About Tyler Eliasen

Tyler Eliasen joined the FOX 13 team as a meteorologist in July 2017. You can see him during weekend evening newscasts and filling in during the week.

2017 Hurricane Season Comes To An End; One For The Record Books

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season has finally come to an end. We finish with 17 named storms – ten of which became hurricanes, and six of those ten reached category 3 strength or higher. Names like Harvey, Irma, and Maria are ones we won’t soon forget.

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The season got started early. Tropical Storm Arlene formed on April 20th in North Atlantic. It was the second earliest tropical cyclone to form in the Atlantic since the satellite era began (1966). Then came Tropical Storm Bret two months later. It was a weak storm just north of South America that only lasted about 24 hours. One day later, Tropical Storm Cindy formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It brought heavy rain to the central Gulf Coast, with nearly 19″ falling in Ocean Springs, MS. It was the first of what would end up being 6 named storms to strike the U.S. and its territories this season.

After a few quiet weeks, two more tropical storms formed in late July. Don was short-lived and brushed the Windward Islands. Tropical Storm Emily formed on the tail end of a cold front about 75 miles west of Tampa Bay. It made landfall on Anna Maria Island with 45 mph winds. In a typical season we see only one storm form before August 1st. With five already in the books, 2017 was off to hot start.

Below: Tropical Storm Emily makes landfall on July 31st.

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Thanks to weak vertical wind shear, weaker trade winds, more conducive wind patterns coming off of Africa, and a stronger west African monsoon it was always forecast to be an above average year in terms tropical activity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) original outlook for the 2017 season, issued in May, had a 45% chance of an above-normal season and a 35% chance for near-normal activity. When the updated outlook was released in early August, the chance of an above-normal season had increased to 60%. Weak La Niña conditions were expected to persist through the fall and there was very little, if any doubt, that the second half of the season was going to be extremely active.

The very same day the updated outlook was released, Hurricane Franklin formed in the Bay of Campeche. It was our first hurricane of the season and the first of ten straight hurricanes that ended up forming this season. Franklin was a minimal category 1 storm, but it still brought extremely heavy rainfall and a storm surge of 4-6 feet to eastern Mexico. It was just five days later when our second hurricane of the season, Gert, formed over the Gulf Stream about halfway between Bermuda and the United States. It ultimately didn’t have any direct impact on land, but both Franklin and Gert were precursors of what was to come.

Harvey: Harvey formed from a tropical wave just east of the Lesser Antilles on August 17th. After bringing wind and rain to the tiny islands it made its way into the Caribbean Sea. Upon encountering an area of strong wind shear, Harvey weakened dramatically and it seemed as if its days were numbered. However, after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula and emerging into the southwestern Gulf, rapid intensification began. It would strengthen from a tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane in less than 36 hours before making landfall near Rockport, TX with 130 mph winds. It was the first major hurricane of the season and first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since Wilma in 2005.

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After devastating southeast Texas, a complicated upper-level pattern led to a slow-moving heavy rainmaker for the rest of coastal Texas and Louisiana. The Houston area was hit particularly hard. As much 60″ inches of rain fell in spots over a 5 day period. This led to unimaginable flooding across large swaths of the city. It would lead to one of the largest rescue efforts in U.S. history. Harvey will be remembered as the wettest tropical cyclone of all time and one of the costliest hurricanes on record to ever strike the U.S..

Irma: Like Harvey, Irma formed from a tropical wave that rolled off the coast of Africa. It formed much further east though, near the Cabo Verde Islands. It became a tropical storm on August 30th and proceeded to make its way across the Atlantic over the next 11 days. It strengthened into a category 5 storm on September 5th and remained at that intensity for 3 consecutive days. During that stretch, Irma went directly over parts of the Leeward Islands, including Barbuba and St. Maarten. It was the strongest storm to ever impact this part of the Caribbean.

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In the coming days, Irma would inch closer to U.S., clipping tiny islands along the way. Tensions were high all across the southeastern U.S. as models worked out a solution for the storm’s eventual path. Irma ultimately held a more westerly track, taking it along the northern coast of Cuba before making a northward turn and heading up through the state of Florida. On September 10th, Irma made landfall as a category 4 storm in the Florida Keys, near Cudjoe Key, with 130 mph winds. A storm surge of over 10 feet was recorded in parts of the Keys. A second landfall then took place a few hours later on Marco Island as a category 3 storm with 115 mph winds.

