Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tropical Overview: Katia, Maria, and Nate...

As promised in my last post late yesterday afternoon, the tropics are heating up indeed! We now have 2 additional named storms since yesterday's update:  Nate in the Gulf of Mexico and Maria out in the Atlantic.  Meanwhile, a strong disturbance to the South of Katia also bears watching.  Speaking of Katia, she is still churning away out to the West/Southwest of Bermuda.  You can see each of these features on the satellite image above, and on the same annotated (with names, etc.) image below.

Lets start with the system closest to home (in the Bay of Campeche) which also happens to be the one most recently named:  Tropical Storm Nate.  At 4pm CDT, the center of Nate was located 125 miles West of Campeche, Mexico, and was drifting East/Southeast at 2 mph.  Maximum sustained winds were 45 mph, and the minimum barometric pressure was 29.65 inches of mercury.

Nate is nearly stationary over very warm water, and is therefore expected to strengthen over the next few days, possibly reaching hurricane strength as early as Thursday night.  While the intensity forecast for Nate seems pretty clear cut at this moment, the directional forecast is an entirely different matter.  Right now, about half of the computer models forecast Nate to eventually move Westward into Mexico by Sunday, while the other half forecast Nate to move North or Northeast into the middle Gulf Coast region by Sunday or Monday:

We have models that are "typically reliable" sitting in both camps at this moment, which lends further uncertainty as to the future track of the system.  At this time, I would strongly suggest residents along both the Mexican coast (which is obvious since the system is very near land at this time) as well as along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to monitor future information and updated forecasts concerning Nate.

We should have a better idea as to which steering mechanisms are most likely to impact Nate by this time tomorrow, which should lead to increased confidence in the future track of the system.  So, stay tuned for updates!

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Maria is gathering steam out over the Atlantic.  As of 5pm EDT, the center was located about 1200 miles East of the Leeward Islands, and moving Westward at a brisk 23 mph.

The current forecast calls for Maria to continue to move Westward and then West/Northwestward over time, possibly affecting Puerto Rico by Saturday afternoon (still forecast to be a Tropical Storm at that time):

In the longer term, the computer forecast models have varying opinions as to whether or not Maria could potentially affect the Southeast or Eastern U.S.  If she were to do so, it wouldn't likely be until the 2nd half of next week, so we have plenty of time to monitor her progress in the meantime.

Speaking of the Eastern U.S., it still appears as though Hurricane Katia will have no more impact than to stir up waves and rip currents along the central and Northern portions of the Eastern seaboard over the next few days, as she is still forecast to pass well offshore tomorrow through Saturday:

Stay tuned for updates and Nate and Maria, as both of these systems could eventually have an impact on some part of the U.S. coastline, depending on exactly how things pan out over the coming days...

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