Thursday, September 20, 2007

[Jyo_hurricane] Florida Blob: September 20, Update A

If this system is going to get "interesting" it will most probably happen
later today or tomorrow. For now it is not yet a Tropical Depression and
is a weak system. The NHC will be sending in a plane later today to
investigate the system.

The center of circulation in the upper atmosphere has not moved much and
is still lurking (suspiciously of course - how else can you lurk? ;) )
just off the southwest Florida coast. However, the lower and mid-level
atmospheric circulations are better aligned and are mostly over the water
just off the west coast of Florida. The circulation is still quite large
at the lower levels (so not very organized) compared to the higher level.

The western edge of this system is close to interacting with the deep warm
waters of the Loop Current, which is the Gulf part of the Florida
Current-Gulf Stream system. As the westward (or southwestward) movement
continues, from an ocean point of view the conditions are "happy happy"
for storm development. In the atmosphere things are also looking good for
development - there is low wind shear. But the system is still quite
dispersed and hasn't fully got its act together.

You can see for yourself what the conditions are like over the surface of
the ocean off the west Florida coast because buoys out there are returning
data via satellite. Some of these buoys are part of the University of
South Florida's Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS).

1. Go to

2. On the map, click on #22 or #20 (buoys) and you'll see a table with
information on wind speed, pressure etc.

3. Scroll towards the bottom of the page

4. Click on the 'plots' tab under the 24 hour or 5 day meteorological data
and you can see how the pressure has been slowly dropping over the last
day or so.

These buoys form part of a larger effort to develop a Coastal Ocean
Observing System (COOS) for the US. Not all areas of the US coast have
such observations available in "real-time" and it takes time, money, and
trained folks to install and maintain something like this. A COOS includes
buoys, coastal stations, radars, moving observing platforms, satellite
data and models, all working towards providing more information about the
coastal oceans to address topics like storm surge and hurricane research
or harmful algal blooms (like Red Tide), or to assist in search and rescue
operations (for example - there are many other uses).

I'll send out another missive if things change today.
Have a lovely day :)
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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