For Tampa Bay, there was a high level of concern leading up to Irma. The area hadn’t been hit by a major hurricane since 1921 and is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge. The fear was that Irma would stay a little further west bringing the core of the strongest winds up the coastline while also presenting a higher storm surge threat. In the end, the storm held its northerly track after hitting Marco Island. This brought the most destructive winds (100+ mph) up through Hardee, Highlands, Desoto, and Polk county. Areas like Tampa and St. Petersburg still saw wind gusts to category 1 strength. Tampa Bay ended up with an offshore wind for most of the event, leading to a negative storm surge. This actually lowered water levels in coastal areas by several feet. Meanwhile, storm surge on the east coast of the state, as well up through the Carolinas, was much more significant due to an onshore wind. Irma was a massive storm, and tropical storm force winds made it as far north as Tennessee.

Below: Residents walk on the dry seabed of Tampa Bay along Bayshore Blvd

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Irma was the first storm in what would end up being the most active most September on record in many respects. The day before Irma made landfall in Florida, Hurricane Jose was at peak intensity – category 4 with 155 mph – as it brushed the Leeward Islands; the same area hit hard by Irma less than a week before.

Below: GOES-16 captures Hurricane Irma (left) and Hurricane Jose (right) over the Atlantic on Sep 7th – courtesy NOAA.

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Around the same time, Hurricane Katia formed and made landfall in eastern Mexico. At one point, Irma, Jose, and Katia were all at category 2 strength or higher. According to Dr. Klotzbach at Colorado State University, the last time we had three category 2+ storms at the same time in the Atlantic Basin was 1893. About a week later, Tropical Storm Lee formed near the coast of Africa. It was never destined to impact any land, but the tiny storm managed to linger in central Atlantic for two weeks, peaking as a category 3 hurricane. It was the 7th straight hurricane, and 4th major hurricane, to form in the Atlantic this season.

Maria: On September 17th, Tropical Storm Maria became a hurricane. It ended up being the 3rd major hurricane in a two week period to impact the Leeward Islands. Maria wasn’t done yet though. It headed straight for Puerto Rico, making landfall on the southeastern coast of the island on September 20th as a strong category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph.

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Maria was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since before the Great Depression. It decimated the infrastructure of the island to the point that it will likely take years for them to make a full recovery.

Below: Before and after satellite images of Puerto Rico – courtesy NOAA. You’ll notice the loss of power (top) and loss of vegetation (bottom).

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When October began, all eyes turned to the western Caribbean – a common formation area at that point in the season. Sure enough, Tropical Storm Nate formed in this area on October 5th and became a hurricane a day and a half later. It headed due north, where it first made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a category 1 hurricane, then again near Biloxi, MS. All things considered the outcome could have been a lot worse. Fortunately, this would be the last U.S. landfall of the season.

Not long after Nate, Hurricane Ophelia formed in the Central Atlantic. It was the 10th consecutive hurricane to form. It ultimately became a major hurricane – the farthest east on record. It lost tropical characteristics, but still brought hurricane-force winds to Ireland and the United Kingdom. Later in October, a weak Tropical Storm Philippe formed in the western Caribbean and moved northeast across Cuba and the Bahamas. Parts of South Florida did see heavy rain and a few tornadoes, but impacts were minimal. In early November, the last storm of the season, Tropical Storm Rina, formed in the central Atlantic. It lost tropical characteristics a few days later in the north Atlantic.

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Stats & Records

– 3rd consecutive year a storm formed in the Atlantic before June 1st

– Most named storms since 2012

– Most expensive U.S. hurricane season on record – $202.6 Billion

– Most consecutive hurricanes in a single season (10) – tied with 1878, 1886, 1893 according to Dr. Klotzbach (CSU)

– 5th most active season in terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) – behind 1893, 1926, 1933, and 2005.

