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Helene slowly intensifying; Lane threatens Mexico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:53 PM GMT on September 15, 2006

Tropical Storm Helene continues to be a very large and disorganized system. However, visible satellite imagery from this morning is now showing a slow improvement in the organization of the low-level spiral bands, and the amount and intensity of the thunderstorm activity near Helene's core is increasing. Given that the storm is over warm 27-28C waters and the shear is a low 5-10 knots, I expect Helene will slowly intensify into a hurricane by Sunday. The dry air to Helene's north and west is farther away and more dilute, so should not inhibit intensification significantly.

The computer track models still have a wide spread in the long-range track for Helene, but all of them take the storm north of the Lesser Antilles. Helene may be a threat to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast late next week, but the odds of a strike on the U.S. are less than 10%. History shows that the large majority of tropical storms that form in this part of the Atlantic end up recurving. A very strong trough of low pressure is expected to push off the East Coast by Wednesday, and this trough should be able to pull Helene northwards and recurve the storm harmlessly out to sea.

Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Helene, updated every half hour.

Gordon on the decline
Hurricane Gordon, the first major hurricane of the season, is a major hurricane no longer. Strong upper-level winds from the west have eroded the northwest side of the storm, and the once prominent eye is now gone. About 20 knots of wind shear is now affecting the storm, and this shear is expected to increase and the waters underneath it cool over the next few days. Gordon is headed northward out to sea, and is not a threat to land.

Tropical Storm Lane nears hurricane strength
Tropical Storm Lane continues to intensify just off the Mexican Pacific Ocean coast near Puerto Vallarta. Animations of microwave satellite images show that Lane is moving parallel to the coast, about 60 miles offshore, remarkably close to the track of Hurricane John earlier this month. Lane is over warm waters and under light shear, and and has the potential to become a hurricane later today. The only inhibiting factor for intensification might be the storm's close proximity to land. Lane will be drawing in dry continental air from mainland Mexico that might slow down the intensification process. Hurricane John was able to intensify into a Category 4 hurricane under virtually the same conditions, but Lane is a much smaller storm, and might be more seriously impacted by interaction with land. If Lane can avoid passing too close to land areas, she may have enough time to intensify into a Category 2 hurricane before landfall. The people of Baja, who are still cleaning up the damage and repairing the roads washed out by Hurricane John, are probably not too happy to see Lane approaching on Cabo San Lucas radar.

Moisture from Lane could potentially reach southern Arizona and New Mexico by Wednesday and cause flooding concerns there.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic
Shower activity has increased over the extreme southwest Caribbean off the coast of Panama. However, the area affected is small and likely to move ashore over Nicaragua before any development can occur. A strong tropical wave with plenty of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity has emerged from the coast of Africa this morning. This wave is over warm waters, and wind shear is a modest 10-20 knots. This wave has the potential for some slow development over the next few days as it moves over or just south of the Cape Verde Islands. Tropical waves that emerge this far north usually end up recurving out to sea.

Remainder of hurricane season outlook
I'll post my outlook for the remainder of hurricane season this afternoon by 4pm EDT.

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.

Reader Comments

Posted By: mrpuertorico at 2:09 PM CDT on September 15, 2006.

looks like helene is shooting to the north now

I agree. However looking at this LINK, the NOGAPS model also has movement NORTH of the XTRP line also. It may still go WEST like NOGAPS says...
jake - thanks...I really wasn't trying to dispute you - I don't have the knowledge in that area to even be qualified to. But I do hope for a good steady rain - a good two to three day rain would be great - not in the form of a tropical storm, but just a rain...I can remember times when it rained all day and all night, but not in the last year or so here.

I read your posts all the time, and no offense was taken, as I've never known you to attack or argue. We are only a couple hundred miles apart geographically, so I know what you mean about the lack of rain. We need one of those cold fronts to stall out before even reaching the Gulf and sit for a while. I tried to go fishing at a friends private pond the other day and found it to be 6 FEET LOW. He lives about four miles from me and didn't get 1/2 the rain I got Sunday-Tuesday. I guess the reason we love to study weather is because it often makes no sense.
Ok, I see there is a little more spread in the models at the 12z.
Posted By: Randrewl at 2:42 PM CDT on September 15, 2006.

swlaagee...I'm not so sure about that motion.


