Hurricane Henri Aiming for Long Island

Hurricane Henri continues to move up the East Coast with eastern Long Island or Rhode Island apparently in its sights for Sunday.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Henri. Loop provided by NOAA.

Henri strengthened into a hurricane this morning with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph. As of 5pm it was centered about 335 miles south of Montauk Point, Long Island, moving toward the north-northeast at 18 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect across central and eastern Long Island, and along the south coast of New England from New Haven, CT to Westport, MA, including Block Island. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect west of New Haven to Manasquan Inlet, NJ, including western Long Island and New York City. A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect east of Westport, MA to Chatham, MA, including Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. A Storm Surge Warning in effect from Flushing, NY to Chatham, MA, including most of Long Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Forecast track for Hurricane Henri. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

There is a little more confidence in the forecast this afternoon, but still some some uncertainty. Henri is being steered north-northeastward by a ridge of high pressure to its east and a developing upper-level low over the Mid-Atlantic states. With less wind shear and warmer waters beneath it, Henri may strengthen a bit more over the next 6-12 hours while continuing northward. At that point, the question becomes – does Henri feel the influence of the upper-level low and bend northwestward, or does it continue off to the north? This will have significant implications to where it makes landfall and what conditions we can expect across the region. The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center has landfall Sunday afternoon near Montauk just below hurricane strength. The forecast models have shifted eastward a bit today, showing landfall anywhere from Central Long Island to as far east as Cape Cod. However, over the past 18 hours, the forecast models have trended a bit more to the east. Right now, our thinking is that landfall will be somewhere between extreme eastern Long Island and Narragansett Bay Sunday afternoon. With Henri weakening over colder waters as it approaches the coast, it will likely be a strong tropical storm at landfall, though there is a chance it could still be a minimal hurricane.

There is still a wide range of landfall possibilities among the various members of the GFS and ECMWF Ensembles. Image provided by Tomer Burg.

Once inland, Henri will rapidly weaken, but the track still will have an impact on the forecast. If it turns northwest, it will eventually stall out and then head eastward, but this will prolong the rainfall across the region, especially north and west of the track. Much of the region has received very heavy rain over the past 2 months. This has saturated the soil. As a result, some trees may be more susceptible than usual to winds of this strength, which may result in more widespread wind damage. The heavy rains will also lead to flooding, especially from western New England into parts of southeastern New York and Long Island.

Most of the models agree that the heaviest rain will be across western New England, southeastern New York, and Long Island. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

To the east of the track, rainfall will just be spotty, with some gusty winds, mainly confined to coastal areas, where some gusts of 40-50 mph are possible. This is also where a storm surge of 3-5 feet on top of astronomical high tides will result in some coastal flooding, especially in parts of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. East of the track is also where we will need to keep an eye out for some short-lived tornadoes. Many landfalling tropical cyclones produce small tornadoes in the right-front quadrant of the storm. For a northward-moving storm like this, that means areas north and east of the center.

A storm surge of 3-5 feet may result in flooding from Long Island Sound to Cape Cod. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Once Henri dissipates, the Atlantic looks a bit more quiet for now. However, we’re approaching the peak of hurricane season, so the quiet period likely won’t last that long.

Henri Heads for the Hamptons, Grace Grows Greatly

Tropical Storm Henri has made the long-awaited northerly turn and now is heading towards New England or Long Island while Hurricane Grace has rapidly strengthened as it nears the coast of Mexico.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Henri. Loop provided by NOAA.

As of 11pm Friday, Tropical Storm Henri was centered about 615 miles south of Montauk, New York, moving toward the north at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 70 mph. Henri is expected to strengthen for the next 24 hours or so as wind shear begins to lessen and the storm remains over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Henri will likely become a hurricane on Saturday.

Watches and Warnings are in effect for a large portion of the Northeast coast. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

With a ridge of high pressure building in to the east of Henri, and an upper-level low pressure area developing over the Great Lakes, Henri will be steered northward for the next 24 hours, Beyond that, the upper-level low will start pull Henri northwestward and slow it down as it begins to approach Long Island or Southern New England. Since it will be over cooler water at that time, it will begin to weaken. Current forecasts show that Henri may still be a minimal hurricane at landfall, but there is also a good chance that it may weaken to a tropical storm by the time it reaches land.

