Helene, Gordon, Lane, Florence, and a fire tornado

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:50 PM GMT on September 14, 2006

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It's a typically active mid-September day in the Atlantic, with the first major hurricane of the year, Gordon, spinning out to sea, and a new tropical storm to watch, Helene. Neither of these storms are likely to affect land, and the long range 2-week GFS model forecast offers no hint of any future threats coming in the Atlantic. With hurricane season now more than half over, the seemingly radical notion that the worst storm of the season will end up being Ernesto is not so far-fetched. Still, there is another full month of peak hurricane season to go, and we still need to keep an eye on Helene, which could cause trouble.

Florence
The remains of Hurricane Florence gave Newfoundland a pounding yesterday, bringing hurricane force winds and 30-foot seas to the coast. One house was reported destroyed on an island off the coast, and there were scattered reports of power outages and flooding. The remains of Florence will continue across the Atlantic, and likely bring heavy rain and 40 mph wind gusts to Ireland on Sunday.

Gordon headed out to sea
Hurricane Gordon intensified into the first major hurricane of the season last night, but appears to be starting a slow decline in strength. Strong upper-level winds from the west are creating about 15 knots of wind shear over the storm, and helping stretch it into an east-west oriented oval shape. Wind shear over Gordon is expected to increase and the waters underneath it cool over the next few days. Gordon is headed northward out to sea, and is not a threat to land.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Gordon, updated every half hour.

Helene
Tropical Depression Eight got its act together enough last night to barely qualify as the eighth named storm of the season, Helene. Helene is very disorganized and has a large sloppy circulation center. A QuikSCAT satellite pass from this morning shows this broad center nicely, and reveals only a few patches of winds over 40 mph. As we saw with Florence, it can take many days for a weak tropical storm with a large circulation center to organize into a hurricane. Still, the waters under Helene are a warm 27-28C, the shear is a low 5-10 knots, and these favorable conditions for intensification are expected to persist for several days. Helene should be able to intensify into a hurricane by 3-4 days from now, and possibly into a major hurricane thereafter. Some dry air to its north and west may interfere with this intensification.

The computer track models have a wide spread in the track for Helene, but all of them take the storm north of the Lesser Antilles. While a long-range threat to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast is still a possibility, the odds of this happening are low. History shows that the large majority of tropical storms that form in this part of the Atlantic end up recurving harmlessly out to sea. With the active jet stream pattern we've seen since early June expected to continue for at least the next two weeks, I expect that Helene will end up recurving out to sea east of Bermuda.

More trouble for Mexico
Tropical Storm Lane formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico yesterday, and this storm has the potential to be the most trouble of any storm discussed so far. Lane is expected to track parallel to the coast and threaten Baja, similar to what Hurricane John did earlier this month. Lane is over warm waters and under light shear, and and has the potential to become a hurricane by Friday. Lane probably does not have time to intensify into a major hurricane, but a Category 2 hurricane would not be a surprise.

The entire coast of Mexico affected by John is also at risk from Lane. The storm could move ashore on the mainland Mexico coast south of Puerto Vallarta, like the GFDL model is forecasting. The GFDL had the best performance of any of the computer models for John, so residents along the mainland Mexican coast should prepare for a possible direct hit by a Category 1 hurricane on Friday.

Moisture from Lane could potentially reach southern California and Arizona by Wednesday and cause flooding concerns there.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic
Thunderstorm activity is increasing today along a cold front stretching from Cape Hatteras, NC, to the waters east of Florida. This area will have to be watched the next two days for development. Shower activity associated with a tropical wave passing through Puerto Rico and the surrounding region have diminished, and development is unlikely here.

Fire tornado
Finally, I had to link this photo of a fire tornado taken by wunderphotographer Photo5150. Some fires are able to create such a strong updraft with their extreme heat that the air rushing in at the surface to replace the air lifted creates a fire tornado. This is definitely the most awesome photo of a fire tornado I've ever seen!

