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.
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.
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.
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!
In the course of just over one week since SANDY generated from a tropical depression in the Caribbean, became a tropical storm and reached hurricane strength as it hit Jamaica and then Cuba, also affecting Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It then continued over the Bahamas, creating concerns among residents of Florida as all of the peninsula’s east coast found itself within the “cone of uncertainty“used by The National Hurricane Center to surround the predicted track of a tropical cyclone.
In moving over The Bahamas hurricane SANDY began following what could best be described as a zigzagging track, first aiming toward the northwest paralleling the coast of Florida, but then turned north and later on toward the northeast paralleling the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, only to start describing another turn to the north and then the northwest aiming toward the mid-Atlantic and northeastern coastline of the USA.
In the process of meandering over the western Atlantic following the USA coastline Hurricane SANDY also began growing in size until it has become quite a large storm menacing hundreds of miles of USA coastline from North Carolina to Maine. It appears storm surge will be the main hazard as this behemoth of a tropical cyclone interacts with the numerous bays, sounds, inlets and other topography along the coastal region, which generate a funneling effect on the rushing waters contributing to storm surge and waves of enormous height. However, inland flooding and strong winds will also add to the impact, and could cause sever damage and human suffering.
With SANDY being the 19th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season are we already seeing the last of the season? Is this the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season going out with a bang, or is there more fuel left in the tropics so that we may still see additional cyclonic activity in days and weeks to come? After all the “official” season, as if Mother Nature really pays attention to this, still has more than four weeks left to go.
Regarding the possibility of more fuel left in the tropics to support additional tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic, there are currently two tropical waves moving along hurricane alley that may warrant paying attention to over coming days, for any signs of potential further development.
Elsewhere in the world, there is tropical cyclone activity in the South China Sea at the northwestern extreme of the Pacific Ocean, where Typhoon Son-Tinhis making landfall over Viet Nam over the Gulf of Tonkin near Haiphong and Hanoi. Also in the Pacific there is a good sized tropical wave half way between Hawaii and the Philippines while closer to our region, over the Eastern Pacific, there is a large elongated cell of disturbed weather and low pressure extending from just off-shore Central America to about 1,000 kilometers SSW of Acapulco, Mexico, which may show some potential for cyclonic development.
There is also plenty of stormy weather over the northern Indian Ocean where we see a large cell of low pressure, showing some signs of potential cyclonic activity, over the southern end of the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of India near Madras and the nation of Sri Lanka, which may warrant close monitoring over the next couple of days. On the other side of the subcontinent, off the west coast of India over the Arabian Sea there are some areas of disturbed weather that may warrant monitoring.
The southern hemisphere is relatively quiet at this time, except for a couple of areas near New Zealand and over Australia, although there are large areas of disturbed weather and strong winds near the extreme southern latitudes.
How damaging will the impact of Hurricane SANDY be over the USA? Is SANDY the last activity of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season? How much more cyclonic activity will there be in the northern hemisphere? When will the southern hemisphere start to see more tropical cyclones? How will 2012 rate in terms of total tropical cyclone activity worldwide compared to previous years? Yes, there are a number of questions that we would like to have answered, but we will have to wait until after the end of the year for some of those answers.