The various members of the GFS and ECMWF Ensembles show landfall anywhere from New York City to Cape Cod. Image provided by Tomer Burg.

Although the exact track and intensity are still in question, the general impacts should be similar to most tropical systems that impact the Northeast. These systems tend to become lopsided, with the strongest winds mainly to the right of the center, and most of the rain shifting to the left of the track. The current forecast of a track towards eastern Long Island would mean that gusty winds and the highest storm surge would impact parts of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod. The storm surge will be compounded by the fact that with a full moon on Sunday, tides will be astronomically high, exacerbating any storm surge flooding. The western track would also mean that the heaviest rain and greatest threat of freshwater flooding, would shift to Long Island, western portions of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and eastern New York.

Expected peak storm surge associated with Henri. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

While the winds won’t be particularly strong across much of Southern New England, tree damage could be more extensive that you’d normally expect. It has been a very wet summer across the region, with many places receiving 10-20 inches since the beginning of July. As a result, the ground is saturated across much of the area, so it won’t take strong winds to knock trees over. It also will result in more extensive flooding in areas that receive heavy rain.

Rainfall totals of 4-8 inches are possible where the heaviest rain falls. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

As the steering currents weaken late Sunday and Sunday night, Henri or what’s left of it, may stall out across western New England or eastern New York, then eventually start moving eastward, bringing more rain to parts of central and northern New England. Conditions will improve from west to east on Monday as the storm departs and high pressure starts to build into the region.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Grace. Loop provided by NOAA.

Meanwhile, in the Bay of Campeche, Hurricane Grace rapidly intensified into the Category 3 Hurricane this evening, with maximum sustained winds near 105 mph. As of 11pm, Grace was centered approximately 75 miles east-southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico, moving toward the west at 10 mph. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Mexican coastline from Puerto Veracruz to Cabo Rojo. Grace may strengthen a little more before it makes landfall in Mexico overnight, with storm surge and strong winds likely near the coastline. Rainfall totals of 6-12 inches and heavier will result in flooding and mudslides across the region.

Weekend Outlook: August 20-23, 2021

Who’s ready for a nice quiet weekend weatherwise? Might I suggest a trip to Los Angeles then, because you’re not going to get one here, with or without Henri.

The remains of Tropical Storm Fred will continue to pull away this evening, but a few showers are still possible, otherwise, we’ll start to dry out a little overnight. However, warm and humid conditions will remain in place on Friday, with plenty of clouds and some sunny breaks, and possibly a few showers or thunderstorms. Saturday looks to be similar with some sunshine, but also some showers and thunderstorms possible as a warm and humid airmass remains in place. This brings us to Sunday and Monday, which is entirely dependent on the track of Henri.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Henri. Loop provided by NOAA.

As of 11am Thursday, Tropical Storm Henri was centered about 810 miles south of Nantucket, moving toward the west at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 70 mph. An Air Force Reconnaissance aircraft is investigating the storm right now to assess the true strength and structure of it. This should help improve the forecasts for the storm. Henri is fighting off some northerly wind shear as it moves around the edge of a ridge of high pressure, which is preventing it from strengthening. As it reaches the edge of the ridge tomorrow, it should turn more northward, and the shear will lessen. Combined with the fact that it will be over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream means that it should strengthen into a hurricane. As the same time, an upper-level low pressure area will develop over the Great Lakes, helping to steer Henri northward as well. This is where the largest uncertainty comes into play, and it has a giant impact on the forecast. Does the combination of the low to the west and ridge to the east remain strong and keeping Henri on a northward track, or does the ridge weaken a bit and allow Henri to turn more toward the northeast? If that wasn’t enough to complicate things, we also need to see how fast Henri is traveling at that point. The water off the Northeast coast is not warm enough to sustain a tropical system, so it will start to weaken. The faster it is moving, the less time it will have to weaken before reaching our latitude. These are questions that we can’t answer yet.