– September: Highest ACE ever recorded in a single month

– Irma: Longest period of 185+ mph winds for a single storm (37 hours)

– Irma: 2nd strongest Atlantic hurricane on record based on wind speed (185 mph)

2017 Named Storms

Arlene          April 19-21         Max Winds: 50 mph

Bret             June 19-20         Max Winds: 45 mph

Cindy           June 20-23         Max Winds: 60 mph

Don              July 17-18          Max Winds: 50 mph

Emily         July 31 – Aug 1      Max Winds: 45 mph

Franklin          Aug 6-10          Max Winds: 85 mph

Gert             Aug 13-17           Max Winds: 105 mph

Harvey       Aug 17 – Sep 1     Max Winds: 130 mph

Irma          Aug 30 – Sep 12    Max Winds: 185 mph

Jose             Sep 5-22            Max Winds: 155 mph

Katia             Sep 5-9              Max Winds: 105 mph

Lee              Sep 15-30           Max Winds: 115 mph

Maria           Sep 16-30           Max Winds: 175 mph

Nate              Oct 4-9              Max Winds: 90 mph

Ophelia         Oct 9-15            Max Winds: 115 mph

Philippe        Oct 28-29           Max Winds: 60 mph

Rina               Nov 6-9             Max Winds: 60 mph

Blog produced by Meteorologist Tyler Eliasen & Meteorologist Lindsay Milbourne

 

 

 

 

30 Days Left In The Atlantic Hurricane Season

16 named storms, 10 hurricanes, 6 major hurricanes… It’s been a historic season in so many ways, and thankfully we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s a look at the storms we’ve seen through October.

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Just 30 days remain in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season and this is the time of year when activity starts to diminish rapidly. In fact, only 5% of named storms since 1950 have formed during the month of November. There are only 3 hurricane landfalls in the continental U.S. on record during the month of November. The most recent being Hurricane Kate (Cat. 2) that hit the Florida Panhandle on November 21, 1985.

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In November, tropical systems usually form either in the WSW Caribbean or in the western Atlantic northeast of Cuba. In these areas, water temperatures are still warm enough for storms to thrive and wind shear is low. Closer to the United States there is some level of protection thanks to 1) rapidly cooling Gulf of Mexico waters and 2) more wind shear being present over the Gulf due to frequent cold fronts dropping south. Most November storms end up being more of a problem for places like Cuba, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.

Graphic below courtesy Philip Klotzbach at Colorado State University.

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All is quiet across the Atlantic right now, lets hope it stays that way for the next few weeks.

Soon-To-Be Philippe Heading for Cuba And Bahamas This Weekend

Late Friday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center tagged Potential Tropical Cyclone 18 in the western Caribbean. Lacking a low-level center, it’s not yet qualified to be a tropical system, but it’s expected that this will become Tropical Storm Philippe later tonight or early Saturday. This system will accelerate to the northeast, moving quickly across Cuba on Saturday and the Bahamas on Sunday.

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The biggest impact from the quick-moving Philippe will heavy rainfall potential across Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida:

Cayman Islands, Cuba and Bahamas:  4-8″ with maximum totals of 10″

South Florida and the Florida Keys:  3-5″ with maximum totals of 8″

A cold front will sweep through these areas quickly Sunday into Monday, bringing cooler temperatures, clearing skies, and windy conditions.

 

93L Bears Watching, But Likely Just A Rain Maker For South Florida

Invest 93L continues to show no signs of further organization Thursday morning. It remains nothing more than a disorganized area of showers and storms with a weak circulation. The disturbance has struggled immensely with land interaction over the last couple of days and that will continue over the next 24 hours. It will however have a narrow window Friday & Saturday over the northwestern Caribbean when some weak development is possible. Beyond that time, upper-level winds associated with our next cold front will create a much less favorable environment for development. A tropical depression, or even weak Tropical Storm Philippe, nearing the Keys or South Florida on this weekend is not out of the question, but it’s just not a scenario that models have been favoring as of late.

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Regardless of development, this disturbance will be a big rain maker for parts of South Florida and the Keys. Widespread rainfall totals of 2-4″ are expected with isolated higher amounts possible. Amounts will taper off quickly further north in the state.

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Florida, along with the rest of the Southeast, will clear out quickly behind the front and unseasonably cool weather will set in for Halloween. Meanwhile, 93L will contribute to the development of an intense nor’easter-style storm that will bring very heavy rainfall, localized flooding, and whipping winds to parts of New England Sunday into Monday.

