Puerto Rico braces for a December surprise: 94L

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:49 PM GMT on December 10, 2007

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The hurricane season of 2007 over may not be quite over. An area of disturbed weather about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico, designated Invest 94 by NHC, may develop into a subtropical or tropical storm. The system developed a surface circulation near 18N 63W this morning, as seen on visible satellite loops. The heavy thunderstorm activity is displaced 100-300 miles to the north of the center, making 94L a subtropical system. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows some disorganized bands of rain affecting the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and surrounding waters, but these bands are not well-organized. Water temperatures in the region are about 26-27° C, which is barely warm enough to support formation of a tropical storm. Last evening's 8:12 pm EST QuikSCAT pass showed top winds of 30-35 mph. Unfortunately, this morning's QuikSCAT and ASCAT passes both missed 94L. Wind shear is 20-25 knots over the disturbance, which is too high to allow anything but slow development. However, 94L is very close to being a subtropical depression, and only a slight increase in organization would be needed to call it a subtropical depression.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Invest 94.

Here's what NHC had to say about the disturbance:

Special tropical disturbance statement
1100 am EST Mon Dec 10 2007

Satellite images and surface reports indicate that a closed surface circulation has developed in association with the broad area of low pressure now centered about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico. Shower activity with the low remains disorganized...however...with the strongest thunderstorms located a couple hundred miles north and northeast of the center. While a tropical or subtropical cyclone could still form during the next 24 hours...upper-level winds are expected to become gradually less favorable for development over the next couple of days. Regardless of whether the low develops further...it could produce heavy squalls and gusty winds of near gale force across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later today and tonight as it moves westward or west-southwestward at about 20 mph. Heavy rains over Puerto Rico and Hispaniola could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides...and interests in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of this system.

Wind shear is expected to remain in the 20-25 knot range Monday, which may be low enough to allow 94L to organize into a subtropical depression or subtropical storm today. Regardless, 94L will affect Puerto Rico today and tonight similar to how a tropical depression would, with sustained winds of 30 mph gusting to 45 mph, and heavy rains up to 5 inches. On Tuesday, these conditions will spread to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The high terrain of Hispaniola should disrupt 94L, and wind shear is also expected to increase. By Wednesday, 94L will probably bring heavy rain to Jamaica. The GFDL model indicates that wind shear will drop and 94L will organize into a tropical storm on Wednesday. The model forecasts that the storm will intensify and move west-southwest to threaten the northern coast of Honduras on Friday. None of the other models develop 94L, though. Wind shear is expected to be low enough to support tropical storm formation in the Western Caribbean on Wednesday-Thursday, if there is anything left of 94L after its encounter Tuesday with Hispaniola. The Hurricane Hunters are not on call to fly 94L at all, and I don't expect this storm will survive intact enough to become a tropical storm in the Western Caribbean later this week.

I'll have a update later today.

Jeff Masters

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577. WeatherfanPR
4:21 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
very very windy I can say
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
576. WeatherfanPR
4:16 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
heavy rain and gusty winds. also cool temp.67 degrees F.
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
575. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:03 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
new blog
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
573. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:56 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
nite storm
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
571. MichaelSTL
3:50 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
That said, many so-called tropical storms in previous years were probably subtropical, even extratropical (the hurricane reanalysis project has kicked some early storms off the lists because of this, while adding storms to other seasons at the same time).
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
570. MichaelSTL
3:48 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
568. gippgig 9:37 PM CST on December 10, 2007
Note that up until recently subtropical storms weren't counted as named storms.


