Tropical Storm #Wanda and what it says about #climate

The storm system that pounded the Northeastern US last week has wandered out in to the mid Atlantic, and over the weekend became detached enough from surrounding fronts and weather, and tropical enough, for the National Hurricane Center to start tracking it as a tropical system. It’s definitely a fish storm; here’s the impact swath:

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If you look at the above swath map you’ll notice something weird: although there are tropical storm markers, there is no wind swath for most of the track. The reason is that while the winds were above tropical storm strength, the modeling system recognized it wasn’t really tropical – it was a nor’easter in characteristics. Even now it’s somewhat marginal, but does technically meet the criteria to be a tropical system.

This is another example of a storm that in the past more than likely would not have been named or tracked. Changes in the criteria that NHC uses for when to start advisories, combined with the tremendous improvements in sensor systems the last 20 years, means that it is likely that at least six, and as many as eight or nine of the 21 storms this year would not have been counted prior to 2000 (and certainly not prior to 1980). This presents a real challenge for those trying to figure out how the Earth’s atmosphere is changing. In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Climate, researchers from NHC and NOAA show that there has been an obvious bias in “short duration” storms (those with lifetimes less than two days) due to observational bias. They state …

In particular, frequency of hurricanes and major hurricanes, duration of TCs, length of season, peak intensity, and integrated TC measures [like Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Power Dissipation Index (PDI)] should not be used directly from HURDAT for climate variability and change studies without consideration of, or quantitatively accounting for, how observational network alterations are affecting these statistics. In general, the subsampling of TCs back in time will artificially introduce increases in all of these parameters with time.

The situation since this paper was written has become even more pronounced, with post-Sandy changes in how advisories are issued. Unfortunately, there are those who use data and warning issues like this to dismiss concerns over global warming, just as there are those who point to the inflated tropical cyclone counts as evidence of a crisis. As I ranted earlier, there is a balance between understanding the limitations of the modeling and historical data, and understanding that in fact humans have changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and surface of the Earth, changing our weather and climate. It’s an artificial conflict fueled by politics to say it has to be one or the other, and the choices aren’t simply “do nothing and keep exploiting the Earth’s resources” or “radically reshape our society while exploiting different resources”.

But being sensible has nothing to do with politics … ­čśŽ

West Coast Storms and Hurricane #Rick #Mexico (Sunday 24 Oct 2021)

Only one tropical system of interest, Hurricane Rick (EP17) should hit the west coast of Mexico Monday (more below), but there are two big non-tropical storm systems impacting the US today. Here is the TAFB surface analysis this morning, showing Hurricane Rick off of Mexico, the tangled fronts and low pressure in the middle of the country, and the big Pacific storm system starting to stream moisture into California …

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Two areas are of concern in the US – the first is in the middle of the country, where a complex system is likely to produce some strong thunderstorms today. But the big Pacific storm (just under the label in the upper left of this graphic) has been getting media attention with the usual breathless headlines like “Atmospheric river, high winds to wallop California and Pacific Northwest” and talk of “Bomb Cyclones.” The terms “Atmospheric River” and “Bomb Cyclone” both have specific meanings and really aren’t necessarily scary or destructive unless you say them in the right tone of voice.

The more accurate term for “Bomb Cyclone” is “Explosive Cyclogenesis.” There is in fact a technical definition, that a storm decreases in minimal surface pressure by at least (24 sin ¤ć/ sin 60┬░) mb in 24 hours, where ¤ć represents latitude in degrees. I never liked the term “bomb” as being overly dramatic, but it has been in used in meteorology for a long time. They do have the potential to cause a lot of damage – the one approaching the Pacific Northwest has winds of hurricane force and higher. In addition, a second phenomena called an atmospheric river (AR in NWS abbreviations) is setting up over California today. That stream of moisture will drop a lot of rain there, which has the potential to cause flash flooding and over a foot of snow at higher elevations since in combination with the approaching cold fronts (the saw-toothed lines in the upper left of the above map) there will be a big temperature drop because, well, WINTER IS COMING! This year there is another factor, the large burn scars from this year’s wild fires. That means the vegetation that normally helps slow down or hold back rain is gone, so the potential for epic mudslides is present. You can get accurate and relatively drama free (and totally advertising free since you already paid for it!) reporting on all this at the National Weather Service web site (link). The short range weather discussion is always a good place to check for the “big picture” …

Click to go to Short Range Weather Discussion.

