Bud the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane so early in the year; 94L may develop

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:14 PM GMT on May 25, 2012

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Category 2 Hurricane Bud is weakening, but still presents a formidable rainfall threat as it continues north-northeast towards an expected landfall between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico late Friday night. Thursday night at 11 pm EDT, Bud peaked at Category 3 status, with 115 mph winds, becoming the earliest Category 3 hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. Recent Satellite loops show that Bud has weakened, though. The eye has disappeared, and the cloud pattern has shrunk and appears squashed, due to an increase in dry air, wind shear, and cooler sea surface temperatures affecting the storm. These hostile conditions should continue to weaken Bud to a Category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm by the time of landfall. Bud is projected to cross the coast in a rugged, relatively unpopulated area, so wind and storm surge damage will probably be light to moderate. Heavy rain will cover a much wider area, and will be the main threat from Bud. The coast where Bud is headed towards is very mountainous, and numerous flash floods and dangerous mudslides will affect the region, probably including the cities of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. I don't think Puerto Vallarta will see much in the way of wind or storm surge damage, since it is in a well-protected location and will probably be on the weak (left-front) side of the hurricane. Manzanillo is at higher risk, since it will probably be on the stronger right-front side of the hurricane.


Figure 1. True-color satellite image of Hurricane Bud taken at 12:25 pm EDT May 24, 2012. At the time, Bud was a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

A record May for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season
Bud is the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane on record for so early in the year, and is tied with Hurricane Alma of 2002 (115 mph winds) as the second strongest May hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. Only Hurricane Adolph of 2001 (145 mph winds) was stronger. Also, Bud's appearance on May 21 marked the earliest date since record keeping began in 1949 for formation of the season's second named storm. The previous record was set in 1984, when the second named storm formed on May 29. Hurricanes are uncommon in the Eastern Pacific in May; there have been just twelve since record keeping began in 1949--an average of one May hurricane every five years. If Bud ends up making landfall in Mexico as a hurricane, it would be only the second Eastern Pacific May hurricane on record to hit Mexico. The other was Hurricane Agatha of May 24, 1971, which hit the same stretch of coast that Bud is threatening. Agatha made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane about 45 mi (75 km) from Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Ocean temperatures this year in the region where Aletta and Bud formed are only slightly above average, so the large-scale atmospheric patterns are probably more to blame for this year's exceptionally early start to hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Invest 94L off the Georgia coast could develop this weekend
An area of disturbed weather (Invest 94L) a few hundred miles east of the Georgia coast is headed northeast at about 15 mph. The disturbance has not become more organized over the past day, due to very high wind shear of 40 - 55 knots. However, the latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will drop to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, on Saturday and Sunday. Most of our reliable models predict that 94L could organize into a subtropical or tropical depression or storm on Saturday or Sunday off the coast of Georgia/South Carolina. NHC is giving 94L a 70% chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical depression by Sunday morning. A ridge of high pressure is expected to build in over the weekend off the East Coast, which will force 94L to the west back towards the coast, and heavy rains from 94L are likely to begin affecting coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and Northern Florida on Saturday and Sunday. There is a lot of dry, continental air on the west side of 94L, so the rainfall amounts from the storm will be limited unless until the center makes landfall. If these rains do materialize, they would be welcome, considering the moderate to severe drought conditions in the area.

I'll have an update Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Grothar:


You tw...! LOL


HaHa :-D,D,D
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1580. Grothar
I sure picked a bad time to quit Geritol.
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1579. Grothar
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


They are Gro, turn your glasses around!


You tw...! LOL
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1578. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

So, would you say that the NHC has their intensity forecast too low and that Beryl should transition into a tropical storm sooner than indicated?


