Gathering extratropical storm set to drench Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:11 PM GMT on May 17, 2009

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A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms has developed near Jamaica and eastern Cuba, in association with a mid- to upper-level trough of low pressure. The latest 00Z and 06Z runs of the GFS, UKMET, NOGAPS, and ECMWF global dynamical computer models continue to forecast that this disturbance will develop into an extratropical low by Tuesday. The low should bring heavy rain and possible flooding problems to Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas this week as it lifts northwestward over Florida. Up to eight inches of rain may fall over Florida by Friday (Figure 2), thanks also to a cold front expected to move over the state over the next two days. At present, it appears wind shear will be too high to allow the extratropical storm developing over Cuba to transition into a subtropical or tropical storm. However, if the center emerges into the northern Gulf of Mexico late this week, wind shear may be low enough to allow a transition to a subtropical storm (10% chance).


Figure 1. Latest IR satellite image of the Atlantic, showing the gathering extratropical storm near the eastern tip of Cuba, and the cut-off low spinning in the mid-Atlantic.


Figure 2. Forecast precipitation amount between 8am EDT Sunday 5/17/09 and 8am EDT Friday 5/22/09. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.

There has been little change to the large upper-level cold low spinning in the mid-Atlantic a few hundred miles east of Bermuda. The low 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.

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 Monday.

Jeff Masters

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well to me WeatherStudent: JFV is becomeing vary annoing

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115235
Quoting WeatherStudent:


I found his blog on the blog listing page, why you ask?


Give it up.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
Quoting Ossqss:


456, what is up with the clouds on the NW side? It almost looks like outflow ???


It is. But outflow is common in thuderstorms on that scale, and this "outflow" is also working hand-in-hand with the upper level winds north of the system.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
the "trough line" is actually our ULL forming,IMO...

IMO???
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Hey, a lot has happened since last I looked.
First a subtropical system, then no system, now something happening again?
Eight inches for East Central Florida by Friday, according map in Dr. Masters' blog.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
By the way what effects can we expect in Jamaica


Rainy& A little Breezy
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting WeatherStudent:


Hey 456. Thoughts on our bow echo conundrum this afternoon, bud?


There is no bow echo. The comma shape refers to the shape a cyclone takes when it's beginning to spin. Both tropical and extratropical cyclones can have this shape.

In this case it's the midlevel low associated with the convection. (Not to be confused with the upper level/ midlevel center developing in the gulf.)
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Quoting severstorm:
weatherstudent,if you just came to this blog a week ago how do you know nash


Good question.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
the "trough line" is actually our ULL forming,IMO...
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Quoting HurricaneKing:
The system looks like it might be beginning to move. A slow motion to the north north east toward the eastern tip of cuba/ the channel between cuba and hispaniola. What is the name of that channel again?


Windward Passage
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


I am not JFV, for the infinite time, so help me God.



why won't you guys stop bothering him and get back to talking about weather.

Even if he is JFV which i highly doubt everyone in here is making to big of a deal about it.


Now this system by jamaica is very similar to the way fay was. there is an evident MLC trying to strengthen but no evident LLC. If the shear continues to stay this strong it is highly unlikely that this thing will develop into anything more than a rainmaker for florida. Unless this thing becomes a Barry and then all bets are off.
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Quoting Weather456:


Me, I just sitting back watching. In the last hour I notice shear decrease 10 knots allowing for more cyclonic turning in the mid-upper levels. Nothing at the surface as of yet.


456, what is up with the clouds on the NW side? It almost looks like outflow ???
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
By the way what effects can we expect in Jamaica
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weatherstudent,if you just came to this blog a week ago how do you know nash
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Quoting HurricaneKing:
The system looks like it might be beginning to move. A slow motion to the north north east toward the eastern tip of cuba/ the channel between cuba and hispaniola. What is the name of that channel again?

I think it is the Jamaica channel, not sure
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


Hey 456. Thoughts on our bow echo conundrum this afternoon, bud?


Me, I just sitting back watching. In the last hour I notice shear decrease 10 knots allowing for more cyclonic turning in the mid-upper levels. Nothing at the surface as of yet.
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Doesn't it(jamacia blob)need to be classified a "surface feature",before an invest is started?????
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The system looks like it might be beginning to move. A slow motion to the north north east toward the eastern tip of cuba/ the channel between cuba and hispaniola. What is the name of that channel again?
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Quoting AussieStorm:
is there trough line in the northern GOM??
yes but pulling north
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who cares man jesus
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is there trough line in the northern GOM??
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Right, this JFV thing is getting to the point of stupidity.

Next person who claims someone else is JFV I will report without a second thought.

God, the tension of heart of Hurricane season is back.
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Yep.....Uh uh.....hmmmm......sigh

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Ish, was all I said :)

Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
The JFV sitings are like the loch ness monster, continuous sitings.
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If I'm not mistaken, many of the systems last year stayed in the middle before they hit the ground running as a surface low.

That was quite a source of aggravation through out the season.
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


I am not JFV, for the infinite time, so help me God.


A twin brother, perhaps?
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Quoting Ossqss:
The visible is starting to look comma-ish.IMHO

Link
yep strange little system

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Quoting WeatherStudent:


No that confession was enough.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
222. beell
Quoting Drakoen:
JFV (WeatherStudent) are you more abreast this afternoon?


little farther S, Drak...
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Quoting Drakoen:


So you admit you're JFV.


LOL
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
And, SJ is here from the east coast. Depending on El Nino's timing (if it comes at all), could mean the east coast is more susceptible in the heart of the season.

Anyways, I'm out. Y'all have fun blob watching.
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


An ocean bow echo, perhaps? Also, the MLC is going to be disrupt big time when it crosses over the mountain tops of eastern Cuba.

No comma shape in my eyes.
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


Somewhat, Drak, yourself?


So you admit you're JFV.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30562
getting very windy here
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Guys, even if it becomes 90L, it only has like a 50% chance of being something.
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Another thing, with ENSO basically neutral, storms have a tendency to come more northwards into the GOM and loop eddys become a significant, robust factor in storm strengthening and expansion. I'm hoping we're only seeing an anomaly near Jamaica and the season starts slowly, hopefully allowing time for El Nino to develop so that when the Verdes start cranking the tendency may go in the direction of the fishes. Fishful thinking? Probably.
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Quoting WeatherStudent:
That's OK, Taz. It's folks like him that end up abandining the blog without trace once Mother Nature proves them wrong.


Why the drama?
Why can't we just have a normal discussion?
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604

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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.