Category Archives: Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico

Atlantic TCs

Leslie Strengthens Into a Hurricane East of Bermuda

Former Tropical Storm Leslie strengthened into a hurricane east of Bermuda on Wednesday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Leslie was located at latitude 29.5°N and longitude 56.8°W which put it about 510 miles (825 km) east-southeast of Bermuda.  Leslie was nearly stationary.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 975 mb.

After being designated as a subtropical storm, Hurricane Leslie made a transition to an extratropical cyclone and then back to a subtropical storm.  Leslie eventually moved over warmer water and the structure changed to that of a tropical storm, which intensified slowly until it reached hurricane intensity earlier this morning.  It is gradually exhibiting the classical appearance and structure of a hurricane.

There is a circular eye at the center of circulation.  A nearly complete ring of thunderstorms surrounds the eye and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Hurricane Leslie.  Storms near the core are generating upper level divergence which is pumping mass away from the hurricane, which is causing the surface pressure to decrease.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 35 miles (55 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 230 miles (370 km) from the center.

Hurricane Leslie will remain in an environment favorable for intensification for another day or two.  Leslie will remain over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27.5°C.  it will be in a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Leslie is likely to get a little stronger during the next day or so.  Leslie will move over cooler water later this week and it will start to weaken when that happens.

Hurricane Leslie has been in an area where the steering winds were weak which is why it has meandered east of Bermuda during the past few days.  A subtropical ridge southeast of Leslie will strengthen during the next day or two and the ridge will start to steer the hurricane toward the north.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Leslie will move farther away from Bermuda later this week.

Tropical Storm Kirk Brings Rain to Lesser Antilles

Tropical Storm Kirk brought rain to some of the Lesser Antilles on Friday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Kirk was located at latitude 13.8°N and longitude 63.6°W which put it about 360 miles (575 km) south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Kirk was moving toward the west-northwest at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.  All Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches have been discontinued.

An upper level trough over the Caribbean Sea is producing strong westerly winds which is blowing over the top of Tropical Storm Kirk.  Those winds are causing strong vertical wind shear, which is causing the strongest thunderstorms to occur on the far eastern side of the circulation.  Bands west of the center of circulation and near the center consist primarily of showers and lower clouds.  The center of circulation is over the eastern Caribbean Sea and the heavy rain is falling hours after the center passed the Lesser Antilles.  Locally heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move through an environment that will be unfavorable for intensification during the weekend.  Kirk will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  However, the upper level trough will continue cause strong vertical wind shear for the next several days.  Tropical Storm Kirk will likely weaken to a tropical depression or a tropical wave during the next 24 to 48 hours.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move south of a subtropical high pressure system that is over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Kirk in a general west-northwesterly direction during the weekend.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Kirk should stay south of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  Kirk or its remnants could be near Jamaica in a few days.

Tropical Storm Kirk Redevelops East of Lesser Antilles, Warnings Issued

Tropical Storm Kirk redeveloped east of the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday morning and Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches were issued for some of those islands.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Kirk was located at latitude 12.1°N and longitude 54.3°W which put it about 360 miles (575 km) east-southeast of Barbados.  Kirk was moving toward the west at 18 m.p.h. (30 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated that former Tropical Storm Kirk had weakened to a tropical wave on Monday and NHC ceased issuing advisories on the system.  The remnants of former Tropical Storm Kirk moved quickly westward across the tropical Atlantic Ocean.  More thunderstorms began developing in the system on Tuesday.  NHC determined that sufficient thunderstorms had formed near the center of circulation by Wednesday morning to reclassify the system as a tropical cyclone and it started issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Kirk again.

