Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:28 PM GMT on May 27, 2009
An area of disturbed weather, dubbed "91L" by the National Hurricane Center, is centered 120 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. While the storm does not have much in the way of heavy thunderstorm activity, it does have a well-developed circulation, and the spin of the system is readily apparent on long range radar animations out of Morehead City, North Carolina. The disturbance is over waters of 25 - 26°C and has wind shear of 10 - 15 knots over it, and these conditions are marginally favorable for some slow development to occur until Thursday afternoon, when the system will begin moving over waters too cold to support tropical cyclone development. The disturbance will track north or north-northeastward at 10 - 15 mph towards North Carolina's Outer Banks today, then get swept northeastwards out to sea on Thursday. It is unlikely that the disturbance has enough time to develop into a tropical depression, but an Air Force hurricane hunter flight is on call to investigate the system this afternoon, if necessary. If the system does develop, the current location of the heaviest thunderstorm activity in a band well removed from the center suggests that 91L would be classified as a subtropical depression. The Outer Banks of North Carolina can expect 20 - 25 mph winds and heavy rain from this system tonight and Thursday morning. In a Special Tropical Weather Outlook issued at 8am EDT this morning, NHC gave 91L a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression.
Figure 1. Latest radar image from the Morehead City, NC radar.
Tropical Cyclone Aila death toll at 180
The year's deadliest tropical cyclone so far, Tropical Cyclone Aila, has killed at least 180 people in India and Bangladesh border region, according to the latest media reports. Aila hit the India/Bangladesh border region on May 25 as a borderline tropical storm/Category 1 hurricane, bringing sustained winds of 65 - 75 mph and a 3 - 4 meter (10 - 13 foot) storm surge to the coast. Aila has left over 150,000 homeless in India and 500,000 in Bangladesh. The cyclone destroyed over 180,000 homes in Bangladesh--a severe blow for a region still recovering from the devastation wrought by Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Sidr of November 2007, which killed 3,500 people. The death toll form Aila will likely go much higher, as over 500 people are still missing. The Bay of Bengal is no stranger to deadly cyclones--fifteen of the world's twenty deadliest tropical cyclones have been Bay of Bengal storms that have hit Bangladesh, India, or Myanmar. The most recent was last year's Cyclone Nargis, which killed 146,000 people in Myanmar.
Figure 2. Satellite image of Aila as it made landfall near the India/Bangladesh border. Image credit: NASA.
Interview tonight on hurricanetrack.com
I'll be doing one of my periodic spiels on Internet radio tonight at 9pm EDT. Tune your browsers to www.hurricanetrack.com and listen in to my interview with host Mark Sudduth. There is also a live chat to participate in. Hurricane season starts Monday!
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