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 BurnedAfterPosting:


The sarcasm gets really annoying after awhile


So does your posting but I don't complain.
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282. JRRP
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


The sarcasm gets really annoying after awhile


...thanks for sharing...
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Ohh God.. Hawaii!!!

Wow, did not see this coming.. Whens the last time Hawaii was hit with a Hurricane, 1992?
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Quoting presslord:


C'mon, dude! This indicates that you believe they base their forecasts on scientific data...as opposed to some sort of mysterious political conspiracy....you know better than that...


The sarcasm gets really annoying after awhile
Quoting CycloneOz:
Amazing...

We'll still be at 0,0,0 come 8/7/2009.

Incredible.


Looking at the ECMWF, one of the most reliable models this season, we could be 0,0,0 thru 8/15/09. Pretty AWESOME if you ask me.
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Quoting IKE:



Total # of storms.....

1962....5
1967....8
1977....6
1983....4
1992....7. Six named.

Not a one of those years had 10 storms total. I know...it only takes one, etc. I'm just looking at the numbers(average).

This is an El Nino year. I see no way the total is above average. Almost no way it is average(10).

Average season has the 2nd named storm by tomorrow.


And a lot of those listed had really destructive storms. Andrew, Antia, Beulah, Alica.
3 Category 5's on that list. Plus we're in the active period that wasn't around then but has been since 1995. Im betting more like 11 named.
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275. IKE
Quoting NRAamy:


Rain and Hail on the West Coast of the USA.....


That's a frog-strangler.
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Quoting Drakoen:
One reason why the NHC might now make it a Category 4 is because the cloud tops in the northern quadrant have warmed somewhat.


C'mon, dude! This indicates that you believe they base their forecasts on scientific data...as opposed to some sort of mysterious political conspiracy....you know better than that...
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273. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:


We will probably be looking at 8-9 named storms.


I agree, but I'll stick with my total(10-4-2).
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Rain and Hail on the West Coast of the USA.....
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Quoting IKE:



Total # of storms.....

1962....5
1967....8
1977....6
1983....4
1992....7. Six named.

Not a one of those years had 10 storms total. I know...it only takes one, etc. I'm just looking at the numbers(average).

This is an El Nino year. I see no way the total is above average. Almost no way it is average(10).

Average season has the 2nd named storm by tomorrow.


We will probably be looking at 8-9 named storms.
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269. IKE
Quoting WeatherStudent:


I don't see it weakening.


Loop it, you can...Link
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


I don't see it weakening.


...hope springs eternal...
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Quoting leftovers:
remember accuweather blowing off the horns and giving a forecast of a galveston hit.


LOL thats why it was so memorable!
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One reason why the NHC might now make it a Category 4 is because the cloud tops in the northern quadrant have warmed somewhat.
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265. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Not really so unusual to be 0,0,0 on this date. 1962, 1967, 1977, 1983, 1992 had no named storms by this date--and these are seasons with satellite observations. And those are just the ones I thought of off the bat, there may be more. I exclude seasons before 1960 because there was no satellite monitoring.



Total # of storms.....

1962....5
1967....8
1977....6
1983....4
1992....7. Six named.

Not a one of those years had 10 storms total. I know...it only takes one, etc. I'm just looking at the numbers(average).

This is an El Nino year. I see no way the total is above average. Almost no way it is average(10).

Average season has the 2nd named storm by tomorrow.
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I don't recall weather satellites in the 60s maybe in the 70s yes.
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Quoting IKE:
Look at the water vapor of the AOI in the eastern ATL, the westernmost convection is waekening. Looks to be due to the dry-air....



This system needs to expand its convection to protect itself from the dry air.
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Quoting Drakoen:
This confirms a low level circulation coinciding with the quickscat


for the aoi in the central atlantic I presume..?
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This confirms a low level circulation coinciding with the quickscat
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259. IKE
Look at the water vapor of the AOI in the eastern ATL, the westernmost convection is waekening. Looks to be due to the dry-air....

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I think Felicia should be a moderate Category 4 Hurricane by now. The 3 hr TI is near 6.0. RAW TI and the ADJ TI confirm a Category 4 hurricane.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Hi there,

All eyes on the Pacific now but I have not counted the ATL low out yet. It has lifted to about 12N which would allow for the coriolis effect to help spin it up.

Still and AOI for me notwithstanding of its current state.


