February 8, 2016

Storm Imogen Brings Winds and Swells to SW England

Storm Imogen arrived overnight, announcing her appearance with thunder and lightning here in the Haldon Hills. Now that the sun has risen, here's how the surf on the north coast looks at Woolacombe, courtesy of Trev Lumley of Eyeball Surfcheck:

The Eyeball live surfcam isn't completely lathered in spray like most of the others, and you can see it shaking in the gusting winds. Here's a snapshot:

Trev's eminently sound advice is:

Completely and utterly BLOWN-OUT folks, with gale to severe gale onshore Westerly winds.

Don't even think about it dudes as in I hope it goes without saying that such conditions are rare and extreme caution needs to be taken before even thinking about entering even the most extreme sheltered breaks.

Meanwhile further out into the North Atlantic Ocean some buoys are bobbing about in the incoming swell, as is the Sevenstones lightship. Here's what she's reporting at the moment, courtesy of Magic Seaweed:

Moving on to those winds, here is the latest weather report from RAF Culdrose, just down the North Devon coast from Woolacombe, courtesy of Weather Underground:

Finally, for the moment at least, there are currently 27 flood warnings and 74 flood alerts across Soggy South-West England.

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February 7, 2016

The Calm Before Storm Imogen

It's now just after 19:00 hours on Sunday February 7th 2016, and I suppose it's time to start battening down our hatches? Here's how our handy South-West England flood widget looks at present:

Here's the Magic Seaweed surf forecast for the British Isles for midnight tonight:

and here's the GFS wind gust forecast for tomorrow morning, courtesy of MeteoCiel:

Just in case you're wondering the scale is in km/h, not mph! Nonetheless I have a torch and a large supply of candles and matches handy, in part because on my pre Imogen bike ride around the infrastructure of the Haldon Hills this afternoon I couldn't help but notice this:

If you suffered a mobile telecommunications breakdown anywhere near Telegraph Hill earlier today that's probably because a tree fell across the wires carrying electricity to the telecoms mast on the Haldon ridge.

Before Storm Imogen arrived.

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February 6, 2016

Severe Flood Warning for Portreath

Here's how the econnexus.org flood widget looks shortly after midday on February 6th 2016:

and here's how the UK Met Office's current "amber" weather warning map looked earlier in the day:

The Environment Agency have just issued their first red "severe flood warning" of the day, for Portreath in Cornwall:

The Portreath tunnel trash screen is now overtopping and flood waters are impacting Portreath. Conditions at Portreath are deteriorating quickly and the situation is expected to deteriorate with further rainfall expected. Road access to Portreath through Bridge is likely to be dangerous so drivers should avoid driving through this location.

12:00 on 06 Feb 2016

Here's how the River Dart near Dartington looked an hour or so ago:

and here's the relevant EA flood warning:

River levels are continuing to rise following the heavy rain experienced this morning. Further rainfall is expected throughout Saturday with widespread rainfall totals of 30mm – 40mm anticipated in the area. River levels will continue to rise throughout Saturday morning, increasing throughout the day and into the early evening. River levels are likely to fall during Sunday with lower rainfall totals forecast. Flooding is likely to affect properties close the river. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this message if the situation changes

10:42 on 06 Feb 2016

Please do bear in mind that according to the Environment Agency:

Flood Warning – Flooding is expected. Immediate action required
Severe Flood Warning – Severe flooding. Danger to life.

[Edit - 12:45]

Here's a picture of the "flooding down the main road through Portreath, Cornwall":

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January 31, 2016

When Henry Met Gertie (and Jonas, and Imogen?)

I was in a series of meetings halfway up a London skyscraper listening to the remnants of Blizzard/Winter Storm Jonas last week, so my news of Storm Gertrude is slightly belated. Before Gertie arrived one of our number had to jump on a train back to the North of England to deal with a personal flooding problem thanks to the amount of precipitation that ex Jonas deposited on the already sodden soil up there. He wasn't the only one affected:

Hot on the heels of Jonas, Storm Gertrude arrived from across the North Atlantic, with the United Kingdom's Met Office helpfully providing some moving pictures to explain that:

Very cold air is spilling southwards out of Arctic Canada and meeting much milder air across parts of the Western Atlantic forming a very strong temperature gradient, and that forces a very strong jet stream which spins these systems up.

The BBC reported on Friday that:

100mph Gales batters UK

Storm Gertrude is sweeping across parts of the UK with winds of more than 100mph causing damage to buildings, travel disruption and power cuts.

In Edinburgh, a man was hospitalised after being struck by flying debris, and a rare Met Office "danger to life" wind warning is in place for Shetland.

At least 4,000 homes are without power in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Trains, flights and ferries have been cancelled and roads and bridges shut.