Forecast track for Henri from the various members of the GFS Ensemble. Image provided by Weathernerds.org

Since Henri formed, our thinking all along has been that it would pass close to or just south and east of Cape Cod, close enough for some impact across the Cape and Islands at least. That remains a plausible scenario. There are plenty of models that have landfall across Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts as either a hurricane or strong tropical storm, and others that show no landfall and keep the storm offshore. Either way, it’s important to remember that as storms reach this latitude, they become lopsided, with most of the heavy rain to the left of the center, and the stronger winds confined to the right of the center. So, a track near or just off the Cape would spare most of the region from the strong winds, but result in heavy rainfall, especially across eastern Massachusetts. A track across southeastern Massachusetts would bring strong winds onto the Cape and Islands, and shift the heavy rain inland a bit more. The track will also impact the storm surge. With a full moon on Sunday, we’re already going to have astronomical high tides, which can create some coastal flooding on their own in spots. Add in a storm surge, and significant coastal flooding is likely, especially just to the right of the storm track. With all of these things possible, the National Hurricane Center will likely issue a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watch for parts of the region on Friday.

Probability of tropical storm fore winds and the most likely arrival time. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Most of the impacts from Henri are likely from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning, but again, this is dependent on the track and speed of the storm. Either way, conditions should start to improve Monday afternoon as Henri begins to pull away.

Thursday night: Partly to mostly cloudy, a few showers possible during the evening. Low 66-73.

Friday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine, chance for a shower or thunderstorm. High 79-86. Offshore: Southwest 10-15 knots, gusts to 20 knots seas 3-5 feet.

Friday night: Partly cloudy, patchy fog may develop. Low 66-73.

Saturday: Partly sunny, a few showers and thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon. High 81-88. Offshore: Southeast 5-10 knots, seas 2-4 feet.

Saturday night: Mostly cloudy. Low 65-72.

Sunday: Cloudy and becoming breezy with some showers developing, possibly becoming a steadier and heavier rain late in the day. High 72-79. Offshore: Tropical storm conditions likely

Sunday night: Breezy to perhaps windy with rain, possibly heavy. Low 62-69.

Monday: Diminishing winds with rain tapering off to showers and ending, some sunny breaks may develop in the afternoon. High 74-81. Offshore: Tropical storm conditions likely, subsiding late in the day.

Double the Storms, Double the Fun

What’s left of Tropical Storm Fred is dumping heavy rain on parts of the Mid-Atlantic states this afternoon, but there are still two active tropical systems in the Atlantic, and both could cause significant problems.

Satellite loop showing Hurricane Grace south of Cuba and Tropical Storm Henri southwest of Bermuda. Loop provided by NOAA.

Hurricane Grace is the more immediate threat. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Grace was centered about 295 miles east of Tulum, Mexico, moving toward the west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a Tropical Storm Warning for other portions of the Yucatan as well as the Cayman Islands.

Forecast track for Hurricane Grace. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Grace’s forecast is fairly straightforward. It should strengthen a bit more today and tonight before making landfall in the Yucatan early Thursday. It should weaken a bit over land, then move back into the Bay of Campeche late Thursday. It will likely strengthen again, likely regaining hurricane status before a second landfall in Mexico late Friday or early Saturday between Veracruz and Tampico. Strong winds, torrential rainfall that will lead to flooding and mudslides, and storm surge flooding are all expected across the region.

Grace will bring torrential rainfall to parts of Mexico over the next several days. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Grace produced heavy rain and flooding over the past several days from the Leeward Islands across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, into Hispaniola, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and parts of Cuba. Rainfall totals of up to 10 inches were observed in some areas. While winds haven’t been a huge factor thus far for much of the region, wind gusts exceeded 50 mph on Jamaica, with some gusts to near hurricane force reported in the Cayman Islands this morning as Grace pulled away.

While Grace is preparing to slam into the Yucatan, all eyes here in New England are focused on Tropical Storm Henri. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Henri was centered about 190 miles southwest of Bermuda, or 795 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, moving toward the west at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph. Some slow strengthening is expected, and Henri could become a hurricane over the next few days.

Radar from Bermuda shows Henri’s path around the islands. Loop provided by Brian McNoldy, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School

Henri’s future track is highly uncertain at this point. With a ridge of high pressure to the north and east, it should continue westward for the next day or so before it reaches the western edge of the ridge and begins to turn northward. At the same time, an upper-level low pressure area will begin to develop over the Great Lakes. These two features will combine to send Henri up the East Coast, but that’s where the uncertainty really begins. Some models have Henri continue moving around the ridge and turning northeastward, either heading out to sea or possibly impacting parts of Atlantic Canada. Some models have the upper low strengthen a bit more and the ridge build back in, allowing Henri to keep heading north, possibly even turning toward the northwest like Sandy did, which would result in landfall across New England or Long Island. Given that this is still around 4 days or so away from any potential impact, it is just too early to tell which scenario is more likely. Either way, residents of Southern New England should keep a close eye on Henri’s progress.

