Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo: October 15, Update A

No time for a cup of tea and a nice chat when one has a few words to say. Starting with... would you like to see a Hurricane that is intensifying from a cat 3 to a cat 4 storm? Here's one:
See how that eye became clearer? Oh and how about that increase in convective activity(more reds and grays)? Nope? Ok, how about that beautiful outflow pattern one sees with major hurricanes? Still nada? Hmm. How odd, I don't see any of those things either. I would normally rant a bit here, but too much to cover, so I'll just say I can't believe the NHC thought this storm went from 125mph winds (cat 3) to 130mph winds (cat 4)! This barely had a murky eye! They have been a bit off on the intensity of this storm all along, but this really took the biscuit!

Gonzalo is currently at 25N, 68.7W, heading N at 9mph. He slowed down as expected and I do agree with the NHC in their track forecast for the next couple of days:

Bermuda is going to get some dark and stormy weather alright, alas. He is heading north but is due to be swept to the NNE and then northeast by a front (the same one that caused some topsy turvey weather in the US a few days ago). You can see Gonzalo relative to the front in this IR satellite image of the Atlantic:

If you squint (or have a few drinkies), the front looks like a cricket bat about to hit the ball (storm).

His winds are now 125mph, central pressure of 953mb, which makes him a strong cat 3 storm (cat 3 range: 111-130mph). Finally, I think the NHC updates are coming more into alignment with what he actually is. They did (obviously) back down from yesterday's forecast which called for 140mph winds today! The forecast says he will remain as a cat 3 for a few days and then decrease in intensity.

I think that he now looks like a proper cat 3 storm for the first time in his little history:
There is a strong, clear eye, and the convection is also stronger (more red with a hint of grey), although not really strong enough to be a cat 4! He also doesn't quite have the classic outflow, but we do see a fairly good and clear vorticity signal in the upper troposphere at last:

The reason why I think he has intensified (from what was obviously not a cat 3 to a cat 3) is that the wind shear has decreased, and looks like it will continue to decrease, and he is going over a patch of very toasty sea surface temperatures (29-31 deg C). He should start moving away from such very warm temperatures tomorrow, but the water will still be warm enough to sustain him. The upper 50-75m of the water column are currently warmer than 26 deg C, but by the time he reaches 30N (still south of Bermuda) that should be limited to the upper 25-50m and we should start to see some weakening (still a storm though).

In short... I hope you are ready Bermuda. Even if he does decrease in intensity, I know it is really tough having a second hit in a week! I'll be watching tomorrow and may tweet updates.

Good luck and stay safe!

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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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