge all year long... This error is really bad in the summer when you have all this extra heat build up in the tropics... I will always go with what I was taught first before I follow a model... Instincts/experience plays a big role in this, plus all models really don't have a clue until an invest at least gets to a weak tropical cyclone! I now see the NHC with its second advisory has shifted their track much further south and west... I agree 100%...

In the short term there are a couple interesting things to consider with soon to be Alex... If Alex is able to rapidly intensify before landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula, then that's not good news for Mexico (Yucatan), but may be great news for the United States! Why? Hurricanes that have well defined inner cores that moves across land, often do not regain their intensity once back over water, while weaker storms intensify much more rapidly/readily once back over open water... The land disrupts the inner core of the hurricane causing it to weaken, while the outer bands over water continue to have healthy convection, which will prevent inflow from getting to the center of the storm once back over water... This is especially true with major hurricanes! Great examples of this are Isadore and Gustav...

Now of course I don't see Alex getting to a major hurricane at landfall in the Yucatan (Probably won't even be a hurricane), but the stronger Alex gets (more defined the inner core), the better the news for South Texas/Northern Mexico in my opinion... If Alex stays fairly weak, then unfortunately I do see a much better chance for rapid intensification after it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula... There are many other factors involved in rapid intensification, but I thought I would share this tip that has worked very well for me over the years... The good news, which I talked about in last nights blog post, is with 93L taking its time to most likely develop into Alex, pretty much sealed its fate west! Of course I don't want to see anyone get hit, but the northern Gulf coast doesn't need a tropical cyclone with the oil spill ongoing... It will be interesting to see what happens, but I have liked a most westward track since Monday and I'm not going to change anything! I'll have many more updates to come!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More West!

I still don't buy the trough split, as I think the ridge will hold strong! The great news is 93L has continued to move west today without developing... The more west it heads before development, the more likely it will head over the Yucatan Peninsula... Remember, the stronger the tropical cyclone, the more it will be "steered" by the upper level winds... That makes a lot of sense because stronger tropical cyclones have much higher thunderstorm development to support powerful surface winds... So every hour 93L keeps from developing, the better the chance for more westward movement ("steered" by lower level winds)...

The mid/upper trough, which could lead to trough splitting, won't affect a weaker tropical cyclone near as much as a strong tropical cyclone... Even if what may become Alex is pulled north because of the trough split, it should go over enough of the Yucatan Peninsula that it will get torn apart... That way, even if the worst case scenario of a tropical cyclone heading towards the northern Gulf coast comes true, it shouldn't have enough time to become a major hurricane... Unfortunately, when tropical cyclones are weak and go over land, they can spin back up quickly, but again the interaction with land should be enough to keep it from becoming a major hurricane at landfall... In this scenario I would think more in the Cat-1/Cat-2 range... However, let's see how 93L develops first, as these are just some of my thoughts! Sorry this was quick, but I'm still on the road... Plenty more updates later!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

93L = TOUGH!!!

Until 93L develops into Alex, this is all pure speculation... However, the more I look at this, the tougher the forecast gets!!! It really depends on a few important factors... If/when this system becomes vertically stacked, how does it happen??? Does the surface low move under the mid/upper level low, or does the mid/upper level low move over the surface low... That will make a huge difference... If the trough split does happen, which of course is very possible, then which way 93L becomes vertically stacked is HUGE! I'm still leaning strong towards the ridge holding strong, but let's just say the trough split does occur for now...

If the surface low moves under the mid/upper level low, then the northern Gulf coast could have some problems... If the mid/upper level low moves over the surface low, then the Texas coast could have some problems... Of course neither could happen, and 93L never develops into Alex... Or maybe the surface low moves over the Yucatan Peninsula, really messing the surface low up enough that even if it eventually gets together, it won't have much time to strengthen into a whole lot... Time will tell, but this is becoming an extremely difficult forecast! I wish I had more time to look at things, but this is the best I can do while I'm on the Sierra Nevada trip... I'll have more updates on 93L when I can!

Also, here is the link to the story I was featured on by Accuweather in case you missed it! It's about social media's influence on storm chasing... Check it out in case you missed it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Featured on Accuweather...

This is going to be a quick post, but I was featured on a story by Accuweather! It's on social media's influence on story chasing... It turned out well, and I really hope everyone enjoys it! I'll leave a link below!

