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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I got to go, see everybody tommorow!

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Bummer. I was look forward to analyzing the 0 UTC radiosonde launches, but no one in the Caribbean (anywhere south of Key West) launched one...or they didn't share the data with UCAR.

Anyone see any upper air obs from the Caribbean for 0 UTC? If not, the models probably aren't going to perform all that well, either. Grrr.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Accufail


Dont you want your gail force winds?
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Quoting StormW:
Where is this anticyclone?
Good to see you.

Sorry I was reading and repeating what others had wrote but there appears to be or more accurately stated, "appears to be an anti-cyclonic flow."

Did not mean to imply something new. I'll leave the expert observations to the experts.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Accufail


understatement
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1355. Drakoen
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29886
1354. Drakoen
Accufail
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29886
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Good evening to all. What seems to be the thought on the area of interest? Still sub-tropical?
Member Since: September 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
1349. Drakoen
No LLC on quicksat.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29886
1348. Ossqss
Good link with 4 in one, model and loop selectable. Quite the interesting next several days. :)

We need the rain in FL !

Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
1346. WxLogic
Good evening...

My current view on the system. The system compared to earlier today has definitely evolved quite a bit... there's now 850MB to 200MB vorticity present when earlier today it could only be found above 500MB. Low level convergence does seems to have increased a bit more as well as an expansion of the upper level divergence.

Will be interesting to see if this persists overnight as it moves N accross E Cuba... of course as forecasted by most forecast models there will be an upper level low taking over the weak anticyclone currently over the system so don't expect it to be fully tropical. Nonetheless interesting system to watch as it interacts with its environment.
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looks like Greensburg KS is doing well
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114712
Quoting RMM34667:
...but all that said. Looks like a storm is spinning.

Been lurking as well since the first of the month off and on including all the soap opera stuff which is amusing but will be distracting when there is something to watch.

I have to agree an anti-cyclone above, cyclonic spinning at least at mid-levels, and radar showing increased activity; this is something to watch.
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3-6 inches of rain would be great!!!

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Quoting StormJunkie:
Not sure this Quickscat pass will hit it or not. Doubt it would see much of interest even if it does catch it.


Yes, SJ... the next descending pass got the area:

Link

(as expected... no surface wind circulation shown)
CRS

[edit] for closeup of this Quickscat See:
Link
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Well Dolly did become eventually a category 2 hurricane..

I'm talking more about pre-Dolly than hurricane dolly there is no way this thing will get over 60mph
Good Night everyone
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Looks to be moving n or nne
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Declared 90L tomorrow I think.



If it gets a LLC tommorow, which NHC is saying, it may be a TD or STD tommorow also!
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Lol...AOI is weakening...it's looking better, it's moving east...it's moving west...it's going to be a depression tomorrow, it will be poof tomorrow.....For newcomers to the blog, some people see what they want to see, others see what is actually there. Choose wisely! But of course, if a storm does threaten your area, listen to your local authorities.
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Quoting hurricanemaniac123:


Declared 90L or STD or TD or what?


Declared 90L tomorrow I think.

Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23565
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Thunderstorms flaring up over '90L'.
Likely it will be declared tomorrow if it persists.


Declared 90L or STD or TD or what?
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untrained; uneducated; I know nothing. I do look at every single link posted. I've looked all day, yesterday as well. And I've got very old eyes. But this is the first time I've seen a clear swirl to this "blob". And I know from everything I've read all day it not a "surface low".. but all that said. Looks like a storm is spinning.
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Thunderstorms flaring up over '90L'.
Likely it will be declared tomorrow if it persists.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23565
Convection does seem to be increasing at the northeastern part
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1330. Dakster
Stormw - Glad to see you back on the blog...
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
What if this is like another 94L(aka Dolly)
where we get all hyped up during the D-max when it looks nice then say it's not going to form while it looks trashy during the D-Min.


Well Dolly did become eventually a category 2 hurricane..
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23565
Cuban Radar

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1327. bwi
Hello fellow blob watchers. Cuban radar link for Sunday night viewing.
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1326. GatorWX
Quoting HCW:
I realize that everybody is expecting some much needed rain from this system in Florida but lets think back to 2007 When Sub Tropical Storm Andrea formed and caused some of the worst fires that the state of Florida as ever seen. It's nice to see everybody again and I hope that you have a safe 2009 cane season James n Mobile,AL

This system is in a much moister environment than Andrea was.
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Joe Bastardi will start scratching his head if Ana forms--'Sigh only nine storms left, my forecast is in jeopardy'
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1324. HCW
I realize that everybody is expecting some much needed rain from this system in Florida but lets think back to 2007 When Sub Tropical Storm Andrea formed and caused some of the worst fires that the state of Florida as ever seen. It's nice to see everybody again and I hope that you have a safe 2009 cane season James n Mobile,AL
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cool!! storm w is back.
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Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
1320. GatorWX
System certainly seems to have gotten its act together somewhat since yesterday at this time. Shear appears to have lessened allowing thunderstorms to persist, although they're dying out now. Imagine they'll flare up again by morning and during the day tomorrow. Should be interesting to see if quickscat gets it in, and if so, if there is more of a shift in direction. Earlier pass showed hardly any. Does look like the mid level circulation is fairly well defined at this point, maybe allowing the circulation to work its way down. Very much a wait and see with this one. Obviously wont amount to much whether its a TD or just a batch of thunderstorms, but it will get everyone posting and pumped up for the upcoming season. A lot of new faces around too, nice to meet y'all. I usually only post when something's going on. Been on here since '04, so I'm quite familiar with those who've been on here awhile as well.
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What if this is like another 94L(aka Dolly)
where we get all hyped up during the D-max when it looks nice then say it's not going to form while it looks trashy during the D-Min.
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Good Evening Stormw
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
i'm taking about on cable television, i'll look on accuweather.com and see if i can find you a link
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Quoting atmoaggie:


Most of the time. Ike's southern semicircle was far more intense, and strengthening, as the center was reaching land.

If the north were like the south, Houston would have had more wind damage than it did...


There are some exceptions to this, but highly sheared tropical cyclones are no exception.
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1313. Walshy
**UPDATE**

A coastal flood statement and lake wind advisories have been issued for areas of Florida,Georgia and South Carolina.


Statement as of 8:14 PM EDT on May 17, 2009

... Increasing northeast winds and building surf next few days...

A cold front will push across the waters tonight with winds
shifting to the northeast and increasing late tonight. Strong high
pressure will build toward the mid-Atlantic coast while low
pressure develops near Cuba and drifts north the next few days.
This will create a tight pressure gradient which will produce
strong northeast winds... with gale force winds possible Monday
night through Wednesday.

Increasing rough surf will result in some minor coastal flooding
and beach erosion especially around the times of high tide on
Tuesday and Wednesday. Breakers will increase to 7 feet or higher
and a high surf advisory may be needed Tuesday and Wednesday.
There will be also be an elevated risk of rip currents beginning
Monday and continuing through the week.
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18Z UKMET for 48 Hours Out
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Quoting theFatherofNature:
i don't think it'll get that strong ethier, i got that off accuweather



LINK?
I cant find that quote...
Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604
Quoting Wundermet:


It would be less significant, regardless if it develops. The southern quadrant is the weakest part in northern hemisphere tropical cyclone.


Most of the time. Ike's southern semicircle was far more intense, and strengthening, as the center was reaching land.

If the north were like the south, Houston would have had more wind damage than it did...
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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.

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