Belize Tropical Weather Outlook: August 28, 2015

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Belize NMS Forecast

6:00 AM in Belize, August 28, 2015

At 3:00am the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located near 17.7 N latitude, 67.7 W longitude or about 155 miles ESE of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Erika was moving to the West-Northwest at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

Elsewhere in the North Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 48 hours.

Tropical Atlantic Wide Infrared Satellite Image:

USA National Weather Service Forecast

August 28, 2015

For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:

The National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Erika, located south of Puerto Rico.

A tropical wave is forecast to emerge off of the West Coast of Africa on Saturday a few hundred miles east-southeast of the Cape Verde Islands. Some slow development of the disturbance will be possible through the middle of next week while the system moves westward at 10 to 15 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...near 0 percent
* formation chance through 5 days...low...30 percent

Special features...
Tropical Storm Erika is centered near 17.7n 67.7w at 28/0900 UTC or at about 135 nm ESE of Santo Domingo Dominican Republic...moving W at 15 kt. Estimated central pressure is 1006 mb. Maximum sustained winds are 45 kt with gusts to 55 kt. Numerous moderate to strong convection is from 12n-18n between 63w-68w. Erika is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with maximum amounts of 12 inches possible across portions of the Virgin Islands...Puerto Rico...the Dominican Republic...Turks and Caicos Islands and southern Bahamas through Saturday. Rains could cause life- threatening flash floods and mud slides. Please see the latest forecast/advisory under AWIPS/WMO headers miatcmat5/wtnt25 knhc and the High Seas Forecast product under AWIPS/WMO headers miahsfat1/fznt02 knhc for more details.

Tropical waves...
A tropical wave is over the E Atlantic with axis extending from 15n33w to a 1012 low near 10n34w to 07n35w...moving W at 15-20 kt over the past 24 hours. Moderate moisture prevails in the environment of this wave as noted in tpw imagery. Scattered moderate convection is from 11n-14n between 33w-37w.

A tropical wave is over the central Atlantic with axis extending from 21n47w to 07n50w...moving W at 15-20 kt over the past 24 hours. Moderate moisture from the surface to nearly 700 mb is associated with this wave as indicated by CIRA layer precipitable water imagery. However...the presence of a Saharan dry airmass in the wave environment is currently suppressing any convection.

Discussion, Caribbean Sea...
The main feature of interest in the basin is Tropical Storm Erika currently moving over the NE Caribbean. Please refer to the special features section for more details. Upper-level diffluence generated by the proximity of the upper-level trough over the Gulf combined with sufficient low level moisture are supporting isolated convection across the western half of Cuba affecting the NW Caribbean and The Straits of Florida. Fair weather prevails across the remainder of the basin. Scatterometer data depicts light to gentle trades across the W and central Caribbean and higher winds surrounding Erika mainly E of 68w. Over the next 24 hours...expect for Erika to continue moving across the E Caribbean then move WNW entering the SW Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Erika

...Tropical storm conditions and heavy rain still affecting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico...

At 500 am AST (0900 utc), the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located near latitude 17.7 north, longitude 67.7 west. Erika is moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph (28 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the center of Erika will move over the Dominican Republic today, move near the Turks and Caicos Islands tonight, and move near the central and northwestern Bahamas Saturday and Saturday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Some weakening is forecast today as Erika moves over land, followed by little change in strength through Saturday.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km) to the north and east of the center. A weatherflow station in las mareas, Puerto Rico, recently reported a wind of 52 mph (84 km/h). The estimated minimum central pressure is 1006 mb (29.71 inches).

48 Hour Forecast Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development

Infrared Satellite in Belize City

Tropical Storm Erika Closes on the Northern Leeward Islands

8/26/2015 5:03:39 AM

Tropical Storm Erika is located at 17.7 N, -67.7 W with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, gusting to 65 mph

Tropical Storm Erika is southwest of Puerto Rico and will track directly over Hispaniola today. From there, Erika should reach the central Bahamas over the weekend.

