Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quiet Locally...Watching the Tropics

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Not much change in the outlook through the work week.  If anything, the forecast through the rest of week and into the weekend may be just a tad “drier” than we posted yesterday. 
We did see isolated showers pop-up this afternoon, accompanied by a flash or two of lightning on Titan9 Doppler, mainly along and south of the I-10/12 corridor.  Most or all of those rains will wind-down as we approach sunset; look for mainly fair skies later tonight and extending into Wednesday’s sunrise.
Right now, we’ve got a mainly-dry forecast for Wednesday through Friday and only isolated afternoon showers for the weekend.  Highs will continue to reach the low 90°s through Friday and probably into Saturday  as well -- staying slightly-above normal for most WAFB neighborhoods.  Early morning minimums generally will run around 70° for the ‘Red Stick’ for the rest of the work week and into the weekend. 

Better rain chances return early next week.  For many of you, a little rain wouldn’t hurt one bit!  But don’t count on it, at least not in any significant amounts until next week.  Sure, a handful of lucky communities could see a decent shower in the coming days thanks to our unpredictable, isolated summer-season pop-up showers.  But for most, the continued summer heat and lack of rain is starting to put a real “crunch” on the lawns and gardens.
In the tropics ... a ‘first’ for the 2013 season: two ‘named’ systems spinning at the same time in the Atlantic Basin.
For Gulf interests, the Bay of Campeche likely becomes our tropical focus later this week.  Now labeled “Invest 93L,” the disturbance we pointed-out yesterday in the western Caribbean has continued to show some consolidation today and is expected to move into the SW Gulf over the next two days.  Several models continue to show development later in the week; looks good for “93L” to become INGRID before the weekend.

HUMBERTO has strengthened today but had not reached ‘Category 1’ as of 4:00pm CDT.  The National Hurricane Center (NHC) still calls for additional strengthening with HUMBERTO expected to become a hurricane sometime tonight or early tomorrow.  Although the NHC forecast calls for HUMBERTO to take on a due-west heading over the weekend, at this stage it appears unlikely that ‘he’ will be a threat to U.S. interests.

For the trivia-minded, HUMBERTO looks like ‘he’ will be the first hurricane of the 2013 season.  We’ve mentioned this point frequently of late: as the 8th ‘named’ storm of the season, HUMBERTO will hold the odd distinction of being the farthest we’ve ever gone into the alphabetical list (back to 1950) without a storm reaching hurricane intensity.
And HUMBERTO is still in the running for being the “latest-forming” first hurricane of any season in the satellite era (back thru the 1970s) and the second “latest-forming” hurricane in more than 70 years.  If HUMBERTO makes it past 7:00am Wednesday morning without an upgrade, ‘he’ will set the new record for the modern era.  Prior to 2013, 2002’s GUSTAV was the latest-named hurricane in the Atlantic Basin (since operational satellite-tracking), reaching Category 1 officially at 7:00am on September 11th.
Elsewhere in the basin, GABRIELLE has made a surprise return.  ‘Her’ remnants have slowly moved north over the past several days and as of 4:00am (CDT) this morning, the NHC declared that those remnants had regenerated into a tropical storm.  The NHC expects some limited additional strengthening in the next 12-24 hours as GABRIELLE continues on a generally northward track through Friday, then turns more to the NNE.  The current forecast calls for GABRIELLE to undergo transition from a tropical to a post-tropical system (extra-tropical cyclone) over the weekend, but still deliver tropical-storm force winds to portions of the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

By the way, while the season has been far less eventful than we expected back in early June -- thankfully! -- don’t be fooled into thinking that it has been unusually quiet.  
While long-term statistics for the Atlantic Basin indicate that, on average, there would have been three hurricanes by now, we are still ahead of the game in terms of the number of ‘named’ storms for September 10th.  HUMBERTO (storm No. 8) was ‘named’ Monday, yet NHC statistics show that, on average, only 6 storms are ‘named’ as of September 10th.  Those same long-term stats show that, on average, the 8th ‘named’ storm doesn’t appear until late September.
In addition, the Gulf has been ‘visited’ by ANDREA, BARRY and FERNAND, with the potential for INGRID to pop-up over the weekend.  Four ‘named’ Gulf storms are about average for the Gulf through an entire hurricane season, yet there are roughly 10 weeks to go before season’s end.  But like the basin as a whole, the lack of hurricanes in the Gulf, so far, has been a blessing for all.

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