As far as the tropics, I still don't see the northern Gulf coast landfall... I'm on the road in California, so I can't go into a lot of detail, but all my experience says NO on a tropical cyclone hitting eastern LA/MS/AL... That ridge is going to hold strong! The models, especially the GFS, have serious problems with heat/heat transfer... The GFS consistently underestimates the strength of the ridge! I actually think it is far more likely for what could be "Alex" to head towards south/central Texas... I wouldn't be shocked if it hit the Yucatan Peninsula, and headed towards northern Mexico/Southern Texas...

Until 93L forms into Alex("If" it forms), the models have no clue... So I'm going to go with what my experience says, not what some model that doesn't have any clue right now says... Again, it hasn't even formed yet, so be careful about the hype/fear... I understand why people are extremely worried because of the oil spill, but let's give it a few days before everyone panics! In my opinion, I just don't see what "could" become Alex hitting any further east than Galveston, TX... And even that is further north and east than I would personally forecast... Of course this is just my opinion and I could be dead wrong! However, at least let 93L form into Alex before we start putting a lot of faith in the models... I just personally see the ridge holding strong! Time will tell...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tropical Update...

Joe Bastardi came out with his updated 2010 Atlantic hurricane forecast today... 18-21 named storms, 5-6 US hurricane landfalls, with 2-3 being major at landfall... That is the most aggressive hurricane forecast I have ever seen Joe put out, as it is in line with most everyone else... I really like how he focuses on the impact, which is what's most important! Speaking of the tropics and "possible" impact, there is something interesting trying to brew in the Caribbean... 92L is pretty much dead... The shear and islands basically destroyed it... However, we now need to watch another tropical wave/area of interest(93L)...

People are really starting to hype 93L, because of the potential for it to develop and enter the Gulf of Mexico... The current 0z European is showing what looks to be a strong hurricane heading towards the oil zone in the Gulf... Before everyone starts to panic, please keep in mind two things... One, this is over 200 hours out! Two, with an extremely strong ridge in the Deep South, do you really see it breaking down and allowing an alley for this potential tropical cyclone to head towards the northern Gulf coast? I honestly just don't see that right now! I do think there is a good chance it develops into Alex, but I think with the strong ridge it will stay far away from the main oil slick area and head more towards Texas, and possibly even as far south as Mexico... That's just my opinon as of now, but it is without a doubt something to watch...

I see the 0z June 21st run of the European very unlikely with the death ridge in place across the Deep South... Again, I just don't see the ridge breaking down enough to allow for a northern Gulf coast landfall... I think the next two images from the 12z June 20th/0z June 20th runs of the European are far more likely... With the amount of heat piling up in the Caribbean I can definitely see development, but again this is still WAY TOO FAR OUT to start any panic... Let's watch this for a few days and at least get within 5-6 days before we start preaching gloom and doom... So much can change in the tropics (Both good and bad) within 24 hour, yet alone 200 + hours!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Going Back To Cali...

I just got into Ontario, CA (~40 east of Los Angeles) not too long ago... For those of you that don't know, I'll be in California for the next 10 days helping lead the TIG (Teachers in Geoscienes) Sierra Nevada trip... While I grew up in California, I have never been to places like Yosemite, so I'm really looking forward to the trip! The plane fight in was a little bumpy, especially in Dallas, TX, but we got here in one piece! I'm not the biggest fan of flying, even though it's always cool as a meteorologist to see things you teach about from an unique perspective... As we left Jackson, MS we flew through an awesome cumulus field, marking the LCL... I also got a cool shot of Big Bear Mountain, which is about 100 miles east of Los Angeles... If you look closely, there was still a little snow left... I'm going to try my best to update my blog everyday, but it may be tough when we get into Mammoth Mountain... I'll try my best!

Tonight's Low: 56
Tomorrow's High: 79


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great Plains of Mississippi...

Today was a really cool day! It's not too often that you can say that Mississippi severe weather is similar to the Great Plains, especially on June 19th... At around 6:30pm I noticed a decent storm on radar that was heading towards Starkville, MS from the north to south... It had a severe thunderstorm waring on it, but it just looked like a fairly typical summer time thunderstorm... There were a lot of outflow boundaries, which was cool to watch on radar... Around 7pm the severe storm was approaching my house in west Starkiville... It was very outflow dominate, and had a really beautiful shelf cloud on it! I was just so happy to get some relief for the horrible heat and humidity that has been relentless all June!