Erika will encounter increasing wind shear over the next 24 hours. This along with interacting with land over Puerto Rico and Hispaniola will likely result in some weakening. Regardless, Erika will continue to threaten the northeastern Caribbean Islands with heavy rain and gusty winds. Rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches will be common over the far northern Leeward Islands northwest into eastern Hispaniola and eventually into the Bahamas. A swath of 4 to 8-inch rainfall amounts are expected from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and northeastern parts of the Dominican Republic. Although rain is beneficial in the long-term drought relief for the northern Caribbean Islands, heavy rain will also result in flash flooding and mudslides. Gusty wind may also cause isolated power outages. A wind gust to 62 mph was observed in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands Thursday evening.

Over the weekend, Erika will likely emerge over the waters south of the Bahamas, but due to land interaction and increased wind shear, the storm will not have increased in strength and may have even weakened. Erika looks to make direct landfall in southern Florida on Monday morning and will produce gusty winds and heavy rainfall across the region. Due to the south and westward shift in track, it is becoming less likely that Erika will be able to reach hurricane strength.

A tropical wave west of the Cape Verde Islands has weakened and is no longer expected to be a threat. The rest of the Atlantic Basin is expected to be quiet for the next 48 hours.

120 Hour Forecast Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development

Erika Will Continue To Bring Heavy Rainfall To The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic & Haiti From Today Into Saturday
Rob Lightbown of Crown Weather Services

August 28, 2015

Tropical Storm Erika:
5 am EDT/4 am CDT Statistics:
Location: 17.7 North Latitude, 67.7 West Longitude or about 155 miles to the east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Maximum Winds: 50 mph.
Minimum Central Pressure: 1006 Millibars or 29.71 Inches.
Forward Movement: West-Northwest at a forward speed of 17 mph.

Erika is a disorganized mess this morning due to strong shear impacting the storm. Reconnaissance aircraft did find a weak closed circulation just south of the Mona Pass and it appears there is still a large area of tropical storm force winds occurring on the eastern side of the storm.

All indications are that Erika will move right over the island of Hispaniola and this is troubling in that it opens the door for mudslides and possible major flooding across Haiti and the Dominican Republic starting this afternoon and continuing through tonight and Saturday. In addition, heavy rainfall with the potential for mudslides and flooding are expected across Puerto Rico today into tonight. Everyone across Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico need to be prepared for flooding and possible major flooding as well as mudslides over the next 24 to 36 hours.

I have my doubts that there will much, if anything left of Erika after it crosses Hispaniola due to the combination of the mountainous terrain of the island and strong wind shear impacting the storm. As of right now, I would put the probabilities for Erika’s survival through the Dominican Republic and Haiti at about 40 percent and that may even be generous. The reason I am being generous with my expectations of Erika surviving in some form as a tropical cyclone is that it has a very broad, weak circulation which would actually be impacted less than if it were a strong compact storm. With that said, weak, disorganized tropical systems like Erika are notoriously extremely difficult to forecast and are subject to large changes in both the forecast track and the forecast intensity.

If and that is a big if Erika survives its trek across Hispaniola, the overall flow around Erika should steer the storm near the Florida Keys by Saturday night into Sunday and potentially make it into the eastern Gulf of Mexico during Sunday. In fact, the GFS and European model guidance both show Erika to be influenced by enough ridging to move it into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by Sunday to a landfall near Apalachicola/Big Bend area of Florida as a weak Tropical Storm around Tuesday or Wednesday. It should be pointed that if (and that is a big if) Erika makes it into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, an upper level trough of low pressure over Texas will produce strong wind shear leading to Erika to remain either a tropical depression or at most a tropical storm.

The greatest threat that Erika poses from today through Saturday is very heavy rainfall across the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Total rainfall amounts of at least 5 to 10 inches are expected across this entire area and this rainfall is likely to produce flash flooding and mudslides.

Current Watches & Warnings In Effect:

Tropical Storm Warnings Are In Effect For:
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
Dominican Republic
Southeastern Bahamas
Turks and Caicos Islands
Central Bahamas
St. Martin
St. Barthelemy

A Tropical Storm Watch Is In Effect For:
Northwestern Bahamas

Possible Florida & Bahamas Impacts From Erika: Beyond Saturday, heavy rainfall from Erika may begin to impact south Florida and the Florida Keys by about Sunday night with this heavy rain potentially spreading northward across the rest of the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Panhandle by Monday and Tuesday. Total rainfall amounts of at least 3 to 6 inches are forecast across the Florida Peninsula from Sunday night through Wednesday with up to 4 inches of rain possible for the Florida Panhandle and southern parts of Georgia from Monday through Wednesday.

