Invest 90L – May 2018

On May 17th, DTN Marine Meteorologists began monitoring the potential for tropical development across the far western Caribbean Sea. Ensemble model guidance from both American and European forecast centers were hinting at the development of a broad low forming and slowly moving northward. On May 21st, the National Hurricane Center officially started issuing Special Tropical Outlooks for this feature, now designated as Invest 90L.

At present, 90L is located near the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, with expansive thunderstorm activity to the east. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, 90L will track northward and into the southern Gulf of Mexico. An upper-level low-pressure system located off the coast of Texas is bringing rather strong wind shear to much of the Gulf at present, which will hamper any significant development over the next few days. As 90L moves into the northcentral and northeastern Gulf this weekend, environmental conditions will become a bit more favorable for development. Most ensemble forecast guidance is on board with strengthening low pressure this weekend, which is why both DTN Marine Meteorologists and the National Hurricane Center are forecasting an 80% chance of development of at least a tropical depression across the northern Gulf of Mexico by Monday.

Regardless of whether this low develops tropically, adverse weather conditions are expected in areas offshore east of the Mississippi Delta from Saturday night through Tuesday. The harshest weather will occur to the east of the low center due to the continued enhanced westerly wind shear across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Gale force wind gusts will be possible, with widespread showers and storms causing hazardous conditions to operations in the northeastern Gulf. If the low materializes as expected, a long period of enhanced southerly winds will drive seas to rough heights in areas off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Wave Height

Impacts inland are likely as well, but they will be much more dependent on the exact track and evolution of the low, which is unknown at this time. At the very least, enhanced rainfall can be expected across Florida, which was recently impacted by several days of heavy rainfall due to another low-pressure system passing to the west.

Over the next several days, DTN Marine Meteorologists will continue to track the evolution of Invest 90L, providing critical updates to interests offshore in the form of daily forecasts, squall updates, and conference calls.  For more general information, stay tuned to the blog, as another post will be coming this weekend with an update as the track of 90L becomes clearer.

Weekend (April 14-15, 2018) Gulf Coast Cold Front

As most in the United States already know, a major spring storm system formed and pushed eastward across the center of the country over the weekend. A crippling blizzard developed across portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, with areas seeing snow totals up to 20 inches and peak wind gusts in excess of 60 knots. On the warm side of the storm, there were over 3 dozen preliminary tornado reports, at least 500 instances of wind damage, and widespread swaths of damaging hail across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Impacts did not stop across land, however, as a significant squall line and post-frontal gales struck portions of the northern Gulf of Mexico from early Saturday morning into Sunday.

Thunderstorm activity developed along and east of the I-35 corridor across Texas late Saturday afternoon ahead of an advancing cold front. These storms slowly marched eastward through the evening and overnight hours, reaching the coast at around 3am. Severe wind gusts of 50 to 60 knots were reported as the squall line moved through Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. These winds continued offshore, with buoys and oil platforms across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico consistently reporting wind gusts in excess of 50 knots.


Winds remained elevated after the storms passed, with widespread sustained winds between 25 and 30 knots. This caused a significant surge in seas in locations further offshore. Peak seas of 13 feet were reported at a buoy in deep waters well off the South Texas coast early Saturday evening. Conditions were substantially improved closer to the coast, with locations around 20 miles offshore only seeing seas to 7 feet.

Although not unprecedented, this was a relatively strong and long-lasting cold front event for mid-April in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully it was well advertised, with DTN Marine Meteorologists forecasting winds in excess of 25 knots 6 days before the front moved offshore. As a result, interests in the oil and gas industry were able to plan well ahead, ensuring safe operations during adverse weather conditions this weekend.

Nor'easter water vapor

Recent Nor’easters – Onshore & Offshore Impacts

After three major storm systems in a period of ten days, the news is abuzz with Nor’easters, and for good reason. The first storm, which hit portions of the Mid-Atlantic States and New England on March 2nd, brought wind gusts in excess of 70mph to Virginia and Maryland and portions of southern New York saw over 18 inches of snow. The second storm struck on March 7th and 8th, bringing widespread moderate and heavy snowfall to much of New England. The third and final storm moved through the area on the 13th, but not before dumping 1-2 feet of snow and bringing blizzard conditions to the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Societal impacts from these systems were significant, with mass transit being disrupted, hundreds of thousands losing power, and local, state, and federal government closing.