There was a decent amount of cloud to ground lighting, and I would say we got about a half inch of rain in about 20 minutes... I went outside and briefly saw a double rainbow... By the time I ran inside to get my iPhone to take a few pictures, the rainbow was basically gone, but there were some beautiful mammatus clouds developing... Quickly, I was practically surrounded by lots of well defined mammatus clouds! I have lived in Starkville, MS for over 10 years now, and I have never seen mammatus clouds like that here ever! I really felt like I was in the Great Plains for about 30 minutes or so.... There was also some really cool towers in the distance, which was backlit by the sun! I'll put more pictures up later, but here are three pictures from today... My iPhone does it NO justice... It really was amazing! :-)

Friday, June 18, 2010


A derecho is basically a widespread and long lived windstorm! You get fast moving severe thunderstorms embedded in a squall line, typically in the shape of a bow... They are most common in late spring/summer across the Midwest/Northern Plains, but there is a second season in fall/winter across the Southeast/Southern Plains! To meet derecho criteria, you have to have continuous wind reports of 58 mph or greater (severe thunderstorm criteria), for at least 400km... I have also heard 240 miles, which is about 10 miles shorter than 400km... There are three types of Derechos.... Progressive, Serial, and hybrid... This is going to REALLY simplify things, but basically a progressive derecho moves more west to east, where a serial derecho moves more south to north... The hybrid is a combination of the two, which is rare! Today was a great example of a progressive derecho, with 321 wind report as off 522z... About 300 of those wind reports occurred within today's derecho! It was quite a day across Iowa, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, southern Michigan, and extreme northwest Ohio!!! For an excellent website with LOTS of great information on derechos, click here!

Remember, straight line winds can be just as deadly as tornadoes! Derechos do hurt/kill people! In the stronger derecho events, wind gusts can exceed well over 100mph... I'll never forget when Starkville, MS was hit by a strong derecho on 2/16/01... There were reports of 110mph wind gust near campus (South Farm)... I was honestly fairly shocked at the amount of damage across Starkville, MSU, and the surrounding areas! At that point it was by far the fastest winds I had ever personally experienced... Right in front on my eyes I watched a tennis court get ripped to shreds at my apartment, which was no more than a mile or two from the campus of Mississippi State University... It was an eye opening event for me personally!

One thing at the time I thought was interesting, was how upset some people got when you told them a tornado didn't destroy their house, straight line winds did... I have found over the years that it is hard to convey to the general public that straight line winds can destroy your house as fast as a tornado can... If you live in a mobile home, this is especially true! While fascinating, derechos are killer weather events! Before I go, I have to say that I was a little surprise the SPC didn't issue any PDS severe thunderstorm watches today! You see PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) used a decent amount with tornadoes watches, and I would personally like to see it used more in wind events like today! Not a criticism at all, just something I would love to see used more in the future!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another High Plains Tornado Outbreak!

Sorry this is going to be a quick post, but I can't even think straight after that game! Los Angeles Lakers World Champs for the 16th time! SO HAPPY!!! :-)

There was a significant severe weather outbreak today across North Dakota, Minnesota, and extreme northern Iowa... I have been reading about several reports of large wedge tornadoes! Apparently TVN (Reed Timmer) had yet again another HUGE day out there... They have been tearing it up this year! Overall, there were 61 tornado reports (SPC), even though I'm sure several were counted multiple times... Unfortunately, people were killed/hurt which always sucks! My prayers go out to those people affected by today's outbreak... This was a very rare outbreak for Minnesota! I don't know if I have ever seen that many tornado reports in Minnesota before? Of course I'm sure it has happened before, but I can't remember a day like it... Another crazy High Plains tornado outbreak! Check out TVN's video below...

Also really quick, 92L is hanging in there even with the wind shear associate with an upper trough (TUTT)... There has been a huge flair up of convection over the last few hours... It honestly doesn't look bad, but I do think the combination of wind shear/interaction with the islands "should" kill 92L over the next few days... I will say the 12z GFS and 18z Canadian were showing 92L holding on and making it into the Gulf of Mexico... The 0z HRWF/GFDL show 92L holding on as well, but moving more towards Florida/SE coast... I personally don't think either is likely in terms of a named storm (Alex), but it's without a doubt something to watch! There is some model support... "If" it does develop, I think the Gulf idea is much more reasonable...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hurricane Chasing Goals!

Picture I shot of Seawall Blvd about 12 hours before Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island, TX...

Since things are fairly quiet in the Atlantic (92L getting sheared to pieces), I figured I would talk briefly about some hurricane chasing goals I have... As many of you already know, hurricanes are my passion... It's honestly not even close! I would give back every tornado I have ever seen in my life, just to see another Hurricane Charley! Of course I don't wish these beasts of nature on anyone, but I'm going to chase them if they do strike... I don't cause hurricanes, I chase hurricanes! I'm 30 years old, and god willing I hope to have 50 more chasing years in me... I don't think 80 years old is out of the question by any means... Plus, by that point I hope to be retired in the Florida Keys, so I'm sure a few will come my way... Here are 10 goals (Do have more than 10) I have when it comes to hurricane chasing... All I can do is take it one year/season at a time, and try my absolute best! What ever happens, is supposed to happen...

