FULL UPDATE: Category 4 Matthew Moving Very Near Haiti, Concerns In The US Becoming Greater

Hurricane Matthew continues to remind us that tropical forecasting is an inexact science. While the storm has (thankfully) trended a bit away from Jamaica, significant impacts are expected there and hurricane conditions will still be possible as far west as Kingston. Further east near western Haiti, a direct strike or very near miss will be possible. Here’s the current visible satellite imagery:


Conditions seems favorable for the storm to maintain intensity with the only obstacle being land.  Haiti, Cuba, and possibly Jamaica will be dealing with hurricane impacts over the next day and a half or so.

Beyond that time, great uncertainty exists with guidance changing from run to run. For now, it looks like the storm might pass just east of NE Florida where some areas will experience higher than normal tides, very choppy seas, and gusts reaching tropical storm force. After that time, the model spread is higher, though most guidance now indicates a landfall may be possible. The biggest hold out on a landfall solution is the European model, traditionally our best model. It too, however, has trended way west in its last two runs and now brings near-hurricane conditions to portions of North Carolina.

ecmwf_z500_mslp_us_6 gem_mslp_pcpn_frzn_us_19 gfdl-p_mslp_wind_14l_21 gfs_pres_wind_watl_21 hwrf-p_mslp_wind_14l_37

Here, you can see the trend since yesterday. First is pictured the 18z GEFS (gfs ensembles) from yesterday, followed by the 12z run from today. A significant portion of these ensemble members show an out to sea solution, but at least half show hurricane impacts somewhere along the east coast.

18z-gefs-yesterday 12z-gefs-today

Regarding intensity, the model consensus shows general weakening over time, however the more reliable tropical and global models show the storm maintaining intensity or strengthening a bit after weakening over Cuba.


With most reliable guidance not showing appreciable weakening over time, our intensity forecast is a little higher than the NHC and we currently believe that Matthew will be a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) as it moves nearer the East Coast,

The forecast evolution is complex and involves lots of moving parts. A weakening upper level low over the gulf, a subtropical ridge near Bermuda, a departing upper level low over  New England,  and an approaching mid-latitude trough will all impart force on the hurricane, pulling it a variety of directions. What remains to be seen is whether or not the high over Bermuda will be able to strengthen enough to bump the hurricane west into land. For now, the wxchasing.com is well west of the NHC forecast at days 4 and 5. While we don’t currently anticipate a direct landfall, we do expect a 60% chance that somewhere on the US coast experiences hurricane conditions and an 80% chance that somewhere will see tropical storm conditions.


The forecast at days 4-6 is very fluid and changes are expected.

I will be most likely leaving on Wednesday to travel to the highest impact areas on the east coast with Mr. Gary Schmitt and a livestream of our chase should be made available at that time.
Brandon Clement will most likely not be chasing this storm due to personal family issues. Our thoughts are with him as he works to get through this rough time.

Look for more updates as Matthew begins to make his final moves over the coming days.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Short Update: Matthew a MAJOR HURRICANE, Catastrophic threat to eastern Jamaica including KINGSTON.

We are very US centric here at wxchasing.com, but given the chance someone from eastern Jamaica might read this, it’s worth saying.

We try not to hype storms. And there’s still a decent chance Matthew misses the island or isn’t as strong as forecast. But for now, it looks like Matthew may reach category 4 (or stronger ..) strength before reaching Jamaica. This would be a devastating blow for the island, particularly around Kingston.

If you are in that area, finalize your preparations now, and be prepared to seek higher ground if you live in surge-prone regions.


For US concerns, trends continue to be west and the model consensus is quite close to our original forecast made 2 days ago. Beyond that time, models diverge. As of this moment, the Gulf of Mexico looks protected by an expected upper level trough. While we can’t completely rule it out, this storm most likely never enters the Gulf. The eastern seaboard could still see impacts as Matthew moves north, with Florida and North Carolina being the most at risk for the moment. We anticipate a 30% chance that one of these two states experience hurricane conditions over the next 5-7 days.

Beyond that time, areas further north in New England should be aware that Matthew may try to transition into a very powerful nor’easter. We give this probability a 10% chance of occurring.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Short Update: Matthew upgraded to a Hurricane, Modeling trending west

Here’s the latest track forecast for now HURRICANE Matthew.


We have limited disagreement with the NHC track at this time, but we do think the storm could slip very near or on top of Jamaica as it turns northward. Our forecast from yesterday is still our best thinking for what will happen.