I see the outflow spreading north but the bulk convection headed almost due west. You disagree? Thanks.
helene might get close to the bahamas then might turn north .

then the supprise might be she goes west after that this is getting good. now

as for gordon looking like hes going sw now im really confused

let us know nash what you find thanks .
510. A4Guy
This is such a bo-ring season! One scare from Ernesto...and everything else is ut to see before it can even get close enough to make us pay serious attention. Good for us coastal FL residents...but makes for a boring storm tracking season.
511. WSI
"I would like to point out that the link to the dry front was about Minnesota and Wisconsin, where highs were in the 70's preceding the dry frontal passage."

Yes, that was before I saw the last half of your sentence. :)

"And I'm plenty close enough to the Gulf for a front to tap that moisture source, so it doesn't apply down here,"

Well depending on the strength of the front, I think it could happen anywhere. However, again I stress, rare. In fact I have only heard of it a few times, and had to google it to remember the name.

In any case, I might research it more to see what I find.
I'm ready to get @#$% off of work and have a nice cocktail.

Don't really know what to say about the Tropics right now. I'll be keeping an eye on the new African wave over the weekend.

But PLEASE RANDREWL or ANYONE.....is there a possibility that Gordon will loop????
515. A4Guy
new model runs out - some more a suggesting a more westerly mvt. but the GFDL and GFS ensemble are still strongly NW - N
Hey there Stormybil. Regarding Helene, I don't think she'll get as far west as the Bahamas. Now, there is a possibility she could approach 70W, but there are way too many troughs swinging from west to east that would prevent her from knocking on the door of FL or even the east coast. It doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention, because this storm has not been black and white in terms of where it will eventually go. I do believe the NOGAPS may have the best handle on this so far, and it may go much further west before turning, but inevitably, it will turn.
obsessed - I think the answer is that no one really knows at this point if that can even be predicted. They don't normally ignore people, so I would guess they just don't know. They ARE most likely looking at a gazillion spaghetti noodle runs, vapor images, satellite loops, etc. trying to figure it all out.

Nash probably has his database running statistics, rand is beginning to get distracted with thoughts of his last visit with yours truly...but they are working on it.
obsessed : no for crying out loud.
ROFLMAO Saddle!!!!!

Yeah, database is a smokin'!!!!
hi guys

My sentiments exactly!!!! Good for the other states too!!!! Bermuda might be the one suffering in 2006. However, we still have a good 2 1/2 months to go.

Chill pill Tropicallydepressed

I'm not exactly an expert and do pay attention to what people write here.

Deep breathing works too.
Well Gordy is going nowhere fast!

I just rechecked my ass to make sure I still had both cheeks after they were chewed earlier this morning.

All is well and cheeks are still there....
Hey StormW - How's it goin? The Coast Guard getting worried about anything?
well for one im not model person i dont go by them .
i let my eyes do the talking when i see see something happening with the naked eye i call it . as i keep saying a gut felling is the best forecast on my end . and go with your senses .
thanks nash for you oppinion .

and remeber its not nice to foll mother nature

the seson is here and getting stronger it not over yet keep alert . and be safe all
Is Gordon going sw?
we have 7 people here seeing gordon moving sw . not a model thats the truth then gordon is moving sw .thanks
Well, I got that and you just keep telling them that that ole gal is going to keep heading away from here! I personally like that forecast myself.
Good Afternoon!
I passed GO the other day and had to cry my way out of a ticket - good thing I am such a drama queen - no one's life can possibly sound worse than mine when they have that little ticket book in front of them!
Marlin, Gordon is going north east and Helene is going northwest now and then is predicted to track northeast and out to sea. There are a couple of new waves coming off of Africa they'll keep an eye on for next week. Have a nice weekend everyone!
1900 - How are you - the weekend is here! No school tomorrow...yeahhh....
55 minutes til cocktail hour
gryhndlvr: You get to start early on Fridays. Go for it. (But don't drive!)
Hey Folks.... just a tidbit for you all to chew on since Gordo and Helene are a larger threat to the UK and ireland than anywhere here. But The GFS, NOGAPS, FSU, and even the canadian (but not as large as the previous) all show a STRONG wave coming off Africa in the 114-136hr range. This will be interesting, the GFS has preformed pretty well with african wave origins this season IMO..... here the link:


850mb Vorticity for those who made need help.


