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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.

Gert Intensifies to a Hurricane West of Bermuda

Gert intensified to a hurricane west of Bermuda on Monday.  Gert became the second Atlantic hurricane of 2017 and it is the second hurricane to form during the past six days.  Hurricane Franklin developed over the southern Gulf of Mexico last week.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Gert was located at latitude 31.2°N and longitude 72.3°W which put it about 445 miles (720 km) west of Bermuda.  Gert was moving toward the north at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 986 mb.

An eye appeared on satellite images of Hurricane Gert at various times on Monday and it looked more like a hurricane.  There was a somewhat elliptical eye at the center of Hurricane Gert on Monday night.  The ring of thunderstorms around the eye did not completely surround the eye.  There was a large break on the northwest side of the eye.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms were occurring in the southeastern half of Gert.  There were fewer showers and thunderstorms in the northwestern half of the hurricane.  Thunderstorms near the core of Gert were generating upper level divergence which was pumping out mass to the south of the hurricane.

Hurricane Gert will be an environment that will be favorable for intensification for another 24 to 48 hours.  Gert will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28.5°C.  An upper level ridge centered northwest of Gert is producing northerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds are producing some vertical wind shear and they may be responsible for the asymmetrical distribution of showers and thunderstorms.  However, the vertical wind shear should not be strong enough to prevent Hurricane Gert from intensifying further.  An upper level trough will approach Gert from the west, but before the trough reaches the hurricane, the wind shear will decrease and a period of rapid intensification could occur.

Hurricane Gert is moving around the western end of a subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Gert slowly toward the north.  When the upper level trough approaches Gert, southwesterly winds will start to steer the hurricane toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Gert should pass northwest of Bermuda.

TD 8 Strengthens to Tropical Storm Gert

Tropical Depression Eight strengthened to Tropical Storm Gert on Sunday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Storm Gert was located at latitude 28.1°N and longitude 71.7°W which put it about 505 miles (810 km) west-southwest of Bermuda.  Gert was moving toward the north-northwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.

The structure of Tropical Storm Gert improved on Sunday.  Numerous bands of showers and thunderstorms developed and began to rotate around the center of circulation.  The thunderstorms began to produce upper level divergence which was pumping out mass in all directions.  The circulation of Tropical Storm Gert became more circular and symmetrical.

Tropical Storm Gert will move through an environment that will be favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Gert will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level winds over Tropical Storm Gert are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  There is an upper level ridge northwest of Tropical Storm Gert and the ridge is producing northeasterly winds west of Bermuda.  So, the vertical wind shear could increase when Gert moves farther north.  Tropical Storm Gert will continue to intensify during the next 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Gert is moving around the western end of the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Gert toward the north-northwest and a northerly motion is  expected to continue for another 24 hours.  When Gert moves west of Bermuda, it will start to encounter the westerly winds in the middle latitudes.  Those winds should turn Tropical Storm Gert toward the northeast in a day or so.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Gert is expected to move east of the U.S. and west of Bermuda.

Tropical Depression Eight Forms East of the Bahamas

Tropical Depression Eight formed east of the Bahamas on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Depression Eight was located at latitude 25.3°N and longitude 70.3°W which put it about 470 miles (755 km) east of Nassau, Bahamas.  It was moving toward the north-northwest at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.

Data from satellites and NOAA buoy 41046 indicated that a low level center of circulation formed within former Invest 99L.  Based on those data the National Hurricane Center classified the system as Tropical Depression Eight.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms began to develop in Invest 99L on Saturday afternoon.  There were more bands in the eastern half of the circulation than there were in the western half.  Thunderstorms in the bands began to generate upper level divergence which was pumping away mass.  The circulation took on a more circular appearance and they system exhibited the characteristics of a tropical depression.

Tropical Depression Eight will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 36 to 48 hours.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper low that was inhibiting the development of Invest 99L dissipated on Saturday.  When the upper low dissipated, the upper level winds weakened.  Tropical Depression Eight will move through an area where there is little vertical wind shear.  It will likely strengthen into Tropical Storm Gert on Sunday.  It could eventually intensify into a hurricane.

Tropical Depression Eight is moving around the western end of the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering the depression toward the north-northwest and it is forecast to move primarily toward the north during the next 24 to 48 hours.  Tropical Depression Eight will eventually reach the westerly winds in the middle latitudes and it will turn toward the northeast when that happens.  On its anticipated track Tropical Depression Eight will remain east of the Bahamas.

Tropical Depression Eight Prompts Tropical Storm Warning for North Carolina

The approach of Tropical Depression Eight and the potential for intensification prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue a Tropical Storm Warning for the portion of the coast from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina including Pamlico Sound.

At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Depression Eight was located at latitude 33.6°N and longitude 74.0°W which put it about 140 miles (225 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  It was moving toward the 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. (70 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.

Vertical wind shear disrupted the circulation of Tropical Depression Eight earlier today, but more thunderstorms developed northwest of the center of circulation during the afternoon.  The circulation is still not well organized, but there are indications on radar that it could be developing a tighter center.  An upper level low centered near Savannah, Georgia is producing southerly winds which are causing the moderate vertical wind shear over the depression.  The upper level winds are blocking upper level divergence to the south of Tropical Depression Eight, but there are some sign that upper level divergence could be occurring to the northeast.

