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 wunderkidcayman:

you got to be kidding me ok what time is D-max


5-6 am local time
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Quoting hurricanejunky:

That's what I was saying earlier. It looks like that big pocket of dry air is moving down onto the western portion of the ITCZ, effectively slamming the door on anything coming thru there. Is that what you're seeing too?


the dry air should continue moving west just like the wave is moving west
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I would imagine the waves will be quite large in Hawaii soon
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Quoting futuremet:


lol that one is dead
now you've gotten me confused...are u talkin about the one near 35W...if so...didn't know that was a broad area of LP.
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Dmax peaks at day break
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Quoting futuremet:


The weak surface broad circulation is actually more organized than yesterday. The primary detriment this system has to endure now is dry air to its north.


That's what I was saying earlier. It looks like that big pocket of dry air is moving down onto the western portion of the ITCZ, effectively slamming the door on anything coming thru there. Is that what you're seeing too?
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
Quoting cyclonekid:
Where is the circulation you're talkin about...I'm talkin about the one near 45W...


lol that one is dead
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Quoting futuremet:


The weak surface broad circulation is actually more organized than yesterday. The primary detriment this system has to endure now is dry air to its north.

Where is the circulation you're talkin about...I'm talkin about the one near 45W...
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Quoting AllStar17:


Convection continuing to fire. And we are approaching DMIN

you got to be kidding me ok what time is D-max
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Quoting AllStar17:


Convection continuing to fire. And we are approaching DMIN


Well, that is because it is slightly more self-sufficient than yesterday. A weak surface low has develop, enhancing lower level convergence. Weak systems depend on almost entirely on external influences such as: diurnal phases, upper level diffluence, and help from an adjacent storm to sustain itself. The development of a surface low is necessitous for it to maintain itself. The dry air to the north should slow organization for the time being.
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Quoting AllStar17:


Convection continuing to fire. And we are approaching DMIN


Its approx around 3 where the AOI is... Which is pretty impressive since around this time of day the convection should be waning and not popping.
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72. afj3
This blog comes across patronizing sometimes....
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Quoting AllStar17:
AOI


Convection continuing to fire. And we are approaching DMIN
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Felicia will likely make it to cat 4. Hurricanes tend to intensify rapidly after developing a closed eye. Thus, I think this system will affect Hawaii as a weak cane or a strong TS.
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AOI
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Per wikipedia, Hurricane Andrew formed August 17th and since it was the 'A' storm that year, I am guessing the 1993 hurricane season started later than this year as well.
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Felicia looking very impressive.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Quoting cyclonekid:
Great Update Dr. M....well...the AOI we had yesterday has really poofed....chances of development look to be little to none. :(( I guess we'll have to wait a little longer for our Ana to show up.

However, Felicia looks like a monster...possible Cat. 4 at 2pm PDT...who agrees?


The weak surface broad circulation is actually more organized than yesterday. The primary detriment this system has to endure now is dry air to its north.

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Expecting a bigger eye...as well as more defined.
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Great Update Dr. M....well...the AOI we had yesterday has really poofed....chances of development look to be little to none. :(( I guess we'll have to wait a little longer for our Ana to show up.

However, Felicia looks like a monster...possible Cat. 4 at 2pm PDT...who agrees?


me!!!
XD
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63. afj3
"It has been 21 years since we went this long without a named storm in the Atlantic..."

What about 1992? Correct me if I am wrong here....
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Quoting StormW:


Not ignoring you...got a late start this morning...just finishing analysis. I'll have a mention in my update.


No problem! Looking forward to you update, like always! :)
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Quoting Claudette1234:


I agree some chance to be CAT4 at 2PM or 8PM PDT


absolutely, and with the weakening, storm intensities can be hard to predict more than 3 days out. they said that felicia would not become a hurricane until today, but its a major.
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Quoting Claudette1234:


thats a beaut of a storm
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Great Update Dr. M....well...the AOI we had yesterday has really poofed....chances of development look to be little to none. :(( I guess we'll have to wait a little longer for our Ana to show up.

However, Felicia looks like a monster...possible Cat. 4 at 2pm PDT...who agrees?


I agree some chance to be CAT4 at 2PM or 8PM PDT
Member Since: July 21, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 552
Water Vaper:



One of these may become Ana...if they hold up.
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Quoting AllStar17:


Your right. We should not count this out until nothing is left of it. Would not surprise me if we got the yellow circle back later today.