Below: GFS 24 hr rainfall totals valid at 8am Monday morning… Image courtesy tropicaltidbits.com

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Western Caribbean Disturbance Worth Watching

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season may not be over just yet. The last couple of days we’ve been watching an area of disturbed weather over the Western Caribbean and Central America. So far, land interaction has been the main limiting factor, but conditions should be a little more favorable over the next day or so as this disturbance (Invest 93L) moves slowly north into the Northwestern Caribbean.

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While this an area that is notorious for late-season hurricanes, model trends have not been particularly concerning as of late. As 93L moves into the southern Gulf over the weekend, it will be merging with the next cold coming across the Southeast and into Florida. This front will introduce stronger upper-level winds, likely preventing 93L from developing any further. Nonetheless, it bears watching. Regardless of development, heavy rains are headed for South Florida this weekend.

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Ophelia Soon To Be Our 10th Hurricane Of The Season

Tropical Storm Ophelia continues to get organized and will soon become our 10th hurricane of 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Sea-surface temperatures in this part of the Atlantic Ocean aren’t incredibly warm, but upper-level winds are favorable for slow intensification.

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Ophelia will head east-northeast over the next few days and eventually make more of a northward turn through the weekend. It is currently forecast to stay west of Portugal this weekend, before bringing gusty winds and rain to Ireland early next week.

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It has been a season for the record books so far. Through today, October 11th, we’ve had 15 named storms – 9 of which have been hurricanes, and 5 of those 9 became major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). On average through this date, we only have 9 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

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To add to that, the 9 hurricanes we’ve had this season have been consecutive – Franklin to Nate. The last time we had 9 or more back to back hurricanes was 1893!

This season has been remarkable in so many ways and there’s still another 50 days to go before it’s over. Let’s hope it stays quiet until then.

Hurricane Nate Strengthens; Races Towards The Central Gulf Coast

Nate became the 9th consecutive hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic season Friday night. According to Dr. Klotzbach of Colorado State University this is the most consecutive hurricanes in the Atlantic since 1893. Nate continues to intensify over the warm Gulf of Mexico with a defined central dense overcast. An eye may be forming Saturday morning. Upper level winds favor further intensification too, and Nate is now projected to make landfall in southern Mississippi late Saturday evening as a category 2 hurricane. As of 11 AM, max sustained winds are at 90 mph as Nate races north-northwest at 26 mph. The only saving grace for Nate is that there is not much time left before landfall for long-term further strengthening. Hurricane Hunters are out there non stop. Data shows the strongest winds are felt east of its center. Hurricane force winds only extend out 25 miles from the center. This spares New Orleans from the worst wind. Spin up tornadoes are likely through Sunday morning in the right northeast quadrant. Tropical storm conditions will reach the Tennessee Valley by Sunday night. Nate will become a depression by Monday and bring a stream of steady rain through the Northeast through early Tuesday.

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Nate will bring life threatening storm surge to the central Gulf coast. The greatest storm surge will be near landfall and to areas just east. This includes coastal Mississippi, Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle. Here is a breakdown of the significant storm surge threat as of the 11 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center:

Mouth of the Mississippi River to the Mississippi/Alabama border-7
to 11 feet
Mississippi/Alabama border to the Alabama/Florida border, including
Mobile Bay-6 to 9 feet
Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi River-4 to
6 feet
Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line-4 to 6
feet
Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass, Florida-2 to 4 feet
Indian Pass to Crystal River, Florida-1 to 3 feet

Gulfport and Biloxi are especially vulnerable to coastal flooding. A storm surge of 12-15 feet is possible here.These areas are no stranger to big coastal flooding events from hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005 and Camile in 1969.

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Nate will also bring freshwater flooding to the U.S. It is a fast mover, though. While southeast Louisiana will see 1-4″+, southern Alabama could pick up 6-10 inches of rain. The potential for heavy rain moves through the Tennessee Valley Sunday and the Northeast Monday. The graphic below is courtesy NOAA. It shows possible rainfall totals through Tuesday morning.

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Nate Strengthening; Central Gulf Coast Bracing For Direct Impact

Tropical Storm Nate has been back out over open water today and slowly getting better organized. At 8pm Friday, the storm was located about 90 miles NE of Cozumel and racing NNW at 22 mph. It will slide past the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and into the southern Gulf tonight.

