Still watching for a potential early-season Atlantic subtropical storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:10 PM GMT on May 16, 2009

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The latest 00Z and 12Z runs of the GFS, UKMET, NOGAPS, and ECMWF global dynamical computer models continue to indicate the possibility of an early season subtropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico 3 - 7 days from now. A modest area of low shear air is expected to open up between the polar jet stream to the north and the subtropical jet stream to the south, between Cuba and the northern Gulf of Mexico. The models have not been consistent with the timing or the size of this low shear area, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them back off again from this forecast with Sunday's set of runs. Nevertheless, I'll call once again for a 10% chance of development of a subtropical depression in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 4 - 7 days from now. There isn't much of a disturbance at present to look at--there are some scattered showers between Cuba and Jamaica, but they are under a hefty 30 knots of wind shear. These showers should gradually increase in intensity and areal coverage over the next two days, and phase space diagrams from Florida State University indicate that an extratropical low may form near the western tip of Cuba 2 - 3 days from now. The storm may then gradually transition to a subtropical or tropical system later in the week, if the shear is low enough. Even if the shear is high and the storm remains extratropical, it could be a substantial rain-maker where it comes ashore. The models target the northern Gulf Coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle as the most likely landfall location, but it is too early to place any confidence in this track.

There is also about a 10% chance a subtropical storm may form in the mid-Atlantic a few hundred miles east of Bermuda. There, a large upper-level cold low has cut off from the jet stream, and it may spin in place long enough over the next week to develop a warm core and be classified as a subtropical storm. It is unlikely that a subtropical storm forming that far out in the Atlantic this early in the year would pose a threat to any land areas, with the possible exception of Bermuda.

Climatology of early-season Atlantic tropical cyclones
Tropical storms are uncommon in the Atlantic before June 1, with only 26 named storms on record between 1851 - 2008. Five of these have made it to hurricane strength, and only one--Hurricane Able of 1951--made it to major hurricane status. Last year's Tropical Storm Arthur may be the deadliest May tropical cyclone on record. Though only a 40 mph tropical storm at landfall, Arthur killed five people in Belize and caused $78 million in damage. Three early-season storms have brought hurricane-force winds to land. The March 1908 hurricane swept through the northern Lesser Antilles Islands as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, destroying at least 24 boats and causing damage to buildings on St. Bartholomew. Hurricane Able of 1951 brought sustained winds of 90 - 95 mph to the northern Bahama Islands, but caused little damage. Hurricane 2 of May 1908 hit North Carolina's Outer Banks as a Category 1 hurricane, but also caused little damage.


Figure 1. Tracking map for the earliest hurricane to make landfall, the March 1908 hurricane in the northern Lesser Antilles Islands.

List of all early season (formed in January - May) Atlantic named storms
May 31, 2008: Tropical Storm Arthur
May 6, 2007: Subtropical Storm Andrea
April 18, 2003: Tropical Storm Ana
April 21, 1992: Subtropical Storm 1
May 6, 1981: Tropical Storm Arlene
January 18, 1978: Subtropical Storm 1
May 21, 1976: Subtropical Storm 1
May 23, 1972: Subtropical Storm Alpha
May 17, 1970: Hurricane Alma (Category 1)
May 28, 1959: Tropical Storm Arlene
February 2, 1953: Tropical Storm Alice
May 25, 1952: Tropical Storm 1
May 15, 1951: Hurricane Able (Category 3)
May 22, 1948: Tropical Storm 1
May 19, 1940: Tropical Storm 1
May 27, 1934: Tropical Storm 1
May 14, 1933: Tropical Storm 1
May 5, 1932: Tropical Storm 1
May 13, 1916: Tropical Storm 1
May 24, 1908: Hurricane 2 (Category 1)
March 6, 1908: Hurricane 1 (Category 2)
May 27, 1890: Tropical Storm 1
May 16, 1889: Hurricane 1 (Category 1)
May 17, 1887: Tropical Storm 2
May 15, 1887: Tropical Storm 1
May 30, 1865: Tropical Storm 1

I'll have an update Sunday.