Beyond that time, interests along the US East Coasy (particularly near Cape Hatteras, where the most intense impacts, if any, may be felt) should pay very close attention to this storm.

Current information from the NHC:

At 200 PM AST (1800 UTC), the center of Hurricane Matthew was
located near latitude 14.2 North, longitude 67.0 West.  Matthew is
moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/h), and a general westward
motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected during the
next couple of days.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate
that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph (110
km/h) with higher gusts.  Gradual strengthening is expected during
the next 48 hours.

Hurricane-force-winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from
the center.  Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205
miles (335 km) from the center.  NOAA buoy 42059 has recently
reported sustained winds of 47 mph (76 km/h) with a gust to
54 mph (86 km/h).

The latest minimum central pressure reported by the Hurricane Hunter
aircraft was 993 mb (29.32 inches).

With computer guidance trending more west with time, NOW is the time to begin making your preparations should you have near-coastal interests in the Mid-Atlantic states.

We can’t rule out Florida impacts just yet, but it definitely looks like the most likely longterm affects may north and east of that state.

Updates will be issued as warranted.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Tropical Storm Matthew Develops, Long Term Forecast Uncertain

Tropical Storm Matthew has formed near the Windward Islands moving generally westward at around 18 knots. A hurricane hunter plane estimated surface winds of 50 knots, and there’s little reason to doubt that estimation. As such, the NHC has initiated advisories on the storm at 60 mph.

Note: Many Caribbean islands are in the path of this potentially very dangerous storm. This article focuses on CONUS impact. Those in the path outside of the United States should still pay attention!

From the NHC:



While the storm is producing somewhat high winds at 60 mph, it’s important to remember that this is in large part due to interaction with a strong high pressure system to the north. Matthew is still in its developmental stages despite such high winds, and could be slow to develop in the short term.

So, as usual, the question is “Where’s it going, and how strong will it be?”

The computer guidance is in fairly good agreement on track through the short term, so we will skip over that part. Wxchasing.com is, at the moment, in near lock-step with the forecast from the NHC through the near term, which we believe to be a very good one given current information. The divergence in computer guidance in the short term (inside of 3-4 days) is largely along-track. Meaning, most guidance agrees on the track but disagrees on how quickly the storm gets there.  This timing difference becomes very important later on as it will determine just how far west the storm can get, and subsequently what sort of impacts to land we might see.

Below, the Euro, CMC, and GFS illustrate how dramatically different the situation can unfold beyond 4-5 days depending on the depth of the troughing that is creating a weakness for the storm o move north into, how strong the storm is (a stronger storm typically can “feel” a trough more as it already has a tendency to move to the right of the steered trajectory due to the Beta effect, the conservation of vorticity)

The spread among models is quite large in the extended range. One way to judge confidence in a forecast is to examine an ensemble of modeling. The GFS and Euro produce an ensemble of modeling where a whole pile of slightly-less-precise than the operational runs are created. As you can see below, the euro and gfs are vastly different, but more than that the euro shows a huge range of solutions possible and the gfs has as many solutions indicating a landfall on the east coast as it does a solution entirely out to sea. A very complex forecast regarding track.


Based on the latest trends, our forecast is for a slightly slower storm movement than is indicated by the NHC. Below, you can see where our forecast (red dots) begin to slightly diverge from the NHC (black dots) beginning Monday morning.  At that point we believe the storm will be moving more slowly, and perhaps just west of the current NHC expectation.


Regarding intensity, most guidance eventually brings Matthew up to hurricane intensity. The latest guidance of the MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) indicates favorable conditions for intensification with general upward motion over the Atlantic Basin as well.



At this time, we have no reason to disagree with the forecast from the NHC, as below :
INIT  28/1500Z 50 KT  60 MPH 12H  29/0000Z 50 KT  60 MPH 24H  29/1200Z 55 KT  65 MPH 36H  30/0000Z 60 KT  70 MPH 48H  30/1200Z 65 KT  75 MPH 72H  01/1200Z 70 KT  80 MPH 96H  02/1200Z 80 KT  90 MPH120H  03/1200Z 90 KT 105 MPH

There are a few stronger outliers at the moment, with the HWRF and GFDL models indicating rapid intensification in the Caribbean. For now, we don’t anticipate such rapid development but interests in the area should prepare for the possibility of a major hurricane.

(938 mb before land interaction)

Beyond 120 hours, land interaction should halt strengthening and perhaps induce some temporary weakening before the storm gets going again as it emerges into the Bahamas.

