Saturday, July 24, 2010

The fizzling Bonnie

The 4 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center proved the death knell for Bonnie.

"Bonnie degenerates into a disorganized area of low pressure," it read.

Bonnie, the tropical storm-turned-tropical depression, never strengthened back into a tropical storm after crossing South Florida, thus sparing the northern Gulf Coast significant concern.

"This is the last public advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center on this system," the advisory closed.

As for other action in the Atlantic basin: there is a disturbance in the southern Gulf near the coast of Mexico, but its development isn't anticipated.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bonnie out over the eastern Gulf

Tropical Depression Bonnie's center of circulation has emerged out into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 75 miles west-northwest of Ft. Myers, as of the 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds were still at 35 mph. Present movement was west-northwest at 17 mph.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect from Destin, Fla., to Morgan City, La., including Lake Pontchartrain.

The west-northwest movement is expected to continue, however with a decreased forward speed. Bonnie is expected to reach the northern Gulf Coast late Saturday.

Bonnie could regain tropical storm strength. An Air Force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft will be investigating the storm Friday night into Saturday morning.

Winds will continue to decrease in South Florida while tropical storm-force winds, mainly in squalls, will likely begin along the northern Gulf Coast within the warning area on Saturday.

Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches are possible Friday night across central and South Florida.

Storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above ground level along the immediate coast near and to the right of wherever the center makes landfall on the northern Gulf Coast.

Bonnie downgraded

Tropical Storm Bonnie has weakened to a tropical depression, according to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm's center is about 35 miles south of Ft. Myers. Its maximum sustained winds are now at 35 mph. It's moving west-northwest at 18 mph.

Tropical Storm Bonnie soaking Miami

As of 11 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Bonnie was centered over Biscayne Bay, closed enough to be giving Miami a soaking.

The Miami Herald reports:
Bursts of wet weather, courtesy of Tropical Storm Bonnie, started during the commute Friday morning in South Florida, with heavy rains in Broward and Miami-Dade, forecasters said.

Bonnie has picked up speed and for South Florida, the worst of it will likely continue into the early afternoon hours.

"It's going to be wet. It's going to be windy,'' said Robert Molleda, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami. ``Tropical storm force winds may not seem as threatening as a hurricane, but they're still pretty dangerous."
As of 11 a.m., Bonnie was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Miami and about 130 miles southeast of Fort Myers.

A tropical storm warning for Tropical Storm Bonnie extends from Deerfield Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida, through the Florida Keys and to Englewood in southern Sarasota County, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On the north Gulf Coast, a tropical storm warning has been issued for from Destin on the Florida Panhandle to Morgan City, La., including Lake Pontchartrain

In addition to the tropical storm warning, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the east coast of Florida from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and Lake Okeechobee.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interactive cone map

Hurricane Watch really likes this new National Hurricane Center feature: an interactive Google tracking map.

You can reload the data to be from any advisory. Here's one difference we saw from the 2 p.m. map to the 8 p.m. map: The northern edge of the cone creeped up from around Marco Island to Bonita Springs, a jog north of about 30 miles.

Bonita Springs is about 100 miles south of Bradenton.

The 8 p.m. Bonnie advisory map

Tropical Storm Bonnie forms on path to Gulf spill

MIAMI (AP) Tropical Storm Bonnie has formed with winds of 40 mph in the eastern Caribbean, on a course that could take it into the BP oil spill zone.

An Air Force plane sent to study the storm determined it had reached tropical storm strength Thursday.

The storm system was raking the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southern Bahamas, and it had caused flooding in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The system is expected bring heavy winds and rains to the Florida Keys in the next few days.
A forecast map shows that the storm could reach the area of the Gulf of Mexico around the massive oil spill by sometime this weekend, but forecasters say that the path of a storm can be difficult to predict.

Tropical storm warning issued for SW Florida

 The Miami Herald reports on trouble in the tropics:
The National Hurricane Center Thursday morning upgraded the tropical disturbance near the Bahamas to tropical depression three.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the center-northwestern Bahamas, and the east coast of Florida from Golden Beach south through the Keys, and on the west coast north to Bonita Springs.

Tropical storm watches have been issued from Golden Beach north to Jupiter Beach and Lake Okeechobee.

Forecasters expect the tropical depression to strengthen to a tropical storm by Thursday afternoon.

