Tropical Storm Erika's future highly uncertain

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:21 PM GMT on September 02, 2009

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The tropical wave we were calling Invest 94 finally decided to stop dawdling and become Tropical Storm Erika yesterday. However, Erika seems intent upon keeping us guessing about its intentions, as the storm's future track and intensity remain highly uncertain. After a modest burst of intensification to a 60 mph tropical storm last night, Erika has become quite disorganized this morning. The Hurricane Hunters found multiple swirling centers inside Erika early this morning, and the main center took a jump to the southwest to relocate itself under a batch of intense thunderstorms. The exact location and path of Erika remain uncertain at this point, and it is possible the storm will have another center relocation later today. Wind shear analyses from the University of Wisconsin diagnose a moderate 10 - 15 knots of shear over Erika, a decrease from yesterday. SSTs are warm, 29°C. Why, then, is Erika so disorganized? The trouble with the various wind shear analyses we use is that they take a crude average of winds over a thick layer to arrive at an average shear, and this large-scale average shear does not capture thin layers of shear that can dramatically affect a tropical cyclone. Upper air data from Guadeloupe and Saint Martin from last night show a complicated shear pattern in Erika's region, with 30 knot winds out of the south to southwest at 200 mb height, nearly calm winds between 300 - 500 mb, and northeasterly winds of 10 - 20 knots from the surface to 500 mb. Some extremely dry air with humidities near 10% was present in a thin layer near 600 mb on the Guadeloupe sounding, so dry air from the Saharan Air Layer is probably being injected by a northeasterly jet of wind into the core of Erika. The shear of 30 knots at the top of the storm is ripping away the heat and moisture Erika's thunderstorms are lifting there, and the result of the shear and dry air is a very disorganized tropical storm.

Erika is embedded in a weak steering current pattern, and the future track of the storm will depend greatly upon how strong the storm gets over the next few days. A stronger Erika will extend higher into the atmosphere and be steered more to the northwest by upper-level winds. A weaker Erika will be steered more by the low-level winds, which will keep the storm on a more westerly track. Given the complicated nature of the wind shear pattern in the region, it is difficult to forecast how strong Erika will get. Virtually anything can happen over the next five days, from dissipation (as forecast by the ECMWF model) to intensification to a Category 3 hurricane (as forecast by the HWRF model). Large-scale wind shear is expected to increase to 20 - 25 knots between 3 - 4 days from now, so Erika will have to deal with an increasing amount of adversity. The storm is a long-term threat to the Bahamas and U.S. East Coast, particularly if the storm stays weak over the next three days. Potential landfall solutions from the models range from Florida on Tuesday (GFS model) to North Carolina on Wednesday (Canadian model).


Figure 1. Morning image of Tropical Storm Erika, showing a false center over Guadaloupe--one of several surface swirls the Hurricane Hunters found in the storm.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The tropical wave off the coast of Africa we were watching on NHC's Tropical Weather Outlook as having a low chance of developing into a tropical depression has been done in by the dry air of the Sahara, and is no longer a threat to develop. A large and well-organized tropical wave will emerge from the coast of Africa on Thursday, and several of the models develop this low into a tropical depression by early next week. The remains of an old cold front off the coast of North Carolina could serve as a breeding ground for some tropical development Friday or Saturday, but anything that forms in this region would get swept quickly northeastward into New England by Sunday without enough time to become a tropical depression.

Hurricane Jimena nears Baja
Hurricane Jimena has steadily weakened over the past day, and is now down to a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. The storm should continue to steadily weaken over the next 24 hours as the waters under the hurricane cool from 28°C to 27°C. Jimena is battering a relatively unpopulated stretch of coast, and largely spared the tourist mecca on the southern tip of Baja. It now appears unlikely that moisture from Jimena will reach the Southwestern U.S., and the hurricane appears poised to stall out over Baja and die five days from now.


Figure 2. Hurricane Jimena on Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2009, as seen by NASA's MODIS instrument. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Baja's hurricane history
The most powerful hurricane on record to hit the west coast of Baja occurred last year, when Hurricane Norbert made landfall on the central Baja coast with sustained winds of 105 mph (Category 2) . Norbert's central pressure of 956 mb at landfall made it the 3rd strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast of Mexico since record keeping began in 1949. Norbert killed eight, knocked out power to 20,000 homes, and damaged or destroyed 40% of the homes on the islands of Margarita and Magdalena. Norbert crossed the Baja Peninsula and made landfall on Mainland Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds.

Only two major hurricanes have made landfall on Baja since record keeping began in 1949. Both hurricanes hit the east (Gulf of California) side of Baja. The first was Hurricane Olivia of 1967. Olivia made landfall on October 13, 1967 as a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. Due to its small size and the unpopulated region of coast it hit, damage was minimal. The second major hurricane was Hurricane Kiko, which made landfall on August 27, 1989, as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph (minimal Category 3). Kiko was a small hurricane and hit a relatively unpopulated area, resulting in no loss of life and only scattered reports of damage.


