Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy looking at the Jersey Shore for Monday

Storm track projections have Hurricane Sandy being pulled in somewhere between Virginia and South Jersey. Currently Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane with 80 MPH sustained winds. The forecast calls for the intensity of this storm to stay at a Cat 1 level but the concerns are that the approaching Jet Stream that pulls Sandy in towards the coast will cause much higher gusts.

Historic Sandy Targets New York, New Jersey, Delmarva (AccuWeather)
Damaging wind gusts will reach from Boston to Washington, D.C., and inland to the central Appalachians. Sandy will not be your typical hurricane when it moves in from the southeast. Hurricanes are small and compact.

Sandy will be more like a large nor'easter on steroids. It could have the strength of a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. Tropical storm and hurricane-force wind gusts will extend out hundreds of miles from the center, so focusing on the center alone in terms of the severity for wind and rain is not recommended.

There is the potential for tens of thousands of trees to be downed and millions of utility customers could be without power at some point. Flying debris, including airborne panes of glass in the larger cities will pose a danger. Some secondary roads could be blocked by trees. Depending on the landscape, such as heavily wooded areas, the power could be out for a week or more.
AccuWeather has projected an unusually high storm surge due to the approaching storm combined with the full moon.
Sandy has the potential to bring historic storm surge flooding near and north of the center.
It is possible areas from New York City and Long Island to New jersey, the Delmarva and into the Philadelphia areas have some of their worst coastal flooding on record, depending on exactly where the storm tracks.

Communities, neighborhoods, roads, rail yards, subway stations and other low-lying areas near the coast, generally north of the track can take on feet of salt water.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists are expecting a storm surge of 5 to 10 feet, but locally higher levels are possible near and just north of the storm track.

The full moon during the afternoon of Monday, Oct 29. will add to high tide levels spanning the 28th through the 30th.

Near-coast waves will average 10 to 15 feet, while seas well offshore will range from 30 to 40 feet.
Unusual Storm Track

This storm's track is quite unusual, expecially for this time of the year. Typically a tropical system will curve out to sea. In this case though, there is a blocking high in the north Atlantic and the jet stream will act as a conveyor pulling Sandy back to shore.

Graphic courtesy of The Weather Channel
Hurricane Sandy: Potential Serious U.S. Impacts (Weather Channel)
Though we feel that it's likely Sandy will hit some portion of the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic coast, there remains uncertainty with the exact timing, location and magnitude of the worst impacts. The forecast involves a rare, complex atmospheric setup that will allow the system to pivot back to the northwest into the region rather than simply moving out to sea.

Where exactly this pivot back to the west or northwest occurs will dictate the timing and where the worst of Sandy ultimately hits. That said, Sandy will have a large wind field and therefore effects from the system will stretch across a wide area well away from Sandy's center. To reinforce, it is very important to not focus on the center of our projected path map since the impacts will extend well away from where Sandy's center eventually moves inland.
Significant impacts from Sandy could potentially begin as early as Sunday and continue into Monday and Tuesday.

What kind of impacts are we talking about?
Destructive winds, heavy rain, major coastal flooding and beach erosion would pummel portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions between later Sunday and Tuesday of next week. Of course, the high winds would extend inland, with the potential for downed trees and powerlines. Widespread power outages could last for days.

(MORE: Latest "Sandy" Maps | Tropical Update)

This setup could even wrap in just enough cold air on its western edge to produce wet snow, possibly heavy, in some parts of the central Appalachians (mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania).
Residents from New England to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia should remain vigilant and begin to prepare for Sandy's impact.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy headed towards the east coast of the USA

Hurricane Sandy crossed eastern Cuba early Thursday morning and is headed on a path towards the Bahamas. The category 2 storm is on a track that is projected to take it due north through the islands of the Bahamas and then turn slightly towards the northeast.


Storm track projections are converging away from a landfall at Cape Hatteras, NC but do show the storm turning towards the northeast US or New England.

