Storm cones aloft in Florida & the Carolinas while GASTON blows a mid-Atlantic hoolie
Tuesday 30th August 2016
Tropical depression nine is located 365 miles west of Key West, Florida. This has become a little less organised overnight although the predicted intensity has increased a little as it is expected to make a slow turn to the north and northeast across the eastern Gulf of Mexico in the next couple of days and make an eventual landfall on the big bend of Florida on Thursday. Sorry to be the voice of gloom, but this is still very slow moving and I don't trust slow moving storms. This is now causing sustained winds of 30 gusting 40 knots, with a negligible hurricane severity rating but expected to reach 6 (2 size, 4 intensity) before landfall as a named storm, with winds in excess of 55 knots over a tropical storm wind radius of 130 miles. If this holds good, then the impact on the offshore oil leases to the west will be minimal. There are some complex shifts in upper level air patterns going on which have suppressed early intensification but should settle down over the next few hours and the depression should become a tropical storm by this time tomorrow. As it approaches Florida, it may intensify into a moderate to strong tropical storm. The chatterers have marked this down as a potential hurricane after it moves into the Atlantic. Let's be absolutely certain in turns north and north-east first, eh? The smart money is still on a landfall between Apalachicola and Tampa. Regardless of the intensity at landfall, flooding rainfall is expected, and a tornado outbreak is possible. Heavy rains throughout south-west Florida could cause localised flooding. The greatest risk of flooding will occur north of Ft. Myers. Later in the week, if the track doesn't change then later in the week, Heavy rainfall could cause significant flooding across northern Florida and southern Georgia and strong winds could cause widespread power outages and some damage. Apalachee Bay is particularly exposed to changes in tidal height so a storm surge would be bad news.
The overnight wires show tropical depression eight remaining very poorly organised off the Outer Banks of North Carolina this morning. This is set to intensify and eventually become a tropical storm by tonight but will move away from the eastern seaboard tomorrow, pushed east by an advancing front. This will therefore be a glancing blow only, all being well. Currently 85 miles south east of Cape Hatteras, this is creeping north-west at about 5 knots and I would again urge caution. Slow moving storm. Nonetheless, at the time of closest approach to Cape Hatteras this evening, the maximum winds are forecast to be 30 to 40 knots only, intensifying after it turns over the Outer Banks and heads seaward. On the retreat from the eastern seaboard, a modest hurricane severity rating of just 3 (1 size, 2 intensity) is expected.
Category 2 hurricane GASTON is boring most readers as it is well clear of land, but since we have several seagoing readers, I'll drone on for a while. Those whose interests are inshore or ashore can skip this paragraph. GASTON is blowing a hoolie, currently centred around 650 miles east of Bermuda with a ground track reported to be 055 degrees at 5 knots. This still has a lusty eyewall replacement cycle with a nice, clear 35 mile eye. Convection cloud production seems to be hiccupping now which may indicate some loss of cycle. The air is still fairly wet and there's a good supply of warm water, so I can't see why this isn't deepening further. A mid- to upper-level trough currently visible in water vapour aerial imagery coming off Atlantic Canada which is expected to approach GASTON during the next 12 to 24 hours. This will push the hurricane into mid-latitude westerlies. As a result, GASTON should accelerate generally east-nor'east towards the Azores. Current winds of 90 knots are expected to continue with hurricane force winds over a 40 mile radius and tropical storm force winds over a 140 mile radius.
Way out to the east, disturbance thirty is a strong tropical wave that has moved off the west coast of Africa and is now centred east of the Cape Verde Islands. Dry air over the system will keep any development chances low over the next couple of days; however, conditions will become more favourable as this tracks west and some observers are starting to get excited about this reaching the Leeward Islands in about a week for now. Early days.