WWT meteorologists increase 2017 Atlantic hurricane season forecast

Wilkens Weather’s annual spring outlook includes a forecast for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. This spring, our meteorologists predicted a near normal 2017 Atlantic hurricane season with 12 named storms, including five hurricanes.

One of the key parameters factored into each year’s tropical outlook is the long-range forecast of the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO). When our 2017 tropical outlook was initially released, long-range forecast models indicated a higher likelihood that an El Niño would develop than is currently being seen in recent climate models.

In late April, there was about a 50% likelihood that El Niño would develop over the tropical Pacific in the late summer months, extending into September.  However, the most recent climate model issued by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University now projects a 35-45% likelihood of an El Niño phase developing over the next several months. With consideration to the updated ENSO forecast, Wilkens Weather has increased their 2017 Atlantic tropical outlook from 12 to 14 named storms, and 3 major hurricanes.

Since an El Niño phase in the central Pacific Ocean can produce a harsh environment for tropical development in the Atlantic basin, a reduced probability yields an increased chance of hurricanes in the North Atlantic. There is also consideration that the time frame for El Nino developing was before the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. Therefore, a lesser chance of El Nino would give a greater chance to more favorable atmospheric conditions for hurricanes during the peak season. 

(Author’s Note: this forecast does not include Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed during the month of April before the official start of hurricane season. TS Arlene was only the second tropical storm on record during the satellite era to form during April in the Atlantic basin.)

A dangerous heat wave, cold front, and tropical storm kick off summer 2017

Summer is officially underway in the northern hemisphere beginning today, June 20th. Quite the range of weather conditions are forecast across the United States today. In the East, a cold front moves offshore New England and stalls across the Carolinas. Showers and storms remain a threat near the stalled boundary from the Carolinas to the Gulf coast, while comfortable 50 degree dewpoints filter in behind the front in the Northeast. Cloudiness and rain chances will keep high temperatures near to below average across this region for the start of summer.

Residents along the Gulf Coast are watching a tropical storm brewing over the north central Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana residents are beginning to feel the effects from the outer rainbands of the storm. Flash Flood Watches are in effect from Southeast Louisiana to the eastern Florida Panhandle. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for portions of the Louisiana and Texas coastlines.

Across the Great Plains, temperatures are near average with mostly sunny skies to start the season. While this afternoon will be warm, in the upper 80s to low 90s, outdoor temperatures will feel more comfortable than they did over Father’s Day weekend. If you live in Central Oklahoma, like me, you may recall dewpoint temperatures climbing to 75 degrees Saturday morning, and persisting near 73 degrees through mid-afternoon. Dewpoint temperatures are a measure of moisture in the atmosphere, so higher dewpoints correlate to higher moisture content and humidity. Although the actual high temperature was only 92 degrees, when you factor in the moisture and humidity, the maximum heat index was 104 degrees.

What does this mean? Heat Index calculations use air temperature and dew point temperature to determine an “apparent” temperature, which is how your body feels when you are experiencing summer heat. The National Weather Service (NWS) Heat Index calculations are for shady areas, so it’s important to know that direct exposure to sunlight can increase the “apparent temperatures” by 10 to 15 degrees. High heat index values, generally over 100 degrees, are given an heightened awareness of hazardous outdoor conditions. Local NWS offices issue special heat advisories and excessive heat warnings for moderate to extreme heat indexes, when the risk of heat-related illnesses is highest. A day with a high heat index feels uncomfortable and sometimes oppressive. Sweat is slow to evaporate and the body struggles to cool down. Direct exposure to the sun only exaggerates this. 

But, it’s not just the feel-like temperatures that are uncomfortable and dangerous. In the desert southwest, temperatures are normally in the 100s in June with very low dewpoints. The start of the 2017 summer will be no different with above average, and potentially record-breaking heat, forecast across much of the Southwest.

