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Hurricane Erick moving up the coast of Mexico

Hurricane watches in effect for parts of the Mexican coast


Hurricane Erick, with winds up to 80 mph, is hugging the coast of Mexico and heading toward Baja California, where a tropical storm watch is in effect.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The fifth named tropical cyclone of the season in the Eastern Pacific has developed into a full-fledged hurricane and threatens parts of Mexico’s west coast with storm surges, high winds and heavy rains.

Hurricane Erick is generating winds of 80 mph and is expected to hug the coast of Mexico for a few more days, according to the National Hurricane Center. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the mainland Mexico coast from Zihuatanejo to Cabo Corrientes, while a hurricane watch has been issued from Punta san Telmo to Cabo Corrientes.

Parts of Baja, from Santa Fe to La Paz, are under a tropical storm watch. The center of the storm is expected to approach the southern tip of Baja by late Sunday. The official forecast calls for Hurricane Erick to veer more toward the west before reaching Baja under the steering influence of a strong ridge of high pressure over Mexico and the southwester U.S.

The storm could weaken quickly if it interacts with land or when as moves across cooler waters on its northwesterly track.

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National Hurricane Center develops new storm surge warning


The National Hurricane Center is preparing a storm surge warning product to help prepare coastal areas for dangerous conditions.

Climate change, population growth making more people vulnerable to coastal threats

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Though climate change wasn’t mentioned directly during the first panel session at this year’s Glenn Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge, it may have been the invisible 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Looking back at the 2012 season, National Hurricane Center director Dr. Rick Knabb said this year’s tropical storms were all about the water, rather than winds. Rainfall and storm surges from storms like Isaac and Debby had significant impacts while the centers were far offshore and even though their winds weren’t particularly strong, Knabb said.

Those impacts are only expected to increase in coming decades, both because of the steady rise in sea level, as well as the fact that an ever-increasing percentage of the American population is living in coastal areas. Continue reading

Hurricane Sandy about to sweep across Jamaica

Powerful late season storm could affect U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Sandy will engulf Jamaica in the next few hours.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Jamaica is about to take a direct hit from what is now Hurricane Sandy, which is generating sustained winds of 80 mph just off the island nation’s southern coast. Hurricane warnings are in effect for the entire island, where six to 12 inches of rain is expected, leading to dangerous flooding.

Sandy’s storm surge will raise water levels by as much as one to three feet above normal along Jamaica’s southern and eastern coast, along with large and dangerous waves. Hurricane-force winds extend outward about 25 miles from the center of the storm, with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 140 miles.

A hurricane warning is also in effect for most of eastern Cuba, where the storm surge could reach three to five feet along the southeastern coast. An even more intense storm surge of five to eight feet is expected in the Bahamas, where a hurricane watch is in effect.

A tropical storm watch has also been issued for parts of Florida’s southeastern coast.

Sandy will pass over Jamaica Wednesday afternoon and evening and reach Cuba Wednesday night and approach the Bahamas Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible along the southeast Florida coast Friday.

Beyond that, each subsequent forecast model has been pushing the storm closer to the East Coast, where emergency preparations have started. Some tracks show the storm interacting with an approaching cold front and hitting the North East as a powerful non-tropical storm, but the exact path is still uncertain.



Tropical Storm Norman aims for Mexico

Flash flooding possible in coastal mountains of Sinaloa

Tropical Storm Norman is visible at far right as an orange blob of convection along the Mexican coastline. The storm will make landfall in the next 24 hours.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Yet another named eastern Pacific tropical weather system has formed, this time in the channel between Baja, California and the Mexican mainland.

Tropical Storm Norman is generating winds of about 50 mph and is forecast to make landfall somewhere south of Mazatlán within the next 24 hours, then quickly dissipate as it moves inland.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for the west coast of Mexico from La Cruz northward to Huatabampo, where rainfall amounts are expected to range between 4 and 8 inches, with up to 12 inches possible in a few spots.

The rain could produce life-threatening floods in Sinaloa and far western Durango, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Active 2011 season breaks ‘hurricane amnesia’

Irene was the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in three years

A NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Irene making landfall in South Carolina.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends November 30 after producing a total of 19 tropical storms. Seven became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The activity matched NOAA’s predictions and continues the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

Hurricane Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant tropical cyclone to strike the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991. Its effects in the Caribbean and the United States lead to 55 deaths and accounted for the bulk of this season’s damage, more than $10 billion. Irene was the first landfalling hurricane in New Jersey in 108 years.