A cluster of strong thunderstorms developed near the center of Tropical Storm Kirk.  Thunderstorms were also forming in several bands which were revolving around the center of circulation.  Thunderstorms near the core of Kirk were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Kirk will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are not too strong.  There will be some vertical wind shear, but the wind shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification in the short term.  When Tropical Storm Kirk moves over the eastern Caribbean Sea, it will encounter stronger westerly winds and the vertical wind shear will increase.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move south of the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The subtropical high will steer Kirk on a path a little north of due west.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Kirk could be near Barbados on Thursday morning.  Kirk could reach the Lesser Antilles later on Thursday.  Tropical Storm Kirk will bring gusty winds and it could drop locally heavy rain.

Tropical Storm Kirk Forms South of the Cabo Verde Islands

Tropical Storm Kirk formed south of the Cabo Verde Islands on Saturday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Kirk was located at latitude 8.3°N and longitude 23.6°W which put it about 450 miles (730 km) south of the Cabo Verde Islands.  Kirk was moving toward the west at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1005 mb.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Kirk is large and not well organized.  There is a low level center of circulation, but there are not many thunderstorms near the center.  There were thunderstorms in a cluster west of the center and more thunderstorms were in another cluster east of the center.  Some of the thunderstorms appeared to be organizing into bands, but the bands were not well developed.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move through an environment during the next day or two that should be favorable for intensification.  Kirk will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and the wind shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Storm Kirk is likely to become more organized during the next 24 to 48 hours.  It will move into a region in a couple of days where the lower level easterly winds will be stronger vertical wind shear could increase.

Tropical Storm Kirk will move south of a subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Kirk toward the west at a fairly quick pace.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Kirk could approach the Lesser Antilles by late next week.

Elsewhere over the tropical Atlantic, Tropical Depression Eleven moved slowly toward the Windward Islands.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Depression Eleven was located at latitude 13.2°N and longitude 53.8°W which put it about 485 miles (780 km) east of the Windward Islands.  It was moving toward the west at 3 m.p.h. (5 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

Tropical Depression Eleven Forms East of the Windward Islands

Tropical Depression Eleven formed east of the Windward Islands on Friday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Depression Eleven was located at latitude 13.1°N and longitude 53.4°W which put it about 510 miles (825 km) east of the Windward Islands.  It was moving toward the west-northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.

A small circular low pressure system within a tropical wave has been moving westward toward the Windward Islands.  An upper level trough near the eastern Caribbean Sea has been producing southwesterly winds which blowing across the top of the low.  Those winds were producing significant vertical wind shear and they were preventing taller thunderstorms from persisting near the center of circulation.  The National Hurricane Center decided that the low pressure system possessed sufficient convection to be classified as a Tropical Depression at 11:00 p.m.. EDT on Friday night.

The distribution of thunderstorms around Tropical Depression Eleven was still asymmetrical because of the wind shear caused by the upper level trough.  There was a well defined, but small, low level circulation with a distinct center.  Most of the bands around the center of circulation consisted of showers and lower clouds.  There were stronger thunderstorms in some of the bands east of the center of circulation.

Tropical Depression Eleven will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level trough will continue to cause significant vertical wind shear.  The wind shear will limit the potential for intensification.  Tropical Depression Eleven could strengthen into a tropical storm, but rapid intensification is not likely.  However, small tropical cyclones can strengthen or weaken very rapidly if the environment around them changes.

Tropical Depression Eleven will move south of the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer the depression in a west-northwesterly direction.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Depression Eleven could be east of the Lesser Antilles on Sunday night.

Florence Still Producing Heavy Rain and Floods in Carolinas

Although former Hurricane Florence weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday, it was still producing heavy rain and causing floods in portions of the Carolinas.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Depression Florence was located at latitude 34.6°N and longitude 82.2°W which put it about 25 miles (40 km) south-southeast of Greenville, South Carolina.  Florence was moving toward the north at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.

