Bill is making landfall on the Texas coast this morning as a strong tropical storm just south of Port OConnor.
Here is three looks at the storm this morning. The large panel is the composite radar. The top left is a visible satellite image and the lower left is an enhanced infrared satellite image.
Top winds on the last advisory had strengthened to 60 mph and the Air Force plane just found a maximum sustained wind of 63.3 mph as measured by the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer on board the aircraft.
So, Bill will be just below hurricane strength it appears at landfall.
The main threat is heavy rain and a high flood risk across eastern Texas up into eastern Oklahoma. The heavy rains will continue on into the Midwest and even the Northeast. Inland flooding is the second biggest killer in tropical cyclones.
Here is the information from the first advisory on Tropical Storm Bill.
SUMMARY OF 1000 PM CDT…INFORMATION
ABOUT 160 MI…260 KM ESE OF PORT OCONNOR TEXAS
ABOUT 155 MI…250 KM SSE OF GALVESTON TEXAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…50 MPH…85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NW OR 320 DEGREES AT 12 MPH…19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1005 MB…29.68 INCHES
Here is the official track forecast, which shows that the center of the remnants of Bill won’t make it past Austin until early Wednesday morning. Heavy rainfalls of 4-8 inches will affect eastern Texas up into eastern Oklahoma.
The accumulated wind swath is overlaid on the track path. The light blue shows the expected area of tropical storm force winds. The yellow indicates strong tropical storm force winds greater than or equal to 58 mph. There will be coastal flooding along the upper Texas coast over to Central Louisiana.
Bill will make landfall on the Texas Coast near Matagorda Bay early tomorrow morning, moving into the inland Texas Coast by late morning.
We will have to watch for rip currents all along the Gulf Coast. Two young boys died off North Padre Island this afternoon after they were caught in a rip current.
LATE REPORT 8:45 PM
Although the NHC has not officially announced it yet, they have flipped the designation from Invest 91L to AL02 indicating that it’s a boy! We should have advisories on Bill shortly.
From the 7 p.m. CDT Tropical Weather Outlook from the NHC:
Surface observations and preliminary data from an Air Force Reserve Unit Hurricane Hunter aircraft currently investigating the area of low pressure located about 200 miles southeast of the middle Texas coast indicate that the center has become better defined since earlier today. If these trends continue, advisories will be initiated later this evening on Tropical Storm Bill.
In fact, the Air Force reconnaissance plane investigating Invest 91L has found 50+ knot flight level winds in the southeastern semicircle about 30 miles east of what appears to be a nearly calm center. This would translate into about a 45 knot tropical cyclone, or about 50 mph.
Here is the latest recon data showing the approximate center with a B and highlights the 50 knot flight level winds in a yellow circle.
The system certainly is not well organized, with a broad center, but this may be enough organization for the NHC to go ahead and designate the system as Tropical Storm Bill shortly.
The center is somewhere near 27.0N and 94.2W. This is 160 miles southeast of Port Lavaca TX. The system should be onshore by 7 a.m. somewhere near Matagorda Bay, which is between Houston and Corpus Christi TX.
Imvest 91L over the Central Gulf of Mexico has not been designated a tropical depression or tropical storm yet because the circulation is not considered to be tight enough yet. But tropical storm force winds are being measured well to the northeast of the center.
The system appears to be becoming better organized with convection increasing near the center. The environment is becoming more favorable for intensification with difference aloft helping to enhance rising vertical motion.
This is an area not unfamiliar with rapidly strengthening storms (think Humberto in 2007 and Audrey in 1957.
I think the system will be designated a tropical depression soon and a tropical storm later this evening. The NHC says they will wait for the recon infonfrom this evening’s flight before making an upgrade decision.
The system is expected to make landfall on the middle Texas coast Tuesday morning around Port Lavaca. This will bring more heavy rains to Houston and well up into Texas including Dallas. Showers and storms are already massing off the coast of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
Flash flood watches are already posted for North Texas and Oklahoma through Thursday because of the expected heavy rains.
Coastal flood warnings are already in affect along the coast of western and Central Louisiana.
In the Houston area, there is already a voluntary evacuation of the Bolivar Peninsula where highway 87 is expected to flood. You remember the impact category two Hurricane Ike had on that area a few years ago.
Another recon flight is tasked for this evening. We will be watching.
We have been looking toward the upcoming period with interest for ten days to two weeks now as the global models have teased that there might be a tropical system in the western Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.
There is good agreement now among all of the members of our various model suites that something will develop near the Yucatan or over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico later today, tonight or Monday and move to near the Central Texas coast by Tuesday.
There is already a surface low over the northern Yucatan Peninsula and some gales have been reported over the open water of the western Caribbean in the strong thunderstorms. The pressure is the system right now is about 1008 mb, so not very organized.
Air Force reconnaissance is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon. The mission had been scheduled to arrive in the area of the system around 2 p.m., but that was pushed back to 5 p.m. The NHC puts the chance that the system will develop into a tropical cyclone at 60 percent.
EFFECTS ON ALABAMA: The system will have little if any impact on Alabama weather except for a continued high rip current threat along the beautiful beaches of Alabama and Northwest Florida, through Wednesday at least. As the system rounds the subtropical ridge and starts through the Ohio Valley, we will see elevated shower/storm chances again by late Thursday into Friday and Saturday.
HEAVY RAINS TO THE WEST OF ALABAMA: It appears that areas from the Texas Coast up through eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and even in western Pennsylvania could pick up over 5 inches of rain in the next seven days. The NWS Weather Prediction Center (the old Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) are calling for a max of 8.6 inches near Fort Smith Arkansas this week. This could produce severe flooding in these areas.
It will also help alleviate dryness in the Ohio Valley though as we continue on our campaign to stamp out drought in the eastern U.S. New England might even get a little help.
NOAA released the annual hurricane season outlook today… here is the release:
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.
For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.
“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.
“The main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season. We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”
Included in today’s outlook is Tropical Storm Ana, but its pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season strength. Ana’s development was typical of pre-season named storms, which often form along frontal boundaries in association with a trough in the jet stream. This method of formation differs from the named storms during the peak of the season, which originate mainly from low-pressure systems moving westward from Africa, and are independent of frontal boundaries and the jet stream.
With the new hurricane season comes a new prototype storm surge watch/warning graphic from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone.
The new graphic will introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm surge hazard. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. In addition, while most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. Having separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and the general public better guidance on the hazards they face when tropical cyclones threaten.
Also new this season is a higher resolution version (2 km near the storm area) of NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF), thanks to the upgrades to operational computing. A new 40-member HWRF ensemble-based data assimilation system will also be implemented to make better use of aircraft reconnaissance-based Tail Doppler Radar data for improved intensity forecasts. Retrospective testing of 2015 HWRF upgrades demonstrated a five percent improvement in the intensity forecasts compared to last year.
This week, May 24-30, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.
“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Everyone should take action now to prepare themselves and their families for hurricanes and powerful storms. Develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area. Knowing what to do ahead of time can literally save your life and help you bounce back stronger and faster should disaster strike in your area.”
NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.