The various members of the GFS Ensemble show the wide range in potential tracks for Henri. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

With the forecast as it is, and knowing how the media can be, we are issuing an Extreme Hype Watch for the region. An Extreme Hype Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for media hype of an event to reach extreme levels within the next 48-72 hours. If conditions warrant, a Hype Advisory or Extreme Hype Warning will be issued as the event draws nearer.

Tomorrow marks 30 years since Hurricane Bob made landfall near Newport, Rhode Island. The 30 years is the 2nd longest we’ve ever gone without a hurricane landfall in New England or Long Island.

  • Since 1851, a hurricane has made landfall in New England or Long Island 18 times, an average of one every 9.4 years. The longest we’ve ever gone between hurricane landfalls is 38 years, between 1896 and 1934. It’s been 30 years since Bob, our 2nd longest drought on record. (Of the 18 hurricanes that made landfall in New England or Long Island since 1851, 15 of them have done so between August 19 and September 27.)
  • Since 1851, 9 hurricanes of Category 2 intensity or stronger have made landfall in New England or Long Island, an average of one every 18.9 years. The longest we’ve gone between hits by storms of that intensity is 69 years, between 1869 and 1938. We’re at 30 years since Bob, the last one to do so.
  • Since 1851, New England/Long Island has had 3 Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) make landfall – an unnamed storm in October of 1869, the infamous 1938 Long Island Express, and Hurricane Carol in 1954. That’s an average of 1 every 56.7 years, and the longest time between 2 major hurricanes is 69 years (1869-1938). We’re at 67 years since Carol. There are also 3 documented storms from before 1851 – The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, the 1815 New England Hurricane, and the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821. That’s it. That changes the numbers to 6 in 386 years, or one every 64.3 years, with a longest drought of 180 years.
Satellite photo of Hurricane Bob approaching New England. Bob was the last hurricane to make landfall in New England – 30 years ago. Image provided by NOAA.

There is some history involving New England and the two current names, Grace and Henri. In 1991, Grace was a hurricane off the East Coast in late September. As it moved northward, it was absorbed by a much larger extratropical system which eventually started moving south and then southwest off the coast of New England. This became the “No-Name Halloween Storm”, or as the book and movie were later titled – ‘The Perfect Storm”. Grace was a new addition to the name list in 1991, as the previous “G” storm had its name retired. That storm was Gloria in 1985, which slammed into Long Island on September 27. As for Henri, it also hit New England in 1985, a few days before Gloria. Most people don’t remember it for two reasons. First, it was very weak – it weakened to a tropical depression right at landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island on September 24 and rapidly dissipated. It did not produce much rain or wind across the region. Second, all eyes were on the much more powerful Hurricane Gloria which was starting to move up the East Coast

The Atlantic is Active Again

There are now three active systems in the Atlantic and two more in the Pacific. All but one are a threat to land.

Satellite loop showing Fred nearing the Florida Panhandle, Grace over Haiti, and TD 8 near Bermuda. Loop provided by NOAA.

The most immediate threat is Tropical Storm Fred. After sputtering over Cuba this past weekend, Fred emerged into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and has become better organized. As of early Monday afternoon, Fred was centered about 35 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, moving toward the north at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 65 mph. Tropical Storm Warnings and Storm Surge Warnings are in effect for parts of the Florida Gulf Coast. Fred may strengthen a little more before it makes landfall late this afternoon or evening. Once inland, it should rapidly weaken. The main threats from Fred are strong winds, heavy rain, and storm surge, along with the possibility of a few tornadoes.

Radar shows the center of Fred approaching the Florida Panhandle. Loop provided by Weathermodels.com

Fred will produce 4-8 inches of rain across parts of Florida and southern Georgia, with some locally heavier amounts. As it moves inland and weakens, the moisture will start to interact with a frontal system, bringing heavy rain to parts of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic States, and the Appalachians. In these areas, rainfall totals of 3-6 inches and locally heavier will likely lead to flooding over the next few days.