In addition, winds of up to 40 to 50 mph, especially in gusts, may impact south Florida and the Florida Keys during Sunday night and Monday.

It needs to be stated that the rain and wind forecast for Florida is a very low confidence forecast as it hinges on how much of Erika survives after tracking across Hispaniola over the next 24 hours.

Fortunately, it is looking significantly less likely that Erika will be a hurricane if and when it reaches Florida around Sunday and Monday. In fact, given the obstacles Erika has to overcome over the next 24 to 48 hours, I have serious doubts it will even be a tropical storm by the time it reaches Florida.

I am monitoring Erika and will have updates for you should there be any significant changes to the forecast of Erika.

Tropical Storm Erika Information:

Model Track Forecast:
Courtesy of South Florida Water Management District
Courtesy of Weather Underground
Courtesy of Weather Underground
Courtesy of Weather Underground

Model Intensity Forecast:
Courtesy of Weather Underground

Satellite Imagery:
Courtesy of Satellite Services Division
Courtesy of Satellite Services Division
Courtesy of Satellite Services Division

Radar Imagery From Puerto Rico:

The next tropical weather discussion will be issued by 9 am EDT/8 am CDT Saturday Morning.

Will Erika Survive its Traverse of Hispaniola?
Jeff Masters

August 28, 2015

Tropical Storm Erika is headed into the teeth of Hispaniola's 10,000-foot high mountains, as the storm marches west-northwest at 17 mph, spreading torrential rains and sustained winds of 50 mph along its path. The biggest danger of the storm to the islands is heavy rainfall; according to the Antigua Met Service, Canefield Airport on Dominica recorded 12.62" (320.6 mm) of rain in twelve hours on Wednesday night and Thursday morning from Erika, and the resulting heavy flooding has killed at least twelve people.

Video 1. Floodwaters rage through a street on Dominica island in the Caribbean on Thursday, August 27, 2015, after Tropical Storm Erika dumped 12+" of rain on the island.

An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft was in the storm Friday morning, and found Erika continued to have a large area of tropical-storm force winds up to 50 mph to the southeast of the center. A Personal Weather Station (PWS) in southwest Puerto Rico at Barrio Hoconuco at higher elevation recorded wind gusts up to 56 mph Friday morning. Punta Cana, on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, had a wind gust of 40 mph at both 10 am and 11 am AST. Rainfall as of 11 am EDT Friday over Puerto Rico had mostly been below 2", according to estimates from the San Juan radar.

Satellite loops on Friday morning showed that Erika continued to be disorganized in the face of dry air and wind shear. There is not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the storm's north side, where there was dry air from the Saharan Air Layer, though there was a vigorous area of heavy thunderstorms on its southeast side. These thunderstorms did not change much in intensity or areal coverage on Friday morning. Wind shear due to upper-level winds out of the west was a high 20 - 25 knots, and this shear was driving dry air on the northwest side of Erika into its core, disrupting the storm.

Figure 1. Latest long-range radar image of Tropical Storm Erika from the San Juan, Puerto Rico radar.

Figure 2. Predicted rainfall for Erika for the 126-hour period ending at 8 am EDT September 2, 2015, from the 06Z (2 am EDT) Friday August 28, 2015 run of the HWRF model. This rainfall swath is likely displaced too far to the east, and will probably be centered directly over Florida. Rainfall amounts of 4 - 8" can be expected in many areas along Erika's path, with a few areas of 8+" (bright yellow colors.) Image credit: NOAA.