Ehh, I am personally less impressed now than I have been for the last 48 hours of saying "nothing special about this feature in the ITCZ"
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Looks like Hawaii might have to deal with a weak tropical storm again. Should be more rain than what Lana produced a few days ago.
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Member Since: July 21, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 552
52. IKE
Dr. Masters said....

"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.".....and...

"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."


Doesn't sound like Dr. Masters thinks they'll be an above average season in the Atlantic...


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting btwntx08:

u meant 2 pm est lol

yep how the the hell did that 1 get there and I did not type that in hmmm??????
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Quoting lizrod43:
post #41,,every time I have to go back to Florida, I feel sick. What a horrible place to live. Leaving that state is always a good trip.


I disagree; grew up in South Florida (before all the development) and now live in Tallahassee area......I've fished all over the State and my best memories are on the Coast and fishing in the Everglades (or Bass fishing now in North Florida). Trust me, if you have a decent job (and a boat), it's a great place to live and am always happy to get home.
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Quoting rwdobson:
Quoting AllStar17:


What??? Looks like there are some healthy waves lined up along the continent.


Healthy waves? Really? I only see one wave that even looks remotely healthy.


Not even the one on the right?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Great Update Dr. M....well...the AOI we had yesterday has really poofed....chances of development look to be little to none. :(( I guess we'll have to wait a little longer for our Ana to show up.

However, Felicia looks like a monster...possible Cat. 4 at 2pm PDT...who agrees?
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post #41,,every time I have to go back to Florida, I feel sick. What a horrible place to live. Leaving that state is always a good trip.
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Quoting AllStar17:


Your right. We should not count this out until nothing is left of it. Would not surprise me if we got the yellow circle back later today.

I'm with you on that yellow maybe 12 update
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Felicia may be similar to Hurricane Flossie of 2007, with slightly lower intensity.
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Quoting AllStar17:


What??? Looks like there are some healthy waves lined up along the continent.


Healthy waves? Really? I only see one wave that even looks remotely healthy.
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Quoting OSUWXGUY:
Good Morning Everyone!

Yesterday morning our AOI in the Atlantic looked impressive convection-wise but the vorticity and low level flow was not organized at all...

Today, the vorticity looks more promising - though it still appears to be a bit elongated from west to east - and of course there is a serious lack of convection.

Visible satellite seems to indicate increasing convergence near the eastern small area of convection (near 14N 29W) and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a flare up sometime in the next 12 hours associated with this. Anything that would flare up would be more promising than yesterday due to low level flow/vorticity




Your right. We should not count this out until nothing is left of it. Would not surprise me if we got the yellow circle back later today.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5300
Thanks Dr....I'm leaving for a 10 day NE road trip with the Family on Sunday (VA/CT/MA) so "maybe" I won't miss anything while I'm gone and won't have to fly back to Florida to board up anything.......Lol....Looks like I'm good to go until I get back to Florida around the 18th of August.
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Quoting largeeyes:
Down to a DEPRESSION by Monday? That's hard to believe considering what we have seen canes do over 25degree water before.


Remember, this is the EPAC, not the Gulf or Atlantic. This kind of rapid weakening is par for the course in the EPAC.
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
Experts are still expecting that we get to 10 named storms, so I think we will be more active than in 1992

Also NOAA comes out with their predictions tomorrow, will be interesting to see what they say.


I still think the "experts" at CSU (Klotzbach) hedged their forecast higher to have more continuity with their previous forecasts.

Both their Analogue year forecast and Statistical forecast called for less named storms yet they went with the higher 10? Especially since we haven't seen anything form yet...

And the TSR forecast only looks at ATLANTIC SSTs and trade winds...and doesn't take into account the El Nino in the Pacific...even though the below normal years since 1995 (1998, 2002, and 2006) were all El Nino years!
Thanks Dr. Masters
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
according to the 12z surface map the low is still there and now moving w or w-wnw more westward from 06z map
12z

06z
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Thanks Doc

Thank you for this update Dr. Masters
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Or better yet the Fujiwhara effect Dr. Masters mentioned in the forecast. It'll be quite interesting to see what, if any, dynamic that creates.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
Good Morning Everyone!

Yesterday morning our AOI in the Atlantic looked impressive convection-wise but the vorticity and low level flow was not organized at all...

Today, the vorticity looks more promising - though it still appears to be a bit elongated from west to east - and of course there is a serious lack of convection.

Visible satellite seems to indicate increasing convergence near the eastern small area of convection (near 14N 29W) and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a flare up sometime in the next 12 hours associated with this. Anything that would flare up would be more promising than yesterday due to low level flow/vorticity


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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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