For those in Mexico, here is the damage swath expected from Rick:

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NHC’s Key Messages regarding Hurricane Rick caution that as is typical for landfalls in Mexico, inland flash flooding and mudslides in the mountains are always a risk with this storm in addition to the threat of storm surge and wind on the immediate shoreline.

#Pamela not as strong as expected at landfall in #Mexico; #China storm; #Crete earthquake

Hurricane (barely) Pamela is making landfall this morning on the coast of Mexico, with peak impacts forecast to be near Mazatlan. The rapid intensification to category three never materialized – the storm barely made hurricane force – but is still likely to cause significant impacts:

Tropical Storm Kompasu is also making landfall in China as a strong tropical storm …

And there was an earthquake in Crete yesterday that cause structural damage but no reports of injuries:

The weather looks ok for the Blue Origin “New Shepard” launch of William Shatner this morning.

Otherwise things are relatively quiet. Well, aside from that virus continuing to cause problems, the global supply chain on the verge of collapse, several global hot spots on the verge of exploding in to open war. You know, the usual stuff … ­čśŽ

Tropics got busy again – sort of (11 Oct 2021)

We’ve now got four active tropical cyclones – three in the West Pacific, and one off of Mexico, along with a couple of low probability disturbances in the Atlantic. Let’s start with the East Pacific (Mexico) since that’s the more serious threat …

Tropical Storm Pamela is expected to become a major hurricane in the next few days before making landfall north of Mazatl├ín. If that forecast holds it could cause a significant amount of damage. Here are links to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Pamela, and from the Servicio Meteorol├│gico Nacional.

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There are three systems in the West Pacific. Namtheun is expected to stay well offshore from Japan. Lionrock has already crossed Hainan Island (China) and is raining out over Hanoi Vietnam today. Tropical Storm Kompasu is crossing just north of the northernmost island of the Philippines on its way to Hainan (who did they annoy?). Of the three it has the most damage potential, but impacts should be less than $30 Million in China.

Saving the least for last, NHC has two disturbances tagged on their Tropical Weather Outlook this morning, both with only 20% formation chances over the next five days. No magic words, but NHC cautions that heavy rainfall is possible across the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, and Hispaniola the next few days.

Invest off of North Carolina (Sat 9 Oct 2021)

There is a low pressure system embedded within a complex mess of weather is trying to form just off the coast of the Carolinas. The US National Hurricane Center has it at a 40% chance of tropical formation, and has started using the “Magic Words” and saying that “Interests along the North Carolina coast should monitor this system.” Here is the TAFB analysis with the GOES East IR view this morning …

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The system of interest is the “L” in the center, next to the box labeled “DVLPG GALE” (Developing Gale). It’s not likely to become a significant storm in the hurricane sense, but if you are right on the North Carolina coast (the Outer Banks) it may be breezy. The “storm” is expected to move slowly northwest; if nothing develops by Sunday it’s not going to happen.

Invest area off the US East Coast, Earthquakes in #Japan and #Pakistan

There was an earthquake near Tokyo this morning US East coast time (evening Japan time), reports are coming in but some scattered damage (link goes to Japan Times). Given the quality of construction there, not expecting major damage …

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Yesterday it was Pakistan’s turn, this one did cause at least 20 fatalities (link to Al Jazeera)

In the tropics, there is a weak tropical storm headed to Hainan Island, China, but shouldn’t cause a lot of damage. There is an invest area just off the east coast of the US, part of a very messy pattern across the southeast. Here is this morning’s analysis from TAFB (part of the National Hurricane Center):

The invest is the “L” off the South Carolina coast. NHC has it tagged with a 20% chance of becoming worthy of advisories. It is now being simulated by some of the models as AL92, but more than likely won’t cause anything but rain along the coast as it parallels the shoreline while moving northeast.

Atlantic update, #Shaheen aftermath in #Oman,

There are two live storms in the Atlantic, both fading out. The National Hurricane Center also has a disturbance they are watching, but only with a 20% chance of gaining tropical characteristics. Here’s this morning’s analysis from TAFB:

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The disturbance is associated with the tropical wave (noted in red above). Conditions aren’t especially favorable for tropical storm formation, although GFS shows a nor’easter like low pressure system spinning up and impacted the northeast in eight or ten days. Nothing to get excited about yet.

Cyclone Shaheen is dissipating inland over the Arabian Peninsula, having caused a significant amount of death and destruction across Oman (link to Times of Oman reporting). There were also impacts in Iran as it side-swiped their southern coast. Landfall in Oman was weaker and further south than it looked Saturday, and impacts to the oil and gas infrastructure do not seem to be significant at this point other than delays in tanker traffic. Still, economic impacts of $500 million to $1 Billion are possible, and a number of deaths (twelve as of 6am this morning) have been reported.

