Belize Tropical Weather Outlook: September 19, 2017

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Area wind information

Belize NMS Forecast

September 19, 2017

At 3:00am, the eye of extremely dangerous category 5 Hurricane Maria was located near 16.0N 62.3W or 65mls WSW of Guadeloupe. Maria was moving WNW at 9mph with maximum sustained winds of 155mph. Hurricane Jose was centered near 36.0N, 71.3W or about 240mls ENE of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Jose was moving North at 9mph with maximum sustained winds of 75mph.

Tropical Atlantic Wide Infrared Satellite Image:

USA National Weather Service Forecast

September 19, 2017

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

The National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Hurricane Jose, located a few hundred miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and on Hurricane Maria, located over the northeastern Caribbean Sea.

A small low pressure area, the remnants of Lee, is located roughly midway between the Cabo Verde Islands and the Leeward Islands. Environmental conditions could become marginally conducive for redevelopment of a tropical cyclone by late in the week while the system moves northwestward to northward over the central Atlantic Ocean.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent.

Tropical Weather Discussion

...Special features...

At 19/0900 UTC, Category 5 Hurricane Maria is located near 16.0N 62.3W or about 45 nm WSW of Guadeloupe and 165 nm SE of St. Croix, moving WNW at 8 kt. The estimated minimum central pressure is 934 mb. Maximum sustained winds are 135 kt with gusts to 165 kt. Numerous strong convection and tstms are within 120 nm of the center in all quadrants and from 09N to 16N between 57W and 63W. Scattered moderate convection is elsewhere from 12N to 19N between 57W and 66W. The eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today, and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday. Please see the latest NHC Forecast/Advisory under AWIPS/WMO headers MIATCMAT5/WTNT35 KNHC for more details.

At 19/0900 UTC, Hurricane Jose is located about 210 nm ENE of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina near 36.0N 71.3W, moving N at 8 kt. The estimated minimum central pressure is 971 mb. Maximum sustained winds are 65 kt with gusts to 80 kt. Scattered moderate convection is from 36N to 39N between 68W and 73W. Isolated moderate convection is elsewhere from 30N to 40N between 62W and 76W. The center of Jose is forecast to pass well offshore of the Delmarva peninsula later today, pass well to the east of the New Jersey coast on Wednesday, and pass offshore of southeastern Massachusetts by Thursday. Please see the latest NHC Forecast/Advisory under AWIPS/WMO headers MIATCMAT2/WTNT22 KNHC for more details.

...Tropical waves...

A tropical wave came off the W coast of Africa earlier this morning. Its axis extends from 19N16W to 07N17W. The wave is in a region of low vertical wind shear, and abundant low to middle level moisture as shown by CIRA LPW and TPW imagery. Upper level diffluent flow supports scattered moderate convection from 06N to 13N between 14W and 22W.

A tropical wave is over the western Caribbean with axis extending from 21N79W to 08N83W, moving west at about 15 kt. The wave is in a region of moderate vertical wind shear and CIRA LPW imagery at the lower levels show large patches of dry air in the northern wave environment. Moderate shallow moisture and diffluent flow aloft support scattered heavy showers and tstms S of 18N between 78W and 84W.

...The Caribbean Sea...

Major Hurricane Maria is moving across the Leeward Islands and NE Caribbean waters. The eye of Maria will continue to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today, and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday. Please see special features for further details. The remaining weather in the basin is associated with a tropical wave moving across the W Caribbean waters. See the tropical waves section for more information. Otherwise, a relaxed pressure gradient due to Hurricanes Maria and Jose allow for light to gentle trades W of 67W. Expect for the tropical wave to continue moving west with convection.

Climate Prediction Center’s Central America Hazards Outlook

48 Hour Forecast – Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development

Infrared Satellite in Belize City

Hurricane Jose threatens East Coast; Maria batters the Lesser Antilles; Lee degenerates into a remnant low


Category 1 Hurricane Jose is located at 36° N, -71.3° W with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and gusts to 90 mph, moving N 9 mph, pressure 28.68 in / 971 mb.

Category 5 Hurricane Maria is located at 16° N, -62.3° W with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph and gusts to 200 mph, moving WNW 9 mph, pressure 27.46 in / 929 mb.

Hurricane Jose continues to track northward across the open waters of the western Atlantic. Tropical storm watches are in effect for along the coast of Long Island and Connecticut with tropical storm warnings in effect for the coast of Rhode Island and much of Massachusetts. Hurricane Jose is centered about 240 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, as of early Tuesday morning, and is producing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm is expected to maintain Category 1 strength through Monday night.

