05 September 2007

Felix tears through Caribbean, US east coast on alert...

First of all, sorry for the lack of updates recently... I was on vacation and missed Felix completely.  However, it was an amazing storm.  Not only did it become the second hurricane of the season, it was also the second CAT5 hurricane of the season!  It reached a peak intensity of 145kts and 929mb, which included an intensification rate of 26mb/6hr and 63mb/24hr.  Another tidbit is that it went from a tropical storm to a CAT5 hurricane in 27 hours.  This very rapid intensification was due to deep warm water (oceanic heat content) and very low vertical wind shear.  It made landfall on the Nicaragua/Guatemala border on Tuesday morning as a 140kt CAT5 hurricane.  Together with Dean, this marks the first time in recorded history that central America has been hit by two CAT5 storms in one year.  It is still too early to comment on damage and fatalities, as reports have not yet made it out, and there is still a huge flood danger ahead.

Elsewhere, there's a subtropical circulation with a 1007mb central pressure in the northwestern Atlantic, about halfway between the Bahamas and Bermuda (29N 71W) that is presently quite sheared, but has also been gradually acquiring tropical characteristics.  What's strange about it is the forecast track.  Most storms in that location would be caught up in the mid-latitude westerlies and head out to the open ocean.  BUT... a strong ridge is expected to build north of the system which could send it back west toward the US (Carolinas?) over the next few days, perhaps as a hurricane.  A QuikSCAT (active microwave scatterometer that remotely senses ocean surface winds) overpass detected 25-30kt uncontaminated winds nearly wrapping around it.  This could be upgraded to STS or TS Gabrielle within the next 24-36 hours.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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