Impacts from the trio of “bomb cyclones” did not stop inland. Although metropolitan areas of the Northeast garner most of the media attention, Nor’easters have wide-ranging impacts to interests offshore. The obvious are waves, which become quite hazardous as these storms mature. Observations are sparse in areas further offshore, but model guidance indicated 70-80 foot maximum seas were possible with the most recent storm. Observations closer to the coast were less impressive, with buoys noting seas of 15 to 30 feet. Nonetheless, seas of this height still cause problems for small vessels and coastlines, where breaking swells can cause significant beach erosion. This is of particular concern to the Marine Team, as clients consistently work to improve the coastlines of Long Island, New Jersey, and Delaware. Accurately predicting offshore winds and swell heights during powerful storms is critical to maintaining a safe working environment offshore.

Swell periods

The reach of powerful Nor’easters stretches even further beyond waters off the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts. In low-latitude regions of the Tropical Atlantic, short period easterly swells are typically driven by the Trade Winds. Many of the large vessels in the oil and gas industry are not bothered by these shorter length waves and can easily operate while they pass by. Problems occur when longer period swells move into the area from the north; the same swells which have been consistently generated by the strong storms off the United States. Long period swells can enhance the amount of roll experience by large vessels, which makes it difficult for them to accurately position when attempting a move. The 24/7 availability of the Marine Team allows clients in the region to confer at all hours, guaranteeing optimal conditions for sensitive rig-moves when adverse swells threaten the region.

Although significantly dampened after their trek across the Atlantic, swells from the recent Nor’easters have been noted as far south as Brazil and Angola. By this point, they are generally not high enough to cause any issues to mariners, but the far reaches of storms that form so close to home remain impressive nonetheless.

Harmattan Winds & Dust Return to Africa

It’s that time of year again when cold air from the mid-latitudes surges into the tropics. The effect in Africa is a strong east to northeast wind from the Chad basin to Mauritania and northern Gabon called the Harmattan.  

Harmattan winds blow west to southwestward from the Sahara, with enough strength to carry desert sand and dust to the Atlantic Ocean. This occurs during the boreal winter as deep-layer troughs move across southern Europe and the Mediterranean, penetrating the Sahara. The preceding cold front often loses its identity over the desert due to intense surface heating and mixing. However, the warmed polar air continues moving southward into the Gulf of Guinea.

Current 850mb winds
Winds above the surface blowing dust toward the Gulf of Guinea

Harmattan winds become amplified as strong high pressure builds behind these troughs. If the high reaches the southern Sahara, Harmattan winds are likely to extend to the Atlantic coast. Saharan dust carried by the Harmattan reduces visibility to 2-4nm, covering areas offshore in a cloudy haze, and in severe cases reduce visibility to a few meters. These conditions often last for days and become paralyzing when visibility approaches zero, halting flights, increasing risk of flu and asthma, and delaying the wet season for farmers.

Dust combined
Model guidance depicting reduced visibility over the Gulf of Guinea

To improve planning during the Harmattan season, our meteorologists incorporate advanced, high-resolution dust data, specialized satellite imagery, and upstream surface observations to provide warning days in advance of potentially harmful events.

Review of June Tropical Cyclone Activity in the Atlantic

Since the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, June 1, two tropical storms have formed and impacted land areas. In June, the area with the greatest risk of tropical development is the Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Campeche and western Caribbean.

Origins and Tracks of June Tropical Cyclones

Contradicting climatology, Tropical Storm Bret formed 108nm East of Trinidad on June 19th. This area is typically unfavorable in June due to the amount of dry air and wind shear in the region. Bret was the earliest storm to form this far south in the Atlantic since official records began in 1851.

Bret originated as a rather unimpressive African wave, which progressed westward across the Atlantic in a marginally favorable tropical environment. A weak tropical wave to its west moistened the atmosphere over the eastern Caribbean, assisting in making conditions more favorable for Bret to develop. Here is a look at the moisture content over the tropical Atlantic in the days leading up to Bret’s formation:


While Bret was causing alarm in Trinidad in northern South America, Tropical Storm Cindy began to develop over the northern Gulf of Mexico. Cindy originated as an area of disturbed weather over the western Caribbean and Central America, and became Invest 93L East of the Yucatan Peninsula on June 17th.

