Talking the Tropics With Mike: Low pressure becomes Ophelia, headed for N. Carolina, Mid Atlantic

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REMEMBER WHEN A TROPICAL STORM OR HURRICANE IS APPROACHING: Taping windows is *not* recommended & will not keep glass from breaking. Instead close curtains & blinds.

Realize the forecast cone (”cone of uncertainty”) is the average forecast error over a given time - out to 5 days - & *does not* indicate the width of the storm &/or where damage that might occur.

*** LOCAL (Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.) IMPACTS FROM THE TROPICS: Developing low pressure through Fri. east/northeast of Florida will cause gusty winds, coastal heavy showers, rough seas & surf along with at a very high rip current risk through Friday. More significant impacts for the Carolina’s through Saturday as the low tries to become at least subtropical & possibly purely tropical... then to Chesapeake Bay & far Southern New England.

The Atlantic Basin Overview:

** “Nigel” is accelerating northeast over the N. Atlantic & losing tropical characteristics with the last NHC advisory issued early Fri....

** Low pressure has become Ophelia & will hit N. Carolina northward to Southern New England through the weekend...

** A strong tropical wave over the E. Atlantic at a lower latitude than Nigel’s track has the potential for eventual development...

(1) Low pressure has formed east of Florida & may become tropical before reaching the N. Carolina coast Saturday.

A Storm Surge WARNING: Bogue Inlet, North Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia ... Chesapeake Bay south of Colonial Beach, Virginia ... Neuse and Pamlico Rivers ... Portions of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. A Storm Surge WATCH: Surf City, North Carolina to Bogue Inlet, North Carolina ... Remainder of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. A Hurricane WATCH: North of Surf City, North Carolina to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. A Tropical Storm WARNING: Cape Fear, North Carolina to Fenwick Island, Delaware ... Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds ... Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island ... Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach.

Forecast models are in good agreement on Ophelia, though more offshore (to the east) of Fl. than forecast earlier this week. Movement will generally be to the north/northwest with a move to near & over far Eastern N. Carolina coast Saturday with a probable landfall a little either way of sunrise. From there the low will continue north to Chesapeake Bay then near & off the Southern New England coast while weakening. Moderate to strong mid & upper level wind shear from the southwest will likely maintain a system heavily weighted with the rain & wind on its north/northwest & northeast side. It is *possible* Ophelia will be near hurricane strength prior to landfall & will almost certainly have at least hurricane force wind gusts.

A stalled front to the north & northwest of Ophelia will help focus the heaviest rainfall & well as a secondary area of stronger winds. Significant storm surge & moderate to major flooding can be expected from the central coast of N. Carolina northward through Chesapeake Bay to the Jersey coast. Tropical storm conditions will occur well in advance of the low due to strong high pressure to the north (creating a strong pressure gradient). There will be a sharp gradient (drop off) in wind & rain to the west of the track of the low. Expected weakening over land + a pretty sharp turn to the east should keep the *most serious* impacts away from New York City & Boston

Nor’easter conditions will continue through Fri. for coastal NE Fl. & SE Ga. with gusty onshore (out of the east/northeast) flow/winds, rough seas & surf & dangerous rip currents. Rain bands have been cut off as drier air works southward into the area on the backside of Ophelia. Conditions will gradually improve over the weekend but a high rip current risk will continue through at least Sat.

Anyone traveling to - or living in - the Carolina’s northward to New England should stay up to date on the latest forecasts.

Ophelia is the 15th named storm of the ‘23 Atlantic hurricane season surpassing the avg. of 14 for an entire season (June 1 - Nov. 30).

Rainfall forecast:

From the Florida State Cyclone Phase Analysis & Forecast page - great resource! You can see the forecast trend to purely warm core with the process well underway through the day Fri. In the second image, note the very warm tongue of the Gulf Stream that the low will cross into Fri. evening....

(2) A strong tropical wave - ‘90-L’over the far Eastern Atlantic may slowly develop while moving west. Heads-up for the Caribbean by the middle of next week though trends are for an earlier turn to the northwest then north that should keep the wave east & north of the Caribbean & well to the east of the U.S.

Check out the upper oceanic heat content (UOHC) [tropical cyclone heat potential/TCHP] across the SW Atlantic, Gulf & Caribbean. The warmth is very deep. But keep in mind warm ocean temps. alone doesn’t necessarily equate to a “big” hurricane season (need other ingredients & factors to be favorable too) but it’s obvious there is a lot of very warm water at great depths over the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico stretching eastward all the way into the Central Atlantic:

Water vapor loop (dark blue/yellow is dry mid & upper level air):

July tropical cyclone origins:

Averages below based on climatology for the Atlantic Basin for August:

Wind shear:

Saharan dust spreads west each year from Africa by the prevailing winds (from east to west over the Atlantic). Dry air - yellow/orange/red/pink. Widespread dust is indicative of dry air that can impede the development of tropical cyclones. However, sometimes “wanna’ be” waves will just wait until they get to the other side of - or away from - the plume then try to develop if other conditions are favorable. In my personal opinion, way too much is made about the presence of Saharan dust & how it relates to tropical cyclones. In any case, the peak of Saharan dust typically is in June & July.

2023 names..... “Philippe” is the next name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years). Historic storms are retired [Florence & Michael in ’18... Dorian in ’19 & Laura, Eta & Iota in ‘20, Ida in ‘21 & Fiona & Ian in ‘22]). In fact, this year’s list of names is rather infamous with “Katrina”, “Rita” & “Wilma” retired from the ‘05 list & “Harvey”, “Irma”,“Maria” & “Nate” from the ‘17 list. The WMO decided - beginning in 2021 - that the Greek alphabet will be no longer used & instead there will be a supplemental list of names if the first list is exhausted (has only happened three times - 2005, 2020 & 2021). The naming of tropical cyclones began on a consistent basis in 1953. More on the history of naming tropical cyclones * here *.

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content over the Gulf, Caribbean & deep tropical Atlantic. The brighter colors are expanding dramatically as we near the peak of the hurricane season.:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


Atlantic Basin wave period forecast for 24, 48, 72 & 96 hours respectively:

East/Central Pacific:

West Pacific:

Global tropical activity:

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