Will Erika survive Hispaniola?
Erika's battle against dry air and high wind shear has caused the center of the storm to reform several times to the south of its original position, closer to the storm's heaviest thunderstorms. These southward shifts mean that Erika is now poised to track directly over mountainous Hispaniola island, whose highest peak exceeds 10,000 feet in height. This encounter will not go well for Erika, particularly since wind shear will remain a high 15 - 25 knots during the traverse, and dry air will continue to wrap into Erika's circulation during the crossing. These combined factors could lead to Erika's dissipation by Saturday morning. The traverse of the island may also cause the center to reform to the west of the island, which would then mean that Erika would encounter some of the high terrain of eastern Cuba. If Erika survives into Saturday morning, which I give a 50% chance of occurring, the storm may have time to intensify into a strong tropical storm with 60 mph winds before hitting South Florida. If Erika dissipates over Hispaniola Friday night, the storm could still reorganize into a minimal-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds before encountering South Florida. The upper low over Cuba that is bringing high wind shear to Erika today is forecast to weaken on Sunday, which should cause wind shear to drop to the moderate range, 10 - 15 knots, which would allow some modest strengthening of Erika. A trough of low pressure will turn Erika to the north on Monday, and it is possible this turn will occur just west of the Florida, bringing Erika northwards along the west coast of Florida and into the Florida Panhandle by Tuesday--as suggested by the 00Z Friday (8 pm EDT Thursday) runs of the European and UKMET models. Regardless, much of Florida can expect heavy flooding rains from Erika Sunday through Tuesday.

Figure 3. Drought conditions in the Caribbean during July 2015 as estimated via satellite. Drought is indexed here using the 6-month Standard Precipitation Index (SPI), a measure of how much rainfall has occurred in the previous six months compared to average. Drought is common in the Caribbean during El Nio years, due to an atmospheric circulation that brings plenty of dry, sinking air and high pressure to the region. The last major drought in the Caribbean was in 2010, which also had an El Nio event. Image credit: NOAA Global Drought Portal.

Erika's rains to help alleviate record Caribbean heat and drought
Record heat and drought has been widespread over the Caribbean this summer, with the worst drought conditions occurring over Haiti, Eastern Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, and Costa Rica. The dry conditions and associated atmospheric circulation that has brought warm, sinking sir and high pressure to the region has led to many Caribbean cities recording their all-time highest temperatures on record. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, on Thursday, the Observatory in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, hit 99F (37.2C), the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city (previous record: 37.0C on August 17, 1947.) This record high was aided by the fact that dry, sinking air due to the outflow from Tropical Storm Erika was over the Dominican Republic. Another big factor in the yesterday's record high, and the record highs all across the Caribbean this year, is the fact that the year-to-date period of 2015 has been the warmest on record for the globe as a whole. Here is Mr. Herrera's list of cities in countries bordering the Caribbean that have set all-time heat records this year:

Cienfuegos (Cuba) max. 37.0C July 6
Jucaro (Cuba) max. 36.8C July 10
Jucaro (Cuba) max. 37.0C July 28
Contramaestre (Cuba) max. 38.2C July 29
Isabel Rubio Airport (Cuba) max. 36.3C July 29
Indio Hatuey (Cuba) max. 38.1C July 30
Havana (Cuba), max. 37.0C, April 26
Holguin (Cuba), max. 38.7C, April 26
Guaro (Cuba), max. 38.0C, April 26
Contramaestre (Cuba), max. 37.7C, April 27
Velasco (Cuba), max. 38.6C, April 28
Ciego de Avila (Cuba), max. 38.0C, April 28
Puerto Padre (Cuba), max. 38.4C, April 29
Punta Lucrecia (Cuba), max. 37.3C, April 29
Nuevitas (Cuba), max. 38.5C, April 30

Riohacha (Colombia) max. 40.6C July 13
Cartagena, Colombia, max. 40.4C, June 24
Santa Marta, Colombia, max, 38.6C, June 24
Arjona, Colombia, max, 40C, June 24
Urumitia, Colombia, max, 42.0C, June 27
Riohacha, Colombia, max, 40.0C, June 29

Merida (Mexico), max. 43.6C, April 26

Tela (Honduras), max. 40.6C, April 28

Coro (Venezuela), max. 43.6C, April 29(New all-time national record high for Venezuela)

Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), 37.2C, August 27

U.S. Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie (U.S. VI), 35C (95F), August 1 (all time high for the station and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

New tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa
A strong tropical wave will move off the coast of Africa on Saturday, and has the potential to become a tropical depression next week as it moves west-northwest near or over the Cape Verde Islands at 10 mph. In their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the wave 5-day odds of development of 30%. This wave will likely move too far to the northwest to be a threat to the Caribbean islands.

Thursday Evening: Erika Causing Major Flooding, Still Potential Threat to U.S.

CLICK HERE for the website for Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO)

Tropical Atlantic Wide Visible Satellite Image

Edited by Marty (Yesterday at 10:21 AM)