20 October 2014

Tropical disturbance brewing in the Gulf of Mexico

Just a day after Gonzalo transitioned to an extratropical cyclone south of Greenland, our attention shifts back to the tropics.  A very disorganized low pressure area is festering in the Bay of Campeche... my update on the system can be found on the Capital Weather Gang blog:

Tropical disturbance brewing in the Gulf of Mexico



18 October 2014

Gonzalo passes directly over Bermuda Friday night

The hit could not have been any more direct.  There was a moment when the large eye of the hurricane was centered so perfectly over the island that there were light northerly winds on the west side of the island and light southerly winds on the east side.  That was at 9pm local time, and the corresponding radar and satellite images are shown below:

(Bermuda Weather Service)
(Naval Research Laboratory Monterey)
The complete long-range and short-range radar loops from Bermuda (as well as earlier ones from Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe) can be found at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/tropics/radar/

As you can tell from the lopsided satellite presentation, it was becoming sheared and beginning to show signs of an extratropical transition.  The radar and satellite images are from the same time (0100Z on the 18th).

During the day on Friday, I captured a series of webcam images from Bermuda's cruise ship terminal.  The three images span 4 hours, but do not include the worst of the storm (you couldn't see ANYTHING then)... the rapid deterioration of conditions is evident.

(portbermudawebcam.com)
St. Davids experienced a wind gust close to 150mph, but for the most part, winds were characteristic of a Category 2 storm... still plenty strong to inflict severe damage.  It will take some time to sort out what all happened there, and as I write this, sunlight is just returning to the island.  There will likely be extensive damage to trees as well as piers/docks/marinas.  Reports indicate that about 85% of the island is without power.

Weather balloons are released twice a day at about 800 locations around the world every day to collect atmospheric data.  Bermuda is one of those sites, and at the regularly scheduled time, they were inside Gonzalo's large eye and released the radiosonde on time... what an incredible coincidence.  Here is that sounding for posterity:


The current satellite image and forecast track are shown here, and that track will take Gonzalo over very cold water beginning tonight, and it is expected to become an extratropical cyclone by Sunday afternoon as it zips off to the north central Atlantic hurricane graveyard.

(UW/CIMSS)
This was a very bizarre week in an otherwise quiet season.  To have Tropical Storm (almost hurricane) Fay hit Bermuda last Sunday and then Hurricane Gonzalo hit on the following Friday night is the worst possible luck!  The debris from Fay was still not picked up completely when Gonzalo hit.

For now, the only area of possible interest in the coming days is in the Bay of Campeche, so I'll keep a close eye on it!