Jeff Masters

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1237. billy305
7:59 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
.
1236. stillwaiting
3:34 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I didn't think we'd be tracking mid-level swirls until there was something in the GOM...
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1235. stillwaiting
3:32 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

WOW! that's right off of the coast of where I am I'm in Jamaica and many clouds are coming in fast from the east



see anything from the west yet???or south???,I just see a influx of wx surging from the SE towards cuba and than towards FL as a ULL strengthens in the eastern GOM...that radar image is decieving,anything at all would be in the mid levels,IMO and would dissapate quickly...
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1234. canesrule1
3:23 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
winds are at tropical depression status at the wave in the caribbean i am just waiting for the circulation to go from the mid levels to the low levels. We will have an invest 90L soon, in the next hours.
1233. canesrule1
3:20 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting WeatherStudent:


May you post the link for that, please?
1232. canesrule1
3:18 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting WeatherStudent:


May you post the link for that, please?

Its around 16 and 78
1231. scottsvb
3:18 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Circulation just east of Jamaica is in the mid-levels!
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1689
1230. SouthDadeFish
3:17 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Does someone have a link to GFS shear forecast maps? or any other shear forecast models?
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 11 Comments: 2448
1229. hurricane23
3:16 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting WPBHurricane05:
Looks like rainy season has begun at my house- Link

I imagine this is only the beginning.

For those of you that live in South Florida, WPBT PBS 2 will have "Anatomy of a Hurricane" from 11:30 am to 12:00 pm. Looks like they hung out at the National Hurricane Center during the 04 season.


Hey WPM i put together a florida radar page which includes news radars from CBS 12 StormTrac Doppler Radar and NBC6 from down here feel free to use.I just added a few weeks back the new Intellicast Hi-Res Interactive Radar.One of my favorites is COD and RAP.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13786
1227. canesrule1
3:15 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I see a low, in the visible caribbean satellite
1225. canesrule1
3:13 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
not much to see in the jamaican radar
1224. Patrap
3:13 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
New ENTRY up..abandon this one..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1222. weatherwatcher12
3:13 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
AOI
TRACK MARK
17.7N/75.5W

WOW! that's right off of the coast of where I am I'm in Jamaica and many clouds are coming in fast from the east
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
1221. Cavin Rawlins
3:12 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting Drakoen:
The Cuban radar is showing some circulation just SE of Jamaica.


as the same for visible imagery
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1220. SouthDadeFish
3:11 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Ok so can someone clarify this for me. I always thought that we were waiting for a low to cut off from the front approaching the southeastern united states to develop into the potential system with the aid of the trof south of Cuba. However, by the looks of the things now its this trof itself thats going to develop with the aid of the front reducing shear, correct?
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 11 Comments: 2448
1219. Patrap
3:10 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
That Hora View must be better located Drak,,lotsa Mts to disrupt the other.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1218. Patrap
3:10 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Keeper,those Plymouth B&W images are like,er..strrrrrrrrrrrretched all the time or distorted

There are many better sites for them. Plus the Land mass outlines are grossly simplified.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1217. Drakoen
3:09 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I'm looking at this radar
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
1215. CybrTeddy
3:09 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Off subject but.
Atlantis is doing another EVA on the Hubble right now, if anyone wants to check it out go to the NASA website. Pretty amazing pictures from the astronauts helment cams and the shuttles images of Earth. They should fly over the blob in the Caribbean in a few ours :)
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24016
1214. TampaSpin
3:08 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting Patrap:
Any talk or Quoting of a JFV sighting or other monomania will be flagged and action requested ASAP.

Grow up or MOVE on.

Millions see here daily and your BS is embarrassing all of us.


