Helene a major hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:07 PM GMT on September 18, 2006

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Hurricane Helene continues to intensify, and is now the season's second major hurricane. Helene is over warm waters of about 28C, and under about 10-15 knots of wind shear. These conditions favor intensification for another two days, and Helene could be the first Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic this year. Helene is currently headed more north than west, following a cut little brother Gordon has made through the Bermuda High. However, this cut is expected to close up later today, and the Bermuda High will re-establish itself and force Helene more to the west. By Wednesday or Thursday, a strong trough of low pressure will be moving off the East Coast and should turn Helene more to the north. It remains to be seen if this trough will be strong enough to finish the job and fully recurve Helene. If not, the Bermuda High will build back in, forcing Helene more to the west again, and potentially allowing it to strike the Mid-Atlantic or New England coasts of the U.S., or the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The models are VERY fuzzy at these long time scales, but the odds are that Helene would have yet another trough of low pressure to contend with before she could strike the coast. The computer models in general have performed poorly with the long-range track of Helene, and I am putting more stock in the historical record of what similar hurricanes have done in the past. I modified historical map of hurricanes to include all Category 1-5 hurricanes passing within 300 miles of Helene's current position. This map offers us some reassurance that Helene will probably not make landfall in the U.S. or Canada--only one of the 16 storms plotted have done so, and this storm <>a href=http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at200309.asp(Isabel, 2003) started further south than Helene's current position. I still put Helene's chances of a U.S. landfall at about 10%. Bermuda is at considerably higher risk, but the storm is still too far away to have a very good idea of this risk. Bermuda is a small target, and the five day track forecast errors are on the order of 350 miles.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Helene, updated every 1/2 hour.

Mexico cleans up from Hurricane Lane
Mexico is cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Lane, which made landfall at 12:15pm PDT Saturday as a powerful Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. However, Lane struck a sparsely populated region of the Mexican coast about 50 miles northwest of Mazatlan, and damage was mostly limited to washed out roads, toppled power lines, and at least one destroyed bridge. The storm surge of approximately six feet affected only an uninhabited barrier island and some adjacent farmland, and did very little damage. The extreme Category 3 winds of the eyewall affected an area of coast about 20 miles wide and stretching 20 miles inland. Only a few hundred people lived in this region.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic
Hurricane Gordon is still out there, but is no threat to land. A non-tropical area of low pressure a few hundred miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, has a slight chance of development as it drifts slowly east. Shower activity has decreased in this system this morning. Some of the computer models are forecasting that a tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa today will develop into a tropical storm later this week.

Typhoon Shanshan
In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Shanshan made landfall Sunday in southwestern Japan as a Category 1 storm. Shanshan killed nine and injured over 280 in Japan. Its powerful winds were able to lift a train off its tracks and lay it on its side. The typhoon brought the ninth strongest winds to the Korean peninsula in history, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. Wind gusts reached 164 km/hr (102 mph) on Korea's Ullung Island as it passed by. Shanshan, the Chinese-language name for a young girl, was the 13th typhoon of the Western Pacific season.

Remainder of hurricane season outlook
I posted my outlook for the remainder of hurricane season Friday, in case you missed it.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning.
Jeff Masters

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1593. RAYFROMBOSTON
11:05 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Added Bastardi, "Given the overall pattern and the water temperature profile we expect, the region will likely see one or two major Nor'easters". Accuweather.com winter outlook out!!! Whoaaa, me like! : )
1592. jake436
2:26 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Posted By: StormW at 2:18 PM GMT on September 19, 2006.

jake,
in fact, the front has just barely cleared me this moring at 28N in Clearwater, FL.


I'll buy that. And you did say "short term", and you're right, but very short term, as the front is very close to that impulse. I stand corrected.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 271
1591. steppenwolff
2:21 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
The UK Met Office charts for Sunday clearly show Helene nearing Europe

Link

Of more immediate conceren is Gordon which is predicted to reach Spain and then interact with the jet stream. This will speed it northwards over the UK with some models progging a "bomb" depression.

