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Tropical Storm Chris forms; little change to Cuba disturbance; Duluth floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:33 PM GMT on June 20, 2012

Tropical Storm Chris formed Tuesday evening from a extratropical storm that spent enough time over waters of 24 - 26°C to acquire tropical characteristics. Chris is headed eastwards, out to sea, and will not trouble any land areas. Only twice before, in 1887 and 1959, has the third storm of the season formed earlier than this date. Formation of three tropical storms so early in the year is not necessarily a harbinger of an active season; 1959 was close to average, with 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes (average is 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.) Unusual levels of early season activity in the Caribbean and between Africa and the Lesser Antilles usually portends a very active hurricane season, but this year's storms have not formed in this region. Alberto, Beryl, and Chris all formed off the U.S. East Coast.

Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Chris.

Disturbance near Cuba will bring heavy rains to Florida
An area of low pressure and heavy thunderstorms centered just south of Cuba has changed little since Tuesday, and is bringing sporadic heavy rains to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, South Florida, the Southern Bahamas, and Cuba. This disturbance will need to be watched for development as it drifts slowly northwest at about 5 mph and enters the Gulf of Mexico late this week. The disturbance is poorly organized, and has only a modest area of heavy thunderstorms. Wind shear is a moderate to high 15 - 25 knots over the region, and the shear is predicted to remain in the moderate to high range for the next three days along the disturbance's path. Water vapor satellite loops show a region of dry air over the Southern Gulf of Mexico; strong upper-level winds out of the northwest are bringing some of this dry air into the vicinity of the disturbance, which is interfering with development. NHC is giving the disturbance a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday morning. As the disturbance reaches the waters off the southwest coast of Florida this weekend, a strong trough of low pressure pushing off of the U.S. East Coast will be capable of grabbing the storm and accelerating it to the northeast. This is the solution of the GFS model, which takes the storm across Florida on Sunday, and into the waters off the coast of South Carolina by Monday, with the disturbance developing into a tropical or subtropical storm off the coast of South Carolina. None of the other reliable computer models is showing development of the disturbance into a tropical depression. I think it is unlikely that heavy rains from this disturbance will affect Louisiana and Texas, but it will bring heavy rains to Southwest Florida and Cuba over the next five days.

Figure 2. Morning satellite image of the tropical disturbance near Cuba.

Figure 3. Rainfall for the 5-day period ending at 8am EDT Monday as predicted by NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Amounts in excess of five inches (orange colors) are predicted for Southwest Florida, with an area of ten inches (yellow colors) just off the coast.

Major flooding in Duluth, Minnesota
A serious flood emergency is occurring in Duluth, Minnesota. A series of "training" thunderstorms that all passed over the same region have dumped 4 - 5 inches of rain over a wide swath of Northern Minnesota overnight and early this morning. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in the Denfeld area of western Duluth. This is more rain than fell in the city's previous worst flood on record, which occurred August 20, 1972. Major flooding is occurring, and only emergency travel is recommended in the city due to flooded roads. A flash flood warning from the Duluth National Weather Service issued at 7am CDT said this:

We cannot stress what a major threat this is for the city of Duluth
and along the North Shore. Aging infrastructure will also play a
part in the flood threat... especially on the hillside. Highway 61
remains closed in spots with washouts... overflowing streams and
rivers...washed out culverts and washed out roads. Just because you
might be able to travel to a destination now... does not mean you
will make it in one to two hours. This is how fast this situation
may deteriorate as more rainfall moves in from the west. There is
the potential for several more inches of rain today and the utility
system and the saturated ground cannot take much more rain.

According to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, the all-time 24 hour precipitation record for Duluth is 5.79" on 8/22 - 8/23 1978; 4.14" was recorded on Tuesday at the airport.

Figure 4. Radar-estimated rainfall from the Duluth, Minnesota radar.

Jeff Masters
storm damage June 19
storm damage June 19
there is another car buried on the other side of the road. This is just some of the storm damage from a 4 am rain and thunderstorm

Hurricane Flood

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

Ok, Chris is a hurricane.
Now, as blog tradition, lets turn our attention somewhere else
:) jk
I WANT 96L!!!
2503. Patrap
All I can say - WAY more impressive than the last Chris.
haha had to post this "Everybody Hates Chris!!"
2506. yqt1001
I think we should give a huge congratulations! Chris is pretty much a more epic version of Vince, in June at like 40N.

I cannot wait until post season to see what the NHC says. Oh well, the thought of a weak puny and lame Chris dies today!
It appears Chris timed his upgrade to hurricane status perfectly as it has now probably reached its peak and will begin weakening. Convection is beginning to weaken.

Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Ok, Chris is a hurricane.
Now, as blog tradition, lets turn our attention somewhere else
:) jk
Yes when or if Debby forms we will turn our attention twards Africa.
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:

a foot of water.......... ?
how do they know that already? :)

Fetch. High winds (doesn't even have to be associated with a storm), long body of water of which it traverses. Texas could call for coastal flooding anytime. In fact, the same could be said for anywhere along the gulf coast because of the amount of time those storms have been in or near the GoM.
OMG!!!! NHC officially call chris hurricane, can anyone remember me when a hurricane forms so far to north?
Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
Ok, Chris is a hurricane.
Now, as blog tradition, lets turn our attention somewhere else
:) jk
i agree feels good to hear thatchirs is a hurricane now we have to look at future debby which is don with a vengeance but he got his big sister
(click to enlarge)
Quoting stormchaser19:
OMG!!!! NHC officially call chris hurricane, can anyone remember me when a hurricane forms so far to north?

according to a past comment by CybrTeddy,
Chris is the northernmost June hurricane on record
See, if you look closely on the low cloud product, this system is drier than Alex and farther north, but it has a similar environmental structure, in that it's sort double nested in this much larger envelope. It just needs to moisten up the environment a lot more, which it's clearly doing.

Expect it to cover most of the Gulf when the convection finally does wrap around. Will be very, very large.

It really deserves an invest and a flight to help find the dominant CoC and get a better model initialization.
2515. wxmod
5000 mile wide satellite photo comparing the Russian wildfire state of emergency (upper left) and the day to day China smog (lower right). MODIS

Quoting RitaEvac:

I like what you say at the end, "forecasts stills call for hot and sunny along here, but looks to be busted"

If Debbie develops and moves to Texas we get rains we really need if it moves to Florida most likely record heat here next week, come this way Debbie. :) Hope Levi is right but we shall see? Like flipping a coin my guess is Florida and the trough picking storm up but this is a tough one to forecast right now until Storm develops.
Regarding the Louisiana flooding thats been brought up. It's not a forecast from the low at the Yucatan now. Louisiana has had strong Easterly winds 15-20knots for 4 days now. Due to ekman transport, water is piling up and tides have been 1 foot above normal. A flood warning has been issued for low lying areas which is typical.
2518. Patrap
Orleans Parish

Coastal Flood Advisory

Statement as of 3:44 AM CDT on June 21, 2012

... Coastal Flood Advisory remains in effect until 7 am CDT

* coastal flooding... minor coastal flooding of less than one
foot expected.

* Timing... flooding will occur during each high tide cycle.
Highest tides will occur in the afternoon hours.

* Impacts... minor overwash of low lying roadways in the
immediate vicinity of the coast. Flooding will be less than
one foot.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A coastal Flood Advisory indicates that onshore winds and tides
will combine to generate flooding of low areas along the shore.
2519. Jax82
according to the 850MB, the spin is still northwest of that area of deep convection.

if debby forms will it become the earliest 4th named storm
Quoting AllStar17:
(click to enlarge)

Incredible that a pop-up wave that far north could become a legit hurricane. I've Never seen anything like it.
2522. Patrap
Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop

The Low Level Swirl takes up the Whole Eastern GOM
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
2524. Jax82
This weeks drought monitor.

long range radar out of key west might just be playing tricks on my eyes but looks like there is a spin just NW of Cuba.
Quoting Jax82:
according to the 850MB, the spin is still northwest of that area of deep convection.


The dominant low is very, very big and broad, but it's starting to get it's act together.

You'll be able to see changes literally on a 30 minute to hour basis with the LSU products, they are by far the best visually for watching systems like this.
2527. LargoFl
Excellent post by Levi32 ! Like he said, we need a LLC for the models to munch on to get a better picture. Debby will take aim from Brownsville to Key West. The entire gulf coast needs to pay attention.
Quoting weatherh98:

That's the mid level

Where.... do you tag the llc?
if debby forms will it become the earliest 4th named storm?
Quoting CajunCrawfishhunter:
IM just glad to see Louisiana hasnt been mentioned... all this talk of Texas and Florida..

Well it does seem that you are in the middle of the dart board that everyone is throwing at. Which isn't the safest place to be.
Quoting 2481. Patrap:

Be a adult.

guess.is.up.the.rio.grand.valley.trigger.the.beginn ing.of.the.western.moonsoon.season
2535. 19N81W
pretty far north for a hurricane?
Just using my eyeballs here by the bayou-- I think that high which has been sitting on top of New Orleans is starting to weaken.....clouds filling, and mot much movement in the upper levels.
stupid question here, but i can't find an answer elsewhere - why is it called 'invest' and why is this one 'at'?

humble thanks.
Caribbean Storm Update with Dave

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