The Steering of Dorian

By: Lee Grenci , 3:54 PM GMT on July 26, 2013

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The 5 A.M. discussion from the National Hurricane Center indicated that Tropical Storm Dorian "lost organization" as it encountered southwesterly wind shear and middle- to upper-tropospheric dry air (one of the traditions I learned from the late John Hope was to never use "he" or "she" to describe a named tropical cyclone). NHC's discussion also focused on low- to middle-tropospheric winds associated with the the Atlantic subtropical high-pressure system (06Z GFS model analysis of 700-mb heights early this morning) as the primary steering currents for Tropical Storm Dorian (see the 06Z GFS model analysis of 700-mb heights and 700-mb streamlines below (larger image). At the time, Dorian was moving to the west-northwest at 17 knots.



The 06Z GFS model analysis of 700-mb heights and 700-mb streamlines on July 26, 2013. 700-mb wind speeds are color-coded in knots. Larger image. Courtesy of Penn State.

When I was a young forecaster (a long, long time ago), I typically looked at mid-tropospheric winds as a proxy for the general movement of tropical cyclones. That's because mid-tropospheric winds serve as a rough approximation for the mean airflow in the troposphere. More specifically, old timers like me looked at the winds between 700 mb and 500 mb at a radius of approximately five to seven degrees latitude from the center of the storm (one degree latitude equals 60 nautical miles). As it turns out, winds in the layer from 700 mb to 500 mb often tend to correlate best with the movement of tropical cyclones (at these radii, environmental winds are essentially unaltered by the circulation associated with the tropical cyclone).

Obviously, my approach as a young forecaster was old school. Nonetheless, my simple method had some merit. Indeed, research has shown that a deep-layer mean flow (between 1000 mb to 100 mb, for example) can be used as a tool to assess steering currents (this technique captures the spirit of my old-school approach).

Subtropical highs are not the only features that steer tropical cyclones. Indeed, mid-latitude systems (500-mb troughs, for example) can also steer tropical cyclones as they move poleward from the Tropics. At times, two tropical cyclones can steer each other, assuming that they're close enough for their circulations to interact (the Fujiwhara effect...a topic for a future blog). Finally, tropical cyclones contribute to their own steering, especially when steering currents are rather weak (the Beta effect, which is fodder for another future blog).


The variation of the steering layers for tropical cyclones with minimum central pressure. Larger image. Courtesy of CIMSS and Dr. Chris Velden.

That's all well and good, Grenci, but why did NHC specifically reference "low- to mid-tropospheric winds in their 5 A.M. discussion today? Experience gained from the careful observations of operational forecasters eventually prompted further research aimed at establishing the connection between the minimum pressure of a tropical cyclone and the corresponding depth of the steering layer. The bar graph above (larger image), which displays the minimum pressure of tropical cyclones versus the depth of their steering layers in the Atlantic basin, supports the notion that the steering layer for a tropical depression is shallower and resides lower in the troposphere. In contrast, the steering layer for strong hurricanes is much deeper. The simple physical connection for you to take away after reading my blog is that a weak tropical cyclone (like Dorian) is usually associated with a shallow vortex. Thus, the mean wind in a correspondingly shallow and low-level layer serves as the steering current. As a general rule, the deeper the vortex, the deeper the layer mean that steers the tropical cyclone.


The 09Z analysis of the streamlines designating the mean wind in the layer from 850 mb to 700 mb on July 26, 2013. Larger image. Courtesy of CIMSS.

To get a better sense for the movement of Dorian, focus your attention on the first layer on the left of the bar graph above (central pressure between 1000 mb and 1010 mb). The steering current for Dorian and other similarly weak tropical storms boils down to the mean wind between 850 mb (roughly 5000 feet) and 700 mb (10000 feet). The 09Z analysis from CIMSS (above; larger image) indicates the streamlines of the mean wind in the layer between 850 mb and 700 mb. Wind speeds are color-coded in knots.

At the other end of the spectrum, note the deep steering layers for strong tropical cyclones whose central pressures are lower than 940 mb or range from 940 mb to 949 mb.

I should point out that these results do not include the impact of the Beta effect on the movement of a tropical cyclone. Moreover, other factors such as season, latitude, easterly versus westerly environmental flow, the rates at which the intensity of tropical cyclones changes with time, etc., probably can skew these results a bit, but, as a general rule, the bar graph above will get you in the ballpark in all the ocean basins.

