Matthew becomes season’s fifth hurricane in Caribbean

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Hurricane Matthew is forecast to make a turn toward the northwest on Saturday. (Credit: NHC)

Matthew became the season’s fifth hurricane Thursday with winds of 75 mph in the Caribbean.

The storm was continuing on a westward track at 17 mph, but a decrease in speeds was forecast over the next two days, and a turn to the north-northwest was predicted by the weekend.

Hurricane force winds extended out up to 70 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extended up to 205 miles from the center.

Rainfall amounts of up to 4 inches was in the forecast for the southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

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Tropical Storm Matthew forms, hurricane expected in Caribbean by Friday

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 The official forecast from the NHC pushes Matthew into Cuba as a hurricane Monday night or early Tuesday morning. (Credit: NHC)

THURSDAY UPDATE: The new official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for Matthew to hit southeastern Cuba as a Category 2 100-mph hurricane late Monday night. Here’s the model roundup (most with Matthew as strong hurricane):

GFS (06Z) has Matthew just east of Andros Island on Wednesday.

ECMWF (00Z) has moved east and mostly misses the Bahamas. Some Ensemble members farther west into Gulf of Mexico.

CMS (00Z) similar to GFS, just east of Andros. CMS Ensembles farther west with several going into the Gulf of Mexico and others near or over Florida peninsula.

NAVGEM (00Z) Also east of Andros but on Tuesday.

HWRF (06Z): Clips the southeastern Bahamas heading north-northeast on Tuesday.

GFDL (06Z): The big outlier — slams western Jamaica and the southern coast of Central Cuba on Tuesday (likely as a major hurricane).

ORIGINAL POST: Tropical Storm Matthew formed near the Windward Islands Wednesday morning, and forecasters from the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become a hurricane in the Caribbean. Matthew could be a 105-mph Category 2 hurricane on Sunday as it nears Jamaica.

The storm is expected to continue west to west-northwest through Saturday, after which a turn toward the northwest may begin. The crucial question is how quickly that turn takes place — the GFS has consistently shown an earlier turn, which could usher Matthew through the Greater Antilles and then north, east of the Bahamas.

Some of the other forecast models suggest a later turn, which would put Cuba more under the gun and possibly the U.S. East Coast.

Most of the forecast models continue to show Matthew going well east of the Florida peninsula. NOAA’s GFS is east of Florida, and the ECMWF has come more into line with it, forecasting a track to the east of the Central and Northern Bahamas.

At Weather Underground, however, Bob Henson has this analysis of Matthew’s track:

“There remains huge uncertainty in Matthew’s fate beyond the weekend. A large minority of the members of the European ensemble model run from 12Z Wednesday take Matthew back westward toward the Gulf of Mexico as it is approaching Cuba and Haiti, while members of the 12Z Wednesday GFS ensemble are in unanimous agreement that Matthew will continue northward.

“We cannot yet discount the possibilities in the Euro ensemble, but assuming that Matthew moves into The Bahamas by early next week–as indicated by the 12Z Wednesday operational runs of the GFS, European, and UKMET models–Matthew’s subsequent path will hinge on the state of the upper-level low parking over the Mid-Atlantic into the weekend, as well as another upper-level trough that will be plowing eastward across the United States next week.

“The upper-level flow across North America and the North Atlantic will include several blocking features late this week into early next week, and these are notoriously difficult to predict. The most we can say at this point is that Matthew has the potential to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf or Atlantic U.S. coasts by later next week.”

The NHC’s Lixion Avilia said in the 11 p.m. analysis of the storm: “There will be very interesting days ahead as Matthew moves toward the central and western Caribbean Sea,
and users are reminded that the average NHC track errors at days 4 and 5 are on the order of 180 and 240 miles, respectively.”

At 11 p.m., Matthew had winds of 65 mph and was moving west at 21 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the Grenadine Islands. Tropical storm force winds extended 205 miles from the center, mostly to the northeast.

Matthew is the 13th named storm of the 2016 season.

