07 September 2011

Katia, Maria, and Nate keeping the basin active

Hurricane Katia has not changed too much since my update this morning, but I wanted to highlight once again the buoy that it is going  to pass over.  It's a special occasion when a hurricane eye manages to pass directly over a tiny stationary buoy in the middle of the ocean.  And today, Buoy 41048 is that lucky one.  As of this writing, the buoy is 110 nautical miles NW of Katia's eye, and Katia is moving NW at 9kts (and a knot is a nautical mile per hour)... so that's about 12 hours until closest approach.  Already though, huge waves over 30' tall are rocking the buoy ("significant wave height" is defined as the average of the highest 1/3 of the waves), and wind gusts up to 54kts have been measured.  You can view current data and additional plots at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=41048

Maria is still a tropical storm, but I hunted through some historical tracks that matched Maria in terms of location, month, and intensity.  One very noteworthy result stuck out: Hurricane Hugo.  The track plot below shows Hugo's track, and the gray circle is a 100-mile circle around Maria's current location.  Hugo was located where Maria is now on September 13, 1989.  This of course doesn't mean that Maria will be a Hugo, but it's certainly worth paying close  attention to history.

Last but not least, the disturbance in the Bay of Campeche was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nate, the 14th named storm of the season, based on aircraft reconnaissance.  The intensity is 40kts and 1004mb, and it's basically stationary.  In such weak steering flow, a track forecast is extremely difficult to make, for both models and humans.  Models are all over the place with it, and justifiably so... but the official NHC forecast keeps it stationary for another 2 days, then ever so slowly tracks it northwest toward Mexico.  All of this time over the warm Gulf of Mexico should allow for some intensification, probably becoming the season's 3rd hurricane by the weekend.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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