Link
1590. Patrap
2:18 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..patrap called the Huracan/ Gods and they will not let any GOM threats thru the 25th ..due to the MNF game in the Superdome next week. Between the Saints & Falcons....with jamming by Green DAy..& U2. Bono...backed me up with a simalir...call
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1588. Patrap
2:16 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..surface analyasis..shows the front sw to NE..not in BOC..thats a small wave impulse that has shifted north ..from the Pacific,..Mexican...area
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1587. obsessedwweather
2:15 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
StoryoftheCane

You seeing some action in the GOM and Caribbean?
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
1586. GoofOff
2:15 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
fldude99 - I think the gfs shows something about 10 days or so out in the area of cuba, but if I lived in the Carribean I wouldn't lose any sleep over it for at least a week.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
1585. StoryOfTheCane
2:15 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
NEW BLOG
1583. Patrap
2:13 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..off to Helene west ..by about 200nm..you can see the sw push..and its gonna win..fo sure...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1582. jake436
2:12 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Posted By: StormW at 2:08 PM GMT on September 19, 2006.

Hey GS,
hope I'm not steppin on 456 (he'll probably have a more complete analysis), but my take (on the fly) on the BOC...I don't suspect it's frontal, as the front still isn't right there yet...probably part of something that came in a little north off the African wave train. Current satellite would indicate ridging starting to build over the area, and the feature is near the western side of the ridge. Current mean steering layer analysis would indicate this should move W or NW in the short term.
What do you mean the front isn't there yet? Look at the pic Science Cop posted at 12:50 and tell me the front isn't to the BOC yet.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 271
1581. Patrap
2:12 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..looks like Micheal Brown in Baton Rouge last year..27..LMAO!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1580. StoryOfTheCane
2:11 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
1579. nash28
2:11 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Rand- I am not sure a SW jog would shake them up too much, unless it jog WSW for 24 hrs. or something....

I think the 00z GFDL called for a WSW jog, but not in the 06z run.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1578. Patrap
2:11 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..I see the next CONUS front now moving into the xtreme Northwest..another Blocker for the east coast...its another 1018 mb..high...a big butted one ..again...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1577. ihave27windows
2:10 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
I'm working my way back into view.....how am doing so far?

chic
Member Since: July 19, 2005 Posts: 108 Comments: 14933
1575. weatherguy03
2:09 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Nah, the due West talk is all good today. Now if you added that it looks like it is heading close to the U.S., that may cause a ruckus!..LOL

BTW, great pictures this morning 456 and Story.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
1574. Patrap
2:08 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..Your welcome Heat..not the best xplanation..my coffee still warmer than me..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1573. DocBen
2:08 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Is that blob north of Columbia (Carribean) anything?
Member Since: May 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
1571. jake436
2:07 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Here you go FLDudeLink
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 271
1570. heatmieser
2:06 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
thanks patrap... =' )
1568. StoryOfTheCane
2:05 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Posted By: fldude99 at 2:01 PM GMT on September 19, 2006.
does anyone know if the long term gfs is still showing tropical activity below cuba in the next week or so?

id say a strong possibility of that..

1567. Patrap
2:04 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..the sad reality of most scenarios involving people that write opinions ..on weather..or any topic..is ..well ..wherever..u go in life...theres always 10%..that are going to be..er..problamatic.We r fortunate to have admin..to put in place..a system ..like the one we have now.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1566. GoofOff
2:04 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Zap, at the moment you show up in the 'Best' catagory. I don't know if you can check your own rating or not. I think you can probably see your post regardless, but am not sure.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
1565. nash28
2:03 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Yeah, they sure did tighten up. That pretty much takes any argument out of "where will she go."
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1564. fldude99
2:01 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
does anyone know if the long term gfs is still showing tropical activity below cuba in the next week or so?
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1563. Patrap
2:01 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..morning Gulf,,hows the Back bay?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1561. GoofOff
2:00 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
I don't think there is anything wrong with getting in somebody's face if you feel they are off base. However, do it in private instead of posting it in the general blog. There are some that I respect in regard to weather but have disagreed with their behavior on the blog. They know who they are because they got private emails from me. That doesn't mean they were wrong and I was right, but it didn't need to be aired in public IMHO. It also did not mean I did not feel they had valuable information in regard to the weather. There were a couple of exceptions that were only on here to cause trouble.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
1559. Patrap
1:59 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..G morning heat..the track that Gorgdon has taken is due ti the Position of the Bermuda/Azores high..and the combination of strong fronts..exiting the US.The Hurricanes ride under the Bermuda ridge as the primary steering .UNlike last year..when the western side of the High ..was extendend into threGOM...that steered the storms more west ..into the GOM and around the NOSE of the High towards the Northern GOM..THis year the high is more east..and not nosing into therGOM..Helene ..likely to follow Gordon...as the patterern holds..Hope this helps..Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1558. nash28
1:56 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
I would hope Helene heading due West wouldn't start an argument Rand, considering that is what she is supposed to do:-)

