16 October 2016: The northern tropics remain restless, watch out!

The Autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere has come and gone, and as the Sun marches south of the equator overhead the southern hemisphere tropics we have started to see tropical waves and storm cells flare-up on that half of the planet.

Soon the northern hemisphere hurricane, typhoon and cyclone seasons will start to wind down and cease menacing hundreds of million of residents of coastal regions and island nations in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans.

We  in the northern hemisphere must however remain alert and be prepared, for the ‘official’ tropical cyclone seasons may end on fixed dates, but the reality is that Mother Nature will always do as she will!  Also, ocean heat content has continuously grown higher as every new year becomes the warmest of record or one of the warmest. So, conditions for tropical cyclone development have become earlier-happening, longer-lasting and wider-spread over time.

Infrared satellite image of 10 October 2016 showing various tropical waves, areas of disturbed weather, and Hurricane NICOLE over the larger north Atlantic basin
Infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing various tropical waves, areas of disturbed weather, and Hurricane NICOLE over the larger north Atlantic basin

In fact, satellite imagery this morning brought pictures of a large tropical disturbance over the Bahamas looking suspiciously as if cyclonic development could be possible. This may already be affecting a wide region from Florida to the Carolinas, which were hit hard a few days ago by Hurricane MATTHEW, and also suffered a remote hit that coincided with King Tides from passage of Hurricane NICOLE at a distance.

Other satellite images of the north Atlantic basin show a tropical wave over the isthmus of Panama, another one in the middle of ‘hurricane alley’ and yet another one beginning to emerge over the eastern Atlantic from equatorial Africa, plus a nice one of Hurricane NICOLE still going strong over the open waters of the Atlantic.

Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing numerous tropical waves and storm cells reaching some 10,000 kilometers from Atlantic Waters to the Lake Victoria region in eastern Africa
Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing numerous tropical waves and storm cells reaching some 10,000 kilometers from Atlantic Waters to the Lake Victoria region in eastern Africa

Farther east from the eastern Atlantic waters, there remains a long train of tropical waves and storm cells over equatorial Africa reaching all the way to Lake Victoria and beyond. Plenty of fuel left for future cyclonic activity.

Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 over the Northwest Pacific showing typhoons SARIKA and HAIMA respectfully moving away from and approaching the Philippines!
Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 over the Northwest Pacific showing typhoons SARIKA and HAIMA respectfully moving away from and approaching the Philippines!

On the opposite side of the planet, near northwest Pacific waters there is typhoon SARIKA moving in the South China Sea toward another landwall after ravaging the Philippines, while to the east there is a strong typhoon HAIMA approaching the Philippines Sea and a possible double-whammy on that most cyclone-vulnerable country on Earth.

Life goes on, and this is the only planet we have for now, so it is prudent to pay attention, remain alert, and be prepared alway. MITIGATE!

6 0ctober 2016: IN THE CROSS-HAIRS OF MATTHEW!

It appeared as a large storm cell over Equatorial Africa nineteen days ago, when tropical cyclones KARL and LISA were moving in the Atlantic, moving westward to emerge as one more tropical wave over the eastern Atlantic. As this tropical wave rode along ‘hurricane alley’ toward the Windward Islands our attention focused mainly on KARL and LISA.

And then, THERE IT WAS! Tropical Storm MATTHEW was active over the southeastern Caribbean near the Venezuelan coast moving rather slowly westward.

Infrared satellite image of major Hurricane MATTHEW over the Bahamas at 6:30 A.M. this morning of Thursday 6 October
Infrared satellite image of major Hurricane MATTHEW over the Bahamas at 6:30 A.M. this morning of Thursday 6 October

And now, this morning of Thursday 6 October at 6:30 A.M. MAJOR HURRICANE MATTHEW was located 350 kilometers (228 miles) from Miami over The Bahamas, strengthening yet again and getting better organized as it moved in the general direction of Southeast Florida at 18 kph (~11.5 mph).

Map showing probability of tropical storm force winds, from MATTHEW and NICOLE, affecting various areas over the next five days
Map showing probability of tropical storm force winds, from MATTHEW and NICOLE, affecting various areas over the next five days

This is truly a dangerous hurricane, which has already caused death and destruction and plenty of damage in several countries in its path including, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Florida is now in MATTHEW’s sights, as well as other Atlantic states beyond.

Is MATTHEW THE BIG ONE we have speculated about for quite some time now? After eleven years here in Florida without being hit by a hurricane, perhaps suffering from ‘hurricane amnesia’, let’s trust that thanks to the great work of the National Hurricane Center, the on-camera TV meteorologist, and emergency management officials, the message has been heeded and we are prepared for the impending punch from MATTHEW!

Projected track for a strengthening Tropical Storm NICOLE as of 6 October 2016 at 0200. Notice the storm will become almost stationary as it interacts with MATTHEW and other atmospheric features in coming days
Projected track for a strengthening Tropical Storm NICOLE as of 6 October 2016 at 0200. Notice the storm will become almost stationary as it interacts with MATTHEW and other atmospheric features in coming days

While we focus on MATTHEW and brace for impact here in paradise, we must remain aware of Tropical Storm NICOLE looming in the Atlantic east by northeast of Matthew, and also tropical wave 99L approaching the Windward Islands chased by a large glub of disturbed weather riding ‘hurricane alley’ to the east.

Infrared GOES EAST satellite image of 6 October 2016 at 0500 showing major hurricane MATTHEW, Tropical Storm NICOLE, and other potential cyclonic threats in the north Atlantic basin.
Infrared GOES EAST satellite image of 6 October 2016 at 0500 showing major hurricane MATTHEW, Tropical Storm NICOLE, and other potential cyclonic threats in the north Atlantic basin.

So, in addition to MATTHEW’s impending threat, there are other hazards nearby and plenty of fuel for potential tropical cyclone generation in the not so distant horizon over the eastern Atlantic.

Let us keep in mind that there is still plenty of ‘official’ hurricane season left in the Atlantic in 2016. We must pay attention continuing to monitor all of these potential threats. Remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!

Vulnerability Assessnebt & Mitigation

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