Recently? Like, how recently? Before the satellite era? Well, yeah, but it is foolish to try to compare, say, 1933 to 2005. Some seasons in the 1970s had almost half of their total storms being subtropical; for example:


1974 Atlantic hurricane season
First storm formed: June 24, 1974
Last storm dissipated: October 9, 1974
Strongest storm: Carmen - 926 mbar (27.40 inHg), 150 mph (240 km/h)
Total storms: 11
Major storms (Cat. 3+): 2
Total damage: $1.06 billion (1974 USD)
$4.4 billion (2005 USD)
Total fatalities: 6,004–10,004


1 Subtropical Storm One
2 Subtropical Storm Two
3 Subtropical Storm Three

4 Tropical Storm Alma
5 Hurricane Becky
6 Hurricane Carmen
7 Tropical Storm Dolly
8 Tropical Storm Elaine
9 Hurricane Fifi
10 Hurricane Gertrude
11 Subtropical Storm Four

Note that thye were not named, but that doesn't mean that they didn't count... I don't know why some people are still trying to minimize what was one of the most destructive years on record in the Caribbean... not often that you have as much damage as 2007 had and not have a major U.S. storm (a storm that causes a few million in damage to some Caribbean country would cause billions in the U.S. because of wealth)...
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
568. gippgig
3:37 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Note that up until recently subtropical storms weren't counted as named storms. Does the statement (comment 494) that this is the 4th season there has been both an early & late storm include subtropical storms? (Andrea - the May storm - was also subtropical.)
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 65
567. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:36 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
she'll follow the gfdl to jamica then swing nwnne head up the eastern seaboard as a large winter storm as a primary storm tracks ne wards during the up coming weekend
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
566. MichaelSTL
3:29 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
I noticed that Bret had some similarities to some of the storms this year; 1999 was also a strong La Nina year (and a very dusty year - although SSTs remained very warm, unlike this year, which was the major inhibiting factor - though the Gulf and Caribbean stayed warm and had lower than normal shear, which is also where most of the storms developed or rapidly intensified):

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 5, 1999. It moved off the shear-ridden Atlantic, barely discernible at times. On August 15 in the western Caribbean Sea, the wave interacted with an upper level low, leading to an increase in convection. It drifted northwestward into the Bay of Campeche, and developed a surface low pressure system on the morning of August 18. Later that day, the system organized into Tropical Depression Three.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
565. MichaelSTL
3:21 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
559. jphurricane2006 9:12 PM CST on December 10, 2007
um STL, Bret made landfall in S Texas in 1999 as a Category 4


Oh well; it did hit a relatively unpopulated area though and probably caused less damage than, say, Erin. Of course, 2001 is a good example of why a storm doesn't need to be major to cause a lot of damage.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
563. Cavin Rawlins
3:18 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Yeah, yeah, yeah... Tell that to all of the people who lost everything this year... just because nothing really bad happened to the CONUS doesn't mean that there was no season this year... 2004 and 2005 were the exceptions; no major hurricanes hit the U.S. between 1997 and 2003...

I agree with you 110%
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
562. Relix
3:15 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Well, I am going to bed, not knowing if I will have my finals tomorrow early morning. Going to bed, I know lights will go out and I) am prepared. To the fellow puertorricans here, good luck and good night =).

Quick Report: Light rain with gusts around 20MPH in Levittown, which if you don't know is in the north coast. Things will get worse as the center moves, and if it goes WSW something bugs me that we will have serious problems around here.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2741
561. fldoughboy
3:14 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Ok, so I see we now have a TS. So it started early in April or May...and ends in December. They should just stretch the season in those months..hmmm
560. 0741
3:14 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
557. Tazmanian 3:11 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
i see that we have STS Olga


here is what i think about SUBTROPICAL storm Olga


now i need go kitchen get FOOD
558. JLPR
3:12 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
i think a Ts warning could had been issued since there is damage from the winds
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
556. MichaelSTL
3:09 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
544. StormHype 8:55 PM CST on December 10, 2007
ok this season donot want to end!!!!!!


