21 June 2012

Chris upgraded to hurricane, southern Gulf still brewing

An exceptionally rare and unforecast June hurricane is certainly not what anyone expected to be looking at today, but Chris took every opportunity to intensify.  At 15Z, the 65kt, 987mb hurricane was located near 41N 43W, or about 750 miles west of the Azores (don't get to reference those islands very often!).

Track guidance suggests that Chris will complete a little loop, then continue the northeast journey, passing north of the Azores but probably bringing some hefty weather to them in the coming days.

Elsewhere, the broad area of disturbed weather that was centered in the western Caribbean has oozed its way northwest as expected and is now roughly centered in the southeast Gulf of Mexico to the northern Yucatan peninsula.  It continues to show signs of organization, including a building mid-level circulation, a building anticyclone aloft, and persistent deep convection near the center.

An ASCAT overpass at 0327Z today (about 11 hours ago from this post) showed very tight curvature in the surface winds right off the tip of the Yucatan, but not quite a closed circulation.

Several models have become more aggressive with developing this system, and for the most part, agree with a slow crawl toward the north and a slow intensification.  This is still something worth keeping a close eye on for anyone along the northern Gulf coast (at this point, that includes Texas to Florida, perhaps with a little more weight toward the northeast Gulf coast).  If named, the next name on the list is Debby.  And climatologically, we only reach the "D" storm on August 23.  This would also be the first storm of the season to exist below 30N.  Of course, these are all contingent on it becoming more than a big cluster of thunderstorms!

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