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 carolinabelle:
Anyone know where to get a link to a good storm-centered satellite image for 94L? Lost all my bookmarks from last year in a computer crash :(


Good links for most anything you need here. Imagery, models, buoys, etc.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Link


Thank you very much :)
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Quoting carolinabelle:
Anyone know where to get a link to a good storm-centered satellite image for 94L? Lost all my bookmarks from last year in a computer crash :(


Invest 94L SSD Floater Page
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I think this thing will hit just a tad south of palm valley FL and a little north of St augustine
Maybe near Guana River state park.
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Levi, if 94L gets more stronger more than anticipated, will the track be like the consensus of the models, or being more strong it goes more north at landfall?
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Impressive for May.

Even more impressive considering this will probably be our 2nd named storm of the season and it's only May 25th.


If Beryl does form from 94L, we'll be looking the first time since 1908 that two named storms have formed before the start of Hurricane season, the first time ever a 'B' name has been used before June 1st since naming of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic started in 1950, and the first time since 1887 that two named storms have developed in the month of May.
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Going to be interesting, intensity wise, to see how much it has developed before the center of circulation cross the Gulf Stream on the way in. Water temps around it appear to be in the upper 70's (as opposed to 80's around South Florida) but the stream is usually closer to 80 along the coast of Florida. If sheer relaxes sufficiently, a few degrees in water temp could potentially make the difference (assuming a fully tropical system) between a tropical storm vs. a low category Cat 1 at landfall.

Will also be interesting, historically, in terms of a potential landfall near Jacksonville if it did attain minimal hurricane status..........I don't know the stats (someone on here will pull that up I am sure) but that has not happened in a long time; (sorry Fay) which flooded Jax out a few years ago only reached TS status.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8785
525. Zappy
Quoting carolinabelle:
Anyone know where to get a link to a good storm-centered satellite image for 94L? Lost all my bookmarks from last year in a computer crash :(


Link
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Quoting carolinabelle:
Anyone know where to get a link to a good storm-centered satellite image for 94L? Lost all my bookmarks from last year in a computer crash :(


Link
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Quoting BrickellBreeze:


Respectfully Disagree,

It can go as far south as Daytona.
Well, we'll have to see what it does :)
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We'll see Beryl by this weekend. What very rare occurrence it is to have two tropical storms in May! Makes me excited for the rest of hurricane season.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4898
For those of you that missed my analog for 94L.

Subtropical Storm Alpha (1972)

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520. Skyepony (Mod)
Fresh OSCAT
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37346
Anyone know where to get a link to a good storm-centered satellite image for 94L? Lost all my bookmarks from last year in a computer crash :(
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
94L looks to be deepening rather quickly over the past few hours.

Might see another STWO by tonight at this rate.


100% haha, we've seen that..
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Levi,do you have the link to the graphics?


Link
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94L looks to be deepening rather quickly over the past few hours.

Might see another STWO by tonight at this rate.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
Oh, for the love of all that is good! Please, please, please put the NAM away until after tropical season is over. It is a POS where the tropics are concerned. You might as well invoke the name of the LBAR...lol

Florida castin' at it's best :)
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
Quoting Bluestorm5:
I really doubt it'll go below Jacksonville (the center, I mean) but are y'all sure it'll make landfall? And when is it supposed to go inland?


Respectfully Disagree,

It can go as far south as Daytona.
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Quoting Levi32:


But they won't be as far north as the 12z suite, which was completely botched and had South Carolina landfalls as the majority due to improper initialization coordinates.

18z is already in. Notice the shift back south:

12z:



18z:



Levi,do you have the link to the graphics?
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Levi, I can always count on you man, this is doing exactly what you forecast it to do. 2 small vorticity's dancing around a broad low, should tighten up later tonight.

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18Z Nam is even trending further south from the 12Z run.

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Quoting Levi32:
1006mb with 33kt winds at this buoy now


And 44kt gust. That is a big jump.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
Geez, if it's doing so well against high shears... I'm just worried it'll go crazy strong to 90 mph Category 1 as soon as the shears dies down.
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If the dry air does not do it's job with 94L (Beryl), Jeff may be right, since shear is supposed to be around 10 knots.. And Levi mentioned the "curved coast" thing, that could also aid in strength.. Something to watch closely. As for now, I'm expecting a 50-60 mph. Tropical Storm to make landfall between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, possibly my county. However, we had a direct landfall from Tropical Storm Fay in 2008, so it'll be interesting how it compares with this next storm.
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Quoting Levi32:
1006mb with 33kt winds at this buoy now


Surprisingly impressive little brew going on out there. I still get dizzy trying to look at the possible model paths though.
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According to hurricanecity, Jacksonville is 1 year overdue from a hit or brush by a Hurricane.

