Even though the Atlantic Basin is very quiet, that is not the case in the western Pacific. There are several tropical systems in the region, but the main storm that has everyone’s attention is Francisco. Francisco is a super typhoon which is the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic. Sustained winds in Francisco are 160 mph with gust to 195 mph. This is a dangerous storm and very healthy looking as it has the classic buzz saw look of a very symmetrical storm. Francisco is expected to maintain this intensity for the next day or so as it continues a northwest track towards Japan. The system is expected to begin to weaken as it moves over cooler waters, but just like Typhoon Phailin last week, it will likely cause problems for the Japanese mainland early next week.
At 08:01 GMT (3:01 a.m. CDT) on October 19, 2005, Air Force Hurricane Hunters measured a central pressure of 884 millibars in Hurricane Wilma while it was over the western Caribbean.
Here is the vortex data message from the plane that early morning:
URNT12 KNHC 190835
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
B. 17 deg 03 min N
082 deg 20 min W
C. 700 mb 2082 m
D. NA kt
E. NA deg nm
F. 320 deg 166 kt
G. 221 deg 003 nm
H. 884 mb
I. 10 C/ 3073 m
J. 24 C/ 3043 m
K. 10 C/ NA
N. 12345/ 7
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF308 0724A WILMA OB 16
MAX FL WIND 168 KT SE QUAD 06:10:20 Z
But the surface pressure when the dropsonde hit the ocean was still 23 knots, and meteorologists know that the device did not find the true center. So, the observation was adjusted to 882 millibars, which is the lowest barometric reading ever observed in an Atlantic Hurricane. Since the hurricane was intensifying at the time, it is likely that the pressure was even lower.
The record low pressure was measured at the end of a period of amazing strengthening that is also a record as the pressure dropped 97 millibars in 24 hours!
The eye of shrunk to an amazing 2.3 miles in diameter, also a record for any Atlantic tropical cyclone.
Top winds at the time were 185 mph. Just 24 hours before, the winds had been 70 mph.
Wilma would strike the Yucatan Peninsula on the 20th and 21st and become the worst disaster in the history of Mexico. Damages totaled $3 billion.
The storm weakened, but regained category Three status in the Gulf before striking southern Florida on the 24th. U.S. damages totaled $20.4 billion.
A total of 62 people were killed by the storm.
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Even though the Tropical Atlantic remains fairly calm, that is not the case in the western Pacific. There are two typhoons in that basin, Nari and Wipha. We can also still see the remnants of Cyclone Phailin which made landfall into eastern India on Saturday where there has been widespread and significant damage, as well as reports of loss of life.
Typhoon Nari, which is in the South China Sea is a category 2 storm and is slowly weakening as it head towards the west. It will make landfall into Vietnam and will bring tremendous amounts of rain to that country as well as the countries of Laos and Cambodia.
Typhoon Wipha, which is the much more powerful and well developed system is the intensity of a category 4 storm in the Atlantic Basin. Luckily, Wipha is not expected to impact any land masses in the near future. However, it is a very powerful system as evident by the well-developed eye within the symmetrical structure of the storm. This system will continue to move towards the northwest before curving back towards the northeast where it is expected to stay just offshore of the Japanese mainland, but it could impact some of the eastern areas of the island nation.
There are a couple of areas of interest that the NHC is monitoring in the central Atlantic as well as the eastern Pacific, but the main tropical activity is in the other tropical basins of the world. There are a couple of typhoons in the western Pacific and a major cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. Cyclone Phailin is the main weather story in the world of weather today.
Over the last few hours, Phailin made landfall on the eastern coast of India, where extensive damage and loss of life is expected. Earlier this week, Phailin had the intensity of what a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic would be, but did weaken to a strong category 4 storm with winds around 145 mph at the time of landfall. Extensive wind damage as well as incredible flooding will occur with this system as it continues to move inland today. It will be a historical event and will likely dominate the news headlines the next few days.
The cold front is marching steadily eastward this morning.
At 10 a.m., it was past Tupelo, Greenwood and Vicksburg. The dewpoint at Tupelo dropped from 70F at 8 a.m. to 59F at 10 a.m.!
To the northwest, the dewpoint was 54F at Memphis and 39F at Harrison AR. The air temperature was 48F at Joplin, MO.