1) Get into the eye of a Cat-5 hurricane (Closest yet, Hurricane Charley)
2) Chase 50 major hurricanes in my lifetime (Still have 45 to go)
3) Chase 100 hurricanes in my lifetime (Still have 89 to go)
4) Chase at least one major hurricane in the deep tropics (Caribbean)
5) Chase at least one super typhoon in the Pacific
6) Chase at least one major cyclone in Australia
7) See at least 10 stadium effect eyes with clear skies (Still have 9 to go)
8) Chase a double landfall major hurricane (i.e. Hurricane Andrew)
9) Get into the eye of a sub 900mb hurricane (Going to be very tough)
10) Get to fly into a major hurricane (Hurricane Hunter Aircraft), and then chase that very same hurricane!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

African Wave Train related to the ACE Index!

Joe Bastardi made an excellent point about one of the reasons why the African wave train has gotten going so early this season... Obviously I'm going to paraphrase, but I think you'll get the point...

When you enter a SST setup like he have now (cold PDO/warm AMO), some interesting things start happening, which is directly related to the upcoming season... Remember, in weather the atmosphere always wants to reach a balance.... Just look at the European hurricane forecast, which understands this balance trying to be reached by the atmosphere... They are calling for 23 named storms, but what's really interesting to me is the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) index forecast! They are calling for the ACE to rise to 125% globally... However, only 70% of normal across the entire Pacific (both basins), but an insane 260% of normal in the Atlantic!!! This makes perfect sense though, because when you have a HUGE area of water (Pacific) that typically accounts for the large majority (2/3rds) on tropical cyclone activity/energy, and you lose this activity/energy because of factors like the cold PDO, then where do you think the atmosphere is going to make up for this? You would be correct if you said the Atlantic basin! With that in mind, here is something else to think about!

When you get such warm waters in the Indian ocean/Arabian sea, something interesting starts to occur... The Asian continent heats up rapidly, which pulls the monsoonal circulation northward into the Asian subcontinent... So now you don't have the convergence in the Indian ocean/Arabian sea to get rid of that heat.... Keep in mind that tropical cyclones want to take this heat from the tropics to the poles... What happens is this, because of the northward move of the monsoonal circulation, instead of these waves trying to develop in the Indian ocean/Arabian sea, they come through Africa and develop more rapidly/frequently in the Atlantic basin... You have MUCH more energy build up, which again the atmosphere wants to get rid of! So that's one of the main reasons why we are going to focus so much more activity in the eastern Atlantic (TNA) zone this year! It is also why we are getting the African wave train going so early in the season!

This early African wave train is NOT a good sign, as the atmosphere is showing you what it wants to do when you see these African waves going up so fast/early in the season! Plus, you add the Atlantic ocean tripole signature, and LOOK OUT! You center the sinking motion in the north Atlantic, while you center the upward motion in the Atlantic basin through the MDR towards the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the southeast eastern seaboard! It's one thing to have so much energy focused in the Atlantic, it's another to see it have a direct path towards the US... I have always said it's all about the IMPACT, and trust me the impact is what scares me most this year! The path of upward motion towards the US, reminds me of a gigantic hole in the line of scrimmage with a Heisman trophy running back breaking free towards the goal line... Unfortunately, the goal line looks to be the US (Gulf, Florida, SE) this year!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

92L Update...

92L has not looked near as good today, and I'm now starting to doubt if it will get named... The NHC has lowered development chances from high to medium over the next 48 hours... In my opinion, if 92L is going to make it to Alex, it's going to have to do it by late Tuesday/early Wednesday... At some point on Wednesday, 92L will start to encounter hostile conditions associated with an upper trough... This upper trough will enhance dry air and wind shear (>30 knots)... The combination of dry air/wind shear (>30 knots) will most likely tear 92L apart! I'm honestly a little surprised that 92L didn't make it to a depression today, even though like I stated yesterday, it is so rare to see any development this early in this part of the Atlantic! While conditions have been mostly favorable, climatology says no! I have wondered if initially 92L being so close to the equator didn't allow for it to spin up as quick, because of the lack of coriolis... Now with 92L near 12N this shouldn't be a problem at all, but again it's running out of time to develop!