This storm will likely have a few surprises along the way, so even if you aren’t in the expected path, if you are along the northern Gulf Coast, Florida, or the East Coast, this storm deserves your attention. We will be updating you here as changes in forecast thinking occur.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Atlantic Hurricane Season 2016: Peak Season Update

September 10th marks the climatological peak of hurricane season. With this peak roughly marking the midpoint of the hurricane season, now is a great time to discuss the season to date, examine what the rest of the season might hold, and look into how wxchasing.com’s forecasts have fared thus far.

The season to date featured an early hurricane, Alex, in January. An unusual storm, Alex was only the second hurricane to form in January in the Atlantic basin since record keeping began. Alex meandered in the open Atlantic before being absorbed by an extratropical low.

As the traditional hurricane season approached, Tropical storms Bonnie and Colin impacted the east coast (Bonnie) and Florida (Colin) with breezy winds, rain, and high water.

Tropical Storm Danielle moved into Mexico later in June, followed by Hurricane Earl that took a steady west path into Belize.

The season hit a quiet period through July, picking up again in August when Tropical Storm Fiona moved through the open Atlantic, followed by a powerful Hurricane Gaston that slowly moved northward through the central Atlantic. Gaston has thus far been the strongest hurricane of the year, reaching major hurricane status, category 3. Gaston proved unusual in that it acquired “annular” features as it lost all of its feeder bands and consisted largely of an eye and eyewall. This hurricane configuration is one that is slow to weaken and Gaston defied most intensity guidance by refusing to weaken. Gaston remained a major hurricane for some time, with the last advisory by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) being released on September 3rd.


The most impactful storm of the year thus far was Hurricane Hermine which made landfall near St. Marks, Florida on September 2nd as a category 1 hurricane. While the area of hurricane-force winds was confined to the eyewall at landfall, tropical storm force winds extended well away from the center of the storm and piled in storm surge from near Tampa, FL through the Big Bend area of Florida. Given the dense forested area that the storm came ashore, significant tree damage and power outages were common even inland where Tallahassee, Florida saw thousands of residents lose power. Wxchasing was well represented as Brandon Clement and Meteorologist Logan Poole were present as the storm came ashore.

Hermine Track

So where do we stand:

Storm Count
Named Storms: 7
Hurricanes: 3
Major Hurricanes: 1

Storm Impacts (in US)
Tropical Storm Landfalls: 2
Hurricane Landfalls: 1
Major Hurricane Landfalls: 0

With the next few days across the Atlantic looking somewhat quiet, the first half of September may feature few threats to land. Beyond that lull, we expect an uptick in tropical activity as abnormally warm waters, near average Atlantic Instability, and near to below average wind shear is expected across the Atlantic Basin. We anticipate this year’s hurricane season may not see quite the sharp drop in activity in early November as is typical, as we expect the abnormally warm Atlantic basin may continue to support tropical activity. With that said, our forecast for 15 storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes still looks reasonable, with current numbers halfway through the season amounting to nearly half of our season-total projections. Given we have had only 1 major hurricane thus far, it stands to reason that our forecast of 4 may end up a bit high. That being said, 4 major hurricanes this year is still possible given our expectation of an extended season.

Regarding landfalls, we have had 2 of an expected 3 tropical storm landfalls, 1 of an expected 2 hurricane landfalls, and 0 of an expected 1 major hurricane landfall. It remains to be seen if the US will see a major hurricane impact, but it is still way too early to raise an all clear. We do expect to see additional tropical impacts before the season ends.

Regarding our projections for which areas would see the most increased chances for tropical impacts, we’ve done fairly well. Hurricane Hermine made landfall within our highest-risk area for the year (On the far right edge). These same areas highlighted in our pre-season forecast will remain the most at risk through at least the end of this month.


Our forecast of the actual storm, made when Hermine became termed “Tropical Depression 9” was a good one, with our “cone” being significantly smaller than some other forecasting groups while still keeping the eventual landfall point very near the center of our “cone”. Further, our “most likely” intensity forecasts of a strong tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane verified very nicely at a time when few outlets expected a hurricane at landfall.


Overall, we feel we did fairly well with our forecasts thus far, but will continue to work hard to improve in order to provide some of the best available information out there. In addition to that, we are one of the few groups who both make the forecasts then go to the storms ourselves. We are as invested in our forecast as you are as we will be right there with you when the weather gets interesting. As always, thank you for giving us your viewership. Our next blog will likely entail more of the storm chasing side of our operations, so be sure to check back next week.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Short Update: Tropical Depression 9 forms, threatens land.