There are flood warnings across the UK.

Gertrude then continued on towards Scandinavia, where she morphed into "Storm Tor". As "Norway Today" reported yesterday:

The hurricane tore loose ships and roofs

A huge supply vessel under construction was torn loose in the hurricane that ravaged in Sunnmøre Friday night. In Ålesund the hurricane was the cause of flying objects, which made it dangerous to go outside.

It must be one of the largest ships under construction in the country, but because there are no people on board, we will not get involved, the JRCC for southern Norway states to NTB.

The ship is well over 190 meters and has been torn loose and lies across the bay.

Now comes news that the Met Office have officially given the name "Henry" to the next deep low pressure system racing our way, which is due to arrive overnight. Here is their surface level pressure forecast for lunchtime tomorrow:

The German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf outlined his theory about the reason for the current conveyor belt of strong storms over at "Real Climate":

I will argue that this warmth (as well as the cold blob in the subpolar Atlantic) is partly due to a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), sometimes referred to as the Gulf Stream System, in response to global warming. There are two points to this argument:

(1) The warm sea surface temperatures are not just some short-term anomaly but are part of a long-term observed warming trend, in which ocean temperatures off the US east coast are warming faster than global average temperatures.

(2) Climate models show a “cold blob” in the subpolar Atlantic as well as enhanced warming off the US east coast as a characteristic response pattern to a slowdown of the AMOC.

As if all that wasn't sufficiently wrathful of the gods, here is the Global Forecast System SLP forecast for a week's time, courtesy of MeteoCiel:

A week is a long time in weather forecasting, especially in the North Atlantic just at the moment, but next on the Met Office's list of names for dangerous storms is "Imogen"!

Whilst we wait to discover what swells are sweeping across the North Atlantic next weekend, here is the Magic Seaweed surf forecast for tomorrow:

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January 23, 2016

Cyclone Corentin Forms in South-West Indian Ocean

We've already reported on unusually early hurricanes in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Now comes news of the first Southern Hemisphere cyclone of 2016. Yesterday the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii reported that Cyclone Corentin had developed hurricane force winds in the South-West Indian Ocean. Of course it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so this event is unusual for a different reason. Corentin is the first storm of the 2015-16 season to reach category 1 strength, and has done so later than in previous years.

Here's the JTWC's current forecast track for Corentin, showing Reunion Island well to the west of the cyclone:

Here's an extract from the JTWC's latest bulletin:

230300Z POSITION NEAR 22.0S 71.7E.

TROPICAL CYCLONE 08S (CORENTIN), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 866 NM SOUTH OF DIEGO GARCIA, HAS TRACKED SOUTHWARD AT 08 KNOTS OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS.

ANIMATED ENHANCED INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY DEPICTS CONVECTIVE BANDS WRAPPING TIGHTLY INTO A LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER.

A 222310Z SSMIS 91 GHZ IMAGE DEPICTS A WELL-DEFINED MICROWAVE EYE FEATURE WITH CONVECTION COMPLETELY SURROUNDING THE CENTER. PGTW AND KNES DVORAK INTENSITY ANALYSES YIELDED T-NUMBERS OF 4.5 AND SUPPORT THE INITIAL INTENSITY
OF 75 KNOTS.

TC CORENTIN REMAINS IN AN AREA FAVORABLE FOR SLIGHT INTENSIFICATION WITH LOW (5 TO 10 KNOTS) VERTICAL WIND SHEAR (VWS) A STRONG POLEWARD OUTFLOW CHANNEL AND HIGH (28 DEG C) SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES (SSTS)

TC 08S IS EXPECTED TO REACH PEAK INTENSITY BY TAU 12 THEN BEGIN A SLOW WEAKENING TREND THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE FORECAST PERIOD IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED VWS AND DECREASING SSTS. BY TAU 120, TC CORENTIN WILL BEGIN EXTRA-TROPICAL TRANSITION AS IT INTERACTS WITH A MID-LATITUDE FRONTAL SYSTEM AND UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH.

and here's how Corentin looked from NASA's Suomi satellite yesterday:

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January 21, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas Potentially Crippling for Washington DC

The "Blizzard Watch" we reported on this morning has now been upgraded to a "Blizzard Warning" by the United States' National Weather Service. The NWS home page currently warns that:

A potentially crippling winter storm is anticipated for portions of the mid-Atlantic Friday into early Saturday. Snowfall may approach two feet for some locations, including the Baltimore and Washington, DC, metro areas. Farther north, there is uncertainty in snowfall for the New York City-to-Boston corridor. Farther south, significant icing is likely for portions of Kentucky and North Carolina.

