25 August 2014

Cristobal heading north and out to sea

Since my previous post on Saturday afternoon, TD4 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Cristobal on Sunday morning.

Cristobal is the latest third named storm to form since Charlie in 1992 (named on Sep 22).  You may recall from previous posts that 1992 was also the last year that both the A and the B storms became hurricanes.  Well, if Cristobal strengthens into a hurricane (which it could), 1992 is ALSO the last time the A, B, and C storms all became hurricanes!  And yet another similarity between 1992 and 2014 is that the A storm made landfall on the U.S. as a hurricane (though Andrew was a Category 5 and Arthur was a Category 2).

As of Monday morning, Cristobal is drifting north at about 3mph, and is centered just north of Mayaguana in the eastern Bahamas.  The intensity estimate as of 8am EDT is 60mph with a 994mb central pressure.  It is forecast to become a hurricane within the next day or two.

Visible satellite image from 8:15am EDT.  I overlaid the past track in light blue and marked the current center location with a light blue X.  (NASA)
As you can see in the image above, the surface center is exposed, and all of the thunderstorm activity is displaced to the south due to strong northerly wind shear.  The sea surface temperature and ocean heat content are extremely favorable for further intensification, but due to the shear, the NHC intensity forecast currently brings the storm up to a minimal Category 1 hurricane.

The northward turn that was in question for so many days did finally happen on Sunday, and was the favored solution by the majority of models.  There was only a slight chance for a westward track into south Florida, but given the potential impact there, it was worth monitoring that possibility very closely.  The map below shows the surface pressure in line contours and the 500mb heights (steering features) in shaded contours as of this morning... Cristobal will head northeast into the trough (yellow).

Surface pressure and 500mb height contours valid at 8am EDT today.  (tropicaltidbits.com)
Now, models have come into strong agreement on Cristobal's future.  Once it pulls away from the eastern Bahamas, it is forecast to pass west of Bermuda on Wednesday as a hurricane, then zip out into the north central Atlantic where it will become a potent extratropical cyclone by the weekend.

Monday morning's suite of model and consensus guidance.  (UW-Milwaukee)
Elsewhere, there is a weak easterly wave located about 1400 miles east of the Windward Islands, but environmental conditions will inhibit development for the foreseeable future.  This wave can be tracked back to the African coast on August 21.

No comments:

Post a Comment