This broad, disorganized low became difficult to track over the next five days. The ECMWF model maintained a forecast for landfall over Mexico or southern Texas. On the other hand, the GFS model favored a landfall near the Florida Panhandle. The discrepancy between the global model tracks continued through landfall on June 22. Higher resolution, regional forecast models eventually offered a more accurate middle-ground solution near the upper-Texas coast.     

Weak steering flow in the region contributed to the poor model performances. Another complexity was the close proximity to an upper level low over the northwest Gulf of Mexico. This feature provided high wind shear, resulting in a disorganized and asymmetrical storm. As a result, Cindy appeared to be subtropical rather than purely tropical through its duration. Southwesterly upper level winds from the trough pulled dry air into Cindy, restricting deep convection to the East side of the storm. Cindy’s battle with dry air on June 20th is seen in the brown coloring in the NOAA water vapor animation below.

WV Cindy Tues

High pressure from the western U.S. eventually built eastward over Texas, forcing Cindy to move northward. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft and a nearby ship confirmed a maximum intensity of 50kts the evening of June 20. Despite being a weak tropical storm, Cindy produced a large area of gale force winds and storm force gusts across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Cindy weakened to 40kts before making landfall near Sabine Pass, Texas on June 22nd.

NASA IMERG Data Cindy 2017
Cindy Estimated Total Rainfall from NASA

Both storms were short-lived with the primary threats of heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The Trinidad & Tobago Meteorological Service forecast 2-6 inches of rain for Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and its Dependencies during the passage of Bret. NASA’s Integrated Multi-satelliE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data estimated rainfall totals over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southeastern U.S. for the duration of Cindy. Notably, rainfall in excess of 10 inches occurred well east of Cindy’s center over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf coast from southeastern Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is still to come, so it’s important to remain vigilant for any approaching tropical storm. Whether you are concerned with a tropical storm tracking toward the eastern Caribbean, or a major hurricane developing in the Gulf of Mexico, our meteorologists are available 24/7 to keep you ahead of the storm.

Contact us to learn more about our online and mobile interactive tracking tools.

On The Road: Dan Hart and Steve Krcek in Europe

While the majority of our weather reports are produced at WWT Headquarters in Houston, TX, we also have meteorologists based in the UK. We understand the importance of having local representatives in your region for maintaining client relationships as well as providing direct client consultation. WWT Sales Manager, Steve Krcek, enjoys traveling around the world to meet with new and existing clients:

“Every customer has a different expectation and requirement. The same can be said for the region.”

Weather across the pond was active this week, with rounds of heavy precipitation and strong thunderstorms as a vigorous upper level low parked over western Europe. Fortunately, Dan and Steve dodged the heavy rain traveling from Rotterdam to Aberdeen to Paris. Despite overcast skies and some soggy afternoons, client visits remained optimistic while discussing market trends, upcoming projects and our latest products and services.

Steve Krcek (left) and Dan Hart (right) enjoying the sunshine in Rotterdam.

Krcek highlights the conversations on the trip, specifically detailing the difference between model-driven and meteorologist-produced forecasts: “It was interesting to explain our forecast methodology clearly to the end users.  A large majority of the people we spoke with understand weather forecasting as a model output, not a science that uses models as a guidance tool. So, discussing the science behind the models was quite interesting and engaging for most.”

For more information about our forecast products and services or to schedule a meeting with our meteorologists, send us your information below. 


Summer Shamal winds and dust begin to impact the Middle East

As we transition to summer, our meteorologists prepare to forecast longer duration Shamal events. Shamal winds are strong winds that blow from the north to northwest over the arid Middle East. In winter, Shamals are associated with the passage of cold fronts. Cold fronts still influence the region’s weather through May, but by summer the region warms significantly and fronts become less frequent. Shamals from fall through spring are typically short-lived, lasting one to two days. By June, nearly stationary thermal lows along the monsoon trough over Northwest India, Pakistan and Southeast Iran interact with high pressure over the eastern Mediterranean and Saudi Arabia to produce more persistent northwesterly winds over the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Winds strengthen between these seasonal highs and lows as the low pressure areas intensify during summer months. Rao et al. (2003) found that gale force winds and rough seas offshore Qatar are more common in June than May and July. 

