Two storms in the eastern Atlantic are going opposite directions. This is a great demonstration of how storms are steered by upper level winds and how water temperature can impact develop. While physically moving in opposite directions, they also have different futures. One will weaken while the other is just getting started.
Hurricane Gordon is a strong category 1 with 90 mph winds and is moving to the east towards Europe. It likely has peaked out already as colder water will weaken it. Sea Surface Temperatures are colder than 25C or 77F which just isn’t enough to keep the storm going. Tropical Computer Models (seen in the slide show) trend landfall between Portugal, northern Spain and southern France for landfall as a tropical depression with winds below 35 mph, but some localized heavy rain.
Latest stats from NHC at 2pm AST
- Max winds 90 mph
- Movement: East Northeast at 21mph
- Pressure 976 mb, or 28.82”
- Location: 220 Miles from Sao Miguel Island, Azores
- Location 35.8 N 28.7 W
The other system farther south in the same area of the Eastern Atlantic, but moving towards the west. For research purposes it is being called Invest 94. The latest satellite loop shows a better organized system. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 70% chance for this to reach 39 mph sustained winds and be named Isaac by Tuesday.
Don’t believe the hype:
The rumor mill got going on Saturday as the GFS computer model tracked this storm into Florida than then up the eastern US. For what it is worth, that was expected to happen on August 31st, almost 2 weeks away. Today the same model shows a much different story. Now the consensus among models keeps this system farther south. Just look at the video clip of the water vapor satellite loop. The line of clouds and storms stretching from the Atlantic to the Caribbean is the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This appears to be a bit farther south than normal and may hint at the future track. You can see the flow of moisture in the central Atlantic almost push down… suppressing possible movement that way.
The breaking point is often main Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Hispanola. If a storm passes to the north side of them, then odds increase of an east coast impact. But staying to the south in the Caribbean Sea would keep this along a similar path as Ernesto. Storms do like to follow a pattern and this year that has been to lean on the left side of computer model tracks.
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For now the long range models actually bring that storm into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of August. The difference in part is how the weather pattern evolves over the US. The cooler pattern I had been advertising for the end of summer is developing. An upper level trough or pool of cool air aloft may help the east cool down and get more wet. It should also prevent any threat of a tropical system heading this way.
Again, this is a long way away. There are too many factors in the atmosphere that can steer the direction of a storm. At this stage it is better to look at the general trend and not the specifics. On that note, I am leaning against the chance of the US getting hit by this storm. Should another one develop between now and then, that would be a different story. There is more action expected as we approach the normal peak of tropical season in mid September. For now it is just a watching game.
Tropical storm and hurricane history of naming. 2012 Atlantic list
Tropical Storm formation history: Storm origin maps every 10 days of season
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Storm Surge is the most deadly and destructive
NASA Global Hawk: Hurricane drone planes run by locals at Goddard
Tropical Storm Debby: Eyewitness photos from Florida