Three live storms, one of which is no threat to anybody (Victor), the other two shouldn’t be a problem if they behave as forecast but worth watching. In the Atlantic, Sam has started its turn to the north and should pass over 200 miles east of Bermuda. If that materializes, then impacts should be limited to waves, but a tropical storm watch is in place just in case: Key Messages regarding Hurricane Sam (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Victor may briefly become a hurricane but is already turning north and shouldn’t be a factor.
In the West Pacific, Typhoon Mindulle is passing off the coast of Japan. Impacts should be limited to rain and coastal waves.
Fortunately it looks like Sam will avoid Bermuda. There will likely be some coastal impacts from waves and swell, which will be hitting the US Coast this upcoming weekend (1-3 October). Swell from bypassing hurricane or other storm usually means rip currents, so if going to the beach later this week or next weekend beware, and check your local weather service office for any advisories (for Tybee/Hilton Head, that’s the Charleston office (click for link), for points south of Darien Georgia, it’s the Jacksonville office). The weather service is working on an experimental beach forecast page – here’s a sample, click the graphic to go to their site. Try it out and let them know if you like it.
This raises a point that sometimes causes disputes with readers and media denizens. I generally try not to talk about hazards until they exist. The reason is there’s always some potential risk and danger out there from something – most of them you probably don’t even know about, and never will.
More often than not, these potential hazards never materialize. That’s why I don’t spend much time talking about tropical waves coming off Africa, even when NHC has them tagged with high formation percentages. There’s two of them out there now, along with the remains of Peter that might reanimate. The long range forecasts keep them well away from land, so even if they spin up, they aren’t likely to ever be a problem. If they become and issue we’ll talk about it. Until then, the average person shouldn’t worry about it, and a responsible weather forecaster won’t say anything other than “as is typical this time of year we’ve got tropical waves coming off of Africa. Forecasters are watching them and if they become a threat we’ll let you know.”
There’s also the issue of hazards that are common. Rip currents are one of them. Anyone going to the beach should be aware of them, and there are programs to promote beach safety. Hopefully people who live on the coast learn about them as a child, and awareness programs are needed for those visiting from inland so it’s always worth mentioning them when they are present. Are rip currents “life threatening”? I think that’s a bit of hyperbole. I like to be careful with language about risks. Rip currents can be hazardous, but they are only dangerous or life threatening if you don’t use common sense. I think NWS (and the commercial weather people who hype it even more) are starting to over use the phrase “life threatening.” If you call routine hazards “life threatening” it has two unfortunate effects. First, it makes people more scared than they should be. Second, it reduces the contrast between something that is hazardous but not dangerous if you use common sense (like rip currents), and something that is truly dangerous no matter what you do (like a 30 foot hurricane storm surge). Using the same language for both is a bad idea.
Speaking of the SC low country, people felt some minor earthquakes yesterday. They are more common than most realize, will be doing a post on that in the next day or so.
There was a significant earthquake in Crete today, that was felt across the region. There have been reports of injuries and and least one death, and several aftershocks.
Cyclone Gulab made landfall in India. The biggest problem has been heavy rain and flooding, although several fisherman were reported killed in waves and wind offshore.
Typhoon Mindulle has encountered a less favorable environment and dropped from a peak wind of 145 knots to only 90 knots. That’s a reduction in wind pressure by a factor of 2.6 and of damage potential a factor of 4.2. It is expected to regain some strength, but is expected to pass far enough off the coast of Japan to cause only light impacts.
The more observant among you will notice I haven’t mentioned the Atlantic yet. That’s because it’s not really that interesting from a threat standpoint. Yes, Hurricane Sam is an intense storm and interesting meteorologically, but it is presently not forecast to threaten land in the next five days, and signs are it may go far enough east of Bermuda to not be a threat to them either (but they still need to be watching). In the exception to the “no spaghetti tracks” guideline, here’s the current major track models …
There are a couple of waves coming off of Africa that may develop tropical characteristics, but the long range prospects for them are not worth spending any time on at this point (of course, those who make a living from keeping you hyped up will, ad nauseum). NHC has them at 80% chance of them starting tracking, but the long range models are not enthusiastic at this point for their prospects. I just heard some talking head on the radio here in Savannah warn of rip currents, but Charleston Weather Service does not have any cautions posted at the moment (their nifty experimental risk dashboard is “green” … click link here).