Jeff Masters

Fire Tornado (Photo5150)
I was covering the fire action at the Day fire in Castaic CA, and had this fire tonado form from the heat and wind from the fire right in front of me!...Fire is now 27,500 acres+ and now has been burning for 10 days. Sept 13,2006 Photo by Gene Blevins/LA Daily news
Fire Tornado

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1595. NJNorEaster
2:15 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
I agree with Groundman!!!
Member Since: September 12, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 55
1594. groundman
2:11 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: Zaphod at 8:50 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

We evidently don't know enough about what data is relvant or perhaps where to place it. a, b, and c would all be correct. It wouldn't be the computational horsepower but the actual program that ran the model, we are plugging in irrelevant or just plain redundant info in somewhere and not plugging good info in. Perhaps the model program has an unseen flaw of some sort. This could perhaps be caused in part by lack of measurment data or perhaps once again not knowing what data is relevant, ie say we need to get the wind speed of a wave BEFORE it leaves Africa and plug that in as a bigger determining factor in intensity than the water temp 500 miles out, I KNOW that is wrong but just an example. Or a flap of a butterflies wing in GA turns the hurricane?? I know I'm silly.
Maybe we will never figure it out because there are too many variables in Mother Nature, I do believe we will get closer with the models but I can't see them always being right.
Now I am going to nap for real, boo hiss all ya want. LOL
Terry
1593. FLKEYSRADIO
2:09 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
This car care trip, brought to you by:

HEAD ON... Apply directly to the forehead.
1592. Patrap
2:03 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
.Love bug tip for SUV drivers esp..a lil baby oil on the front end after waxing..will keep the Bug clean-up..75% ezier....next time
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1591. swlaaggie
2:02 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: 4Dtv at 8:52 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

I have love bugs in my folgers!


I can understand that. We have those pesky little buggers everywhere this fall. All windshields are splattered. They are horrible this time around and I can't wait for first good cold front to drive them back.
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1032
1590. Patrap
2:01 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..drum roll please...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1589. stormchaserDAZ
2:00 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
new post for dr masters
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 249
1588. ihave27windows
1:58 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Good Morning swla.....not to be confused with SWLA.
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14937
1587. swlaaggie
1:57 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Geez! Insert "know" between "don't" and "enough" in prior post.
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1032
1586. ihave27windows
1:57 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Thanks Pat.....Groovy
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14937
1585. swlaaggie
1:56 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: Zaphod at 8:50 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?


My answer is yes.

Obviously, our lack of understanding is the leading cause. The lack of measurement data is tied to the lack of understanding issue in that sometimes you don't enough to even ask the right questions. The lack of computational horsepower is more speculative in that if we better understood and had all the necessary data associated with that understanding, then a lack of computer horsepower may very well be the end result.

Good morning all. It's been a while and hope all is well.
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1032
1584. FLKEYSRADIO
1:56 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: floridafisherman at 9:53 AM EDT on September 15, 2006.

LOL OOPS I STAY THERE 3 WEEK OF THE YEAR


Depending on where you go, you can still find WILMA debris. There are still abandoned cars that were flooded.... you can still spot abandoned boats in the shallows of the gulf side... Our Key West office building lost its roof during the storm, and we JUST NOW moved our sales staff back in there THIS WEEK, almost 11 months later.
1583. Patrap
1:55 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
windows27 the map can be found atWSicorp..wsi.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1582. hazmat
1:54 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Kiss...you have definitely stared at the sun too long as well as someone obviously put crack in your Folders this a.m.
1581. NJNorEaster
1:53 PM GMT on September 15, 2006

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

I'd have to say (c)lack of measurement data. And associated with that would be the lack of understanding the error associated with the data we do have!
Member Since: September 12, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 55
1580. floridafisherman
1:53 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
LOL OOPS I STAY THERE 3 WEEK OF THE YEAR
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
1579. floridafisherman
1:52 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
FLAKEY I STAY IN BIG PINE ABOUT 3 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. WHEN I WAS THERE COUPLE MONTHS AGO, THERE WAS STILL LOT OF DEBRIS FROM WILMA AROUND. I USUALLY STAY AT WOODEN BRIDGE FISH CAMP WHEN I GO. GOOD FISHING THERE :)
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
1578. 4Dtv
1:52 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
I have love bugs in my folgers!
1577. hazmat
1:51 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Zap...what about "D"...all of the above.
1575. ihave27windows
1:51 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Thank you so much Jo....I'm still in the very early learning stages, and that map is perfect.
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14937
1573. Zaphod
1:50 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

Zap
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 3239
1572. Tazmanian
1:49 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
HELENE winds up to 60mph now from 45mph


thats right 50kt or 60mph and a 1000mbs
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115741
1571. groundman
1:48 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: saddlegait at 1:35 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.
groundman - sorry you are not feeling well...hope you get better.