Shamal winds are strongest during the afternoon when hot surface air rises, creating turbulent eddies that mix winds higher in the atmosphere to the surface. High temperatures, strong winds and the seasonal lack of precipitation all contribute to the formation of blowing dust during these events. Sand and dust may be carried hundreds of kilometers across the Gulf states in dust storms, producing areas of near zero visibility. Read More »

Seasonal rains anticipated as the Southwest Monsoon approaches Sri Lanka and India

As we head into the Northern Hemisphere summer, the Southwest Monsoon is making its return to the North Indian Ocean. Once the southwesterly winds become persistent and strong, this will signal the end of the spring transition period, and the region will be entirely influenced by the Southwest Monsoon. On average, the Southwest Monsoon spans from June through September. The monsoon flow creates a convergence of moisture, promoting cloud growth and convection across the region. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, western and central India receive more than 90% of their total annual precipitation during these months.

Low pressure systems that track across the northern Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and the mainland produce the majority of India’s rainfall, which is the driving force of the Indian economy. Farmers count on monsoonal rains to fill aquifers, lakes, and surrounding rivers for efficient crop growth and production. In years with insufficient rain, the nation is forced to depend on imports from other countries, creating a loss for domestic producers. Conversely, years with above-average rainfall can destroy crops and cause a poor harvest.Read More »

Wilkens Weather Welcomes Alec & Samantha!

We are thrilled to announce two meteorologists have recently joined our forecast team! With severe weather season in full swing in the northern hemisphere and the Atlantic tropical season just around the corner, it is critical that we have additional eyes on customer sites around the globe. Alec and Samantha are well-rounded meteorologists with zest for dynamic weather. Here’s more about them:Read More »

Celebrating 40 Years: Thank You to Our Clients

In 1977, WWT began with a few meteorologists striving to provide offshore forecasts for the oil and gas industry. Within 40 years, WWT has grown from what once was a four-man team, to a trusted global metocean business providing forecasts and hindcasts for every major oil basin.

In addition to our daily operations, WWT has supported unique forecasts for:

  • The U.S.’s first offshore wind farm near Rhode Island
  • Tall ship races throughout several regions of Europe
  • Weather analysis for the area where the Costa Concordia tipped over offshore Italy
  • Weather analysis for Tycoon, that ran aground near Christmas Island

Read More »

WWT at OTC 2017

Wilkens Weather adapts to the future of offshore energy

WWT Technology / WWL

For 36 years, Wilkens Weather Technologies has exhibited at the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), showcasing its products and services with professionals of the global oil and gas industry. Although oil prices have rallied in recent weeks, the demand for more cost-effective solutions continues. WWT is mindful of the challenges the industry is facing and continues to revamp its marine and tropical forecasting products to stay ahead of client demands.

At this event, WWT meteorologists align with other energy professionals to explore growth opportunities, strengthen partnerships, and foster new business relationships. WWT program manager, Ryan Fulton, shares his insight on this valuable networking experience:Read More »

Celebrating 40 Years: Memories & Successes

In the early days of WWT, meteorologists arrived at 4am to work on the morning weather forecast for the Gulf of Mexico. These reports were typed up and printed, so the person on fax duty could send them out one by one. Typically it would take forecasters four hours to complete the regional gulf report forecast and distribution. Other daily tasks included hand-analyzing surface charts and producing temperature, wind, and sea-state forecasts for coastal sites and international marine customers.

Over time, as business grew, so did the demand for immediate, operational weather information. In the early 2000s, WWT introduced customized client web pages, a tool that would provide customers easy access to weather information for their region and site-specific locations worldwide. In the late 2000s, with enhanced forecast models at our fingertips, there became a demand for long-range forecasts and historical analyses.

Read More »

Celebrating 40 Years: The Wilkens Story

WWT Early Years
Meteorologists Richard Wilkens and Tim Maystrick preparing weather reports

Our story began in 1977 with Richard Wilkens’ idea to start a weather forecast company to service the oil and natural gas industry. At the time, there was a high concentration of oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years, petroleum exploration expanded, prompting Wilkens Weather to expand their services globally.