A few of the models still want to develop 92L into a tropical storm... The 18z HRWF keeps 92L around 30-40 knots for the next 72 hours... The 18z GFDL has 92L reaching 60 knots by 66 hours, yet tears it up 6 hours later, bringing it down to 37 knots... I guess it thinks the upper level trough holds off a little longer... That's possible, but I personally don't see it! Both the 18z GFS and the 12z European is very weak with 92L... The 12z Canadian is still the most aggressive long term, taking 92L into the Lesser Antilles most likely as a weak tropical storm on Friday... Here is some updated (0z) track/intensity model guidance from CSU...

Please keep in mind that these global models (GFS/Canadian/European) really can't give you a good gauge on strength as a forecaster... While computer models in general have done a MUCH better job with tropical cyclone tracks over the last couple of decades, it still lacks way behind on intensity! The resolution is no where near good enough to pick up on subtle mesoscale features that can make the difference between rapid intensification and no intensification! Even the triply-nested movable mesh model (GFDL) is dependent on GFS model data to "fill in the gaps", or basically account for the overall environment around the tropical cyclone! The GFS has so many heat/heat transfer issues (underestimating the strength of the ridge, not bundling energy, not accounting for latent heat release during hurricanes, etc...), that it becomes the GFDL heat/heat transfer issues as well... Right now this is not so much of an issue, but try to keep this in mind as we get into the heart of the season! I almost guarantee you that the GFS will almost always be to the right of actual track because of these heat/heat transfer issues! Especially with major hurricanes approaching the US... We'll have plenty of chances to watch/test this, trust me on that!

Honestly, it comes down to experience and the repetition of looking at these maps for years & years... You start to get a good feel for things as you gain more and more experience... Also, let's be real here for a second, the models have no clue what's going on right now! Until 92L develops a tight circulation and becomes named, the models are going to have a lot of trouble with initialization no matter what resolution capabilities it has! Bad data in, is bad data out! Especially with something that almost never happens in this region of the Atlantic this early in the season... The models can only do so much! There has to be a human element in forecasting!

I'm much bigger into looking at real time charts and trying to figure it out myself... Not only with the tropics, but with weather forecasting in general... Keep in mind that if you make a forecast off a forecast, then you are truly at the mercy of that model... At this point I have basically zero confidence in the models, so again I'm going to rely off my own analysis on real time data... This doesn't mean I'm not following the models for consistency, but I'm no where near confident enough to lock onto even one model yet! If 92L hasn't developed yet, then I personally only give it about 24 to 36 hours tops to make this happen before the upper trough starts to kill it... No matter what happens, to see the African wave train getting going this early in the season is honestly just scary! We are setting the stage for one heck of an Atlantic hurricane season IMO! That's what I take most out of 92L... 2010 Atlantic hyper season here we come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


92L has continued to look good all day, even though it just can't seem to keep persistent convection on the southern side of the broad low... I do still expect it to be a tropical depression by tomorrow, as it continues to get better organized in favorable conditions... To see development in this part of the Atlantic this early in the season is very rare! I have been reading around the internet a lot today, and the last time there was a named storm east of the Lesser Antilles in June was back in 1979... Before that was back in 1933! Obviously storms weren't named in 1933, but that storm did become a hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on June 27th!

This just shows how rare this is! If 92L becomes Alex, it will become only the 3rd tropical storm/hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles in over 75 years during the month of June! With the African wave train getting going this early, I really think this only goes to show the potential for a hyper season! I'm honestly not surprised at all, as almost everything has been lining up for an incredible season since my first 2010 Atlantic hurricane season thoughts/idea on May 5th! Time will tell, but the signs are already there!

The models don't seem to have the best handle on 92L... Of course that makes a lot of sense! As 92L develops I feel the models will lock on a little better, even though I wonder if the models will struggle more than normal due to the rarity of the event! You don't see tropical cyclones this early in the east-central Atlantic! The 18z GFS/GFDL pretty much kills 92L... Since the GFS shows this, I'm not surprised at all that the GFDL is showing this as well, since the GFDL is initialized off GFS model data... 18z HWRF shows 92L becoming Alex fairly quick and then dying almost as fast in about 36-48 hours! The 12z Canadian develops 92L most likely into Alex and keeps it together as it heads towards the Lesser Antilles... By far the most aggressive model! The 12z European keeps it together for a few days before starting to kill it fast around 120 hours...