End? When did it even start? lol


Yeah, yeah, yeah... Tell that to all of the people who lost everything this year... just because nothing really bad happened to the CONUS doesn't mean that there was no season this year... 2004 and 2005 were the exceptions; no major hurricanes hit the U.S. between 1997 and 2003...
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
554. WeatherfanPR
3:08 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
emergency agency report trees down, power lines down, a house lost the roof partially, also a tree felt down over a car and 1 person was injured.
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
553. JLPR
3:05 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
wow there have been down trees and electric stuff in PR umm i didnt know that
wow down trees who would have thought
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
552. 0741
3:03 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
STORM when will sw track start? if move little more west it affect southeast bahamas
551. KoritheMan
3:02 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Yeah, those islands have been hit hard this year, WeatherFanPR. Let's hope for the best, but obviously, residents there are probably preparing for the worst.

If anyone is interested, here is my newest blog. It covers Olga. If anyone reads it, fine, if not, they don't, just thought I would post it anyway.

See you guys later, going to watch TV.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 596 Comments: 21030
550. WeatherfanPR
2:59 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
It could be a tragic scenario for the Dominican Republic and Haiti again.
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
549. Cavin Rawlins
2:59 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
The microwave imagery is does not show much in terms of circulation but shows the heavy convection to the west and north. I can see some slight curvature over the open ocean.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
548. mobal
2:58 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Yea Storm, But no worry I was in Mexico last week, Ha Choo, sorry, got a cold now!

Interesting late storm, Looks like another lower lat.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 482 Comments: 5333
547. CaneAddict17
2:57 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
I think that the reason for no storm watches or warnings, is because conditions will continue nearly the same. If the maximum winds are at 40, which are almost definately on the north side, and the storm is moving west at 15mph, then winds on the south side would be at around 10mph gusting to 20mph. I think that for those in puerto rico, even though it seems like a tropical storm is just to your north, conditions will only get slightly worse.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 156
546. HurricaneKing
2:56 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
I wonder if it followed the BAMM's track would it give moisture to the Nor'Easter that's going to form this weekend?
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
545. moonlightcowboy
2:55 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Add one more name, storm to the total! OLGA, let's hope she diminishes and there's no death and injury! But, if we could get some rain out if in the seCONUS, that'd be nice! But, not likely I know!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
544. StormHype
2:55 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
ok this season donot want to end!!!!!!


End? When did it even start? lol

Anyway, hope we get some rain from it in FL eventually but that is a long shot this far out.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1208
542. Cavin Rawlins
2:53 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
its subtropical, no suprise
its a storm, for the past 12 hrs, no suprise
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
541. nash28
2:52 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Well, Olga just goes to show everyone that "dates" mean nothing to mother nature.

Off to bed. Will engage tomorrow:-)
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
540. Cavin Rawlins
2:52 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
the NHC finally did their job
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
539. WeatherfanPR
2:51 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
If it'll be near the northern coast of PR, why no TS warning for PR????

maybe they think it's not so important because we already have a wind advisory and the stronger winds are going to stay to the north of us.


Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
538. Cavin Rawlins
2:51 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
hello everyone
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
537. southbeachdude
2:50 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
thanks for posting the cone. looks like this will be a non event for the US. good night.
Member Since: July 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 697
536. MichaelSTL
2:50 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
In fact, it looks like the NHC is using the CMC's track:

Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
534. Relix
2:48 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Not much happening here in Levittown, PR. Maybe the show will begin in a few hours. Is there really NO possibility of T-Storm winds? The local news are saying that.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2741
531. MichaelSTL
2:47 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
529. TheCaneWhisperer 8:44 PM CST on December 10, 2007
This begs the question, where does a storm go that forms in this area beyond 5 days. Is there any climatology to support any guesses?


For now, the NHC has it dissipate over Jamaica:



The last models that I saw had it hitting Central America, more or less continuing the track the NHC has.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
529. TheCaneWhisperer
2:44 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
This begs the question, where does a storm go that forms in this area beyond 5 days. Is there any climatology to support any guesses?
528. SouthernLady
2:43 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 115 Comments: 29926
527. mobal
2:42 AM GMT on December 11, 2007
Oops, I mean the NWS, My bad.....
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 482 Comments: 5333

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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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