Friday Eve Tropical Update – 9pm #alwx @wvua23

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Good Friday evening! Here’s the latest update on the tropics… Tropical Storm Gaston has been sheared heavily over the past couple of days, but wind shear over that storm is about to relax. Gaston will become a hurricane again in the next 24 to 36 hours, as the environment around Gaston becomes favorable for strengthening. This storm will not cause any problems in the US, as it turns north and remains in the open Atlantic.

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Above is invest 99L, which is a term for a tropical wave with the chance of development. This may be the most watched tropical wave in the history of tropical waves, as the power of social media has allowed horrible information to spread to millions. I have had questions of concern about a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since last week. This all started when one run of one computer model last week showed the potential for a big hurricane in the Gulf. Since then, all models have backed off on the idea of this becoming a hurricane and now, nearly all data doesn’t develop the tropical wave at all. While there is a low chance this could become a weak tropical depression or tropical storm in the Gulf, there is no evidence of a dangerous hurricane. The big story from the tropical disturbance or wave will be from rain. Much of Florida will get dumped on with several inches of rain, which could lead to flooding. You don’t have to get a tropical storm or hurricane to have flooding, ask people in Louisiana that had 2 feet of rain from a non-tropical surface and upper level low. Based off the upper air pattern and steering currents, it’s unlikely that central Alabama will get any rain from this feature. We’ll keep an eye on it incase something changes, so check back with us for updates.

The panic and canceled vacations for many could have easily been avoided, if the people sharing this bad information simply checked the source before clicking “share”. Given the time we live in, people are very sensitive to the possibility of a destructive storm, especially since it’s been 11 years since the last major hurricane hit the US. That’s a record by the way… It’s been several years since a hurricane has moved across the Gulf of Mexico, also a record…  If you see a post on facebook or twitter or whatever site and the source has an odd name, and no local meteorologist is talking about it, simply ignore it. Trusted sources include the National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center and your local meteorologists. Sadly, there are people out there that make money off of scaring you to click on their page. These sites will have a doom/end of the world look to get you to click on their link and go to their page. Once you do that, that site gets ad revenue from your site visit, aka… they make money off of that. These people are really good at tricking you into believing some doom and gloom forecast by fancy graphics that look like something from a meteorologist or the National Hurricane Center. One big red flag is their “predictions” are typically 10 days out or more. No one can predict a hurricane landfall more than 5 days out. There’s just too many variables and is too complicated to nail down a specific area in a risk. I promise, I will do everything I can to spread the word through social media and on TV if there is a real threat to our area. You will know about it atleast 5 days before it happens, which is plenty of time to prepare.

As we continue through the rest of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, I’ll be closely watching this tropical wave and any other systems that may move in our direction. We want to be a source of helpful information for you.

Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

Hot Days Ahead… Isolated PM Storms… Tropical Update… Friday Forecast Discussion – 4:15pm #alwx @wvua23

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Good Friday afternoon! Our local weather has turned out hot this afternoon, with most areas reaching the lower to middle 90s. Heat index has reached 100 to 103 in many areas. A few scattered storms are ongoing as of 4pm north of I-20, but everyone is dry along and south of I-20 at this time. The isolated storms over north Alabama will diminish after sunset this evening. If you’re going to a local high school football game tonight, expect muggy conditions. Most stadiums will remain dry, but I can’t rule out an isolated storm north of I-20 through 10pm.

The upper air ridge responsible for the heat will continue to bake us through the weekend and early next week, with highs in the lower to middle 90s. Heat index will easily reach 100 to 103 through the weekend, with a small chance of an isolated afternoon storm.

Next week looks much of the same, with the chance of a passing shower or storm each afternoon, but the risk is low. Most of you will stay dry all week. Even if you get a storm, it may last 20 minutes in one spot before moving on.

In the tropics, Tropical Storm Gaston continues to move northwest across the central Atlantic, not causing any issues for land. Gaston has winds of 65mph, as of 4pm, with strengthening expected over the weekend.

