Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is still only Potential; other storms (#China)

The system racing across the coast of South America is still moving too fast to develop a consistent low level circulation and become a tropical storm, but it should slow down and become Tropical Storm Bonnie as it moves out over water in the next 24 hours. After that, the forecast has it making landfall in Nicaragua. Here are NHC’s Key Messages regarding Potential Tropical Cyclone Two (en Español: Mensajes Claves), and the TAOS/TC estimated impact swath …

Click to expand

It still looks like PTC Two will survive crossing Central America and become an east pacific hurricane this weekend.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic there are two systems. The system approaching the Texas coast may technically become a Tropical Depression for a few hours before making landfall. The main risk is from rain. Here’s what it looks like on radar from Corpus Christi this morning …

Reflectivity (left) and velocity (right); not that organized …

The other system is a wave approaching the Windward Islands. Conditions are not favorable, and NHC has it tagged at only 10% chance of becoming a depression in the next five days.

Finally, there is a tropical depression in the South China Sea that is expected to move towards the China coast over the next two days, potentially becoming a Typhoon and brushing Macao and Hong Kong. Storms in this part of the world have ripple effects by disrupting Chinese ports and shipping routes, especially given ongoing global supply chain issues.

Tropical Update – PTC Two, Gulf of Mexico (29 June 2022)

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two continues to skim the coast of South America. It is moving so fast it hasn’t had the chance to develop into a tropical storm, but is expected to slow down and strengthen before it reaches the Nicaragua coast. The current forecast no longer shows it becoming a hurricane. Key Messages regarding Potential Tropical Cyclone Two (en Español: Mensajes Claves).

click to embiggen

Interestingly, it will likely survive crossing Central America and has a high likelyhood of developing into a significant storm once it reaches the Pacific. If so it will get a new name and ID.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the disturbance off of the Texas coast continues to slowly organize. NHC gives it a 40% chance to become an official tropical depression, but the main threat is heavy rain to central Texas. Elsewhere, there is a tropical wave in the middle of the Atlantic that NHC gives a 30% chance of developing as it continues westward. Nothing to worry about at this point.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, lots of invest areas

This morning (28 June) has two “live” storms of which only one is really a concern, and four “invest” areas. Here’s the big picture map for the tropics …

Click any map to see full size.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two (AL022022) is a disorganized system currently moving across the South Atlantic, headed towards the southern Windward Islands. NHC has Key Messages regarding Potential Tropical Cyclone Two (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Here is the impact estimate using my TAOS/TC model, based on their forecast:

Click to embiggen.

The NHC forecast has PTC Two becoming organized enough to be designated a tropical tonight or early tomorrow and hit Trinidad and Tobago as a tropical storm. After that things depend a lot on how close the storm stays to the coast of Central America. If it is even a few miles south of this track, it will likely break up over Venezuela. If it stays offshore and skims the coast, as shown here, it could quickly recover over the southern Caribbean and hit Nicaragua as a hurricane this weekend. We won’t know how possible that is until Thursday.

Elsewhere, Tropical Depression Celia is fading out off the coast of Baja. The other two invest areas in the Atlantic aren’t much of a threat at this point. The one in the Gulf of Mexico (AL95) is given a 30% chance of becoming a tropical depression before it moves inland over Texas. There is a wave following PTC Two that is currently tagged with a 20% chance of development in the next five days. In neither case does NHC have any advisories in their forecasts. There is an invest off of the west coast of Central America that NHC has tagged at 40% chance of development as it moves away to the west. Neither of the two West Pacific invest areas near the Philippines are expected to develop, and the one in the Indian Ocean has been dropped from JTWC’s text.

Tropical Update, Monday 27 June 2022

This morning’s map and summary looks busier than it really is. Here is the graphical Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center as of 6am this morning:

Click to go to NHC summary.

The only system that is really of interest is the red swath, which is being tracked by the system as AL942022. NHC will likely start advisories on this system as Tropical Depression Two later today and post warnings for the southern windward Islands. Be sure to check in with the official sources later today (certainly at or after 5pm ET) for updates if you are in that area. Since we don’t have an official track map, here are the primary computer models. They’ve been extremely consistent over the last several days:

click to embiggen

In the East Pacific, tropical storm Celia is well off the coast of Mexico and headed to cooler waters, losing strength. Although it never became a hurricane, it is surprisingly long lasting, tied for 5th place in the records for most how long a storm has remained above tropical storm strength in that part of the world. It should be gone in a couple days.

click to embiggen

In the rest of the world, there are two areas the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is watching, one in the Arabian Sea, and the other around the northern Philippines. Here is their watch site and current (6am ET) graphic …

Click to teleport to the JTWC site

Invest AL94 continues to meander across the Atlantic

The National Hurricane Center is watching two areas of possible development this morning (Sunday 26 June 2022). The most likely to develop in the next five days (70% by their 2am estimate) is way out in the Atlantic, about 1300 miles east of Barbados. Designated “AL94”, the global models have been saying it would develop early next week for several days. The track guidance has been amazingly consistent – here are the forecast model tracks for the next 10 days …

Click to embiggen. Computer model tracks – for entertainment purposes only.