I would say if it continues firing convection it will easily be as tropical as Alberto was well before the 48 hour mark. If it falls apart due to dry air like Alberto did before getting there, then it will take longer, but I doubt Beryl will be naked swirl at any point before landfall. She's got enough going for her.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting Ameister12:
Hey, MH09! What's your prediction for the rest of the hurricane season? I haven't heard yours yet.
I'm going with at least 12-15 tropical cyclones. These two [sub]tropical storms that we've received before the start of the season will definitely help the numbers get at least above 10.
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Quoting Ameister12:
It would be great the see Weather456 come back this hurricane season.


Yes to that.
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Beach goers/vacationers are going to be piiiiiiissed.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I guess I was too broad in my statement lol. Obviously the juxtaposition in temperature between upper troposphere and the lower-level is going to constitute instability which leads to the formation of updrafts which helps warm core transitions. However, can you have a tropical cyclone with a cold low moving in tandem with the circulation? I'm assuming for the transition to occur the cold low will have to evolve/dissipate/advect.

That's true. However, it won't take much for Beryl to warm the cold core low pressure area and become fully tropical.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30248
Be back tomorrow, Probably check in at the 2 or 5 am advisories, out of curiousity. Will post a blog tomorrow.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well, to be fair, we should keep in mind that Alberto transitioned under 200mb heights that were a lot lower than what Beryl has to overturn. Alberto developed under 200mb heights of down near 12100m, while Beryl is under 200m heights of near 12350m. It takes less warming of the upper atmosphere to create anticyclonic flow aloft if the upper levels are already a bit warmer. Beryl is already finding a niche northeast of the upper low center where the anticyclonic diffluent flow is leaving the northern side of the storm, just like ALberto did.

200mb Heights May 20th:



Today's 18z GFS 200mb Initialization:


So, would you say that the NHC has their intensity forecast too low and that Beryl should transition into a tropical storm sooner than indicated?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30248
Quoting Grothar:


I thought the cones were going top be smaller this season?





They are Gro, turn your glasses around!
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Quoting hurricanealley:
Do I get elder benefits?





Of course!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That's not entirely true. Cold air aloft does generate thunderstorms, but in a truly tropical system, the upper troposphere is going to be comparatively warm. In other words, a temperature gradient will still exist, but a gradient necessary for tropical transition cannot occur underneath an upper low. Maybe if the system festers for several days and gradually warms the upper troposphere, but otherwise...
I guess I was too broad in my statement lol. Obviously the juxtaposition in temperature between the upper troposphere and the lower-level is going to constitute instability which leads to the formation of updrafts which helps warm core transitions. However, can you have a tropical cyclone with a cold low moving in tandem with the circulation? I'm assuming for the transition to occur the cold low will have to evolve/dissipate/advect.
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To add to comment 1557...in meteorology classes...one of the first things you'll learn is upper-level pressures are a function of air column temps.

Colder air columns create upper lows...warmer air columns create upper ridges.

Think of it a bit like a balloon...if you heat the air in a balloon....the air expands upwards in the atmosphere and creates an upper high.

If you cool the balloon...the air contracts downward and you get an upper low...,
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If this track verifies it would take Beryl into the Jacksonville area which is an unusual track, especially for May.





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1565. Levi32
Quoting KoritheMan:


The latent heat of condensation can warm the core after awhile, yes, but there are a few factors arguing against a quick transition. Hell, Lee lost tropical characteristics last year, under a similar synoptic setup to Beryl.


Well, to be fair, we should keep in mind that Alberto transitioned under 200mb heights that were a lot lower than what Beryl has to overturn. Alberto developed under 200mb heights of down near 12100m, while Beryl is under 200m heights of near 12350m. It takes less warming of the upper atmosphere to create anticyclonic flow aloft if the upper levels are already a bit warmer. Beryl is already finding a niche northeast of the upper low center where the anticyclonic diffluent flow is leaving the northern side of the storm, just like Alberto did.