Jose will be a concern for the Northeast, especially New England and Atlantic Canada. The track of Jose could have the storm pass very close to southeastern New England late Tuesday into Wednesday. However, it now appears as though the storm may remain slightly farther offshore. The greatest impacts in the form of strong wind gusts and heavy rain will be felt across eastern Long Island, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard late Tuesday through Wednesday.

Regardless of the exact storm track, dangerous surf and rip currents will impact Bermuda, the Eastern Seaboard and Atlantic Canada through much of this week. Waves in excess of 10 feet will occur over the next several days from the Outer Banks to New England.

Coastal flooding is also a major concern. Astronomical influences will push tide levels 1-2 feet above normal from the Outer Banks to New England through at least Wednesday. This will be exacerbated by wave action and strong onshore winds, the degree to which will determine the exact impacts, that could prove severe. Beyond Wednesday, Jose will slow down and meander off the northeastern U.S. coast while weakening, but the impacts will lessen significantly.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria is once again an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane and continues to track slowly toward Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds are at 160 mph with higher gusts. Catastrophic wind damage is expected near the center of Maria with wind gusts of at least 140-160 mph likely. In areas struck by Irma earlier in the month, significant structural damage is a serious threat, especially in those structures already weakened. Power outages will be expansive and will likely last for weeks. Travel will be halted by downed trees and debris. Any loose objects can easily become airborne and turn into dangerous projectiles. Irma cleanup efforts will be disrupted.

Heavy rainfall, in excess of 12 inches in some areas, will produce life-threatening flooding and mudslides. This will produce water damage to many dwellings, and those in the path of mudslides will be destroyed. Expect power disruptions in mountainous terrain. A storm surge of 6-10 feet will lead to flooding across the Leeward Islands.

Maria is expected to track toward the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola by Tuesday night and Wednesday as a major hurricane (Category 4 or 5) and will deliver flooding rain, destructive winds well over 100 mph and mudslides. By this weekend, Maria may threaten the Bahamas and all interests across the southeastern United States need to continue to monitor Maria as well.

In addition to Jose and Maria, Lee has degenerated into a remnant low as of late Monday evening. Lee's remnants are over the far eastern Atlantic, 1,265 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands. What is left of Lee will likely dissipate over the next 48 hours.

120 Hour Forecast – Favorable Environmental Conditions For Tropical Development

Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Maria Will Directly Impact St. Croix Tonight & Puerto Rico On Wednesday
Rob Lightbown of Crown Weather Services

September 19, 2017

Major Hurricane Maria:
8 am EDT/7 am CDT Statistics:
Location: 16.2 North Latitude, 62.8 West Longitude or about 170 miles to the southeast of St. Croix.
Maximum Winds: 160 mph.
Minimum Central Pressure: 933 Millibars or 27.55 Inches.
Forward Movement: West-Northwest at a forward speed of 9 mph.

Reconnaissance reports indicate that Maria is a strengthening Category 5 hurricane with 155-160 mph winds and a central barometric pressure of 932 millibars. The environmental conditions are forecast to be very favorable for strengthening today through Wednesday and it looks very likely that the islands of St. Croix and Puerto Rico will be severely and catastrophically impacted by a Category 5 hurricane tonight through Wednesday. This will be one of the strongest, if not the strongest, hurricanes on record to impact Puerto Rico and St. Croix. Please take this hurricane extremely seriously and be ready for a catastrophic hurricane impact.

Maria is expected to remain on a west-northwesterly track bringing the eye of Maria very close to, if not right over the island of St. Croix around midnight tonight and then right across Puerto Rico during the day on Wednesday. Beyond this, many questions arise in regards to the track forecast for Maria as we get into this weekend and next week.

One crucial factor that will contribute to the forecast track of Maria is how much will Jose break down the large ridge of high pressure that will be positioned across the northeastern United States. The model guidance are extremely consistent in forecasting that Jose will pull Maria to the north and then northeast away from the US East Coast. I remain skeptical that Jose will be able to pull Maria to the north and northeast as quickly as the guidance suggests. One big reason why I remain skeptical is because I think the guidance may be modeling Jose too strong and in the end we could see a weaker Jose leading to less influence on knocking down the high pressure ridge.

Another factor that will play into the future track of Maria is the strength of the western Atlantic high pressure ridge. I have concerns that the model guidance may be under forecasting the strength of the high pressure ridge and that in the end it will be stronger than what the guidance currently suggests. A stronger high pressure ridge would lead to Maria being pushed further west much closer to the US East Coast between the Carolinas and southern New England than what the model guidance suggests.

