The Tale of Two B’s

Believe it or not, it is only May 24. It doesn’t seem that way with the possibility of reaching the second named storm before June 1st in both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Basins!

Hurricane Bud:

I’ll start off with the first system to receive a name starting with B. Hurricane Hunters have been flying around in Hurricane Bud today and have confirmed that Bud is at least a strong category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. As of 2pm PDT the NHC had Hurricane Bud listed at:

SUMMARY OF 200 PM PDT...2100 UTC...INFORMATION ---------------------------------------------- LOCATION...16.4N 106.4W ABOUT 225 MI...365 KM SW OF MANZANILLO MEXICO ABOUT 280 MI...450 KM S OF CABO CORRIENTES MEXICO MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...110 MPH...175 KM/H PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 35 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...962 MB...28.41 INCHES

The NHC has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Mexican coastline from Manzanillo northwestward to Cabo Corrientes. This means that hurricane conditions are expected within this area within the next 36 hours. If you or anyone you know residing in this area has not finish preparations, they need to be done so immediately as conditions will quickly deteriorate. Satellite imagery shows that the Bud is steadily approaching the coastline:

Visible Satellite Image of Hurricane Bud

Bud is very close to becoming a category three hurricane. The official forecast calls for Bud to reach major hurricane strength, which is a very impressive feat for this of the year. Although there is still a window of opportunity for intensification, it remains to be seen if Bud can reach category three strength. As I write this blog the latest Vortex Data Message shows Bud has flight level winds of 120 knots, which normally would support a category three classification. Regardless, Bud has strengthened 40 knots from 21Z yesterday to 21Z today, which is past the threshold needed for rapid intensification. To have a hurricane in the Eastern Pacific Ocean achieve this before the month of June is remarkable.

Unfortunately, many of the computer models now forecast that Bud will remain a hurricane at the time of landfall even though wind shear will increase, sea surface temperatures cool, and dry air will probably be entrained into the circulation of the storm. All three of these factors should cause Bud to weaken as the system approaches the coast. The NHC follows suit, forecasting Bud as a hurricane in 36 hours at the time of landfall:

21Z Official Forecast Track for Bud

Bud will most likely quickly weaken over land. Even though the track shows Bud moving back out over the Pacific after landfall, there probably won’t be much of a circulation left, so reintensification is not expected at this time.

This is a life threatening situation. Bud will bring very strong winds, with hurricane force winds extending out 35 miles from the center of the storm, heavy rains with isolated amounts over 10 inches, and a very hazardous storm surge superimposed with large waves. It is critical to stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center as well as local emergency management for advice on precautions and evacuations. It is very important that those in the path of Bud have their hurricane plan ready at this time.

Invest 94L:

While less threatening than Bud, Invest 94L has the potential to become the second named storm in the Atlantic Basin before June 1st. If this occurs, it would be the first time in over 100 years! Recent satellite imagery shows a highly sheared system:

Visible Satellite Image of 94L

Wind Shear is currently a very high 50-70 knots  over the storm. This is far too high to allow anything purely tropical to develop. The reason for this very high shear in that the subtropical jetstream is residing right over the Florida peninsula. This pattern is expected to change over the next two days with the subtropical jet sliding to the south as 94L moves off to the north into a more favorable environment. As of 1pm EDT, the NHC was giving 94L a 40% chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical cyclone over the next 48 hours.

The development of this system may be very similar to the first named storm this year, Alberto. That is, potential Beryl will most likely begin as a hybrid low, generating energy from both baroclinic and tropical processes. As wind shear decreases and 94L spins over the warm waters of the Gulfstream, many computer models are showing 94L will develop into our next sub/tropical cyclone. The two most reliable global computer models (ECMWF and GFS) are showing the same general synoptic (large-scale) pattern setting up: the cyclone should move northward over the next two to three days and then get stuck underneath a ridge building over the Eastern United States. This ridge will steer the possible cyclone back towards the United States coastline anywhere from Florida to South Carolina. Here is today’s 12Z ECMWF run at 72 hours out showing the low off the coast of Georgia:

Today's 12Z ECMWF at 72 hours

And here is the same run at 96 hours out showing the low already inland:

Today's 12Z ECMWF run 96 hours out

I believe the ECMWF has had the best handle on this system so far, and agree with its forecast. It is very possible that we will have Tropical or Subtropical Storm Beryl moving ashore somewhere on the Southeast United States coastline over the next five days. Anywhere from North Carolina to Florida should keep an eye on 94L over the next few days. At this time it seems unlikely 94L has the time to reach hurricane strength. Nonetheless, things can and will change, and I will continue to update on both of these systems as conditions warrant.

On a side note, 94L moved very close by NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key while I was there today. There was a 61 knot wind gust recorded on the island and I managed to snap this picture from the roof of the building earlier today:

Winds from 94L!

Needless to say, it was very windy!

-Mike

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