Morning rains brought an inch or more of rain from northern Lamar County through Marion and northwestern Winston County. Some of the heaviest amounts indicated by Doppler radar were over two inches from northeast of Sulligent to between Guin and Hamilton. 1.15 inches of rain measured at the Haleyville Airport this morning.
Ahead of the front, moisture was surging northward over western Alabama and eastern Mississippi. Dewpoints are climbing through the upper 60s and 70s 70s over the western half of the state. A narrow wedge of instability was building from south of Tuscaloosa north northeastward through Jasper to west of Huntsville with CAPE’s climbing above 1,000 j/kg in places.
There is a weak MCV (mesoscale convective vortex) moving into Sumter, Greene and Pickens Counties in West Alabama. It has that meager instability to feed on, and will likely grow into a thunderstorm complex as it moves northeast at 25 mph, but it won’t become severe. As a matter of fact, just noticed first lightning strike south of Livingston in Sumter County. It will push across Tuscaloosa, Hale, Marengo and into Perry and Bibb Counties in the next hour. It could affect the Birmingham Metro around 12:30-1 p.m.
The showers and storms immediately along the front have weakened in the past several hours, but they should gain new energy as they move into the moisture and instability axis over West Alabama.
East of I-65, the air is much drier and sunshine was evident on visible satellite imagery from Cherokee County to Birmingham, Anniston, Selma, Montgomery and Alex City. It will be interesting to see if moisture levels can rise quickly enough to take advantage of the heating going on in East Alabama to produce stronger storms. Even if that happens, they won’t be severe, but could produce some gusty winds.
Still expecting 1.00-1.25 inches of rain across much of Central Alabama from the rain and storms today.
Karen was declared extra-tropical earlier this morning and the remnant low is now near Plaquemines Parish at the southeastern tip of Louisiana. The low is expected to track eastward along the Gulf Coast tonight and Monday.
The rain will end from the west tonight. Estimated timing for the back edge of the rain to reach Tuscaloosa is 7-8 p.m., 10:30-11:30 in Birmingham and 1-2 a.m. in Anniston. Then we will get into a long stretch of as weather that is perfect as you will ever see in Alabama. It will last into next weekend!
Karen is officially downgraded to a tropical depression on the 10 p.m. advisory tonight.
Here are the fast facts from the advisory:
ABOUT 120 MI…190 KM SSW OF MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA
ABOUT 185 MI…295 KM WSW OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…35 MPH…55 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1008 MB…29.77 INCHES
All tropical storm warnings have been discontinued.
The system will start moving to the northeast tonight and the east northeast on Sunday in response to the approaching upper level trough.
It is not expected to strengthen and should gradually lose tropical characteristics tomorrow.
It is beginning to sound like a broken record. Karen remains disorganized.
There is no real change in any information. The storm has top winds of 40 mph and is essentially stationary.
It will begin to move east later tonight and will weaken to a tropical depression tomorrow, if not tonight.
It will pass south of the Alabama coast late tomorrow night and become a remnant low as it heads toward Apalachicola and the Florida Big Bend area Monday.
Today, Karen continues to struggle to get anything going. During the late morning hours, there were a few thunderstorms that developed and tried to to wrap around the center of circulation, but as we have seen much of the week, dry air and wind shear put an end to that. The center of circulation remains exposed and displaced from the main area of convection and Karen is expected to continue to weaken.
Latest information from the National Hurricane Center about Karen.
…KAREN STILL A TROPICAL STORM…
SUMMARY OF 400 PM CDT…2100 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 115 MI…185 KM SSW OF MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA
ABOUT 170 MI…275 KM WSW OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…40 MPH…65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…N OR 360 DEGREES AT 2 MPH…4 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1007 MB…29.74 INCHES
Now what to expect the next few days. Karen did stall out earlier today, but has since started to move slowly to the north again. She is still expected to turn northeast and begin to accelerate that direction. The official track from the NHC has Karen making landfall in southeastern Louisiana tomorrow morning and then with the increase in forward speed a more eastward track is now expected. This will allow Karen to move back into the extreme northern Gulf of Mexico, but she will now stay south of the Alabama Coast.
Karen will weaken to a depression over the next 24 hours and now that the track keeps here offshore, she will move inland much farther east, now near the Big Bend of Florida. All tropical storm watches and advisories have been cancelled for the Alabama and northwest Florida coast.