Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tropical alphabet soup

In just a matter of a couple of days, the very late-starting Atlantic tropical season (one of the slowest in 20 years) has taken off and there are now three named storms swirling in tropical waters - Ana (pronounced Ah-na) and Bill in the Atlantic and newly-formed Claudette in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Starting with Claudette, this tropical storm is offshore the west coast of FL moving northwest. It is expected to make landfall in the FL Panhandle west of Apalachicola this evening as a moderate tropical storm with 50-60 mph wind in a fairly concentrated core. The biggest threat from this storm will be copious rainfall - widespread 3-6" totals with higher localized amounts. Of course, any land-falling tropical system has the potential to bring isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts.

The remnants of Claudette could affect the Mid-South Monday night and Tuesday so my forecast reflects slightly above forecast model precipitation chances and slightly below the models on high temps for the first part of the week, assuming some residual affects from the storm.

The first storm to form, Ana, has been downgraded (again) to a tropical depression as it moves quickly west towards the Lesser Antilles. Assuming it survives interactions with the islands (and that is a stretch), it is forecast to continue towards Hispaniola and Cuba, where it will likely die a natural death and should not pose a threat to the U.S. mainland, other than possibly some showers for south Florida.

The last storm, Tropical Storm Bill, is following in Ana's footsteps and appears ready to power up to hurricane strength tonight or Monday and possibly become a major hurricane (category 3+) in 48-72 hours. This storm will bear watching as far as its eventual track. Right now, the large-scale models are forecasting a fairly significant trough over the eastern U.S. by mid-late this week which could turn the storm northwest, then north, up the east coast of the U.S. We'll keep an eye on it.

For more on tracking tropical weather, I suggest you check out MWN's Tropical Page, as well as an excellent online resource called StormPulse.

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