An Air Force Hurricane Hunter is on the way to check out the system. The storm is located about 265 miles southeast of Nassau, and about 405 miles east-southeast of Key Largo. It has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour that are expected to strengthen. Its present movement is west-northwest at 15 miles per hour.
As for where the storm may go, this is the map showing the latest computer projections:

Hurricane Center watching second system

The tropics are heating up, with hurricane watchers keeping an eye on a second system in the Gulf of Mexico to see if it develops into a tropical storm or hurricane.

As National Hurricane Center forecasters decrease to 40 percent the chances that a tropical wave between the Bahamas and Hispaniola turns into something worse, shower and thunderstorm activity has increased in an area of low pressure off the Mexican coast in the Bay of Campeche. As of 2 a.m. EDT, there was a 40 percent chance the system would turn into a cyclone during the next 48 hours before coming ashore in Mexico.

Similarly, the other system may prove to be less of a threat to most of Florida. The latest computer models show it taking a path through the Florida Keys, entering the Gulf of Mexico and then heading toward either Louisiana or Texas.

Even if the system remains a tropical wave or depression and doesn't become "Bonnie," it does pose a threat to efforts to permanently shut off the Deepwater Horizon oil well off Louisiana.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tropical wave update

Upper-level winds could become a little more favorable Thursday for development of a tropical wave stalking the Caribbean.

Unfavorable winds and the effects of the high terrain of Hispaniola disrupted the structure of the wave Wednesday morning as it approached the southeastern Bahamas.

Showers and gusty winds extended eastward for several hundred miles. That activity was likely to spread over the Bahamas over the next day or two as the wave moved generally westward at 10 to 15 mph.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, there was a medium chance, 50 percent, of this system becoming a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours.

Hurrican Center: System won't become depression today

The National Hurricane Center this morning said it does not expect a low-pressure system north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti to develop into a tropical depression today. Still, chances remain at 60 percent that the system will develop into Tropical Storm or Hurricane Bonnie within the next 48 hours, according to a statement issued at 8 a.m.

Showers associated with the tropical wave have decreased, and the system has become less organized, according to the Hurricane Center.

"Consquently, the Air Force reconnaissance mission has been postponed until tomorrow," a statement reads. "A tropical depression is not expected to form today but environmental conditions are still favorable for some development as the system moves toward the west-northwest at about 10 mph away from Hispaniola into the Bahamas on Thursday."

As for possible paths for the system, here's what the latest computer models show:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eyeing a new storm

The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday gave a tropical wave drenching Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Virgin Islands a better-than-even chance of building into Tropical Storm Bonnie.

Its current west-northwest path, which forecasters expect to continue for several days, would bring strong winds and heavy rain toward Florida by late Thursday.
Computer models forecast it crossing anywhere from Cuba to Central Florida.

The path ahead wasn’t ideal, but atmospheric conditions had improved enough to give the system a high probability, 60 percent, of becoming at least a depression and potentially a tropical storm over the next few days, the center said.

“We’re not expecting the system to quickly develop,” said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center.
“It’s favorable enough to gain some additional strength.”

The wave, which at 2 p.m. was about 850 miles east-southeast of Miami, had grown better organized during the day, with some outer rain bands beginning to show signs of curving, Cangialosi said.

There also were signs that some lower-level circulation was beginning to build, a sign of tropical storm formation.

The center was planning to dispatch hurricane hunter planes Wednesday to assess the system.

Here's the latest computer model map from

Hurricane Center: 'High' chance tropical wave turns into cyclone

 The National Hurricane Center said there is a "high" chance that a tropical wave that extends from the Northern Leeward Islands westward to the island of Hispaniola will develop into a tropical storm or hurricane over the next 48 hours.

"Although the system does not yet have a closed circulation, satellite imagery suggests that a surface low pressure are is becoming better defined just north of the eastern tip of Hispaniola," the Hurricane Center said in a statement released at 2 p.m. EDT. "Environmental conditions are expected to be favorable for additional development as the system moves west-northwestward at about 10 mph during the next day or so."

The system was forecast to produce heavy rains and gusty winds over the next several days in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Domincan Republic, Haiti, eastern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

As for a projected path for the system, most computer models have the system crossing the Florida peninsula or the Keys and entering the Gulf of Mexico before again hitting land anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to the central Texas coast. offered the following guidance: meteorologists are focusing on two potential scenarios.

The first depicts the storm developing, crossing Florida early in the weekend and entering the eastern Gulf of Mexico as a weaker system.

Impacts over the oil spill site in the central Gulf would be less than were caused by Hurricane Alex, which moved through the southern Gulf of Mexico in late June.

