WunderBlog Archive » Category 6™

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

A Gulf of Mexico and an Eastern Atlantic Disturbance Worth Watching

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:53 PM GMT on July 06, 2013

A tropical disturbance (designated 94L by NHC on Friday) is over the Western Gulf of Mexico, and is headed north towards the Texas/Louisiana coast at 5 - 10 mph. Satellite loops show a modest area of disorganized heavy thunderstorm activity that has been steadily growing this morning. Wind shear has fallen to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, since Friday, and the lower wind shear is likely responsible for the increase in thunderstorm activity. A trough of low pressure over the Western Gulf of Mexico is pumping dry air into the west side of 94L, interfering with development. The disturbance should move inland by Sunday morning, bringing heavy rains of 1 - 3" along the Upper Texas and Western Louisiana coasts through Monday morning. None of the reliable forecast models predict that the disturbance will develop, and the disturbance has only a day over water with marginal conditions for development. In their 8 am EDT July 6 Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Monday.

Figure 1. The Saturday morning NHC Tropical Weather Outlook shows two "Invests" worth watching: 94L over the Gulf of Mexico (area 1), and 95L over the Eastern Atlantic (area 2.) Both were given 20% chances of developing by Monday. Image credit: NHC.

Cape Verdes tropical wave 95L
As we approach mid-July, it's time to begin turning our attention to tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa. We have our first such system worthy of attention today, a tropical wave designated 95L over the Eastern Atlantic near 8°N 33°W, about 800 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Satellite loops show a modest area of heavy thunderstorms that is showing a moderate amount of spin. Wind shear is moderate, 10 - 20 knots, and ocean temperatures are warm, 28°C. The 8 am EDT Saturday forecast from the SHIPS model predicted that 95L would encounter cooler waters of 27.5°C over the weekend as it headed west to west-northwest at 15 - 20 mph. Wind shear is expected to remain moderate though Monday, which may allow for some additional organization. However, 95L is embedded in a very large area of dry air associated with the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), and July African waves typically have considerable trouble getting organized in the very dry air of the SAL. The disturbance could arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Tuesday. A band a strong upper-level winds associated with the subtropical jet stream is expected to be over the northern islands at that time, and if 95L has penetrated as far north as 15°N latitude by that time, it will have to face very high wind shear of 30+ knots. But if 95L stays farther to the south, wind shear should be lower, giving the storm a better chance of development. None of the reliable forecast models predict that 95L will develop. In their 8 am EDT July 6 Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Monday.

Figure 2. MODIS image of 95L taken at approximately 11 am EDT Saturday, July 6, 2013. Image credit: NASA.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A large upper-level cold-cored low pressure system a few hundred miles north of Puerto Rico will move west over the next dew days, arriving in the Bahamas by Sunday and South Florida by Tuesday. The models do not show that this low will will acquire a surface circulation, and there is only minimal heavy thunderstorm activity associated with it.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Erick is brushing the southwestern coast of Mexico, and is expected to intensify into a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon. Erick will bring heavy rains of 3 - 5 inches to Southwest Mexico, but the core of the storm is currently expected to remain just offshore. Erick will likely weaken to a tropical storm on Monday, when it will pass just south of Baja.

Cool San Francisco time-lapse fog video
Videographer Simon Christen has created a spectacular 4-minute time-lapse video of fog rushing in past the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. He writes: ""Adrift" is a love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area. I chased it for over two years to capture the magical interaction between the soft mist, the ridges of the California coast and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. This is where “Adrift” was born. The weather conditions have to be just right for the fog to glide over the hills and under the bridge. I developed a system for trying to guess when to make the drive out to shoot, which involved checking the weather forecast, satellite images and webcams multiple times a day. For about 2 years, if the weather looked promising, I would set my alarm to 5am, recheck the webcams, and then set off on the 45-minute drive to the Marin Headlands. I spent many mornings hiking in the dark to only find that the fog was too high, too low, or already gone by the time I got there. Luckily, once in a while the conditions would be perfect and I was able to capture something really special. Adrift is a collection of my favorite shots from these excursions into the ridges of the Marin Headlands."

Video 1. Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.