Hurricane Gert Intensifies to Cat. 2 South of Nova Scotia

Hurricane Gert intensified to Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as it sped over the Gulf Stream south of Nova Scotia on Wednesday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Gert was located at latitude 38.7°N and longitude 62.4°W which put it about 410 miles (665 km) south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Gert was moving toward the northeast at 31 m.p.h. (50 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 100 mp.h. (160 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 970 mb.

Although Hurricane Gert is at a fairly high latitude, it has the classic structure of a Hurricane.  There is a fairly small eye at the center of circulation.  The eye is surround by a ring of strong thunderstorm and the strongest winds are occurring in this ring of thunderstorms.  There are additional bands of showers and thunderstorms revolving around the core of the hurricane.  The circulation is symmetrical and thunderstorms in the core are producing upper level divergence which is pumping away mass to the northeast of the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 40 miles (65 km) primarily to the east of the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 140 miles (225 km) from the center.

Hurricane Gert is moving over the Gulf Stream which means it is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is near 28.5°C.  An upper level trough west of Gert is producing southwesterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the hurricane.  However, there is not much change of wind speed with height, which means that there is little vertical wind shear.  The combination of the warm water of the Gulf Stream and little vertical shear, allowed Hurricane Gert to strengthen on Wednesday.

Hurricane Gert could intensify during the next few hours, but it will soon move into a much less favorable environment.  Gert will soon move north of the Gulf Stream where the SSTs are much cooler.  The upper level trough is moving closer to Hurricane Gert and the winds are the upper level are forecast to get stronger.  When those winds increase, there will be much more vertical wind shear.  Colder water and more wind shear will cause Hurricane Gert to weaken on Thursday.  Gert could make a transition to an extratropical cyclone in colder environment of the North Atlantic.

Southwesterly winds in the upper level trough are steering Hurricane  Gert quickly toward the northeast and that general motion is expected to continue.  On its anticipated track, Hurricane Gert will move south of Labrador and Greenland.

Even as Hurricane Gert speeds away over the North Atlantic three new tropical waves over the tropical Atlantic have the potential to develop into tropical cyclones.  A tropical wave about 800 miles (1290 km) east of the Lesser Antilles designated as Invest 91L showed signs of organization on Wednesday.  A few more thunderstorms developed closed to the center of circulation.  A reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate this system on Thursday.  A little farther to the east another tropical wave designated Invest 92L was also showing evidence or more organization.  A third tropical wave just west of Africa also has the potential to develop during the next few days.