The second scenario depicts the system moving through the Florida Keys late in the week, developing into a stronger tropical storm or hurricane. If this were to happen, impacts to the spill site will be increased.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cat. 4 storm 'hits' Manatee County

Photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie

MANATEE — Using the premise that Manatee County just experienced a direct hit from a major hurricane, more than 100 people from various public agencies and private service organizations participated Thursday in an exercise to develop a long-term recovery plan.

The all-day exercise presented a scenario of the fictitious Hurricane Edward with sustained Category 5 winds of 160 mph pushing a storm surge of 15 feet over Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

As the hurricane comes ashore at Category 4 strength, the force of the 145 mph winds and the storm surge wipe out most of the barrier islands, even creating breaches to the Sarasota Bay and leaving very few structures and roads in tact.

The elected officials of most of the government entities, their department chiefs and staff, law enforcement and fire department officials, members of the U.S. Coast Guard, some state agency officials, along with several people from public service organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way, were assigned to specific teams, called Emergency Support Functions.

Having drilled previously on evacuation and immediate response to a disaster, Thursday’s exercise began on the seventh day after the storm struck, and asked participants what their team needed to do to get the county back to normal.

Read more in Thursday's edition of the Herald.

-- Carl Mario Nudi

Find a photo gallery from the drill here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Depression fails to strengthen, dumps plenty of rain

ABOVE: Tony Medina removes belongings from his father-in-law's home Thursday as the Rio Grande floods the Dellwood neighborhood in Laredo, Texas. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Edward A. Ornelas)


A rain-packed Tropical Depression Two collided with the Texas-Mexico border region Thursday, posing a new threat to cities already struggling with floods along the Rio Grande and its tributaries thanks to last week's Hurricane Alex.

Police in Laredo, Texas, were evacuating people in low-lying areas as the rain-swollen Rio Grande rose to more than 30 feet above flood stage and forced closure of two bridges linking Mexico and the United States. Early reports indicated only minor flooding in homes near the Rio Grande, but the water was still rising near downtown, where the river was to crest Thursday evening.

National Guard troops arrived Thursday to help with evacuations.

Tens of thousands of people already had been forced from their homes in Mexican towns as officials dumped torrents of water into flood-swollen rivers to avoid the risk of dams overflowing out of control due to Alex and its aftermath.

Humberto Moreira, the governor of the border state of Coahuila, said more than 20,000 homes had been flooded in his state alone, and about 80,000 people had "lost all of their furniture."

Gov. Eugenio Hernandez of the border state of Tamaulipas reported the first fatality there; telling an emergency evaluation meeting attended by President Felipe Calderon in the border city of Matamoros that the victim tried to cross a flooded road.

Tropical Depression Two made landfall at South Padre Island late Thursday morning and was expected to dump four to eight inches of rain across the area, with as much as 10 inches in some parts, said the National Weather Service. That rain comes on top of the five to seven inches deposited by Alex.

The rain, saturated ground, swollen rivers and releases from dams upstream have experts closely watching the Rio Grande.

Alfredo Vega, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service focusing on hydrology, said the main flooding concern for the lower Rio Grande Valley was Rio Grande City. The river was already at 49 feet and expected to rise to 52 feet by Saturday, which would take it very close to the level where it causes area flooding by backing up streams that normally feed it.

Hurricane Alex, unusually water-heavy, devastated the major Mexican city of Monterrey, and more than 100,000 people were still without water service this week. At least 12 people died in the flooding, according to Nuevo Leon state officials.

The hurricane's remnants caused rivers to rise across the area, forcing evacuations in Del Rio, Texas, some 110 miles upstream from Laredo, as well as in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

-- Associated Press

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tropical Depression Two forms

The second tropical depression of the Atlantic season has formed Wednesday over the western Gulf of Mexico, according to an 11 p.m. advisory from the National Weather Service.

Tropical Depression Two maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and is moving northwest at 14 mph. It is about 265 east-southeast of Brownsville, Texas.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Texas coast, south of Baffin Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

The system is expected to make landfall near the Texas-Mexico border Thursday afternoon or early evening, Rainfall amounts of 4-8 inches are expected with isolated totals up to 10 inches.

Second Atlantic tropical system out there

A week after Hurricane Alex slammed onshore, a new tropical system appears to be aiming at South Texas and northeastern Mexico by Thursday, according to AccuWeather reports. The next tropical storm in the Atlantic will be "Bonnie."

It's not tracking anywhere near the oil spill area, but the system still threatens to disrupt cleanup and containment efforts in the northern Gulf and could lead to flooding along the Texas coast.