Forecast models show the potential for heavy rain from the Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic states. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

While Fred heads for Florida, Grace may be starting to get its act together near Haiti Grace brought heavy rain to parts of the northeastern Caribbean this weekend, but was very poorly organized. It looks a bit healthier this afternoon as it nears the south coast of Haiti. It was centered about 70 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti early Monday afternoon, moving toward the west-northwest at 12 mph. It is still a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for parts of southern Cuba and the Cayman Islands, while Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for Haiti, Jamaica, and parts of southern Cuba.

Grace is expected to continue on a general westward course for the next several days. As it pulls away from Haiti late tonight, it will move over the warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean, and gradual strengthening is expected. The current forecast calls for it to be a strong tropical storm as it approaches the northern Yucatan Peninsula in a few days. Beyond that, a track into the Gulf of Mexico seems likely at this point.

Forecast track for Tropical Depression Grace. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Out in the central Atlantic, Tropical Depression Eight developed late Sunday night. As of early Monday afternoon, it was centered about 140 miles southeast of Bermuda, moving toward the south at 9 mph. Max sustained winds were near 35 mph. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Bermuda. The system is expected to become a tropical storm later today or tonight as it turns westward and rides around a ridge of high pressure. Eventually, it will turn back to the north and northeast and head out into the open Atlantic. There is a slight chance that it could impact the East Coast, depending on how quickly it makes the turn. It should bring some rough seas to the coastal waters from the Carolinas to New England later this week.

Forecast track for Tropical Depression Eight from the various members of the GFS Ensemble. Image provided by Weathernerds.org.

In the Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Linda still has maximum sustained winds near 105 mph at midday. It was centered about 955 miles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and moving toward the west-southwest at 9 mph. Linda reached Category 4 strength over the weekend, but now is gradually weakening over open water. It should continue on a general west to west-northwest track this week while slowly weakening. It should pass well north and east of Hawaii late this week as a weakening extratropical system, with little impact other than some rough surf.

Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Linda. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Out in the Western Pacific Ocean, Tropical Depression 16W remains fairly weak. It has maximum sustained winds near 25 mph, and is centered about 180 miles east of Guam, moving toward the west at 18 mph. It will bring heavy rain and some gusty winds to the Northern Mariana Islands over the next day or so as it passes very close to Guam.

Forecast track for Tropical Depression 16W. Image provided by the Join Typhoon Warning center.

The system may start to strengthen once it gets past the Northern Marianas and turns a bit more toward the northwest. Some forecasts call for it to become a tropical storm, and possibly a typhoon by the end of the week. Where it will go is highly uncertain at this point. While the official forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has it heading towards Taiwan, various models have it continuing westward to the Philippines, continuing west-northwestward toward Taiwan and/or eastern China, or turning northward and heading toward Japan. It will have to be watched closely later this week.

Weekly Outlook: August 16-23, 2021

We’ve got a nice start to the week with seasonably warm temperatures and low humidity, but changes are coming once again.

After the heat and humidity of last week, much more comfortable air settled in late Saturday, and it will remain in place Tuesday thanks to a large high pressure area. However, as that high slides offshore later on Tuesday southwest winds will start to send humidity levels rising again, but that’s just a taste of what is coming.

Dewpoints will be in the 50s and lower 60s this afternoon. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Much of the remainder of the week looks warm (but not hot) and quite humid, but also unsettled. High pressure will remain anchored offshore, pumping the humid air into the region. Although it will be warm, it won’t be hot, because we’ll actually have plenty of cloudcover at times, along with a daily chance for showers and thunderstorms. Eventually some of the moisture from Fred (more on the tropics down below) should get in here, enhancing the rainfall. We’re not quite going back to our record-breaking wet pattern from July, but some parts of the region could pick up a decent amount of rain during the latter half of the week. The day with the most uncertainty is Sunday, which could end up drier and cooler if a cold front drops southward across the region.

