15 July 2002

First Tropical Storm of the season forms off the US east coast.

The circulation down by Florida I had been mentioning dissipated and
moved inland.  However, an area of disturbed weather surprised lots of
folks by rapidly developing and acquiring tropical characteristics just
miles off the North Carolina coast.  It was classified as Tropical
Depression 1 at 21Z on Sunday with a 1009mb central pressure and a
forecast for gradual intensification.

Then, at 15Z today (11am Eastern), TD1 was upgraded to Tropical Storm
Arthur based on ship and buoy reports.  At 15Z, Arthur was located at
36.4N 69.7W and moving ENE at 20kts... away from the mainland.  Minimum
central pressure was 1001mb and maximum sustained winds were 45kts. 
Little change is intensity is forecast, but recent developments seen in
satellite imagery suggest the storm may be becoming better organized.

Although the storm is in fairly strong westerly shear (as evident by the
CDO being displaced east of the low-level center), new deep convection
is blowing up on the west side of the CDO (-75C cloud tops).

TS Arthur is not threatening any land in the near future.  In 2-3 days,
southeast Canada may need to watch out, but for now, let's just enjoy
the action.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

12 July 2002

Disturbance near Florida...

The area of disturbed weather in the northern Gulf has made some move
toward development, but is not much to be concerned about at this time.

The surface circulation is still there (approx 28N 87W), but still
elongated like it was a couple days ago.  One thing that HAS changed is
the amount of convection.  There's a respectable area of -65C cloud
tops, but their coverage has been decreasing over the past few hours. 
Wind shear is 10-15 kts.

So, it seems that the weekend will hold only gusty winds and stronger
surf than normal for the western Florida peninsula and the panhandle. 
However, due to the proximity to land, the recent thunderstorm activity,
and the warm Gulf waters, it should not be dismissed completely.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

10 July 2002

Forty days into the season, and there's finally SOMETHING to discuss!

Those who keep a close eye on the tropical Atlantic would notice that
there has been an area of disturbed weather in the northeast Gulf of
Mexico the past 2-3 days.  For those who don't, that's what I'm here for
I guess.  Well, beyond the persistent (though not very intense)
convection, today saw the birth of a weak Low pressure system embedded
within the cloudiness.

The elongated surface circulation is centered at roughly 27N 87.5W, as
indicated by a morning pass of QuikSCAT, an active microwave
scatterometer (a satellite capable of retrieving wind speed AND
direction).  The next overpass will be at 7:20pm EDT and we'll see if
the winds are stronger and perhaps more circular around the Low.

Vertical shear is presently at about 10kts and is expected to decrease,
allowing what convection there is to become better organized.  The sea
surface temperatures (SST) are plenty warm (approx 29C), as is normal
for the Gulf.  Given the anticipated favorable conditions in the near
future, it's possible that this disturbance will become Tropical
Depression 1.  If not, we'll continue the drought of tropical activity
this year has demonstrated.

Now, since the "storm" is so close to land, landfall becomes a
concern... should it intensify.  Some models weaken it completely, while
one (GFDL) makes it a rather ominous storm in the near future.  GFDL
forecasts it to reach 970mb (medium CAT2) by Friday afternoon as it
makes landfall near Apalachicola, FL, weaken as it travels northeast
over the Florida peninsula, Georgia, and the Carolinas, then
re-intensify to a CAT2 storm again over open waters.  An interesting
solution, considering how some other models completely downplay it.

Just FYI, the first name on this year's list is Arthur.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.