Of course where a storm goes is only half the story. While the main global dynamical models all show a depression developing, and over the Caribbean a tropical storm, they don’t show it becoming a hurricane. Given the potential storm is expected to pass over the southern windward islands in a couple of days, the NHC’s Tropical Weather Outlook now has the magic words and says “Interests in the Windward Islands should monitor the progress of this system.” The leeward island and Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico/Hispaniola/Cuba/Jamaica) should probably start watching just in case, but the more likely scenario is the north coast of South America and Curacao/Aruba may be in the frame for a tropical storm Thursday/Friday.

There is also a low probability of something developing in the Gulf of Mexico late this week, potentially ending up off the coast of Texas. NHC isn’t enthused (20% chance), it doesn’t have an Invest number or tracking ID yet, so feel free to ignore this one for the moment.

Some advice on how to monitor “Invest” areas

In today’s media environment, with the constant pressure to keep eyes on screens and you clicking on sites, it’s hard to know when something is an actual threat vs. something there is no need to worry about. After all, if your revenue stream is based on interactions, telling people it’s OK to have a life and go for a walk or relax isn’t in your best interests. So how is the average person supposed to navigate that environment? With tropical systems, it’s actually fairly straightforward …

First, and I hate to have to say this, but unless a storm is actually threatening your area, with a few exceptions I can’t recommend most local news or their apps. They are under too much pressure to keep you amped up and tuned in, and most apps are thinly disguised attempts to siphon off as much of your valuable personal data as possible. The “threatening your area” exception is so you can keep up with local closures, evacuation plans, etc. Otherwise, far too many broadcast weather people just can’t bring themselves to say “don’t worry about this, check back tomorrow.” Certainly check the local news at least once a day to keep up with what is going on locally, but don’t get too excited by weather news if there is no actual watch or warning up. And as for Those Weather Channels, the less said the better. By far your best source for hurricane information is the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The primary source for the average person to keep up with the tropics is the Tropical Weather Outlook (TWO). It has both text and graphics versions – don’t skip the text (scroll down under the graphic) as the graphics are not the whole picture! The TWO is produced four times per day, at 2am, 8am, 2pm, and 8pm. There is no need to hang on every update of invest areas if they are more than a couple hundred miles from your location – and even then, unless the NHC TWO (tropical weather outlook) specifically says “Interests in (your area) should monitor the progress of this system.” there is no need to worry. They are extremely conservative (on the safe side) with these bulletins, and will include a caution that watches/warnings might be needed on short notice if there is a chance of that.

My advice for the average person is to check the TWO in the morning, if there isn’t a live storm or anything within your ~600 mile range, don’t worry about it until the next day. If there is, or it does say “monitor”, and if it’s an invest, go to twice a day (8am/8pm) and maybe check the 2pm update if it’s really close (say around the Bahamas or northeastern Gulf for the southeastern US, or the Gulf/northwestern Caribbean for Florida). If you’re a night owl or working shifts, there is a 2am update for TWO’s. Once a storm develops, the advice really doesn’t change, only the times, since storm bulletins are published at 5am, 11am, 5pm and 11pm. Then watch the NHC’s “Key Messages” product for that storm. There aren’t any examples at the moment, but I try to always post a link to those in any posts about live storms in NHC’s area of responsibility. It’s a great, no-hype summary.

There is no need to get stressed out over hurricane season if you have a plan (and a reminder, make sure your insurance is up to date well in advance because policy changes are generally frozen once an active storm is being tracked). FEMA/DHS has a good site for checklists (link). Checking the TWO’s once a day makes sense – just don’t get worked up over invests (or live storms for that matter) until you need to.

#Invest area in the #Atlantic

As the sun rises over the eastern Atlantic this morning, media weather personalities are breathlessly generating gigabyles of content over an “invest area”. Here’s a quick overview. On the visual band image it’s hard to pick out the system …

click to embiggen. Notice the tilt of the terminator (the line between day and night) since we are so close to the summer solstice (June 21st), the maximum of the year at 23.5 degrees.

The global forecast models are all tracking some kind of organized low spinning up from this tropical wave in 4-5 days, and the US National Hurricane Center gives it a 50% chance of becoming a depression over the next five days. Here is the obligatory spaghetti map showing the major global track models … there is a remarkable consensus in the track given it’s not very organized yet:

Raw spaghetti. Do not consume until cooked.

