OPHELIA update and thoughts on the remainder of the 2017
I have been asked to make a comparison with previous years, since we are up to disturbance 52 already and OPHELIA is here.
On this day in 2016, NICOLE was at large and disturbance 38 had just gone ashore in central America. We rang down Finished With Engines on 26th November as OTTO slipped away and we'd had a total of 52 disturbances for the season.
On this day in 2015, disturbance 51 was around and we eventually closed for the season on 31st October after 57 disturbances and a swansong from KATE.
On this day in 2014, FAY was near Bermuda and disturbance 47 was seaborne. We called it a day on November 3rd after a season total of 52 disturbances and a finale from HANNA.
On this day in 2013, we'd had 63 disturbances, and finally folded our tents and quietly slipped away on November 6th after 72 disturbances and seeing off MELISSA.
Will we have an early finish this year? The impact of La Nina over the Pacific is cooling equatorial waters which typically reduces wind shear over the Caribbean. There is also an expectation of continued higher pressure in the east Pacific causing sinking air and fewer thunderstorms which will also reduce wind shear over the Caribbean. Neither of these make good news and will fuel the fears of modellers who are still twitching over the higher than desirable risk in the far western Caribbean, as we saw with NATE. The Gulf of Mexico still has some frontal protection, but this will only serve to push any further storms to the east of the Mississippi and towards Florida. With a secondary development area to the north of the Leeward Islands, Florida faces a potential double headache between now and the end of the season. Typically, this is also the time of the season when we get the maverick fish storms, as we have with OPHELIA today. With apologies to the good people of the Azores and the odd sailor, this is good news for the rest of us.
Today, from west to east
Disturbance Fifty Two is passing the Turks and Caicos Islands moving west at 10 knots bringing showers and thunderstorms to the Bahamas today and Florida over the weekend. As this tracks into the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to weaken and eventually dissipate under a barrage of upper level shear.
Disturbance Fifty One is around 400 miles north-east of the Caribbean moving west-nor'west at 15 knots. This is expected to turn northwest then track north of the eastern Caribbean this weekend without developing.
Tropical Storm OPHELIA is strengthening, now around 800 miles west-sou'west of the Azores and looks set to reach hurricane strength by Friday. This is a small but perfectly formed cyclone with a textbook convection cycle, radiating spokes of showers and thunderstorms in line squalls. Maximum winds are estimated to be around 55 knots. Over the next few days, the system will turn northeast and accelerate ahead of a trough of low pressure then make its closest point of approach to the Azores over the weekend. Thereafter, pure guesswork. One of the modellers who mistakenly believes that storm tracks across the North Atlantic can actually be predicted more than 48 hours ahead, has this down as hitting Great Britain next week with a track close to my house. I think the Canadian guy has found me.
Another grim day in the eastern Atlantic, otherwise stand easy.