Hurricane Sandy Already a Cat 2, crosses Cuba

Hurricane Sandy slammed into Cuba early Thursday with 110 - 114 MPH sustained winds and has maintained Category 2 wind speeds as it crosses the southeastern portion of the island. The storm is currently maintaining windspeeds of 105 MPH and is expected to weaken slightly as it continues it trek across land.

Hurricane Sandy slams into Cuba (CBS News)
MANZANILLO, Cuba Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southern Cuba early Thursday, just west of Santiago de Cuba.  
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 114 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.  
It added that Sandy, a Category 2 hurricane, was located just inland over southeastern Cuba and was moving north/northeast at 15 mph. Some weakening was expected as Sandy moved through Cuba, though it is expected to remain a hurricane as it heads through the Bahamas.
Sandy toppled many trees and cut power throughout the city of Santiago. The storm passed to the west of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay placing the dangerous NE quandrant of the storm over the base. The base is home to 5,500 people who were warned to prepare for the hurricane as it approached.

Strengthening Hurricane Sandy slams into Cuba (Reuters)
The eye of the storm came ashore just west of the city with waves up to 29 feet and a six-foot (2 meter) storm surge that caused extensive coastal flooding, Jose Rubiera of the Cuban weather service said in a television report.  
Heavy rains were falling throughout the storm-stricken region, with forecasters predicting six to 12 inches for most areas and as much as 20 inches in isolated places.  
Rubiera said Sandy had intensified rapidly as it neared land fueled by 88 degree (31 Celsius) waters on its way from Jamaica, struck earlier in the day by the storm when it was still at Category 1 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale

Sandy battered Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane killing one person in a rock slide as he attempted to reach his house. It is the first time a hurrricane made a direct hit on the Caribbean island since Gilbert in 1988.

Jamaica: Direct Hit From Hurricane Sandy (New York Times)
Howling winds and pelting rains from Hurricane Sandy lashed Jamaica’s precarious shantytowns on Wednesday, stranding thousands of travelers and downing power lines. It is the first hurricane to make a direct hit on Jamaica since Hurricane Gilbert 24 years ago, and it roared across the island on a course that was expected to take it over eastern Cuba. As of Wednesday night, only one person — a man who was crushed by a boulder that rolled onto his clapboard house — had been killed in Jamaica, but storm’s flash floods and mudslides threatened the island of roughly 2.7 million people, which is shackled by debt and a crumbling infrastructure and many of whose sprawling shantytowns are built on steep embankments.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Issac skirts along the LA coast

Hurricane Issac made landfall early yesterday evening and then basically just stopped. It's been skirting along the Louisiana coastline essentially heading east all night maintaining its hurricane strength as it pumps heavy rain and wind into the city of New Orleans.

Complete radar track courtesy of Weather Underground
 

As the radar trace shows, once Issac reached the coast, it essentially turned a slight left and slowed down significantly. Forward motion decreased from 10 - 12 mph to 5 mph currently. Issac's direction is northwest right now which should bring the storm completely on land, however the shape of the coastline in this area allows a significant portion of Issac's strack to maintain at least part of this storm over water.

This morning, watching The Weather Channel, two things were quite apparent. First of all, the street flooding in the city did not seem too bad indicating that the drainage pumps were working as planned. The other key thing was the effect of the winds, especially when they were funnelled between tall buildings (venturi effect).

The image above is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel fighting the worst of the winds. Dr. Cantore's report cvan be viewed on this link

Issac poses flooding threats for southeasatern Louisiana and southern Mississippi for the next few days at least but will eventually turn to the north. Then these heavy rains will bring much needed drought relief to the mid-west. The storm track continues to shift more to the west which will bring Issac's rains into Arkansas and possibvly eastern Oklahoma before turning east towards Indiana and Ohio.