Link
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I am guessing St. Mary's - Brunswick area as a 60mph TS.
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Quoting ncstorm:
looks like Jim Cantore might be heading to GA/SC

@MikeMasco Masco what do you think? Goal posts would have to be Brunswick, GA to Georgetown, SC right now. Still 60ktws of shear


I don't know why as all the fun stuff will be in FL.

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Fire closes down I-4 near the Disney Parks, we need a good soaking!
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
I think we may see a 70 to 75mph storm making landfall from St. Augustine down to Daytona Beach Sunday morning.



Jeff!! Don't say that! I'm in Palm Coast... lol.
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Quoting 7544:


plus 1 ts at 11pm ?



?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
Ship reporting a 43 mph sustained wind from the NNE!

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
I really doubt it'll go below Jacksonville (the center, I mean) but are y'all sure it'll make landfall? And when is it supposed to go inland?
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Quoting ncstorm:
looks like Jim Cantore might be heading to GA/SC

@MikeMasco Masco what do you think? Goal posts would have to be Brunswick, GA to Georgetown, SC right now. Still 60ktws of shear


I don't know why as all the fun stuff will be in FL.

0Z 3 Day precip map

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497. 7544
Quoting Tazmanian:
94L is starting too look good


plus 1 ts at 11pm ?
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Wind Direction (WDIR): ESE ( 120 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 33.0 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 44.7 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 12.8 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 8 sec
Average Period (APD): 6.6 sec
Mean Wave Direction (MWD): SSE ( 150 deg true )
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.71 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -0.18 in ( Falling Rapidly )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 75.7 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 78.1 °F
Dew Point (DEWP): 75.2 °F
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I think we may see a 70 to 75mph storm making landfall from St. Augustine down to Daytona Beach Sunday morning.

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94L is starting too look good
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
Quoting StormJunkie:


Don't see many of the more well known models in that cluster. HWRF, Ukmet, GFDL, etc. Also, .2 degrees is approximately 14 miles.

My only point is that I think a lot is still up in the air with this. How quickly that high builds will be the determining factor of whether we see wsw or sw movement. And how fast that movement is will play a big roll too.

I still think I have the best bet on landfall...Cape, to NC/SC border ;)


You must also realize that the southern center was racing like a gazelle northward between 12z and 18z...so a shift south by 0.2 degrees during that time means they definitely switched centers, and they were a lot farther apart at 12z.
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looks like Jim Cantore might be heading to GA/SC

@MikeMasco Masco what do you think? Goal posts would have to be Brunswick, GA to Georgetown, SC right now. Still 60ktws of shear
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14451
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Poll Time: Where will this system 94L land?

A: Daytona, Florida
B: Jacksonville, Florida
C: Savannah, Georgia
D: Charleston, South Carolina
E: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
F: Carolina Beach/Wilmington, North Carolina
G: Beaufort/Morehead City, North Carolina
H: Out into open ocean without landfall


Somewhere between B and C.

In lieu of finding that max intensity one I'll say C. TS with my prediction being 60mph +- 10mph.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Impressive.


Wow!
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What appears to be our first Feder band of the storm... I think...

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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31462
Quoting Levi32:
1006mb with 33kt winds at this buoy now


Impressive.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
Quoting Levi32:


But they won't be as far north as the 12z suite, which was completely botched and had South Carolina landfalls as the majority due to improper initialization coordinates.

18z is already in. Notice the shift back south:

12z:



18z:



Don't see many of the more well known models in that cluster. HWRF, Ukmet, GFDL, etc. Also, .2 degrees is approximately 14 miles. (At least in the 12z runs)

For the record, I only looked at the SFWMD plots to compare the 12 & 18z runs. On their, I did not see any heading in to SC. Except the BAMD

My only point is that I think a lot is still up in the air with this. How quickly that high builds will be the determining factor of whether we see wsw or sw movement. And how fast that movement is will play a big roll too.

I still think I have the best bet on landfall...Cape, to NC/SC border ;)
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
I'm pretty excited for this because I'm going to be right in middle of the tropical storm for first time ever. I've only been in Irene and I was too far from the center to feel any effects. I'll try to film the storm for you guys to see later on next week :) I only pray it doesn't make it to high Category 1. Is it okay to be excited to be in middle of tropical storm, or is it stronger than I think?
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1006mb with 33kt winds at this buoy now
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50 knots at 850 millibars up is impressive.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31462
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776

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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.