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 WXHam:


Depends on which party you belong to


thats good one
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey all i am reporting from the Weather Research Lab at ULM and we are analyzing Erika...I agree that she appears to be weakening but i think better conditions will ensue once she gets closer to the Bahamas...i also think the 12Z GFDL has the best track for this system as of now...
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


ok, something that may be a west(Texas)gulf concern or a east gulf concern (Florida)?

Stormno is watching his toilet bowl model again. There is always a potential for a storm to spin up off a stalled front in the GOM, but it will take some time to get rolling in that situation. (Humberto was a different situation).
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Quoting bluewaterblues:
Erica is a fighter...looking at the shear maps things could get very interesting with shear just at 5- 10 knots in the Bahama region.
Yes, this is what the concern is, I believe. We will just have to see if her circulation can hold together until it makes it to the "safe" area. She won't have a problem with that unless she moves over Hispaniola with 10k+ ft peaks.
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1006. IKE
Quoting btwntx08:

most of the winds were on the east side of the system but will see


Here's the coordinates of the airport...Lat/Lon: 16.3 N 61.5 W

Erika is centered at 16.2N and 61.1W. Center is east of the airport.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting Nimitz:


1) Get rid of Norton.
2) Install AVG
3) Turn off any second-party tool bars.
4) Never, EVER click on an ad, or open an email from someone you don't know, or open an attachment from anyone unless they send you an email first to tell you it's coming.

And IMHO, ditch Outlook, get Eudora.


All great until you're using a corporate asset, then you;re kinda stuck. For me however, I would change the AVG to McAfee...
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Erica is a fighter...looking at the shear maps things could get very interesting with shear just at 5- 10 knots in the Bahama region.
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Quoting Nimitz:


1) Get rid of Norton.
2) Install AVG
3) Turn off any second-party tool bars.
4) Never, EVER click on an ad, or open an email from someone you don't know, or open an attachment from anyone unless they send you an email first to tell you it's coming.

And IMHO, ditch Outlook, get Eudora.

Avast is free for virus scanning.

Also, if you want something other than Eudora, I suggest Thunderbird.

And finally... Firefox with NoScript will block most of the java ads unless you manually accept it.
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Quoting stormno:
yes texas hurricane watch the eastern gom for the next 72 hours will get really interesting down there...sst are upper 80s...so watch closely..Stormno


ok, something that may be a west(Texas)gulf concern or a east gulf concern (Florida)?
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1001. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting IKE:


Here's one from about 5 minutes ago....

"Le Raizet, Guadeloupe, Guadeloupe (Airport)
Updated: 4 min 40 sec ago
Clear
85 °F
Clear
Humidity: 76%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the SE
Wind Gust: -
Pressure: 29.82 in (Falling)
Visibility: 12.0 miles
Elevation: 36 ft".....


***That location is 24 miles from the latest coordinates***
wind up 2 mph from previous loc intersting lets see wwhat that plane finds
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Quoting alaina1085:


OMG I love her. Shes one of my fave actresses.


and got a nice looking hubby too!!!!!
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Quoting harleydchick:
Andrew was described as a wishy washy storm by meteorologists during it's early days as a "disturbance" many times before it exploded into something tangible.

watching Erika and reading all the comments and updates - gotta make you wonder if it's "fizzle" or "ferocious" in its future.


I remember very well. I lost everything during that storm
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Betcha if he don't know what Texas is, he don't know who John Wayne is :)
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Quoting Dakster:


BTW - I just finished trying to fix a computer with that particular virus on it. The only way to succeed if it entrenches itself is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall from scratch. I would like to be alone, in a room, with the person that wrote that virus... 'enuf said.


1) Get rid of Norton.
2) Install AVG
3) Turn off any second-party tool bars.
4) Never, EVER click on an ad, or open an email from someone you don't know, or open an attachment from anyone unless they send you an email first to tell you it's coming.

And IMHO, ditch Outlook, get Eudora.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting apocalyps:
Is texas a village with people in it?


I know I'm gonna regret this...

