Tropical Depression 9… and then….

At 5pm the National Hurricane center upgraded the potential Tropical Cyclone 9 to Tropical Depression 9 with a maximum sustained winds of 25kts with gusts to 35kt. Looking at the satellite imagery, it is nearly impossible to fine a closed center but the forecast data has been fairly consistent to increase TD/9 to a Tropical Storm then a Hurricane off the northern coast of Florida. 

Upper level shear will eventually turn tropical cyclone 9 away from the northern Florida coast then should take it out to sea into next week as a Hurricane.  

For now, the Florida, Georgia and South/North Carolina coasts should be have a significant impact from Tropical Cyclone 9. Don't expect significant storm surge as the motion should remain constant and Tropical Cyclone 9 won't be as strong or stall as Hurricane Dorian did. 

Data also suggests another developing tropical cyclone could impact the NE Caribbean in/about 7 days. Thereafter the Tropical cyclone could either turn northward toward as a Hurricane or continue W-WNW toward the Bahamas and maybe, just maybe the U.S. East Coast. Data is not consistent on the track but data has been showing the trend of a tropical cyclone in this region during Sep 20-22….. Stay tuned! 








The strongest Atlantic Hurricanes

Oops, our last post was not as accurate as it could/should have been. Here is an updated list that shows Hurricane Dorian now as the 9th strongest Atlantic Hurricane (based on minimum Barometric pressure).

Why use Barometric pressure? We have been flying into Hurricanes since the 1940's.  The term Hurricane Hunters began in 1946 and the Barometric pressure is measured in the central of the eye where the winds are calmest. Measuring wind speeds at the surface is a challenge at levels above 100mph as the instruments measuring the winds can be damaged. This is exactly what happened to Hurricane Camille when it made landfall as all the wind instruments were damaged/destroyed so the winds of 175mph are only estimates. 

Hurricane Wilma 2005 – Minimum central pressure 882mb.  Also holds the record for smallest diameter eye center at only 2nm wide. 

Hurricane Gilbert 2008 – Minimum central pressure 888mb. Noted for dropping 70mb in a 24hrs period. 

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane 1935 – Minimum central pressure 892mb

Hurricane Rita 2005 – Minimum central pressure 895mb

Hurricane Camile 1969 – Minimum central pressure 900mb

Hurricane Mitch 1998 – Minimum central pressure 905mb

Hurricane Dean 2007 – Minimum Central pressure 905mb 

Hurricane Maria 2017 – Minimum Central pressure 908mb

Hurricane Dorian 2019 – minimum Central pressure 910mb

Hurricane Allen 1980 – Minimum central pressure 911mb

Hurricane Michael 2018 – Minimum central pressure 919mb

Other notable Hurricanes but not as strong as Dorian…

Hurricane Katrina 2005 – Minimum central pressure 920mb

Hurricane Andrew 1992 – minimum central pressure 922mb

And we have a developing tropical depression/storm in the Gulf of Mexico and two other tropical disturbances across the Atlantic Basin with a new/strong tropical wave expected to move off the coast of Africa later in the week. 

Looks like September is trying to make up for a relatively quiet June to mid August. 









Hurricane Dorian stronger than Hurricane Andrew, number 8 all time

At 2pm (1800UTC) on Sep 01 Hurricane Dorian attained a barometric pressure of 911mb. This makes Hurricane Dorian the 7th strongest Hurricane (based on surface pressure) in the history of recording Hurricane data. 

Hurricane WILMA (2005) reached the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in an Atlantic Basin hurricane: 882 millibars. Her 185 MPH sustained winds 

Hurricane GILBERT(1988)  reached an air pressure low of 888 millibars.

In 1935, scientists recorded a low-pressure reading of 892 millibars in the LABOR DAY Hurricane.

Hurricane ALLEN  (1980) clobbered Texas after plummeting to 899 millibars.

Hurricane RITA(2005), which inflicted major damage in Texas, sank to 895 millibars at its lowest point.

Hurricane KATRINA(2005) wreaked havoc on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast having reached a barometric low-pressure reading of 902 millibars. When KATRINA made her second landfall, she still registered as low as 920 millibars.

Hurricane CAMILLE(1969) also reached a low of 900 millibars.

*Hurricane DORIAN(2019) Reached a low a 911mb just prior to moving over the Abaco Islands, Bahamas. 

Hurricane ANDREW(1992)  decimated Florida, making landfall as a Category 5 storm. The lowest pressure reading of the monster storm fell to 922 millibars.

*Currently underway, pressure was the latest strength as provided by the National Hurricane Center. 

At this time, Hurricane Dorian is stronger than Hurricane Andrew, and slightly weaker than Hurricane Camille. With some interaction with the northern Bahamas islands and the shallowness of the water, Dorian may have reached its peak (for the day), but will remain at least Category 4 Hurricane over the next 24-36hrs. 