I have thought from the beginning that an upper trough will interact with 92L and eventually tear it apart... It still looks like that will happen, but it may happen a little slower than I first thought since it's so far south... By Wednesday 92L, which may be Alex, should encounter wind shear greater than 30 knots! No matter what happens, just talking about development in the east-central Atlantic this early in the season is amazing, and a sign of things to come IMO!!!

Here is some more updated track/intensity guidance from CSU (0z)...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Killer Hailstones & 92L!

Courtesy of NOAA...

There have been several reports today of hailstones 4" to 6" in diameter across the Texas Panhandle! The 6" diameter hailstone was reported by Bart Comstock (SevereStudios) near Sunray, TX, which is in Moore County... "If" this 6 inch diameter hailstone verifies, it would become the second largest hailstone ever recorded... The record today stands at 7 inches in diameter (circumference of 18.75 inches)! It fell in Aurora, NE on June 22nd 2003... The Aurora hailstone broke the old record of 5.7 inches in diameter (circumference of 17.5 inches)... That hailstone fell in Coffeyville, KS on September 3rd 1970... While the Aurora, NE hailstone holds the record for diameter, the Coffeyville, KS hailstone still holds the record for weight in the US... It weighed an astounding 1.67 pounds! These massive hailstones can fall at speeds over 100mph! Anything in the path of these hailstones would be killed/destroyed... From everything I have read/researched, the record Aurora, NE hailstone went through a roof! WOW!!!

Here are a couple links to some pictures of the monster hail... The first two links were sent to me by Michael Wilhelm...

Also, I want to bring everyone's attention to 92L (Near 35W/7N)... It has been looking better and better on satellite imagery today! In the short term (2-3 days), warmer than normal SST's, lack of the SAL, low wind shear, all make for an environment not typically favorable for development this time of year, favorable! I wouldn't be shocked at all if we had our first named storm(Both GFDL/HWRF shows this), as this is one of the more impressive early developments I have seen for June 12th in this particular region of the Atlantic! It would be named Alex by the way... However, in the about 3 days 92L will encounter a lot of wind shear (>30 knots) associated with an upper trough, which should mostly rip apart/kill 92L...

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Big Picture!

I wanted to leave a link to an amazing blog in pictures! It's called The Big Picture (by Alan Taylor), which is published out of the Boston Globe... As Mr. Taylor describes, it's news stories in photographs... When you click on the link you'll see titles highlighted in blue... As you click on each title, it will take to you a set of photographs describing each individual story... These photos are absolutely breathtaking! I will warn you though, some can be very graphic and somewhat disturbing... The saying a picture speaks a thousand words couldn't be more true with this blog! I have always felt that pictures describe a story much better than any description in words... I have been a huge fan of the Big Picture since I saw it for the first time after coming back from chasing Hurricane Ike... As someone that saw the wrath of Hurricane Ike first hand, I thought these pictures told an accurate/true story! I highly recommend everyone checking it out! Enjoy...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A couple of interesting things!

Myself with Dr. Neil Frank, SECAPS 2009...

I wanted to briefly touch on a couple of interesting things that I read today in two great blog posts! The first one came from Dr. Jeff Masters... In his blog today he talked about how the SST's in the MDR (Main Development Region) in the Atlantic (10N-20N) had the warmest May reading on record, according to historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center, which dates back to 1850... As Dr. Masters stated, there are gaps in the data before 1910, and during WW1/WW2... This was actually the fourth straight record warm month, and the warmest measured anomaly for any month ever recorded! The second warmest anomaly ever recorded was ironically last month! This just goes to show that the MDR is primed like we have never seen before... I highly recommend reading Dr. Masters blog, which is free to the public...

The other interesting point came from Joe Bastardi... His blog is not free, but I highly recommend becoming an accuweatherpro subscriber... It's not cheap, but IMO it's worth every penny! They offer so many great products that I find very useful as a forecaster... Click here for much more information!

Joe talked about another May record... The AMO, like the MDR SST's, had the highest May value ever recorded... Another sign that the Atlantic is primed! He also talked about how the strong May - NAO values present more trouble... I have touched on this before in older posts, but basically if you have more blocking in the north-central Atlantic, it will lead to dropping of pressures to the south... The - NAO helps displace the Bermuda/Azores High further north and also somewhat west... This weakens your easterly flow across the MDR, increasing SST temperatures and leading to upward motion...

Joe also talks about how 4 interesting analog years come up when you look at a warm AMO/negative NAO in May... You get 1995, 1998, 2005, and 2008... All very active years... Add in the Atlantic tripole signature, which I have been harping on for a while now, and you get big problems! You not only have the setup for a lot of tropical cyclone development, you have the setup for a lot of US landfalling tropical cyclones!!! Just some food for thought!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TNA (Tropical North Atlantic) Index...