“Irene broke the ‘hurricane amnesia’ that can develop when so much time lapses between landfalling storms,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This season is a reminder that storms can hit any part of our coast and that all regions need to be prepared each and every season.”

Continue reading

Pollution may be fueling unusual desert cyclones

Cyclone Phet over Oman, June 4, 2010.

Buildup of aerosols weakens upper-level winds that normally shear tropical storms

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A buildup of atmospheric pollutants may be contributing to the intensification of tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea, said a group of researchers who documented a shift in upper-air wind patterns over the region.

The scientists linked those changes to increased aerosols, possibly originating over the Indian subcontinent. A widespread brown cloud dampens the formation of monsoon-related shearing winds that historically have weakened cyclones in the region.

“We are showing that pollution from human activity – as simple as burning wood or driving a vehicle with a diesel engine – can actually change these massive atmospheric phenomena in a significant way,” said the study’s lead author, Amato Evan, an environmental scientist in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences. “It underscores the importance of getting a handle on emissions in the region.” Continue reading

Hilary spurs tropical storm watch along Mexican coast

Latest Pacific cyclone moving west just off the Mexican Riviera

Tropical Storm Hilary is gaining strength along the southern coast of Mexico and could become a strong hurricane by the weekend.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tropical Storm Hilary, the latest Pacific cyclone, is gradually growing stronger and could become a major hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph in the next two to three days, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said in an update Wednesday afternoon.

The storm currently has sustained winds of 45 mph and is forecast to move west-northwest, parallel along the southern coast of Mexico for a few more days. It could come close to land when it reaches peak strength in three to four days. As a result, the government of Mexico has issued a tropical storm watch for coastal areas between Lagunas De Chacahua west to Lazaro Cardenas. The warning area includes the resort cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa.

The storm is following a similar path to Beatriz, which raked the same coastline in June, and brough high rainfall totals and some flooding in low-lying coastal areas and the coastal mountains before moving offsore.

Some of the same coastal areas will likely see some heavy rain from Hilary, with flooding possible, as well as high seas with rip currents and coastal erosion possible in some areas exposed to the storm.

Hurricane landfall frequency linked to La Niña

In a study published in the Journal of Climate, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientists have found an intriguing relationship between hurricane tracks and climate variability. The team studied data from the Atlantic gathered between 1950-2010, unlocking some noteworthy results and trends. Graph courtesy Angela Colbert.

Fewer storms in El Niño years

by Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Looking back at 81 years of hurricane data enabled University of Miami researchers to link cyclical climate variations with the likelihood of hurricane landfalls in the U.S.

The study shows there are more tropical cyclones during La Niña years, and that a greater percentage of those storms strike somewhere along the North American coast.

“In a typical El Niño season, we found that storms have a higher probability of curving back out into the ocean as opposed to threatening to make landfall along the East Coast of the US due to a change in the circulation across the Atlantic,” said Angela Colbert, a graduate student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. “This is important for not only weather forecasting, but insurance companies, who can use these findings when determining seasonal and yearly quote rates,” said Colbert. Continue reading

Maria weakens, warnings discontinued

Tropical Storm Maria is advancing on the eastern Caribbean islands.

Maria falls apart due to shear, warnings dropped, storm could regain strength the next few days

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tropical Storm Maria weakened over night and tropical storm warning have been dropped in Guadeloupe, St, Maartin, Saba and St. Eustatius, Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, Sait Kitts and the British Virgin Islands, as well as Dominica, St. Barthelemy, St, Marteen and Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Maria will move over the Leeward Islands Saturday and approach the Virgin Islands by Saturday night. The storm is forecast to produce only a few inches of rain. Continue reading

Tropical Storm Lee heading for landfall

More heavy rain expected along Gulf Coast during the weekend

Rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee is spreading inland along the Gulf Coast. Click on the image for the animated loop.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tropical Storm Lee is still gaining strength as it lashes the coast of Louisiana with heavy rains and winds of up to 60 mph, with landfall expected sometime within the next 24 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The west side of the storm is being weakened by dry air coming off drought-stricken Texas, but the east side of the storm is feeding on deep moisture from far down in the western Caribbean according to the latest forecast discussion. The storm could reach near-hurricane strength, with sustained winds of 65 mph during the next 24 hours, and could drop catastrophic amounts of rain in some low-lying coastal areas. Continue reading


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