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The storm still lacks an inner core, but there is still plenty of time for one to develop. If and when that happens, the environment is favorable for rapid intensification to occur – which the National Hurricane Center made note of in their afternoon discussion. As of now, the NHC is expecting Nate to become a hurricane before making landfall on the LA/MS coast late Saturday night.

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Nate will bring with it the full gamut of impacts that you would expect with a land-falling tropical system.

Heavy Rain:

Nate is a rather fast-moving system, so freshwater flooding is likely to be less of an issue than coastal flooding due to storm surge along the Gulf Coast. 3-6″ with isolated amounts of 10 inches is possible from the central Gulf Coast states into the eastern Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachians through this weekend. This may result in flash flooding in some areas.

Storm Surge:

Life-threatening storm surge flooding is likely along portions of
the northern Gulf Coast. The hardest hit areas will depend on the exact track of Nate as it comes ashore, but right now the highest storm surge numbers are projected to be in coastal Mississippi. Places like Gulfport and Biloxi are all too familiar with devastating storm surge thanks to benchmark storms like Katrina (2005) and Camille (1969). Current projections have 10-12’+ of storm surge in these areas. A storm surge of even 4-6′ may stretch as far east as Pensacola, FL.

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Tornado Threat:

Land-falling tropical systems are notorious for quick-moving, weak tornadoes and Nate will be no different. Tornadoes in tropical systems are most often found in the northeastern quadrant of the storm, so in the case of Nate, that puts areas from extreme SE Mississippi through the Florida Panhandle and much of south Alabama at highest risk.

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We’ll be monitoring the progress of Nate through the weekend, so be sure to check back here for updates.

Nate Headed North; Yucatan Peninsula Up Next; Central Gulf Coast This Weekend

As of 8pm Thursday, Tropical Storm Nate was located near the coast of Honduras. Sustained winds were at 40 mph. The system has been battling some wind shear today, as well as land interaction with Central America, but it will once again move into open water in the western Caribbean late tonight. Further organization is strengthening is likely over the next 24 hours.

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Heavy rains have fallen across parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. Flash flooding and mud slides remain a possibility in these areas over the next day or so.

Up next is the Yucatan Peninsula. Nate is forecast to be near hurricane intensity when it approaches the Yucatan late Friday, bringing direct
impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall. A tropical storm
warning and a hurricane watch are in effect for a portion of this
area.

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Over the last 24 hours models have come into much better agreement regarding Nate’s track into the U.S. this weekend. The 12Z Euro run today actually fell more into line with the GFS, which all along has indicated a weaker storm tracking further west into Louisiana. While there are still some questions in regard to intensity, the National Hurricane Center is still expecting Nate to become a hurricane in the Gulf before making landfall along the central Gulf coast late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. Those along the Louisiana coast, eastward into the Florida Panhandle, should monitor the progress of Nate closely as we head into the weekend.

Other than churned up seas along Florida’s west coast and breezy SSE winds, Nate will have no direct impacts across the Florida Peninsula. However, scattered showers and storms are in the forecast through the weekend.

Soon-To-Be Nate Headed For Gulf This Weekend

At 5pm Wednesday, Tropical Depression 16 was located just off the coast of Nicaragua in the western Caribbean and was moving NW at 7 mph. This system is expected to become Tropical Storm Nate within the next 24 hours.

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Through the end of the work week, Nate will head north, past the Yucatan Peninsula, and into the southern Gulf by early Saturday. Other than some land interaction with Central America, there isn’t a lot working against this system in the short-term. Water temperatures are in the mid 80s and upper-level winds are favorable for further strengthening over the next 2-3 days. Nate is currently forecast to become a hurricane by Saturday afternoon and move into the Panhandle on Sunday.

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There has been a pretty wide-spread between our two most reliable models, the GFS and Euro so far. The GFS currently favors a faster moving, weaker system, tracking further west into Louisiana. The Euro has been insisting on a stronger storm, tracking further east into the Florida Panhandle. The differences between the two are understandable, given the fact that this is still a fairly weak system. Over the next day or two, we can expect to see better agreement between the two as the storm develops further.

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A track further west would greatly reduce impacts in the Tampa bay area, while a track further east would bring storm surge, heavy rain and the possibility of tornadoes. Stay with us over the next few days as we fine tune the forecast over the next few days.