Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:18 PM GMT on September 21, 2006
A strong tropical wave with a well-defined surface circulation is near 12N 34W, about 700 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. This wave was officially designated as "Invest 96L" by the Hurricane Center yesterday. The storm is under about 10 knots of vertical wind shear and is over warm ocean waters of about 28C, so some slow development is possible over the next few days as it moves northwest over the open Atlantic. Shower activity has decreased with the system this morning, though, and the models are less enthusiastic about developing it than they were yesterday. This morning's QuikSCAT pass shows winds of just 15-20 mph surrounding the low. The long range GFS model predicts that this system will turn north and recurve out to sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is pretty unlikely 96L will ever be a threat to any land areas. The next wave that emerges off the coast of Africa this weekend has a better chance of making it across the Atlantic to threaten the Lesser Antilles Islands, though, according to the latest runs of the GFS model.
Figure 1. Preliminary model tracks for Invest 96L.
Hurricane Helene headed out to sea
Hurricane Helene has begun her expected turn towards the north, and is on track to recurve harmlessly out to sea. Helene has weakened more, thanks to wind shear from a trough to her west. However, Helene's winds have blown long enough and strong enough over a vast area of ocean to cause large swells that have arrived along the East Coast of the U.S., prompting the issuance of rip current advisories from Florida to Maryland. Bermuda is also seeing some impressive huge waves today along its shores. The animation of the wave forecast from the Global Wave Model shows that these waves should die down beginning Sunday.
Gordon is gone, but don't tell the golfers that!
Hurricane Gordon degenerated to potent extratropical low yesterday, bringing heavy rain and high winds to Spain. The remnants of Gordon are headed to Ireland today, where the storm's wind and rains will play havoc with practice rounds for golf's famed Ryder Cup tournament. The tournament begins Friday. Radar imagery from the Irish Meteorological Service shows plenty of heavy rain over the island, and storm warnings for sustained winds of 50 mph, gusting to 75 mph have been issued for the waters off the west coast of Ireland. However, the tournament is being played in Straffan on the eastern end of the island, where the weather should be considerably better. Winds at Dublin Airport near Straffan were 26 mph at 9:30am local time this morning. The golf course where the tournament is to be played was closed this morning, due to wind gusts of 40 mph. Several trees were blown down on the course by the winds.
Figure 2. Hurricane Gordon as a Category 1 hurricane at 18:15 GMT, Sept. 17, 2006, as seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Image credit: NASA.
Second warmest summer on record for the U.S.
Temperatures in August in the U.S. cooled down a bit compared to July, but were still well above average. According to the National Climatic Data Center, August 2006 ranked as the 11th warmest August on record. The record warmest August was 1983. The summer of 2006 (June, July, and August) ranks as the second warmest summer ever recorded. Only the summer of 1936 was hotter, by just 0.2°F. The summer heat wave this year killed more than 200 people, 160 of them in California. For the period January through August, 2006 beats out 1934 as the warmest year on record in the U.S. by a huge margin, nearly 3°F. With weak El Nino conditions expected to keep temperatures warmer than average across the northern 2/3 of the country this winter, it appears likely that 2006 will be the warmest year on record in the U.S.
Nationally, precipitation was above-normal for August, ranking as the 17th wettest August in the 112-year record (1895-2006). This year's January-August precipitation ranks it as the 26th driest period in the 112-year record.
Third warmest summer on record globally
June-August marked the third warmest summer globally, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The summer of 1998 was the warmest on record, 0.64°C (1.15°F) warmer than 2006. For the year to date, January-August, 2006 ranks as the 6th warmest such period globally.
Arctic sea ice recovers a bit
June and July saw the record lowest amount of Arctic sea ice ever recorded for those months, due to unusually warm conditions near the North Pole. However, temperatures near the pole were 1° to 2°C cooler than average in August, which slowed down the melting rate. Arctic sea ice extent for August was slightly higher than the record low August coverage measured in 2005.
Tonight: the Barometer Bob Show
I'll be a guest once more tonight on the Barometer Bob Show. Bob will be interviewing me about my flight into Hurricane Hugo with the Hurricane Hunters 17 years ago. I'm lucky to be alive to tell the story!
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