Tropical Storm Debby growing in size and strength

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:24 PM GMT on June 24, 2012

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Tropical storm warnings are flying from Alabama to the Panhandle of Florida and along much of Southeast Louisiana coast, as Tropical Storm Debby inches to the north at 2 mph. The heaviest rains of Debby have moved ashore along much of the Gulf Coast of Florida, with up to two inches of radar-estimated rainfall in the Apalachicola, Florida area so far. Several buoys to the north and east of the center of Debby are receiving tropical storm-force winds, including SGOF1 (56 mph, gusting to 68 mph at 9 am EDT) and buoy 42022, 100 miles off the coast from Tampa (42 mph sustained winds at 7am EDT.) Our Wundermap for the surrounding ocean areas shows a large region of 25 - 45 mph winds off the Southeast Louisiana coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft flying through Debby at 5,000 feet found an area of 60 mph surface winds about 100 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida at 7am EDT. Visible satellite loops show the classic signature of a medium-strength tropical storm undergoing substantial wind shear. The heavy thunderstorms of Debby are all on the east and north sides. Upper-level winds out of the southwest creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear that is driving dry air to the southwest of the storm into Debby's core. This dry air can be seen on Water vapor satellite loops. However, Debby is steadily overcoming this dry air and wind shear, and the storm has increased in organization, size, and in intensity this morning. Ocean temperatures are about 28.5°C (83°F) in the Central Gulf of Mexico, which is about 1°F above average, but these waters do not extend to great depth, which will limit how strong Debby can get.


Figure 1. Morning radar image of the rainfall from Tropical Storm Debby over coastal Florida.


Figure 2. True-color visible satellite image of Debby taken at 12:45 pm EDT Saturday June 23, 2012, before it became a tropical storm. Image credit: NASA.

Forecast for Debby
Debby's slow motion will make rainfall the primary threat from the storm, with up to 10 inches likely in some regions along the coast from Southeast Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. Unfortunately, this part of the coast is not under drought, and does not need the rain. Farther to the east, along the rest of the Gulf Coast of Florida, moderate to severe drought prevails, and flooding from Debby will be less of an issue. The slow motion of Debby will also slow down intensification of the storm, since its winds are stirring up cooler waters from the depths to the surface that then cool down the storm. Debby's close proximity to land places a portion of its circulation over land, which will also tend to slow down intensification. Wind shear is expected to remain in the moderate range through Tuesday. The latest SHIPS model forecast gives Debby a 19% chance of undergoing rapid intensification--a 30 mph increase of winds in 24 hours. The 8 am EDT NHC wind probability forecast is giving Debby a 29% chance of becoming a hurricane by early Tuesday morning. Given the current increasing trends in Debby's organization and intensity, these odds should probably be closer to 50%.

Steering currents for Debby are very weak, resulting in an unusually large spread in the model forecasts for where the storm might go. Take your pick from the various model solutions: Debby could make landfall anywhere from South Texas to Tampa Bay. The official NHC track west towards Texas should definitely not be viewed as gospel.


Figure 3. Pick a model, any model: the model forecasts for Debby are all over the place, making the current official forecast a low-confidence one.

Debby's place in history
Remarkably, Debby's formation on June 23 comes a full two months ahead of the usual formation date of the season's fourth storm in the Atlantic, August 23. Debby's formation beats by twelve days the previous record for formation of the fourth named storm of the year in the Atlantic, set in 2005, when Hurricane Dennis was named on July 5. An early start to the Atlantic hurricane season has been increasingly common in recent years. In 2008, I blogged about the research of Dr. Jim Kossin of the University of Wisconsin, who published a 2008 paper in Geophysical Research Letters, titled "Is the North Atlantic hurricane season getting longer?" He concluded that yes, there is a "apparent tendency toward more common early- and late-season storms that correlates with warming Sea Surface Temperature but the uncertainty in these relationships is high". Three out of four of this year's early quartet of storms--Alberto, Beryl, and Debby--formed in ocean areas that were more than 1°F above average, which is an unusually high amount of warmth. We should expect to see more early-season Atlantic tropical storms as a consequence of global warming, since cool ocean temperatures are a key impediment to formation of such storms. However, this assumes that factors such as wind shear and atmospheric stability won't grow more hostile for tropical cyclone formation during the early part of hurricane season, and this is uncertain. If we do end up seeing a substantial increase in early-season tropical storms as a consequence of global warming, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Early-season tropical storms are often more boon than bane, bringing much-needed drought-busting rains, like Tropical Storm Beryl did for North Florida last month. With drought frequency and intensity predicted to increase for much of the Gulf Coastal states in coming decades, an increase in rainfall from early-season tropical storms may do more good than the damages inflicted by the high winds and flooding these storms may bring. There is typically a lot of wind shear around in May, June, and July, making it difficult for early season storms to reach major hurricane status. According to Wunderground's list of major early-season hurricanes, since record keeping began in 1851, there has been only one major hurricane in May, two in June, and nine in July. Three of these occurred in the past ten years, so there has not as yet been an observable large increase in early-season major hurricanes due to global warming.

