Tag Archives: Azores Islands

NADINE: The storm that just won’t quit!

Just about a month ago, on 1 September 2012, one of several large tropical waves generated by the tropical wave assembly line over Equatorial Africa approached the western coast of Africa to emerge the next day over the warm waters of the eastern Atlantic, to the south of the Cape Verde Islands.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of the western portion of Equatorial Africa and the Eastern Atlantic showing a tropical wave about to emerge over the warm ocean waters to the south of the Cape Verde Islands, which later became Tropical depression #14 and shortly thereafter tropical cyclone NADINE

A few days later, on 10 September 2012, this particular tropical wave became Tropical Depression #14 of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, as it traveled along the northern fringe of Hurricane alley. Soon thereafter, on 12 September 2012, T.D. #14 strengthened and became the 14th named tropical cyclone of the season as Tropical Storm Nadine.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing then Tropical Storm NADINE as it moved toward the open waters of the Atlantic some 1,200 kilometers from the Lesser Antilles

Initially Nadine tracked WNW in the general direction of the Virgin Islands, but it soon began to be steered first toward the NW and then more toward the north, as the system encountered the same atmospheric regime that had interacted with its predecessors, tropical cyclones Joyce, Kirk, Leslie and Michael, and before that short-lived Gordon. Soon a strengthening Nadine appeared to be aiming for Bermuda only to continue a sweeping arch over the central Atlantic to take aim toward the northeast and the Azores Islands. During the course of this maneuver Nadine became a hurricane.

Projected track for NADINE as of 15 September developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

It is dizzying just trying to describe the exceedingly convoluted track tropical cyclone Nadine has followed up to today 30 September 2012, when it is yet again a hurricane (for the third time!), and continues to meander in the neighborhood of the Azores with no signs of letting off any time soon three weeks after being generated back in ‘hurricane alley’.

Panoramic view (from Google Earth) of the track followed by Hurricane NADINE since first becoming a tropical cyclone back on 10 September 2012

Although Nadine has been active over open waters without having had much of an impact over land areas, despite having affected the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands albeit from a distance, it is clear we are witnessing quite an extraordinary storm both in terms of longevity and the track it has followed since it emerged over the eastern Atlantic as one more tropical wave. Adding to this qualification of ‘extraordinary’ is the fact that NADINE has become a hurricane for the third time since its genesis even as it tracks over a region of the Atlantic Ocean with much cooler surface waters.

Projected track for Hurricane NADINE as of 30 September 2012, as it is making yet another cyclonic loop near the Azores before a expected move toward the NE and then N in coming days, developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

In  summary: (a) Nadine has been a tropical cyclone for three weeks already; (b) It has reached hurricane strength three separate times during this period; (c) It has followed a continuously changing path that includes three full cyclonic loops where the storm has changed its direction of travel by 180 degrees or more; (d) It has stalled a couple of times during periods where its forward motion became stationary for several hours; (e) Nadine has traveled approximately 9,100 kilometers since it became a tropical cyclone, and close to 12,000 kilometers since it emerged as a tropical wave over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands; (f) To make it even more interesting, Nadine is not done yet, so we will have to wait and see until it decays a ceases to be a named-storm once and for all to determine just how extraordinary a storm it has been. For those interested in viewing an animation of the track followed by Hurricane NADINE the following links should be interesting: www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2012/graphics/al14/loop_3W.shtml or the following: www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2012/graphics/al14/loop_R.shtml

What else is happening in the tropical northern hemisphere, while we continue tracking Nadine?

Track for Tropical storm NORMAN developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA
Final projected track for what was Hurricane MIRIAM developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

Over in the eastern Pacific the remains on what once was major hurricane (category 3) Hurricane Miriam is now a decaying low pressure system with sustained 30 kph winds some 1,100 km west of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To the north of that we have the remains of Tropical Storm Norman, the 14th named tropical cyclone of the season in that basin, now down to tropical depression status and weakening rapidly overland the Baja California peninsula some 100 km north of the town of San Marcos. Beyond this the only tropical activity in that region is in the form of a couple of tropical waves or areas of stormy weather over the Pacific waters off the coast of central America and Panama.


Projected track for a now decaying Tropical Storm EWINIAR developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA
Projected track for recently generated Tropical Depression #20 in the western Pacific developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

At the other extreme of the ocean over the Western Pacific, a region that has seen plenty of tropical cyclone activity over the last four months, also on 30 September Tropical depression #20 has generated and is strengthening while moving generally NNW some 500 km to the northeast of Guam.  Then, there is a weakening Tropical Storm EWINIAR  some 1,000 km east of the island of Hokkaido in Japan moving toward the NNE away from land. There is also a third active cyclone, a still strong Tropical Storm Jelawat, which is now overland Honshu the main island of Japan some 200 km west of Tokyo with the potential for causing some damage as it interacts with mountainous terrain and generates considerable amounts of rain as it continues to move toward the most densely populated urban area in the world.

Projected track for now Tropical Storm JELAWAT over Central Japan, developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of 30 September 2012 showing Tropical Storm JELAWAT over land on the island of Honshu, Japan approaching the urban area of Tokyo

Closer to our neck-of-the-woods here in Florida there are numerous disturbed weather cells and storms along ‘hurricane alley’, in the central Caribbean, in the Gulf of Mexico, over the Atlantic, and a large storm system reaching from Texas to the northeastern USA. So, in addition to the possibility of some bad weather coming our way, there is always the potential for cyclonic activity to develop in the larger basin, especially considering there are still a couple of months left in the ‘official; 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

Infrared color-enhanced GOES satellite image of the eastern USA showing several storm systems over the Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and over the mainland USA on 30 September 2012

While we wait and see what develops in the various basins mentioned here, it is important for all of us to remember to pay attention, to be prepared and above all to keep practicing Mitigation!