Thanks, Resistant Staph, My husband got it from chain saw cut and being a stubborn man who didn't listen to his EMT 1/2 LPN wife, LOL. I got it, thought it was a return of lyme, he got it, wouldn't listen again, made him sick, I had tooth pulled, got it again. Between the 2 of us we have been on probably 90 days of antibiotics since June!

Sorry so long but PLEASE any cuts that look suspicious for people on the coast especially GO TO THE DR.
I got it in my tooth that was pulled probably because it was still in my system.
We are BETTER now though.
Terry
1569. stormchaserDAZ
1:48 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
im not to good at this but the batch of thunderstorms east of hellen looks to be intencifing and looks to have rotation can any i confirm this coz iim not sure
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 249
1567. Patrap
1:47 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..I see he has a no west-laser zapper thingee from DoD...kewl!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1565. Patrap
1:46 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..looks like my Fema rep..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1564. Miamiweather
1:45 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
gulfscot what do you think are the posiblilities that helene does the same thing gordon did?
1561. Patrap
1:45 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..wishes the tornado of Doom & fire would leave soon..it creeps me out for some reason..like a f-4 on the top post
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1559. Tazmanian
1:44 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Good morning GulfScotsman the navy site this update the winds to 50kt or 60mph and a 1000mb
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115741
1558. ihave27windows
1:43 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Thank you StormW....Can't learn if you don't ask.
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14937
1557. FLKEYSRADIO
1:42 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: ihave27windows at 9:36 AM EDT on September 15, 2006.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That was great.....showing your age though....hmmmm mine too.


Sadly, my age is all I can show in here... haven't the foggiest knowledge on weather, but trying to learn a bit here.
1556. Patrap
1:42 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..LMAO @ caulking gun..drive thru!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1554. stormchaserDAZ
1:41 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
im not to good at this but the batch of thunderstorms east of hellen looks to be intencifieing and looks to have rottion can any i confirm this coz iim not sure
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 249
1552. Patrap
1:40 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..had droid from tattooine that understood Binary code..,b-4 he was a Protacol droid...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1551. FLKEYSRADIO
1:39 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Sadly ric... Taco Bell is in Key West, Marathon, (2 min from my home) and Key Largo... but I try to stay away from food served out of a caulking gun.
1550. groundman
1:39 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: kylejourdan2006 at 1:32 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.
groundman - "Ta soeur est laide." is "Your sister is ugly."


Thanks Kyle, My command of insulting French needs improvement?? eh
Cest la Vie!
BTW I have no sisters, brother is large construction foreman, he would qualify for ugly sister. LOL
Actually insulting German is more my line but not exactly PG.
Terry
FLYKESRADIO verrrrrrrrrry funneeee es Frito Bandito
1549. Patrap
1:39 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
..Kirk..always the ladys man..doing the love thing.,the Lovermeister..The Kirk wood...to boldly go where no man has gone before...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 131420
1547. Tazmanian
1:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
navy site this update HELENE to 50kts or 60mph i think? and a 1000mbs
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115741
1546. ihave27windows
1:36 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
Posted By: FLKEYSRADIO at 8:21 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Today we've secretly replaced Scotty's Dilythium Crystals with FOLGERS CRYSTALS. Let's see if anyone notices.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That was great.....showing your age though....hmmmm mine too.
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14937
1545. ricderr
1:35 PM GMT on September 15, 2006
flkeys...and you have to drive how many miles into key west to get that?...LOL...you know life is bad when you drive 35 minutes to get a fake mexican taco....
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 684 Comments: 23133

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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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