There are two major (Saffir Simpson Category 3 or higher) storms stalking the earth this morning, but only one is threatening land. There are also earthquakes, volcanoes, and of course the SARS-COV-2. Here’s the overview …
One thing that stands out on the dashboard are all the earthquakes. None seems to have caused any significant damage, but there have been a lot of them the last three days. As for tropical cyclones, we have two that are threatening land. Cyclone Gulab is making landfall today as a weak storm hitting the east coast of India. It’s hard for a storm to hit India and not impact millions of people, given the population density. Economic impacts should be in the 10’s of millions of US Dollars of equivalent purchasing power parity damage …
In the western Pacific, Supertyphoon Mindulle is starting to recurve north and is forecast to be just offshore Tokyo in about five days. On this track impacts would be light, but a wobble to the left could be Very Bad, so this needs watching …
In the Atlantic, Major Hurricane Sam is a small but very intense hurricane. Fortunately on the current track there is no one in the way for the next five days according to the official forecast …
The track models are tightly grouped over that period. Longer range, it may be an issue for Bermuda, but that’s at least 7-10 days away. Nobody else needs to worry about this one. For perspective here are the long range track models … and for my Canadian friends, way too early to get excited, 10 day forecasts are really iffy especially for tropical systems that far north.
Elsewhere, Teresa is no more, so all of the telenovela references I had planned will have to wait until 2027 in the hopes a storm more deserving of the name shows up. There’s a couple of waves coming off of Africa the chattering class will likely talk about since Sam isn’t a problem. Feel free to ignore them.
I haven’t said much about the pandemic lately because from a scientific and emergency response standpoint there’s not much to say other than global governance is a (colorful language deleted) mess. Like so many issues, this isn’t a technical problem, it’s a political problem. Pick any aspect – masks, vaccinations (who, with what, and when), movement restrictions, natural immunity, and so forth, the technical aspects of public health and medicine are secondary and even tertiary to the politics. In the US, both political parties are criminally negligent in the matter, and internationally the situation isn’t a lot better (and often worse in developing countries). As long as people keep electing (or tolerating, or having forced on them) incompetent leaders you will get incompetent results.
If you’re a fan of Mexican Telenovelas (my wife watches them to practice Spanish) you’ll probably recognize the theme song to the series “Teresa”, and I can’t hear that name without the song getting stuck in my head. Teresa is pretty bad (mala), but her tropical storm namesake this year isn’t. In fact, by the time you read this she will might well have broken up. In any event, Teresa is just offshore the US, and there are no watches or warnings. Sam on the other hand is almost a major hurricane, and should continue to gain some strength. But as expected, it should miss the Leeward Islands, and all of the major track models agree with it turning to the north, with the ECM right over Bermuda, and GFS well to the east, so they might have something to worry about late next week. Here’s the respective swaths of doom for the next five days:
Teresa raises a point to remember when at the end of the season people start taking about the number of storms. Teresa is the ninth short lived, structurally marginal storm that in past years might well not have been named or tracked. If we are generous and say two or three would have been counted, then this year doesn’t look so bad (12 or 13 named storms rather than 19). Again, that is a testament to improved monitoring, and partly due to changes that allow/encourage NHC to track hybrid systems that don’t exactly fit the tropical cyclone definition (which is important due to the explosive growth in vulnerable coastal areas over the last few decades). So while climate change is very real, and how storm frequencies and intensities are changing is a subject of intense study right now, the raw numbers game can be misleading. In this case, the hype is wrong – but the underlying truth of anthropogenic climate change is all too real.
With the 5am advisory this morning NHC upgraded Sam to a hurricane. It’s a compact storm, a little ragged on this morning’s imagery, but should be in a favorable environment the next few days and is on track to become a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane …
Although the intensity forecast is scary, the track at this point isn’t. Here is the current TAOS/TC damage swath for the next five days, based on the latest (5am ET) NHC forecast …
Compared to yesterday, the models are in a bit better alignment, which is typical when a storm spins up and there is a more organized storm to “lock on” to. All of the long term tracks take the storm to the north of the Leeward Islands and up in the vicinity of Bermuda in 7-10 days or so. So no watches, warnings, or even a “key messages” products since as of now, Sam is not a threat to land.
After a spate of almost storms, we now have two systems that seem to have the potential to become full blown tropical cyclones. In the Atlantic, tropical depression eighteen has emerged from the dust off of Africa and is expected to become Tropical Storm Sam later today. Conditions are favorable for strengthening, and it is expected to become a hurricane and probably reach category three intensity by this weekend …
I’ve had reports that this storm is being hyped by the usual suspects. It’s way too early to get excited about it. NHC doesn’t even have a “key messages” product yet, there are no watches or warnings, and the advisories don’t have the “magic words” in them (“Interests <somewhere> should <do something”). So worrying about it is a waste of energy.
Those who follow the blog know that once NHC starts advisories I rarely show the “spaghetti maps” of track models. The reason is that interpreting these tracks takes a deep understanding of each model, the synoptic situation, and many other factors. They aren’t all created equal,and what is a “good” model today can be a “bad” model tomorrow and vice versa. By far the majority of people (even meteorologists) who babble on about this or that model are wasting your time and trying to keep your eyes on their screen (and of course their blipverts). The models are guidance – not a forecast – and most of the time it is a distraction to show them and focus on every wobble or change. What matters are the trends and patterns – rarely the specifics. Another issue is that the official forecast only goes out five days – for good reason. Beyond that the forecasts are so uncertain as to be confusing, and the risk of over-reacting and disrupting people’s lives for no good reason is quite high. That said, showing them can be useful for context and explaining the uncertainty and difficulty of the official forecast (or lack thereof). Here is a selection of the major track models for TD20 along with the official forecast.
