Belize Tropical Weather Outlook: February 8, 2016
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Area wind information
Belize NMS Forecast
6:00 AM in Belize, February 8, 2016
Tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 48 hours in the North Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical Atlantic Wide Infrared Satellite Image:
USA National Weather Service Forecast
February 8, 2016
For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:
Tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 5 days.
Routine issuance of the tropical weather outlook will resume on
June 1, 2016. During the off-season, special tropical weather
outlooks will be issued as conditions warrant.
Tropical Weather Discussion
Atlantic Storm Warning...a rapidly intensifying 979 mb low is
centered over the NW Atlantic near 33n72w. A cold front extends
from the low to 31n65w SW to the Windward Passage where it
becomes stationary to northern Costa Rica. A tight pressure
gradient between the low and high pressure to the west and east
of it supports storm-force winds N of 20n between 70w and 75w.
Gale-force winds are happening N of 28n between 67w and 76w and
N of 29n within 60 nm E of front. Seas in the area of storm-
force winds will range from 25 to 32 ft and from 18 to 25 ft in
the gale-force winds region. Winds will diminish below storm-
force later this morning as the low pres center continues to
move NE...however gale-force winds will prevail. Please see the
latest NWS High Seas Forecast under AWIPS/WMO headers
miahsfat2/fznt02 knhc for more details.
Atlc Gale Warning...a cold front will enter the northern Gulf of
Mexico tonight with strong high pressure building behind it. The
pres gradient will increase in the SW N Atlc to support gale
force winds N of 28n within 120 E of front. Gale-force winds are
forecast to prevail in the region through Tue night.
Please see the latest NWS High Seas Forecast under AWIPS/WMO
headers miahsfat2/fznt02 knhc for more details.
Gulf of Mexico Gale Warning...a cold front will enter the
northern Gulf of Mexico on tonight with strong high pressure
building behind it. The pres gradient will increase in the basin
and gale-force winds are forecast to develop N of 27n E of 90w.
Winds are forecast to diminish below gale-force Tue morning.
Please see the latest NWS High Seas Forecast under AWIPS/WMO
headers miahsfat2/fznt02 knhc for more details.
...The Caribbean Sea...
A rapidly intensifying 979 mb low is centered over the NW
Atlantic near 31n65w from which a cold front extends to 31n65w
SW to the Windward Passage where it becomes stationary to
northern Costa Rica. Fresh to strong northerly winds are behind
the front S of 17n to 85w. Fresh to strong trades are in the
south-central Caribbean S of 16n between 65w and 76w. Light to
moderate winds are elsewhere. A middle level anticyclone
centered SW of Hispaniola and dry air subsidence from aloft
provide stability across the region...thus supporting fair
weather. The portion of the front in the Caribbean is forecast
to start dissipating late Tue.
48 Hour Forecast – Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development
Infrared Satellite in Belize City
Atlantic remains quiet
1/24/2016 6:00:18 AM
Although we had an abnormally early start to the 2016 Hurricane Season with the formation of Hurricane Alex, the Atlantic is quiet once again. At this point, we expect the tropics to remain quiet until we get closer to the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1, 2016.
Looking back on the 2015 season that ended on Nov. 30, there were 11 named storms, 12 is normal. Four of the 11 named storms became hurricanes, normal is six. Two of the four hurricanes were major hurricanes, normal is two-three. Based on these numbers alone you can see the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season was less active than normal, mostly due to the development of a strong El Nino.
The biggest impacting hurricane of the season was Joaquin which brought serious damage to some eastern and northeastern Bahama Islands. This strong Category 4 hurricane also brought some damage to Bermuda.
120 Hour Forecast – Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development
More Thoughts On What The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season May Be Like Based On Colorado State University’s First Outlook
Rob Lightbown of Crown Weather Services
January 17, 2016
Colorado State University released their first thoughts on what the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season may be like and their ideas are very similar to what I wrote about back in late November. The bottom line is that there is a large degree of uncertainty of how active or inactive the season may be like.
The outlook for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season from Colorado State presented four potential scenarios. These scenarios hinge on two factors: The first is how quickly the current El Niño will diminish and the second is how the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation will evolve.