One of my students (Philip Burt) brought up a great point today about the TNA index that I didn't even really think about... I have researched the TNA index a good bit in the past, but I guess I just forget to look at recently... Shame on me for that! This is another great tool to use!

The TNA (Tropical North Atlantic) index is the monthly SST anomalies measured between 5.5N to 23.5N & 15W to 57.5W... This encompasses a large portion of the MDR (Main Development Region), which runs from 10N to 20N in the Atlantic basin... NOAA has been keeping track of the TNA index since 1948... Historically, positive numbers (representing warmer than normal SST anomalies) leads to enhance activity/development in the tropics, which of course makes a lot of sense! What's scary is this year's TNA index is OFF the charts! It's way ahead of 2005, and has the highest monthly numbers ever recorded (1948)... Combine this with all the other factors I have been talking about in the my earlier hurricane forecasts, look out!

Thankfully, the number has come down some this May due to a stronger Azores High, which led to stronger easterlies, cooling off your water some... However, while it's good that it went down some in May, it's still the second highest number (1.28) ever recorded behind last April number (1.40)! Also, it's still .27 ahead of 2005 during the same monthly period! Just something extra to think about... I'm going to leave links to info on the TNA index/data, and I'm also going to leave an EXCELLENT blog post on the TNA index and the 2010 hurricane season in general... The blog post was written by Allan Hoffman who again does a GREAT job!

TNA Index
TNA Data

Allan Hoffman TNA Index/2010 Hurricane Season Forecast

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hurricanes on the mind!

Before and After pictures I took from Hurricane Charley!
© Greg Nordstrom 2004...
Notice the flag pole on the after picture I took... Snapped clean in half! INCREDIBLE!!!

Still not much going on in the tropics, but I'm always thinking about it 24/7! With hurricanes on the mind, I wanted to leave everyone a link to an amazing chase account from Hurricane Andrew... The account was written by Richard Horodner about 3 years ago! Again, Mr. Horodner is the second know person to chase a hurricane and is pretty darn hardcore when it come to chasing them! According to his website, Richard has chased well over 50 hurricanes in his life! Knowing all this just makes his account even more amazing! You can almost feel the fear in his account and how it truly affected him to this day!

The whole thread is amazing stuff! Read down to Mike Theiss where he talk about the winds blowing down to the ground and dispersing out during hurricane Charley... One person says he thinks Charley will be upgraded one day to a weak Cat-5, but like Mike Theiss I think it was very close but not quite there... Another couple hours over the water and I think it would have been a Category-5! It was probably only 5 mph or so short in my personal opinion... The winds really were 150mph sustained at times, with gust easily in the Category-5 range! Also, the winds really were blowing down to the ground and dispersing out a lot like Mike talked about... I also completely agree that "mini-swirls" were associated with Charley at landfall... This term was coined by Dr. Ted Fujita when he studied Hurricane Andrew's damage aftermath in 1992...

In my life I have NEVER seen anything like it! I can't believe were coming up on the 6 year anniversary! Wow, time sure flies! For a great account of Hurricane Charley, click on the link below and scroll down to Even Brookbinder's (NWS) account/insight... Also, I'll leave a link to clip of Mike Theiss's Hurricane Charley video... We (Josh Johnson, John Walker, & Myself) were about a mile as the crow flies from Mike's location at the RaceTrac gas station in Charlotte Harbor, FL... His video was pretty much exactly what we saw, but with more debris flying in our spot! I sure wish I would have had a video camera! I did get a lot of great stills, but I guess that's just a product of being a very poor college student(couldn't afford one at the time)... Plus, I didn't know Charley would explode to a strong Category-4 hurricane as fast as it did... When I left it was barely a Category-2! I know I say this all the time, but the eye of Hurricane Charley is without a doubt the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life! Best day of my life hands down!

This is the famous RaceTrac gas station you see in Mike Theiss's video... Again we were about a mile away as the crow flies!

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 Great Long Range Websites...

Since the tropics are so quiet and there is not much going on, I figured I would continue with linking more websites... Tonight I'll link 10 great long range forecasting sites I use all the time... Of course I use a lot more than 10, but these are 10 of my more "favorite" websites in no particular order... Enjoy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

10 Great Tropical Websites...

Here are 10 great tropical websites I use all the time! Of course I use a lot more than 10, but here are 10 of my more "favorite" sites in no particular order... These are strictly forecasting useful sites! I'll link each site for everyone...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dixie Alley...

