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.

 

Tropical Depression 16 Forms-To Become Nate; Headed For the Gulf This Weekend

Tropical Depression 16 forms in the southwest Caribbean at 11 AM Wednesday and an upgrade to Tropical Storm Nate is likely. Hurricane Reconnaissance Aircraft are en route to investigate the new tropical cyclone midday Wednesday. The data from the afternoon mission will be ingested into Wednesday evening computer models. This data is much needed, as Nate will threaten the northern Gulf coast, including Florida, as a strengthening storm. A hurricane is on table at this point.  As we’ve seen multiple times this season, systems are prone to strengthen rapidly this year. Water temperatures in the future path of Nate are in the low to mid 80s. Wind shear remains favorable for steady intensification in the Caribbean. By the time future Nate enters the Gulf late Friday/early Saturday, hostile upper level winds maybe much lower too. Interest along the northern Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida need to pay close attention to the forecast, as a Gulf landfall appears likely. It is too early to talk specifics, but heavy rain, strong winds, spin up tornadoes, and storm surge are all expected. Even if Nate makes landfall west of Tampa Bay, the flood prone area is on the messy east side of future Nate. A southwest wind would induce coastal flooding/storms surge, as was the case with Hermine in 2016.

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There is quite a spread in Wednesday morning computer models. This is very common, with a weak, newly formed tropical depression. The time frame for greatest Gulf coast impacts will be Saturday and especially Sunday. Coastal Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida are all on the table for a possible landfall. Intensity is still in question too. The GFS is further west than the ECMWF. The GFS hints at Louisiana while the Euro eyes the Florida Panhandle. Stay tuned and informed.

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Watching Invest 90L in the Caribbean; Headed for the Gulf by Saturday

While there are no named storms Tuesday, it looks increasing likely that Tropical Storm Nate will form in the Caribbean over the next few days. A broad area of low pressure, now pinned Invest 90L forms in the southwest Caribbean. Wind shear is incredibly high in the Gulf and portions of the western Caribbean. It is much lower in the southwest Caribbean near Invest 90L. This favors gradual organization. Invest 90L will lift northward through the end of the work week. While upper level winds will be elevated during this time, water temperatures are plenty warm for tropical cyclone development. Invest 90L heads for the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday morning. It is too early to say where future Nate will head, but interest in the northern Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida need to stay informed.

Also of note is tropical wave near Cuba and southeast Florida. High westerly shear keeps the slug of moisture disorganized as it moves westward. It has a low chance of become a tropical depression/named storm over the next 5 days. Regardless of tropical development, wind gusts could approach weak tropical storm force in south Florida through Thursday. Heavy rain is also likely through late work week.

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As high pressure slips east in the Atlantic, future Nate lifts northward in the Gulf of Mexico and threatens the northern Gulf states Sunday and Monday. The European model has trended a little stronger over the past 24 hours. As of Tuesday afternoon, it suggest a hurricane moves into the Florida panhandle Sunday night. The GFS isn’t as strong as the EURO. It’s also further west with a coastal Louisiana track. Intensity and track will likely change in the coming days. There is no center or circulation for models to initialize on just yet. One thing for sure is we’ve seen how named storms can strength rapidly this season, if the upper level winds are favorable.

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This is why October is a vulnerable month for Florida and Southeast U.S.. Water temperatures are still in the low to mid 80s, which is plenty warm for storms to strengthen. Much of these waters have been untouched by named storms this season.

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The RPM model/Futurecast shows the tropical wave near Florida moves in the Gulf Thursday and Friday. As it does so, it yanks tropical moisture over south Florida.

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Watching the Caribbean Later This Week

After a hyperactive September, our focus shifts to the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean, and extreme Western Atlantic in October. While 17% of named storms form during the second to last month of the Atlantic season, systems that form in this region often drift towards Florida and portions of the Southeast U.S..

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For more than a week, models have hinted that pressure may lower in the Western Caribbean in early October. On Monday, an upper level low stirs up convection near the Yucatan. A surface low may attempt to form in this region later this work week.. For now, those odds are low over the 5 days. This future area of disturbed weather could move into the southern Gulf of Mexico by Friday or Saturday.

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As is always the case with a developing tropical cyclone, computer model are all over the place. The European model hints that Tropical Storm Nate may approach the west coast of Florida Sunday or Monday. Wind shear may be high enough to keep anything that forms weak. Interest in Florida and the northern Gulf coast should continue to check back in.

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Meanwhile, the latest GFS backs off on any tropical depression/tropical storm development. It’s watch and wait situation in the days ahead.

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Florida Low Unlikely to Develop; Wet Weekend For Florida

A weak area of low pressure we’ve been watching for a few days, Invest 99L, is increasingly unlikely to gain any tropical characteristics over Florida. In combination with a cold front and nearby upper low, the area of low pressure enhances showers and storms this weekend in north central and central Florida. As high pressure builds in over the Northeast U.S., the pressure gradient will tighten. Gusty winds are likely Sunday through mid work week, especially on the east coast of Florida. These strong onshore winds will also bring some minor coastal flooding around high tide to the coastal northeast Florida.

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Upper level winds increase across north and central Florida in the wake of a frontal boundary. At the same time, an upper level low in the eastern Gulf enhances wind shear near Invest 99L too . These winds aloft are unfavorable for tropical depression development. Invest 99L merges with a cold front late Saturday and Sunday.

