Category Archives: Storm Surge

IRMA: An Atlantic hurricane for the record books!

With each new advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center about the course and intensity of Hurricane IRMA, we all become exponentially more awe striken at the powerful display of Mother Nature, and wonder how much more intense can this storm grow?

Visible light satellite image (NASA) showing Hurricane IRMA as it had reached maximum sustained winds of 294 kph (184 mph) and a low central pressure of 926 mb, this Tuesday 5 September 2017

The latest data I have seen shows that as of 1515 EST IRMA was packing sustained winds of 294 kph (184 mph) with even higher gusts, and its then current central pressure had already dropped to 926 mb. This is by far the stronger hurricane active in the open Atlantic since records have been kept. New record may still be set in coming days as the hurricane encounters even warmer surface waters.We can only wait and see what happens.

Visible light satellite image (NOAA) taken this afternoon of 5 September 2017 at 1515 EST showing Hurricane IRMA nearing the northern Lesser Antilles. Notice the strengthening tropical wave to the east-southeast

Visible light and infrared imagery focusing on water vapor in the atmosphere show an impressive image of IRMA as it approached the northern Winward Islands, and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico beyond. In these images we can also see the ‘chase’ tropical wave following behind IRMA , which is already displaying some cyclonic characteristics.

Infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing water vapor in the atmosphere to highlight the environment surrounding Hurricane IRMA and its ‘chase’ tropical wave this 5 September at 1415 EST

Awesome as this display of power is, it is even more worrying because of the vast potential for causing  damage that  this hurricane has as it gets closer to various land masses along its path including our Florida peninsula, which remains within the ‘cone of uncertainty’ of the predicted track of IRMA in coming days.

Projected track for Hurricane IRMA as of this Tuesday 5 September at 1400 EST. Based on an advisory from the National Hurricane Center

IRMA may be the ‘big one’ we have speculated about for the past 25 years, or it may not. Only time will tell and we will find out soon enough. Now is the time to take the potential impact from IRMA’s wind and water extremely seriously and take all precautions necessary to protect life and property. May God protect us all.

Get ready. Remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!

IT IS THAT TIME OF THE YEAR: BE PREPARED! MITIGATE!

Today is Saturday 27 May 2017. Just a couple of days ago the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its updated forecast for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, which officially starts this coming Thursday 1 June 2017.

Available names for tropical cyclones forming in the Atlantic basin during upcoming 2017 hurricane season. (World Meteorological Organization)

NOAA’s forecasters have called for an above average Atlantic season with a possible 17 named-storms this year. An ‘average’ season, if there is such a thing, usually produces 11 named-storms. Just to be ready for what eventually will happen, or not, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has prepared a list of 21 names for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.

Ocean waters are getting warmer already, having reached 30 degrees Celsius over large areas as shown on this sea surface temperature map of 26 May 2017. (NOAA)

While NOAA’s forecast has several caveats regarding the various factors that may contribute to this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, such as whether or not El Niño will stay away, we are already seeing some of the contributors begin to fall in place. For example, the tropical waters in the northern Atlantic are already getting rather warm, with sea surface waters over large  regions reaching 30˚ C, thus the heat energy content of the ocean is conducive to feeding tropical cyclones.

Several storms cells and areas of disturbed weather are already present in regions of the tropical northern Atlantic as seen in the GOES EAST satellite view of 05/27/2017 (NOAA)

We are also seeing the trains of tropical waves over equatorial Africa, ‘hurricane alley’, and the eastern Pacific starting to line-up north of the equator as they march toward the west. A sign that conditions are favorable for thunderstorm and rain cell formation, another contributor to cyclogenesis.

The train of tropical waves over Equatorial Africa, marching west toward the Atlantic, is already in place. (NOAA)

Elsewhere, we have already had the first named-storm  of the 2017 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season, tropical storm ADRIAN formed on 10 May 2017 off the Pacific coasts of Central America and Southern Mexico becoming the earliest named-storm of record in that basin. Farther west, over the northwestern Pacific near the Philippines there are currently two large areas of disturbed weather that are showing some potential for tropical cyclone formation.

Tropical storm ADRIAN became the earliet named-storm of record over the northern eastern Pacific, when it formed last 10 May 2017 off the coasts of Central America and Southern Mexico (NOAA)

So, it is that time of the year in the northern tropics.  The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is right upon us, ready for its ‘official’ starting date of 1 June 2017. Beyond the Atlantic, conditions appear already favorable for tropical cyclone generation throughout the Pacific ocean, to the northern Indian ocean and the Arabian sea.

It is time to be prepared, and remain alert. It is time TO MITIGATE!