References
Kossin, J., 2008, "Is the North Atlantic hurricane season getting longer?", Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 35, L23705, doi:10.1029/2008GL036012, 2008.

Record heat in Colorado
On Saturday, for the second consecutive day, record heat scorched Colorado. According to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the 104° reading in Denver tied for the hottest June temperature on record in the city, last set on June 26, 1994. It was also just 1° short of the all-time record of 105° (set on July 20, 2005 and August 8, 1878.)

Colorado Springs tied its all-time record for warmest temperature ever measured on Saturday, with 100°. The city has hit 100° four other times, most recently on July 24, 2003.

Pueblo, Co reached 106°, a daily record; this was just 2° shy of the monthly record of 108°. The all-time record is 109° on 7/13/2003.

Lamar, Co hit 109°, just 2° short of the all-time record of 111° set on 7/13/1934.

The Colorado heat did no favors for firefighters, who are struggling to the contain the massive 81,000 acre High Park fire fifteen miles northwest of Fort Collins. The fire is the second largest and most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history, and is 45% contained. A new fire erupted Saturday in Estes Park, at the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park, and destroyed 21 homes.

Jeff Masters

High Park Wildfire (apphotos)
Fire burns trees on the High Park wildfire near Livermore, Colo., on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. The wildfire has burned over 180 homes. The fire already has destroyed at least 189 homes since it was sparked by lightning June 9. Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said it could be weeks or even months before it's finally controlled. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
High Park Wildfire
Sunrise Colors on Navarre Beach ahead of Tropical Storm Debby01 (jennjeff1)
Sunrise Colors on Navarre Beach ahead of Tropical Storm Debby01
A Bit of Little Debby (cincobayou)
See the old Blue Heron standing on top of the light post on the Pier? And notice how many fishing lines are in the water....and that big SPLASH wave under the pier. "Little" DEBBY is letting us know she's nearby.
A Bit of Little Debby

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2812. WindNoise
3:46 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Anyone think we'll have a season like 2005 ? Just wondering. hmmm
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 50
2811. EastTexasWxGal
8:05 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
Quoting redwagon:

Make that THREE Texans!
Four!
Member Since: July 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
2810. winter123
3:48 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
If this trend continues, we could see final advisory on debby sometime tomorrow.
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 1791
2809. dewfree
1:25 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
deadman cove landing,hum.okie dokie then . right down the middle of target . It will accur late tonight or tommarow morn sometime. check back later guys keep watching out for each other and being good to each other .you would feel real bad if tree fell on someone house you were bickering with and they was no longer with us !!
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 589
2808. captainhunter
1:03 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
Well the power has blinked once. Lots of pine limbs and palm fronds everywhere but just 2.5" of rain so far in PCB. Reports from St. George Island, Indian Pass and points east are not as good.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 430
2807. sunlinepr
12:59 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
Quoting washingaway:
Debby may give birth to the Atlantic, look at what's crossing central Florida. It appears to be taking on it's on idenity. ????





Is the two tropical low split still posibble?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9814
2806. THL3
12:10 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
If that mess by the Yucatan even thinks about spinning the odds makers in Vegas will be all over it. Place your bets on Model ####.
Member Since: December 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 34
2805. TXCaneCrasher
11:49 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting washingaway:
Debby may give birth to the Atlantic, look at what's crossing central Florida. It appears to be taking on it's on idenity. ????





Didn't the GFS show two storms a few days out? It seems like it showed that either yesterday or the day before.
Member Since: July 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 186
2804. winter123
11:01 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Is Debbie stalling?
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 1791
2803. cntrclckwiseSpenn
11:00 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
weather channel just picked-up on the dry enveloping the system, and the low to the southwest might be starting to have some influence. Good news, since it appeared she was getting a little more organized earlier. We'll see though....as we know conditions can turn on a dime.
Member Since: September 6, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 127
2802. 996tt
11:00 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
As indicated early today, convection moving far from center and in land. Seems lime bands speed up in land and the coc weakens fairly rapidly. Never seen one this close to shore get convection back once it splits like this. Thoughts?
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
2801. cntrclckwiseSpenn
10:37 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Wouldn't be shocked to see this storm drift eastward and possibly even south east over the next couple days towards the bend/Tampa area.
Member Since: September 6, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 127
2800. redwagon
10:35 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting BmtJedi:


Lots of lurking Texans on the blog I bet. As much as we could use some cooling rain, I'd never wish for even a tropical storm in our direction. Tropical storms are too unpredictable, and can obviously change track and intensity in a short time frame. The science is getting better every year, but the real impact of a storm is always scary and sometimes heartbreaking.