A final potential factor that may play into the future track of Maria is that the model guidance are forecasting that a weak upper level trough of low pressure may form over the Gulf of Mexico this weekend into early next week. If this upper level trough of low pressure forms, it could help to push Maria away from the US East Coast.

Here Are My Thoughts: I still think that the model guidance may be over forecasting Jose’s influence and I think that Jose will not be as strong as what the guidance suggests. Also, we have seen with both Irma and Jose that the guidance seems to initially forecast too weak of a western Atlantic high pressure ridge. I have concerns that we may see the same situation here with Maria and that we may see the model guidance gradually forecast a stronger high pressure system and in turn a further west track of Maria than what most of the guidance currently suggests.

Bottom line is that I still think that the model guidance may be pulling Maria away from the US East Coast too quickly. With that said, if we are still seeing the same sort of track scenario in a couple of days from now of Maria being pulled away from the US East Coast, then I will begin to start putting a little more stock into the guidance. Another observation is that Maria is currently tracking more to the west than what the guidance has indicated. This could mean that we may start to see westward shifts in the model guidance with the forecast track of Maria.

My thinking is that we will see a direct impact on the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday night and Friday. Beyond this, I think that we may see a track that takes Maria extremely close to the area from the Carolinas northward to southern New England and Nova Scotia from Monday to Wednesday of next week.

With that said, the track forecast for Maria from this weekend through next week continues to have a very high level of uncertainty and very low amount of confidence. I urge everyone across the Bahamas and along the US East Coast to keep extremely close tabs on the track forecast of Maria in the coming days.

Forecast Impacts For Puerto Rico & The U.S. & British Virgin Islands Tonight Through Wednesday: Final preparations to save life and property needs to be completed by or before midday today across St. Croix and by or before sunset today across Puerto Rico. Do Not shelter in a wooden roof home as they will likely be destroyed!! Shelter in a re-enforced solid concrete building and stay away from windows.

Wind: Catastrophic winds of up to 150 to 175 mph are forecast across St. Croix tonight into early Wednesday morning and across the entire island of Puerto Rico starting early Wednesday morning and continuing through the day on Wednesday. Maria will be the strongest hurricane Puerto Rico and St. Croix have seen since 1928.

The core of a Category 5 hurricane is forecast to move right over St. Croix tonight into early Wednesday morning and right across Puerto Rico during the day on Wednesday. This will be one of the strongest, if not the strongest, hurricanes on record to impact you. Please take this hurricane extremely seriously and be ready for an extremely destructive hurricane impact.

Storm Surge: A storm surge of 8 to 12 feet are expected across Puerto Rico and St. Croix tonight through Wednesday. A storm surge of 6 to 11 feet are expected across the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and across the British Virgin Islands tonight through Wednesday.

Rainfall: The following total rainfall amounts are expected from today to Thursday:
Central & Southern Leeward Islands: 10 to 20 inches.
U.S. & British Virgin Islands: 10 to 20 inches.
Puerto Rico: 12 to 20 inches.
Northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla: 5 to 10 inches.
Windward Islands and Barbados: 2 to 5 inches.
Eastern Dominican Republic: 6 to 12 inches.

These rainfall amounts across all of these islands will produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Model Track Forecast For Maria:

Model Intensity Forecast For Maria:

Satellite Imagery Of Maria:

Current Puerto Rico Radar Imagery:

Maria Headed for Catastrophic Hit on Puerto Rico, St. Croix
Jeff Masters, Category 6

September 19, 2017

Above: Infrared GOES-16 image of Hurricane Maria as of 10:51 am EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA@CSU.

After a direct hit on the small Lesser Antilles island of Dominica on Monday night, followed by a brief weakening, Hurricane Maria reintensified to Category 5 strength with winds of 160 mph on Tuesday morning. Maria will likely be a catastrophic Category 5 or high-end Category 4 storm when it hits the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning. Preliminary reports out of Dominica indicate that Maria likely did catastrophic damage there. The northern eyewall of Maria also grazed the southwest corner of Guadaloupe Island on Monday night, and heavy damage was reported there. The core of the hurricane missed Montserrat, Saba, and St. Kitts and Nevis, but these islands have been experiencing sustained tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain squalls.

