Tropical Storm Chris forms; little change to Cuba disturbance; Duluth floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:33 PM GMT on June 20, 2012

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Tropical Storm Chris formed Tuesday evening from a extratropical storm that spent enough time over waters of 24 - 26°C to acquire tropical characteristics. Chris is headed eastwards, out to sea, and will not trouble any land areas. Only twice before, in 1887 and 1959, has the third storm of the season formed earlier than this date. Formation of three tropical storms so early in the year is not necessarily a harbinger of an active season; 1959 was close to average, with 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes (average is 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.) Unusual levels of early season activity in the Caribbean and between Africa and the Lesser Antilles usually portends a very active hurricane season, but this year's storms have not formed in this region. Alberto, Beryl, and Chris all formed off the U.S. East Coast.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Chris.

Disturbance near Cuba will bring heavy rains to Florida
An area of low pressure and heavy thunderstorms centered just south of Cuba has changed little since Tuesday, and is bringing sporadic heavy rains to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, South Florida, the Southern Bahamas, and Cuba. This disturbance will need to be watched for development as it drifts slowly northwest at about 5 mph and enters the Gulf of Mexico late this week. The disturbance is poorly organized, and has only a modest area of heavy thunderstorms. Wind shear is a moderate to high 15 - 25 knots over the region, and the shear is predicted to remain in the moderate to high range for the next three days along the disturbance's path. Water vapor satellite loops show a region of dry air over the Southern Gulf of Mexico; strong upper-level winds out of the northwest are bringing some of this dry air into the vicinity of the disturbance, which is interfering with development. NHC is giving the disturbance a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday morning. As the disturbance reaches the waters off the southwest coast of Florida this weekend, a strong trough of low pressure pushing off of the U.S. East Coast will be capable of grabbing the storm and accelerating it to the northeast. This is the solution of the GFS model, which takes the storm across Florida on Sunday, and into the waters off the coast of South Carolina by Monday, with the disturbance developing into a tropical or subtropical storm off the coast of South Carolina. None of the other reliable computer models is showing development of the disturbance into a tropical depression. I think it is unlikely that heavy rains from this disturbance will affect Louisiana and Texas, but it will bring heavy rains to Southwest Florida and Cuba over the next five days.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of the tropical disturbance near Cuba.


Figure 3. Rainfall for the 5-day period ending at 8am EDT Monday as predicted by NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Amounts in excess of five inches (orange colors) are predicted for Southwest Florida, with an area of ten inches (yellow colors) just off the coast.

Major flooding in Duluth, Minnesota
A serious flood emergency is occurring in Duluth, Minnesota. A series of "training" thunderstorms that all passed over the same region have dumped 4 - 5 inches of rain over a wide swath of Northern Minnesota overnight and early this morning. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in the Denfeld area of western Duluth. This is more rain than fell in the city's previous worst flood on record, which occurred August 20, 1972. Major flooding is occurring, and only emergency travel is recommended in the city due to flooded roads. A flash flood warning from the Duluth National Weather Service issued at 7am CDT said this:

We cannot stress what a major threat this is for the city of Duluth
and along the North Shore. Aging infrastructure will also play a
part in the flood threat... especially on the hillside. Highway 61
remains closed in spots with washouts... overflowing streams and
rivers...washed out culverts and washed out roads. Just because you
might be able to travel to a destination now... does not mean you
will make it in one to two hours. This is how fast this situation
may deteriorate as more rainfall moves in from the west. There is
the potential for several more inches of rain today and the utility
system and the saturated ground cannot take much more rain.


According to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, the all-time 24 hour precipitation record for Duluth is 5.79" on 8/22 - 8/23 1978; 4.14" was recorded on Tuesday at the airport.


Figure 4. Radar-estimated rainfall from the Duluth, Minnesota radar.

Jeff Masters

storm damage June 19 (CythiaSue)
there is another car buried on the other side of the road. This is just some of the storm damage from a 4 am rain and thunderstorm
storm damage June 19

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1139. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33219
Quoting SotuhFloridian2012:


So it did initialize the Yucatan Peninsula low on this run, Cody? Can you affirm this, please?

That is what it shows development coming from in this run, yes.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
1137. wpb
Quoting thunderbug91:
EMCWF has a 992 west of Tampa... interesting.
gfs same idea?
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Quoting nigel20:

Unusual levels of early season activity in the Caribbean and between Africa and the Lesser Antilles usually portends a very active hurricane season, but this year's storms have not formed in this region. Alberto, Beryl, and Chris all formed off the U.S. East Coast.
Dr. Masters.



That is true...this would be the first one to form in the carribian this season
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1135. nigel20
Quoting weatherlover94:


what i was getting at was it is so early to be seeing so many storms....its scary

Unusual levels of early season activity in the Caribbean and between Africa and the Lesser Antilles usually portends a very active hurricane season, but this year's storms have not formed in this region. Alberto, Beryl, and Chris all formed off the U.S. East Coast.
Dr. Masters.
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69 hours out.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 82 Comments: 7056
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Why..?