Screen capture of video I shot during the initial genesis of the Conway Springs, KS tornado (5/29/04)... You rarely see clear daytime tornadoes like this in Dixie Alley!

As a meteorologist/storm chaser I hear about Tornado Alley all the time! There is no doubt that more tornadoes occur in this alley/region compared to any other alley/region in the United States... However, there is another alley where some of the strongest long tracked tornadoes of all time have occurred... This alley is called Dixie Alley and I'm here to say it's very real and very dangerous! The Yazoo City, MS monster (1.75 miles wide) long track (149 miles) EF-4 tornado on 4/24/10 is a great example of this... Click Here for my chase recap from that day! Click here for the video...

This alley includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia... One of the many differences between Dixie Alley and Tornado Alley, is Dixie Alley gets a lot more tornadoes during the fall/winter months (November-March) than Tornado Alley... So, Dixie Alley really has three distinct tornado seasons (fall, winter, spring)... The typical April, May, June season and another clear season from November through March... If you think about it, the Deep South doesn't get much of a break from October/November through May/June... Interesting stat for you that I still believe applies today, Alabama has had more tornadoes (recorded) in November than any other month! Most people have no idea how many tornadoes Dixie Alley gets in November... Here is a link to the storm reports from a very famous November tornado outbreak I lived through here in Starkville, MS on 11/10/02 (Storm chased through MS that night)...

Another aspect that makes Dixie Alley just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than Tornado Alley, is the fact that a lot of the supercells in the Deep South are HP (High Precipitation) in nature... This is due mostly to the close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico (added moisture)... The Deep South already has WAY more trees than the Great Plains, so typically having HP supercells just makes things even more dangerous... It's SO HARD to see the tornado! As someone that has chased in Mississippi more than almost any other chaser out there, trust me, it's EXTREMELY hard to chase in the Deep South... Also, it can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing!

Not only are there a lot of the HP Supercells, where rain wraps around a lot of your tornadoes, Dixie Alley tends to get more tornadoes at night compared to Tornado Alley... I personally feel this is again due to the close proximity of the Gulf of Mexico... The extra moisture helps keep your instability up throughout the night... Also, during the winter season the close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico plays a big role in why the Deep South has enough moisture/instability to sustain supercells capable of producing tornadoes... I would also argue that this close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico helps lower LCL/LFC heights (more moisture/lower dewpoint depression) which makes it easier for an updraft to ingest streamwise horizontal vorticity in the vertical...

Some more interesting facts for you... Mississippi has unfortunately had 3 of the top 7 deadliest tornadoes of all time... Dixie Alley on average has more (slightly) strong long tracked tornadoes than Tornado Alley... Also, unfortunately Dixie Alley on average has many more killer tornadoes than Tornado Alley... This is mainly due to the lack or visibility (terrain & HP supercells), occurrence at night, and having so many more people living in mobile homes... Keep in mind that there is a higher population in Dixie Alley as well! There are many more stats that I'll let you look into, as I'll leave a link to an amazing powerpoint on Dixie Alley... The powerpoint is based off a paper done by Alan Gerard, who is the MIC at Jackson, MS... I'll also leave a link to a write up done by James Spann on Alan Gerard's interesting paper!

I state all of this NOT to have some sort of competition/debate on which alley is worse! I honestly don't care, because it's not important! I state all of this to show people that Dixie Alley is real, and is a danger to all the people living within it! So much more tornado research is done in Tornado Alley (for obvious reason like visibility), but I would still love to see more research done in Dixie Alley to hopefully better educate the people living in the Deep South about the unique tornado dangers they face! From the dozens and dozens of school talks I have done over the years across the state of Mississippi, I have overwhelmingly found that many feel the tornadoes they see on TV in Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas, are the same tornadoes we get here in the Deep South! That is rarely the case, and is one of my main reasons for pushing more education across the Deep South about Dixie Alley... Just because you can't see the tornado, doesn't mean it's not there!!!

I will say more research has been done on Dixie Alley in the last 10 years or so, which is without a doubt a positive... However, it's obviously not enough because so many have no idea that Dixie Alley even exists, let alone understand the unique dangers it presents! All I can do is continue to educate as many people as I can through school talks, blog posts, storm chasing, and everyday regular life... I hope this blog post sheds some light on this topic... As someone that lives/teaches in Dixie Alley (Mississippi) I find this topic extremely interesting/important!

(Click on Meeting Notes on the left, and then go down to February 2006)