But, I understand your point.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1557. Zaphod
1:55 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
I was on for a bit last night when the auto-filter was on but the user-selectable filter was not -- there was a lot of confusion and I think some hurt feelings -- but this should work out well as things level out.

Is there a way to see what your own level is?
Zap
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 3239
1556. weathermanwannabe
1:55 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Morning All...Here is a morning update from one of the FSU met people on Helene...As ominous as this Hurricane looks headed straight West right now....All models/NHC/professionals predict the curve in accordance with the present highs and trofs..This is informed forcasting at it's finest and it is always amazing to me to see this sceanario played out, under the right conditions, every season around this time...

Colleagues,

FORECAST: Hurricane HELENE is 1,000 miles West of southern Cuba (latitude
20 deg N) traveling NW at 10 mph. With hurricane force winds, HELENE will
strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane early in the weak, before weakening.
HELENE will then turn more Northerly, and should pass east of Bermuda,
missing all land.

DISCUSSION: Although the strength estimates are pretty certain, and the
fact that HELENE poses no threat to the US mainland, the exact path HELENE
does depend on the strength and location the high to its north and the
southern extent of the low off the Eastern US. I believe that the Western
end of the high will erode and that the front will pick it up as they have
done so successfully all season long. And if not this one, the next one,
which will be off the coast in 4 days or so. So, we are pretty well
protected from any hurricane forming off of Africa, I think, for the rest
of the season.

NEXT FORECAST: Monday morning, September 18 6:00am

I'll just be lurking for the next few days watching the obvious unfold.....
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9372
1555. heatmieser
1:54 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
this is my first year following the season so closely, and have picked up alot here... thanks.

i have to say i am amazed that gordon is on track to strike spain/portugal... wow!

two quick questions...

is this a common track, and will helene follow the same path?
1554. StoryOfTheCane
1:52 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
1552. Patrap
1:51 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
..Good morning..up & atum...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129352
1551. GoofOff
1:50 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Zaphod,
As you can probably tell, the new filtering system is working out great. This is the most civil this site has been for months. Some of the people who are filtered out are finding that they can work their way back into view by staying on topic and staying out of arguements.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
1548. obsessedwweather
1:43 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
GulfScotsman

Top of the Morning to ya. Anything going on in the GOM? How about the wave(s) off Africa?
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
1547. pvbeachbum
1:43 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
456 - I have to come out of lurkdom to thank you for the amazing and wonderful pics this morning.

My husband is one of those mariners that gets threatened with the fish storms that go up the Atlantic, so I really appreciate the overall view of the whole Atlantic. Right now he is on his way back from Europe to the US on a large container ship about 4 or 5 days out.

Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 280
1546. Zaphod
1:43 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Morning all.

Is there anything going on but watching Helene spin her way slowly to oblivion?

How is the new blog filter working out so far? Seems like a lot of people are auto-filtered.
Zap
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 3239
1545. funeeeg
1:43 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Lane is starting to look a bit bedraggled with a cooling ragged eye, and assymetrical convection. Is it just reorganising itself or is dry air and some shear on the outflow channels to blame?
Member Since: October 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 218
1544. jake436
1:40 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Morning Saddle. Glad to hear about that rain. I told you! Now pay the lawn guy!
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1543. funeeeg
1:30 PM GMT on September 19, 2006
Jake 436; thanks for the clarification, that is just what I thought.
Member Since: October 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 218

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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.