04 September 2015

Fred STILL not dead, and future Grace brewing in eastern Atlantic?

Much to the surprise of forecasters, Fred remains a minimal tropical storm on Friday morning, being sustained by intermittent bursts of strong thunderstorms near the center.  It's barely clinging to tropical cyclone status amidst very strong wind shear, dry air, and marginal ocean temperatures. The forecast continues to indicate Fred dissipating to a remnant low, but we shall see.  Several models actually indicate that it could re-strengthen in about 4-5 days as it turns toward the Azores, so we could still be talking about Fred at this time next week!

Visible satellite view of Tropical Storm Fred from 7:45am EDT today.
5-day forecast track of Fred, or whatever is left of it, from the 5am EDT advisory. (NOAA)

Elsewhere, an easterly wave that exited the African coast yesterday is showing signs of development.  It is currently centered about 350 miles southeast of the Cape Verde Islands, and about 2800 miles east of the Windward Islands.

It is likely going to track toward the west-northwest over the next 5 days as it gradually organizes.  It could become Tropical Depression 7, and then the next name on the list is Grace.  Just for reference (this isn't a forecast), the average easterly wave travel time from this location to the Lesser Antilles is roughly seven days.

02 September 2015

Fred weakening, and 80th anniversary of Labor Day Hurricane

Since my last update on Monday morning, Fred has weakened to a 45mph tropical storm and is quickly on the way to becoming a remnant low.  The Big 3 environmental factors for tropical cyclone intensity (sea surface temperature, wind shear, and low-level humidity) are all plunging into ranges that have caused Fred to quickly dissipate.  All that remains is a low-level swirl northwest of the Cape Verde Islands.  Although it was a short lifetime, it was the easternmost Cape Verde hurricane on record, which is certainly noteworthy.

Elsewhere across the Atlantic, there is nothing brewing in the foreseeable future.  This is a bit unusual as we ramp up to the climatological peak of the season!

Daily climatology of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE).
Tonight is a very special anniversary... 80 years ago on the night of September 2, the most intense Atlantic landfalling hurricane on record hit the upper Florida Keys (Long Key): the infamous 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.  It made landfall with sustained winds of 185 mph and produced an 18-foot storm surge in the upper Keys.  It's worth pointing out that it was a tropical storm just 44 hours prior, so yes, tropical cyclones are capable of incredible intensification rates when conditions are ideal.  Even in 2015, I can say with confidence that we could not predict this super-rapid intensification.

Track of the 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane, which remains the most intense landfalling hurricane anywhere in the Atlantic.
If you use Facebook, my friend and hurricane historian Michael Laca has an excellent collection of photos and information from the storm: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.220683491357229.52229.218869288205316&type=3&pnref=story

There's a beautiful memorial in Islamorada (which was completely obliterated that night) to commemorate the approximately 400 people who died in the storm... here is a photo taken by Michael.  The plaque at the base of the monument reads: "Dedicated to the memory of the civilians and war veterans whose lives were lost in the hurricane of September Second, 1935."

The 1935 hurricane memorial in Islamorada, FL.  Photo by Michael Laca.