Figure 3. A plot of all the major hurricanes to pass within 200 miles of Mexico's Baja Peninsula since 1949. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

California fire webcams
As I discussed in yesterday morning's post, you can use our wundermap for Los Angeles with the fire layer turned on to see where the fire and smoke are located, and track the temperatures and winds during today's air pollution event. We also have two webcams with views of the fire: Altadena and Tujunga.

I'll have an update by 4pm this afternoon, when the data from the next hurricane hunter flight into Erika will be available.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


A weak storm comes west north west. Anything can happen. Look at Katrina.


how 24hr makes a difference here, just yesterday everyone had this going to category 1 heading anywhere from africa to US, now just a thunderstorm, to early to tell right now, iwould wait couple more advisories before dumping erika.

just like your old girlfriend when you breakup with here, next day your making a b**ty call.

and i'm not CASTING ANYTHING..
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ok time for lunch...going to play some cards and chill....laterz :)
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 201
What's fascinating to me is how a storm like Erika can sit and spin in nearly the same area for days on end and not spin itself out. After all, the constant recycling of moisture via rain and evaporation - wouldn't that cool both the air and ocean and make conditions less favorable for development over time? Plus, the dense cloud cover prevents further ocean heating from the sun.
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Quoting stormno:
stormpetrol i suggest you look at the surface maps for the next 48 hours..lol ericka would have to be supergirl to overcome all the shear she will encounter.its all over for ericka she will be history in 48 hours...i cant believe you could make a statement like that if you looked at the surface maps..i guess people have opinions though and i say you have no chance in hell of that happening...Stormno

You might be right, I maybe wrong or vice versa time will tell, so far I been pretty right regarding Erika, you have a right to your opinion , I have a right to mine, though I will not criticize you or anyone else for that matter, its just not my style, time will tell.
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Well as long as I get a few more ducks this season Im good. Keep that storm away from us... Female storms love this place.
Member Since: June 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
From the Charleston discussion today:

...Sunday and Monday...the high pressure wedge will begin to strengthen
again early next week...and with it comes to return of deeper
moisture as the old frontal boundary shifts back into the area.
Chance probability of precipitation will occur over eastern areas Sunday...with chance probability of precipitation
most locations Monday.


Tuesday...keeping a watch on the tropics as we need to keep watch on
the evolution of tropical cyclone Erika...which as of early this
morning looks to be somewhere between South Florida and Bermuda.

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Quoting DestinJeff:
anybody having trouble with ignore feature ... have a couple i want to add, but just takes me to my own blog


Does the same thing to me.. takes me to my blog page
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 474
Quoting Patrap:
NOLA Roux about a Month ago,she doubled in Size since this pic

To Cute!!
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Quoting Patrap:
NOLA Roux about a Month ago,she doubled in Size since this pic
What breed?
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Quoting Patrap:


Models are insight to what may occur,there not Gospel.
You need to Learn some on why and what they do.
They are individuals,not unlike Humans.
All see different things and all have a role.

I'll get you a Tutorial Overview to digest..
Its real yummy




Hey you think you could get me one as well. LOL I am still the one who yells at the TV and Computer when Channel 7 news, and NOAA have a diagreement on these storms.
somewhat agree
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Quoting weatherman97:
florida needs to watch erika very colsely even if td or storm still can bring heavy rain and gusty winds and can blow power out so everyone needs to watch colsly


well, that sort of happens every afternoon anyway.. lol
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 474
NOLA Roux about a Month ago,she doubled in Size since this pic
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
florida needs to watch erika very colsely even if td or storm still can bring heavy rain and gusty winds and can blow power out so everyone needs to watch colsly
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Quoting dwpearson:
GOM is safe... Ducks still flying in Milton LA


pROBABLY the ducks of hazzard.
Ducks will be going away on monday.
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Erika is really starting to organize now, winds might be down, but the she finally has one dominant center, my guess is she'll be up to 60 mph by 5 or 8 pm tonight, let the show begin.
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Quoting TriniGirl26:



you forget Fish Casters...lol


Speaking of "fish casters"...

What *is* a fish storm?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5891
Quoting justalurker:
am i missing something..i still NHC having erika as a storm..until then i hope for the best and wish for the least..everyone seems to forget andrew.hmmm

dont count anything gone, it might just pop up and bite you in the ***


A weak storm comes west north west. Anything can happen. Look at Katrina.
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Quoting TriniGirl26:



you forget Fish Casters...lol


and
Gulf Casters
and
Andrew Casters
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 474
Quoting Patrap:


Nola Roux is a Machine already,.I took her to Audubon Park yesterday,..and she discovered Squirrels,..and Joggers.