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings are in effect for Arizona and portions of California and Nevada through Friday. Hot summer days in the desert can feel like you are walking into an oven! Outdoor structures, such as playgrounds, are often unusable. A recent test in Tuscon, Arizona found that a children’s slide in the sun can reach 150 degrees, which is more than hot enough to cause a second-degree burn.

Heat Safety NWS Vegas.png

Take precautions and stay safe during the 2017 summer season!

 

Tropical Low Brewing in the Caribbean Father’s Day Weekend

Chances continue to increase for a tropical low to develop in the Caribbean for Father’s Day weekend. The time-frame for any tropical formation is Sunday-Tuesday.

So the big question on everyone’s minds, will we have a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico?

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Infrared Satellite of the northwestern Caribbean valid for 17:00Z.

The answer is much more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no”. Storminess is beginning to increase across the northwestern Caribbean, however a disturbance has not been detected yet and Wilkens Weather is not expecting tropical development over the next 24 hours. Several factors are analyzed when forecasting tropical weather including sea surface temperatures (SST), vertical wind shear, and tropical atmospheric moisture. The sea surface temperatures in the southern Gulf are around 28°C, indicating favorable conditions for development. Atmospheric moisture, explained in a previous blog here, surges into the southern Gulf this weekend providing ideal conditions for tropical development. The third and final key ingredient meteorologists are monitoring is vertical wind shear. Light winds are vital to sustain and strengthen the structure of tropical systems.Read More »

Tropical development in the Gulf this weekend?

With hurricane season officially underway today in the Atlantic basin, all eyes are on thunderstorms streaming northward across the Gulf of Mexico. This convection is associated with Tropical Storm Beatriz off the coast of Mexico in the East Pacific. Although Beatriz is not a direct threat to the Gulf, tropical moisture from this storm will continue to provide deep convection across the southern Gulf. This moisture will interact with an existing surface trough over the Bay of Campeche providing the potential for low pressure to develop over the weekend, but there are limiting factors for tropical development.

Regardless of tropical development, one key tropical ingredient is present: atmospheric moisture. The higher the moisture content in the atmosphere, the greater chance for deep, persistent convection which furthermore enhances development within tropical systems. Meteorologists analyze a parameter known as PWAT, Precipitable Water, to gauge atmospheric moisture content. NOAA defines PWAT as the “measure of the depth of liquid water at the surface that would result after precipitating all of the water vapor in a vertical column over a given location”. Imagine having a column of water vapor, from Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere, and squeezing that column of air until all the water fell out (very similar to wringing out a sponge). The resulting measure of water, calculated in inches, is a good indicator of how much rainfall a region could see.

PWAT Animated Loop
Simulation of PWAT values for the Gulf of Mexico valid June 2-4, 2017.

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Hurricane Preparedness: Offshore Operations

Tropical cyclones have significant impacts on marine operations worldwide. Prior to experiencing tropical cyclone threats, offshore facilities must secure equipment, shut-in wells, and evacuate personnel. Operations can remain shut down for extended periods in the event that an offshore platform or rig is damaged or destroyed. Damaged pipelines along the seafloor are a common cause of interruptions to oil and gas supply.

To prevent structural damage and spills, control costs, and ensure the safety of personnel, accurate weather forecasts and advanced notification of tropical hazards are paramount. Even a weak tropical cyclone can produce hazardous weather conditions and put coastal and offshore operators at risk. Be sure to determine your exposure to the risks associated with tropical cyclones before the start of this Atlantic hurricane season.

Wilkens Weather provides a suite of online and mobile tracking tools to warn our customers of these risks. To be confident that you’re prepared this hurricane season, trust in the tropical expertise and tools provided by WWT: Read More »

Where are the Christmas Winds?

