Tropical Storms Nate, Maria have formed; 2011 season on the heels of 2005's numbers

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:25 PM GMT on September 07, 2011

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Tropical Storm Nate formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico this afternoon after Hurricane Hunters found a well-defined surface circulation in Invest 96L. Nate is the 14th named storm this year, and comes three days before the climatological half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10. A typical hurricane season has just 10 - 11 named storms, so we've already had 35% more than a whole season's worth of storms before reaching the season's half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 28 named storms, equalling the all-time record set in 2005. Nate's formation date of September 7 puts 2011 in 2nd place for earliest date of arrival of the season's 14th storm. Only 2005 had an earlier formation date of the season's 14th named storm (September 6, when Hurricane Nate got named.) Third place is now held jointly by 1936 and 1933, which got their 14th storm of the season on September 10.

This afternoon's Hurricane Hunter mission into Invest 96L/Nate found maximum sustained winds of at least 45 mph, and minimum central pressure of 1003 mb. Wind shear in the region is low and is expected to remain low for the next 48 hours. Sea surface temperature is toasty in the Gulf at around 30°C (86°F) and more than ample to support intensification. Nate will bring heavy rains and potential flooding and mudslides to Mexico, and according to some weather models, also has the potential to be a U.S. landfall threat. Nate's surface circulation is apparent on satellite loops, although the thunderstorm activity in the storm is displaced from the center. It appears the strongest storms are to the southwest and northeast of the center. East of the storm, thunderstorms are churning associated with the stationary front that's draped across Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and over the Yucatan Peninsula. This stationary front is left over from the cold front that pushed south through the central and eastern U.S. earlier this week, and created a focal point in the Gulf of Mexico for Tropical Storm Nate to form. It's notoriously difficult for weather models and forecasters to predict tropical cyclones that spin up in the Gulf of Mexico, but lead-time for both Nate and our previous Gulf cyclone, Lee, was generous.


Figure 1. Infrared satellite image of Tropical Storm Nate at 6:15pm EDT.

Forecast for Tropical Storm Nate
Given the favorable environment, in addition to a very warm pocket of sea surface waters in the central Gulf of Mexico, we expect that Nate will intensify modestly over the next few days. The National Hurricane Center forecasts that Nate will become the third hurricane of the season by Friday. The HWRF and ECMWF agree with this forecast—both of these models bring Nate to a category 2 hurricane by Saturday. The IVCN/ICON consensus models that the Hurricane Center relies on are more conservative, peaking at category 1 intensity. Nate's maximum potential intensity is heavily dependent on its track, which, according to the weather models, has been up in the air for the past few of days. Until this afternoon's run, the ECMWF has held true to its forecast that Nate will track north and make landfall anywhere from Louisiana to Florida. This afternoon, it backed off of that solution and is now forecasting a northern Mexico landfall. The GFS has consistently forecasted a track that lingers in the Bay of Campeche for a few days before ultimately making dive to the west into Mexico. Over the past few days the Canadian CMC model has been reluctant to develop Nate at all, but today is forecasting the system to track north into the Southeast U.S. states. Now that there is Hurricane Hunter data to ingest (as well as confirmed 45 mph surface wind speeds), we expect the models will come into better agreement on both track and intensity for Tropical Storm Nate.

Tropical Storm Maria

Tropical Depression 14 was named Tropical Storm Maria late this morning, as well. The storm is still pretty far east in the Atlantic, 1,200 miles east of the Leeward Islands, but is moving quickly to the west at 23 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria looks well-organized on satellite, "but not really." If you look closely at satellite loops (especially the loops that you can catch before the sun sets in that area), you'll see the surface circulation is located to the west of the strongest thunderstorm activity. Well-organized tropical cyclones will be vertically stacked in the atmosphere, with the strongest thunderstorms directly on top of the surface circulation. Maria's disjointed-ness is likely due to a pretty strong clip of wind shear (30 knots worth) in the area. This would usually be deadly for a tropical cyclone of Maria's strength, but since the storm is moving so quickly to the west, the Hurricane Center is forecasting the storm to remain somewhat intact for the next 5 days, although the forecast is for no intensification. Models are coming into better agreement on the track of this system. Prior to today, the ECMWF was forecasting a track south of Puerto Rico, but has since changed its mind and is now in agreement with many of the other models on a track skirting the northern Leeward Islands and missing the Greater Antilles to the north. Beyond this, there is quite a bit of uncertainty depending on steering winds in the Atlantic. It's still too early to guess which track the models will eventually converge on. Climatology favors a track that would miss land, with Dr. Bob Hart's track history pages suggesting Maria has a 22% chance of hitting Canada, 19% chance of hitting Bermuda, and an 11% chance of hitting North Carolina.