Squirrels made out fine,..Joggers?,well,that may rate a Blog Entry.
With her Ears Now fully Up,,she looks Like a Minature full Grown Sheperd

LOL


Have you put a picture up? We are finally getting our new roof from IKE this week and my dogs think their are monsters up there! The barking and hammering is giving me a headache! lol..
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GOM is safe... Ducks still flying in Milton LA
Member Since: June 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
too funny!!
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
Quoting TriniGirl26:



you forget Fish Casters...lol


telecaster? stratocaster? wait those are guitars....
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
How many "Caster" variations are there?

1. Wishcaster
2. Downcaster
3. West North South and east....
4. RIPcaster
5. NOLAcasters
6. Disastercasters (my personal fave)
7. Flordiacasters

just to name a few...

The most overused thing here...


I'm a castercaster. I predict a 100% chance of people making some sort of prediction.
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holy cow! sitting here reading stormw's blog (which is great as usual) eating my chef boyardee abc 123 bites (with meatballs) and found the chef and storm could be twins... kinda freaky
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Quoting homelesswanderer:
Thank you too Hanna. :)

ya welcome! One in a while I can actually answer something!
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Technical Attachment

AN OVERVIEW OF NHC PREDICTION MODELS

Bernard N. Meisner
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
How many "Caster" variations are there?

1. Wishcaster
2. Downcaster
3. West North South and east....
4. RIPcaster
5. NOLAcasters
6. Disastercasters (my personal fave)
7. Flordiacasters

just to name a few...

The most overused thing here...



you forget Fish Casters...lol
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 201
Quoting dwpearson:
I think Erika will be a great lesson learned. NEVER TRUST A MODEL. Models are great conversation pieces but almost always change esp. when it is 3-5 days out. I think Erika will stall near the Florida coast then move out to sea.


GOM is more likely then Florida.
My pinguin is swimming north and started at the same place as ERIKA.He is already 100 miles ahead.Dont worry my pinguin will keep us informed.
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On to me are ya???
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
Quoting dwpearson:
I think Erika will be a great lesson learned. NEVER TRUST A MODEL. Models are great conversation pieces but almost always change esp. when it is 3-5 days out. I think Erika will stall near the Florida coast then move out to sea.


Models are insight to what may occur,there not Gospel.
You need to Learn some on why and what they do.
They are individuals,not unlike Humans.
All see different things and all have a role.

I'll get you a Tutorial Overview to digest..
Its real yummy
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Quoting jpsb:


LMAO, yes! things really get going then. I usally head for the bar and have a few, then get back on when things have calmed down.


haha that works i suppose, it can be quite entertaining though
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yes
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Quoting OSUWXGUY:


No problem. Paging through the old rap.ucar sight and found it.

This kind of failure on the parts of the models to recognize/resolve shear better will put a lid on how much better these models can get...

Somehow, someway we need to be able to get better upper air data over the oceans. The G4 around a storm is a start, but there needs to be a more permanent, ongoing solution.

I very much agree.
Question: Do you find it odd that we are running GFDL, HWRF, etc. looking for a five-day solution without running any balloons up at 06Z and 18Z? One would think that upper air obs in FL, Bahamas, even Georgia and Bama would be useful info.
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am i missing something..i still NHC having erika as a storm..until then i hope for the best and wish for the least..everyone seems to forget andrew.hmmm

dont count anything gone, it might just pop up and bite you in the ***
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Thank you too Hanna. :)
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Quoting Patrap:


Nola Roux is a Machine already,.I took her to Audubon Park yesterday,..and she discovered Squirrels,..and Joggers.

Squirrels amde out fine,..Joggers?,well,that may rate a Blog Entry.
With her Ears Now fully Up,,she looks Like a Minature full Grown Sheperd

LOL

awe...a new puppy! Love the name too!
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316. jpsb
Quoting tornadodude:


i know exactly what you mean, makes very hectic in the late afternoon when the RIPers and "boosters" are on simotaneously


LMAO, yes! things really get going then. I usally head for the bar and have a few, then get back on when things have calmed down.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Search Wiktionary Look up zonal or meridional in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The terms zonal and meridional are used to describe directions on a globe. Zonal means "along a latitude circle" or "in the west-east direction"; while meridional means "along a meridian" or "in the north-south direction".

These terms are often used in the atmospheric and earth sciences to describe global phenomena, such as "meridional wind flow", or "zonal temperature". (Strictly speaking, zonal means more than simply a direction as it also implies a degree of localization in the meridional direction, so that the phenomenon in question is localized to a zone of the planet.)
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SQUAWK....you're crackin' me up, man...
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Quoting SQUAWK:
Thanks Pat. How is the new puppy doing??


Nola Roux is a Machine already,.I took her to Audubon Park yesterday,..and she discovered Squirrels,..and Joggers.

Squirrels made out fine,..Joggers?,well,that may rate a Blog Entry.
With her Ears Now fully Up,,she looks Like a Minature full Grown Sheperd

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
I think Erika will be a great lesson learned. NEVER TRUST A MODEL. Models are great conversation pieces but almost always change esp. when it is 3-5 days out. I think Erika will stall near the Florida coast then move out to sea.
Member Since: June 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 15

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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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