The latest update from NWS Washingtom DC states that:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
1209 PM EST THU JAN 21 2016

BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM FRIDAY TO 6 AM EST SUNDAY.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WARNING WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM FRIDAY TO 6 AM EST SUNDAY. THE BLIZZARD WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* HAZARD TYPES…HEAVY SNOW AND WIND WITH BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW FRIDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT. SLEET MAY MIX WITH THE SNOW FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING EAST OF INTERSTATE 95 BEFORE CHANGING BACK TO ALL SNOW BY SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

* ACCUMULATIONS…SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 18 TO 24 INCHES IN THE EASTERN SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON DC AND 24 TO 30 INCHES IN THE WESTERN SUBURBS. THE CITY OF WASHINGTON DC IS EXPECTED TO RECEIVE AROUND 24 INCHES.

* TIMING…HEAVY SNOW WILL DEVELOP LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT. CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO DETERIORATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON WITH THE HEAVIEST SNOW. STRONGEST WINDS…AND POTENTIAL LIFE THREATENING CONDITIONS EXPECTED FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY.

* IMPACTS…HEAVY SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW WILL CAUSE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AND WILL BE A THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY. TRAVEL IS EXPECTED TO BE SEVERELY LIMITED IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY. VISIBILITY WILL BE REDUCED TO NEAR ZERO AT TIMES IN WHITEOUT CONDITIONS.

* WINDS…NORTHEAST 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH. BECOMING NORTH SATURDAY.

* TEMPERATURES…MID TO UPPER 20S.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS AND POOR VISIBILITIES ARE LIKELY. THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS, MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU. IF YOU GET STRANDED STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE. PREPARE FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF POWER OUTAGES DURING SNOWY AND COLD CONDITIONS.

Here is the NWS Weather Prediction Center forecast map for tomorrow:

Note that apart from all the snow and freezing rain it forecasts "possible flash flooding" on the east coast.

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January 19, 2016

Two Pairs of Hurricane Force Storms

The Ocean Prediction Center of the United States' National Weather Service highlighted this unusual situation on their Twitter feed yesterday:

Four hurricane force lows in the two ocean basins within the next 24 hours!

Let's see how that prediction has worked out. Here's the OPC's current synopsis for the North Pacific:

and here's the equivalent for the North Atlantic:

There's obviously two hurricane force systems in the Pacific, but the OPC "high seas" bulletin for the Atlantic has this to say this morning:

HURRICANE FORCE WIND WARNING…

LOW 56N52W 982 MB MOVING NW 10 KT. FRONT EXTENDS FROM LOW CENTER TO 57N42W TO 56N35W.
FROM 58N TO 60N BETWEEN 42W AND 49W. WINDS 50 TO 65 KT. SEAS 21 TO 28 FT.
ELSEWHERE FROM 58N TO 60N BETWEEN 37W AND 52W WINDS 40 TO 50 KT. SEAS 19 TO 24 FT.
ALSO WITHIN 240 NM NW AND N OF THE FRONT WINDS 25 TO 40 KT. SEAS 12 TO 20 FT.

24 HOUR FORECAST LOW DISSIPATED. N OF A FRONT TO EXTEND FROM 60N44W TO 59N35W WINDS 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS 11 TO 18 FT.

48 HOUR FORECAST CONDITIONS DIMINISHED.

and also this:

HURRICANE FORCE WIND WARNING…

24 HOUR FORECAST NEW LOW 41N45W 990 MB. FRONT TO EXTEND FROM LOW CENTER TO 37N59W TO 36N67W. WITHIN 120 NM SE OF THE FRONT. WINDS 40 TO 50 KT. SEAS 18 TO 28 FT.
ELSEWHERE OVER FORECAST WATERS WITHIN 600 NM SE…1500 NM SW…AND 660 NM NW QUADRANTS. WINDS 25 TO 40 KT. SEAS 12 TO 24 FT.

48 HOUR FORECAST LOW 57N36W 956 MB. BETWEEN 60 NM AND 120 NM N AND S QUADRANTS WINDS 50 TO 65 KT. SEAS 17 TO 26 FT.
ELSEWHERE WITHIN 180 NM N AND S QUADRANTS WINDS 40 TO 50 KT. SEAS 16 TO 20 FT. ALSO WITHIN 300 NM OF CENTER…EXCEPT 180 NM SW QUADRANT WINDS 25 TO 40 KT. SEAS 15 TO 18 FT.

Two separate hurricane force systems then, but whether they'll be simultaneously producing winds of that strength remains to be seen. Nonetheless, here is Magic Seaweed's surf forecast for the North Atlantic on Thursday afternoon:

One large swell heading for Southern Greenland, and another one heading straight for Soggy South West England! Meanwhile over in the Pacific surfers in Alaska have this to look forward too later in the week:

As far as I can ascertain Magic Seaweed don't produce a surf forecast for Greenland!