#Shaheen landfall near #Sohar #Oman, Atlantic Update, things that go boom

There is only one tropical cyclone that is a serious threat to land, Cyclone Shaheen at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, although there are three other active storms. And of course there is the eruption of the volcano on La Palma continuing to intensify. Here’s some details …

Cyclone Shaheen (formerly Gulab) is a hurricane headed towards Oman. While unusual, this isn’t rare, but it is all the more disruptive since they don’t happen too often. Given the fragility of energy markets at the moment, and as noted before traders don’t usually need anything more than an excuse for price volatility, it is something to watch. The 5am ET Saturday JTWC forecast has the storm making landfall as a hurricane just south of Sohar, Oman tomorrow evening. A slight shift northward could bring the major oil and gas complexes at Fujairah, UAE within the impact zones …

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With the increased intensity forecast and track shift, the potential impacts of Shaheen have risen quite a bit, to the $1 to $2 Billion range. JTWC forecasts tend to be on the high side, so that may be a bit high and an estimate in the $500m range may be more realistic, but given the impacts of Cyclone Gonu in 2005 the higher numbers are certainly possible.

In the Atlantic, Sam has safely passed Bermuda and is tracking north towards Iceland. The only impacts on the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the benighted points south of the border are waves and rip currents. Likewise, Tropical Storm Victor is fading away further to the south and east, not threat to anyone but fish. You don’t often see the words tropical storm and Russia in the same sentence, but the fading Mindulle has passed offshore of Japan and is expected to complete its extratropical transition over the Kuril Islands and pass near the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Finally, the ongoing eruption of Cumbre Veija on the island of La Palma continues to cause damage, chasing people from their homes. The main lava flow has reached the ocean, generating clouds of steam and – more dangerously – toxic chlorine fumes (from the salt water). Here is some spectacular video of the eruption, with two new vents opening. There is a lot of, um, “stuff” floating around the intertubes about the potential for a catastrophic tsunami from this volcano. Grumpy cat says “how about no.” While a local tsunami for areas near the volcano is definitely possible in the even the eruption becomes explosive, the chances of a major tsunami impacting the US east coast from this is pretty close to nil. And the longer the eruption goes on, and the more seismic activity, the less likely the 150 foot wall of water sweeping across the US east coast becomes (and to be clear, it was always much smaller than, say, a similar event from and asteroid or comet impact – which again is very small). So if you just have to worry, worry about the fools driving crazy on I-16 with all the construction (a local Savannah thing right now).

Cyclone #Shaheen and #Oman, #UAE, #Oil

We’ve been following the remnants of a weak cyclone that hit India last week (Gulab). It survived crossing the subcontinent as an intact system, and has intensified as it re-entered the Indian Ocean and is now headed towards the Persian Gulf. It may reach hurricane force, and threatens the oil and gas infrastructure of the region. First here is the big picture …

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The system (IO032021) was named Gulab while in the Bay of Bengal, but is now called “Shaheen” on the Arabian side. It is dumping rain across Pakistan and Iran, and the current forecast is for the storm to intensify over the next 36 hours before weakening as it approaches Oman and the mouth of the Persian Gulf …

Aside from the immediate humanitarian issues for the people in the path of the storm, the rare storms striking the Arabian Peninsula can disrupt the global oil and gas markets, which are especially fragile at the moment. At a minimum this will cause delays in tanker traffic, but the biggest threat is rain and flash floods damaging on-shore infrastructure. In 2009, Cyclone Gonu hit the same general area causing over $6 Billion in damage. Although the actual impacts on production were transient, any time a storm impacts petroleum infrastructure prices spike due to speculation. As reported in Al Jazzera at the time, Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, said he doubted the increase could be attributed to Gonu. “I don’t know if you can really attribute any of the gain to the cyclone”, he said. “It’s an excuse, as opposed to a reason, for the rise in prices.” Which probably describes a lot of oil and gas price swings …

Either way, there is a lot of stuff in the way of the storm, and if something breaks that shouldn’t, it could disrupt the infrastructure and cause problems. Here are the locations of some of the pipelines and refineries in the path:

#Sam, #Victor, and #Mindulle

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┬á(en Espa├▒ol: Mensajes Claves). Victor may briefly become a hurricane but is already turning north and shouldn’t be a factor.

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In the West Pacific, Typhoon Mindulle is passing off the coast of Japan. Impacts should be limited to rain and coastal waves.