200mb Heights May 19th:



Today's 18z GFS 200mb Initialization:



Current upper winds:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting MississippiWx:
Going to agree with TA13 on this one. The cold core upper low does slow the process of tropical transition, but it will aid in the instability process as well. Cold above warm = instability. The latent heat process will help to warm the core of the low pressure area all the way to the top, thus creating a warm-cored tropical low pressure.


Thanks for all of the responses and discussion on this topic. This is why I love this blog - you can learn so much from knowledgable people!
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My forecast map for Beryl
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Hey, MH09! What's your prediction for the rest of the hurricane season? I haven't heard yours yet.
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1561. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
444

WHXX01 KWBC 260155

CHGHUR

TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE

NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL

0155 UTC SAT MAY 26 2012



DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.

PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE

AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.



ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR



DISTURBANCE BERYL (AL022012) 20120526 0000 UTC



...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...

120526 0000 120526 1200 120527 0000 120527 1200



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 32.3N 74.9W 32.5N 75.5W 32.3N 77.0W 32.3N 79.3W

BAMD 32.3N 74.9W 32.9N 74.9W 32.8N 76.1W 32.7N 78.2W

BAMM 32.3N 74.9W 32.4N 75.2W 32.1N 76.4W 32.0N 78.6W

LBAR 32.3N 74.9W 33.4N 74.1W 33.9N 73.6W 33.9N 73.2W

SHIP 40KTS 42KTS 43KTS 43KTS

DSHP 40KTS 42KTS 43KTS 43KTS



...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...

120528 0000 120529 0000 120530 0000 120531 0000



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 32.5N 81.7W 33.8N 84.7W 35.0N 82.5W 35.1N 78.4W

BAMD 32.5N 80.4W 32.1N 83.3W 32.4N 82.1W 34.9N 77.5W

BAMM 32.0N 80.8W 32.5N 83.4W 33.8N 81.5W 35.9N 76.5W

LBAR 33.5N 72.7W 32.0N 71.7W 30.1N 70.5W 29.1N 68.6W

SHIP 40KTS 31KTS 25KTS 28KTS

DSHP 40KTS 28KTS 27KTS 33KTS



...INITIAL CONDITIONS...

LATCUR = 32.3N LONCUR = 74.9W DIRCUR = 15DEG SPDCUR = 12KT

LATM12 = 30.0N LONM12 = 75.6W DIRM12 = 39DEG SPDM12 = 20KT

LATM24 = 26.5N LONM24 = 78.7W

WNDCUR = 40KT RMAXWD = 70NM WNDM12 = 30KT

CENPRS = 1001MB OUTPRS = 1012MB OUTRAD = 130NM SDEPTH = M

RD34NE = 120NM RD34SE = 100NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 120NM



$$

NNNN
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Do I get elder benefits?



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Going to agree with TA13 on this one. The cold core upper low does slow the process of tropical transition, but it will aid in the instability process as well. Cold above warm = instability. The latent heat process will help to warm the core of the low pressure area all the way to the top, thus creating a warm-cored tropical low pressure.
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It appears this is a very compact system, based on satellite imagery, it has been splitting away from all the convection to it's East. This might also be a sign of turning towards to West and then South-West of this system shortly.
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


Increaed thunderstorm activity near the COC can be a characteristic of a tropical storm, but not the cause of a transition from tropical to subtropical.


I thought that was the basis of a tropical cyclone. Convection near the center releases latent heat of condensation. In turn...the condensation causes a vertical warm core if the vertical shear is low. The vertical warm core causes upper-level pressure rises. If the upper pressure rises and then evacuates...this drops the surface pressures below...and the cycle continues...

Beryl has convection...but it just got going...and needs some time to punch out the cold core upper low with a vertical warm core that will grow from the ground up....
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1556. Grothar
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Quoting ncstorm:
I still say the NHC is being conservative because this is a big holiday weekend..the intensity forecasts have already been busted..