The TLDR is a tropical depression will likely form this weekend or early next week as the system approaches Barbados, and there is the potential for a tropical storm to spin up from that as it makes its way across the southern Caribbean. There are no “magic words” in the NHC tropical weather outlook, so nothing specific to worry about at this point. Those in the Caribbean might want to double check your hurricane supplies and plans if your haven’t already, but again nothing to get excited about if you’ve done your pre-season prep.

Afghanistan Earthquake 21 June 2022

There was an earthquake on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border overnight. While not especially strong (M5.9), the combination of poor construction and economic distress from decades of war means this will be a disaster far out of proportion to what the raw numbers will show. Here is the impact zone …

click to enlarge.

The computer models indicate casualties are on the order of 3000, with approximately 1000 of those killed. Initial reports are of 920 deaths (BBC article), so that seems the right order of magnitude. On paper, economic impacts should be on the order of $100 Million USD. And here is the first indication of why the usual metrics don’t work: The problem with Afghanistan at the moment is that the economy is essentially dysfunctional. GDP and economic metrics just don’t work. Economic sanctions and the impounded resources and frozen aid programs resulting from the return of the Taliban to control of the country means that something like a third to half of the country cannot meet basic food needs. So like many disasters, this is a failure of governance as much as natural forces.

Unfortunately this earthquake will likely result in a tremendous amount of additional suffering that will almost certainly drop off the media radar given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, pending domestic turmoil over US Supreme Court decisions, and it being an election year.

Fires on St. Catherine’s Island (Coastal Georgia, US)

Despite the rain, recent thunderstorms have triggered a few fires in the area given the persistent dry conditions. The wildland fires on St. Catherine’s Island (Wikipedia), located between Savannah and Brunswick, are getting some media coverage (WJCL TV) and social media angst. The smoke plumes are visible from space, but a better picture can be had from the infrared sensors on the polar orbiting satellites. Here are the fire signatures detected from the NOAA “Sumoi” polar orbiter over the last 24 hours ending 7am …

Sumoi fire signatures; click to embiggen.

And here is a visible band view from the same satellite from yesterday, with the smoke plume visible …

These kinds of fires are an essential part of the coastal ecosystem. The fires create habitats for birds and animals (like the Red Cockaded Woodpecker – link goes to USFS) and in the long run reduce the overall fire danger by keeping fuel levels down. This becomes more of a problem where human encroachment puts our stuff in areas that have adapted, over thousands of years, to periodic burns. Over the last few decades there has been a concerted effort to try to balance letting them run their course and protecting human infrastructure. There are ongoing studies trying to figure out if we will get more fires as climate changes. We don’t really have a good answer to that yet (USGS) …

#Earthquake near Stillmore, Georgia

There was a magnitude 3.9 earthquake between Stillmore and Metter this morning at 4:05am. Here is what it looked like on the Enki seismograph in midtown Savannah …

click to embiggen. EQ is obvious, other stuff is noise from the city like air conditioners, traffic, etc.

While it was felt across South Georgia, it’s not likely it caused any major damage, although it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a couple of damage reports. It was felt as far away as Atlanta and Jacksonville. Here’s the map, computer model damage estimate < $1 Million although I’d be surprised if it is that high.

Stillmore earthquake preliminary map

This quake is in an unusual place. The sediments are deep, and we really don’t have a great picture of what is going on down there. Usually geologists write off this kind of thing as the earth readjusting to equilibrium from various stresses and strains. It does show that earthquakes can happen anywhere, not just on known faults (the key word being “known”). This one is number five on the list of strongest earthquakes in Georgia, which makes it unusual (the stronger events tend to be in North Georgia, associated with the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains, or near Savannah, associated with the fault complex near Charleston. From the early data seems quite shallow – 0.75km from the early estimates – but I don’t think I believe that (update – more data seems to indicate the depth was at 16km). Unlike the event in Poland back in April, there doesn’t seem to be anything on the surface, although there is a small man-made lake and earthen dam nearby.

A single seismograph can only compute how far away a quake is. It takes at least three stations to “triangulate” the quake location. The green band circle shows the minimum distance from our seismograph, the red the maximum. The orange “Hypocenter” marker shows the computed location based on 23 stations.

Another thing to note is the wide area over which this small quake was felt. That is because we have fairly solid rock, with wet mushy soil on top. This transmits seismic energy pretty well, unlike the highly fractured (from all the earthquakes!) rocks out west. A 3.9 near LA wouldn’t be felt nearly as far as one here is. If you’re interested in Savannah/SC Low Country Earthquakes, I did a blog post on it last fall (link). This morning’s event (probably) isn’t connected to the Charleston fault system.

We learn more after every earthquake, especially unusual ones. Will be interesting to see what comes out of further analysis on this one. If you felt this event, please go to the USGS site and fill out the “Did You Feel It?” form.