Isaac: Major Flood Threat, Midwest Drought Relief (The Weather Channel)
Sometimes, tropical cyclones slow down or stall when moving ashore. Once the forward speeds slows, the rainfall potential of any tropical cyclone increases rapidly.  
This is particularly the case to the north and east of the cyclone's path, where deep tropical moisture can repeatedly be wrung out over a waterlogged area for hours, if not several days.  
We're not talking about, say, 2-4" of rain, either. In these persistent bands, that magnitude of rain would fall in just one hour. The U.S. record 24-hour rainfall, 43", deluged Alvin, Texas on July 25-26, 1979 during slow-moving Tropical Storm Claudette.  
In Isaac's case, eastern and southern Louisiana, as well as southern Mississippi will be in the epicenter of the heaviest rainfall totals. Over a foot of rain is expected in these areas, with local storm totals in excess of 20 inches! This includes the New Orleans metro area, which will give the city's pumps a stern test.  
This combination of heavy rain will pose an even larger danger near the coast of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi, where coastal flooding will potentially persist through early Thursday! There's simply no place for all this water to drain!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Issac makes landfall

Hurricane Issac made landfall near Pass A Loutre State Wildlife Management Area at the southeastern tip of Louisiana. Issac had sustained winds of 80 MPH and gusts of 95 MPH as it came ashore.

Hurricane Isaac makes landfall in La. (Associated Press)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Hurricane Isaac spun into the southern Louisiana coast late Tuesday, sending floodwaters surging and unleashing fierce winds as residents hunkered down behind boarded-up windows. New Orleans calmly waited out another storm on the eve of Hurricane Katrina's seventh anniversary, hoping the city's strengthened levees will hold. Isaac, a massive storm spanning nearly 200 miles from its center, made landfall at about 6:45 p.m. near the mouth of the Mississippi River. But it was zeroing in on New Orleans, about 75 miles to the northwest, turning streets famous for all-hours celebrations into ghost boulevards.
Hurricane warnings continue for southeast Louisiana, the MIssissippi and Alabama coasts up to the far western Florida panhandle. A flash flood warning exists for all of southeast Louisiana and south Mississippi. A tornado watch has also been issued for these areas.

Hurricane Warning in Southeastern Louisiana (Google Public Alerts)
A Hurricane Warning continues for the following locations: Washington, St. Tammany, Ascension, Livingston, Assumption. St. James, St. John the Baptist, Upper Lafourche, St. Charles, Upper Jefferson, Orleans, Upper Plaquemines, Upper St. Bernard, Upper Terrebonne, lower Terrebonne, lower Lafourche, lower Jefferson, lower Plaquemines, lower St. Bernard, northern Tangipahoa, Southern Tangipahoa, Pearl River, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson.  
For Marine interests, a Hurricane Warning continues for all of Southeast Louisiana and Mississippi Coastal Waters.  
A Tropical Storm Warning continues for the following locations: Pointe Coupee, West Feliciana, East Feliciana, St. Helena. Iberville, West Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Wilkinson. Amite, Pike and Walthall.  
A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for all of Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi. Please listen closely for any Flood Warnings that might be in effect for your area.  
A Tornado Watch is in effect for portions of Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi. Please listen closely for any Tornado Warnings that might be in effect for your area.
 
Graphic courtesy of Weather Underground
 

Issac becomes a hurricane

Hurricane Issac continued its push towards Louisiana this afternoon having reached hurricane status at 12:20 EDT today. Dry air and particulates had been keeping Issac from strengthening but this has been overcome as a complete eyewall has formed around the center of Issac. As the radar image shows below, Issac has a full circulation of thunderstorms around its center as it continues its trek towards the shore.


Live Updates: Hurricane Isaac, Heading Toward Louisiana(AccuWeather)
Isaac has crossed the threshold at 12:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, becoming a hurricane, while rolling toward the southern coast of Louisiana.  
An eye has formed with thunderstorms wrapping around the center of Isaac by noon Tuesday. During Monday afternoon and evening, dry air worked its way into Isaac, cutting off its flow of deep moisture, which put a halt to the thunderstorm activity on the north side of the storm.  
Dry air entrainment has been an issue with Isaac even as it entered the Caribbean.

2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of Weatherstreet.com)

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of Weatherstreet.com)

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of Weatherstreet.com)

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of Weatherstreet.com)