We've come a long way since I was a young forecaster.

Lee

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1778. GatorWX
I wonder what caused that energy to stay so focused and isolated. Could it be the way the air is moving at different levels? It's FL low level moisture is pretty abundant and don't know effect moisture content would have have at those levels necessarily. I've seen quite a few "trailing" storms this summer.

Oops,

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1777. WxLogic
Good Morning... Dorian really trying this AM (DMAX).

Dorian should start interacting with the ULL around 55W, so I would expect an increase in TSTM activity... organization... well that's another story.
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Quoting 1767. VR46L:
Why do I feel I should be served Crow right now...... Defying all the conditions Well done WKC and others who said it was not completely finished



Ya, I feel I deserve this look after thinking last night he was done.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10453
Link

Looks like the little guy off the East Coast didn't make much progress overnight, guess he just doesn't have the fighting spirit of Dorian.
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Quoting 1766. wunderkidcayman:

that is wishful thinking but I don't think if this storm regain strength it could become a cane


another wishful thinker



I don't feel I'm being wishful at all, just as it was dying earlier yesterday, today it's on the uptick, and could become a strong tropical storm again enforce nearing the Lesser Antilles, shear is dropping and SSTs are increasing, so he has what he needs for an increase in moisture and convection as well as organization, and when he does organize further, it will be able to feel the upper level steering flow and begin to feel the weakness in the ridge and move more WNW instead of west.
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Quoting 1751. wunderkidcayman:
new model run have more models further W than last run last run saw dissipation early just E of Cuba new runs are further W W of Cuba into the NW Caribbean and lives after 96 and 120 hours

also that atlantic high still strong and moving SW and is starting to get into that NE-SW orientation now it NNE-SSW

also that blob of W coast of Africa is now tagged a tropical wave and put on new surface map



Hey WKC remember last I said that wave could be a playmaker starting today the upper level winds are very light now that Dorian is paving away if it stays within the ITCZ it may be a problem for folks in the Caribbean.
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Quoting 1687. KoritheMan:


The SHIPS' intensity algorithm is based on historical tropical cyclones. It's a statistical model, hence the expedient acronym "Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme".

As far as I'm aware it doesn't get more sophisticated than that, which is why there is typically so much run to run variability.


SHIPS also includes a dynamical part:

The original SHIPS model was "statistical-synoptic" where no information from large-scale forecast models were used. (all synoptic predictors were from model analyses) The model was converted to a "statistical-dynamical" model in 1997, where predictors were obtained from atmospheric forecast models, in addition to analyses.


Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10453
Quoting 1767. VR46L:
Why do I feel I should be served Crow right now...... Defying all the conditions Well done WKC and others who said it was not completely finished


why thank you how would you like your crow cooked lol
anyway how are you mate
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9547
It seems to me that people posting on here are EAGER for this TS to be a Hurricane. Really?
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Quoting 1765. GatorWX:


Especially ships, no?
Ships. Still tough future, and a sign of the future of this season. Keeps the blog going too.
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Well it seems that Dorian has survive last night and has put out decent convection. ASCAT pass earlier show it maybe open but the increase in thunderstorms may closed it off and reorganize the low level circulation. Wind Shear has drop considerably from 50kts yesterday to just under 40kts. And is continuing to decrease to around 20kt. Which means it has a chance of surviving way longer than being expected. Although convection is not well organized the storm has put up a shield to protect it from dry air which is starting to diminish at the moment. Not that its working on the dry air issue we will see if it can work on the inside and start some convective banding. The speed of the cyclone may slow it to a degree though. But it should start to slow down once it starts moving WNW. If shear cooperates we may see a potent system nearing the Bahamas. 
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1767. VR46L
Why do I feel I should be served Crow right now...... Defying all the conditions Well done WKC and others who said it was not completely finished

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Quoting 1762. unknowncomic:
Impressive comeback. Now headed for the warmer SST and less dry air. Seems if Dorian does not hit land it may become a hurricane.




that is wishful thinking but I don't think if this storm regain strength it could become a cane

Quoting 1761. TheDawnAwakening:
I think Dorian stays north of the islands and I stead runs through the Bahamas and Florida within the next seven day time period. Sub tropical Bermuda high won't be nearly as strong and a weakness will develop over the eastern US states as a strong upper level trough moves off the coast bringing Dorian on a more wnw track than the modeled westerly track into Cuba.

another wishful thinker
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9547
1765. GatorWX
Quoting 1762. unknowncomic:
Impressive comeback. Now headed for the warmer SST and less dry air. Seems if Dorian does not hit land it may become a hurricane.