Here are two reports from Dominica via the Caribbean Hurricane Network:

“We are currently experiencing a lot of wind coming in heavy gusts. We have plenty of bamboo down and the top of a tree on the lawn. Looking at the satellite photographs, Dominica is more in the path of Mathew although at the moment it looks like Martinique will bare more of the brunt.”

Also: “It has been Unrelenting- almost From the wee early hours of this morning we have been getting a bit of a whipping up here in the North of the island with squally tropical storm conditions as the system consistently tries to better wrap and align its center of circulation/convection. And the ‘licking’ continues- as we are after-all pretty much basically in the North East Quadrant of the storm.”

Martinique: Winds to near-hurricane force, trees down, 20,000 without power, according to post on Weather Underground. Link to Martinique webcam.

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Forecast model tracks for Tropical Storm Matthew. (Credit: SFWMD)

Atlantic hurricane next week could set up major beach erosion in Florida; track remains dicey

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Model forecast tracks for 97L continue to show a sharp right turn once it gets into the Central Caribbean. (Credit: SFWMD)

TUESDAY UPDATE: Air Force reconnaissance aircraft investigating Invest 97L on Tuesday afternoon did not find a closed circulation, but the National Hurricane Center said the system was producing near-tropical storm force winds and was continuing the show signs of organization, according to the NHC.

“Conditions are expected to be favorable for development, and a tropical
depression or tropical storm is likely to form tonight or Wednesday,” the agency said in a Special advisory.

Heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds were expected to spread over the Windward Islands through Wednesday.

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In a hopeful sign, many forecast models to suggest that Invest 97L — which appears destined to become a strong tropical storm or hurricane  — will roll out of the Caribbean and into the Atlantic east of the Bahamas next week.

These forecasts are too far out to let down your guard, and some European Ensemble models suggest a track farther west. So does the Navy’s model, the NAVGEM, and the mean Canadian model ensembles have been showing a track uncomfortably close to Florida’s East Coast.

In any event, tropical development is likely, according to the National Hurricane Center, which is giving the system a 90 percent chance of becoming a depression — or Tropical Storm Matthew — by Friday. There’s a 70 percent chance of development by Wednesday, when the system is forecast to move into the southern Lesser Antilles.

Models show 97L skirting the northern coast of South America before bouncing north toward Hispaniola.

Even if the storm does make that hard-right turn — as the GFS continues to predict — we could have a very strong hurricane near the Bahamas next week. The GFS is predicting 967 mb which is potentially a Category 4 storm, and that could trigger high surf and potentially extensive beach erosion along Florida’s East Coast.

Winds would crank up out of the east-northeast under that scenario.

If the storm stays weaker than projected it could move farther west than shown in some of the model spreads. That would make the eventual turn toward the north farther west as well.

Stay tuned.

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Sunday was only the second day of the month with below normal temperatures in West Palm Beach, with a low of 73 and a high of 87.

In fact, the 73-degree low was the coolest since June 11. Overall, September temperatures are still running 1.7 degrees above average in September, but at 83.6 degrees it will fall far short of the 84.4 degrees posted in 2010.

A cold front is due to slide into Central Florida on Friday, but it won’t have any impact on South Florida to end the month.

NOTE: Web pages for the National Weather Service in Florida will change on Tuesday. The URL will be changing too — to http://weather.gov/mfl/obs in Miami from http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/?n=obs.

‘Troubling’ forecast for Atlantic wave hints at Caribbean hurricane

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The system in the eastern Atlantic could threaten the Caribbean by the middle of next week. (Credit: NHC)

With the exception of Hurricane Hermine, Florida has lucked out again this season, avoiding any major tropical systems and flooding rains that can accompany even weaker tropical storms.

But although the peak of the hurricane season is in our rear view mirror, and statistically the potential for new named storms continues to drop, October is the time of the year when Florida needs to be particularly wary.

Since 1900, Florida has had the most hurricane landfalls of any state after mid-September, according to Colorado State University hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach.