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Tropical characteristics or not, the disturbance is a big rainmaker for some. The heaviest will fall across northeast Florida near the coast from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach. The European model estimates 3-4″+ for Jacksonville and Daytona Beach through midday Monday. It will be an unsettled weekend in central Florida too with periods of rain/storms.

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Elsewhere, Lee is no longer tropical in the north Atlantic. Maria transitions to an extratropical system and will become a remnant low by Saturday evening. It races northeast toward the United Kingdom early this work week. Wind shear will keep a tropical wave near the northeast Caribbean from developing. Heavy rain is still likely the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through Sunday. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through late Sunday. Sadly, these areas are recovering from Irma and Maria.

All eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean in early and mid October. Long-range models hint that pressure will be lowering late next week. It’s too early to pin point exactly where.

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Weak Low Moving Near Florida This Weekend; Tropical Development Possible

As we get set to close out the work week, we’re watching an area of disturbed weather central Cuba. The National Hurricane Center is currently giving this a 50% chance of development over the next few days as it moves northward and eventually up the east coast of Florida.

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A weak area of low pressure is likely to form through the day on Friday as this disturbance moves over the Florida Straits. Any time you have an area of low pressure in a favorable environment over very warm water, it has to be watched closely. That being said, even if we do see something develop, it would likely be weak with minimal impacts. The one thing we can count on though is increased rain chances across most of the state through the weekend and into early next week. Rain totals will be on the order of 1-3″ across a lot of Central and South Florida, with isolated higher amounts possible especially in South Florida.

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We’re getting into the time of year when ‘homegrown’ activity in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean become more prevalent. Fitting into that mold, many models as of late have hinted at lowering pressure across the western Caribbean late next week. It’s something you’ll hear us talk more about as we get closer to that time frame, but for now it is just reminder that hurricane season is not over and we need to stay prepared. Hopefully we’ll get through the next few weeks unscathed and we’ll be home free, as things quiet down greatly in November.

Maria Ready To Race Out To Sea; Looking Ahead To October

Overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday, Maria brought tropical storm conditions to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The storm stayed about 150 miles offshore as it passed by, but large swells created dangerous rip currents and a storm surge of 2-4′, which in some cases resulted in minor coastal flooding.

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Maria is a category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph as of 11am Wednesday. Thanks to a trough digging into the northeast, Maria will take a sharp right hand turn over the next 24 hours and begin moving rapidly to the east-northeast, out to sea. Subsequently, conditions along the east coast will slowly be improving.

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With Maria on its way out and Hurricane Lee bothering nobody but the fish in the open Atlantic, we finally have somewhat of a quiet period. That being said, it is still hurricane season and we’ll still be watching the tropics closely over the next month or so. Storms can and do often form during the month of October, before we see a sharp decline in activity in November. Unlike August and September, when we watch for tropical waves rolling off Africa, the month of October often favors more “homegrown” activity in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. There have already been some hints in our long-range modeling of lowering pressure in the western Caribbean over the next couple of weeks. For now though, we enjoy the relative lull in activity and hope it stays with us the rest of the season.

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It has been an incredibly active season thus far with 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes – already nearing or reaching the numbers put forth in many seasonal outlooks, with still two months left in the official hurricane season.

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Hurricane Maria Generates Swells Along East Coast; Tropical Storm Conditions in the Outer Banks Early Wednesday

Hurricane Maria hangs on Monday evening. The once major hurricane loses its symmetry and deep convection near its core. Maria combats stronger upper levels winds and taps into some cooler waters from upwelling from Jose. As of 5 PM it is a category 1 hurricane with 80 mph. It moves north at 7 mph. At this pace Maria will make its closest pass to the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a strong tropical storm early Wednesday. A strong upper level trough while guide Maria out to sea late in the work week. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for North of Duck to the North Carolina/Virginia border and North of Surf City to south of Cape Lookout. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Cape Lookout to Duck North Carolina. A mandatory evacuation was ordered from Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island Monday afternoon.

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Here is the 5 PM advisory. Notice the sharp northeast track after Wednesday. Maria will accelerate out to sea and lose tropical characteristics by Saturday.

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While the center of Maria will pass well east of North Carolina, the tropical storm force wind field is quite large. Tropical storm force winds extend out 200 miles from its center. Sustained winds will approach low-end tropical storm force in the Outer Banks late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Below is the GFS wind speed forecast for early Wednesday morning. Higher gusts are likely. Outer bands will bring 1-2 inches of rain to the region, but this won’t be a big rainmaker.

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Wave heights continue to build as Maria lifts northward in the western Atlantic. Dangerous swells reach the Mid Atlantic and even the Northeast Monday evening. Rough surf will continue through at least mid-week. This enhances the risk for rip currents and beach erosion. A 2-4 foot storm surge is possible from Cape Lookout to Duck North Carolina, including the sound side of the Outer Banks. Coastal flooding is possible starting Tuesday.

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Elsewhere tiny hurricane Lee churns across the north central Atlantic. It weakens some at 5 PM. It is no threat to any land and will stay over the open Atlantic.

As October approaches, all eyes are on the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Long range models hint that pressure may lower in the western Caribbean during the first week of October. This is in line with climatology this time of year. Water temperatures are in the mid 80s. Our focus shifts to this region and away from the Main Development Region in the central Atlantic in the coming weeks.

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