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 , 1:42 PM GMT on September 20, 2007
A very complicated weather situation over the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters off the Southeast U.S. coast associated with a non-tropical low pressure system (93L), has brought heavy rains to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina over the past 12 hours. A cold-cored upper level low pressure system a few hundred miles southwest of Tampa, Florida is primarily responsible for the the action. Late yesterday afternoon, a separate area of surface low pressure formed near Daytona Beach, bringing high surf and heavy rains of up to five inches along the Florida coast from Daytona to Jacksonville. This low moved inland over Florida, but the associated surge of moisture rotated northwards all the way to South Carolina. High surf warnings and coastal flood watches have been posted for Charleston, South Carolina today. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed winds up to 50 mph well offshore of South Carolina. These winds have created a storm surge of up to two feet along the South Carolina coast. This second low pressure system was identified as "93L" by NHC beginning at 2 pm EDT yesterday. However, now that the low has weakened crossing the Florida Peninsula, the "93L" designation has been taken away from it, and attached to the upper level low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico.
Recent Satellite loops and the Tampa Bay long range radar show that this non-tropical low pressure system is beginning to get more organized and is acquiring tropical characteristics. Substantial pressure falls are occurring at the surface underneath the upper level low, and this system is on its way to becoming a subtropical depression. A surface low pressure system vertically aligned with a cold-cored upper level low will usually take two or more days to make the transition to a warm-cored tropical storm. Rapid intensification cannot occur until the system is fully warm-core. Since landfall is expected Saturday between the Florida Panhandle and Southeast Louisiana, 93L probably does not have time to become fully tropical. If 93L makes landfall Saturday, it should not have winds stronger than about 55 mph. The GFDL, HWRF, and SHIPS intensity models all keep 93L's winds below 55 mph. If the storm spends an extra day over water and makes it to Texas, as the ECMWF model predicts, 93L could become fully tropical and make landfall as a strong tropical storm with 60-70 mph winds. However, there is plenty of dry air in the environment, and I don't think the storm will be able to intensify to a strong tropical storm. The primary threat from 93L will be heavy rain, and the northern Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas border can expect a soaking from this system.
The Air Force Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to investigate 93L this afternoon at 2pm EDT.
Figure 1. Current long range radar out of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Remains of Ingrid
The remains of Tropical Storm Ingrid are still active, triggering some heavy thunderstorm activity a few hundred miles north of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. Puerto Rico long range radar and satellite loops show that this activity remains disorganized. Wind shear has dropped to about 10 knots today, and we will need to watch this area for development. However, the upper level winds are not in a particularly favorable configuration, and Ingrid's remains are so disorganized, that any development will be slow to occur. The remains of Ingrid are in a region of weak steering currents, and little movement is expected over the next 3-5 days.
I'll have an update Friday morning.
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