Pat i agree....Ya he can get under your skin but, overall he's a great young man...If he does log on and ask stupid and silly questions....SO FREAKING WHAT...Heck we all do. Everyone just needs to chill and stop the talk. If you don't like what he says....grow up and ignor it......Let's move on!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1213. weatherwatcher12
3:08 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting canesrule1:
I think a LLC is trying to form, im seeing one at about 16 and 76

I see it too on the Caribbean visible
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
1212. Wundermet
3:08 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
1206

Keeper, reduce the size...
1211. Patrap
3:07 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Cuban Radar,Pilón

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1210. WPBHurricane05
3:07 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Looks like rainy season has begun at my house- Link

I imagine this is only the beginning.

For those of you that live in South Florida, WPBT PBS 2 will have "Anatomy of a Hurricane" from 11:30 am to 12:00 pm. Looks like they hung out at the National Hurricane Center during the 04 season.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
1209. extreme236
3:07 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I'm kinda curious to see how this season compares to last season. I know each season is unique but last year we had so many oddities...was some fascinating stuff.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1208. canesrule1
3:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I just want some rain here in miami, No tropical development wanted
1206. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
AOI
TRACK MARK
17.7N/75.5W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
1205. Drakoen
3:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
The Cuban radar is showing some circulation just SE of Jamaica.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
1204. stillwaiting
3:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I would guess any "spin" anyone see's is in the mid levels....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1203. Patrap
3:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
All those GFS solutions seem to want to hang near The N GOM or in it proper.

Ike you have Cane scent on ya ?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1202. weatherwatcher12
3:05 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
there's a flash flood watch up for me
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
1201. Stormchaser2007
3:05 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Latest HWO from Miami.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY

A BROAD TROUGH WILL DEVELOP ACROSS THE REGION MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY
WITH EVEN THE POSSIBILITY OF A LOW AND WARM FRONT DEVELOPING. TIMING AND
PLACEMENT OF THESE WEATHER FEATURES ARE UNCERTAIN. HOWEVER...MONDAY
THROUGH TUESDAY LOOKS TO BE THE WETTEST AND STORMIEST PERIOD WITH HEAVY
RAINFALL POSSIBLE. ALTHOUGH THE RAIN WILL BE BENEFICIAL...EXCESSIVE
RAINFALL IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME COULD LEAD TO LOCALIZED STREET
FLOODING.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15889
1200. stillwaiting
3:05 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting canesrule1:
I think a LLC is trying to form, im seeing one at about 16 and 76

not impossible,but close to it...sorry,
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1199. hurricane23
3:04 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting WeatherStudent:



However, can that ''low'' provoke TS watches to be placed in SF by the NHC during that period of time?


(NO) Winds may gust in the 40-50 mph range offshore once this things makes it into the gulf when it may have the chance to spin up.The combination of tight pressure gradient between the low pressure system and the high will produce windy conditions across southeast florida with possible periods of heavy rainfall. Better get use to this as we are just embarking on the rainy season so daily thunderstorms are a way of life mon-sunday for the next few months.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13786
1198. Wundermet
3:04 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting IKE:


I thought so. I wasn't going to say for fear of you know what.....

Funny how you can tell who someone is by their way of typing....


Okay, let us abandon this subject, it will only cause a ruckus
1197. Drakoen
3:04 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
At least we have something to look at on satellite.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
1196. extreme236
3:04 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting IKE:
OMG this blog.


And the season hasn't even started yet lol
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1195. IKE
3:04 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
12z NAM is more slow on movement,its almost stationary in the GOM.

Link


Looks like it's going to do a loop-de-loop and then head back north.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1194. canesrule1
3:03 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
I think a LLC is trying to form, im seeing one at about 16 and 76
1193. Cavin Rawlins
3:03 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1192. Patrap
3:03 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
-- EMC Cyclogenesis Tracking Page --

Model Cycle: 2009051706



Multi-Model


SREF Last 4 Cycles


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1191. IKE
3:02 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
OMG this blog.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1190. weatherwatcher12
3:02 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
more rain moving in soon
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
1189. stillwaiting
3:02 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
welcome back aboard wondermet,great to hear your opinions again!!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1187. IKE
3:01 PM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting Wundermet:


Yes, Futuremet

I will not lie


I thought so. I wasn't going to say for fear of you know what.....

Funny how you can tell who someone is by their way of typing....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.