Especially ships, no?
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1764. GatorWX
Quoting 1762. unknowncomic:
Impressive comeback. Now headed for the warmer SST and less dry air. Seems if Dorian does not hit land it may become a hurricane.





El oh el. Interesting, I have to say.
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1763. GatorWX
Quoting 1758. TheDawnAwakening:
Surface low east of Wilmington, NC by a few hundred miles is suffering from around 15-20 knots of southwesterly wind shear created by a strong upper level trough over e Great Lakes. There is an upper level anticyclone located to the low's northeast which is then forecasted to move west into the path of our surface low as it heads north, northeastward into SNE on Sunday. Wind shear will drop for about 12 hours before picking back up along its track. 6z GFS shows area of low pressure sitting in the southern Caribbean Sea for days on end, likely attributed by a surface trough located over South America currently, this area will need to be monitored in the future, for further possible development. Wave out in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean will likely develop further into a potential cyclone over the next 48-72 hours, models barely develop the system, but shear is lower, and dry air is non existent in its path. Warmer SSTs will be in it's path unlike Dorian's track.

Speaking of Dorian, ind shear is forecasted to remain high on Dorian's nor west quadrant throughout its lifetime, it's track to the west was foreseen by models as Dorian weakened immensely, due to lower SSTs, higher wind shear from the west, and dry air intrusions as well as inner structural problems, decoupling from MLC and LLC circulations. Dorian's potential doom as a tropical cyclone was sifted out through many commuter model forecasts, however this morning wind shear is decreasing faster than forecasted and potential reorganization into a good tropical cyclone is quite possible. Dry air will continue to be a problem as the cyclone is embedded in strong SAL layer attributing to strong mid level dry air mass. I will give Dorian the needed respect as a tropical cyclone until the vorticity associated with it will meet its demise. Until the. The cyclone is n the uptick and this needs to be watched.


Good little analysis and thanks.
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Impressive comeback. Now headed for the warmer SST and less dry air. Seems if Dorian does not hit land it may become a hurricane.



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I think Dorian stays north of the islands and I stead runs through the Bahamas and Florida within the next seven day time period. Sub tropical Bermuda high won't be nearly as strong and a weakness will develop over the eastern US states as a strong upper level trough moves off the coast bringing Dorian on a more wnw track than the modeled westerly track into Cuba.
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1760. GatorWX
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1759. GatorWX
I'd say too, the fact it's developing tstms on the west side of the center is a bit encouraging atm.
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Surface low east of Wilmington, NC by a few hundred miles is suffering from around 15-20 knots of southwesterly wind shear created by a strong upper level trough over e Great Lakes. There is an upper level anticyclone located to the low's northeast which is then forecasted to move west into the path of our surface low as it heads north, northeastward into SNE on Sunday. Wind shear will drop for about 12 hours before picking back up along its track. 6z GFS shows area of low pressure sitting in the southern Caribbean Sea for days on end, likely attributed by a surface trough located over South America currently, this area will need to be monitored in the future, for further possible development. Wave out in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean will likely develop further into a potential cyclone over the next 48-72 hours, models barely develop the system, but shear is lower, and dry air is non existent in its path. Warmer SSTs will be in it's path unlike Dorian's track.

Speaking of Dorian, ind shear is forecasted to remain high on Dorian's nor west quadrant throughout its lifetime, it's track to the west was foreseen by models as Dorian weakened immensely, due to lower SSTs, higher wind shear from the west, and dry air intrusions as well as inner structural problems, decoupling from MLC and LLC circulations. Dorian's potential doom as a tropical cyclone was sifted out through many commuter model forecasts, however this morning wind shear is decreasing faster than forecasted and potential reorganization into a good tropical cyclone is quite possible. Dry air will continue to be a problem as the cyclone is embedded in strong SAL layer attributing to strong mid level dry air mass. I will give Dorian the needed respect as a tropical cyclone until the vorticity associated with it will meet its demise. Until the. The cyclone is n the uptick and this needs to be watched.
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1757. GatorWX
Quoting 1750. LargoFl:
another day or so he'll be back in the moisture and warm waters.


