Talking the Tropics With Mike: Lee landfall in Nova Scotia... cautious eye on SE U.S. late next week

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Realize the forecast cone (”cone of uncertainty”) is the average forecast error over a given time - out to 5 days - & *does not* indicate the width of the storm &/or where damage that might occur.

*** LOCAL (Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.) IMPACTS FROM THE TROPICS: Rough seas & surf through this week with a high rip current risk. Breakers at the beaches 5-7′, locally briefly higher through Fri. even as Lee moves away.

The Atlantic Basin Overview:

** “Lee” was upgraded to a tropical storm last Tue. afternoon & to a hurricane Wed. afternoon & intensified to a Cat. 4 Thu. afternoon & to a Cat. 5 late Thu. evening! before weakening the last several days... will be “on the field” through the upcoming weekend but will transition to post-tropical Fri./Fri. night.

** The strong tropical wave - ‘96-L’ was upgraded to tropical depression #14 Thu. morning & “Margot” Thu. afternoon then to a hurricane Mon. afternoon - stays far out to sea over the E. & Central Atlantic.

** T.D. #15 has formed over the Central Atlantic....

** A trailing strong tropical wave at a lower latitude closer to Africa has the potential for eventual development...

(1) The strong tropical wave - ‘95-L’ - that moved off the coast of Africa this past weekend and was upgraded to tropical depression #13 a week ago Tue. morning then to tropical storm “Lee” Tue. afternoon & then to a hurricane Wed. afternoon. The hurricane rapidly intensified Thu. becoming a Cat. 4 last Thu. afternoon then a Cat. 5 later Thu. night creating great hoopla & unwarranted scary headlines. In any case, Lee steadily weakened thereafter until strengthening some again late Sun. into Monday then finally becoming post-tropical early Saturday.

A Hurricane WATCH: New Brunswick from the U.S./Canada border to Point Lepreau, including Grand Manan Island ... Nova Scotia from Digby to Ecum Secum. A Tropical Storm WARNING: Westport Massachusetts northward to the U.S./Canada border ... Martha’s Vineyard ... Nantucket ... New Brunswick from the U.S./Canada border to Fort Lawrence, including Grand Manan Island ... New Brunswick from Shediac to Tidnish ... Nova Scotia from Fort Lawrence to Point Tupper. A Tropical Storm WATCH: Prince Edward Island ... Magdalen Islands ... New Brunswick from Belledune to Shediac ... Nova Scotia from Tidnish to Aulds Cove ... Nova Scotia from Aulds Cove to Meat Cove to Point Tupper.

Lee was the third major (Franklin & Idalia so far) hurricane of the Atlantic season ... the third hurricane of the Atlantic season develops - on average - Sept. 7 (4 so far this year) while the 2nd “major” hurricane average date is Sept. 19.

The transition from an intense, compact hurricane to a sprawling, not as powerful hurricane was completed early last week & now that Lee is over much cooler water while moving north, the storm is post-tropical but still producing winds to hurricane force.

Lee will make landfall Saturday on the southwest coast of Nova Scotia. Gusty winds + very rough seas & surf will batter parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine & nearby parts of Eastern New England before improving Sunday. The heaviest rain & strongest winds will batter Nova Scotia & Newfoundland into Sunday. Lee became a much wider storm with tropical storm force winds extending for hundreds of miles from the center & gales more than 500 miles from the center. Though on the west side of the cyclone, Boston saw some rain & strong winds into Saturday but clearly missed the worst of Lee.

An upper level trough moving into the Eastern U.S. Lee is helping turn Lee more north & eventually northeast while accelerating & slowly winding down.

(2) The very strong tropical wave - ‘96-L’ - was upgraded to t.d. # 14 a week ago Thu. morning over the far Eastern Atlantic & to tropical storm “Margot” late Thu. then to the 5th hurricane of the Atlantic season late Mon. & then weakened to a tropical storm the last couple days. This tropical cyclone will stay far to the east over the Central & Northern Atlantic.

(3) Tropical depression #15 has formed over the Central Atlantic. Quick development into tropical storm “Nigel” is likely then into a hurricane, likely a ‘major’ hurricane by about midweek. But *current* indications are that this tropical cyclone will turn rather early to the north & stay east of the U.S. coast.

(4) A pair of strong tropical waves are near the coast of Africa & may slowly develop while moving west.

(5) We’ll also need to watch for possible development near Florida late in the upcoming week/next weekend. A surface trough of low pressure will develop near & just offshore of the east coast of Florida by Thu./Fri. The GFS model is aggressive in forming a tropical cyclone from this trough just offshore of Florida. Most of the other global forecast models either develop a very weak low or simply maintain the trough. This is a situation to watch as “in-close” tropical development does fit the pattern with a rather strong high to the north.

Regardless of development... gusty onshore (out of the east) flow will develop over Northeast Fl./Southeast Ga. Thursday through the weekend with bands of heavy rain, rough seas & surf & dangerous rip currents. Stay up to date on the latest forecasts.

“Margot”:

T.D. #15:

Check out the upper oceanic heat content (UOHC) [tropical cyclone heat potential/TCHP] across the SW Atlantic, Gulf & Caribbean. The warmth is very deep. But keep in mind warm ocean temps. alone doesn’t necessarily equate to a “big” hurricane season (need other ingredients & factors to be favorable too) but it’s obvious there is a lot of very warm water at great depths over the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico stretching eastward all the way into the Central Atlantic:

Velocity potential anomalies - the map below shows “roughly” where the air is rising (green lines) vs. air that is generally descending (brow lines). These “pulses” - strong related to the MJO [Madden-Julian Oscillation] - often correlate with increased tropical cyclone activity. The current pulse over the Pacific should translate eastward & could be located over the Atlantic Basin by late this month into the first 1-2 weeks of Oct. If true, we could expect an uptick in Atlantic tropical development.

Water vapor loop (dark blue/yellow is dry mid & upper level air):

July tropical cyclone origins:

Averages below based on climatology for the Atlantic Basin for August:

Wind shear:


Saharan dust spreads west each year from Africa by the prevailing winds (from east to west over the Atlantic). Dry air - yellow/orange/red/pink. Widespread dust is indicative of dry air that can impede the development of tropical cyclones. However, sometimes “wanna’ be” waves will just wait until they get to the other side of - or away from - the plume then try to develop if other conditions are favorable. In my personal opinion, way too much is made about the presence of Saharan dust & how it relates to tropical cyclones. In any case, the peak of Saharan dust typically is in June & July.

2023 names..... “Nigel” is the next name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years). Historic storms are retired [Florence & Michael in ’18... Dorian in ’19 & Laura, Eta & Iota in ‘20, Ida in ‘21 & Fiona & Ian in ‘22]). In fact, this year’s list of names is rather infamous with “Katrina”, “Rita” & “Wilma” retired from the ‘05 list & “Harvey”, “Irma”,“Maria” & “Nate” from the ‘17 list. The WMO decided - beginning in 2021 - that the Greek alphabet will be no longer used & instead there will be a supplemental list of names if the first list is exhausted (has only happened three times - 2005, 2020 & 2021). The naming of tropical cyclones began on a consistent basis in 1953. More on the history of naming tropical cyclones * here *.

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content over the Gulf, Caribbean & deep tropical Atlantic. The brighter colors are expanding dramatically as we near the peak of the hurricane season.:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:

Caribbean:

Atlantic Basin wave period forecast for 24, 48, 72 & 96 hours respectively:


East/Central Pacific:

West Pacific:

Global tropical activity:


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