Texas ( /ˈtɛksəs/ (help·info)) is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, and the largest state in the contiguous United States. Located in the South Central United States, Texas is bordered by Mexico to the south, New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east. Texas has an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2), and a growing population of 24.6 million residents.[7] Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while Dallas–Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in the state and the fourth-largest in the nation. Other major cities include San Antonio, El Paso, and Austin—the state capital. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as an independent republic and was a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texas State Flag and on the Texas State Seal today


There ya go.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting Chiggy007:
Alaina.. you have been reported to Admin..not sticking to tropics....!!!!!!!


So who you reporting again?
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Quoting stormsurge39:
How would they do it before computer models? I doubt it had anything to do with nests! Look im not saying models are not very useful in forecasting 99% of storms but this one is different, and i was hoping someone with some old school experience could help.

I wrote something similar earlier and was jumped on like tics on a Bull, maybe 23 will write the fake TWO again today, my guess is thats the closest he'll ever come to writing for NHC,if it had been anyone else I suspect a ban would have taken place, I guess the rules are different for a chosen few.I don't know what happened to him seems to have chip on the shoulder & angry at the world, jmo , sorry I just couldn't hold this one back!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Quoting jeffs713:

Its google ads. I've never had an issue on here, but I also have a paid subscription with no ads. (and NoScript on my home computer)


Typically it's any ad with java inclusion; the last machine I worked on had been used to hit a porn site or two and the user panicked when the "You have a virus, click here" message came up...they, ummm, clicked there...rather ironic, I think
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Quoting SQUAWK:


You have been reported to admin for not staying on topic.

THAT gets a + from me.
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Quoting 789:
that was from 2006


sorry forgot to post the year..
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
the highest winds are not near the center and the never heave been. They were always to the east in thunderstorms.
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986. IKE
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:

Ike, what's up? You have been trying to kill this storm since before she was born. Yesturday you said recon would be cancelled and then when they flew, they cound TS ERIKA. I'm just curious what you are seeing, or are you just hoping it dies?


I didn't say "it would be canceled". I said... I wonder if they'll cancel recon.

Yes...I'm hoping it dies. I have reasons. PM me if you want them.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
If that's the case ... as long as the rain doesn't flood away, the south of the island can always use the extra water. Gotta keep the streets of Ponce clean somehow.
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983. WXHam
Quoting WeatherLoverinMiami:


Guys It's convection


Depends on which party you belong to
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What I think Erika is going to do is that Erika might either become a weak TD or a remnant low later today then, gets into the Bahamas and might regenerate/strengthen and head towards the general direction of Florida or the east coast.

Those waters are very warm in the Bahamas and the shear is low looking at the shear maps.
This is of course in my honest opinion, no one but mother nature truly knows what Erika is going to do.
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Quoting keys33070:



What is prediction on the strenth of the storm if it follows either one of these routes?
Minimal hurricane at best.
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Quoting Grothar:


Yeah, right. I'm lucky I know how to add!

For 925Mb to the surface, its generally good to take 20-25% off.
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This storm really reminds me of Fay.
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Quoting WINDSMURF:
I am still holding on to my prediction from yesterday at around this time. This storm will pass very close to puerto rico and may have little interaction with the north coast of hispanola. Might miss florida completely
on its way to the GOM or it may began a northerly turn over the state of florida



What is prediction on the strenth of the storm if it follows either one of these routes?
976. IKE
Quoting btwntx08:

note the time as well nearly 50 minutes ago


Here's one from about 5 minutes ago....

"Le Raizet, Guadeloupe, Guadeloupe (Airport)
Updated: 4 min 40 sec ago
Clear
85 °F
Clear
Humidity: 76%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 9 mph from the SE
Wind Gust: -
Pressure: 29.82 in (Falling)
Visibility: 12.0 miles
Elevation: 36 ft".....


***That location is 24 miles from the latest coordinates***
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting presslord:
...thanks...


Even I was getting a headache from the other one.
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Quoting IKE:


They flew over Guadeloupe and picked those winds up when someone was blow-drying their hair.