The track of Dorian will impact the southern half of the US East Coast. Weakening will occur, but could still have Hurricane conditions while still south of Cape Hatteras. The question will be how close. 

We are also watching a new area of disturbed weather that has moved off the coast of Africa. The chances this area becomes at least a tropical depression are likely over the next 48-72hrs. 

For the latest or Hurricane Dorian and how it will affect you/your vessel and/or the developing tropical depression over the eastern Atlantic contact Ocean Marine Nav Inc at ocmarnav@aol.com or 1-866-505-6664.

Bob/OMNI

Climatology versus Forecast models


A lot has been said over the last few years about Global warming and that is an entirely different discussion. I want to address the difference between Climatology and real world forecasts (forecast models).

First off all we need to recognize the difference between Climatology and weather forecasting and the difference is pretty basic. Weather and weather forecasting happen today, tomorrow and onward. Climatology is all the weather that happened yesterday. So todays weather will be Climatology tomorrow. 

Climatology is data, the highs, the lows, how much rain fell, all weather parameters, all the weather that has happened. It would be nice to have hard weather data from a million years ago, but we don’t. We can go back and take slices of earth/rock/Ice even trees and see what has happened in the past, but when we try to figure our what the temperature was, or was it a sunny day, we can go back over 200 years in some areas to find specific data. 

The following paragraph comes from the NOAA web site;The early American colonial years are peppered with events and stories referencing weather observations. The first systematic weather observations in North America were made in 1644 in Wilmington, Delaware, by Reverend John Campanius Holms. Observations of storm movement and weather patterns were first noticed by Benjamin Franklin when he documented the movement of a hurricane from Philadelphia to Boston in 1743. During the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson noted that the high temperature for Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, was 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Presidents such as George Washington and Jefferson were some of the first weather observers in the county. And, during their trip to explore the western U.S. in 1804-1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition made regular weather observations. 

So, at best, it appears actual recording of data goes back over 250 years and that is for only a few locations. From the data we have we can calculate daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal even yearly averages based on the actual data.

Climatology is a good resource if you are planning to visit a destination say next year and you want to find the warmest, driest, or hottest month, or maybe the most snow fall. The data gives you what the weather should normally be for that time of the year. 

Climatology is also available for weather over the worlds oceans, based on years and years of observations from ships at sea. Observations have been found from as late as the 18th century and that data has grown and grown over the years with the vast numbers of ships traveling from point A to B. There are are thousands of ships on the water at any give time, recording regular observations of wind direction, sea heights, water temperature on a regular basis all around the world. 

It is from all these observations climatology of the words oceans can be made. Climatological Atlas’ have been made that shows what is considered the average wind direction, speed, sea height, swell, tropical cyclone formation area, visibility, even ocean currents and more. They are known as Pilot charts. Using a Pilot chart you can see what is considered the normal conditions on a voyage from SE Florida to Puerto Rico and what would be the expected wind direction/speed and how strong the average ocean current is. 


Weather forecast models take the current observations from around the world and use complex mathematical calculations to predict where parcels are air will be in the future. From that, data is generated that gives forecasted temperatures, precipitation, wind, etc… 

The history of weather forecast models goes back to the 1920’s but it wasn’t until the 1950’s when forecast modeling started to gain traction as a viable way to forecast weather for the next days or two with the development of computer technology. By using computers and eventually super computers the observations that were taken from the land, sea and air, could be entered into the complex calculations that would, eventually, generate output. The output would result in a forecast of the different levels of the atmosphere. A forecast of conditions of upper level conditions including temperature and humidity help put out a surface forecast. A forecast of major weather system like High, Lows, cold fronts.  It is this output that a Meteorologist looks at and uses to predict the weather for a given area for the day, next day and onward. 

One of the first computer generated models used in the United States was the LFM  model (Limited Fine Mesh) in 1971. This model was used, exclusively until 1986 when it was discontinued with the development of the NGM (Nested Grid Model). Both these models would produce output over the next 48hrs of generation, twice a day, at 0000UTC and 1200UTC. 

These models were considered cutting edge for their day and I remember using both models while in college.At times there were notable differences in output between the two models. This became a big challenge trying to make the most basic forecast. Trying to forecast if severe thunderstorms or Tornados would develop on this day, at this time would be a challenge. 

 Predicting a developing Noreaster was met with its own challenges, as these storms are difficult to predict to begin with but add in the additional complexities of rain mixing with and/or changing to snow (or remaining all snow) increased the chances kids looking for a snow day would be disappointed. 

Since then there have been plenty of improvements in short term and long term model data that include the NAM (North American Model,  GFS (Global Forecast System), ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts)and many others. 