Intensity forecasts are often busted one way or the other.
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1554. ncstorm
I still say the NHC is being conservative because this is a big holiday weekend..the intensity forecasts have already been busted..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13447
Quoting galvestonhurricane:


Good to see you back again!
Thank you, likewise! Good to see you back for what should be an interesting season at the very least...but we say that every year so it's not that big of a deal LOL.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Exactly. If you have cold air aloft you're disrupting the process rather than aiding it when it comes to tropical transitions.


That's not entirely true. Cold air aloft does generate thunderstorms, but in a truly tropical system, the upper troposphere is going to be comparatively warm. In other words, a temperature gradient will still exist, but a gradient necessary for tropical transition cannot occur underneath an upper low. Maybe if the system festers for several days and gradually warms the upper troposphere, but otherwise...
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I will be here all season long.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Exactly. If you have cold air aloft you're disrupting the process rather than aiding it when it comes to tropical transitions.


Good to see you back again!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
I find it hard to believe that this is a 60mph Tropical Storm.


Dvorak constraints. Gotta love 'em.
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So Beryl is born...
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1547. pottery
Quoting patrikdude2:
We have Beryl, at last !




Disagree with intensity, however.

Yer Late !
Go to the back of the class....
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Gotta say, I'm not a believer in the NHC forecast. I believe it's a bit conservative and lends too much weight to subtropical processes. I can certainly agree on Beryl being subtropical at the moment, but by the end of Saturday I have to believe it will have gained mostly tropical characteristics. Afterwards, it should be able to gain at least a little more than 5mph of strength. Track forecast looks dead on what I was thinking. How far it goes west will depend on the strength of the incoming trough and how much damage it can do to the 500mb ridge centered over the Lower MS Valley region. It's a pretty stout ridge and I believe it will be slower to move out than expected. A little skeptical on the strength of a late May/early June trough...
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


Increaed thunderstorm activity near the COC can be a characteristic of a tropical storm, but not the cause of a transition from tropical to subtropical.

No, but as Kori just stated, the latent heat produced by the thunderstorm activity can warm the core. It won't take much for this to transition to a fully warm core, as it is already a shallow one.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30248
Quoting KoritheMan:


He always does that. Kids these days. :|


Kids these days talk back to their parents, teachers, etc. if I ever did that, I would have been smacked upside the head.
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Quoting galvestonhurricane:


Increaed thunderstorm activity near the COC can be a characteristic of a tropical storm, but not the cause of a transition from tropical to subtropical.
Exactly. If you have cold air aloft you're disrupting the process more rather than aiding it when it comes to tropical transitions.
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1542. cg2916
Quoting Ameister12:
It would be great the see Weather456 come back this hurricane season.


Ditto
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Quoting KoritheMan:


She's not going to be affected by upwelling once she starts moving.


True; and you have to wonder about the "bowl" shape of the area for landfall and what effect that might have as well. Levi mentioned it in his blog earlier and Dr. M has discussed this spin-up issue in the Bay of Campeche. Really an interesting prospect to see if it will remain at TS all the way.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
1540. Grothar
Quoting ncstorm:


seems NHC didnt get the memo..


I guess not. They even had a big write-up on it.
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I find it hard to believe that this is a 60mph Tropical Storm.
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1538. cg2916
So, is it safe to say that the consensus here is that the NHC is being too conservative?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
MAJOR damage reported in La Crosse per storm chasers.

Houses heavily damaged.



how bad?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114050
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
MAJOR damage reported in La Crosse per storm chasers.

Houses heavily damaged.


That's unfortunate. Thoughts go out to them.
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It would be great the see Weather456 come back this hurricane season.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The upper level low becoming stacked with the system will aid in more thunderstorm activity due to increased instability produced between cool air aloft and warmer air at the surface. Thunderstorm activity can lead to tropical transitions.


Increaed thunderstorm activity near the COC can be a characteristic of a tropical storm, but not the cause of a transition from tropical to subtropical.
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We have Beryl, at last !




Disagree with intensity, however.
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The handle already tell you all who it is..Lol.
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About JeffMasters

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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