Some of the models show a decent amount of rain between now and Saturday. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

As for the tropics, there are now three systems in the Atlantic that we’re watching. Tropical Storm Fred is expected to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle late tonight or early Tuesday as a strong tropical storm, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if it somehow became a hurricane before landfall. It should rapidly weaken once inland. Tropical Depression Grace is expected to remain weak as it passes close to or over Hispaniola and Cuba over the next few days, assuming it even survives the trip. If it does, it could start to strengthen as it gets into the Gulf of Mexico later this week. Finally, we have Tropical Depression Eight, which formed near Bermuda late Sunday night. It will bring some squally conditions to Bermuda over the next day or two, and should gradually strengthen, but right now, doesn’t look like it’ll impact any other land areas. We’ll have a much more detailed look at the tropics later today in another blog post.

There are three tropical systems to keep an eye on in the Atlantic. Image provided by the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Monday: Sunshine and some high clouds. High 75-82.

Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low 57-64.

Tuesday: Partly sunny. High 78-85.

Tuesday night: Partly to mostly cloudy. Low 64-71.

Wednesday: Plenty of clouds with a few showers or thunderstorms possible. High 77-84.

Thursday: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms. High 77-84.

Friday: Clouds and some sunny breaks with more showers and thunderstorms possible. High 76-83.

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine, with a few showers or thunderstorms around. High 78-85.

Sunday: Partly sunny, chance for more showers and thunderstorms. High 76-83.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this thought. In Montana, temperatures are likely going to top 100 across central and eastern parts of the state today, and again tomorrow. Then a strong cold front is going cross the region later Tuesday and Wednesday. Behind that front, temperatures will be 40-50 degrees cooler than the day before. Oh, but the temperature drop isn’t the only concern. Take Helena, MT for example. The GFS has a forecast high of 96 in Helena today. Tomorrow night, that same model is forecasting a low of 34, accompanied by 5″ of snow.

While Fred Falters, is Grace Growing?

As you might expect, the Atlantic is waking up as we get into mid-August, but it’s not hyperactive just yet. There are also two active storms in the Pacific, and one could be a threat to land.

Satellite loop showing Tropical Depression Fred near Cuba and a developing disturbance east of the Leeward Islands. Loop provided by NOAA.

Tropical Depression Fred remains fairly weak this afternoon near the northern coast of Cuba. It’s centered about 245 miles southeast of Key West, Florida, moving toward the west-northwest at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds are only near 35 mph. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Florida Keys, with a Tropical Storm Watch in effect for parts of southwestern Florida and northern Cuba.

The combination of wind shear and interaction with land has kept Fred weak for the past couple of days, and that will continue for the next 12-24 hours. After that, Fred should turn more toward the northwest and eventually north, crossing the Florida Keys and moving into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This should allow for some strengthening. Fred may regain tropical storm strength, but it does not (at least for now) look like it will become a hurricane before its eventual in the Florida Panhandle late Sunday or early Monday.

Model forecast tracks for Tropical Depression Fred. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

With a track expected to be just off the west coast of Florida, that means that much of the peninsula can expect heavy rain and some gusty winds this weekend. While winds won’t be exceptional, some gusts to 40 mph are possible, especially near the Gulf coast. Rainfall totals of 3-6 inches are expected across the region with some heavier amounts likely. Flood Watches are in effect for parts of the region. The other threat across the area will be for tornadoes. With tropical cyclones, the threat for tornadoes is highest in the right front quadrant of a storm. With a storm moving northward like this one, that means north and east of the center, which in this case will be across much of Florida.

Heavy rain will likely produce flooding in parts of Florida over the next few days. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Fred isn’t the only system in the Atlantic that we’re watching right now. A disturbance centered about 775 miles east of the Leeward Islands is gradually organizing this afternoon. It doesn’t quite have a closed circulation yet, but it is expected to over the next 12-24 hours, so the National Hurricane Center has designated it “Potential Tropical Cyclone Seven”. This designation allows Tropical Storm Watches to be issued for much of the Leeward Islands. For now, it’s not really a storm, but we’ll let NHC play their games. The system is moving westward at 21 mph, and maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph.

Track forecasts from the various members of the GFS Ensemble for the disturbance east of the Leeward Islands. Image provided by Weathernerds.org

The future of this system is uncertain. Some models have it continue westward, across the Leeward Islands and into the eastern Caribbean, following a similar path to Fred, near or just south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, then across Hispaniola. This would keep the system fairly weak. Other models have it a little farther north, passing north of PR/VI and Hispaniola, and into the Bahamas. This would allow for a stronger storm. However, the storm also needs to slow down a bit, or it won’t strengthen that fast, no matter what track it takes. Either way, the system will bring heavy rain and squally conditions to the Leeward Islands on Saturday, and PR/VI through the weekend.