The tropical wave everyone has been watching continues to be very disorganized. Based off model trends and the amount of shear over the system, it is unlikely a tropical storm forms from the energy. Below are the model tracks of where the tropical wave could go. While some models point it towards Alabama, those models also keep it a tropical wave or very weak area of low pressure. Unless something major changes over the next 24 hours, this system will do nothing more than bring a few extra showers to the coastal areas early to middle part of next week. We’ll keep an eye on any sudden changes, and I will keep you updated into next week, as the tropical wave moves into the Gulf.

We are watching more tropical waves over Africa, but those features will slowly track across the Atlantic, so we have lots of time to keep an eye on them…

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Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

Watching the Tropics… Thursday Eve Update – 9:45pm #alwx @wvau23

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Good Thursday evening! New model data coming in this evening continues to point into the direction of a weak, poorly organized tropical low moving into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. Above is the 0z set of tropical models, and the model spread is very wide, which leads to a low confidence forecast. Some models have the weak tropical low moving towards Brownsville, Texas, while others move the low into the Florida Panhandle.

Here’s the facts as of 9:45pm Thursday… There is a very weak tropical low (not a named storm or hurricane) over the extreme southeast Bahamas, moving west or west northwest towards northern Cuba. Given the land interaction, wind shear and dry air around the system, there’s basically an open swirl on the satellite. Little to no thunderstorm activity is associated with the system, which means it will continue to lose its identity as a tropical wave. There is a real chance this wave just fizzles out and loses it’s energy over Cuba and doesn’t re-organize over the Gulf. While it will be moving into more of a favorable environment over the next few days, I’m not sure if the energy can re-organize into a tropical cyclone.

If you have interest along the coast next week, lets keep an eye on it, however, the risk of a damaging tropical system making landfall looks low at this time.

Let me mention this… The power of social media has led to the spread of poor information of a “major hurricane” coming for the coast. A few models actually suggested this as a possibility earlier this week, but those models have since weakened the system with time. Meanwhile, the thought of this being a major storm continues to get spread across social media. This should serve good example why you need to check your source. If it’s not a post from the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center or your local meteorologists, ignore the post. There is too much false information on social media these days, so it’s never been more important to be cautious what stories you share.

The bottom line… there are still uncertainties with the forecast track and intensity of the tropical low. Keep checking back with us for updates as we move through the weekend and into early next week.

Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

Hot Days Ahead… Watching Tropics… Thursday Forecast Update – 4pm #alwx @wvua23

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Good Thursday afternoon! If you have been outdoors today, it is obvious that summer is still here! Temperatures reached the lower to middle 90s across the state, with a heat index of 100 to 104. A few random, tiny summer storms have popped up over the state, but most areas remain dry. Expect temperatures to drop into the 80s by sunset, then middle 70s late tonight, under a mostly clear sky.

Friday through the weekend will include hot, hazy and humid conditions, as an upper air ridge remains overhead. The ridge will continue to keep most communities dry through Sunday, but I can’t rule out a quick shower or storm somewhere across the state.

Early next week, the main core of the ridge will move off to the east, but our local weather will remain hot and mostly dry. There is still the risk of a stray afternoon and evening storm, but most areas will not get rain. The forecast by mid-week highly depends on whether a low develops in the Gulf and moves out direction. There are still many, many questions on this very weak and disorganized tropical wave.

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Speaking of the tropics… Tropical Storm Gaston is moving northwest across the central Atlantic and will not impact land, as the storm gradually turns north, then northeast in the northern Atlantic.

