Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:01 PM GMT on September 06, 2005
The center of Tropical Depression 16 was just fixed by the NOAA hurricane hunters a few miles north of Grand Bahama Island, which is 110 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Peak winds found by the hurricene hunters on the west side were just 20 knots, and the central pressure was a very high 1010 mb. TD 16 is still very disorganized, and is not a threat to intensify rapidly for the next 1 - 2 days.
The peak winds and most intense convection is found well north of the center, in the ocean areas between Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville. QuikSCAT satellite winds of up to 30 - 35 mph exist in this region. The St. Augustine CMAN station reported sustained winds of 37 mph at 1pm EDT, which is only 2 mph below tropical storm force. Daytona Beach has reported heavy rain and winds gusts up to 25 mph in squalls the past few hours.
Melbourne radar shows a large area of echoes circling a very ill-defined center 200 or so miles east of Lake Okeechobee. Doppler radar estimates of the wind velocity from the Miami radar are no longer available, as the Miami radar has failed, and may be down the rest of the day.
As far as intensity goes, TD 16 is in a low shear environment of 5 - 10 knots, and the shear over it is expected to decrease the next two days. I believe that by tomorrow night we will see TD 16 turn into Tropical Storm Ophelia. However, the upper-level ouflow to the northeast of the storm is going to be hampered by the upper level outflow from Tropical Storm Nate. As long as Nate continues to show little movement, TD 16 will suffer and will not be able to intensify very rapidly. By the end of the week, when Nate is expected to move away to the northeast and leave TD 16 behind, more significant strengthening can occur, assuming TD 16 has not made landfall in Florida.
TD 16 should move very slowly the next three days, since it is trapped under a strong high pressure ridge where steering currents are very weak. A slow northward or northwestward motion is indicated by most of the models, which would bring heavy rains to the east coast of Florida all week. The GFDL model, in contrast, moves TD 16 rapidly across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. None of the other forecast models show this, and the GFDL solution is being discounted at this time.
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