Forecast modeling is not the same as climatology. Even though climatology can give you what the weather is supposed to be at any given time, forecast model data and how it is interpreted is what tells you whether or not you have a weather window to sail this weekend or not or which route to take across the Atlantic Ocean for the Med Sea. 

The data you are looking at, whether it is from a weather app or a website, that data/output you are viewing is made entirely from a computer. No human interaction. Relying soley on this data on a regular basis can come back to bite you especially if you are trying to thread the needle and beat an approaching cold front, or worse yet, a tropical cyclone.  It is not uncommon (especially over the last few years) to see notable changes in forecast output in short term and long term data.

As a whole, forecast models do a good job at predicting all parameters of weather like wind direction/speed, precipitation/temperatures, sea heights and more in the short term, less than 5 days and in some other areas, you can go a week or more (like the tropics) and get a reliable forecast over a 7-14 days period. 

During the early days of forecast model output,  models predicted conditions every 12hrs for a 48hr period. Once a day (after the 1200UTC data run)  a 5 day forecast/outlook chart was generated by NOAA for the continental/US, North Pacific and North Atlantic. Today some forecast models predict conditions every hour of the day for the first 5 days, then 3-6hrs intervals out 10-15days. To this day even with the advances in super computer technology, forecasting the location/intensify of high pressure/low pressure areas and weather fronts. beyond 5-7 days can still be very challenging. Changes in the larger weather systems can make huge differences in local conditions from the expectation of a clear day to a day full of clouds/rain or a windy day versus a light wind day.  

Forecast model data should be always looked at as a guide. Too many people, (including Meteorologists) base a forecast strictly on what the data output shows. The main model data updates twice a day at 0000UTC and 1200UTC but now there are intermediate model updates in between the main model runs.  This means there are updates every 6hrs, but the intermediate updates do not include data from weather balloons as they are still launched at 0000UTC and 1200UTC daily (currently 8am and 8pm eastern daylight time) .

Forecast model prediction also includes the tropical areas with numerous forecast models that predict the location, intensity, tracks, over the next 5 days and more.  Advances in model technology has helped improve the short term forecasting of Tropical Storm and Hurricane prediction. However, even with the advances in the forecast models relying on a forecast track beyond 5 days can still result in 250nm+ track errors. Model data is also just starting to get a handle on forecast intensity. Over the last several years there have been a few Hurricanes that were forecasted to slowly intensify, but ultimately, rapidly organized become a major Hurricane in less than 24hrs, day sooner than the model data was showing.

Keep in mind that the more time before your planned trip (60 days and more) the more likely you would be looking at climatological data. Considering there are still notable errors in model output still occurring 7-10days+, depending on the location or the voyage/route you are planning, you would be better off flipping a coin. 

There will always be errors in forecast modeling. No forecast model is 100% accurate and no Meteorologist makes an accurate forecast 100% of the time. Future advances in super computer technology and forecast model output will lead to to better forecasting in the short time and even the long term…. It is just a matter of time. 









Hurricane Season may get interesting


If you read our earlier blog where it was determine that the EL Nino that has been in a steady and strengthening phase has stopped and changed direction. This means the Kryptonite that affects how many tropical storms/Hurricanes form across the Atlantic Basin is no longer there. We may enter a period where the remainder of the coming season (through the end of November) very well could indicate the second (and normally more active) half could bring near to slightly above normal tropical activity for the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico  

NOAA is now calling for 10-17 named storms (with sustained winds of at least 35kts and higher). From then 10-17 names storms,  6-9 would be expected to reach Hurricane strength (sustained winds at least 65kt)  and of those, 2-4 are expected to become Major Hurricanes (Category 3 and higher). For comparison, during a normal season there are 12named storms of which 6 become Hurricane and three end up becoming Major Hurricanes. 

So far during the 2019 Hurricane Season we have had sub-tropical storm Andrea (never officially reaches tropical status) and Tropical Storm Barry.  

Keep in mind even though the forecast of 10-17names storms is an increase during a normal year, there is NO WAY to predict where these storms will form. It is very possible that many could form over the open waters and never affect any land area. Considering we are about a month of the peak of the Hurricane Season, with a second peak in early to mid October, the chances of at least one affecting land/populated areas is pretty good. 

For the latest on the tropics and what the longer term data/trends are showing or if you have a coming voyage/weather need where the topics are a concern, please give us a call at 1-866-505-OMNI(6664) or email Ocmarnav@aol.com








El Nino 2019…. What El Nino

The latest data from the Climate Prediction Center indicates the EL Nino that was building during the later part of the winter and the spring, has for the most part, stopped building, stabilized and fallen from last months values.  In other words, the above normal values we have had in the previous months have reversed with values near/at normal levels. 