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January 15, 2016

Hurricane Alex Heads for Greenland

As we previously reported the extraordinary North Atlantic cyclone called Alex became a hurricane yesterday. This morning (UTC) we wake to discover that in their most recent update on his progress the National Hurricane Center are predicting that even though Alex has now weakened slightly he will carry his hurricane force winds all the way to Greenland:

According to their interim bulletin 6A:

CONDITIONS [ARE] DETERIORATING OVER THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN AZORES…
HURRICANE CONDITIONS EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS OF THE AZORES LATER
THIS MORNING…

SUMMARY OF 200 AM AST…0600 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————-
LOCATION…35.5N 27.3W
ABOUT 220 MI…355 KM S OF TERCEIRA ISLAND IN THE CENTRAL AZORES
ABOUT 230 MI…365 KM SSE OF FAIAL ISLAND IN THE CENTRAL AZORES
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…80 MPH…130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…N OR 10 DEGREES AT 22 MPH…35 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…984 MB…29.06 INCHES

The more detailed discussion from 3 hours earlier points out that:

The cyclone should begin extratropical transition in the next few hours, and the global models suggest there will be enough baroclinic forcing to maintain hurricane-force winds through and after the transition despite the cold water.

Based on this and input from the Ocean Prediction Center, the new intensity forecast shows little change in strength until Alex is absorbed by a large extratropical low in about 72 hours.

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January 13, 2016

Subtropical Storm Alex Arrives in the North Atlantic

Further to our recent news about the unseasonally early formation of Hurricane Pali in the Pacific the National Hurricane Center has just announced that:

OUT OF SEASON SUBTROPICAL STORM FORMS OVER THE FAR EASTERN
ATLANTIC…

SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST…2100 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————-
LOCATION…27.1N 30.8W
ABOUT 785 MI…1260 KM SSW OF THE AZORES
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…50 MPH…85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NE OR 55 DEGREES AT 14 MPH…22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…990 MB…29.24 INCHES

The NHC's forecast discussion concerning Alex adds that:

The cyclone is co-located with an upper-level low, and appears to have only a weak warm core, so it is being designated as a subtropical storm.

By 96 hours, the global models show the cyclone merging or becoming absorbed by another extratropical low at high latitudes.

Alex is the first tropical or subtropical storm to form in January since an unnamed system did so in 1978, and is only the fourth known to form in this month in the historical record that begins in 1851.

The NHC suggests that, unlike Pali, Alex may pass near some human habitations:

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
——————–
Interests in the Azores should monitor the progress of Alex.

Here's Alex's current forecast track for the next 5 days:

and here's an image of Alex courtesy of NASA's Aqua satellite, at the same scale as our picture of Pali yesterday:

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January 12, 2016

Pali in Early Start to 2016 Pacific Cyclone Season

In an extremely early start to the 2016 Pacific Cyclone Season the Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced early this morning that Hurricane Pali had reached category 1 strength. They currently report that:

AT 500 AM HST…1500 UTC…THE CENTER OF HURRICANE PALI WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 6.8 NORTH…LONGITUDE 171.4 WEST. PALI IS MOVING TOWARD THE SOUTH NEAR 7 MPH. THIS MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TODAY…FOLLOWED BY A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 90 MPH…150 KM/H…WITH HIGHER GUSTS. SLOW WEAKENING IS EXPECTED THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 25 MILES…35 KM…FROM THE CENTER…AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES…165 KM.

THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 979 MB…28.91 INCHES.

Here is Pali's forecast track over the next few days:

Fortunately that means the CPHC are able to add that:

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
NONE.

According to NOAA's database of hurricanes the previous earliest hurricane in the Central Pacific was Ekeka which achieved hurricane force on January 31st 1992:

In all the circumstances perhaps the CPHC need to update their website though? It currently states:

The Eastern Pacific Hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.
The Central North Pacific hurricane season officially ended on November 30th. We will resume issuing tropical weather outlooks starting on June 1st of 2016.

P.S. Here's a picture of Pali on the evening of January 12th, courtesy of NASA's Suomi satellite:

The latest CPHC update states:

SUMMARY OF 1100 AM HST…2100 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————–
LOCATION…6.2N 171.3W
ABOUT 735 MI…1185 KM S OF JOHNSTON ISLAND
ABOUT 1375 MI…2210 KM SW OF HONOLULU HAWAII
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…100 MPH…155 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…SSW OR 200 DEGREES AT 7 MPH…11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…977 MB…28.85 INCHES

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