Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tropical trouble for someone

The tropics are certainly back in business for meteorologists, with a hurricane moving westward in the Atlantic and another system trying to form in the Gulf of Mexico.

The next several days will be extremely interesting for meteorologists and other weather-watchers, because the computer models can't figure out what to make of the situation.

There is a chance that the Charlotte region could be affected by either -- or neither -- of the two systems.

Hurricane Katia is out there -- way out there -- in the Atlantic. The coordinates at midday Wednesday were 15.5 degrees North and 47.5 degrees West, and the storm was moving westward at 18 mph with 75 mph winds. Don't look for much strengthening in the next day or two, because the storm is encountering dry air and some shear. But Katia is forecast to intensify by late Friday or Saturday and eventually become a major hurricane.

The other system is a cluster of showers and thunderstorms in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Louisiana. Most computer models predict it will become Lee (probably as a tropical storm, not a hurricane), but the computers take the storm all over the place -- westward to near Brownsville, Texas; north into Texas or Louisiana; or even eastward into Alabama or western Florida.

The Gulf low could bring heavy rain to the Charlotte area, perhaps as early as Labor Day but probably later next week. To do that, it would have to come ashore and link with an approaching cold front. That looked likely in yesterday's computer model runs, but less so today (Wednesday).

As for Katia ... who knows?

For several days, the computers predicted the hurricane would curve northward, becoming a threat to Bermuda.

But in the last 24 hours, the computers are predicting that a trough (low pressure) forecast to drop into the eastern United States will be weaker than first expected. That trough -- located between high pressure over Texas and another system in the Atlantic -- was expected to allow Katia to curve northward.

But if the trough is weak, the Atlantic high pressure system could steer Katia toward the U.S. coast.

And to make things even more complicated, the Gulf storm system also could have an impact on Katia's track, by helping steer it northward -- if the Gulf low becomes strong enough, and if it moves eastward.

I think the Gulf system will have more of an impact on our lives, but we'll have to keep watching closely over the next few days.


Anonymous said...

Either way, no matter which ay either of thses storms moves, get ready for 4+ dollar a gallon of gas. The oil companies have dollar signs in their eyes, especially with the one in the Gulf. ANY reson to jack up the gas prices, even though they should not be more than 3.25 with regards to the oil being below 90.

David said...

Very good insight Steve! Why are you not working weather full-time somewhere? Seems like a waste of talent!

Ryan said...

Yeah as my Dad would always say, Katia is just a "fish storm" right now!

Anonymous said...

We could definitely use some rain. Seems like it has been a little while since that strange stuff fell from the sky.