I know that early season storms may or may NOT be a sign of things to come for the rest of the season...We could get all of our storms now and have a pretty quiet rest of the season.you cant however help but wonder what the rest of the season will be like....will we have significant hurricanes that hit the US?....will we have another season like 2005?....it makes a person wonder a lot
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Quoting weatherlover94:


what i was getting at was it is so early to be seeing so many storms....its scary
Doesn't mean a hyper active season though.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15702
Quoting LargoFl:
Wow that's just miserable.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15702
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Quoting weatherlover94:


what i was getting at was it is so early to be seeing so many storms....its scary

Why..?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Quoting Dragod66:
Fay

'
By far one of the best looking tropical storms
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Probably won't see him til the first part of July according to the models.


what i was getting at was it is so early to be seeing so many storms....its scary
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boc.low.will.prevail
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1123. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33219
The intensification of Chris over the past 24 hours is quite impressive considering how cool the waters are, and is just another example of how cool waters and high latitudes don't necessarily limit tropical cyclones, there are other factors. I think the northerly outflow jet of Chris is key right now, it appears to be coupled with a mid-latitude jet stream and is evacuating quite a bit of mass from the center, and thus leading to intensification. Read more on my blog

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it looks like the new run of the GFS is still developing something but keeps it relatively weak....hmm
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Sure are a bunch of theories today regarding swirls in the GoM and Caribbean.

Until the NHC identifies a prominent low somewhere in all that cloud cover, I'm not paying it much attention. Too much shear to contend with and too many unknown variables.
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Quoting weatherlover94:
it would be something to see both Debby and Ernesto form before June is out...in 2006 Ernesto didn't come until September
Probably won't see him til the first part of July according to the models.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15702
18Z GFS @ 45 hours out:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Quoting Dragod66:
Fay



Very silly storm :P
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Quoting ncstorm:
18z GFS running

Look at the trough over the plains.
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Fay

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1114. ncstorm
18z GFS running

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13418
Quoting Dragod66:


looks like to me the eye has already formed... but trop storms can also have eyes... ie Tropical Storm Fay over Florida


Fay was one of the most rare types of tropical storms...to strengthen over land...very odd
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1112. K8eCane

...DISTURBED WEATHER OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO INTO FL...

PREFERENCE: ECMWF/GFS BLEND

TOUGH TO DISCERN EXACTLY WHAT WILL OCCUR OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO
OVER THE NEXT THREE DAYS BUT THE OVERALL CONSENSUS IS A VERY SLOW
AND GRADUAL MOVEMENT WITH A SHEAR AXIS/INVERTED SURFACE TROUGH
PROGRESSING FROM SOUTH FL/YUCATAN PENINSULA TO THE WEST AND NORTH
INTO THE GULF. OVERALL HPC PREFERS THE DETAILS OF THE ECMWF AND
GFS... ON A VERY BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE AND INVERTED SURFACE
TROUGH OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO WITH PERHAPS... MID-LEVEL VORTICITY
NEAR THE WRN YUCATAN GRADUALLY DRAWING NORTHWARD INTO THE EAST
CENTRAL GULF ON SAT.
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Quoting Methurricanes:
Could there be a Hurricane Chris?


It's possible
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Quoting weatherlover94:
defiantly an eye trying to form in Chris...possible hurricane at 11:00 pm


looks like to me the eye has already formed... but trop storms can also have eyes... ie Tropical Storm Fay over Florida
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If Chris can sustain this until 11PM EDT...Which is obviously extremely unlikely...it may be declared a 70 mph tropical storm.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Could there be a Hurricane Chris?
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1107. TXCWC
Quoting washingaway:
Looks like the Yuctan cirulation and the eastern gulf cir. have a date in the central gulf. Maybe they will mate.


That is what the EURO seems to think :)
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defiantly an eye trying to form in Chris...possible hurricane at 11:00 pm
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Quoting stormpetrol:
I wonder if this complex system will split and become 2 different entities ?Link

The convection around Florida sames to be expanding north and slightly east, the strong convection south of Cuba sames to be expanding and moving SW toward the GOH.
Quoting Articuno:

I was thinking actually thee same thing.


I am thinking the same thing as well and it goes with what I am saying too
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new image

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EMCWF has a 992 west of Tampa... interesting.
Member Since: June 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 583
it would be something to see both Debby and Ernesto form before June is out...in 2006 Ernesto didn't come until September
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1101. gator23
Quoting SotuhFloridian2012:


Where is it, Keeper? My head is spinning here. Really though, it's so confusing!

PLEASE declare this an invest already, NHC, =(.


Its easy if you live in Texas or Western Louisiana you see a swirl in the BOC if you live in Florida you see a swirl near Cuba
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Looks like the Yuctan cirulation and the eastern gulf cir. have a date in the central gulf. Maybe they will mate.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


These lows you are seeing are just spin-offs from a main, very broad low.


true I would put the center of that broad low in the center of the three spins and that center spin is where the lowest pressures are between Honduras and Grand Cayman
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Marco (2008)  has a nifty competitor! Just kidding, but this is another low in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Quoting weatherganny:

Interesting!

I think thats the 12z NAM. A few other models have moved it more west too.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
I wonder if this complex system will split and become 2 different entities ?Link

The convection around Florida sames to be expanding north and slightly east, the strong convection south of Cuba sames to be expanding and moving SW toward the GOH.

I was thinking actually the same thing.
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1095. Patrap
Key West
NEXRAD Radar

Base Radial Velocity 0.50° Elevation
Range 124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125421
I wonder if this complex system will split and become 2 different entities ?Link

The convection around Florida sames to be expanding north and slightly east, the strong convection south of Cuba sames to be expanding and moving SW toward the GOH.
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Quoting Stormchaser121:

Interesting!
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Quoting LargoFl:
....i dunno Jed, if you look closely at the model tracks that say..heading towards florida..all of them, if you look closely, put it in florida above tampa bay, maybe tarpon springs and north, if this happens we here get the tail end of it..hopefully keeping the bad winds away...but of course..things can change in a week
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1090. MahFL
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1089. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125421

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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.