Hurricane Felicia hits Category 3; may affect Hawaii next week

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on August 05, 2009

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As is often the case in an El Niño year, there's nothing to talk about today in the Atlantic, but the Eastern Pacific is very active. It has been 17 years since we went this long without a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic--the hurricane season of 1992 didn't start until August 16--but in the Eastern Pacific, we've already had six named storms this year. Hurricane Felicia is the latest addition, and Felicia has put on an impressive burst of intensification this morning by powering up to Category 3 status with 115 mph winds. Recent satellite loops show that Felicia has continued to intensify, with the cloud tops surrounding the eye cooling as they push higher into the troposphere.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Hurricane Felicia.

While Felicia is an impressive hurricane now, its days of glory will be short-lived. Felicia is currently passing over a region of warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of 28.5°C, a full 2.5°C above the 26°C threshold needed to sustain a hurricane. These warm waters also extend to great depth, as seen on the Ocean Heat Content image (Figure 2). Felicia's west-northwest track will take the storm into a region of cooler waters with lower Oceanic Heat Content beginning tonight, which should induce a steady weakening trend beginning Thursday night. By Friday morning, SSTs should fall to 26°C, and decline to 25°C by Saturday. While wind shear is expected to remain in the low to moderate range over the next five days, 5 - 15 knots, the cooler SSTs should be able to significantly weaken the hurricane. By Monday, when most of the computer models indicate that Felicia will be nearing the Hawaiian Islands, the storm will be at tropical depression strength with top winds of about 35 mph, according to the latest runs of the HWRF and GFDL models. Exactly how close Felicia will get to the Hawaiian Islands is a bit tricky to call right now, since the hurricane is interacting with nearby Tropical Storm Enrique. Whenever two storms get within 900 miles of each other, they tend to rotate around a common center in a dance called the Fujiwhara Effect. This sort of storm-storm interaction is a complicated affair not well-handled by the computer forecast models.


Figure 2. Total oceanic heat content (also called the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, TCHP) along the forecast path of Hurricane Felicia. The initial time of the forecast is 06 UTC (1 am EDT) on August 5, 2009. Oceanic heat content of 90 kJ per square cm is often associated with rapid intensification of hurricanes. Felicia is currently over waters with high heat content, but the heat content will steadily decrease over the next two days. Image credit: NOAA/RAMMB.

There are no areas of disturbed weather in the Atlantic worth mentioning today, and no computer models forecast tropical storm development over the next seven days.

I'll have an update on Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting WeatherStudent:


Good afternoon, 456! Really, where?


To really answer the question you must ask another:

When was the last you saw afternoon thunderstorms so prevalent?
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Quoting Weather456:
Good afternoon to everyone

Signs of the MJO





Good afternoon 456. Thoughts on the tropics?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting Weather456:
Good afternoon to everyone

Signs of the MJO





No kidding...
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1 Little...2 Little...3 Little Waves:
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Good afternoon to everyone

Signs of the MJO



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Almost lost it when the DEMO. guy pulled Nick Noltie's hooks off. lol!
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833


The rollover text reads: Hurricane forums are full of excited comments about central pressure and wind speed and comparisons to Camille and 1931 and 1938, with hastily-tacked-on notes about how it will be tragic if anyone dies and they hope it's a dud.

Hmmm.... ;)

from xkcd
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Quoting Magical:


Passed through the Big Island in '70 on way back from Vietnam. Lot's of poor people living in rough housing...hope it has changed some.....


Oh yeah, i'm sure it has changed. Been awhile since we've been back there, but they want to go back and visit again soon.
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LOL!
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
Just got back. Lots of discussion about Felicia, and we still have our AOI......but I do agree...we should watch the pulse of energy that just emerged off the African coast.

I also noticed NHC upped Felicia's winds to 125 mph.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting Drakoen:


The CMC has had some improvements. Right now no model has been reliable this year. The GFS has had a lot of cyclogenesis faults.


This is true. ;)
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Have any models accuratley projected no storms to this point? That would be the winner in my book
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That felicia looks like a buzz-saw!
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
Quoting mobilegirl81:
Yall ever seen Tropic Thunder? Thats what i was getting at LOL.


"I'm a Metal Farmer......"....Lol
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Quoting Magical:


Are you getting info from the military or local gov't?

Is there a flooding issue from rain or tide on the big island?


No info from military or government yet. I'm sure the info will start soon as some will be a little panicky until the weakening begins.

There is a good possibility of flooding and tidal issues in the Hilo area. With the mountains in the middle of the island, everything runs down to the coast.
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Yall ever seen Tropic Thunder? Thats what i was getting at LOL.
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
Quoting Joanie38:


Hi Patrap...

My father was stationed in Kadena AB Okinawa. Those Typoons can be a rough one... we've had several when we were living there on top of a hill!! It was pretty bad...


