Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tropics: Update on Katia; Maria and Nate Waiting In the Wings?

The above visible satellite image shows Hurricane Katia centered about 370 miles South of Bermuda, and moving toward the Northwest at 9 mph.  Maximum sustained winds were estimated 120 mph with a minimum barometric pressure of 28.17 inches of mercury (954 millibars).

All of the major computer forecast models during the last 24 hours have continued to come into consensus that Katia will turn out to sea late tomorrow and Thursday, before making a significant impact on the U.S.  The latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast is below:

...which largely lies down the middle of the model consensus:

Katia is a large storm, and even though the center will pass well to the East of the U.S. Coast as currently forecast, increasing wave action and strong rip currents can be expected from the Carolinas on Northward beginning late tomorrow and continuing through at least Saturday (while spreading from South to North).

The images below are experimental wave forecast models that show the potential wave action along the Carolina and Virginia coasts by 11am EDT on Thursday the 8th:

...and off the New England coast by 11am EDT on Friday the 9th:

The bright green shaded areas just to the East of the immediate coastline depict the models estimate of 5-7 meter (16-23 foot) waves.  All of this increased wave action will also produce dangerous rip currents all along the adjacent portions of the Eastern seaboard toward the end of the week as well...

Something pretty drastic would have to take place in the atmosphere in order for Katia to veer West of the current forecast track.  The remnants of Lee along with a trough of low pressure across the Eastern U.S. toward the end of the week are both expected to result in the Northward (and eventual Northeastward) turn of Katia (see latest GFS computer model image valid 11am EDT Thursday, below).  We should start to see the beginning of that turn as early as tomorrow evening as the center of Katia approaches 70 degrees West Longitude, so keep an eye out for that...

Meanwhile, there are two other disturbances that bear close watching over the coming days....

The first is currently a little more than 600 miles West/Southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, and moving toward the West/Northwest:

I would expect this disturbance to be named a Depression later today, and the computer models generally carry the system toward the West/Northwest and then Northwest over the next 5 days:

The second area to watch is much closer to home, currently taking shape over the far southern Gulf of Mexico:

This system is still in the early development stage, however it bears watching over the next few days.  Some of the computer models eventually take it directly Southwest into Mexico, while others track it toward the Northeast across the Gulf toward the southeast U.S. over the weekend.

While it's way too early to tell what this system is going to do, I am afraid to say that folks in Texas (including yours truly) should not get their hopes up for rain out of this system, as a building area of high pressure to our West and Northwest later this week will likely steer the system away from us - regardless of the exact direction...

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