What does this mean for the remainder of the Hurricane Season? Well, as we are nearing the seasonal peak of the season (the peak occurs during the second week of September), we should see more favorable conditions returning to the Atlantic Ocean basin over the next few weeks, which should result in the development of tropical storms/Hurricanes as we should be see. So the relative quiet we have enjoyed so far should be replaced with more active storms, maybe more than once active storm at a time. 

Should the El Nino remain weak, this should also affect the upcoming 2019 winter season. This may result more snow storms for the eastern/US. Granted, the eastern/US has had its share of winter storms the last few years. What could be different this year from previous years, is that the more coastal/sections and more southern regions that have enjoyed relatively mild and less than average snowfalls could see an increase in coastal storms, cold air and snow fall amounts.  It may be a good year to stock up on salt/sand and get an extra shovel or two. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A first look at the 2019 Hurricane Season

Even though it’s April, there are some early updates on what the coming Atlantic Hurricane season has in store. In 2018 there were 15 named storms,  of which 8 became Hurricanes with two of them reaching Major strength.  In a normal season we would expect 12 named storms with 6 Hurricanes and 3 reaching Major strength.  There is no correlation as to how many names storms develop and how many will make landfall.

Colorado State University is one of the leading experts when it comes to predicting how many storms to expect in a given year this year they (along with other experts) have evaluated data from around the world and this year it appears an El Nino will once again be making news and affecting the Hurricane season.

As of this spring there is evidence of a weak El Nino in place that should slowly gain strength through the summer and even through the fall. This is important as a stronger El Nino tends to produce more wind shear across the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic. Increasing upper level shear is bad news to a developing tropical storm/Hurricane as thunderstorm activity never has a chance to build and without the development of strong thunderstorm activity a tropical storm/Hurricane will have a harder time organizing and ultimately gaining strength. As a result, seasons where there is an active El Nino, those seasons tend to have lower seasonal named storm totals.

As of now, the early feeling by the experts is that 13 named storms will form with 5 reaching Hurricane Strength and two Hurricanes reaching Major status. These numbers will be updated later in the year and if there is evidence of a strengthening El Nino, we may see the lower totals. 

It is important to note that during El Nino years, we tend to see an increase in tropical storms/Hurricane activity across the eastern Pacific. Hurricane season across the eastern Pacific begins on May 15. In past years during El Nino years, Major Hurricanes have impacted the entire Mexican coast including around Cabo San Lucas, so even if the Atlantic ends of being a below average season, the eastern Pacific could make up for it and movement between the USWC and Panama Canal could be challenging.

If you are planning to travel between the Panama Canal and the USWC, be sure to contact Ocean Marine Nav to set up service 

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Finally, some good news about the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has been able to hook up a pipe to suck up some of the oil that has been spilling out for the last month or so. This oil should be heading up to waiting tankes. Hopefully this will be beginning to the end to one of the most devastating Oil Spills in our nations history. It already has the change to be the worlds biggest. Hopefully this development will prevent that from happening.

Unfortunately, all the news may not be good. According to NOAA forecast models, it appears the models believe oil from the spill has starting to get picked up by the Loop current in the northern Gulf of Mexico. If this is true, then it could be only a matter of time before the oil starts to move south along the Florida Coast and maybe into the Gulf Stream and north along the coast of Florida. This would only add to the disaster.

Keep in mind that ANY vessel that is moving to/from the Gulf of Mexico and now the east coast of Florida needs to monitor this pattern closely. Getting the heavy crude caught up in your engine while cruising the Florida Keys will cause plenty of problems you as well as cost plenty of $$$ to have it fixed.

Let’s just hope the news from earlier today is a step in the right direction

2010 Hurricane Season

I know, I know. There’s over 2 feet of snow across the Mid Atlantic region after back to back blizzards and there is talk about the upcoming Hurricane Season already. Well, this is the time of the year when those behind long range Hurricane model prediction put out their initial estimate for the coming season. So far, it looks like this coming year will be a slightly above average season with 15 total Tropical Storms/Hurricanes. The current El Nino pattern should begin to weaken or be in a weakening phase as we move into spring and this may allow for the seasonal total to improve from last years below normal values.

There is also anticipate of a cooler/wetter summer across the SE/US and parts of the Mid Atlantic region, suggesting the storm track pattern may stay a bit more south this year. If this is the case, there may be a trend for tropical cyclone activity to turn away from the coast. The prediction of 15 named storms gives us no idea as to where these expected tropical systems will develop, track to or when to expect them. At this point, there is no way to know where the storms of these systems will develop even if thre of them are expected to become Major Hurricanes. It is possible one, two or all three will remain well offshore and impact only shipping. It is also possible that all three make landfall. I guess we’ll find out.

There will be updates to this prediction late this spring/summer. Considering how well the prediction for the winter across the eastern/U.S. was this year. One has to wonder if the long range correct forecast streak will continue. Bob/OMNI