Tropical Storm ISAAC

A lot has happened in the northern tropics in the week since we posted an article, in which we indicated 20 August marked the historical “opening” of the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season!

First there was tropical depression seven in the western Caribbean, which traversed portions of Central America and the Yucatan peninsula emerging over the Bay of Campeche, in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, to become Tropical Storm HELENE, which in turn spawned another tropical wave that on this 21 August lingers just off the eastern coast of Mexico in the western Gulf.

Then there was Hurricane GORDON over the open waters of the Atlantic, which weakened to tropical storm strength before impacting the island of Santa Maria in the Azores, before continuing to lose strength as it entered much cooler waters near northwestern Africa and the Iberian peninsula in southwestern Europe.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite image of 21 August 2012 showing Tropical Storm ISAAC approaching the Lesser Antilles, and other storm activity along Hurricane Alley and the Gulf of Mexico

Next, just like clockwork, one of two tropical waves riding along Hurricane Alley became Tropical Depression #9 and today, 21 August 2012, it became the ninth-named tropical cyclone of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season under the name of ISAAC, which at 2200 EDT was some 640 km east of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles moving toward the west at 25 kph with maximum winds of 65 kph. Tropical Storm Isaac appeared quite disorganized and ragged as the hour approached 2400 EDT, but it had a large wind-field as it continue moving toward the Lesser Antilles and the Caribbean into an environment of very warm surface waters and atmospheric conditions that may favor further strengthening and cyclonic development over the next 48-72 hours. Following is a five-day forecast track based on the model consensus as of 2000 EDT on 21 August 2012, which places the storm over Cuba and moving toward the Gulf or Western Florida near the end of the 120-hour forecast period. In this regard it should be of interest to note that at least one of the models is forecasting a more westerly track, which takes Isaac toward the Yucatan peninsula and the coast of Quintana Roo in Mexico.

Five-day track for Tropical Storm ISAAC developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on 21 August 2012 based on data from NOAA

Chasing Isaac along Hurricane Alley is a large tropical wave that at 2200 EDT was located some 650 km South Southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and moving west at more than 30 kph. This particular tropical wave is showing signs or getting better organized and stronger around a cell of low pressure, and as of 2000 EDT this 21 August was given a 70% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours by the National Hurricane Center of NOAA.

Color-enhanced infrared NOAA satellite image of 21 August 2012 showing tropical wave activity over the Eastern Atlantic and Equatorial Africa

Still farther to the east, over the eastern Atlantic and the Tropical Wave Assembly Line in Equatorial Africa the generation of storm cells and westerly tracking tropical waves continues in full, raising the probability that still more of these tropical cyclone seedlings may continue to emerge over the eastern Atlantic and into Hurricane Alley over coming days just as as Florida, and the nation, gets ready to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew this Friday 24 August.

Half a world away from Florida in that hot spot of cyclogenesis over the Philippines Sea and the South China Sea two tropical cyclones, Typhoon TEMBIN and Typhoon BOLAVEN are menacing Taiwan and China, beyond, in a region that has seen repeated tropical cyclone impacts over the past several weeks. Following are projected five-day tracks for both of these two tropical cyclones.

Five-day track as of 21 August 2012 for Typhoon TEMBIN developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory based on data from NOAA

Five-day track as of 21 August 2012 for Typhoon BOLAVEN developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory base on data from NOAA

As we monitor the progress of the 9th named storm of this 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as other potential tropical cyclones moving into position along Hurricane alley and Equatorial Africa, let us remember that 20 years ago in 1992 by 21 August we had not had a single named storm in the Atlantic basin. Likewise, let us not forget that all it may take is just one hit from a tropical cyclone to cause catastrophic damage, death, injury and unimaginable human suffering. Those of us who went through Hurricane Andrew or worked in its aftermath can certainly attest to that. Pay Attention! Be Prepared! And above all MITIGATE!!


Five hours later, Hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance and satellite imagery show a slight strengthening and better organization of the storm. Maximum sustained winds are now around 75 kph as Tropical Storm Isaac continues moving toward the Lesser Antilles and the Caribbean beyond. The new five-day track from the U.S. Navy Research  Lab and infrared satellite image are shown below:

Five-day track for Tropical Storm Isaac as of 0500 EDT prepared by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory based on NOAA observations and data

Infrared NASA satellite image of 22 August as of 0515 EDT showing a better organized system with very cold cloud tops above

Also this early morning, the tropical wave chasing T.S. Isaac down ‘Hurricane Alley’ is showing considerable strengthening over the past five hours and much better organization. Based on most recent observations the National Hurricane Center is giving this system a 90% chance of tropical cyclone formation  in the next 12-24 hours. Visible light satellite imagery from NASA shows a large system with plenty of convection and storms around its center of low pressure, as shown below. In my opinion most indicators from current satellite imagery favor tropical cyclone development for this tropical wave within the next few hours this Wednesday 22 August:

NASA visible light satellite image of 22 August at 0515 EDT showing a strengthening tropical wave chasing Tropical Storm Isaac down Hurricane Alley

All interest in the Caribbean should monitor the progress of both these storms closely over the next few days. For those in the USA, especially in Florida, the possibility of approaching tropical cyclone conditions around the beginning of the week of 27 August exists. Pay attention, be prepared. MITIGATE!