1. AMO/THC becomes above average in 2016 and no El Niño impacts remain (resulting in an ACE of ~ 170) – 25% chance
2. AMO/THC is above average in 2016 but some El Niño impacts remain (ACE ~ 120) – 35% chance
3. AMO/THC is below average and no El Niño impacts remain (ACE ~ 80) – 20% chance
4. AMO/THC is below average and some El Niño impacts remain (ACE ~ 50) – 20% chance
CSU relates the ACE values shown above to these general ranges of activity:
170 ACE – 14-17 named storms, 9-11 hurricanes, 4-5 major hurricanes
120 ACE – 12-15 named storms, 6-8 hurricanes, 2-3 major hurricanes
80 ACE – 8-11 named storms, 3-5 hurricanes, 1-2 major hurricanes
50 ACE – 5-7 named storms, 2-3 hurricanes, 0-1 major hurricane
These scenarios should look familiar because these scenarios are similar to the ones I outlined in my outlook to you back in late November. In fact, I continue to think that there are three possible scenarios for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The first possible scenario is that it could be an extremely active season due to favorable wind shear conditions and warmer than average ocean waters across the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. This would be very different than this season where we saw unfavorable environmental conditions across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico throughout much of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This possible extremely active season would likely be very similar to the 1998 and 2010 Hurricane Seasons with upwards of 15 to 20 named storms, up to 12 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 3 to 5 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes. Another cause for this first possible scenario is the idea that the current El Nino state quickly transforms into a La Nina by summer of 2016 leading to a global change in atmospheric conditions which would lead to a favorable to very favorable environment for tropical cyclone development across the Atlantic Basin.
The second possible scenario is that we could end up seeing a very inactive season in terms of the number of named storms much like what we saw in 1983. This would be caused by a much slower transformation from El Nino conditions with these unfavorable conditions lasting into much of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Should this happen, we would see unfavorable conditions across the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, more so than what we saw during this season. A season like this would yield 5 named storms with 2 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 1 of those hurricanes becoming a major hurricane. It should be pointed out that if this ends up being a very inactive season, we could still see landfalling tropical storms/hurricanes on the US Coast. The 1983 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which was a very inactive one, still saw 2 Gulf of Mexico hurricanes and a tropical storm landfall on the US East Coast.
The third possible scenario is for a “normal” season in terms of the number of named storms with most of the activity occurring from September 15th to November 1st. The reason for this third possible scenario is that there is the possibility for a slower transition from El Nino conditions which would potentially lead to a globally unfavorable environment state in terms of Atlantic tropical development chances early in the season. This would then potentially turn around later in the season as we transition into a La Nina state.
At This Point, My Thinking Is That the first possible scenario of an extremely active season seems to be the most likely right now with a season very much like the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This means that potentially the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico could be quite active, which is a huge change from what we have seen over the last couple of seasons. In fact, much like the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season, it would not surprise me, at this point, to see a hyperactive period of tropical storm/hurricane development between August 15th and October 1st during the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The third possible scenario of a “normal”, but late starting Hurricane Season is the second most likely scenario with most of the activity occurring between mid-September and early November thanks to a lingering El Nino that doesn’t fade into La Nina conditions until late 2016.
It should be pointed out that should the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season end up inactive with a low number of storms, barometric pressures are forecast by many of the long range models to be below average acoss the Gulf of Mexico which could potentially mean the development of 2 to 4 storms in the Gulf of Mexico with a couple of those becoming hurricanes. So, even though the numbers could be low, the 2016 Hurricane Season could end up producing an above average number of landfalls
What this means right now for all of you is that it may not be a bad idea to make some preparations now in the off season, including:
- If you are thinking of putting your house up on stilts to avoid flood damage, do it now. If you wait until spring or summer of 2016, it may be too late to hire construction crews to raise your home.
- Review your flood and wind insurance protection and make sure you are adequately covered.
- As always, restock your hurricane preparedness kit with items that may need to be replaced. Also, those kits can be used for any type of severe weather, so it’s good to always have it on hand in case of a weather emergency.
Finally, I want to emphasize that these are preliminary thoughts and that this forecast will likely change in the coming months. I will be monitoring all of the factors leading up to whether the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be active or in active and will keep you updated between now and June 1st, 2016.