Passed through the Big Island in '70 on way back from Vietnam. Lot's of poor people living in rough housing...hope it has changed some.....
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The one coming off africa will probably be another let-down, but the next strong one after that.... could be serious.
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
Quoting hurristat:


The first part of your statement is important to watch, while the second means almost nothing :). The CMC wants to blow up everything. :)


The CMC has had some improvements. Right now no model has been reliable this year. The GFS has had a lot of cyclogenesis faults.
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Quoting hurristat:


What's D-MIN?

I think it is the time where the atmosphere is warmer than the sea surface
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Quoting hurristat:


The first part of your statement is important to watch, while the second means almost nothing :). The CMC wants to blow up everything. :)


not anymore, CMC has improved tremendously this year
Felicia is gaining an Annular Structure (aside from a spiral band to the south of the system):

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Quoting mobilegirl81:
Thig coming off africa...IMPRESSIVE...if it doe not go full retard.


Each one starts looking better & better this time of the year but the "one" that will survive the transition to the water, and maintain structure and convection well past the Cape Verde islands to make TD status in the Central Atlantic is hard to pinpoint this early in it's journey..........Just have to keep an eye on it (and the models).
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Quoting Drakoen:
Pretty strong pulse coming off the Africa coast that the CMC wants to blow up


The first part of your statement is important to watch, while the second means almost nothing :). The CMC wants to blow up everything. :)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


So we now have a 1012 MB low associated with the area of convection. They might bring it back up to Yellow at 2 AM.

expected to become a 1011 MB low maybe yellow tonight
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
Pretty strong pulse coming off the Africa coast that the CMC wants to blow up
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
18z surface map


So we now have a 1012 MB low associated with the area of convection. They might bring it back up to Yellow at 2 AM.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

yes , it is D-MIN over there


What's D-MIN?
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Quoting futuremet:


It is interacting with a weak mid level low to its south. This is why the 850mb vorticity seems elongated.

so it's getting organized?
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
Thig coming off africa...IMPRESSIVE...if it doe not go full retard.
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
Quoting Patrap:
Okinawa is almost the same Lat as NOLA.

I spent a year there at Camp Hansen,kin,Okinawa Sept 82-83

Father fought there in WW-2 as USMC 105 Gunner as well.


Hi Patrap...

My father was stationed in Kadena AB Okinawa. Those Typoons can be a rough one... we've had several when we were living there on top of a hill!! It was pretty bad...
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I'm back from vacation. I looked at the SST/Current Activity map on the main Tropical page and thought Fujiwhara! :)
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

yes , it is D-MIN over there

dam it's doing pretty darn good
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
Quoting weatherwatcher12:
Looks like convection is spreading out.


It is interacting with a weak mid level low to its south. This is why the 850mb vorticity seems elongated.
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051

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Quoting FortLauderdaleNole:
I'm on Oahu (military) ... folks aren't too excited about Felicia at this point. If she gets as far North as the forecast suggests she should weaken significantly. However if she starts taking a more Southerly route she may hold it together long enough to do some damage to the Big Island....and then you hold your breath for a Northerly turn after that (Iniki). Interesting history file about Estelle in 2004 trying to make the difficult assault from the East (she fell apart). One thing to keep in mind is that building codes on the islands aren't anywhere near as stringent as the hurricane-prone areas of the mainland so a direct hit by a strong TS would still cause quite a bit of damage.


Are you getting info from the military or local gov't?

Is there a flooding issue from rain or tide on the big island?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

wow and we are in D-MIN now?

yes , it is D-MIN over there
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
Looks like convection is spreading out.
Rotation is evident
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Looks like retarded storms for the atlantic, unless conditions rapidly enhance.
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
I'm on Oahu (military) ... folks aren't too excited about Felicia at this point. If she gets as far North as the forecast suggests she should weaken significantly. However if she starts taking a more Southerly route she may hold it together long enough to do some damage to the Big Island....and then you hold your breath for a Northerly turn after that (Iniki). Interesting history file about Estelle in 2004 trying to make the difficult assault from the East (she fell apart). One thing to keep in mind is that building codes on the islands aren't anywhere near as stringent as the hurricane-prone areas of the mainland so a direct hit by a strong TS would still cause quite a bit of damage.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
Looks like convection is spreading out.

wow and we are in D-MIN now?
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
Isn't it the general rule that storms "feel" a pull to the North? It's High pressures that tend to suppress them?
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Looks like convection is spreading out.
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587. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical wave along 26W and south of 16N moving westward at 10 kts.

Low 1012 by 11N 33W moving northwest at 15 kts.

Heat low 1008 in west of Mauritania along 20N.

ITCZ along 12N 15W 10N 24W 12N 33W 8N 39W.

--
Gasp! METEO France has found a low in the eastern atlantic again :D
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586. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


Flossie 2007
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

well yes unless if that high moves north and east or if a trough breaks through and curve it to the north west

thanks for explaining!
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Quoting hurricanehanna:

so if I am reading the map correctly (and I am still learning) the high pressures will keep any possible development of the AOI to the south of the US?

well yes unless if that high moves north and east or if a trough breaks through and curve it to the north west
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12157
thanks , kidcay

What's this about the trough pushing offshore over the next 5 - 7? That could be good or bad depending on what else is happening at the time....
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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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