Maria’s encounter with Dominica bruised the storm slightly, with the top winds falling to 155 mph and the central pressure rising from 924 mb to 934 mb between 11 pm Monday and 5 am Tuesday. This took the storm briefly down to a Category 4 rating. However, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft on Tuesday morning found a falling pressure and rising winds. Maria’s central pressure was down to 927 mb, and the winds were back up to 160 mph as of 11 am EDT Tuesday. Maria passed just east of Buoy 42060 late Tuesday morning; the buoy reported a pressure of 956 mb and sustained winds of 74 mph, gusting to 94 mph, at 11:10 am EDT Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the islands in its path, Maria’s appearance on satellite imagery is truly spectacular, and the outer spiral bands of the hurricane are already lashing the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as seen on long- range radar and CatherineHope’s Webcam on St. Croix.

GOES-16 visible image of Maria at 10:15 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017.
Figure 1. GOES-16 visible image of Maria at 10:15 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017. At the time, Maria was a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds, a central pressure of 927 mb, and a small "pinhole" eye with a diameter of 10 nautical miles. Image credit: NOAA/RAMMB. GOES-16 data is considered preliminary and non-operational.

The dreaded "pinhole" eye

Maria developed a tiny “pinhole” eye during its rapid intensification burst on Monday, with a diameter of 8 nautical miles (nm). The hurricane has maintained a small eye so far on Tuesday, with the diameter fluctuating between 7 nm and 10 nm (10 nm = 11.5 miles). Hurricanes that develop pinhole eyes often intensify into some of the strongest storms we observe, since they concentrate their wind energy around a narrow ring surrounding the tiny eye. These small eyes tend to be unstable, resulting in an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) shortly after the pinhole eye is observed. Some other examples of tropical cyclones with pinhole eyes with a diameter less than 10 nm (thanks go to Michael Cavaliere, Howard Diamond, and Boris Konon):

Hurricane Wilma - 2005 (175 MPH / 882 MB) - Western Caribbean - 1.5 nm
Hurricane Iris – 2001 (140 MPH / 950 MB) - Western Caribbean – 3 nm
Hurricane Beta - 2005 (115 MPH / 962 MB) - Nicaragua - 5 nm
Hurricane Dennis - 2005 (120 MPH / 930 MB) - Florida - 4 nm
Hurricane Charley - 2004 (150 MPH / 941 MB) - Florida - 2.5 nm

Hurricane Opal - 1995 (150 MPH / 919 MB) - Florida - 5 nm
Hurricane Andrew - 1992 (165 MPH / 921 MB) - Florida - 6 nm
Typhoon Forrest - 1983 (165 MPH / 883 MB) - Philippines - 4 nm
Cyclone Tracy - 1974 (125 MPH / 950 MB) - Australia - 7 nm

Short-term forecast for Maria

There is increasing confidence that Maria will reach St. Croix and Puerto Rico on Wednesday with catastrophic results. Now that Maria has regained Cat 5 intensity, there is nothing between the storm and these islands that would lead to a major drop in strength. In fact, conditions are just about as favorable as they can be for sustaining a Category 5 hurricane, and it's not out of the question that Maria could become even stronger. Wind shear is predicted to stay very low (6 knots or less) for at least the next 48 hours, and Maria will be passing over very warm waters of 29-30°C (84-86°F). These warm waters are deep enough to provide substantial oceanic heat content (greater than 50 kilojoules per square centimeter), which will limit the potential of Maria’s fierce winds to churn up cooler water. If Maria embarks on an eyewall replacement cycle (EWRC) on Tuesday, the storm could drop to Category 4 strength by the time it approaches Puerto Rico. This process would spread Maria’s hurricane-force winds over a broader area, though.

Models are in very close agreement on Maria’s west-northwest path. Among our top track models, the European and UKMET model runs from 00Z Tuesday, and the GFS and HMON runs from 06Z Tuesday, all bring Maria’s center very close to St. Croix and across Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest on Wednesday. Conditions would be worst on the right-hand side of Maria’s track, but the entire island is at risk of severe hurricane conditions—likely the worst and most extensive in almost a century. The outlier among our better track models has been HWRF, which has consistently called for Maria to angle northwest toward the British Virgin Islands and just miss Puerto Rico. Several runs ago, the GFS and HMON were predicting a similar track, but they now agree with the Euro and UKMET on a direct hit to Puerto Rico, so we are best off discounting the HWRF (especially since the 12Z Tuesday run of the HWRF trended further west, in closer agreement with the other models).

A track crossing Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest will bring torrential rainfall and the risk of landslides to both northern- and southern-facing mountainsides. Localized rainfal of 25" or more is possible in Puerto Rico, with amounts of 20" possible in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Rainbands sweeping into Maria from the south could also dump as much as 12" of rain on southern parts of the Dominican Republic, again posing a threat of landslides.