Astounding Alex Hits the Azores: January’s First Atlantic Landfall in 61 Years
9:29 PM GMT on January 15, 2016
The unseasonable wintertime hurricane that developed over the Northeast Atlantic on Thursday has been downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Alex, but its place in the annals of hurricane history is secure. Alex became a hurricane at 15Z (10 am EST) Thursday and maintained Category 1 strength for almost 24 hours. Alex’s western eyewall made landfall on the island of Terceira in the central Azores, roughly 1000 miles west of Portugal, at around 8:15 am EST with tropical-storm force winds of 60 knots (70 mph). No major damage was reported. While approaching Terceira at 7 am EST, Alex was still classified as a minimal hurricane (75 mph winds). Most of Terceira was on the west (weaker) side of Alex, so hurricane-force winds might have been observed if Alex had tracked just a bit further west. The eyewall passed over Lajes Air Force Base, producing a minimum pressure of at least 29.18” (988 mb) (no wind observations from within an hour of landfall were available). Wind gusts to 58 mph were observed at Ponta Delgada, more than 100 miles southeast of Terceira, and gusts to 55 mph were reported at Santa Maria, roughly 200 miles southeast of Terceira. At 4 pm EST Friday, Alex was located about 300 miles north of Terceira, racing northward at 40 mph with sustained winds of 60 knots (70 mph).
Figure 1. MODIS visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Alex at 9:20 am EST Friday, January 15, 2016. About an hour earlier, Alex’s western eywall passed over the Azores island of Terceira (black outline below the center of Alex). Image credit: NASA.
Not unprecedented, but very unusual
In records going back to 1851, only one other tropical cyclone in the Atlantic has made landfall in January: Hurricane Alice, which moved from northeast to southwest over the islands of Saint Martin and Saba on January 2. Alice’s heavy rain and rough seas caused damage totaling more than $4 million in current US dollars. Alice’s winds peaked at 90 mph, just above Alex’s peak sustained winds of 85 mph. The only other January hurricane in the Atlantic was Hurricane One on January 4, 1938. Three weaker cyclones have been observed in January: Tropical Storm Zeta (2005-06), Tropical Storm One (1951), and Subtropical Storm One (1978).
At any time of year, it’s quite uncommon for a hurricane to develop where Alex did. In a tweet on Thursday (see bottom), Alex Lamers noted that only one other tropical cyclone in Atlantic records is known to have become a hurricane north of 30°N and east of 40°W. That would be Hurricane Vince, one of the many oddities of the blockbuster 2005 Atlantic season. Vince went on to become the first tropical storm known to strike the Iberian Peninsula in more than 150 years.
The Northeast Atlantic is a challenging location for hurricane development thanks in large part to its relatively cool water. Alex took on its tropical characteristics while over waters that were 20-22°C (68-72°F). Although these are up to 1°C above average for this time of year, they are far cooler than usually required for tropical cyclone development. However, upper-level temperatures near Alex were unusually cold for the latitude, which meant that instability--driven by the contrast between warm, moist lower levels and cold, drier upper levels--was higher than it would otherwise be. That instability allowed showers and thunderstorms to blossom and consolidate, strengthening the warm core that made Alex a hurricane as opposed to an extratropical or subtropical storm. One could make a case that Alex was the last hurricane of 2015 rather than the first of 2016, as I discussed in a post on Thursday.
What about El Niño and climate change?
Sea-surface temperatures across the entire North Atlantic south of 35°N are warmer than average, part of a huge swath of above-average readings covering much of the globe. Some of these unusually warm waters are the result of El Niño, but the extent of the warmth--at record levels in many places--strongly suggests a link to longer-term climate change. It’s impossible to say without further research whether the extra oceanic warmth associated with Alex tipped the scales toward development, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
Alex doesn’t appear to be a classic manifestation of El Niño, based on previous January tropical cyclones since reliable El Niño records began in 1950:
Tropical Storm One (1951): La Niña
Hurricane Alice (1955): La Niña
Subtropical Storm One (1978): El Niño
Tropical Storm Zeta (2006): neutral, but leaning toward La Niña
Elsewhere in the tropics
CLICK HERE for the website for Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO)
Tropical Atlantic Wide Visible Satellite Image