The tropical wave known as Invest 99L remains very disorganized due to wind shear and dry air removing any convection from the center. There’s a fair chance this system never becomes a tropical storm or hurricane. While the chance “0” for this to come into the Gulf and develop into something tropical, the chance is not very high at the moment. I’m amazed by the power of social media. About a week ago, one run of one computer model showed a major hurricane impacting the Alabama Gulf Coast. I have not seen that look since then. Someone shared it on social media, and I have been asked over and over about a ghost hurricane in the Gulf. Please understand, if there is a real threat to Alabama’s coast and something you should be concerned about, I will saturate social media with updates, as well as on television. However, above is the latest 18z computer model tracks of what could still become a tropical storm over the next few days. Most models now take the feature into the Gulf, and we will need to keep an eye on development. This is about 5 to 7 days away, if it actually develops and if it actually comes in our direction. There’s just not enough evidence at this time to start a panic.

The bottom line… keep checking back with me for updates. I will post any changes on the blog, social media and discuss on television. The good thing about tropical systems is you know they are coming atleast a few days in advance.

Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

9pm Wednesday Eve Tropical Update… #alwx @wvua23

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Good Wednesday evening! As of 9pm, the latest information is coming in with computer model data and information from the National Hurricane Center. First, Tropical Storm Gaston in the central Atlantic is approaching hurricane status. This storm will likely become a hurricane sometime tonight, as it moves northwest. Gaston may brush Bermuda over the weekend, but a US impact is not expected.

Our next feature is a weak tropical low near Puerto Rico this evening. I’m actually amazed by the amount of horrible information being spread on social media. I have been asked numerous times about the “imaginary” Hurricane in the Gulf. So, let me give you the latest facts as of 9pm Wednesday, and these will change with time…

First, there is no hurricane in the Gulf. The system we are watching is not even a tropical storm or tropical depression. It’s classified as a tropical wave or weak tropical low. Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigated the wave today and did not find a well defined center of circulation, which is one reason forecast models are having a tough time with it. The wave or weak low is moving west northwest at 15mph, approaching the southern Bahamas. Convection is rather disorganized this evening, but that is not surprising given the amount of dry air and wind shear over the system. A developing tropical storm needs little to no wind shear, deep tropical moisture and very warm sea surface temperatures.

What happens next?

The tropical wave or weak low will move into the Bahamas and into a better environment for development by Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This may be the best shot of this system becoming a named storm, as wind shear lessens and dry air pulls away. Above is the 0z model plots of possible tracks over the next 7 days. These could be way off, so don’t panic if you see lines pointing towards Alabama’s coast.

Below are three scenarios that could play out over the next 5 days. Scenario # 1, the mid Atlantic states ridge is weaker over the weekend and early next week, allowing the tropical wave to turn north over Florida or the east coast of Florida. At this time, I think that is the least likely, given the current upper air pattern and trend, however, it is possible. If by chance this is correct, there would be no tropical issues in Alabama.

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Scenario # 2, the ridge is stronger, which most data suggest that to be the correct solution. If this is correct, the tropical low would cut across Florida or between Cuba and Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico, where plenty of warm water and a good environment is located. If this solution is correct, the tropical system, if it even develops could impact the northern Gulf Coast and could have some sort of local impacts.

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Scenario # 3, the tropical low never gets organized and remains a tropical wave, bringing showers to Florida. While I think the chance of this idea is rather low, it is certainly possible.

The bottom line… There are still lots of questions on what will happen with this system. We are getting closer to having a better answer, and as soon as confidence in a solution is high enough, I will give you specific details on any sort of US impact. We will likely have a much better handle on the system by Friday.

Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

Wednesday Forecast Update… 4:30PM #alwx @wvua23

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Good Wednesday afternoon! As the upper air ridge builds over Alabama, the summer feel has returned! As of 4pm, temperatures have warmed into the lower to middle 90s, with a heat index over 100. With a ridge dominant in the forecast through the weekend, I don’t expect any real changes to the forecast.

Expect temperatures to drop into the lower to middle 70s overnight, with rain-free conditions. A high dewpoint will add a muggy feel to the air overnight. Thursday through Sunday will feature hot days and mild nights. Expect highs to reach the middle 90s Thursday through Sunday. There is a small chance of a passing afternoon storm each day, but the risk of rain is less than 20%. Heat index will approach 100 to 103 each afternoon.