Angela

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1122. JLPR2
Maria entering the frame.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8733
1121. hydrus
Quoting Dakster:
Disregard - NASA Scrubbed it. Upper Level Winds are too strong to launch.
Maybe manana..
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is maria the naked swirl at far left of goes visible loop?
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Good Morning, I have never seen any disaster like the Bastrop fire, 1,386 homes destroyed, 34,000 acres. No single fire in Texas has ever destroyed more than 300 to 400 homes before. I have not been watching weather much due, any wet relief for Texas in our near future? So many uninsured and have lost everything here but we will recover. Peace and have a great day. Sorry if I got off subject just wanted to keep those informed and that we are alive. Tough having family and friends who do lose everything though. Keep the faith.
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Quoting uptxcoast:


Strong Smell of smoke in Houston is from the Magnolia fire. The Magnolia fire flared up yesterday. The smoke plumes were very visible from my office in the Woodlands.


Smoke plume yesterday could be seen from Galveston on the horizon
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Absolutly brilliant anaylsis! LOL


ROFLMAO.. I try and keep it simple ;)
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1116. Dakster
Disregard - NASA Scrubbed it. Upper Level Winds are too strong to launch.
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Quoting AustinTXWeather:


I know in Austin our local weather radar was picking up the smoke from the fires as rain (showing on the weather maps as green).

Just read post from Houston about the smoke smell in downtown - any idea if that is from the fire in La Grange or floating over from our area?


Strong Smell of smoke in Houston is from the Magnolia fire. The Magnolia fire flared up yesterday. The smoke plumes were very visible from my office in the Woodlands. It is also showing up on Houston radar in green. Big time air quality alert in effect today.
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1114. hydrus
Quoting Dakster:
Anyone else watching NASA launch a rocket to the moon? Live?
Yes..Can you see this precip acc. map?
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Could someone please explain why some storms move very fast while others seem to crawl? I understand it when they slow down to turn but why is Maria flying across the Atlantic into a headwind at 23 mph? TIA
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Quoting Dakster:
Anyone else watching NASA launch a rocket to the moon? Live?
wow, I have been out of the loop, with nasa. Used to follow it all. Didn't even know a launch was sched.

Edit. Just just the nasa site, delayed launch due to high winds.
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1110. CJ5
Yea, I don't see anything in the current steering that is going to force Katia to the N. I expect some changes to the current models.
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You can see the heat signature showing a black dot NW of Houston where the major fire is

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1108. JLPR2
The EURO

and the GFS:


Seem to have come to a pretty good agreement.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8733
1107. hydrus
Nate.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Complete Update

CAT Katia is going
TS Maria is coming
TS Nate is still in the "WTF" am I going Cone of Doom.

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI







Absolutly brilliant anaylsis! LOL
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1105. Dakster
Anyone else watching NASA launch a rocket to the moon? Live?
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Quoting thesituation:
Just got done making this quilt


Very talented. I'm sure there are those on here that will disagree on you Storm position. Lets call that quilt Nate and spare La. from all the rain. Send it to Texas. But I love the quilt,thanks for the pic.
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1103. ryang
Should be interesting when RECON goes in Maria later today. I'll be keeping a close eye on it here in Barbados.
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1102. hydrus
Quoting Clearwater1:
quite a change in the latest gfs thinking. Complete 180 for Nate, Maria looks like a real threat to CONUS. Now where near what the previous runs was doing. Wonder why the change.
The GFS has Nate beating up a large section of the northern gulf coast..Link
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Complete Update

CAT Katia is going
TS Maria is coming
TS Nate is still in the "WTF" am I going Cone of Doom.

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI





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Quoting BLee2333:


Curious:

Anyone know if the Texas smoke would echo as dust particulates on the GOM SAL?


I know in Austin our local weather radar was picking up the smoke from the fires as rain (showing on the weather maps as green).

Just read post from Houston about the smoke smell in downtown - any idea if that is from the fire in La Grange or floating over from our area?
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Quoting Neapolitan:

I was waiting for that... ;-)


Glad I didn't disappoint :)
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1098. hydrus
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1041- Cotillion/ Good link on the supernova, will keep a look out this weekend for it
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Quoting marknmelb:


And Leon is getting LARGER ...