The climate of Trinidad is strongly influenced by the North Atlantic High, also referred to as the Bermuda High or Azores High, based on its seasonal positioning. During the fall season, the Atlantic High moves southward in response to the southward push of low pressure systems and their associated cold fronts over North America and the North Atlantic. The high’s southward position and lower sea surface temperatures, north of 10°N, result in strong easterly trade winds across the eastern Caribbean during winter. This increase in winds typically occurs around mid to late December, giving them the seasonal name: the Christmas Winds.    Read More »

South China Sea Monsoon Low

WWT Satellite Monsoon LowOver the past several days, an area of low pressure (Invest 91W) developed within the monsoon trough/ITCZ, generating bands of showers and thunderstorms across the southern South China Sea. As a result, fresh winds extended to the Borneo coast and Malay Peninsula over the weekend. Strong to near-gale force northerly winds also occurred along the northwest side of the low when it intensified this morning. Global models often underdo monsoon winds within these lows and these systems should always be monitored closely for tropical development. Read More »

Harmattan Dust in West Africa

As we approach the end of the calendar year, meteorologists, once again, encounter a significant weather phenomena that can sometimes be a challenge to forecast: The Harmattan Winds.

Harmattan winds are derived from a dry and dusty, northeasterly trade wind that originates in the Sahara. As the monsoon trough shifts south during the boreal winter, the trade winds will travel further south reaching the West Coast of Africa. This type of wind is strengthened by low pressure over the north coast of Guinea and high pressure over Northwest African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology Harmattan DustAfrica. The Harmattans can carry desert dust into the Atlantic and the Gulf of Guinea leading to hazardous operations on and offshore. Another element to the strength of the Harmattan is eastward movement of a low pressure system over Europe and its subsequent surface cold front that will move over the Mediterranean into North Africa. While the cold air will mix and warm over Africa, the wind will continue to surge south carrying with it the blinding dust covering everything in its path. Crop soil from the Sahel, the region between the Sahara desert and humid savannas, can also be mixed up in the winds further dropping visibility.Read More »

1PM ET: about as close to landfall as Hurricane Matthew can get

Early Friday morning, Hurricane Matthew was downgraded to a Category 3 before brushing along the coast of Cape Canaveral. As of 12pm ET, the eye is less than 30 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, sustained winds have been reported up to 73 mph with gusts of 91 mph in Daytona Beach. However, the storm has yet to make an official landfall but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our chance. The eyewall of Matthew is currently brushing along the Florida coast. With one slight wobble to the west in the next hour or two, we could see a U.S. landfall.

WWT Hurricane Matthew Radar Loop
Wilkens Weather Technologies

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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 »

Weather Forecasting in the Adriatic

WWT Adriatic Sea WaterspoutHigh terrain extending across Italy and central Europe yield a challenging environment for weather forecasting in the northern Adriatic Sea, especially during the winter months. The Alps, 120 miles wide with several peaks over 15,000 ft, block colder air to the north and often deflect it to the east over the Balkan States. The cooler air accumulates over the Balkan Peninsula, eventually reaching the height of the mountain passes. This induces a Bora, a local downslope wind effect that is common and at times violent during the cold season, usually from October through March. The Bora is one of two local winds that impact marine customers in this region. The other being Sirocco winds, a strong southeast wind, which often build over the course of a couple of days ahead of a Bora or impending low pressure system and is usually forecast with less uncertainty.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 »

Wilkens Weather tracks 8 storms in the West Pacific this August

WWT West Pacific Tropical Summary

The West Pacific Ocean was quite active last week, with 2-3 concurrent storms. This recent tropical activity, while not unprecedented, has been above average.  Over the past several weeks, an upward Madden-Julian Oscillation phase extending across the West Pacific coupled with the existing monsoon trough.  This pattern has yielded eight named storms since August 3, the most recent being Typhoon Lionrock. Read More »

Spaghetti… what? Forecast models broken down

By now I’m sure you have seen the “spaghetti plot”- ensemble of forecast models-regarding Tropical Depression Nine. If you’re not a meteorologist or everyday weather guru, then you have every right to be confused by this graphic of overwhelming lines. With a little background on the models, you’ll be sure to impress your coworkers when they begin to bring up TD Nine or soon to be Tropical Storm Nine.
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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.

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