Now… On to the tropics… Tropical Storm Gaston in the east Atlantic is moving northwest, with winds at 70mph. Gaston should become a hurricane soon, but wind shear is preventing rapid development at this time.

Below is a satellite image, with computer model tracks from a tropical wave near the northern Lesser Antilles. With dry air and wind shear over the tropical wave now, it has really become ragged this afternoon. Thunderstorms are not concentrated near the center, rather they are in clusters removed from the center. Models suggest the best chance of organization will occur on Friday through Sunday, as the environment around the tropical wave becomes favorable for development. There is a chance this system will never become well organized and only become a rain-maker for Florida this weekend into early next week.

Most models suggest the system will move into south Florida late this weekend, then turn north across the state. Given the blocking ridge forecasted to be north of the storm, there is still a chance it gets into the Gulf of Mexico. The bottom line… until a fixed center can develop within the tropical wave, computer model data will be nearly worthless. I expect the projected path and intensity to become much more clear over the next day or two, so keep checking back with us for updates. At this time, I don’t know if this will even become a tropical storm or hurricane. There are just too many questions to be answered first. There is no need to panic if you live near the gulf coast or southeast Atlantic coast. Lets just sit back and wait on model data to clear up a bit over the next few days.

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Join us live on WVUA23 weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

Looking Back at the Disaster of Hurricane Andrew… Wednesday Update – 2:30pm #alwx @wvua23

Hurricane Andrew

24 years ago today, Hurricane Andrew swept across the southern tip of the Florida Panhandle before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. The picture above shows a time laps of Hurricane Andrew: before making landfall in Florida (1st storm on the right), shortly after crossing the Florida peninsula (middle storm), and as Hurricane Andrew approached Louisiana (far left).

Please note: THESE ARE NOT THREE SEPARATE STORMS. NOAA and NASA were able to capture three separate images of Hurricane Andrew at different stages, and then they put the images on top of one another to show the progression. Below, is a summary of Hurricane Andrew done by the National Hurricane Center and NOAA.

Hurricane Andrew 1992
Click for a larger map of Andrew 1992 HurricaneClick here for a larger image of AndrewOne of the most destructive United States hurricanes of record started modestly as a tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 14. The wave spawned a tropical depression on August 16, which became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day. Further development was slow, as the west-northwestward moving Andrew encountered an unfavorable upper-level trough. Indeed, the storm almost dissipated on August 20 due to vertical wind shear. By August 21, Andrew was midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico and turning westward into a more favorable environment. Rapid strengthening occurred, with Andrew reaching hurricane strength on the 22nd and Category 4 status on the 23rd. After briefly weakening over the Bahamas, Andrew strengthened into a Category 5 as it blasted its way across south Florida on August 24. The hurricane continued westward into the Gulf of Mexico where it gradually turned northward. This motion brought Andrew to the central Louisiana coast on August 26 as a Category 3 hurricane. Andrew then turned northeastward, eventually merging with a frontal system over the Mid-Atlantic states on August 28.

Reports from private barometers helped establish that Andrew’s central pressure at landfall in Homestead, Florida was 27.23 inches, which makes it the third most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States. Andrew’s peak winds in south Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. An automated station at Fowey Rocks reported 142 mph sustained winds with gusts to 169 mph (measured 144 ft above the ground), and higher values may have occurred after the station was damaged and stopped reporting. The National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph (measured 130 ft above the ground), while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home. Additionally, Berwick, LA reported 96 mph sustained winds with gusts to 120 mph.

Andrew produced a 17 ft storm surge near the landfall point in Florida, while storm tides of at least 8 ft inundated portions of the Louisiana coast. Andrew also produced a killer tornado in southeastern Louisiana.

Andrew is responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million.

Here in Alabama, Birmingham recorded 1.77″ of rain as the remnants of Hurricane Andrew moved over the northwestern portion of the state.

Richard Scott

WVUA Chief Meteorologist

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