Friday, August 21, 2015

Hurricane Season In Full Force With Lots To Watch, Right Danny?

This mornings' satellite imagery shows tiny little
Hurricane Danny well east of the lesser Antilles, but headed their way.  

Boy, Danny Boy got pretty rambunctious since I first wrote about him this morning (see the previous discussion below.)

Maximum sustained winds are up to a whopping 115 mph, making is a strong, Category 3 hurricane.

It's much stronger than I think most forecasters ever thought it would get.

Like I said earlier, small sized hurricanes can strengthen and weaken much faster than normal sized hurricanes.

Danny is a little bigger in area now that what I described this morning, but he's still pretty tiny, in area, for a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center says Danny appears to be peaking in strength as of mid-afternoon Friday, but will soon start to weaken as upper level winds and dry dusty air interfere with the system.

Still, Danny has surprised us once, he could surprise us again. Even if it does weaken, who knows if it might eventually gain back some strength many days down the road as it possible approaches the Bahamas after going through or near Puerto Rico next week?

Time will tell.

We've known for months the current El Nino ocean and weather pattern would tamp down on tropical storm and hurricane development in the Atlantic Ocean this year.

But nobody said El Nino would get rid of these storms completely. With the peak of the hurricane season now at hand, there's definitely stuff to talk about there.

The main star of this tropical show is of course Hurricane Danny. It's a tiny little thing, giving us the label "microcane" to describe it.

No doubt the wind is strong and dangerous. Sustained winds were 85 mph near Danny's eye. But the area of hurricane force winds is just 10 miles across. If you put Danny in the middle of Lake Champlain off of Burlington, Vermont,  the hurricane force winds would barely touch the Vermont and New York shorelines.

The cloud area of Danny Boy is so tiny that if you put it in the middle of Vermont, the sun would be peeking out near the Canadian and Massachusetts borders.

Compare that to the cloud shield of notorious Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which basically filled up the entire Gulf of Mexico.


When hurricanes are teeny, tiny like Danny Boy, they can either intensify super fast, or fall apart just as fast. That makes forecasting Danny a challenge.

The National Hurricane Center says Danny is in a sweet spot today over very warm oceans and low wind shear, which means that strong upper level winds won't blow the top off the storm and wreck it.

These strong upper level winds over the tropical Atlantic are very common and unusually strong when there's an El Nino, so that's why we're not expecting as many hurricanes as we've had in past years.

Also, there's  masses of dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert that have blown across the Atlantic. That happens a lot, too, and that dry dusty air suppresses hurricanes. Danny is now in a spot that doesn't have such dry air.

Danny is moving to the west, and he's going to encounter two of the things that can weaken hurricanes: OK, the water is going to stay very warm in Danny's path, and hurricanes love warm water to feed off of and strengthen. So Danny has that going for him.

But the wind shear overhead is going to increase, and some of that dusty Saharan air might get scooped into Danny. That would weaken it, definitely. And remember I said Danny is a small little guy, so the wind shear and dusty air could easily bully him into weakening.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say they think Danny is going to go over the the Lesser Antilles, then maybe head toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic early next week.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Puerto Rico is going through an intense drought, worse than California, really. They're rationing water there. If the winds of Danny die down, but his heavy rains continue, that could help Puerto Rico some if Danny continues on his expected path.

Land interaction makes hurricanes weaken,  again especially with small ones like Danny, so hitting Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic could possibly even finish Danny off.

If he does survive, I have no idea if he'll make it to the United States eventually. Nobody else does, either. If Danny does manage to get to the United States nobody has any idea where, or with what strength. So ignore the online click bait that says the United States is in for it with Danny. Amirite,, purveyors of online weather click bait?


This time of year, the potentially most dangerous hurricanes come off the west coast of Africa, head toward roughly the Cape Verde islands, and sometimes eventually become monsters as they travel westward over the Atlantic.

We're entering the peak of the Cape Verde type hurricane season, and one disturbance has just emerged off the African coast and is heading west. Another clump of storms is in Africa, and will head off into the Atlantic in a couple days.

Both storms have the potential to turn into horrible hurricanes, but the chances of low. Even in the most favorable hurricane seasons, many of these Cape Verde storms don't develop into anything and just disappear. Or if they do form, some then turn north to die over the chilly waters of the North Atlantic without hitting any land or harming anybody.

Remember, this is an El Nino year, so these African/Cape Verde systems are even more likely than usual to die a quick death as strong upper level winds tear them apart. But these two systems are worth watching to see what, if anything develops over the next week or two.  There's a chance they could make it.

There's another system south of Bermuda. It's just a plain old disorganized low pressure system with a mess of willy-nilly showers and thunderstorms. But it could take on some tropical storm characteristics in the next few days. Even if it does, there's no immediate threat to land.


I'm actually saving the potentially biggest hurricane threat to American soil for last. Out in the eastern and central Pacific, El Nino has the opposite effect on hurricanes than it does in the Atlantic.

The ocean out there is unusually warm because of El Nino, which makes for a better environment for hurricanes to form and grow. Wind shear isn't that high, so hurricanes are less likely to get torn apart than usual.

Hawaii isn't threatened all that often by hurricanes, but occasionally they do get them. Hawaii is much more under threat than usual this year with the strong El Nino heating up the nearby oceans.

Especially if a hurricane takes an unusual track from the south, where the ocean is warmer, rather than the east, where the water is a bit cooler.

Enter something now with the boring name of Tropical Depression 3-C. It's a disorganized mess of storminess way off to the southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. But forecasters think it will strengthen over warm water as it heads west to northwest south of Hawaii.

But here's the problem. Upper level winds might eventually steer the storm northward and it could come close to the western Hawaiin island toward the early or middle part of next week as a full fledged hurricane. They'll name it Kilo if it becomes a full fledged tropical storm or hurricane.

Remember, if would-be Ignacio indeed comes up from the south, it's more dangerous for Hawaii than if something tried to cross cool water and come at Hawaii from the east.

We don't know this for sure yet, but we better keep an eye on it. Especially if you're in, or planning to vacation in Hawaii.

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