Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog

The Tropics Go Quiet World-Wide

Posted: 3:28 PM GMT on August 29, 2014

Hurricane Cristobal ceased to be at 11 am EDT on Friday, as the storm completed its transition to a powerful extratropical storm. Though Cristobal is no longer a hurricane, it still has hurricane-force winds, and will be a threat to marine interests off the Newfoundland coast today, and to Iceland on Sunday night. With Cristobal's transition to an extratropical storm and the demise of the Eastern Pacific's Tropical Storm Marie earlier today, there are now no named tropical cyclones anywhere in the world--an unusual situation for what is traditionally one of the busiest days of the Northern Hemisphere's tropical cyclone season. This quiet period appears likely to extend though the weekend, as I don't expect any new named storms to form anywhere in the world through Sunday.


Figure 1. MODIS true-color image showing Hurricane Cristobal's off the coast of Massachusetts at approximately 11 am EDT on August 28, 2014. At the time, Cristobal had top winds of 75 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Caribbean disturbance 97L headed towards Mexico
In the Central Caribbean, a tropical wave (designated as 97L by NHC earlier this week, but no longer being labeled as such) is generating disorganized heavy thunderstorms, as seen on visible satellite loops. Wind shear was a high 20 - 30 knots on Friday, and will remain high through Saturday. On Sunday, when the wave will be in the Western Caribbean, shear will fall, but the wave will likely not have enough time to develop before crossing Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The wave should emerge in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche on Monday, and development odds will be higher then. One of our three reliable computer models for predicting tropical storm formation, the GFS, showed some weak development occurring in the Bay of Campeche on Monday and Tuesday. In their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the system 2-day and 5-day development odds of 0% and 20%, respectively. Given the propensity of tropical storms to quickly spin up in the Bay of Campeche, I'd put the 5-day development odds at 40%. If a tropical storm does form in the Bay of Campeche, the most likely track would be to the west-northwest or northwest towards the Mexican coast south of Texas.

New tropical wave off the coast of Africa
A large tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on Friday, and is headed west at about 15 mph. One of the three reliable computer models for predicting tropical storm formation, the UKMET model, predicts some weak development of the wave five days from now, when the storm was predicted to be headed northwest about 700 miles east-northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. In their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the system 2-day and 5-day development odds of 0% and 10%, respectively.


Figure 2. A man wearing a tiny life jacket and clutching a neon green noodle and a pet dog floats on the remains of a house in Waveland, MS, during Hurricane Katrina. The photo was taken from the second floor window of a home, and the water is close to the roof line of the first floor. The home was at an elevation of about 17 feet, and the surge is close to ten feet deep here. There are electric lines running down from a pole to a home from left to right. In the distance on the right is a home with water up to the roof line. The eye is probably overhead, as the water is relatively calm and there appears to be little wind or rain, even though the pine trees are bent from the recent force of the eyewall winds. The photo was taken by Judith Bradford. Her husband, Bill Bradford, swam out and rescued the man and his dog, and two other people who floated by. He reported that the water was nothing like white water, but was a gentle, continuous flow. He was lucky. In the nearby Porteaux Bay area, a woman watched her fiance get pulled from a tree by the force of the current. The man was washed out into the Gulf and drowned. The image above is described in more detail in Part 9 of Margie Kieper's Katrina storm surge web page.

Ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
August 29 is a date indelibly etched into the memory of millions, for on this date in 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on the Mississippi coast, bringing incredible destruction and suffering. The scale and intensity of the destruction the hurricane brought was extraordinary, and can best be appreciated by viewing two of the best chronicles of Katrina's record storm surge--Margie Kieper's remarkable city-by-city aerial tour of the destruction, and extreme weather photographer Mike Thiess' 13-minute video of his storm surge experience in Gulfport, Mississippi. I had only been blogging for four months when Katrina struck, and was happy that hurricane expert Steve Gregory was on hand that summer to share the blogging effort. Steve has not been blogging since that epic season, but is now back as a featured blogger on wunderground. He plans to provide regular updates on the Atlantic tropical weather at least three times per week.

Nola.com has an interesting feature that allows you to swipe the photos taken nine years ago and see Hurricane Katrina disaster dissolve into present-day recovery (thanks go to wunderground member patrap for this link.)

Jeff Masters
About This Author:
Jeff Masters co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. at Michigan. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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