Tropical Depression Eight could move into an area marginally more favorable for intensification.  As it gets farther from the upper level low, the winds aloft will decrease.  The depression is moving near the Gulf Stream and the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 29.5°C.  If thunderstorms persist near the center of circulation and a more coherent vertical structure develops, the the depression could strengthen into a tropical storm.

The upper low is steering Tropical Depression toward the northwest and that general motion is expected to continue for another day or so.  When the depression reaches latitude 35°N, westerly winds will begin to steer it off toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Tropical Depression Eight could be very near Cape Hatteras in 24 to 36 hours.

Although Tropical Depression Eight will bring some stronger winds, locally heavy rain, rip currents, higher waves and beach erosion are greater risks.

Tropical Depressions Form South of Key West & Southeast of Cape Hatteras

Two tropical depressions formed near the U.S. on Sunday.  Tropical Depression Nine formed south of Key West, Florida and Tropical Depression Eight formed southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Both depressions could have an impact on the U.S., but Tropical Depression Nine could pose a greater risk to the southeastern U.S.

At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Depression Nine was located at latitude 23.7°N and longitude 81.7°W which put it about 60 miles (95 km) south of Key West, Florida.  It was moving toward the west at 9 m.p.h. (15 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. (70 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1009 mb.

At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Depression Eight was located at latitude 31.8°N and longitude 70.9°W which put it about 355 miles (570 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  It was moving toward the west at 9 m.p.h. (15 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. (70 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1010 mb.

The circulation of Tropical Depression Nine is still organizing.  A NOAA plane found a distinct center of circulation, but most of the stronger thunderstorms are south and east of the center.  There is a broader counterclockwise rotation with numerous showers and thunderstorms indicated by the National Weather Service radar in Key West.  An upper level low east of Florida is contributing to easterly winds that are blowing across the northern side of the depression.  The vertical wind shear is inhibiting the development of thunderstorms north and west of the center.

The circulation of Tropical Depression Eight was more well organized earlier today.  Strong easterly winds from the same upper level low that is affecting Tropical Depression Nine are creating significant vertical wind shear.  Those winds and the shear they caused blew the upper portion of the depression’s circulation west of the low level center of circulation.  The low level circulation is presently exposed as seen on visible satellite imagery and by an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft.

The intensity forecast for Tropical Depression Nine is challenging because it is moving through a complex environment.  The depression is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 31°C.  So, there is plenty of energy in the upper ocean.  However, as mentioned above, an upper low is causing vertical wind shear which will inhibit intensification.  Tropical Depression Nine could move into a region where there is less shear when it moves over the Gulf of Mexico.  Tropical Depression Nine has a good chance to intensify into a tropical storm, but it is unclear if it could become a hurricane before it reaches the coast.

There is also significant uncertainty in the track forecast for Tropical Depression Nine.  A ridge over the southeastern U.S. is steering the depression toward the west and that general motion should continue for several more days.  The ridge is forecast to weaken during the middle of the week and that should allow Tropical Depression Nine to turn toward the north.  The timing of that turn and how sharp it will be are still uncertain.

The upper low is expected to continue to generate wind shear over Tropical Depression Eight.  If the upper levels winds remain as strong as they are now, the depression will slowly weaken.  If the upper level winds weaken, then Tropical Depression Eight could strengthen into a minimal tropical storm.  The upper level low is steering the depression west and that general motion is expected to continue in the short term.  The depression could stall just off the coast of North Carolina.

Tropical Depression Nine could intensify and bring wind and rain to the Gulf Coast later this week.  The Gulf Coast is also vulnerable to storm surges.  Given the uncertainty in both the track and intensity, interests along the coast should monitor official sources of information for updates on Tropical Depression Nine.  The primary effects of Tropical Depression Eight are likely to be higher than normal surf, rip currents and some beach erosion along the North Carolina coast.  People along the Mid-Atlantic coast should pay attention to the depression in case the forecast changes.

Tropical Storm Henri Forms East of Bermuda

An instrument on a satellite indicated that there could be surface winds to tropical storm force in an area of thunderstorms east of the center of Tropical Depression Eight and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Henri.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Henri was located latitude 31.3°N and longitude 60.7°W which put it about 250 miles (405 km) east-southeast of Bermuda.  Henri was moving toward the north at 5 m.p.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 1008 mb.

Henri is not a very well organized tropical storm.  An upper level low centered north of Bermuda is causing brisk southwesterly winds over the top of Henri.  The vertical wind shear is blowing the tops off of thunderstorms that start to form near the center of circulation.  As a result of the wind shear, the stronger thunderstorms are all located well to the east of the center of the tropical storm.  Henri is over warm Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) which are above normal in that part of the western Atlantic Ocean.  So, there is plenty of energy to support intensification.  However, as long as the upper level low creates significant vertical wind shear, intensification will be minimal.  It is possible that as Henri moves toward the north that the wind shear could decrease.  In that case Henri could intensify during the next day or two before it moves over cooler SSTs.

An upper level trough over the eastern U.S. should steer Henri toward the north during the next several day.  On its anticipated track, Henri could pass near Newfoundland during the weekend.  Henri could be in the process of transitioning from a tropical storm to an extratropical cyclone at that time, but it could still bring strong winds and rain to parts of extreme eastern Canada.