The purple lines skirting the Leeward Islands an headed into the Bahamas is the European Center Model (ECM) and ECM Ensemble Mean (EEMN). The blue line is the US Global Forecast System (GFS). These two scenarios illustrate the danger of focusing on models, especially beyond five days. One would be a source of concern; the other (GFS) a fish storm, similar to most of the tracks this year. Which is most likely? I think a turn away from the US is more likely at this point given conditions this year, but it’s way too early to get excited about it one way or another. If you have a hurricane plan, nothing to do at this point.
In the West Pacific, Tropical Depression Twenty should become Tropical Storm Mindulle today, and later today (tomorrow Guam/Japan time) a Typhoon. It too is forecast to intensify to category three or four intensity – a “super typhoon”. While it is over Guam at the moment, it will be well past the islands before it intensifies. Here’s the latest Joint Typhoon Forecast Center track …
First, those in the Coastal Georgia and Lowcountry of South Carolina, it rained yesterday. A Lot. Savannah airport hit a record 6.66 inches (ok, that’s not ominous), breaking the old record of 2.12 for this date (which was low for a record, but has stood since 1885!). In midtown Nicholas says we got 6.51 inches, so it was pretty uniform heavy rain over the area. More rain predicted for today, probably not so much as yesterday, but watch for street flooding in the usual places. Here’s the TAFB weather map for this morning …
The stalled front (jagged line) with a low pressure “L” symbol over Georgia is the reason for all the rain. If you follow the front around to the east (right), you’ll see it ends in the label “storm” next to a Low pressure symbol. That’s what used to be Odette, now a winter storm.
There is less going on in the tropics than meets the eye. Yes, there are two tropical storms, Peter and Rose, but both are disorganized – notice that the heavy convection (oranges on the IR satellite image) are displaced from the center (the storm symbols) and not wrapping around them. That’s a sure sign of strong wind shear, and in fact NHC says in the latest bulletins that both storms will probably be torn apart in the next couple days.
There is some angst about a wave coming off of Africa, AL98 (Disturbance #1 on the NHC Tropical Weather Outlook), which has an 80% chance of spinning up. Run to run consistency has been fairly good for the GFS model, showing this system becoming a tropical storm in the next week. The longer range (10 day) forecasts are showing it following the same trajectory as most of the storms this year, north of the Leeward Island then east of Bermuda. But that’s along way off, and again if the magic words “Interests <somewhere> should <do something>” don’t appear in the NHC messages and/or you aren’t “somewhere”, don’t worry about it. If you’re curious, here’s the image swiper comparison tools for the GFS runs initialized at 8am yesterday morning and 8pm last night … this is amazingly consistent (but, as a caution, can rapidly change given the complexity of the atmosphere – 10 day forecasts are getting better but can still rapidly change). Slide right for the old run, left for the new run.
Those of you living within 50 miles or so of the US East Coast may have noticed you’re not dead this morning (true, it’s Monday, but that doesn’t count), and might be wondering why since the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted yesterday, and for years you’ve been hearing that if it did a mega-tsunami would sweep across the Atlantic and hit the US with a 100 foot high wall of water.
BBC did a drama about this a bit over ten years ago, and I worked with them on an accompanying science based program aired afterwards debunking their own drama. The model and study that shows the megastunami causing 100ft plus waves on the US east coast assumes every single parameter is the worst possible. One glaring example – it assumes the entire flank of the volcano would slide off into the ocean as a solid, intact slab at just the perfect speed to cause the maximum wave. But of course an explosion big enough to do that would fragment it into a billion pieces. That’s not to say that it can’t cause significant tsunami under the right circumstances, but almost certainly not a megastunami. There are lots of scientific papers and studies out there that show it just can’t happen the way the scare mongers are saying. But, of course, that doesn’t stop the media from hyping it and scaring people who don’t have time to read the journals and see that for every paper saying it’s a big risk (mostly from the same two guys) there are ten saying “how about no.”
Tropical Storm Peter and Tropical Depression Seventeen formed overnight according to NHC. Neither are a threat to land and no watches/warnings are up, although the fringes of Peter might cause some rain on the northern Leeward Islands, and perhaps as far west as Puerto Rico. Neither is forecast to become a hurricane. Here’s the swath of doom; click to embiggen as usual …
NHC expects Tropical Depression 17 to become a tropical storm later today. If so it will get the name “Rose.” There isn’t a “Q” name, even though there are girls names starting with a “Q”. The reason there isn’t a Q (or “U,” “X,” “Y,” or “Z”) is that the thinking by the WMO committee is there aren’t enough distinct names for rotation (there have to be at least six, plus you need to have some in reserve in case one gets retired). I think naming storms is a bad idea to start with (and there is science to back up that view), but we’re stuck with it.