I know....I haven't written it off yet. Didn't look good at dmin and then it did a total 180 at dmax. I'd say, see how it holds up as the day unfolds. Persistence. Again, anyone have a good shear forecast? Not very optimistic at this point, but it's still there apparently. Pretty sure we lost Dorian for a while last night.
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1756. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1755. vis0

Quoting 1652. Astrometeor:


Looks like Flossie wants to surpass NHC's predictions for her. Unlike some other tropical storms I know...

Long term PAC loop, FLOSSIE shows up 2/3rds (:23s) into the ANi.
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Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9547
1753. LargoFl
folks today..he is STILL a TS..the days ahead are all guesswork.......BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM DORIAN ADVISORY NUMBER 13
NWS National Hurricane Center MIAMI FL AL042013
500 AM AST SAT JUL 27 2013

...DORIAN CONTINUES MOVING RAPIDLY WESTWARD AS A TROPICAL STORM...


SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.2N 50.0W
ABOUT 860 MI...1385 KM E OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 275 DEGREES AT 22 MPH...35 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1011 MB...29.85 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.

INTERESTS IN THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF DORIAN.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1752. GatorWX
Jeez.



Not bad for a morning shower.
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new model run have more models further W than last run last run saw dissipation early just E of Cuba new runs are further W W of Cuba into the NW Caribbean and lives after 96 and 120 hours

also that atlantic high still strong and moving SW and is starting to get into that NE-SW orientation now it NNE-SSW

also that blob of W coast of Africa is now tagged a tropical wave and put on new surface map
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9547
1750. LargoFl
another day or so he'll be back in the moisture and warm waters.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1749. LargoFl
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1748. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1747. LargoFl
Quoting 1745. GatorWX:
That rain isn't too far from Boca Grande Pass to the SE. I'm still waiting for our real normal pattern of afternoon westward moving sea breeze storms. Those storms down there are dumping a lot of rain. Isolated, but I bet, a very large total.
yes there are flood watches and warnings out for down there..very slow moving storms.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
Whassup? Has our little hobbit storm ended his vanishing act? Feisty, but probably doomed.
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1745. GatorWX
That rain isn't too far from Boca Grande Pass to the SE. I'm still waiting for our real normal pattern of afternoon westward moving sea breeze storms. Those storms down there are dumping a lot of rain. Isolated, but I bet, a very large total.
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1744. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1743. vis0

Quoting 1604. Bluestorm5:
I dunno why I'm up this late... work at 10:30. At least only one more week of Walmart.
Get some sleep at least get a 1.2 hr to 1 hr  "beauty" nap. (why its called beauty beats me. By my count of naps  i should look like 19yr old girl, but still look like an old guy.
YET my brain feels refreshed if i take just ~1 half-hr nap.
You know enough to pick a slow hr. at Wxu (no offensive to WXU, its natures' fault). zzzzzzzzz
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Good morning, all. Looks like Dorian is trying to rise from the dead this morning. Sure looks much healthier than last night. Do I even see a pinpoint eye? Guess we will just have to continue to keep an eye on him. I don't write them off until their energy is completely gone...too many like Andrew that were supposed to die off and then came roaring back. Watching and waiting....
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1741. LargoFl
530 AM EDT SAT JUL 27 2013

...NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS EAST COAST TODAY...
...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL/FLOODING POSSIBLE...

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

RIP CURRENTS: SOUTHWEST WINDS AROUND 10 KNOTS WILL RESULT IN A
SLIGHT RISK FOR RIP CURRENTS ALONG THE GULF COAST TODAY.

THUNDERSTORMS: NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE
MAINLY ACROSS THE INTERIOR AND EAST COASTAL AREAS THIS AFTERNOON
AND EVENING. THE MAIN IMPACTS WILL BE HEAVY DOWNPOURS PRODUCING
LOCALIZED FLOODING...GUSTY WINDS...AND OCCASIONAL TO FREQUENT CLOUD TO
GROUND LIGHTNING.

WATERSPOUTS: THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK OF WATERSPOUTS TODAY OVER THE
ATLANTIC WATERS OF SOUTH FLORIDA AND BISCAYNE BAY, DUE TO THE
COLLISION OF THE LIGHT SOUTHERLY WINDS OVER THE ATLANTIC WATERS
AND LIGHT SOUTHWESTERLY TO WESTERLY WINDS OVER THE MAINLAND AREAS
OF SOUTH FLORIDA.

