July 2012: Earth's 4th warmest; update on 94L--a threat to the Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:19 PM GMT on August 18, 2012

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July 2012 was the globe's 4th warmest July on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 12th warmest. July 2012 global land temperatures were the 3rd warmest on record, breaking a streak of three months (April, May, and June) when global land temperatures were the warmest on record. July 2012 global ocean temperatures were the 7th warmest on record, and it was the 329th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. The last time global temperatures were below average was February 1985. Global satellite-measured temperatures in July for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 7th or 5th warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of July in his July 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary.



Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for July 2012. Most areas of the world experienced much higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including most of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, Australia, northern and western Europe, eastern Russia, Alaska, and southern South America were notably cooler than average. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

El Niño watch continues
Sea surface temperatures increased to 0.8°C above average as of August 13 in the equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America. Ocean temperatures have been near or above the 0.5°C above average threshold needed for a weak El Niño event since the beginning of July. However, winds, pressures, and cloud cover over the region have not responded in the fashion typically associated with an El Niño, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said that "The lack of a clear atmospheric response to the positive oceanic anomalies indicates ongoing ENSO-neutral conditions," in their August 9 El Niño discussion. They have issued an El Niño watch, and give a 71% chance that an El Niño event will be in place by September. El Niño conditions tend to decrease Atlantic hurricane activity, by increasing wind shear over the tropical Atlantic. Wind shear has been close to average over the tropical Atlantic since the beginning of hurricane season in June, though.


Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 (black line) compared to the previous record low year of 2007 (blue line) shows that 2012 is fast approaching all-time record territory. A big Arctic storm with a central pressure of 963 mb affected the ice during the first two weeks of August, causing a temporary downward spike in sea ice extent. Image credit: Danish Meteorological Institute.


Figure 3. View of the North Pole on August 17, 2012 from the North Pole Environmental Observatory shows plenty of melt water pools from the warm summer the North Pole has had.

Arctic sea ice falls to 2nd lowest extent in July, nears all-time record low during August
July 2012 Arctic sea ice extent reached its 2nd lowest July extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). During the first half of August, sea ice has undergone a spectacular decline, and we are on pace to break the all-time lowest sea ice extent record set in September 2007. As of August 17, the University of Bremen was showing that sea ice extent has already broken the all-time record; the Danish Meteorological Institute put the ice loss in 2nd place behind September 2007; and the National Snow and Ice Data Center put Arctic ice loss in 3rd place behind September of 2007 and 2011.

Update on 94L
A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This storm is a threat to develop into a tropical storm that will affect the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Wednesday. The storm is under moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots, and is over waters of 28°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis. Satellite loops show that 94L has increased in organization this afternoon, with a growing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity and spin at middle levels of the atmosphere.


Figure 4. Afternoon satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 2 pm EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, and ocean temperatures will fluctuate around 28°C over the next five days, as 94L tracks westwards towards the Lesser Antilles. As is typical with storms making the crossing from Africa to the Antilles, dry air to the north will likely interfere with development, and the SHIPS model predicts increased dry air as 94L approaches the Lesser Antilles. However, with shear expected to be low, dry air may be less of an issue for 94L than it was for Ernesto or TD 7. The storm should maintain a nearly due west track through Monday night, to a point near 50°W, about 700 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. At that point, a trough of low pressure passing to the north of 94L may be able to pull the storm to the northwest well to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, as suggested by the latest 12Z (8 am EDT) run of the NOGAPS model. The 12Z UKMET model shows a more west-northwesterly motion resulting in a near miss of the Lesser Antilles on Thursday. Our two best performing models--the GFS and ECMWF--have both been taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles with every run for the past 24 hours, though. The latest 12Z run of both models now agree on the timing, with 94L arriving Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The BAMM model, which performed as well as the ECMWF and GFS at 5-day forecasts in 2011, is also showing a track through the Lesser Antilles. Given this agreement among our top three models for long-range forecasts, I give a 60% chance that 94L will pass through the Lesser Antilles. In their 2 pm EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 50% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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155. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting RobDaHood:

Are you calling this a Phish storm?