The system has just exited the northern Yucatan Peninsula, and reportedly is disorganized. As it heads northwest, it could strengthen into the the second tropical depression or tropical storm of the season by midday Thursday.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hurricane Center: 'Medium' chance storm turns into tropical storm

There was a 30 percent chance that a low pressure system producing cloudiness and thunderstorms in the northwest Caribbean Sea and southwest Gulf of Mexico would turn into a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In a statement released at 2 p.m. EDT, the Hurricane Center said that regardless of development, the system would be causing heavy rains and gusty winds over the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and western Cuba.

The next tropical storm or hurricane to form in the Atlantic basin will be named, "Bonnie."

A map showing projected paths for the system had it heading towards various spots on the Texas coast.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hurricane Center watching low-pressure systems in Gulf, Caribbean

They are just area of low pressure, but this is hurricane season so the National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on two weather systems, one in the Gulf of Mexico and the other in the western Caribbean Sea, currently listed as having "low" chances of turning into the next tropical storm or hurricane.

Get the details about the systems here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alex, a day later

Nearly 24 hours after it made landfall on the coast of Mexico as a strong Category 2 hurricane, Alex was downgraded to a tropical depression with winds of just 30 mph, according to the 11 p.m. update from the National Weather Service.

The remnants of Alex, which dissipated over the mountains of central Mexico, are still expected to dump several inches of rain.

Here are some of the headlines of Alex, courtesy of the Associated Press:
  • Hurricane Alex ripped off roofs, caused severe flooding and forced thousands of people to flee coastal fishing villages as it hit land Wednesday evening in the border state of Tamaulipas. Power and telephone service were down in several towns and cities.
  • The dry Santa Catarina river that cuts through Monterrey roared to life, sweeping away cars and parts of rickety, wooden homes built along its path.
  • One man died when he was caught by a torrent of water along a six-lane highway. Another man was found drowned by the side of a creek.
  • There were reports of 16 inches of rain in some areas of Mexico by Thursday night.
  • Raging winds knocked down hundreds of trees, telephone posts and traffic lights in the Matamoros area and farther south along Mexico's northern Gulf coast. Power and telephone service was out in San Fernando, a town near where Alex made landfall, and in the state capital of Ciudad Victoria.
  • The Mexican Navy reported it had rescued seven people Wednesday from a fishing boat that ran aground on the remote, low-lying Gulf island of Cayo Nuevo, about 130 miles off the Mexican coast, amid high waves and heavy rain. The fishermen had to be pulled off the key by rescue divers.
  • Alex whipped up high waves that frustrated oil-spill cleanup efforts on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico and delivered tar balls and globs of crude onto already soiled beaches.

Alex conjures memories of Alma

The last time the Atlantic basin saw a Category 2 hurricane was way back in 1966 when Hurricane Alma was racing parallel to Florida's west coast, eventually making landfall June 9 near Apalachicola.

This week, conditions were ripe for another giant of a June hurricane, said Logan Johnson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Ruskin: warm waters, little wind shear aloft, a upper level high-pressure ridge in place across the Gulf.

One sign of its immense strength, Hurricane Alex's barometric pressure reached a low of 947 mb as it was making landfall Wednesday night on the coast of northeast Mexico. By comparison, Hurricane Charley's pressure was 941 mb as it made landfall Aug. 13, 2004, in Cayo Costa, Fla., as a Category 4 monster.

Johnson told Hurricane Watch late Wednesday that a trough of low pressure building down the East Coast of the United States will serve to weaken the current high pressure over the eastern Gulf. While making conditions less favorable for tropical systems, it will also present cooler temperatures with highs in central Florida in the upper 80s/low 90s instead of the mid-90s that we've been experiencing of late.

As for the latest on Alex, it was still packing hurricane-force winds of 80 mph at 5 a.m. Thursday. With 20 inches of rain possible in higher elevations of northeast Mexico, flash flooding and mud slides are feared.

Find the latest advisory here.

As for the rest of the 1966 hurricane season, it was relatively quiet with the exceptions of Inez (it killed an estimated 1,000 on its trek through the Caribbean, Bahamas, the Florida Keys and Mexico) and Faith (it stayed out in the Atlantic, but had the longest recorded track of any hurricane at more than 7,500 miles).

So what about the rest of this hurricane season? Does Alex bode badly for a rough couple of months ahead?

That's too hard to tell at this point, says Johnson. Forecasters, however, already predicted this would be an active season, so consider Alex just the beginning.