Talking the Tropics With Mike: T.S. WATCH for Bermuda as Hurricane Lee makes the turn north

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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: Building seas & surf through this week with an escalating rip current risk. Breakers at the beaches 5-7′, locally briefly higher Wed.-Fri. Lee will not make a direct hit on NE Fl. or SE Ga.

The Atlantic Basin Overview:

** “Lee” was upgraded to a tropical storm last Tue. afternoon & to a hurricane Wed. afternoon & intensified to a Cat. 4 Thu. afternoon & to a Cat. 5 late Thu. evening! before weakening the last several days... will be “on the field” through the upcoming weekend into early next week.

** The strong tropical wave - ‘96-L’ was upgraded to tropical depression #14 Thu. morning & “Margot” Thu. afternoon then to a hurricane Mon. afternoon - stays far out to sea over the E. & Central Atlantic.

** A strong tropical wave over the Eastern Atlantic has a good chance to develop....

(1) The strong tropical wave - ‘95-L’ - that moved off the coast of Africa this past weekend and was upgraded to tropical depression #13 Tue. morning then to tropical storm “Lee” Tue. afternoon & then to a hurricane Wed. afternoon. The hurricane rapidly intensified Thu. becoming a Cat. 4 Thu. afternoon then a Cat. 5 later Thu. night. before steadily weakening thereafter until strengthening again late Sun. into Monday & now is mostly steady state.

Tropical storm WATCH for Bermuda... eventual significant impacts for parts of New England & Eastern Atlantic Canada...

Lee will move steadily west/northwest through while slowing down allowing for the much anticipated northward turn. I would not be surprised to see an annular hurricane for a while this week. Hurricane hunter aircraft will be investigating Lee & sampling the atmosphere around Lee daily.

As expected, Lee has stayed well north of the Caribbean. A veer more northwest is ongoing taking Lee east of the Bahamas while slowing its forward speed. The the hurricane goes far to the east of Fl. this week as Lee completes its northward turn through a weakness - alleyway - over the Western Atlantic that remains well established. Lee is the third major (Franklin & Idalia so far) hurricane of the Atlantic season ... the third hurricane of the Atlantic season develops - on average - Sept. 7 (4 so far this year) while the 2nd “major” hurricane average date is Sept. 19.

Lee should be a major or near major hurricane for much of this week while increasing in size. Lee will move over some of the cooled wake from Franklin & even Idalia by mid-week which could cause at least some weakening in addition to potential upwelling underneath a slower moving Lee through midweek. While shear will increase through the week, Lee will be increasingly moving with the shear vector which is generally less inhibiting for tropical cyclones in addition to increasing upper level diffluence due to interaction with a nearby trough late this week helping to counteract some of the other negatives (cooler water, increasing shear, nearby dry air).

It looks like Lee will increase its forward speed again by mid to late next week as it fully rounds the west side of the Bermuda high & starts to feel the “pulling” effects of an approaching upper level trough. This is where the forecast track becomes more problematic & possibly - ultimately - a threat for a landfall..

If Lee is truly a threat for any of the U.S. lower 48, it’s well north of Jacksonville on or near the upper U.S. east coast (New England) &/or some of the eastern provinces of Canada. The forecast models remain in good agreement overall showing Lee not reaching Jacksonville’s latitude until mid afternoon to late Thu. while 2,000+ miles to the east. An easterly swell, rough seas & surf will impact our local beaches for much of this week with a high rip current risk. There’s the potential for 5-7+ foot breakers along the NE Fl. & SE Ga. coast Wed. through Fri.

The core of Lee will stay west of Bermuda but there will still be gusty winds, a few rain bands & very rough seas & surf for the island Wed. through the weekend.

There continues to be a very real threat for direct impacts from Lee for New England by late this week into the weekend a well as Nova Scotia & Newfoundland. This part of the forecast track has been the most uncertain but is becoming less muddled. The European model has generally been more west than the GFS but both are coming into line with a track near or just east of Maine than into Nova Scotia. Heavy rain, strong winds + very rough seas & surf will batter parts of Massachusetts, Maine & other parts of Eastern New England as well as Nova Scotia & Newfoundland. By this time Lee will not be as intense but still likely at least a Cat. 1, possibly Cat. 2 hurricane but will also be a much wider storm with tropical storm force winds extending for hundreds of miles from the center of the storm & gales more than 500 miles from the center. Though on the west side of the cyclone, Boston will likely see heavy rain & strong winds Fri. night into Saturday. It would appear New York City will have some wind & perhaps some rain but will be spared the worst.

The Bermuda High remains anchored rather far north & east which is favorable for an early turn north of the strong hurricane. As Lee rounds the western edge of the Bermuda high while an upper level trough is moving through the Central & Eastern U.S., Lee will make a turn more north & even north/northwest later this week which then brings into “play” New England & Eastern Canada as an upper level trough moves eastward toward the NW Atlantic drawing Lee a little more northwest for a time as the tropical cyclone interacts with the trough.

Folks from the Mid Atlantic to New England to Eastern Canada need to stay up to date on the latest forecasts!

(2) The very strong tropical wave - ‘96-L’ - was upgraded to t.d. # 14 Thu. morning over the far Eastern Atlantic & to tropical storm “Margot” late Thu. then to the 5th hurricane of the Atlantic season late Mon. This tropical cyclone will stay far to the east over the Eastern & Central Atlantic.

(3) A pair of strong tropical waves have emerged off the coast of Africa & will combine forces with the potential to develop this week while moving westward on roughly the same path as Lee & farther south than Margot. Earlier development/strengthening should translate into an earlier turn to the north (which is what we’ll root for!).

(4) We’ll also need to watch for possible development over or near the SW Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico in the long range - approximately 7-12 days.

The map below is the 500 mb (~30,000 feet) forecast for next Tue. (09/12) from the European model. The Bermuda High is weaker & shifted a little northeast while a trough of low pressure dives into the Eastern U.S. This combination should help Lee turn northward to the east of Florida but an eventual turn more north or northwest is still possible in the long range once north of Florida’s latitude.


Tropical wave ‘97-L’:

Tropical wave ‘98-L’:

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..... “Nigel” 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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