I enjoy the forecasting of most of the folks on this blog. The banter is enjoyable most of the time.

Make that THREE Texans!
Member Since: August 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3239
2799. HurricaneHunterJoe
10:17 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
If that happened and ended up at the surface, would verify the GFS bigtime. lol


YUP
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5222
2798. BmtJedi
10:16 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting redwagon:

Look, two Texans on the blog!
I am not disappointed in Debby declining us.

1. Nice purple and blue hotspot in the BOC right where Skyepony posted the persistent circulation ASCAT the other day. We really need to get this high and that hot Mexican air out of the way before we can take full advantage of any storm.

2. We have a bunch of models who see lots of reasons to send SOMETHING to TX. So if something does spin up we'll have some confidence in it.


Lots of lurking Texans on the blog I bet. As much as we could use some cooling rain, I'd never wish for even a tropical storm in our direction. Tropical storms are too unpredictable, and can obviously change track and intensity in a short time frame. The science is getting better every year, but the real impact of a storm is always scary and sometimes heartbreaking.

I enjoy the forecasting of most of the folks on this blog. The banter is enjoyable most of the time.
Member Since: October 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 19
2797. ecflweatherfan
10:13 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Is STOPPED a direction? Because it is not moving N, S, E, W or any points between.
Member Since: March 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1147
2796. BahaHurican
10:06 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Although nothing compared to others mentioned, Dennis in 1999 was a tropical storm that dropped up to 19 inches of rain in some spots and flooded a good majority of eastern NC and SE VA. Caused lots of damage, several deaths... but more importantly set the stage for massive flooding when Floyd came through a few weeks later.

Similarly, if you consider that Pensacola and Mobile had massive flooding just recently.... this could be the "part 2" that totally puts them underwater. Hopefully she moves NE as opposed to N, and those cities should be mostly spared.

Regardless, if a tropical storm sits on one area for 7 straight days, someone is going to experience extreme flooding (if they aren't already!). Hopefully that is not the case.... I still think Debby will be swept NE across Florida and into the Atlantic
Dennis also raked the NW Bahamas as a Hurricane, with most damage in the Abaco area... A couple weeks later we got hit by Floyd.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
2795. KeyWestwx
10:06 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting panamasteve:
I think the storm is East of model, Wind is almost out of due North here in Panama City Beach.
here's a great webcam to check out the beach on panama city
http://www.earthcam.com/usa/florida/panamacity/
Member Since: September 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 289
2794. KeyWestwx
10:02 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting charlottefl:
We are receiving reports of drivers needing to be rescued in downtown Clearwater and reports of water reaching the bumbers of cars in Gulfport. via Bay News 9
Member Since: September 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 289
2793. panamasteve
10:01 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
I think the storm is East of model, Wind is almost out of due North here in Panama City Beach.
Member Since: June 2, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
2792. KeyWestwx
9:59 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting DestinDave:
They think all the upwelling due to its lack of forward speed will play a role in keeping this a Tropical storm. I HOPE SO!
yeah, if your going to have a possible foot of rain at least the winds won't be a worry for you
Member Since: September 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 289
2791. GTcooliebai
9:58 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Belcher Rd/142nd St. in Largo.

Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
2790. blsealevel
9:55 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Best case scenario for myself is thst she hugs close to the coast as she passes by might not get to bad around here tornados spook me to the core never know when they pop up are where anyway hope she goes ahead and continues through florida yall all ready getting the woest good luck folks

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
2789. NOLALawyer
9:52 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting wolftribe2009:


Yea about a week ago many area near Mobile and Pensacola were getting a lot of flooding from a tropical low; therefore, I don't think they like the current track NOAA is giving.


Well, Allison did 1 billion in actual damages, not one billion in adjusted damages.
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 520
2788. BahaHurican
9:52 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting washingaway:
Debby may give birth to the Atlantic, look at what's crossing central Florida. It appears to be taking on it's on idenity. ????



Now THAT would make the "new" GFS top dog... a storm split is what it's been forecasting for simply ages....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
2787. HurricaneHunterJoe
9:52 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting Patrap:
Storm Centered Viz Loop,Zoomed,zoom active


Looks like it heading directly for Apalachicola
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5222
2786. RMM34667
9:51 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
I have never seen rain like this.

This morning those bushes were the edge of the lake, and it's on an incline.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 912
2785. MTCseadrifter
9:48 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Debbie says, "cough, cough, gag @ at dry air intrusion from northwest.
Member Since: July 28, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 260
2784. melbournejelly
9:46 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
In Melbourne for Faye.. The flooding was intense. Our area had over 20 inches of rain. The forecast called for more rain but luckily the rain stopped before the water made it into our house. Many were not as lucky.
Member Since: August 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
2783. taco2me61
9:46 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting cajunkid:
WSW per latest vis...just saying


More of a "Wabble" than movement to the WSW...