Slow movement of Tropical Depression Florence resulted in persistent heavy rain over portions of North Carolina and South Carolina.  The National Weather Service Office in Newport/Morehead City, North Carolina measured 25.20 inches (64.0 cm) of rain with Florence.  The airport in Wilmington, North Carolina measured 23.59 inches (59.9 cm) of rain.  A Remotely operated Automated Weather Station (RAWS) in Marion, South Carolina measured 18.13 inches (46.0 cm) of rain.  There were reports of up to ten inches (25.4 cm) at some locations around Charlotte, North Carolina.  Runoff of the persistent heavy rain has caused floods in many locations.  The Cape Fear River near Chinquapin, North Carolina has risen above the previous record flood level.  Parts of the Cape Fear River, Neuse River, Trent River and Lumber River are at major flood levels.  Minor and moderate flooding is occurring in numerous other places around North Carolina and South Carolina.

Tropical Depression Florence has started to move toward the north.  Florence will move into western Carolina on Sunday night.  It will move over eastern Tennessee, western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia on its way toward Ohio on Monday.  One primary rainband on the eastern side of the circulation will continue to drop heavy rain over parts of eastern South Carolina for a few more hours.  Convergence into the low will produce heavy rain that could move into western Virginia and West Virginia on Monday.  Flash Flood Watches have been issued for South Carolina, North Carolina, western Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Tropical Storm Florence Still Dropping Heavy Rain on the Carolinas

Tropical Storm Florence was still dropping heavy rain on parts of the Carolinas on Saturday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Florence was located at latitude 33.6°N and longitude 79.9°W which put it about 45 miles (75 km) south-southwest of Florence, South Carolina.  Tropical Storm Florence was moving toward the west at 2 m.p.h. (3 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 997 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina.

Although the inner core of Tropical Storm Florence continues to spin down slowly, the circulation covers much of North Carolina, South Carolina, and eastern Georgia.  The center and much of the circulation around Florence is over land, but strong inflow east of the center continues to transport moist air over North Carolina.  The strongest winds are occurring over the Atlantic Ocean in two rainbands east of the center.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 150 miles (240 km) east of the center of circulation over the Atlantic Ocean.  The winds over North Carolina and South Carolina are generally blowing at less than tropical storm force.  Thunderstorms in some rainbands could produce gusts to tropical storm force.

Tropical Storm Florence has moved very slowly toward the west during the past 24 hours.  The extremely slow motion has allowed bands of showers and thunderstorms to persist over locations and rainfall totals have exceed a foot (0.3 meters) in some places.  Parts of the Cape Fear River and Trent River have already reached major flood levels.  Portions of the Neuse River are at moderate flood levels.  Sections of Interstates 95 and 40 are closed because of high water.

The high pressure system that has been blocking a northward movement of Tropical Storm Florence will start to shift to the east on Sunday.  The eastward movement of the high will allow Tropical Storm Florence to move a little faster and turn toward the northwest.  Florence could be over western North Carolina on Sunday evening.  Wind blowing up the eastern slopes of the will enhance rainfall.  Tropical Storm Florence will continue to drop heavy rain over North Carolina and South Carolina on Sunday.  The heavy rain could cause rivers and streams to go higher.

Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Helene neared the Azores, Tropical Storm Isaac weakened to a tropical wave over the Caribbean Sea and Tropical Storm Joyce was pulled northeast in the wake of Helene.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Helene was located at latitude 40.2°N and longitude 32.1°W which put it about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Flores, Azores.  Helene was moving toward the northeast at 24 m.p.h. (39 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 989 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for all of the Azores.

At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Joyce was located at latitude 33.1°N and longitude 39.6°W which put it about 785 miles (1260 km) west-southwest of the Azores.  Joyce was moving toward the east-northeast at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.

Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall Near Wilmington, North Carolina

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina on Friday morning.  The National Hurricane Center stated that the center of Hurricane Florence officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach or about five miles east of Wilmington at 7:15 a.m. EDT on Friday.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h) at the time of landfall.  Hurricane Florence moved slowly toward the west after landfall.

