Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:37 PM GMT on October 06, 2009
The tropics spawned another October surprise today, when Tropical Storm Henri formed in the face of adverse levels of wind shear. Henri is under about 20 - 25 knots of wind shear, which ordinarily prevents rapid development like we witnessed this afternoon. However, the environment is quite moist, and Henri is over warm waters, 29°C. An ASCAT pass from 11:37am EDT showed Henri had winds of 40 mph. Satellite loops show that Henri has managed to rapidly develop a large area of intense thunderstorms with cold cloud tops in just a few hours, though the high shear is keeping any thunderstorms from developing on the west side of the center. Water vapor satellite images show that there is some dry air to Henri's northwest, and this dry air will act to slow Henri's growth some. The dry air is creating strong downdrafts that are apparent on visible satellite images as arcs of cumulus clouds spreading out from where the downdraft hits the ocean surface, along the northwest side of Henri's center.
None of the reliable global computer models showed Henri would develop, and the models all favor weakening and dissipation of Henri by Thursday, due to high wind shear of 20 - 25 knots. The official NHC forecast goes along with this scenario, but think there is a medium (30 - 50% chance) that Henri will not dissipate. By Friday, wind shear in the vicinity of Henri (or its remains) is predicted to fall to the low to moderate range. Even if Henri has dissipated by that point, regeneration into a tropical storm may occur. The track of Henri after Friday is problematic, as the storm will be in an area of weak steering currents. Several of the models favor a track to the west-southwest into the Caribbean, across Hispaniola. Residents of the Dominican Republic and Haiti should anticipate that Henri or its remains may bring flooding rains to Hispaniola by Saturday. It is also possible that Henri will get pulled northwards and recurved out to sea, and not affect the Caribbean at all, though.
Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Henri.
A little tropical weather for England
The remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Grace is currently making landfall in Southwest England. Grace's remains brought sustained winds of tropical storm force--41 mph--to one buoy off the coast last hour, and 38 mph to the Sevenstones Lightship buoy. you can track the progress of Grace via our wundermap for the region.
Figure 2. The remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Grace scoots by to the south of Ireland in this visible satellite image taken at 1pm EDT 10/06/09. Image credit: UK Met Office.
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