And from the ashes it returns. Hurricane hunter planes found that the disturbance (99L) that we had been tracking entering the Gulf of Mexico has strengthened and is expected to become a named storm later this week.

HH recon

So, we’ll keep it short. Where’s it going, what’s it doing.

One of 3 solutions seems probable:
1: The storm stays weaker and moves into central Florida in a couple of days. If this were to occur, the intensity will stay pretty low as the storm will remain sheared and contending with dry air. This currently seems the least probable solution.

2: The storm slowly strengthens and moves northeast later this week after drifting westward over the central Gulf. This storm would be a strong tropical storm to maybe a hurricane.

3: The storm drifts south and west, moving northeast further west than in option two. This provides the storm with more time over water and less shear, increasing the possible intensity.  In this scenario a category 1 or maybe a bit higher storm could threaten western portions of the Panhandle of Florida later this week. This option and option 2 have about equal probability.

NHC track

Latest visible imagery shows positives and negatives for the development of Depression #9. Dry air and wind shear continues to impinge on the cyclone but consistent convection over the center suggests its not detrimental enough to destroy or weaken the storm.

latest visible

Given the latest trends in the heading of the storm, drifting southwest, we are concerned the storm may be choosing a track on the western side of the 5PM NHC cone. That would give the storm more time to develop so we’ll need to keep a close eye on it. 18z tracks

The 18z  (afternoon run) of various computer modeling didn’t really pick up on the short term southwest movement so tonight’s modeling will be crucial in learning the eventual movement. We’ll keep you updated and in the meantime if you are in the eastern half of the Gulf coast, now would be a great time to run through your hurricane preparation plans one more time.

Meteorologist Logan Poole

How Did It Happen: Record breaking Louisiana Flood August 2016

A record flood in Louisiana. Hundreds, thousands of water rescues. August. People are dying, houses are flooding. People flock to shelters to escape the rising water. The shelters begin to flood.

For most, the name “Katrina” probably creeps into mind. But no, this story isn’t about Hurricane Katrina. In fact, it’s not about a tropical storm of any kind. Instead, this is a story that went relatively untold on the national stage and happened literally this past week into the weekend with ongoing flooding even today (August 11th-present 2016). As storm chaser Brandon Clement puts it “For a lot of people, and I mean a LOT of people, this will end up being worse than Katrina.”

So, what happened? How did this event occur meteorologically and why did it seem to fly under the radar in the eyes of national media?

Well, a few things combined to create a perfect storm of media absence and meteorological catastrophe. The weekend of Aug. 5-7th featured an ominous storm on our computer guidance … we knew flooding was coming the next week … for Florida. The long range computer guidance was insistent on the storm drifting westward underneath a stout ridge, but at the time the flooding along the northern Gulf Coast wasn’t seen as being an upcoming disaster. Between politics and the Olympics dominating headlines, this storm having no “name”, and heading into a weekend, national media was notably quiet. As the early week came around, we knew differently. As Mr. Clement said, “The local news media did great. But the national media just seemed absent for the most part”.  Model guidance painted an ugly picture of a large area receiving around 20 inches of rain and a disaster was becoming more apparent. Below, you will see the GFS forecast earlier in the week, with the low pressure area moving away from Louisiana by early weekend. By midweek, the model shows that instead the storm would stick around a further 2 days before exiting. This resulted in a flash flooding event turning into a record shattering catastrophe.

early loop later loop

As the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) showed in these two Mesoscale Precipitation Discussions, extreme moisture content and convergence associated with the area of low pressure was evolving into extreme flash flooding, by Thursday evening the 11th.

MD 1 MD2

As the forecast became reality, the 20” forecast mark that originally concerned forecasters was realized. And eclipsed. In fact, the NWS in New Orleans reports that one station received 21.29” in approximately 1 day. And keep in mind it rained heavily (though perhaps not 21” a day, each day) for 3 days across this area.


A video from the Stu Ostro shows the radar presentation through this time period, as wave after wave of rain pummeled the area.

