Tag Archives: National Hurricane center

Dangerous Hurricane IRMA is heading toward our neck-of-the-woods!

Infrared GOES satellite view of 27 August 2017 showing Harvey over Texas, and a few tropical waves and other potential future tropical cyclones over the northern Atlantic basin. One of these tropical waves in particular, the one just emerging over the east Atlantic in this image, was the actual ‘seed’ that generated Hurricane IRMA.

Eight days ago, on 27 August 2017,  just as we watched the catastrophe of Hurricane HARVEY unfolding in Texas, a strong tropical wave originally formed near the head of the Nile River in eastern Africa fed by moisture from the Indian Ocean, emerged over the waters of the East Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands already exhibiting cyclonic tendencies. At the time I submitted this particular system warranted our attention and close monitoring by all hurricane-vulnerable interests around the Atlantic basin.

Infrared GOES EAST satellite image (NOAA) of Monday 4 September 2017 showing a strengthening Hurricane IRMA over the central Atlantic, as well as tropical waves chasing it for the east , and another potentially cyclonic disturbance in the Bay of Campeche in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

As of today Monday 4 September 2017, LABOR DAY!, after having traveled more than 9,000 km this system is major Hurricane IRMA over the Central Atlantic moving toward the Lesser Antilles and possibly the USA coastal region.

Visible light satellite image (Courtesy of NASA) of 4 September 2017 showing major Hurricane IRMA, as a well organized, symmetrical, compact tropical cyclone, with a clearly defined eye as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico.

Major Hurricane IRMA looks quiet organized this morning of Monday 4 September 2017, LABOR DAY!, with a distinct central eye, a round and symmetric shape, and dense bands of rain and thunderstorms.

Projected five-day track for Hurricane IRMA issues by the National Hurricane Center during its 0500 advisory on Monday 4 September 2017

The forecast track by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has shifted somewhat southward for the next 3 – 5 days bringing it closer to the Antilles. Florida remains within the ‘cone of uncertainty’ this far out, so this is the time to review your emergency plans. Regarding IRMA’s projected track over coming days it is important to note that there are other tracks developed by various agencies, which vary from that posted by the NHC. For example, the track projected by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory shows a more northerly route than that of the NHC, which shifts the cone of uncertainty more toward mainland Florida and our neck-of-the-woods here in southeastern Florida. This discrepancies between projected tracks illustrate the difficulty in predicting where a hurricane may actually go, and the fact that  the longer the forecast goes into the future in term of how many days it covers the larger the uncertainty is.

Projected five-day track for Hurricane IRMA developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as of 4 September 2017. Notice the slight differences with the track from the NHC posted above.

The important thing is to be aware that hurricane forecasting is not an exact science, and despite all the satellite tools, hurricane hunter data provided by airplanes flying into and around the storm, and the years of experience and expertise of forecasters at the NHC,  it is just not possible to exactly predict where a hurricane will make landfall. Consequently the best approach for those residing in vulnerable communities is to monitor the advisories regularly and closely, and to pay attention to instructions from local emergency management officials.

So, get ready. Be prepared. MITIGATE! Also, keep an eye on the strong tropical waves chasing after IRMA over the Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa and inland over Equatorial Africa. The entire system is loaded with ‘seeds’ for potential cyclonic activity.

OUR TROPICS: Something is stirring!

Tropical Depression #4 in the eastern East Pacific, off the Pacific coast of Mexico and a couple of low pressure systems, one just 370 km (230 miles) east of Jacksonville, Florida are signs that something may be ‘afoot’ in our neck-of-the-woods.

Infrared color-enhanced GOES WEST satellite image (NOAA) on 29 June 2014 showing a tropical depression chased by a low pressure system over the eastern east Pacific off the coast of Mexico
Infrared color-enhanced GOES WEST satellite image (NOAA) on 29 June 2014 showing a tropical depression chased by a low pressure system over the eastern east Pacific off the coast of Mexico

TD #4 is near Acapulco, Mexico in the same region that has recently generated other tropical activity during the 2014 East Pacific Hurricane Season, which officially activated  on 15 May 2014. The system which is moving generally WNW at 26 kph (16 mph) is being ‘chased’ by a large low pressure cell near the coast that may be showing some cyclonic tendencies. While both these east Pacific storms are moving away fro the mainland, vast amounts of rain and potential flooding is possible along the coastal region in central/southern Mexico.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES EAST satellite image (NOAA) from 29 June 2014 showing a low-pressure system tracking parallel to Florida's east coast
Color-enhanced infrared GOES EAST satellite image (NOAA) from 29 June 2014 showing a low-pressure system tracking parallel to Florida’s east coast

Closer to us, here in Florida, there is a low pressure system some 370 km (230 miles) east of Jacksonville that is moving generally southward paralleling the coastline. This system is tracking in a favorable ocean-atmosphere environment and showing some potential for cyclonic development in the course of the next couple of days. The National Hurricane Center is investigating this system.

Composite infrared full-disc satellite image (NASA) showing Earth's western hemisphere on 29 June 2014
Composite infrared full-disc satellite image (NASA) showing Earth’s western hemisphere on 29 June 2014

Zooming out to look at the larger North Atlantic basin and parts of the Pacific we can see the outline of the ‘belt of tropical activity’ gradually getting more defined and gradually shifting northward. It is clear we must monitor all of these systems closely, while remaining prepared and alert. Practice MITIGATION!