Tag Archives: Florida Keys

Subtropical Storm Alberto Forms Over Northwest Caribbean Sea

Subtropical Storm Alberto formed over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday morning.  The National Hurricane Center (NHC) designated an area of low pressure as Subtropical Storm Alberto on Friday morning based on data from buoys and ship reports.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Subtropical Storm Alberto was located at latitude 19.4°N and longitude 86.3°W which put it about 85 miles (135 km) south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.  Alberto was moving toward the east at 2 m.p.h. (3 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.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the U.S. coast from Indian Pass, Florida to Grand Isle, Louisiana including New Orleans.  The government of Mexico issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the portion of the coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.  The government of Cuba issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the province of Pinar del Rio.

The circulation around Subtropical Storm Alberto was asymmetrical.  The low level center of circulation was located just to east of the Yucatan Peninsula.  The strongest thunderstorms were occurring in a band located about 100 miles (160 km) east and north of the center.  Flow around an upper level trough over the Gulf of Mexico was producing westerly winds which were blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds were causing strong vertical wind shear which was the reason why the thunderstorms were occurring well to the east of the center of circulation.

Subtropical Storm Alberto will move through an environment marginally favorable for intensification during the next 24 to 36 hours.  Alberto will move over water where  the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  So, there is sufficient energy in the upper ocean to support intensification.  However, the upper level trough will continue to cause moderate to strong vertical wind shear during the next day or so.  The wind shear will inhibit intensification.  Some gradual strengthening is possible.  The winds are weaker near the axis of the upper level trough.  If Alberto moves under the axis of the trough when it reaches the northern Gulf of Mexico, then the wind shear will decrease.  Alberto could strengthen more quickly if that happens.  There is a chance that Alberto could reach hurricane intensity.  If more thunderstorms form closer to the center of circulation, then NHC could change the designation of Alberto to a tropical storm.

Subtropical Storm Alberto is moving around the western end of a large high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Alberto slowly toward the north-northeast.  A general motion toward the north is forecast during the next day or so.  When Alberto gets farther north, the upper level trough could steer it more toward the north-northwest.  There is a chance that the steering currents could weaken when Alberto nears the Gulf Coast.  Thus, there is much more uncertainty about the track forecast after that time.

The greatest risk with Subtropical Storm Alberto will be locally heavy rain and the potential for flooding.  Most of the heavy rain is likely to fall north and east of the center.  Much less rain is likely to fall from the western side of Alberto.  The coast of the Gulf of Mexico is very susceptible to storm surges.  The water level will rise along the eastern and northern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico where the winds blow the water toward the shoreline.

Cyclone Likely to Form Over Gulf of Mexico

A cyclone is likely to form over the Gulf of Mexico during the upcoming weekend.  A broad area of low pressure at the surface is currently centered over the Yucatan Peninsula.  The area of low pressure is currently designated as Invest 90L.  The circulation around the low pressure system is not well organized at the current time.  The center of the surface low is over the Yucatan Peninsula.  Showers and lower clouds are occurring near the center of the low.  Stronger thunderstorms are occurring on the eastern side of the low over the northwestern Caribbean Sea.  Sustained winds of 20 m.p.h. to 30 m.p.h. (30 km/h to 50 km/h) were blowing across the northwestern Caribbean Sea.  The winds were weaker over land near the center of circulation.

An upper level trough over the Gulf of Mexico was producing strong westerly winds which were blowing over the top of the surface low.  Those winds were causing strong vertical wind shear and the wind shear was one of the reasons why the stronger thunderstorms were occurring east of the center of circulation.  Sinking motion in the western portion of the upper level trough was bringing drier air to the surface and the drier air was inhibiting the formation of thunderstorms in the western side of the surface low.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated in a Special Tropical Weather Outlook at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday that there is a 70% probability of the formation of a subtropical or tropical depression during the next 48 hours.  NHC has tentatively tasked a reconnaissance aircraft to investigate the low pressure system on Friday afternoon if necessary.

The wind speeds are slower near the axis of the upper level trough.  If the surface low pressure system moves under the axis of the upper level trough, then there would be less vertical wind shear and a cyclone could form.  If thunderstorms develop near the center of circulation after the center moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea or southeastern Gulf of Mexico, then NHC would likely designate the system as a tropical depression.  If the thunderstorms develop farther away from the center of circulation and the circulation does not exhibit a tropical appearance, then NHC could classify the system as a subtropical depression.  NHC would issue advisories on the cyclone even if it is designated a subtropical depression.

There is a strong high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean and the high is likely to steer the surface low toward the north.  The Sea Surface Temperature of the water in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico is near 27°C.  So, there is enough energy to support the formation of a tropical cyclone.  Most of the stronger thunderstorms are likely to continue to form in the eastern side of the circulation because of the vertical wind shear and drier air to the northwest of the surface low.  The low pressure system could slowly organize into a tropical storm during the weekend.

Heavy rain and the potential for flooding are the greatest risks with this low pressure system.  There will be some storm surge along the eastern and northern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico as counterclockwise rotation around the low blows water toward the shore.

