Special Update: Paul and Rafael quickly strengthening
Hurricane Rafael has been steadily organizing throughout the day today. He has maintained and improved his CDO while trying to even get an eye going. For a the morning and early afternoon Rafael was kept a TS even though there was evidence to support an upgrade. However, at 6:45mph EDT the NHC decided Rafael had reached hurricane status. At the 8pm intermediate advisory his winds were bumped up higher. Currently Rafael has 85mph winds, a 974mb pressure, and he is moving N at 10mph. With Rafael becoming a hurricane that puts the season total to nine and only the second hurricane to form below 25N.
Rafael is finally a hurricane, something satellite estimates have shown for part of the day. Aircraft reconnaissance has found flight level winds up to around 110-115mph and surface winds near 85mph. This combined with ADT estimates warrants the upgrade to an 85mph hurricane. Rafael has improved more on satellite imagery since this morning. His CDO has deepened and expanded and a ragged eyewall has tried to develop. If an eyewall develops and an eye pops out Rafael could rapidly strengthen into a powerful hurricane, just like Ophelia. No matter what Rafael continues to organize despite some wind shear still affecting his low and mid level circulation. If the was no shear we could be talking about a major hurricane or a close to major hurricane right now. I think Rafael should be able to continue to strengthen for about 24 more hours before weakening. My peak is a 100mph cat2 hurricane based on past trends and the future environment. After a day or so wind shear will increase and SST's will decrease prompting Rafael to weaken and turn extra-tropical. He could give Bermuda tropical storm conditions and a tropical storm warning is in affect.
Rafael's track is easier to forecast than some storms earlier in the year. There is model consistency and an easier to see/analyze environment. It should take Rafael a little longer to turn extra-tropical now that he is stronger. This shouldn't affect his forecast track too much though. Currently a ridge resides to Rafael's north and this is affecting his track. Right now he is making a turn to the north due to the weakness. That trough in the eastern US is creating the weakness in the ridge and Rafael is going toward that weakness. That trough should then pick up Rafael and take him off to the NE away from land. Most models favor a solution similar to this and so does the NHC. There is some timing issues in exactly where/when Rafael goes but a general turn to the north and then northeast is expected. Bermuda is under a tropical storm warning due to a good consensus on at least TS conditions affecting Bermuda. People in Bermuda need to be making their preparations so they can be ready if something unexpected happens. Canada and the US shouldn't see any major impacts from Rafael.
Major Hurricane Paul
Major Hurricane Paul went through rapid intensification today. This was predicted by the SHIPS models and it turned out true. All signs pointed for rapid intensifying and Paul too advantage of those conditions. Currently Paul has 120mph winds, a 960mb pressure, and he is moving NNE at 14mph. Paul has went from a category 1 to a category 3 hurricane today. Paul went from no eye and a semi deep CDO to a full blown eye and eywall with deep convection. Right now his eye is a little more ragged than earlier.Microwave imagery still shows a decent eyewall but it is not as strong as earlier. The latest ATCF update weakens Paul to a 115mph cat3 hurricane. His satellite appearance definitely shows a weakening hurricane and Paul has likely peaked. Conditions will only continue to deteriorate as Paul heads toward the Baja of California. High shear and cold water temps will weaken Paul all the way down to a extra-tropical storm in a few days. He could hit the southern part of the peninsula as a strong TS to cat1 hurricane. He should then parallel the coast as he weakens. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches are up for those area and people need to be ready for Paul.
The Caribbean will be prime for development over the next couple weeks. This happens almost every year around this time and this year is no exception. Climatology, a strong mjo pulse, high TCHP and SST values, and lower shear are great ingredients for a strong system to for. The GFS has been showing a hurricane forming in the Caribbean for days now. Strength has ranged from a cat1 to a cat3 and track is unpredictable. Lately the GFS storm has came near the US on Halloween, which would be a bad trick. What it has been showing is a lot of consistency and when the GFS is consistent a storm should usually form. The Euro has jumped on board with developing a system in the Caribbean. Both models also show, from time to time, another storm forming in the open Atlantic or near the Caribbean. We just need to always be ready and watch the model runs to see if they continue to develop another one to two storms. It will be an interesting next couple weeks, I can say that with confidence.
18z GFS at 384hrs:
12z Euro at 240hrs:
Have a great night/ Tuesday everyone and I should have a new blog out tomorrow or Wednesday.