The one that hits LA from the gulf..Helene remains, if it gets Pelham, AL 8/24 - Atlanta, GA 8/25 - 8/26 Charlotte, NC.. Phish storm:)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
. Future Isaac right?.


Yes, and large in size, (as I wrote in my blog 3 days ago which nobody read) :P
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Quoting RobDaHood:

Are you calling this a Phish storm?


:)
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Gordon wll be bad for the Azores island. Even if Hurricane Gordon is not a Hurricane and is Ex Tropical  ( which i doubt will be the case being how strong it is right now ) it will bring a very strong and destructive and very high storm surge to the coast of the Azores Island. Please I hope they  evacuate to higher ground or off that Island as soon as possible.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
94L appears to be moving a tad N of due WEst to WNW for now or between 280-285 degrees.


Not moving N, but strongest thunderstorms are popping right now in the N, NE quadrant of the storm. Still a sign that the storm is weak and broad.

IF the COC develops under those strongest storms, then the tracks could shift significantly north.

The wave behind 94L is much further south in latitude. Also one to watch.
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Quoting Grothar:
I never make predictions on storm intensity, but as I said yesterday, I do believe this could really try for a Cat 4.
. Future Isaac right?.
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Quoting Skyepony:


That would turn Phish's tour through the southeast into a storm chase tour.


Strike up the band.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

The Psuedo Swirl will probably become 95L.
Some models are predicting it to be Joyce.




that wave be hid 94L is looking good


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Gordon even has -80C clouds on the N. side eye-wall now, past 3 frames or so. Not very big area, but it's there.

This is amazing storm for where it is in the ocean. I've never seen anything quite like this, because honestly I usually ignore them anyway over here since they always die...but this is quite different.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Neapolitan:
That's pretty incredible. With the imminent global cooling period some have been forecasting for years, you'd think we'd see at least some sign of its impending arrival, wouldn't you? You know, perhaps one month out of the last 329 with a temperature at least a little below the 20th century average? But no...

Hurricane Gordon, 94L, and the pseudo-swirl behind 94L show up well in this East Atlantic IR image:

Ocean

The Psuedo Swirl will probably become 95L.
Some models are predicting it to be Joyce.
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145. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Have there been any scat passes that confirm anything's going on at the surface?


No. Windsat got a partial earlier today.

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I never make predictions on storm intensity, but as I said yesterday, I do believe this could really try for a Cat 4.
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Gordon has a shot of becoming our first major of the season.wow.
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Gordon
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z FIM taking a very intense "Isaac" towards Bermuda.




poor Bermuda.
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94L appears to be moving a tad N of due WEst to WNW for now or between 280-285 degrees.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7935
Quoting Skyepony:


That would turn Phish's tour through the southeast into a storm chase tour.

Are you calling this a Phish storm?
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


It really has that look... Like the bad "I'm about to blow up" look...
much agreed.. status changes imminent ;)
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Now I know I just said I want rain, but ya'll can stop anytime now with the arrows taking hurricanes into my backyard. Thank goodness it's all supposition.
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136. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:


That would turn Phish's tour through the southeast into a storm chase tour.
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I think Gordon could be a major hurricane now!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7935
12z FIM taking a very intense "Isaac" towards Bermuda.
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Quoting fmhurricane2009:


That was certainly an 80 MPH cyclone at 2pm, it should DEFINITELY weaken to a tropical storm by the time it reaches the Azores, NHC is being SO bullish right now.

*Sarcasm flag ON

The Azores are going to be in for a rude awakening during the 5pm advisory! Most of them are expecting a Tropical Storm!



Yeah. They might be getting a mid tier category 2 on closest approach. If it's made a legit 3, it should be able to coast in at cat 2 intensity even with the lower water temperatures because of it's forward speed.