At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 34.0°N and longitude 78.4°W which put it about 35 miles (55 km/h) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Florence was moving toward the west at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 968 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Bogue Inlet, North Carolina including Pamlico Sound.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portions of the coast from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to South Santee River and from Bogue Inlet to Duck, North Carolina including Albemarle Sound.

Hurricane Florence did produce sustained winds to hurricane force when hit North Carolina.  A National Data Buoy Center C-MAN station (CLKN7) reported a sustained wind speed of 81 m.p.h. (131 km/h) and a wind gust of 101 m.p.h. (163 km/h).  A buoy east of the center of Hurricane Florencereported a wind gust of 112 m.p.h. (180 km/h) near the time of landfall.  The airport at Wilmington, North Carolina reported a wind gust of 87 m.p.h. (140 km/h).

The center of Hurricane Florence has been inland for a few hours and the circulation is gradually spinning down.  There is still a well organized center of circulation, but they eye has filled in with clouds and showers.  The strongest winds are occurring in rainbands that are still out over the Atlantic Ocean.  Friction is reducing the wind speed in the part of the circulation over land.

Hurricane Florence continues to pose serious risks for southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina.  A prolonged period of tropical storm force winds and occasional gusts to hurricane force could bring down trees and add to the widespread power outages.  On the eastern side of Hurricane Florence the wind will push water toward the shore and the threat of coastal flooding continues.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms will drop heavy rain and flash flooding is likely near rivers and streams that are already at bankful.

Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Helene was speeding toward the Azores, Tropical Depression Isaac was moving over the eastern Caribbean Sea and Tropical Storm Joyce was moving west of Helene.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Helene was located at latitude 32.9°N and longitude 36.3°W which put it about 655 miles (1055 km) southwest of the Azores.  Helene was moving toward the north  at 23 m.p.h. (37 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 70 m.p.h. (110km/h) and there were wind gusts to 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 988 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for all of the Azores.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Depression Isaac was located at latitude 14.9°N and longitude 67.3°W.  Isaac was moving toward the west at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Joyce was located at latitude 31.6°N and longitude 44.6°W which put it about 1090 miles (1755 km) west-southwest of the Azores.  Joyce was moving toward the south at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1003 mb.

Hurricane Florence Wobbles Closer to North Carolina

Hurricane Florence wobbled closer to the coast of North Carolina on Thursday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 34.0°N and longitude 76.8°W which put it about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.  Florence was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 956 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Edisto Beach to South Santee River, South Carolina.  A Tropical Storm Warning was also in effect for the portion of the coast from Duck, North Carolina to Cape Charles Light, Virginia and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Hurricane Florence is already affecting the coast.  National Data Buoy Center C-MAN station CLKN7 at Cape Lookout, North Carolina reported a sustained wind speed of 81 m.p.h. (131 km/h) and a wind gust of 101 m.p.h. (163 km/h).  Storm surges were already occurring along portions of the coast east of the center of Hurricane Florence where the winds were pushing water toward the coast.  The highest surge appeared to be in the area of the western part of Pamlico Sound near the mouth of the Neuse River.  There were scattered reports of wind damage and power outages.

A high pressure system over the northeastern U.S. is blocking the northward movement of Hurricane Florence.  The high is steering Florence slowly toward the northwest.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Florence will make a landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina on Friday.  Florence could move a little south of due west after landfall.  The center will pass a little north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and then move toward Columbia, South Carolina.  Florence is likely to continue to weaken slowly.  Because of the slow movement, many locations will experience extended periods of gusty winds.  Power outages are likely to become more widespread on Friday.  Hurricane Florence will drop locally heavy rain.  Locations where rainbands are essentially station could receive over a foot (0.3 meters) of rain.  Serious fresh water flooding is likely to develop on Friday and Saturday.

Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Helene generated a Tropical Storm Watch for all of the Azores, Tropical Storm Isaac sped across the eastern Caribbean Sea and former Subtropical Storm Joyce made a transition to Tropical Storm Joyce.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Helene was located at latitude 28.6°N and longitude 36.5°W which put it about 885 miles (1425 km) southwest of the Azores.  Helene was moving toward the north at 21 m.p.h. (34 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 992 mb.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located at latitude14.9°N and longitude 64.4°W which put it about 195 miles (315 km) south of St. Croix.  Isaac was moving toward the west at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Joyce was located latitude 32.9°N and longitude 44.4°W which put it about 1040 miles (1670 km) west-southwest of the Azores.  Joyce was moving toward the south-southwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1003 mb.

Hurricane Florence Moves Closer to the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence moved closer to the Carolinas on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 32.0°N and longitude 73.7°W which put it about 280 miles (455 km) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.  Florence was moving toward the northwest at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 110 m.p.h. (175 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 130 m.p.h. (210 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 957 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to South Santee River, South Carolina.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of coast from Duck, North Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

The wind speed in Hurricane Florence decreased on Wednesday but the circulation increased in size.  It appeared that another eyewall replacement cycle could have started.  Satellite microwave images suggested that there could be two eyewalls and a reconnaissance plane reported a double wind maxima.  Both of those things could be evidence of concentric eyewalls.  In addition, counterclockwise flow around a small upper level low near Florida may have produced southerly winds that blew toward the south side of Hurricane Frances.  Those winds may have inhibited the upper level divergence to the south of Florence.  Since the hurricane was unable to pump out as much mass, the surface pressure increased and the wind speed decreased.

The circulation of Hurricane Florence increased in size on Wednesday.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 80 miles (130 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 200 miles (320 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Florence was 19.2.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 25.5 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 44.7.  Those indices are very similar to the numbers for Hurricane Jeanne just before Jeanne made landfall in southeast Florida in 2004.

Hurricane Florence will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Thursday.  Florence will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  Florence will move farther away from the upper low near Florida and the low should not inhibit divergence to the south of the hurricane as much.  In addition, Hurricane Florence will move over the warm water in the Gulf Stream about 6 to 12 hours before it reaches the coast.  It will be able to extract extra energy at that time.  If the inner core becomes more organized, then Hurricane Florence could intensify on Thursday.  If the inner core does not get better organized, then Florence will likely maintain its current intensity or weaken slowly.

Hurricane Florence will move near the western end of the subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Florence toward the northwest on Thursday.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Florence will be near the coast of North Carolina on Thursday night.  A ridge over the eastern U.S. is likely to block the northward motion of Hurricane Florence when it reaches the coast.  The ridge will steer Florence slowly toward the west-southwest on Friday and Saturday.

Hurricane Florence will have the impact of a major hurricane regardless of the actual sustained wind speed.  The large circulation and slow rate of movement when Florence reaches the coast means that locations could experience strong winds for extended periods of time.  Wind damage and power outages could be extensive.  Some places in North Carolina had a rainy summer and strong winds could uproot trees.  Hurricane Florence will produce a dangerous storm surge along the coast.  The surge could exceed 10 feet (3 meters) in some locations east of where the center makes landfall.  The slow forward speed also means that Hurricane Florence could drop locally heavy rain and severe flooding could occur.

Elsewhere the rest of the Atlantic Ocean was also very active.  Tropical Storm Isaac was nearing the Lesser Antilles, Hurricane Helene was weakening south of the Azores and Subtropical Storm Joyce formed northwest of Helene.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located at latitude 15.3°N and longitude 58.0°W which put it about 220 miles (355 km) east of Dominica.  Isaac was moving toward the west at 20 m.p.h. (32 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for Antigua, Montserrat, St, Kitts and Nevis, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Martin and St. Maarten.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Helene was located at latitude 22.4°N and 36.9°W which put it about 1270 mile (2045 km) south-southwest of the Azores.  Helene was moving toward the north at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 983 mb.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Subtropical Storm Joyce was located at latitude 15.3°N and longitude 46.6°W which put it about 910 miles (1465 km) west-southwest of the Azores.  Joyce was moving toward the southwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.