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Gonzalo Forms Near Lesser Antilles; Hudhud Blasts India; Fay Lashes Bermuda

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 7:37 PM GMT on October 12, 2014

For the first time since 2013, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is issuing simultaneous advisories for two Atlantic named storms, thanks to the formation of Tropical Storm Gonzalo on Sunday afternoon. Satellite loops and Martinique radar showed on Sunday afternoon that Gonzalo was well-organized with plenty of spin, spiral bands, and a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity that was increasing in areal extent and intensity. Water vapor satellite loops showed a good degree of dry air surrounding Gonzalo, but with wind shear a light 5 - 10 knots, this dry air was not substantially impeding development. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were warm, near 29°C (84°F). The 2 pm Sunday run of the SHIPS model predicted that conditions would remain favorable for development for the next five days, with light to moderate wind shear and SSTs near 29°C (84°F). Gonzalo should steadily intensify until reaching Puerto Rico on Monday. After that time, the models are unified in showing that the storm will get caught up in a trough of low pressure and turn to the north and then northeast, possibly passing close to Bermuda next Saturday or Sunday.

Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Gonzalo taken at approximately 12 pm EDT October 12, 2014, as the storm was forming. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 2. Martinique radar image of Tropical Gonzalo taken at 3:15 pm EDT October 12, 2014. Image credit: Meteo France.

Fay brings winds near hurricane force to Bermuda
Tropical Storm Fay is accelerating to the northeast, out to sea, after battering Bermuda with winds close to hurricane force. Sustained winds at the Bermuda Airport reached 61 mph, with a gust to 82 mph, at 7:34 am local time Sunday morning. The airport recorded 1.85" of rain from the storm as of noon on Sunday. Fay will be absorbed by a cold front on Monday and die, without affecting any other land areas. The construction on Bermuda is the best of any island in the Atlantic to handle hurricane-force winds, and I expect damage on the island will be minor.

Category 4 Hudhud blasts India
Tropical Cyclone Hudhud powered ashore near Visakhapatnam, India at 05 UTC (3 am EDT) Sunday as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 135 mph. Preliminary media reports indicate that damage was heavy in Visakhapatnam, a port city of 2 million, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed and five people killed by falling trees and masonry. One-minute resolution wind observations from Visakhapatnam showed a peak sustained wind of 73 mph at 9:44 am local time, with a peak gust of 119 mph at 10:30 am. The station stopped reporting data at that time. Communications are out to much of the most severely affected regions, and I expect Hudhud's eventual toll will be similar to that of Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Phailin, which killed 45 people and did $700 million in damage in October 2013 to an area of India's coast just north of where Hudhud hit. Satellite loops show that Hudhud is pushing inland and weakening rapidly, with the storm's heavy thunderstorms steadily shrinking in areal coverage and intensity.

Figure 3. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Hudhud taken at approximately 1 am EDT October 12, 2014, as the storm was making landfall near Visakhapatnam, India. At the time, Hudhud was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 4. Final image of Tropical Cyclone Hudhud as seen by radar out of Visakhapatnam, India before it failed at 4:51 UTC (12:51 am EDT) October 12, 2014. At the time, Hudhud was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds.

Vongfong drenching Japan
Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Vongfong are drenching southern Japan as the once-mighty typhoon steams slowly north-northeastwards at 10 mph. Okinawa Island took a tremendous beating from Vongfong on Friday and Saturday, with sustained winds reaching 64 mph, with gusts as high as 89 mph. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) AMeDAS site at Kunigami on the northern end of Okinawa reported 20.83" (529.0 mm) of rain in 48 hours. Vongfong injured at least 31 people and knocked out power to much of the island. Satellite loops and Japanese radar show that Vongfong's eyewall has collapsed, and the storm continues to weaken due to high wind shear and cooling waters. Vongfong will likely dump 1 - 2 feet of rain over portions of Japan Sunday and Monday.

Figure 5. Heavy rains from Vongfong as seen on Japanese radar at 01:25 local time Monday (12:25 pm EDT Sunday.) Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Hurricane expert Steve Gregory has his take on the tropics in a Sunday afternoon post.

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.