Meteorologist Marshall Wickman recalls one of WWT’s early business transactions, “[Richard] agreed to do one free sample forecast in the Strait of Magellan where data was sparse and told them, if it busts remember how much it cost you. If it is right remember where you got it from.” Apparently they liked what they received as it led to 20 years of continuous forecast service.

When we started, our technology consisted of fax machines that sent 8×11 inch pages at six minutes a page. Most weather reports were a few pages and included a hand-drawn, 3-panel surface map (depicting fronts, precipitation, and high and low pressure areas). Today, we have a wealth of online and mobile interactive tools that can provide quick and easy access to all critical weather information. Read More »

Celebrating 40 Years: 10 Surprising Facts About Wilkens Weather

Today, Wilkens Weather Technologies, a subsidiary of Rockwell Collins, celebrates 40 years as a reliable, customer-centric metocean forecast company. April 12, 1977 marks the founding of WWT by Richard Wilkens, whose vision was to tailor weather information to the oil and natural gas industry. For decades, highly-trained meteorologists have provided accurate weather support, allowing our customers to make timely decisions and ensure the safety of their personnel. 

During the next few weeks, we will share memories and successes from the last 40 years. We begin with the foundation of WWT – the meteorologists responsible for preparing weather reports and monitoring global assets 24/7.

Here is what you may not know about our team:Read More »

On The Road: Aaron Studwell at AMS

This week,  Aaron Studwell, Manager of Weather Operations, is attending the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Seattle, WA. During the first two days, Studwell, along with Joel Siegel from the ARINC office in Annapolis, MD represented Rockwell Collins at the AMS Career Fair. Over these sessions, Studwell and Siegel met about 125 students, discussed careers in marine and aviation meteorology at Rockwell Collins, what we look for in prospective employees – a passion for weather and forecasting and willingness to learn.

WWTs Aaron Studwell at AMS 2017
Aaron Studwell discussing meteorology careers with students at the 2017 AMS Career Fair.

Read More »

2016 West Pacific Tropical Season Recap

The 2016 West Pacific tropical season was near normal with 24 named storms, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). A total of 13 storms reached typhoon status and 6 became super typhoons. This fell short of the annual average of 16.5 storms reaching at least typhoon status.

Typhoon Nepartak became the first named storm of the year on July 3, breaking a 199-day streak of no named storms across the basin.This tied the 1997-1998 interval for the longest number of days to pass without a named storm. Nepartak was classified as a super typhoon on July 6 and maintained one-minute sustained winds of 152kts (175mph) for 18 hours while tracking northwest toward Taiwan.The storm weakened to 130kts (150mph) before making landfall over Taiwan on July 8 (Taiwan local time). Continued weakening occurred as Nepartak tracked across mountainous terrain, and the storm made its final landfall over China on July 9 as a tropical storm.

Super Typhoon Nepartak Radar Taiwan
Super Typhoon Nepartak’s heavy rainbands approach Taiwan

Other significant storms to impact Taiwan in 2016:

  • Super Typhoon Meranti made a nearly direct hit to Taiwan on September 14. The extended time over water promoted further intensification and a peak intensity of 165kts (190mph) over the Luzon Strait.
  • Typhoon Megi intensified over the Philippine Sea and made landfall over northeastern Taiwan on Tuesday, September 27 with maximum sustained winds near 115kts (132mph).
NOAA Satellite Super Typhoon Meranti Taiwan
Eye of Super Typhoon Meranti nearing the southern tip of Taiwan

The northern South China Sea was also an active area in 2016. Marine assets offshore Hong Kong took direct hits from two typhoons, Nida and Haima, and Typhoon Sarika passed just to their south. Here are a few details on these storms:

  • Typhoon Nida developed east of the Philippines and reached typhoon status north of Luzon. Nida intensified to 80kts (92mph) before making landfall east of Hong Kong in Dapeng Peninsula on August 2. Storm photos can be found here.
  • Typhoon Sarika began as a tropical wave southeast of the Philippines. Sarika reached its peak intensity of 115kts (132mph) before making its first landfall in Luzon. The cyclone moved quickly across the Philippines and the South China Sea, and made a second landfall across Hainan Island. The storm continued to weaken as it made its third and final landfall near the Vietnam/China border.
  • Super Typhoon Haima caused mass destruction across the Philippines just days after Sarika. Photos and video footage from the devastating storm can be viewed here. Haima ranked as the third strongest typhoon of the season with maximum sustained winds of 145 kts (167mph). The storm weakened to 122kts (140mph) before making landfall over Luzon on October 19.