Tropical system / Louisiana flood

56-hour radar of relentless torrential rain from the tropical system which caused the Louisiana flood, from Thursday morning when the downpours shifted inland from the Gulf to when they finally diminished Saturday afternoon

Posted by Stu Ostro on Tuesday, August 16, 2016


So how much rain fell? Below is the radar estimated rainfall total. Areas in white saw over 20″. It should be noted that rainfall estimates by radar are typically underdone in heavy, tropical rains like this event, so totals likely exceed what is shown.
total radar rain

As this water vapor image shows, the storm had the upper level characteristics of a tropical cyclone. Had the storm been over water, in this very light shear regime with extreme upper level outflow, it very likely would have become a tropical storm. While this storm will have no name in the history books, it will be burned into the memories of those in Louisiana for generations.

water vapor

Meteorologist Logan Poole

Hurricane Hunters Tour Hurricane Earl

As Earl strengthened into a hurricane yesterday, meteorologist Sandy Delgado was given the opportunity to board the NOAA P3 hurricane hunter plane and give a birds eye view! Here are some pictures of that experience, courtesy of Mr. Delgado! I think this counts as storm chasing, right??

Sandy in plane

Sandy in the plane!


Live infrared and visible satellite


Radar image from the flight with observations overlayed

view of eye

View of the eye of Earl!

And here’s Sandy’s public tropical weather group on Facebook where you can see excellent near-daily updates of Atlantic Hurricanes past and present!


Meteorologist Logan Poole

Short Tropical Update: Aug 2 2016

A vigorous tropical wave has been on the cusp of  being designated a tropical storm for about 36 hours now. A hurricane hunter aircraft was scheduled to enter the storm yesterday, but due to mechanical failures the flight was scrubbed. Today’s mission is so far successful, with a possible center showing up in the latest observations. If this is confirmed by the experts at NHC, the storm will receive the designation ” Earl” and watches and warnings for a tropical storm impact in central America and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico will likely be needed.

center vis0-lalo

A tweet from the NHC confirms advisories are being issued on Tropical Storm Earl:

NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic):

NHC will initiate advisories on Tropical Storm Earl with a Special Advisory to be issued before noon EDT.


Wxchasing Hurricane Season 2016 Update

Monday, August 1st, marks the beginning of a typically 3-month long period of heightened tropical activity in the Atlantic basin. The August-September-October (ASO) period accounts for on average 80% of the tropical storms in a given year and 86% of its hurricanes.

Credit: Landsea et al.

After a mostly quiet July, and indeed a mostly quiet decade regarding landfalls, understandably some folks are beginning to ask “Is it over already?”. While we don’t know for certain what the year will hold, we can continue to look at the various large-scale patterns that may drive future development this year.

To start, let’s “look out the window”. A strong tropical wave has emerged off the coast of Africa this past week, and looks to potentially develop into a tropical depression by this weekend. The National Hurricane Center gives this system a 40% chance of developing into a depression and that seems reasonable. As the system looks to transit the Atlantic, conditions will become less favorable and should the system organize beforehand, weakening or dissipation would be the most likely result. Recent modeling is a little more bullish on retaining a wave of low pressure through the Windward Islands, so should any remnant low make it to the western Caribbean, trends would have to be monitored for regeneration at that time as conditions for development may begin to improve.

A somewhat weaker wave further west will face similar conditions and will also bear watching as it enters the Caribbean or Bahamas later this week. The NHC gives this disturbance a 30% chance of development.  (Valid Thursday evening, 7/28)

Credit: NHC

One of the primary concerns for limiting tropical development is the intrusion of dry air from the Saharan Desert in Africa westward into the Atlantic. This Saharan Air Layer (SAL) can stifle the growth of robust thunderstorms that grow into tropical storms.

Credit: Cimms

This dry air coupled with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and associated large scale lift being seasonally far south (around 5N latitude) has helped prevent tropical storm formation through July across the central and eastern Atlantic, though this is not at all unusual. That portion of the Atlantic Basin doesn’t often see tropical storm formation in July of any year.

By August, the central Atlantic becomes increasingly active and by September, storms are somewhat common as far east as the Cape Verde islands. By October, the action becomes confined well West for the most part once again. july




Credit: NOAA

The current forecast from wxchasing.com remains unchanged:


We still anticipate an additional 11 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes,  2 hurricane landfalls, and 1 major hurricane landfall.

Dr. Jeff Masters points out in his blog that the western Atlantic is currently experiencing near record oceanic heat content (OHC), exceeding that seen in 2005. While OHC is not the only important aspect to an active season, it represents focused warmth in the tropics as well as increases atmospheric instability. This coupled with a departing El Nino and decaying warm-neutral ENSO pattern should combine with seasonal influences to increase activity across the basin in coming weeks.

Rest assured, more storms will develop during this period. And the threat to the United States mainland is still likely at some point during this season.

Check back next week when we’ll have another guest blogger to discuss storm photography!

Meteorologist Logan Poole



Storm chasing, live streaming and weather extremes