The reason is that storms tend to form in the western Caribbean, and often get turned north and then northeast into the Florida peninsula by cold fronts sweeping across the U.S.

Hurricane Wilma, the last major hurricane to hit the U.S., is the classic example from 2005. Wilma proved that even though these storms have to travel across the peninsula to reach Florida’s East Coast, they can be very damaging.

Now, as we near the start of October, forecast models have been consistent in predicting that the tropical system in the far eastern Atlantic will move into the Caribbean next week and possibly develop into a potent storm that will need to be watched very closely.

NOAA’s GFS has been playing ping-pong with its forecast for this system — which will likely earn and invest tag from the National Hurricane Center for the next few days — with the Florida peninsula playing the role of the net.

Earlier runs suggested that the storm would climb north through the Greater Antilles, skirt the southeastern Bahamas and spin north into the Atlantic. But then a more westerly track trend began, with the model showing a move over the Yucatan Peninsula and into the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Lately, trends have shifted back to the east, with a move from the western Caribbean into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, after which the storm — which could eventually earn the name Matthew — may threaten the Florida panhandle or the Big Bend area.

The European forecast model (ECMWF), which along with the GFS is the most respected in terms of long-range outlooks, has a strong storm sitting just off the coast of Honduras a week from Tuesday, on Oct. 4.

The Canadian model (CMC) shows it a little farther north, just off the coast of the Yucatan.

The Navy forecast model (NAVGEM) is developing it sooner, as it approaches the Lesser Antilles next Friday. A day later, on Oct. 1, it’s closing in on Jamaica.

Once the system gets an invest tag, the whole suite of forecast models will be available and will be re-run every six hours. They’ll need to be monitored carefully by everyone on the Gulf Coast, the Florida peninsula and up the Atlantic coast into the Carolinas.

On Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center upped development chances of the system to 50 percent over the next five days. Forecasters said a tropical depression could form as it approaches the Lesser Antilles by the middle of next week.

“Troublingly, a considerable number of the ensemble model runs showed this storm becoming a hurricane in the Caribbean,” Weather Underground bloggers Bob Henson and Jeff Masters said in a post on Friday.

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GFS forecast for Friday, Oct. 7. (Credit: NOAA)

Autumn arrives Thursday, but it feels a lot like summer

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The trees are turning in Maine with lows in the upper 40s and 50s, but summer heat grips much of the rest of the country. This photo shows Cadillac Mountain seen from Great Hill, Acadia National Park. (Photo credit: JRLibby/ Wikimedia Commons)

Autumn arrives on Thursday at 10:21 a.m. EDT, but you’d never know it most parts of the country.

West Palm Beach had its 14th day this month at 90 or better, and the seventh day in a row at 91 or hotter. It was 91 at Palm Beach International Airport, 92 in Miami; 90 in Naples and 89 in Fort Lauderdale.

Vero Beach hit 91, Orlando reached 90, and it was 91 in Tampa. Fort Myers made it to 92.

A weather observer in Palm Springs reported a high of 94 to the National Weather Service, and it was in the upper 90s in parts of inland Collier County.

The Wednesday morning weather map showed low 80s in South Florida, upper 70s in Central Florida, and low 70s in North Florida extending all the way up to Washington, DC. Even Chicago was reporting 72, and you had to go up to northern Maine to find temperatures in the mid-50s.

The only cool fall-like temperatures — outside of the Rocky Mountains — were found on the West Coast of Oregon and Washington, where it was in the 40s.

There’s no cooler weather in the National Weather Service’s long-range forecast for South Florida, and AccuWeather’s ultra-long-range forecast doesn’t show a dip below 70 for morning lows until Oct. 25.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-normal temperatures throughout most of the U.S. in October.

The Farmers’ Almanac echoed that outlook with its fall forecast.

“We’ve heard from many of you that you’ve had enough of this hot summer and the cooler temperatures of fall would be a welcome relief,” the Almanac said.