UW-Madison CIMSS Twitter Typhoon Haima

While around half of 2016 West Pacific typhoons followed a general East to West track, the other half were able to find a weakness in the steering ridge and curve northward. Mainland Japan would be directly impacted by four of these typhoons (Nepartak, Mindulle, Lionrock, and Malakas); however, the majority of these weakened significantly before making landfall. Typhoon Lionrock was the most unique system of the season given its length of life and erratic track.

Track map of Typhoon Lionrock. Points represent the storm’s location at 6-hour intervals. Color scale based on Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Tracking data provided by NOAA.

Of the main cyclones to impact the mid-latitudes, Typhoon Chaba tracked the closest to offshore interests in the Korea Strait and Sea of Japan. Chaba reached super typhoon intensity upon entering the East China Sea on October 3 and then gradually weakened as it moved south of Busan, South Korea. Chaba moved across northern Japan as an extratropical cyclone.

Just as the season’s first named storm became a super typhoon, the season’s final named storm also became a super typhoon. Nock-ten developed near Yap Island on December 21st. Nock-ten would become the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded worldwide on Christmas Day. Nock-ten made landfall across the Philippines on the evening of Christmas Day before emerging across the South China Sea the next day. Nock-ten dissipated in the Northeast Monsoon on December 28th, bringing an end to the 2016 West Pacific tropical season.

WWT tracked all of these storms for stationary assets and marine transits across the West Pacific and Southeast Asia.

WWT West Pacific Tropical Summary
You can always check the latest forecast on the WWT mobile app.

About Wilkens Weather Tropical Weather Guidance

Wilkens Weather provides a variety of tropical products to monitor potential development, forecast tracks, and anticipated intensities of tropical systems in this region. Tropical service options include tropical cyclone formation alerts (TCFAs) and tropical cyclone bulletins. Once tropical cyclone bulletins commence, clients are provided a wealth of resources to review the storm data and potential impacts on their site-specific locations. The interactive tropical tools on our website and Mobile App provide clients with the flexibility to focus on the needs of their operation.

Site-specific storm bulletins with alert areas are also available and may be customized to the needs of a current project or operation. 


Tropical Button

On The Road: Aaron Studwell at AGU

This week, our Manager of Weather Operations, Aaron Studwell, is attending the 49th Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, CA.  While the core purpose of this trip is associated with Ph.D. work in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston, Aaron is also attending sessions ranging from the initiation of lightning in developing thunderstorms to the seasonal forecasting of winter storms across the North Atlantic Ocean to the analytic theory of wind-driven seas.

Remembering 2008’s Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike produced devastating storm surge as it came ashore over the east end of Galveston Island on September 13th, 2008.

Formation & Impacts to the Caribbean

Ike originated as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa and moved west-northwest across the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) designated the system as a tropical depression on SepteNHC forecast track for Hurricane Ikember 1st. The storm became significantly better organized by the 3rd and was upgraded to a hurricane that afternoon. Early the next morning, Hurricane Ike reached major hurricane status (Category 4) with maximum sustained winds of 125 knots and an estimated central pressure of 935mbThe storm weakened over the next few days due to moderate wind shear from high pressure to the northwest. This high, over the western Atlantic, was strong enough to force an unusual turn to the west-southwest. This heightened the threat for the Bahamas and northwestern Caribbean. 

This uncharacteristic turn led Ike into a more favorable environment, causing the storm to re-intensify to Category 4 status. The cyclone made its first landfall on Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas the morning of September 7th. 5-7 inches of rain were reported on the island and high winds destroyed several structures including a cruise ship terminal.  The economic impacts for Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas was estimated between $50 and $200 million (USD). Additionally, Ike’s rainbands caused deadly flooding and mudslides in Haiti – a country still recovering from three tropical systems that hit earlier that year (Fay, Gustav, and Hanna).