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
2782. BahaHurican
9:45 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


But nothing more than a minor rain event according to some (I'll get banned if I say it) on this blog. Sad to hear this.
Quoting hahaguy:
I'm surprised nobody has made any Little Debby jokes.
Dude, lil debbie... does Dallas... etc... slipped in slyly from time to time...

Quoting Hurricanes101:


be careful using the word epic, the disaster police on here will come and slap you lol

that being said epic is a bit of a strong word for right now
Unfortunately, this can, and likely will change...

Quoting goosegirl1:


How many pluses would you like?
She can have as many as she likes.... Hey goosegirl and zoomiami...

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
2781. DestinDave
9:45 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting KeyWestwx:
They think all the upwelling due to its lack of forward speed will play a role in keeping this a Tropical storm. I HOPE SO!
Member Since: June 21, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
2780. Chicklit
9:44 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting Patrap:


The sleeper must awaken


not necessarily. she's putting me to sleep with this stalling and hanging around.
unbelievable it could hang out there in the gom all that time.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11328
2778. LightningCharmer
9:43 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting washingaway:
Debby may give birth to the Atlantic, look at what's crossing central Florida. It appears to be taking on it's on idenity. ????



From your satellite loop, the feature crossing western Cuba appears to have circulation as well. Lots of turning has resulted in numerous tornadoes; beyond that, we'll see.
Member Since: September 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1316
2777. RTSplayer
9:43 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Next frame should be interesting.

We got a convection burst and a westward "yank" in progress...hehe.

LSU ESL low Clouds
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
2776. MiamiHurricanes09
9:43 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
18z GFS just has a ENE drift until it makes landfall.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21193
2775. charlottefl
9:42 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
We are receiving reports of drivers needing to be rescued in downtown Clearwater and reports of water reaching the bumbers of cars in Gulfport. via Bay News 9
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2686
2774. Patrap
9:41 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
GOM Viz

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128273
2773. mahep1911
9:41 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
At 4:00 PM EDST The Franklin County Operations Center is issuing a mandatory evacuation for the following areas: Alligator Point, St. George Island, any low lying, flood prone areas.

They are asking all other residents to remain in their homes and off the roads and streets.
______________________________

this was updated sorry if it has been posted already
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 12 Comments: 793
2772. Dakster
9:41 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
According to the Cone of Death, SOUTH isn't out of the question either.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10289
2771. LargoFl
9:41 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
2770. gordydunnot
9:40 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Look at the convection in the BOC. Something doesn't look right. What's the record for the shortest NHC head. HE is going to at least need a vacation after this storm and if 2012 keeps going like this he may jump on the it's Obama's fault camp, just before the nervous breakdown.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3113
2769. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
9:40 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
2767. weatherh98
9:40 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting ncstorm:
18z GFS is running now



crownig him now...
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6493
2766. cajunkid
9:39 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
WSW per latest vis...just saying
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1279
2765. weatherh98
9:39 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting Drakoen:
Debby is barely moving if at all. Wake up tomorrow morning and it might be a degree farther north.

if that.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6493
2764. NCHurricane2009
9:39 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Good afternoon...

Did a new blog update while the models have been shifting around to a NE track. Check it out...although I still haven't quiet jumped on board with an all out NE track like the new shift has been showing....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 475 Comments: 3668
2763. midgulfmom
9:39 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Just poppin in...luv u presslord! Debby looks to like the area and may stick around for a bit and spin and sway....me too waiting for the good Dr. John...my mojo medicine....
Member Since: July 9, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1125
2762. CarolinaHurricanes87
9:39 PM GMT on June 24, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
This is something to worry about.

This was the big problem w/ the slow westward movement... lots of time for flooding rains drawn out of a basically unruffled GoM...

That other storm that flooded the Susquehanna Valley in the early 70s also comes to mind. Was a slow-moving cat 1 at that point.



Although nothing compared to others mentioned, Dennis in 1999 was a tropical storm that dropped up to 19 inches of rain in some spots and flooded a good majority of eastern NC and SE VA. Caused lots of damage, several deaths... but more importantly set the stage for massive flooding when Floyd came through a few weeks later.

Similarly, if you consider that Pensacola and Mobile had massive flooding just recently.... this could be the "part 2" that totally puts them underwater. Hopefully she moves NE as opposed to N, and those cities should be mostly spared.

Regardless, if a tropical storm sits on one area for 7 straight days, someone is going to experience extreme flooding (if they aren't already!). Hopefully that is not the case.... I still think Debby will be swept NE across Florida and into the Atlantic
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 631

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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.