Friday, September 30, 2016

A somewhat rare "Black Moon" occurs this Friday

Whoa...wait a minute?  Say what?  No, that isn't a typo! A somewhat unusual lunar event known as a Black Moon will occur this Friday, September 30th.

A Black Moon is when you have 2 new moons in one month. It is opposite to the more well known, Blue Moon when there are 2 full moons in one month.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to see the Black Moon since the Earth's facing side of the moon will be in its shadow. The last time we had a Black Moon was back in March of 2014.

According to NASA, "Black Moon" isn't even a scientific term. It also has been used to describe a month that doesn't have a full moon, or to describe a third full moon in a season that has four full moons.

By the way...there will not be a Blue Moon in 2017. The next one will be on January 31, 2018.

Matthew now a Category 3 hurricane in the Caribbean

Matthew rapidly intensified overnight in the Central Caribbean. Winds are now 115 mph and it is
forecast maintain this strength for the next few days.  It is battling some wind shear, but that hasn't weakened the storm.

There is a ridge of high pressure to the north of Matthew that is steering it to the west to WSW for the next day or so with a slower forward speed.  Then the ridge will weaken over the Atlantic, and a trough of low pressure will move over the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern U.S. This will cause Matthew to turn to the north, and head toward Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba.  However, there is some disagreement with the forecast models as to where and when it will turn to the north.  The ECMWF (Euro) and the UKMET show it more to the east and the GFS and other show it a little more to the west. The NHC has taken a middle of the road approach to the model spread.  This shows it moving just east of Jamaica early Monday Morning and over Eastern Cuba early Tuesday Morning. Then it will move over the Bahamas.

At the same time, the wind shear is forecast to be weaker and it will be moving over very warm water.  This will allow Matthew its major hurricane or Cat. 3 status with 115 mph winds as it moves by Jamaica and makes a landfall over Eastern Cuba next week.

Now the question is how fast will Matthew be moving, and where will it go once it emerges off Cuba.  The forecast models are not in agreement at this time. The latest trend seen in the spaghetti plots show that the hurricane will likely move to the north and be east of Florida. Then continue northward toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then turn out to sea.  However, since there is a lot of uncertainty, there is little confidence in the extended forecast.

I can't rule out Matthew impacting the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, but it is looking less likely at this time. One great thing we have going for us is that another cold front is forecast to move through late next week, and IF Matthew would head toward the Gulf, the front would keep Matthew in the Eastern Gulf.  Again, I can't totally dismiss the Gulf yet, but it is looking less likely of that happening!  Once it makes the northward turn, then we will have a better feel of where it will be going.

Needless to say, we will still keep a close eye on the evolution of the hurricane.  Stay tuned for updates. -Dave

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My latest thoughts on Tropical Storm Matthew

Tropical Storm Matthew is getting better organized in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. At the moment it is battling some strong wind shear, and that is keeping the storms from wrapping around the center of circulation.  The wind shear is expected to relax tomorrow, and then it is forecast to be a hurricane in the Central Caribbean Sea.  A turn to the north is expected as a front/upper level trough moves off the eastern U.S. pulls the storm northward.  
The forecast models are not in agreement on how fast Matthew will pull to the north, but they show it happening by next week. The other issue the models do not agree on is the speed the storm moves, or the amount of wind shear.  GFS shows less shear than the ECMWF, and that would mean a stronger system.  The GFS is also much quicker showing Matthew over Cuba on Tuesday AM and the ECMWF shows it only south of Haiti.  Then the GFS shows the system off North Carolina on Thursday Evening while the ECMWF has it just east of the Bahamas - that is a BIG difference! 

Needless to say we will watch how Matthew evolves over the next few days.  Right now, the models are trending on it moving over the Greater Antilles (Cuba and Hispaniola) as a Cat. 2 hurricane, and then moving north just off the U.S. East Coast.  There is a chance it could be stronger once the wind shear dies down, and it moves over very warm waters. It is worth noting that climatologically the Central Caribbean is an area where storms do not intensify.  

At this time, it is not expected to go into the Gulf, but we will still keep an eye on it due to the uncertainties in the models. However, the recent model trends want to put it in the Atlantic vs Gulf. Stay tuned for updates. -Dave

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Invest 97 is getting better organized as it nears the Caribbean

Invest 97 is getting better organized in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a high chance of developing in the next few days.  It is also quickly moving to the west toward the Caribbean Sea. It does not have a closed circulation, but that could change soon.  It has been battling some wind shear, but it is forecast to relax and that will give it a chance to become even more organized. Therefore, it could become a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next 24 hours.
Right now, it looks like it could move into the Eastern Caribbean Sea by midweek, but the forecast models are not agreeing on what route it will take.  It could take a southerly route and stay close to the coast of South America according to the European forecast model. This nearness to land, as well as strong upper winds in that part of the Caribbean Sea, may force the system to weaken a little. However, it could stay just a little farther north and strengthen into possibly a hurricane according to the GFS model.  Until we actually have a formed system, and the Hurricane Hunters fly into it, we will not have much data going into the models.  The Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly into it later today.  
The latest trend the forecast models show is that the system will move across the Caribbean and then be drawn north over Cuba and Haiti.  Then it could possible continue moving northward into the western Atlantic just east of the U.S. East Coast.  However, it is still a long way out, and a lot could change. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean, you may want to have a backup plan! 
Right now, it is no direct threat to Louisiana, but it is still a long way out.  We will continue to track it. Stay tuned for updates here and on my Twitter and Facebook pages. -Dave

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Becoming less humid today, but it stays hot

The cold front has moved through and now some less humid air is working into the area.  We will have an area of high pressure build over us today, so expect plenty of sunshine.  Unfortunately, the cold front will not cool us down with high temperatures in the mid 90s. It will be a nice day to sit at the pool!  If you have to work outside, find ways to stay cool and hydrated! 

Tonight will be more pleasant with clear skies and it will not be as muggy.  Lows north of the lake will be nice as they fall to the upper 60s.  However, it will be much warmer south of the lake with lows in the 70s.

We will have more sunny weather on Wednesday and Thursday as the area of high pressure remains over us.  It will stay less humid too, but we remain hot with high temperatures in the lower to mid 90s. 

The weather will slowly start to change on Friday as the area of high pressure moves east of Louisiana.  This will bring back southerly winds and the humidity will slowly start to go back up.  It will be partly cloudy and hot with only a slight chance for a few showers or thunderstorms. We will also have a slight chance for rain/storms this weekend.  Highs will be in the lower 90s each day. 

For an detailed update on the tropics, click here.

For the latest marine forecast, click here.