Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tropical Storm Chris and Gulf of Mexico Blobette: June 21, Update A

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday. I was traveling back to Florida from California and didn’t think anyone wanted to read the twaddle I’d probably write when I got home at 3am. Apparently things go a bit wonky when I try and sneak away. I still can’t believe they think Chris is a Tropical Storm! You know all that glitters is not gold (first known use circa 12th century, first known use pertaining to Tropical Storms circa June 21, 2012). A phrase that applies more commonly to pyrite which is appropriately known as <ahem> fool’s gold, and now methinks it could be applied to a fool’s hurricane (you heard it here first! ;-) ). But before I get into my ‘rant-o-the-day’…

Tropical Storm Chris
He is currently at 42.4N, 42.9W, moving NNE at 14mph. His central pressure is estimated to be 990mb, with estimated maximum sustained winds of 70mph (TS range: 39-73mph), which supposedly makes him almost a hurricane. Water temperatures are even cooler and are now around 19 - 20 deg C (66 – 68 deg F). There is some circulation (vorticity) in the very very lowest level of the troposphere. There is also some vorticity higher up, but it is all connected to that extratropical low pressure area. There are NO (that’s a big ZERO) thunderstorms in this system, with very little rain. Don’t you find that remarkable for something that’s almost as strong as a hurricane? (shhh… don’t tell anyone, but that’s because it is not tropical… shhh).

<start rant-o-the-day>
Earlier today they had upgraded him to a Hurricane… oooh, aaah, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. Huh. I think not. He hardly had any convection to speak of. Next thing you know, there’ll be hurricanes developing in the Great Lakes! Wouldn’t that be funny?

So… All that glitters is not gold or Fool’s Hurricane:
Here is a visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Chris as he looks now:

You can see the spiral bands (clouds only, not much rain) and what looks like it could be an eye. For comparison, I’ve also attached a satellite image of the “Hurroncane” (courtesy of NOAA) that developed in 1996 over… <drumroll please>… Lake Huron!

Many thanks to my second Cool Chris Contributor of the series, Chris M., for sending me info on the Hurroncane! From these images, they both look like tropical storms, don’t they? The Hurroncane even had a low pressure of 993mb, tropical storm force winds, and enough rain to cause some flooding. Everything about this Hurroncane and its development (other than the location) was similar to today’s ‘Tropical Storm Chris’ and yet <gasp> it wasn’t a named hurricane! Why? Because it wasn’t a hurricane (from the NHC page today: “Tropical Cyclone: A warm-core non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.”).These storms didn’t originate over tropical or subtropical waters. The convection in both these storms is very shallow... even the NHC acknowledge that Chris is shallow (no point hiding it Chris, I know it’s all about the looks, hair, make-up, clothes and accessories dahling ;-)). If you want the gory details on the Hurroncane, they are at the bottom of this page:

‘Tis too late now to change this, but this storm shouldn’t be named and it shouldn’t be in the archives! What an imposter! <end rant-o-the-day>

That’s all on T.S. Chris for now (oh, other than a quick clarification to my last update: strictly speaking, the Tropics are between 23.5 N and 23.5 S, and the subtropics are between 30N and 30S. J I’ll get into that some other time. However I may (may) complain less about Tropical Storms that develop between 30 N and 30 S).

Gulf of Mexico Blobette
Hmm… at the moment it is a little tricky to figure out whether this will develop into a Tropical Storm or just remain in a blobette as it moves northwardish across the Gulf over the next few days. (If you are just joining me, Blobettes are a mass of clouds and thunderstorms that may develop into something with a name. Usually a she-name. Blobs are the same but develop into he-name storms. Usually.)

The NHC have given this a 70% chance of developing into a named tropical storm over the next 48 hours. This is a very possible scenario. There is a little bit of circulation in the lower half of the troposphere. Nothing that looks like a tropical system yet, just an area of low pressure, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it develop further. It is producing a lot of rain because the water temperature is 27-28 deg C, with water warmer than 26.5 deg C in the upper 100m. I will have a proper look tomorrow, but I can tell you now that the computer models are all over the place – some have it developing, others not. Some have it going into Texas, others into Louisiana, and yet others into Florida. We all agree that the next name would be Debby. J

That’s it for now. More tomorrow! Let me know if you have any questions. If ‘42’ doesn’t work, ’ll make up something as an answer for ya. ;-)

Tally ho!

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DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

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