There's one island awfully close to the center line of the track forecast...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting LargoFl:


That huge red area of storms is just east of me now. Umm, how is it that not one drop of it came down on my garden? : (
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Quoting RTSplayer:


This is the kind of crap I've been concerned about with AGW...

Whoever heard of a strengthening hurricane with apparently category 3 intensity in this part of the ocean and with this track?!?

Look at this. If it stays relatively low in latitude, it could eventually hit that +2C anomaly near Europe. I doubt it would still be tropical by then, but it might be a big hybrid low or something...

yep all the fish storms a concern for Europe
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Quoting tropicfreak:
This was the original path.




Look at it now.




That was certainly an 80 MPH cyclone at 2pm, it should DEFINITELY weaken to a tropical storm by the time it reaches the Azores, NHC is being SO bullish right now.

*Sarcasm flag ON

The Azores are going to be in for a rude awakening during the 5pm advisory! Most of them are expecting a Tropical Storm!
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Looks like Gordon is reaching to become a major.Not surprised as conditions have been more favorable in the sub-tropics than the MDR.
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Quoting tropicfreak:


Unless it reemerges over the Gulf... which is entirely possible.

If it were to re-emerge, it would be 36-48hrs from now. Right now, it's dead.
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124. JLPR2
Quoting WxGeekVA:


It really has that look... Like the bad "I'm about to blow up" look...


D-max should be pretty interesting.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

It's dead.

Nothing to see here.

Leave it alone!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32338
Quoting Gorty:


What system is that in the GOM? And Issac looks big.


I'm not sure if it's remnants from Helene or something at the tail of the front or both? CMC only other showing anything like that. And I think that shows 94l in the Atlantic.

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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

It's dead.

Nothing to see here.


Surface circulation still there.
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It really has that look... Like the bad "I'm about to blow up" look...
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

If current trends continue, Helene should be declassified in 6-12 hours.


Unless it reemerges over the Gulf... which is entirely possible.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Leave Helene alone.

It's dead.

Nothing to see here.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Latest one is a few hours old...

Not bad, still broad and somewhat ill-defined in the southern semicircle, but it could probably make it to TD status by tomorrow night.
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What they said.

Quoting weatherman12345:

ASCAT caught the eastern side of the circulation a few hours ago. I saw a few very weak west winds but considering its organization over the past few hrs i bet its fully closed
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Latest one is a few hours old...

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32338
Quoting AtHomeInTX:
This run looks like Galveston for whatever that is and I think 94l is missing the islands.



Isn't that Helene in Texas?
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From 10% to 20% to 40% to 50% 94L did great today and doing better every minute. PR and Hispaniola need to watch this carefully.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

If current trends continue, Helene should be declassified in 6-12 hours.

Leave Helene alone.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32338
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Gordon has become a real looker as of late. This is what I have been waiting for all season. If that convection burst wraps all the way around we could see 125-130 MPH.


A bit of an area of "grave concern" for the lower Azores island.
Those places are packed with August tourists now and most of those people have no idea what a hurricane is, let alone what to do if you happen to underneath one. Not that there's anywhere much to go to except indoors.

Another area of none hurricane concern is that the posted Arctic ice cover graph is now showing about the minimum historic ice level as previously reached in late September.
Yet of course its only mid August. Just a thought.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
This run looks like Galveston for whatever that is and I think 94l is missing the islands.


Is that Helene in the Gulf?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Have there been any scat passes that confirm anything's going on at the surface?


Latest one is a few hours old...

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This was the original path.




Look at it now.


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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
2012AUG18 191500 5.5 957 102 5.5 5.6 5.6 EYE 34.01 36.59 COMBO

Dvorak: T5.5 averages of all the the Dvorak Technique numbers values (Final, adjusted, and raw)


This is the kind of crap I've been concerned about with AGW...

Whoever heard of a strengthening hurricane with apparently category 3 intensity in this part of the ocean and with this track?!?

Look at this. If it stays relatively low in latitude, it could eventually hit that +2C anomaly near Europe. I doubt it would still be tropical by then, but it might be a big hybrid low or something...

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520

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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.

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