Tropical Storm Philippe Brings Wind, Rain to Cuba and South Florida

Tropical Storm Philippe brought wind and rain to parts of Cuba and south Florida on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Philippe was located at latitude 24.8°N and longitude 82.1°W which put it about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Key West, Florida.  Philippe was moving toward the north-northeast at 24 m.p.h. (39 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.

Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, La Habana, Ciudad de la Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Villa Clara.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portion of the coast from Craig Key to Golden Beach, Florida.  Tropical Storm Watches were also in effect for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

The circulation is of Tropical Storm Philippe is not well organized.  The appear to be multiple smaller centers of counterclockwise rotation moving around inside the broader circulation.  One center of circulation is in northwest of Key West.  Showers and thunderstorms were primarily northeast of that center of rotation.  There were low clouds west of that center.  Another center of rotation was just north of the coast of Cuba.  A primary band of showers and thunderstorms wrapped around the eastern side of this second center.  The middle and upper level circulation of Tropical Storm Philippe appeared to be associated with the center near Cuba.

Tropical Storm Philippe will move through an environment that will be somewhat favorable for intensification.  Philippe will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level trough approaching Tropical Storm Philippe from the west is producing strong southwesterly winds which are causing significant vertical wind shear.  The shear is inhibiting the organization of the circulation.  Tropical Storm Philippe could intensify on Sunday if the center of circulation near Cuba becomes the dominant center, since it has a more complete vertical structure.

The upper level trough will continue to steer Tropical Storm Philippe quickly toward the northeast on Sunday.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Philippe will move through the Upper Florida Keys and over the Northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.   It will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rains to those areas.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen Prompts Warnings for Cuba and Bahamas

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen prompted the governments of Cuba and the Bahamas to issue Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches for portions of those countries on Friday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen was located at latitude 17.5°N and longitude 84.5°W which put it about 415 miles (670 km) south-southwest of Havana, Cuba.  It was moving toward the north-northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 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.

Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, La Habana, Ciudad de la Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Villa Clara.  Tropical Storm Warnings were also issued for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Tropical Storm Watches were issued for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance plane investigated the system formerly known as Invest 93L on Friday afternoon.  The plane found sustained winds to tropical storm force.  The plane also found a broad circulation center with several smaller centers of circulation revolving around inside the broader center.  Based on the observations from the plane, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) chose not to upgrade the system to Tropical Storm Philippe in its 5:00 p.m. EDT advisory.  However, NHC did change the designation of the system from Invest 93L to Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen.  If a more well defined center of circulation develops, then NHC could still change designation of the system to Tropical Storm Philippe.

The circulation of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is still organizing.  As mentioned above, there is a broad center of counterclockwise rotation.  There are also several smaller counterclockwise swirls within the broader center.  More showers and thunderstorms developed closer to the center of circulation on Friday afternoon.  The storms closer to the center of circulation were generating some upper level divergence which was pumping away mass to the northeast of the system.  Some bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing in the outer portions of the circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The system is embedded in a flow over warm moist air.  However there is a stationary front northwest of the system and there is cooler, drier air north of the stationary front.  The system is currently under the western side of an upper level ridge.  The upper level winds are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen could slowly intensify during the next 24 hours as the circulation becomes more well organized.

The ridge east of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is steering the system toward the north-northwest.  That general motion should continue for another six to twelve hours.  An upper level trough will approach the system from the west on Saturday and the trough will start to steer it more toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will approach Cuba on Saturday afternoon.  The center of the system will move south of the Florida Keys on Saturday night and it could move across the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.

The system will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to those locations.  The locally heavy rain could cause flooding.  There could be a storm surge of several feet (one to two meters) on parts of the south coast of Cuba, where the wind blows the water toward the coast.  There could also be some storm surge along the coasts of the Florida Keys.

Possible Tropical Development Over Southern Gulf of Mexico

A low pressure system has formed at the surface along the western end of a stationary front over the Bay of Campeche.  It is possible that this low pressure system could intensify into a tropical cyclone and the National Hurricane Center has tasked a reconnaissance plane to investigate the low tomorrow, if necessary.  At 8:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the low was centered at latitude 19.5°N and longitude 95.5°W which put it about 50 miles east of Veracruz, Mexico and about 940 miles west-southwest of Key West, Florida.  The low as moving toward the northeast at 3 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. and the minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

The low is over Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) that are warmer than 29°C and the southern Gulf of Mexico is a location where we see tropical cyclones develop late in the hurricane season.  On the other hand, westerly winds in the upper levels are creating wind shear over the low pressure system and there is drier air over the northern half of the Gulf of Mexico.  Those two factors will inhibit intensification of the system and so tropical development of the low could be slow.  If thunderstorms do develop near the center of the low, it will remain over warm SSTs while it is in the Gulf of Mexico and it could become a tropical storm.

There is westerly flow in the middle and upper levels over the Gulf of Mexico and that flow is likely to push the low pressure system toward the east.  The low could move slowly during a period while it is organizing.  If an area of deep thunderstorms forms, then the middle and upper level winds could push the low eastward more quickly.  The low could approach southwestern Florida later this week.