I was waiting for that... ;-)
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Quoting thesituation:
Just got done making this quilt


And yet the copyright date says 2007? I fear your advanced age may be distorting your sense of the word "just". ;-)
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quite a change in the latest gfs thinking. Complete 180 for Nate, Maria looks like a real threat to CONUS. Now where near what the previous runs was doing. Wonder why the change.
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at the next advisory for Katia... Katia will become the highest ACE producer of the year
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1092. hydrus
Quoting FLdewey:
You're doing the black box thing again hydrus. :-p
Outflow from Katia is squashing the t-wave near the Antilles. It should be interesting to watch after Katia moves out.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Maria is still a TS:

AL, 14, 2011090812, , BEST, 0, 130N, 502W, 40, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 100, 0, 0, 75, 1010, 175, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, MARIA, S

...and Nate is still getting stronger:

AL, 15, 2011090812, , BEST, 0, 203N, 924W, 45, 1001, TS, 34, NEQ, 45, 90, 120, 80, 1011, 150, 50, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, NATE, M,


And Leon is getting LARGER ...
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1090. Squid28
Quoting Allyson00:
I guess the wind shifted in the last few hours. The highrise I work in in the Galleria area in Houston smells like a bonfire. The smoke is so thick outside it looks like a heavy fog. This is getting scary....are the winds picking up and shifting? I'm used to smelling and seeing the smoke line at home in West Houston, but this is near downtown.


We can smell the smoke down around the
La Porte/Seabrook area as well this morning.
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1089. Dakster
Quoting barbadosjulie:
I do hope Maria does hurry up and make her N move as she is in directed line of Barbados at her present position she should start to affect us by 8am tomorrow morning if she doesnt make her move!


Not to sound like a westcaster... BUT, a track change to the south and west is looking like a possibility for Maria... The REASON I say this, is because she is weaker than anticipated and is going almost due west.
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Quoting hydrus:
Dust in the gulf...


Curious:

Anyone know if the Texas smoke would echo as dust particulates on the GOM SAL?
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1087. hydrus
Quoting Dakster:
There ya' go Hydrus... We can see a pretty picture now!
Thank you Dakster..Cant seem to post from the Raleigh Weather Model Page. Maria looks like it was hit with a giant fly swatter..
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Quoting thesituation:
Just got done making this quilt

beautiful
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Quoting barbadosjulie:
I do hope Maria does hurry up and make her N move as she is in directed line of Barbados at her present position she should start to affect us by 8am tomorrow morning if she doesnt make her move!
might want to prepare because she's been a bad girl
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1082. Dakster
Quoting FLdewey:
Not with a 10 foot pole Dak.


LOL...
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1081. luigi18
Quoting stoormfury:
morning

very good analysis Kman, i was just about posting the same observation. with the system decoupled the centre will move west, with a chance of reorganisation closer to the islands. interesting day ahead


Me too the waters close to the Caribbean are very hot on this days as soon she get closer and slow down she will get better organize
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I guess the wind shifted in the last few hours. The highrise I work in in the Galleria area in Houston smells like a bonfire. The smoke is so thick outside it looks like a heavy fog. This is getting scary....are the winds picking up and shifting? I'm used to smelling and seeing the smoke line at home in West Houston, but this is near downtown.
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1078. hydrus
Quoting Jax82:
shields are up on the east coast this week, are there any models showing a pattern change in the upcoming week or two?
Levi said the trough will flatten out and winds will become zonal in a couple weeks.
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1077. Dakster
There ya' go Hydrus... We can see a pretty picture now!
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morning

very good analysis Kman, i was just about posting the same observation. with the system decoupled the centre will move west, with a chance of reorganisation closer to the islands. interesting day ahead
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1075. hydrus
Quoting FLdewey:
You're doing the black box thing again hydrus. :-p
lol..I am trying to remedy that..NOAA 6 days out...
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I do hope Maria does hurry up and make her N move as she is in directed line of Barbados at her present position she should start to affect us by 8am tomorrow morning if she doesnt make her move!
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Have to head out now. The current model runs would have initialised too far to the N so the next set are the ones to watch for in terms of track for Maria. I cannot see how they will avoid coming to the left.
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1072. Squid28
Quoting uptxcoast:
Actually if Nate goes north that would be worse than hitting Mexico. Lets say it heads north, it will hit to the east of Texas bringing the state more Northern Gusty winds that will be a fire disaster.

A hit to LA would be about as bad as it could get for the state of Texas. The fires are bad enough. We don't need another large pressure gradient bringing northern, dry and gusty winds.

Add that disaster to more rain in the East, and, well let's just hope for a western track into Mexico with minimal damage.

Now if Nate could make a direct hit on the Texas coast........


The other thing that I have not heard anyone talking about yet, is where is all the water being used to fight the wildfires is coming from. With all of the lakes so low already, and a lot of communities on well water you have to wonder if at some point they will need to make a choice of fire fighting vs. drying up a municipalities water supply...

Lets hope it does not come to this...
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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.