Model intensity forecasts for the disturbance east of the Leeward Islands. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Meanwhile, in the eastern Pacific, Hurricane Linda continues to strengthen. At midday, Linda had maximum sustained winds near 105 mph, and was centered about 430 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, moving toward the west-northwest at 13 mph. Linda may strengthen a bit more over the next day or two, becoming a Major Hurricane during that time frame. After that, it should begin to weaken. Linda will head in a general westerly direction for the next few days, likely remaining over open water. The only impact it will have is large swells moving into the west coast of Mexico, creating hazardous rip currents.

Forecast track for Hurricane Linda. Images provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Out in the Western Pacific, Tropical Storm 16W is starting to gather strength. The system is centered about 235 miles east-northeast of Enewetak, where a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect. It is moving toward the west at 14 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph. It is expected to maintain its current strength through the weekend while heading westward. It may start to strengthen by the end of the weekend, and could become a threat to parts of the Northern Mariana Islands by early next week.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm 16W. Image provided by the National Weather Service office in Guam.

Elsewhere, the tropics remain quiet for now, but that likely won’t last too long as we are rapidly approaching the peak of hurricane season in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Weekend Outlook: August 13-16, 2021

Heat and humidity are here for now, but changes are on the way this weekend.

High pressure remains anchored off the East Coast into Friday, which means that another hot and humid day is on the way. A few showers and thunderstorms may pop up to take the edge off the heat, but they’ll be mainly late in the day. A cold front will move in on Saturday though, with more widespread showers and thunderstorms. Behind the front, much drier and cooler air will start to move in late Saturday. High pressure builds in for Sunday and Monday with seasonably warm and dry conditions.

The heat index may approach 100 across parts of the region again Friday afternoon. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Thursday night: Becoming partly cloudy. Low 69-76.

Friday: Partly to mostly sunny, hot, and humid, a late-day shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 88-95.

Friday night: Partly to mostly cloudy with a few showers or thunderstorms around, mainly during the evening. Low 69-76.

Saturday: Partly sunny, chance for a shower or thunderstorm. High 85-92.

Saturday night: Clear skies. Low 60-67.

Sunday: Sunshine and a few clouds, not as humid. High 77-84.

Sunday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low 55-62.

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 77-84.

Finally – Fred Forms, Florida Fears?

After bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the northeastern Caribbean for a couple of days, a tropical disturbance finally closed off its circulation late last night to earn the designation Tropical Storm Fred.

Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Fred. Loop provided by NOAA.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, Tropical Storm Fred was centered about 30 miles west of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, moving toward the west-northwest at 16 mph. Maximum sustained winds were near 45 mph. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for much of the Dominican Republic, with Tropical Storm Watches in effect for parts of Haiti, eastern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas.

The combination of the center crossing the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and westerly wind shear will keep Fred weak for the next day or two as it heads west-northwestward across Haiti and near the coast of Cuba. Whether the center stays offshore of Cuba or near or just onshore will have an impact on how much the storm starts to re-strengthen. It will produce gusty winds and heavy rain across Hispaniola, eastern Cuba and parts of the Bahamas, leading to flooding and mudslides. Rainfall totals of 3-6 inches and locally heavier are likely.

Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Fred. Image provided by WeatherBell.

By late Friday or Saturday, Fred will start to turn more toward the northwest and north as it rounds the edge of a large ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic. This should bring the storm across the Florida Keys early Saturday, and then into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It should start to strengthen again as it heads toward the northern Gulf Coast. The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Fred to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle early Monday as a strong tropical storm. However, given the average errors in forecasting tropical systems, it could be a hurricane by then. Landfall could also take place as far west as Louisiana, or the system could turn earlier and impact southern or even southeastern Florida. A lot of these variables should become a bit clearer once Fred emerges from Hispaniola early Thursday. It does seem likely that heavy rain will impact at least parts of southern Florida this weekend, with flooding likely. Tropical Storm Watches will likely be issued for at least the Florida Keys, if not parts of southern Florida as well, late tonight or early Thursday.