“Autumn’s weather will be seasonal if not warm to start, with summer heat possibly lingering. So regardless of what the calendar says, plan on a bit of delay to the start of the season, temperature-wise.”

Luckily for South Florida, a low pressure system lingering off the South Carolina Coast has
has maintained a slight west wind component, which is pushing late afternoon thunderstorms toward the East Coast.

That’s taking the edge off the heat, and Monday and Tuesday’s rainfall totals at PBIA — 1.42 inches and 1.74 inches — have actually bumped the September totals up to about a third of an inch above average for this point in the month.

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Forecast track for Karl. (Credit: NHC)

Tropical Depression Karl is “losing the battle against the hostile environment” of the tropical Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center says. Karl was downgraded to a depression Wednesday morning, but forecasters are still predicting strengthening as it moves west and then west-northwest.

The five-day Tropical Weather Outlook map is clear, and Tropical Storm Lisa is headed out into the open Atlantic.

NOAA’s GFS forecast model continues to show a storm brewing up in the Caribbean the first week of October, perhaps spinning up into the Gulf of Mexico and taking aim at the Florida panhandle.

Tropical Depression 13 forms in far eastern Atlantic

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Forecast track for Tropical Storm Lisa. (Credit: NHC)

UPDATE: Tropical Depression 13 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Lisa today by the National Hurricane Center, as expected. Forecasters predicted the storm would peak with 60 mph winds as it moves over the open Atlantic, but “quite hostile” wind shear should knock it down to a post-tropical remnant low by this weekend.

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ORIGINAL POST: The tropics coughed up another depression in the eastern Atlantic Monday night — the 13th of the 2016 season — and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become Tropical Storm Lisa on Tuesday.

But although TD 13 was moving west at 12 mph, forecasters said it would turn toward the west-northwest and weaken back to a depression by the weekend. It will likely peak as a 60 mph tropical storm on Wednesday, the NHC said.

Forecasters said Tropical Storm Karl, meanwhile, will become a Category 2 hurricane by the weekend with 100 mph winds. But they said it will likely slide east of Bermuda.

In fact, forecast models are nearly unanimous in calling for both systems to continue northwest and north over the open Atlantic, no threat to the U.S. coast.

The GFS shows no threats developing in the Atlantic through the end of the month. But recent model runs have shown a system spinning up in the western Caribbean during the first week of October.

Other forecast models haven’t picked up on this. But, as the season enters the new month, the Caribbean becomes the more likely spawning ground for tropical storms and hurricanes that sometimes get picked up by fronts and swept across the Florida peninsula.

More unusually hot weather on tap for Florida in October, forecasters say

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Climate Prediction Center forecasters are seeing red in their October forecast. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Long-range October forecasts for Florida and most of the U.S. Southeast are awash in red — not a pretty picture for heat-weary South Florida, which hasn’t seen a near-normal monthly temperature since May.

July and August were the hottest on record, the summer tied for the hottest on record, and September is burning down the road in concert with its predecessors. Saturday’s high was 93 in West Palm Beach, the fourth day in a row at 90 or hotter and the 11th day this month with a high of at least 90.

In fact, although May was only slightly above average, you have to go back to February to find a month significantly below average.

September temperatures are also running ahead — but only slightly — in Miami in Naples, while Fort Lauderdale has been slightly below normal this month.

In addition, West Palm Beach has slipped to 2.27 inches below the normal rainfall for this point in the month, historically one of the wettest along with June. Only 2.56 inches have fallen at Palm Beach International Airport since Sept. 1.

Miami is even deeper in the hole, with just 1.68 inches of rain all month — a 3.85-inch shortfall. Fort Lauderdale is 3.17 inches below average, but Naples is only a third of an inch down.

Most locations on the East Coast of Central Florida are running above average this month, thanks to getting clipped by Tropical Storm Julia.

The new long-range forecasts, issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday and Friday, show unusual warmth in most of the U.S. during October. Ditto for late September.

NOAA forecasters hedged their bets on their precipitation forecasts for October, citing equal chances for above normal, below normal or normal rainfall.