First Alert Weather

Talking the Tropics With Mike: Low pressure could become Ophelia before reaching N. Carolina coast

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*** LOCAL (Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.) IMPACTS FROM THE TROPICS: Developing low pressure through Fri. east/northeast of Florida will cause gusty winds, coastal heavy showers, rough seas & surf along with at a very high rip current risk through Friday. More significant impacts for the Carolina’s Fri. night into the weekend as the low tries to become at least subtropical & possibly purely tropical.

The Atlantic Basin Overview:

** Nigel” is accelerating northeast over the N. Atlantic....

** A strong tropical wave over the E. Atlantic at a lower latitude than Nigel’s track has the potential for eventual development...

** Low pressure developing east/northeast of Florida may become Ophelia before reaching the Carolina coast...

(1) Tropical depression #15 formed over the Central Atlantic last Friday & was upgraded to “Nigel” Sat. evening & became a hurricane - the 6th of the Atlantic season - early Mon. Nigel is now weakening over cooler water & increasing shear while accelerating to the northeast over the open Atlantic where it’ll soon be post-tropical.

Nigel was the 14th named storm of the Atlantic season.... the 10th named storm on avg. develops on Sept. 22nd & 14 named storms is the avg. of a whole season (June 1 - Nov. 30).

(2) A strong tropical wave near the coast of Africa may slowly develop while moving west. Heads-up for the Caribbean by the middle of next week. The GFS model shows a strong system nearing Puerto Rico by Wed. while the European turn this wave sooner to the north. Something to closely monitor.

(3) Low pressure is developing east of Florida & north of the Bahamas & may become tropical before reaching the N. Carolina coast Saturday.

A Tropical Storm WARNING: Cape Fear NC to Fenwick Island DE ... Chesapeake Bay south of Smith Point ... Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds A Storm Surge WATCH: Surf City NC to Chincoteague VA ... Chesapeake Bay south of Smith Point ... Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Forecast models are in pretty good agreement on low pressure developing east/northeast of Florida, a little more offshore (to the east) than earlier this week. Movement will generally be to the north/northwest with a move at least very near the N. Carolina coast over the weekend if not inland a bit. From there the low wall continue north to Chesapeake Bay then near & off the New England coast.

The low will be over or near the very warm Gulf stream for a time & may very well become tropical before reaching the coast.

This is a situation to watch as “in-close” tropical development does fit the pattern with a rather strong high to the north. If the low can stay far enough offshore long enough then a tropical or subtropical system (”Ophelia”) could form.

Regardless of development... nor’easter conditions will occur Thu./Fri. for coastal NE Fl. & SE Ga. with gusty onshore (out of the east/northeast) flow/winds along with some primarily coastal heavy shower bands, rough seas & surf & dangerous rip currents. Conditions will gradually improve over the weekend & rain will diminish by Friday as drier gets pulled southward into the area on the backside of the low. Rainfall amounts should average a half inch to an inch near the coast... trailing off significantly more inland to the west of I-95.

Anyone traveling to - or living in - the Carolina’s northward to New England should stay up to date on the latest forecasts.

NE Fl./SE Ga. rainfall forecasts from the GFS & European model respectively:

Rainfall forecast for the next 5 days:

Nigel:

Check out the upper oceanic heat content (UOHC) [tropical cyclone heat potential/TCHP] across the SW Atlantic, Gulf & Caribbean. The warmth is very deep. But keep in mind warm ocean temps. alone doesn’t necessarily equate to a “big” hurricane season (need other ingredients & factors to be favorable too) but it’s obvious there is a lot of very warm water at great depths over the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico stretching eastward all the way into the Central Atlantic:

Water vapor loop (dark blue/yellow is dry mid & upper level air):

July tropical cyclone origins:

Averages below based on climatology for the Atlantic Basin for August:

Wind shear:


Saharan dust spreads west each year from Africa by the prevailing winds (from east to west over the Atlantic). Dry air - yellow/orange/red/pink. Widespread dust is indicative of dry air that can impede the development of tropical cyclones. However, sometimes “wanna’ be” waves will just wait until they get to the other side of - or away from - the plume then try to develop if other conditions are favorable. In my personal opinion, way too much is made about the presence of Saharan dust & how it relates to tropical cyclones. In any case, the peak of Saharan dust typically is in June & July.

2023 names..... “Ophelia” is the next name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years). Historic storms are retired [Florence & Michael in ’18... Dorian in ’19 & Laura, Eta & Iota in ‘20, Ida in ‘21 & Fiona & Ian in ‘22]). In fact, this year’s list of names is rather infamous with “Katrina”, “Rita” & “Wilma” retired from the ‘05 list & “Harvey”, “Irma”,“Maria” & “Nate” from the ‘17 list. The WMO decided - beginning in 2021 - that the Greek alphabet will be no longer used & instead there will be a supplemental list of names if the first list is exhausted (has only happened three times - 2005, 2020 & 2021). The naming of tropical cyclones began on a consistent basis in 1953. More on the history of naming tropical cyclones * here *.

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content over the Gulf, Caribbean & deep tropical Atlantic. The brighter colors are expanding dramatically as we near the peak of the hurricane season.:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:

Caribbean:

Atlantic Basin wave period forecast for 24, 48, 72 & 96 hours respectively:


East/Central Pacific:

“Kenneth” over the E. Pacific is weakening as the storm gains latitude & moves over cooler water & encounters increasing shear. No threat to any land areas:

West Pacific:

Global tropical activity: