Dust forecast for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:58 PM GMT on June 20, 2009

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There will be less African dust than usual over the tropical Atlantic during this year's hurricane season, according to a new experimental dust forecast issued by Dr. Amato Evan of the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Evan used a statistical model that correlated levels of dust activity in past years with rainfall over the Sahel region of Africa and a natural regional wind pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). He forecasts that dust levels over the Main Development Region (MDR, 8 - 20°N & 15 - 65°W) for Atlantic hurricanes during this year's hurricane season will be similar to last year's below-average levels, thanks in large part to plentiful rains over the Sahel region of Africa during the 2008 rainy season (Figure 1). However, the dust levels expected this year do not approach the record lows seen in 1994 and 2005. Dust forecasts made in May or June are skillful going out five months, with a skill 11 - 16% better than a "no-skill" forecast using climatology.


Figure 1. Rainfall over the Sahel region of Africa was generally 50 - 100 mm (2 - 4 inches) above average during the 2008 rainy season (about 20 - 80% above average). The heavy rains promoted vigorous vegetation growth in 2009, resulting in less bare ground capable of generating dust. Image credit: NOAA/Climate Prediction Center.

The Sahara and the Sahel: significant sources of dust
The summertime dust that affects Atlantic tropical storms originates over the southwestern Sahara (18° - 22° N) and the northwestern Sahel (15° - 18° N) (Figure 2). The dust that originates in the Southwest Sahara stays relatively constant from year to year. However, the dust from the northwestern Sahel varies significantly from year to year, and understanding this variation may be a key factor in improving our forecasts of seasonal hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The amount of dust that gets transported over the Atlantic depends on a mix of three main factors: the large scale and local scale weather patterns (windy weather transports more dust), how wet the current rainy season is (wet weather will wash out dust before it gets transported over the Atlantic), and how dry and drought-damaged the soil is. The level of drought experienced in the northwestern Sahel during the previous year's rainy season (June - October) is the key factor of the three in determining how much dust gets transported over the Atlantic during hurricane season, according to a January 2004 study published in Geophysical Research Letters published by C. Moulin and I. Chiapello. A dry rainy season the previous year will make an expanded area of loose soil which can create dust. It is also possible that the corresponding changes in vegetation can alter the regional weather patterns, causing more dust production.


Figure 2. Map of the mean summer dust optical thickness derived from satellite measurements between 1979 and 2000. Maximum dust amounts originate in the northern Sahel (15° to 18° N) and the Sahara (18° to 22° N). The Bodele depression in Chad is also an active dust source. Image credit: Evidence of the control of summer atmospheric transport of African dust over the Atlantic by Sahel sources from TOMS satellites (1979-2000) by C. Moulin and I. Chiapello, published in January 2004 in Geophysical Research Letters.

How dust suppresses hurricanes
Dust acts as a shield which keeps sunlight from reaching the surface. Thus, large amounts of dust can keep the sea surface temperatures up to 1°C cooler than average in the hurricane Main Development Region (MDR) off the coast of Africa, providing hurricanes with less energy to form and grow. Dust also affects the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), an layer of dry, dusty Saharan air that rides up over the low-level moist air over the tropical Atlantic. At the boundary between the SAL and low-level moist air where the trade winds blow is the trade wind inversion--a region of the atmosphere where the temperature increases with height. Since atmospheric temperature normally decreases with height, this "inversion" acts to but the brakes on any thunderstorms that try to punch through it. This happens because the air in a thunderstorm's updraft suddenly encounters a region where the updraft air is cooler and less buoyant than the surrounding air, and thus will not be able to keep moving upward. The dust in the SAL absorbs solar radiation, which heats the air in the trade wind inversion. This makes the inversion stronger, which inhibits the thunderstorms that power a hurricane. The dust may also act to interfere with the formation of cloud drops and rain drops that these thunderstorms need to grow, but little is known about such effects. It is possible that dust may act to help hurricanes by serving as "condensation nuclei"--centers around which raindrops can form and grow.

For additional reading
Dr. Evan published a study in Science magazine this March showing that 69% of the increase in Atlantic sea surface temperatures over the past 26 years could be attributed to decreases in the amount of dust in the atmosphere.

Jeff Masters

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1194. Levi32
Quoting hurricanelover236:
Does anyone else agree with me that the severe storms in florida today were way overexagerated. They said it would be severe sotmrs and the radar is incredibly clear with not even a shower. Can someone explain how their forecasting can be so off?


I think they expected the frontal boundary to help break the cap, and it still may as H2009 said we have all evening to wait for it. There is a lot of upper-level convergence though.....lots of subsidence not conducive for rising air. It would take a lot of heat (which we have lol) to break this cap.

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Quoting RitaEvac:
lol the storm surge/category of hurricanes was flawed, and the TCHP is flawed! damn they need to revise the whole NHC

The SS scale has been known to be bad... but the public is holding on to it like no other, adn the NHC is struggling finding a replacement that is precise, scientific, and easy to understand.
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You can see the MLC on visible now.

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1190. Levi32
Port Saint Lucie over 100 as well
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1189. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
EAST PACIFIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR



TROPICAL CYCLONE ANDRES (EP022009) 20090622 1800 UTC



...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...

090622 1800 090623 0600 090623 1800 090624 0600



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 16.0N 102.3W 17.6N 102.4W 18.9N 102.9W 20.1N 103.5W

BAMD 16.0N 102.3W 17.0N 103.6W 18.2N 105.1W 19.2N 106.7W

BAMM 16.0N 102.3W 17.4N 103.3W 18.8N 104.6W 20.1N 105.9W

LBAR 16.0N 102.3W 17.1N 103.0W 18.6N 104.1W 20.2N 105.5W

SHIP 50KTS 56KTS 58KTS 55KTS

DSHP 50KTS 56KTS 58KTS 55KTS



...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...

090624 1800 090625 1800 090626 1800 090627 1800



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 20.6N 104.3W 21.4N 106.8W 22.8N 109.6W 24.2N 113.1W

BAMD 19.8N 108.5W 20.9N 112.0W 22.0N 115.5W 23.6N 119.2W

BAMM 20.8N 107.4W 21.7N 111.1W 22.8N 114.8W 24.0N 118.9W

LBAR 21.5N 107.0W 23.6N 110.1W 25.7N 112.0W 28.2N 113.8W

SHIP 51KTS 37KTS 20KTS 0KTS

DSHP 51KTS 37KTS 20KTS 0KTS



...INITIAL CONDITIONS...

LATCUR = 16.0N LONCUR = 102.3W DIRCUR = 315DEG SPDCUR = 4KT

LATM12 = 15.4N LONM12 = 101.7W DIRM12 = 334DEG SPDM12 = 4KT

LATM24 = 14.7N LONM24 = 101.2W

WNDCUR = 50KT RMAXWD = 30NM WNDM12 = 45KT

CENPRS = 995MB OUTPRS = 1004MB OUTRAD = 120NM SDEPTH = M

RD34NE = 30NM RD34SE = 60NM RD34SW = 30NM RD34NW = 30NM
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Quoting hurricanelover236:
Does anyone else agree with me that the severe storms in florida today were way overexagerated. They said it would be severe sotmrs and the radar is incredibly clear with not even a shower. Can someone explain how their forecasting can be so off?


Wait. You should see the radar lighten up over the next few hours. MUCAPE is near 5000kg, I doubt nothing will form.
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Quoting hurricanelover236:
Does anyone else agree with me that the severe storms in florida today were way overexagerated. They said it would be severe sotmrs and the radar is incredibly clear with not even a shower. Can someone explain how their forecasting can be so off?


There were talks that it may push later afternoon and evening.
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1185. Levi32
Insane....



Ridge still staying put in the 8-10 day means. The western gulf especially is going to get very hot.

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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Canewarning, try this place out :) we are going for a week in September :)

Link


I think our trip will be to that area next year. :)
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Jeff, if a hurricane stalls and churns and churns offshore in 87 degree surface water and the water is shallow and not deep, and the ocean floor water is 85....it's only going to upwell 85 degree water, it's not going to upwell cooler water it will balance out the top layer with the bottom, which to me is pure octane super high TCHP through the friggin roof.
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BOC "Invest" looks to be losing to the diurnal minimum.
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Does anyone else agree with me that the severe storms in florida today were way overexagerated. They said it would be severe sotmrs and the radar is incredibly clear with not even a shower. Can someone explain how their forecasting can be so off?
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Quoting RitaEvac:


But that confuses people that the waters arent warm down to the surface.... so basicly the heat content is sky high on the gulf coast, the system is flawed.


Think of it this way...
You have a one-meter cube.
If you will it to the brim with warm (85F) water, it will have more heat content than if you only fill the first 30cm. It takes a lot more energy to heat the full cube of water, than it does to heat the partially full cube. Also, the heat given off by the surface (1 square meter) of the full cube will be greater than the heat given off by the surface (1 square meter) of the partially full cube.
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1177. IKE
Looks like Andres head is being chopped off....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
lol the storm surge/category of hurricanes was flawed, and the TCHP is flawed! damn they need to revise the whole NHC
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1175. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
ATTENTION...NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER



NCEP COUPLED GFDL HURRICANE MODEL FORECAST MADE FOR



TROPICAL STORM ANDRES 02E



INITIAL TIME 12Z JUN 22



DISCLAIMER ... THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS GUIDANCE. IT

REQUIRES INTERPRETATION BY HURRICANE SPECIALISTS AND SHOULD

NOT BE CONSIDERED AS A FINAL PRODUCT. PLEASE SEE THE TPC/NHC

OFFICIAL FORECAST.





FORECAST STORM POSITION



HOUR LATITUDE LONGITUDE HEADING/SPEED(KT)



0 15.9 102.1 330./ 4.1

6 16.2 102.2 333./ 4.4

12 17.1 102.7 330./ 9.3

18 18.0 103.4 323./10.8

24 18.5 104.4 298./10.9

30 19.8 105.8 314./18.5

36 21.6 106.2 346./18.5

42 22.0 106.5 329./ 5.0

48 22.4 107.0 301./ 5.4

54 22.3 107.1 261./ 1.7

60 22.2 107.0 120./ 1.3

66 22.3 107.0 0./ .3



STORM DISSIPATED AT 66 HRS AT THE ABOVE PSN.


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Quoting hurricanehanna:
Current Lafayette, LA weather...
Mostly Cloudy

98 °F
(37 °C) Humidity: 38 %
Wind Speed: Vrbl 5 MPH
Barometer: 29.85" (1010.8 mb)
Dewpoint: 68 °F (20 °C)
Heat Index: 103 °F (39 °C)


I'll take this anyday over one with a storm poised to strike from the GOM!!!! Thank God for a quiet season so far....


Lol. Maybe I'm not the only fan of " The Ridge of DOOM! "

92 °F
(34 °C) Humidity: 52 %
Wind Speed: SE 6 MPH
Barometer: 29.87"
Dewpoint: 72 °F (22 °C)
Heat Index: 100 °F (38 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.

Its HOT here too. But it could be worse. :)


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Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
Quoting jeffs713:


Exactly. Thats why the TCHP won't be very high, because its so shallow. SSTs go up more easily, though, because of the shallow depth.


But that confuses people that the waters arent warm down to the surface.... so basicly the heat content is sky high on the gulf coast, the system is flawed.
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Quoting jeffs713:


Exactly. Thats why the TCHP won't be very high, because its so shallow. SSTs go up more easily, though, because of the shallow depth.


Thats why it should be revised on how they consider TCHP.
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1170. IKE
WOW!

"Milton, Florida (Airport)
Updated: 13 min 24 sec ago
Scattered Clouds
103 °F!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 30%
Dew Point: 66 °F
Wind: 7 mph from the NNW
Wind Gust: 17 mph
Pressure: 29.74 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 108 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 9 out of 16
Clouds:
Scattered Clouds 7000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 177 ft"
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting pottery:
Its raining today. 3/4" so far, and some more to the East and South.

What is this "rain" you speak of?
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Good afternoon

I see one of the Floaters is now over the BOC as an Invest. Although there is rotation in the mid levels as per the 850 mb vort there is nothing in the way of lower level convergence at all.

That, plus the fact that it is running out of real estate makes me wonder why tag it at all.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Water is shallow, probably 85+ at the ocean floor


Exactly. Thats why the TCHP won't be very high, because its so shallow. SSTs go up more easily, though, because of the shallow depth.
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1166. pottery
GIVE PRAISE, CHILDREN. GIVE PRAISE!!
Its raining today. 3/4" so far, and some more to the East and South.
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1165. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting jeffs713:


SST does not equal TCHP. SSTs are toasty, that is without a doubt. TCHPs aren't. The primary factor in TCHP is the depth of the 26C thermocline... if the bottom is 50m, that is also the thermocline.


Water is shallow, probably 85 at the ocean floor. for miles out the water is not deep
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Current Lafayette, LA weather...
Mostly Cloudy

98 °F
(37 °C) Humidity: 38 %
Wind Speed: Vrbl 5 MPH
Barometer: 29.85" (1010.8 mb)
Dewpoint: 68 °F (20 °C)
Heat Index: 103 °F (39 °C)


I'll take this anyday over one with a storm poised to strike from the GOM!!!! Thank God for a quiet season so far....
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Tropical Storm Andres
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.8 / 992.2mb/ 61.0kt


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Quoting StormW:
MEI = Multivariate ENSO Index
ONI = Oceanic Nino Index

Awesome, thanks Storm!

One of my coworkers was giving me a hard time about knowing so much about weather, saying I should become a meteorologist... I laughed, since I get confused as is with my company's acronyms... Meteorology is almost as bad as the military with their acronyms.
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CURRENT CONDITIONS AT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH

Date/Time:


7:30 A.M. Monday, June 22th, 2009

Weather Forecast:


Partly sunny. Isolated showers and thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Some thunderstorms may produce damaging winds. Highs 96 to 100. West winds 5 to 10 mph becoming 10 to 15 mph later in the afternoon. Chance of rain 20 percent. Maximum heat index readings 105 to 110.

Current Weather:


Mostly cloudy; Temperature: 83° heat index of 92; Wind: w 10 mph

Marine Forecast:


West winds around 15 knots becoming 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon. Near shore...seas 2 feet or less. Well offshore...seas 2 feet or less building to 2 to 4 feet. Intracoastal waters a light chop. Isolated showers and thunderstorms mainly late in the afternoon. Some storms could produce strong to severe winds.

Ocean Water Conditions:


2-feet or less.

Intracoastal Water Conditions:


Light chop.

Air Temperature:


96°-100°

Water Temperature (Ocean):
85°

High Tide:


7:59 a.m.

Low Tide:


2:19 p.m.

Wind Direction/Speed:


w 6 mph.

Sea Pests:


None at this time.

Current Warning Flags:


Green flags for low hazard bathing. Remember to stay hydrated during this very hot days. Please remember that the beach is an alcohol-free recreational area for your safety. Thank you, and have a safe day! Lt. Gio Serrano
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Oh that sounds wonderful, Pensacola could benefit from some lower temps for sure.

Quoting Levi32:
LOL it's 48 degrees outside here.

68 inside..
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Are you kidding me, from Mexico to Florida its becoming a hot tub near shore. Galveston's water is 91 near shore


SST does not equal TCHP. SSTs are toasty, that is without a doubt. TCHPs aren't. The primary factor in TCHP is the depth of the 26C thermocline... if the bottom is 50m, that is also the thermocline.
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Quoting weathersp:
For all you Floridians... hows the water temp?

Are TCHP indices like through the roof in coastal waters?


Are you kidding me, from Mexico to Florida its becoming a hot tub near shore. Galveston's water is 91 near shore
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Coorough Backyard, West Palm Beach, Florida (PWS)
Updated: 4 sec ago
99.3 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 47%
Dew Point: 75 °F
Wind: 5.0 mphfrom the NW
Wind Gust: 6.0 mph
Pressure: 29.71 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 112 °F

Let's just say im avoiding any outside activities today and the community pool is filled to capacity.

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thanks as always Storm!!!
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Quoting hurricane23:
We are now entering Neutral ENSO conditions (per ONI values) with the MEI now +0.344.


Too many acronyms! ENSO, SOI, ONI, MEI, ABC, 123, WTF. ;)
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1149. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


1. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO AND
BAY OF CAMPECHE ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A WEAK SURFACE TROUGH.
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM...IF ANY...IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO
OCCUR AS THIS SYSTEM MOVES SLOWLY WEST-NORTHWESTWARD. THERE IS A
LOW CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL
IS POSSIBLE OVER AREAS OF EAST-CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN MEXICO
DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

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1147. vortfix
For all those who missed this:



MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
300 PM EDT MON JUN 22 2009

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA
AND SOUTHWEST NORTH ATLC S OF 31N W OF 55W.

SW N ATLC...
VERY LITTLE CHANGE IN REASONING FROM THE PREVIOUS DISCUSSION
BASED ON THE LATEST MODEL GUIDANCE. THE MAIN FCST ISSUE REMAINS
THE EVOLUTION OF THE EXPECTED SWATH OF STRONG SLY WINDS OVER THE
FAR NE PORTIONS OF THE ZONE FOR TUE INTO WED. ALL MODELS LATCH
UNTO A STRONG VORT MAX CURRENTLY OVER THE EASTERN MID ATLC
STATES WHICH IS FCST TO DIVE SWD ON THE W SIDE OF THE
ANOMALOUSLY DEEP TROUGH JUST OFF THE E COAST. A SFC LOW IS
EXPECTED TO DEVELOP OVERNIGHT TONIGHT ALONG AN EXISTING COLD
FRONT OVER THE N CENTRAL PORTION OF THE ZONE AND MOVES ACROSS
31N BETWEEN 68W AND 70W...DEPENDING ON THE MODEL OF CHOICE.
THERE IS CONTINUED CONFIDENCE THAT THERE WILL NOT BE SUSTAINED
GALE FORCE WINDS OVER FORECAST WATERS IN THE ZONE ON TUE GIVEN
THE OUTPUT FROM THE 12Z MODELS. THE 12Z GFS BRIEFLY SHOWS WINDS
TO 35 KT ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE DEVELOPING SURFACE LOW
OVERNIGHT...BUT THERE IS LITTLE SUPPORT FROM THE ENSEMBLES WITH
THE SREF CURRENTLY SHOWING LESS THAN A 5 PERCENT CHANCE OF
GALES. IN ADDITION...THE 12Z GFS GENERATES OVER 5.50 INCHES OF
RAIN WITH THE DEVELOPING LOW AROUND THE SAME TIME...A LIKELY
SIGN OF GRID-SCALE FEEDBACK. THUS WILL FCST 20-30 KT WINDS WITH
HIGHER GUSTS THIS PACKAGE. IN ADDITION...THE MODELS DEVELOP
ANOTHER WAVE DEVELOPING FURTHER S ALONG THE TROUGH ON WED WITH A
ANOTHER SURGE OF WINDS. DETAILS OF THE ULTIMATE EVOLUTION OF THE
WIND FIELD ARE HIGHLY RELIANT UPON THE SPEED...INTENSITY...AND
TRACK OF THE SHORTWAVE ENERGY DROPPING SOUTH ALONG THE BACKSIDE
OF THIS AMPLIFIED TROUGH THROUGH THE EASTERN U.S...SOMETHING THE
MODELS RARELY HANDLE WELL...BUT THE CURRENT TREND WOULD SUPPORT
A BROADENED TROUGH WITH MOVING MULTIPLE SHORTWAVE SYSTEMS
PASSING QUICKLY THROUGH THE BASE OF THE TROUGH...MAKING ANY
SIGNIFICANT SURFACE DEVELOPMENT LESS LIKELY...AND HENCE ANY
SUSTAINED GALE FORCE WINDS.

CARIBBEAN...
QUIKSCAT PASS FROM 1014 UTC INDICATED WINDS ABOVE 20 KT WERE
LIMITED TO S OF 14N W OF 70W. THE TROPICAL WAVE CURRENTLY ALONG
57W AND S OF 14N WILL MOVE INTO THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN TUE. AT
THE SAME TIME...THE DEEPENING SURFACE TROUGH OVER THE SW NORTH
ATLC WILL VEER WINDS OVER THE E CARIBBEAN TO MORE SOUTHEASTERLY
AND POSSIBLY STEER THE WAVE NORTHWESTWARD AS IT MOVES ACROSS THE
CENTRAL AND WESTERN CARIBBEAN. ON THU AND FRI A BUILDING
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE OVER THE CENTRAL ATLC WILL INTRODUCE MODERATE
TO FRESH TRADE WINDS ACROSS THE E AND CENTRAL CARIBBEAN.

GULF OF MEXICO...
LOW PRES TROUGH IN THE SW GULF IN BRINGING SE FLOW ABOVE 20 KT
ON ITS EASTERN SIDE...WITH WINDS AND SEAS HIGHER WITHIN THE
SCATTERED TSTMS W OF 93W S OF 24N. THE TROUGH WILL DISSIPATE ON
WED AS IT DRIFTS W.
SURFACE HIGH PRES OVER THE N CENTRAL GULF
WILL DRIFT WESTWARD THROUGH THE WEEK. AS THE HIGH DRIFTS
WEST...WINDS WILL BECOME NW AT 15 TO 20 KT TUE AND WED IN
RESPONSE TO THE DEEPENING LAYER LOW IN THE WESTERN N ATLC. RIDGE
BUILDS WWD OVER THE GULF ALONG 25N THU AND FRI.


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Quoting weathersp:
For all you Floridians... hows the water temp?

Are TCHP indices like through the roof in coastal waters?

TCHP won't be that high in coastal water, since the thermocline = the bottom. If the water is only 50-75m deep, it doesn't have a huge depth of warmth to work with.
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About JeffMasters

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