Monday, June 28, 2010

Alex to Become a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Alex has now entered the Western Gulf and will more than likely be a hurricane this time tomorrow. Conditions are very favorable for a rapid development of Alex with warm water and a lack of wind shear. The current forecast track is still brings Alex just south of Brownsville, TX as a strong category 2 hurricane early Thursday. However the overall trend of the tropical forecast models we use is to bring the path of Alex farther to the north. This could not only bring some of the effects to East Texas, but could allow Alex to strengthen to a category 3 hurricane by remaining over the Gulf a little longer.

So what does this mean for your 4th of July Holiday Weekend? Right now if Alex moves on its official track, East Texas would remain dry and hot with highs reaching the lower to middle 90s. If Alex moves farther north, the forecast changes drastically. Alex appears as though it will be a very large storm with tropical storm force winds extending at least 200 miles from the center. This large circulation would pump lots of Gulf moisture into the area providing thunderstorms with heavy rain to the area Thursday through Saturday.

The greatest threat from Alex will be very heavy rain. Alex is forecast to move very slowly no matter which path he takes. Rainfall rates of over 10 inches could occur along Alex’s path through Saturday. So flash flooding could be a big concern to parts of East Texas if Alex takes a northerly path.

Another threat from Alex as with any land falling tropical system would be isolated weak tornadoes. The northern and eastern quadrants of Alex could produce thunderstorms capable of spawning tornadoes. If Alex moves farther north, then the tornado threat could move into parts of East Texas, especially our southern and western counties.

We will have a much better grasp on Alex and his forecast track over the next 48 hours. We could see anything from sunny hot conditions this upcoming Holiday Weekend to heavy rain and flooding. Please stay with your East Texas News Leader for the latest developments on Alex and its potential effects on East Texas.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tropics Heating Up!

A tropical disturbance that we have been watching for nearly a week is now becoming better organized in the Caribbean Sea. If you recall this system was located out in the central Atlantic last week in an area that was favorable for development. But most tropical systems climatologically have a difficult time developing that far east and this one followed the same fate.

Now the disturbance is in a more favorable area both meteorologically and climatologically for development. The eventual path of this tropical system is still up in the air as tropical forecast models show this system moving anywhere from Brownsville, TX to Mobile, AL.
In fact the GFLD model shows this system becoming a major hurricane with top winds near 120mph off the Louisiana Coast by late Sunday early Monday.
However the HWRF model shows this system as a strong tropical storm with top winds near 70 mph off the coast of Mobile, AL by Tuesday.
The overall strength of this tropical system will depend on the eventual path it takes. The Yucatan Peninsula is very important to the development of this storm. If it can say over the water and not pass over land, like the GFLD indicates, this system would have the time and energy needed to become a Hurricane. If it moves over the peninsula, it would more than likely remain a tropical storm or not develop at all. Only time will tell.

At the same time this is occurring, a fairly strong surface high pressure is forecast to develop over the Great Lake States and send a backdoor cold front into the area. If this does occur then the overall path of this tropical disturbance would be more to the west making the Texas Gulf Coast a likely landfall.

So how would a tropical storm or hurricane affect the oil spill out in the Gulf? Would the spill have an impact in its intensity? Will a strong hurricane spread oil over most of the Gulf region? These are many questions I have been receiving over the past few weeks. These are all great concerns so I will tackle them for you the best I can.

First let’s look at the strength of a tropical system being affected by the oil spill. It has been theorized that if we were to place a significant amount of oil in the path of a hurricane, this would stop the amount of warm water the storm could ingest, acting like a barrier. While this could have some truth during initial storm creation, with a storm that has already developed this would not be the case. The waves and rain out ahead of the storm would dilute the oil greatly, not making it a barrier what so ever.

Which brings us to our next question, would this hurricane spread oil to all areas of the Gulf? In all actuality, a hurricane would bring some oil inland with the storm surge and this could cause some problems. But the overall affect the hurricane would have on the oil in the Gulf would be to dilute it. The heavy rain, high winds, and turning seas would help accelerate the break down process more than if we did not have a hurricane.

Another question that I have been getting is will the oil spill cause the hurricane to rain down oily rain. The answer to this is no. The amount of oil spilled so far, although staggering, is only a drop in the bucket so to speak to the amount of water vapor evaporated and stored in the storm. So the hurricane clouds would be made of water vapor thus the rain would not contain oil. For more on hurricanes and oil spills, please read this article from NOAA.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Slight risk of Severe Storms Today

An area of low pressure is spinning across the Hill Country this morning and promises to bring a chance of storms to the area. Our Western Counties are already under a flash flood watch as we anticipate at least 2 inches of rain across our western counties with isolated areas receiving between 2 and 4 inches of rain.

In addition to the heavy rain threat, there is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms with the main threat being gusty winds and weak tornadoes. The area of low pressure to our south is acting very much like a tropical low. As with any land falling tropical system, there is a chance of a few tornadoes and we see that threat today across East Texas, mainly our Southwestern Counties from Athens to Alto and southwest.

This area of low pressure will be with us again tomorrow keeping the chance of thunderstorms around. As we head towards the weekend however, we will begin to dry out and heat up with mid 90s heat returning.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NE Colorado Supercell 6.6.10

Tornado Warned supercell south of Ft. Morgan, CO 6/6/10. There was a report of a tornado touchdown but from our vantage point we did not see it. We sat on this storm for about 2 hours. The first part of the video is of the rotating base and wall cloud. the second part of the video shows the back side of the storm with mammatus and lots of lightning. The last few frames of the time lapse is of a second supercell that moved in behind the first storm. Notice the cork screw appearance to the updraft tower.