The energy of the AOI yesterday had moved to a different Low pressure area that was trailing to its NE by 5deg N and 3deg E....or located at 13N 34W.....the AOI yesterday is located at 8N 37W.....2 seperate entities.
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Quoting Drakoen:


It needs to expands it's converge over the surface center to get my interest.


Indeed...that's the only way the low would tighten. Guess we'll just have to wait and see...
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Quoting SSideBrac:
I am, perhaps in the minority (but have NOT taken a poll)in this blog, loving the quiet Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season to date.
I tend to ignore Forecast numbers for a Season's Storms - it only takes one to cause devestation - my opinion is if u choose to live/work in a "Hurricane Zone (and I do), ensure u and yours are well prepared by end May and stay that way until the end of the Season.
Enjoy your little slice of paradise in the quiet times but be prepared for it to turn, at relatively short notice, into a living hell if u get hit by a "big one" - hell while u are in the storm and a hellish endurance test in the often extended recovery aftermath.
Certainly NEVER wish for a Hurricane.
Check your 6 at all times and be 360 aware!


I can't agree more.....just the stress of preparing for a storm that is near one's vicinity is bad enough.
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Felicia must be CAT4 in the next NHC report
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Quoting jeffs713:

I don't get my BP up much over them. I know they are just being themselves, and really don't know the power of what they are wishing for. No worries.


What do you think WeatherStudent is going to use The Secret to bring down a plethora of hurricanes upon us? LOL
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I am, perhaps in the minority (but have NOT taken a poll)in this blog, loving the quiet Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season to date.
I tend to ignore Forecast numbers for a Season's Storms - it only takes one to cause devestation - my opinion is if u choose to live/work in a "Hurricane Zone (and I do), ensure u and yours are well prepared by end May and stay that way until the end of the Season.
Enjoy your little slice of paradise in the quiet times but be prepared for it to turn, at relatively short notice, into a living hell if u get hit by a "big one" - hell while u are in the storm and a hellish endurance test in the often extended recovery aftermath.
Certainly NEVER wish for a Hurricane.
Check your 6 at all times and be 360 aware!
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249. Relix
How's the conditions ahead of our little brave blob for development? It's moving W... or WNW, depends on how convection fools eyes.
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Major FELICIA still stronger las report

ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 05 AUG 2009 Time : 170000 UTC
Lat : 14:15:00 N Lon : 129:07:50 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.8 / 955.8mb/109.8kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
5.8 6.4 6.7
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It seems like the cpu models are not taking into account the dry air and sheer levels in the Atlantic.

When it comes to cyclogenesis this year so far in the Atlantic... It's like trying to put a square peg in a round whole...It just won't fit right no matter what you do...This ofcourse can change in the coming weeks.
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NexSat Africa Visible with new Wave exiting
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Quoting Drakoen:
The CMC is latching on to that area near the coast of Africa. We'll see what happens.


That is actually reasonable, there is a lack of SAL over the region.
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Quoting OSUWXGUY:


Hey Drak!

Yeah...it seems that convection is firing where there is some surface convergence between the northeasterlies in the dry, dusty Saharan air and the WSW winds moister flow heading into the low. Broad low indeed!


It needs to expands it's converge over the surface center to get my interest.
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Amazing...

We'll still be at 0,0,0 come 8/7/2009.

Incredible.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3835
The CMC is latching on to that area near the coast of Africa. We'll see what happens.
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I remember this as a kid plain as day...


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Quoting Drakoen:
The convection associated with the low in the ATL is north of the broad surface center:


Hey Drak!

Yeah...it seems that convection is firing where there is some surface convergence between the northeasterlies in the dry, dusty Saharan air and the WSW winds moister flow heading into the low. Broad low indeed!
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Gotta run now
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


That is a cool radar image! Where did you get that from?
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Looks like felicia is through its eyewall cycle. not sure if its cat 4 yet but imo looks to have gained atleast 10 to 15 knots. probably 125 to 135 mph.
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The computer models have been very aggressive with the areas of interest this hurricane season so far.

I agree that this little blob near the ITCZ has a little fight left in it but I don't know how it is realistically going to sustain what convection it has now and possibly develop further.
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233. IKE
Quoting tropicfreak:
As expected.

000
ABNT20 KNHC 051730
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT WED AUG 5 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER PASCH






0-0-0 continues. Looks like 2009 will go beyond 1988(August 7th start date).
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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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