WIND: THE STRONGEST STORMS THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING WILL BE
CAPABLE OF PRODUCING WIND GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH.

FLOODING: A DEEP MOISTURE AXIS COMBINED WITH VERY WEAK STEERING
FLOW WILL RESULT IN VERY SLOW MOVING STORMS. THIS WILL ALLOW FOR
THE POSSIBILITY OF LOCALIZED FLOODING MAINLY ACROSS URBAN AND
POORLY DRAINED AREAS.

TEMPERATURES: MAXIMUM HEAT INDEX READINGS THIS AFTERNOON ARE
EXPECTED TO BE NEAR OR JUST OVER 100 DEGREES ACROSS THE ENTIRE
SOUTH FLORIDA AREA.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1740. LargoFl
Quoting 1736. GatorWX:
Don't try and spoil my plans Largo. I see Englewood on there quite a few times.

Someone's getting a whole lot of rain down there. Looks far enough east, I'm chancing it.

LOL gator I think todays storm chances are in south florida, central florida is just about back to normal so far anyway
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its back!!
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1738. DVG
Quoting 1711. Tribucanes:
I'm not buying the NHC's forecast for Dorian. Moisture shield is pushing the dry air very nicely and banding formation may not be far off. Not surprised NHC took the conservative rout with the dry air and increasing shear predicted, but Dorian is night and day from eight hours ago and still improving steadily.


Agree...Dorian 2pm Mon I think 67 lat by 23 long
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Hmm the first few visible satellite images seem to suggest that Dorian's LLCOC is very much so closed and low level bands are spinning unlike earlier when we had the last couple of vis images before sundown and ir images that suggested that S side may have been open as the night progressed that changed and current vis images show better and also new microwave images also show a better storm than what we had last night and late yesterday evening also shows inner core has also gotten better
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1736. GatorWX
Don't try and spoil my plans Largo. I see Englewood on there quite a few times.

Someone's getting a whole lot of rain down there. Looks far enough east, I'm chancing it.

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1735. GatorWX
And good morning to everyone. Think I may take the kayak out before work and fish the beach. Boca Grande has a nice set of sandbars that like to collect snook in the early hours. Nice seeing average calm summer winds today. Hoping the gulf is back to flatness. Sorry surfers, not that there was any surf.
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1734. LargoFl
good morning folks!..Blogs coffee is perked.............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33211
1733. LargoFl
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY RUSKIN FL
628 AM EDT SAT JUL 27 2013

FLZ039-042-043-048>052-055>057-060>062-065-GMZ830 -850-853-856-870-
873-876-271600-
LEVY-CITRUS-SUMTER-HERNANDO-PASCO-PINELLAS-HILLSB OROUGH-POLK-
MANATEE-HARDEE-HIGHLANDS-SARASOTA-DESOTO-CHARLOTT E-LEE-
TAMPA BAY WATERS-TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 NM-
BONITA BEACH TO ENGLEWOOD OUT 20 NM-
TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
BONITA BEACH TO ENGLEWOOD OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
628 AM EDT SAT JUL 27 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST
FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

...THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
MORNING COASTAL SHOWERS AND STORMS WILL INCREASE IN COVERAGE AS
THE MOVE INLAND THROUGH THE AFTERNOON. FREQUENT DEADLY
LIGHTNING...HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS WILL BE THE MAIN HAZARDS
WITH THE STORMS.

...RIVER FLOOD IMPACT...
HEAVY RAINS OVER ALREADY SATURATED AREAS HAVE CAUSED RIVER
FLOODING ON THE MYAKKA RIVER AT MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK...CYPRESS
CREEK AT WORTHINGTON GARDENS...PEACE RIVER AT ZOLFO SPRINGS AND
THE PEACE RIVER AT ARCADIA. THESE STAGES ARE EXPECTED TO SLOWLY
SUBSIDE.
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1732. GatorWX
What's shear going to be like in the Bahamas region and GOM when Dorian is in the vicinity?
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1731. barbamz

The TPW is showing a still healthy circulation with Dorian. Click to enlarge.
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1729. hu2007
good morning. i think this is it for dorian after has passed 55 or 60w too much hostile condition for development is still surprise me that has some thunderstorm near the center of the almost remmant low , and the wave behind will last short because if it develops in too a cyclone it will most likely move to the nw and if not it will meet the same demise of chantal and now dorian
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1728. GatorWX
Never forget td 10 of '05 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.