Ike, what's up? You have been trying to kill this storm since before she was born. Yesturday you said recon would be cancelled and then when they flew, they cound TS ERIKA. I'm just curious what you are seeing, or are you just hoping it dies?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
973. 7544
ill have to go with the gfdl at this point last run shows her a s weak storm but as it gets close to the bahammas it get stronger as a strong ts heading nw towads fla ill have to go with that for now still 5 days out anything can happen but that might seem real than the harwf that shows the same track as the gfdl and cmc but way to intense on strenth next
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972. WXHam
Some hair dryer :)
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Quoting Dakster:


I have a two good UBB's (Hiren's was one of them) and I tried the off HDD scans. It finds the virus, but the darn thing keeps coming back. I even deleted and reinstalled a whole bunch of infected .DLL's and .SYS files from the windows/system32 directory. I at least got the wallpaper back permanently and at times I can get the resolution back to normal, but as soon as the computer goes online - bam... I just copied the data off, a reformat was quicker in the long run.


Make sure you scan the data before you move it back on; I nmade that mistake with one I cleaned up...the funny thing is, the code you're talking about started out as PSi software and not Zombieware; someone caught the code and "tinkered" with it
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970. Relix
Quoting Weather456:
Time: 17:58:00Z
Coordinates: 16.3N 60.5W

Acft. Static Air Press: 959.4 mb (~ 28.33 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 424 meters (~ 1,391 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1007.1 mb (~ 29.74 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 217° at 14 knots (From the SW at ~ 16.1 mph)
Air Temp: 23.0°C (~ 73.4°F)
Dew Pt: 18.9°C (~ 66.0°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 15 knots (~ 17.2 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 26 knots (~ 29.9 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr (~ 0 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data


This will be called a TD at 5PM. I am almost certainly sure of this.
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Andrew was described as a wishy washy storm by meteorologists during it's early days as a "disturbance" many times before it exploded into something tangible.

watching Erika and reading all the comments and updates - gotta make you wonder if it's "fizzle" or "ferocious" in its future.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


A more mellow version for the older folks on here.
...thanks...
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Quoting apocalyps:
I see another burst of convention.


Guys It's convection
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Quoting leftovers:
are the bad guys targeting google ads or are they aiming at dr masters blog?

Its google ads. I've never had an issue on here, but I also have a paid subscription with no ads. (and NoScript on my home computer)
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Quoting Floodman:


You can beat it...you just have to be patient and know the registry very well. It also helps to have an ultimate bootdisk to start the machine with tools but not off the HDD

A linux install disk works nicely, too. And usually means that the riddance of any and all viruses is permanent.


These are a little closer to one another. Still, take your pick from 140 knots to 40 knots.
Sorry, 23, models still junk. Maybe by 0 Z tonight they will have a better idea.



As compared to a situation where the obvious is going on and the models all know just what will happen (still a goofy ensemble member, though):
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964. IKE
Quoting Seastep:
IKE - They already did.

36 knots
(~ 41.4 mph)


They flew over Guadeloupe and picked those winds up when someone was blow-drying their hair.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting stormno:
TROPICFREAK CAN YOU READ I SAID NOTHING ABOUT ERICKA GOING INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO I SAID ERICKA IS DONE YOU CAN STICK A FORK IN HER ...WHAT IM WATCHING COMPUTERS HAVENT EVEN PICKED IT UP YET AND IM NOT SURPRISED OF THAT...THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ERICKA SHE IS DONE AND WILL BE DOWNGRADED IN THE NEXT ADVISORY TO A DEPRESSION...YOU UNDERSTAND NOW WHAT I MEAN TROPICFREAK...AS FOR BTWTX HE IS THE ONE THAT STARTED THE CRAP WITH ME HE CANT STAND WHEN IM RIGHT SO HE HAS TO RETALIATE WITH HIS SMART ASS COMMENTS..ENOUGH SAID LETS WAIT FOR TROPICAL DEPRESSION ERICKA IN THE NEXT ADVISORY AND LIKE I SAID THATS BEING GENEROUS...Stormno


just checking in...are you seeing something that will be in the GOM?
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okay - came in here to check things out cause the 2:00 was issued - who let a virus loose?
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3488
Quoting Chiggy007:
Alaina.. you have been reported to Admin..not sticking to tropics....!!!!!!!


You have been reported to admin for not staying on topic.
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498

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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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