Along with the direct impacts likely in St. Croix, one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, Maria could move far enough north for severe hurricane conditions to affect the other two U.S. Virgin Islands—St. Thomas and St. John—and perhaps the British Virgin Islands as well. All of these except for St. Croix took a fierce hit from Hurricane Irma just weeks ago, so even a lesser blow from Maria could have outsized consequences to residents and structures left vulnerable in the wake of Irma. Storm surge could bring worst-case inundation levels of 6' - 9' over parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Long-term outlook for Maria

Maria is expected to head into the Northwest Atlantic after passing the Greater Antilles. If Maria moves over Puerto Rico, its circulation will experience major disruption, and the hurricane could also ingest dry air flowing off Hispaniola on Thursday. Wind shear will also be increasing to the 10 – 20 knot range by Friday. Considering all these factors, it would not be surprising to see Maria weaken to Category 3 or even high-end Category 2 strength by this weekend, as predicted by NHC. It will become a larger storm, though, with its wind field spread over a broader area.

By Saturday, models agree on placing Maria just northeast of the Bahamas, heading north-northwest. If this track holds, it would most likely keep Maria just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeast Bahamas, perhaps sparing those islands from Maria’s worst. Nevertheless, Maria is too strong and the track too close for residents of those islands to relax their vigilance. Even Maria’s left-hand side could produce severe hurricane conditions.

Beyond the Bahamas, there is strong agreement among our best track models that Maria will be following in the footsteps of Hurricane Jose, moving into a weakness carved out in the upper-level steering flow by Jose’s week-long presence. The GFS, UKMET, and European model runs from 00Z Tuesday all place Maria several hundred miles east of the Carolinas early next week, moving north, with the GFS the closest to the coast and the Euro the farthest. The 12Z Tuesday run of the GFS shifted east, which lends even more confidence to the idea of an offshore track. By the time Maria gets to higher latitudes, models suggest there will be enough west-to-east flow in the jet stream to push the hurricane out to sea. Only about 10 – 20% of the 70 GFS and Euro ensemble members from 00Z Tuesday bring Maria into the U.S. East Coast. The amount of model agreement on an offshore track is encouraging, but this is a distant-enough time frame that we cannot yet be fully confident in Maria’s long-term future.

ECMWF ensemble tracks for Maria, 0Z 9/19/2017
Figure 4. The 50 track forecasts for Maria from the 0Z Tuesday, September 19, 2017 European model ensemble forecast. The operational European model is the red line, adjusted by CFAN using a proprietary technique that accounts for storm movement since 0Z Sunday. The track of the average of the 50 members of the European model ensemble is the heavy black line. Image credit: CFAN.
GFS ensemble tracks for Maria, 0Z 9/19/2017
Figure 5. The 20 track forecasts for Maria from the 0Z Tuesday, September 19, 2017 GFS model ensemble forecast. Image credit: CFAN.
Infrared satellite image of Jose at noon EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Figure 6. Infrared satellite image of Jose at noon EDT Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA@CSU.

Jose to linger off northeast U.S. coast for days to come

Hurricane Jose is about to enter the next phase of its long life: a gradual, multi-day loop south of New England that may help keep Maria from moving toward the U.S. East Coast. At 11 am EDT Tuesday, Jose was located about 230 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, heading north at 7 mph. Officially, Jose remains a minimal hurricane, with top sustained winds estimated by NHC at 75 mph. The SFMR radiometer aboard Hurricane Hunter flights into Jose has not found any surface winds of hurricane strength for more than a day now. However, Jose’s wind field is so large that these flights are probably undersampling the storm, according to NHC. Jose’s field of convection (showers and thunderstorms) is fairly weak and mostly focused on the storm’s western side, leaving Jose quite asymmetric.

The outlook for Jose has changed little since Monday. Jose is expected to arc north and northeast, remaining at least 150 miles southeast of the Massachusetts coast. This could be enough for Jose’s outer bands to bring as much as 5” of rain and tropical-storm-force winds to Cape Cod and nearby islands, though models have been trending downward on New England impacts. High surf and beach erosion will continue to plague the mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S. coast for several more days. Jose will weaken to tropical-storm strength as it gradually transitions into a large mid-latitude storm, but that process may take the entire week to unfold.

It now appears that a long-awaited loop in Jose’s path will take place well offshore, and strengthening upper-level winds will haul Jose out to sea by early next week. In the meantime, Jose’s lingering presence will leave a weakness in the upper-level ridge steering Maria, and this is expected to create a path for Maria to angle northward along a track similar to Jose’s.

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Tropical Atlantic Wide Visible Satellite Image

Last edited by Marty; 9 hours ago.