Model forecast for the intensity of Tropical Storm Fred. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Fred might be the only named system in the Atlantic right now, but it’s not the only system we’re keeping an eye on. There’s a tropical wave several hundred miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. That wave will make its way across the Atlantic over the next several days. It is disorganized at the moment, but conditions should become more favorable for development over the next few days. Some models show to potential for it to become a tropical depression as it nears the Lesser Antilles this weekend. We’ll watch this one over the next few days as it continues its trek westward.

Forecast tracks for the disturbance in the central Atlantic from the various members of the GFS Ensemble. Image provided by Weathernerds.org.

The Atlantic isn’t the only active basin at the moment. In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Kevin is a few hundred miles west-southwest of Baja California, but it is expected to dissipate over open water in the next few days. We also have Tropical Storm Linda, located a few hundred miles off the southwest coast of Mexico. Linda is expected to become a hurricane tonight or Thursday, but will head west-northwestward away from land for the next several days. In the Western Pacific, Tropical Depression 16W is located just west of the International Dateline, but should remain fairly weak as it heads westward over the next few days. It could impact a few islands, such as Enewetak, with squally conditions over the next few days, but in general, it isn’t much of a threat.

Weekly Outlook: August 9-15, 2021

For the first time in a while, we’ve fairly typical summertime weather coming for a large chunk of the upcoming week.

We’ve got a frontal system south of the region today and a wave of low pressure will ride along it, bringing in some showers and cooler than normal temperatures. However, that front will lift northward as a warm front on Tuesday, allowing warm and humid air to move back in for Tuesday. That’s just the appetizer before the main course.

Temperatures will be several degrees below normal across the region today. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

For Wednesday through Friday, we’ll have a Bermuda high sitting offshore, pumping hot and humid weather into the area. Temperatures will get into the 90s across a large portion of the region, with heat indices possibly approaching 100 in many locations. It’ll be a great time to head to the beach, out to the pool, or to sit in the air conditioning. We will have some showers and thunderstorms popping up each afternoon, which will take the edge off the heat in some areas. Any storms that do form could produce some heavy downpours, but widespread severe weather isn’t likely at this time.

The heat index could approach 100 Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. Image provided by WeatherBell.

A cold front will move through on Saturday, bringing an end to the heat. Some showers and thunderstorms may accompany the front, but the timing is still in question. This will have implications for not only temperatures during the day, but whether there is a threat for severe weather or not. High pressure builds in behind the front on Sunday with cooler and drier conditions.

Finally, we’re going to take a look at the tropics, as the Atlantic is showing signs of waking up. There are two areas in the Atlantic that are being monitored right now. The first is a few hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands. This system could get better organized over the next few days and become a tropical depression. It will cross the Leeward Islands later today before heading towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Whether it develops or not, a period of heavy rain and gusty winds is likely from the Lesser Antilles into Puerto Rico Monday into Tuesday. Another tropical wave is located a few hundred miles east of the first disturbance. This one is less organized at the moment, but could develop as it continues westward as well. We’ll keep an eye on both of these, and if anything develops, we’ll likely have a special blog post about it.

The Atlantic is starting to wake up. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

We’re getting into the time of year that we need to start paying attention to the tropics around here. While the storms well out in the Atlantic give us plenty of advance notice that they’re heading this way, it’s the ones like Bob that we really have to worry about in August and September. Bob formed as a tropical depression near the Bahamas on Friday August 16, 1991 and made landfall on the south coast of Rhode Island as a Category 2 Hurricane on Monday afternoon August 19. That’s not a lot of time to prepare for a hurricane.

Storms can form in the Bahamas at this time of year and give us little time to prepare for them. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Monday: Patchy fog early, otherwise more clouds than sunshine, chance for a few showers, favoring the South Coast. High 74-81.

Monday night: Partly to mostly cloudy, some drizzle or fog is likely. Low 62-69.

Tuesday: Partly sunny, slight chance for a late-day shower or thunderstorm, mainly well north and west of Boston. High 78-85.

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low 65-72.

Wednesday: A mix of sun and clouds, chance for a late-day shower or thunderstorm, humid. High 86-93.

Thursday: Partly sunny, breezy, and humid with a few showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening. High 87-94.

Friday: Partly to mostly sunny, chance for a few showers and thunderstorms late in the day, humid. High 86-93.

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sun with scattered showers and thunderstorms likely. High 80-87.

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 76-83.