Any thoughts on this????
I love it Saddle!!! Doesn't matter though. I will still have my opinions, WHICH are based on scientific reasoning and those who have a coniption fit are usually the ones who have never backed up their reasoning ONCE on here.

No sweat dear.
Posted By: tropicallydepressed at 2:56 PM CDT on September 15, 2006.

obsessed : no for crying out loud.

My goodness. That was kind of harsh for a Friday. Even a rainy Monday. I think you were asking all to work and play well with others earlier.

Everyone have a GREAT weekend. Gig em Ags, Go Tigers(sorry any Auburn fans). It's cocktail hour starting right.....now.
Normally, I would be celeberating, but tomarrow morning, I have to wake up at 6:00 am for a school-related orchestra concert. I get back home 6 hours later...
: (
Gordon going SW??? Interesting, very interesting!!!!


I'm counting down the minutes with you!!
OK just for the record...I have been asking for four days if Gordon will loop...everyone has been sayin ---- no way loser--you wishcaster - you fishcaster---now I'm hearin
that Gordon may loop. So there is a prime example of storms doing the exact opposite of what we think.
Hey Folks.... just a tidbit for you all to chew on since Gordo and Helene are a larger threat to the UK and ireland than anywhere here. But The GFS, NOGAPS, FSU, and even the canadian (but not as large as the previous) all show a STRONG wave coming off Africa in the 114-136hr range. This will be interesting, the GFS has preformed pretty well with african wave origins this season IMO..... here the link:

850mb Vorticity for those who made need help.


Any thoughts on this????

Clyde, Somebody said the NoGaps is perhaps showing a weakening in the ridge keeping the storms off the Eastern Seaboard, possibly allowing Helene wiggle room. What do you think?
Posted By: ProgressivePulse at 4:01 PM AST on September 15, 2006.

Well Gordy is going nowhere fast!

And fastly nowhere. Is it half full?
Posted By: ihave27windows at 3:12 PM CDT on September 15, 2006.

I found this pic when I googled coconuts....can't figure out why.

Ya, that's random...
can someone tell me if the ridge has weaken
ih27w...We discussed the googling of cocoanuts in public already.
ok......gs opened a bar blog...then he said for me to open one..so we can do the pub crawl....it's open
Gordon will loop?!?!?!

Who's said that? How possible is that?
ih27w...didn't we discuss the public googling of cocanuts?
Hey Pulse.
new blog
NOGAPS 12Z run is interesting to say the least.... but what concerns me is the wiggle it has helene doing. I was taught that can sometimes mean the model has not made a solid decision on that ridge.... I wonder if the hunters go in if we still see this spread over the next day to gather more info for the models to go on....
Not Impossible but Highly Unlikely 1900. Gordo is hanging out, waiting for the next trough coming off the east coast. NHC said the steering currents would be very weak for a little while.
Suddenly turned very dark here....and thunder is audible.
justcoasting i am from lee county
I need a drink Rand.....
1900hurricane - I speculated about looping (loopy?) based on one of the spaghetti tracks Randrewl (?) posted. Wouldn't that be a hoot!
Good afternoon....

Helene has gotten better organized the past 24 hours and looks like a 65-70mph TS right now.I say by late tonight or more sometime tommorow morning she becomes a hurricane with 75-80mph winds.Helene will most likely stay far away from the U.S which is excellent news.

Here is an IR image of Helene Showing the improved organization.

Posted By: Randrewl at 6:10 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.
leftovers....that can't happen.


You are hilarious Randrewl.

Jobu the anti cyclone thing??

Scottie the "disturbance" in the gulf??

I believe it is definitely time to go back to bed, maybe we could petition to name the blob-disturbance Scottie?? someone need to research that. Tell em cuz WE said so??!! LOL
note: ignore this, meant to post @ 1 pm. Sat decided not to work again:(