Hurricane Ike continued tracking west and made its second landfall near Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba on the morning of September 8th. Winds were estimated to be 115 knots (Category 4 status) at landfall. Large waves, as high as 50 ft, were likely responsible for damaged coastal homes and structures in the city of Baracoa. As much as 12-14 inches of rain fell on parts of the island.  Additionally, over 300,000 homes were damaged, 13% of which were total losses.  Destruction of crops, roadways and buildings also resulted in an estimated $3 and $4 billion (USD) in damages.  

Gulf of Mexico & Early Impacts to the Oil & Gas Industry

The mountainous island weakened Ike to a Category 1 hurricane as it passed briefly over the waters south of Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico near San Cristóbal, Cuba on the evening of September 9th.  Since Ike had weakened and lacked a tight inner core, high nasa_trmmsatwinds and heavy rains spread over an unusually large area as the storm tracked northwest across the Gulf of Mexico: Tropical storm and hurricane force winds extended 240nm and 100nm, respectively, from the center. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed over Ike early on the 12th, showing rainfall rates in excess of two inches per hour in the southeast quadrant of the storm.

Early preparations for Hurricane Ike caused at least 14 oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana to be shut down in advance of the storm, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This was significant since over 1.3 million barrels per day of crude oil and over 7.3 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas could not be delivered to these facilities.

Landfall over Galveston Island, TX & Impacts to the United States & Canada

Ike maintained a large wind field over the central Gulf of Mexico as it tracked west-northwest toward the upper Texas coast through September 12th. In the hours before landfall, high water levels began impacting the Gulf coast as Ike turned north-northwest and strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane. Ike would make its third landfall along the northeast end of Galveston Island, TX early  on September 13th with maximum sustained winds near 95 knots (110 mph).


Ike Storm Surge Galveston Harris County Flood Control District

West of Grand Isle, Louisiana storm surge heights increased significantly: 10-13 feet from the southwest Louisiana coast to Port Arthur, Texas. The maximum storm surge recorded by any NOS tide gauge was 12.79 feet at Sabine Pass North, Texas. However, many USGS sensors indicated that there were likely localized areas with surge heights up to 17 feet. The Bolivar Peninsula and portions of Chambers County, Texas were most severely impacted by Ike’s storm surge. Most of this area was inundated by 10 feet of water. Widespread 5-7 inches of rain were reported across southeast Texas, with the highest amount measured north of Houston at 18.90 inches.  

NOAA Hurricane Ike Radar Loop

Tornadoes touched down in Texas (1), Louisiana (17), and Arkansas (9).  All of these were either EF0 or EF1 rating, which is typical within tropical air masses.  Storm-related fatalities totalled 19 in Texas, one in Louisiana, and one in Arkansas.  Damages across the three states totalled about $29.52 billion dollars, making it the second costliest hurricane to impact the United States, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Although Ike weakened inland, the storm merged with a cold front on the 14th, which resulted in hurricane force wind gusts and 3-5 inches of rain across the Ohio Valley, an area just flooded by a passing low pressure system the week before. Storm-related fatalities across Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Michigan and Pennsylvania totalled 28.  Damage estimates for these states were nearly $4.7 billion. Hurricane force wind gusts and record rainfall were also reported across portions of southeastern Canada in the subsequent days.  

Wilkens Weather On-site in the Bay of Campeche

WWT Meteorologist Offshore Bay of Campeche

With today’s technologies a meteorologist could easily work from an office on the mainland. But for a highly sensitive crane operation at sea, precise forecasts are essential. Many times a meteorologist on-site may see something that a computer model could not detect. Face-to-face reassurance is important to customers, and for this project WWT Meteorologist Darrell Ferguson was there to provide confidence to the crew that weather conditions were safe enough to proceed. Read More »

Wilkens Weather On-site in the Sea of Okhotsk

Wilkens Weather Technologies Meteorologist Offshore Sakhalin For over 30 years, Wilkens Weather meteorologists have been on-site and onboard during platform/deck installations and mobilizations in many regions globally. WWT has significant experience forecasting in the Sakhalin Island area, dating back to 1999. Strong relationships in the region led to the mobilization of WWT Meteorologist Eric Brozefsky to the Sea of Okhotsk in 2012 to provide more centralized decision-making and decision support to time and budget-sensitive projects. We reached out to Eric to learn more about his offshore experience:

“During the summer of 2012, WWT meteorologists provided on-site meteorological support for a GBS (Gravity Based Structure) installation, LMU installations, and subsea work in preparation for a topside installation in 2014.Read More »

Probability-based simulation tool from Wilkens Weather improves weather decision-making

STAVANGER, Norway- A new interactive simulation tool from Wilkens Weather Technologies (WWT) is helping offshore oil, gas and marine companies improve their weather-related decision making. The solution, EnsembleSimulator, uses probability-based forecasts to clearly identify working weather windows for on-going marine operations.

“Traditional weather reports frequently result in uncertainty in forecast confidence because they cannot be easily quantified,” said Mark Walquist, general manager at WWT. “Our new on-demand, interactive simulation tool improves decision-making confidence by using probability in determining project weather windows, particularly for daily go/no-go decisions.” Read More »

WWT: The Trusted Source for YOUR Weather

Since 1977, Wilkens Weather Technologies has been a trusted leader for weather forecast solutions tailored to the global oil and gas industry. Our team of degreed meteorologists, many with over 20 years of forecasting experience, recognize the strengths and weaknesses of forecast models in different regions and seasons on a global perspective. The extensive experience of our staff ensures a confident understanding of regional weather patterns, along with local wind and wave effects, to produce timely and accurate forecasts for our valued customers.

It’s the experience, passion and diligence from our staff that allows us to provide a level of service that cannot be replicated by an auto-generated weather forecast. Marshall Wickman, Meteorological Specialist, speaks of WWT’s success over the years,

“We pay attention to detail in all we do for our customers and we make each client feel very important to us, because they are. Each client request is handled in a timely manner and is frequently taken care of immediately with an effort to do things just as the client requested. We tailor the services to fit the client’s needs.”

Marine Meteorologist Rachel Wrenn also shares her thoughts about the Wilkens team, “The enthusiasm that our forecast, sales and management teams bring to work is contagious. It’s uplifting when the tropics are heating up and weather is becoming more active in regions where we serve a large number of clients. We can become very busy in a blink of an eye…but that’s the nature of our jobs. We genuinely care about the products we produce and want to ensure the safety of our customers.”

Our staff is committed to building strong, lasting relationships through our hands-on approach and ability to meet the unique and increasing demands of our clients. Whether you are relocating a rig, planning your dredging project, or monitoring the tropics, Wilkens Weather has the global expertise and resources to assist you.

Contact Wilkens Weather

Wilkens Weather introduces Ocean Current Guidance Forecast service

WWT Ocean Current Guidance Forecasts

Houston, USA (June 14, 2016) – Offshore oil, gas and marine companies that experience project-related disruptions from fluctuating ocean currents now have a new tool to better manage those challenges. The Wilkens Weather Technologies (WWT) Ocean Current Guidance Forecast service provides site-specific awareness of currents to give operators a clear understanding of oceanic conditions.

“We designed this service for anyone engaged in smaller scale, budget-sensitive projects where ocean current awareness is necessary, but current solutions are often cost prohibitive,” said Ryan Fulton, program manager at WWT. “This new service provides a useful current forecast and, in conjunction with daily weather forecast reports, enables operators to understand trends in oceanic conditions that can impact their projects.”Read More »

Wilkens Weather releases new tropical cyclone tracking tools for its iOS mobile app

Wilkens Weather Technologies Mobile App

Houston, USA (April 25, 2016) – Just in time for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season, Wilkens Weather Technologies® (WWT) has released a new version of its iOS Mobile App. The latest version contains a series of major upgrades to the app’s Interactive Weather Map, including a new Threat Profile feature which is now embedded within the global tropical cyclone tracking tools, allowing immediate threat identification of tropical systems with respect to customer assets.

“From real-time weather display to our cyclone tracking feature set, WWT effectively informs users of the impacts from an approaching tropical system,” said Ryan Fulton, program manager at Wilkens Weather Technologies. Read More »