Today the 24th of August, just as we commemorate the devastating impact of category 5 Hurricane ANDREW 22 years ago, Tropical Storm CRISTOBAL the 3rd named storm of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season has reached tropical cyclone status over the southeastern Bahamas. Following is the announcement just issued by the National Hurricane Center earlier this morning
WTNT64 KNHC 241019
TROPICAL STORM CRISTOBAL TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042014
620 AM AST SUN AUG 24 2014
...DEPRESSION STRENGTHENS TO A TROPICAL STORM...
NOAA AND AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT DATA INDICATE
THAT THE DEPRESSION HAS STRENGTHENED TO TROPICAL STORM CRISTOBAL.
THE MAXIMUM WINDS ARE ESTIMATED TO BE 45 MPH...75 KM/H WITH HIGHER
SUMMARY OF 620 AM AST...1020 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 40 MI...60 KM NNW OF MAYAGUANA ISLAND
ABOUT 120 MI...190 KM ESE OF LONG ISLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...45 MPH...75 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 325 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1002 MB...29.59 INCHES
Cristobal is much better organized this morning and it shows potential for further strengthening over the next day or so as its forecast track takes it first on a northward track, and eventually on a gradual turn toward the northeast paralleling the USA Atlantic coastline in the next few days.
Looking eastward toward the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern Atlantic and Equatorial Africa there is some slight increase in tropical weather activity over ‘hurricane alley’ and the ‘tropical wave assembly line’. Satellite imagery taken earlier this morning show several stormy weather cells marching westward.
The historical peak of the annual Atlantic hurricane season is approaching, so the possibility is there for increased activity over the next 3 to 4 weeks. All interest around the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, in Florida, and the U.S.A. Atlantic coastline will do well to remain alert, be prepared and keep practicing mitigation as we keep an eye on the northern tropical Atlantic and the tropical-wave nursery over Equatorial Africa. We still have more than 50% of the official 2014 Atlantic hurricane season ahead of us.
Now that Tropical Storm IRENE, the ninth-named tropical cyclone of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, has generated in the extreme eastern Caribbean the data-crunching by the prediction models is is busy following the path of the storm trying to determine where it might go and where it could be five days from now. These models used by the National Hurricane Center require continuous input from satellite observations, from surface observations made by oceangoing ships in or near the path of the storm, and also from observations and data captured by especially equipped airplanes, the so-called hurricane hunters, which fly through the cyclone in a zig-zag pattern at an altitude of 3,000 meters and others that flight around the perimeter of the storm at much higher altitudes.
The end result of these model runs is not only the graphic representation of the projected storm track as a cone of uncertainty which is used by emergency management and civil protection authorities to issue alerts, watches and warnings for the public, but also information about sustained wind speeds, potential wind gusts, minimum central atmospheric pressure, amount of precipitation, potential for strengthening or weakening as the storm progresses. Over the years predictions by the National Hurricane Center based on these models, especially the projected three-day track, have improved considerably becoming more accurate over recent years. Despite this improvement in track prediction, the five-day forecast still carries a high degree of uncertainty, which is why the cone of uncertainty gets rounder and wider toward the end of any given five-day prediction.
With respect to Tropical Storm IRENE the model runs have resulted in a track that has the tropical cyclone strengthening over the next 24-48 hours, perhaps even reaching hurricane strength as it approaches a predicted landfall in Hispaniola. At this point an assessment of the coupled ocean-atmosphere environment around and ahead of the storm suggest it may survive its interaction with topography as it traverses over Haiti and Cuba to reorganize, and perhaps strengthen again to hurricane strength, over the Bahamas and Florida straits for another landfall somewhere in south Florida.
Based f current projections Florida is a target for Tropical Storm IRENE, possibly as a hurricane by then, toward the end of this week. Because this projected impact on Florida is toward the end of the five-day track the degree of uncertainty as to the exact region of landfall, its intensity at the time, or whether there will be a land fall at all or not in South Florida, remains quite high. Such uncertainty notwithstanding, the prudent action for all South Florida interests is to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm IRENE closely over the next 2-3 days, be on the alert, make preparations and concentrate of ways to mitigate any potential impact if and when it takes place. In fact all interests around the Caribbean sub-basin, particularly along the eastern periphery of the Caribbean sea, and in the Bahamas and South Florida, will do well to pay close attention as IRENE evolves and moves over the next 24-72 hours.
Those of us who call South Florida home will do well to keep an eye on what happens with Tropical Storm IRENE over the next few days, especially when our region enters the three-day cone of uncertainty toward mid week. In the mean time Pay Attention! Be Prepared!! MITIGATE!!!
UPDATE: Sunday 21 August 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
Tropical storm IRENE has found a favorable environment and it has gotten better organized and strengthened during the day today. The most significant development with IRENE today is a slight shift of its track toward the north, which will bring it for a possible landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico and a more northerly track over Hispaniola and Cuba, and faster forward movement along its track. Should these changes hold the risk of landfall near the large urban area in southeast Florida increases, although the margin of error this far away is quite high, in the order of 320 – 400 kilometers either way.
Following is the modified track as published by the Navy Research Laboratory, which when compared to the one posted earlier [above] shows what has been described.