Tropical Storm Joaquin: Uncertain track keeps plans on hold

Tropical Storm Joaquin: Uncertain track keeps plans on hold

The newly formed Tropical Storm Joaquin well off the southeast US coast is a threat, but not a promise to the east coast.  I was cautious as to what models to show in my first report since there was a spread of it hitting the coast or going out to sea. I split the difference and went with the middle track.  What I am going to show below may have you saying ‘thanks for nothing models’. But I still would like to share what we are up against.

This image shows the bulk of high clouds and storm activity to the east of the center of circulation. There still is a lot of upper level wind sheer blowing off the top of the storm, limiting development for not. That could chance.

Note that tropical systems can be erratic, sometimes creating their own environment, while others getting pushed around by ocean current or winds aloft. So I want to share what I and other meteorologists are looking at (without getting too technical),  but I can’t pin down a path any better than the National Hurricane Center (NHC) can. Oh, and wait until you see the model slider at the bottom of this post suggesting a new storm forming.

Being that it is Tuesday, there have been many requests trying to plan ahead for the weekend. I would just keep a close eye on this. The safe bet is expect moderate to heavy rain Thursday and Friday. But into the weekend all depends on where the storm goes. Stay close to the coast or slow down, and it could be very windy. Stall or get pushed out to sea and it may be quite nice.  That doesn’t help, but I just want to be honest.

Latest statement from NHC

Note, there was a mistake plotting this to the ENE of the Bahamas. It is to the West Southwest (WSW) of the island.

...JOAQUIN GRADUALLY STRENGTHENING WHILE DRIFTING WESTWARD...


SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...26.5N 70.8W
ABOUT 425 MI...680 KM ENE OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...45 MPH...75 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 260 DEGREES AT 5 MPH...7 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1001 MB...29.56 INCHES

How strong will it get?

Before getting to the tracks, how about the intensity?   The model spread over the next five days shows a better environment than the strong sheer it is dealing with now.  Those winds aloft should slow, allowing Joaquin to grow.  But where will it go? That is in part of how strong it can get, but out should remain a tropical storm at least, with roughly a 50% chance it grows to a hurricane (wins over 74 mph)

 

Screen Shot2015-09-29 15_07_43

 

Tropical Model Tracks

This spaghetti plot shows 29 model forecast, some different ensemble products of the same model. The six tracks to the east coast may grab your attention. That is 21% chance of this tropical storm hitting the US near the Mid Atlantic, at least based on this latest model run. Even our NAM model shows heavy rain and a path through North Carolina. But a tropical system does not behave like a mid latitude synoptic storm, so I can not   put too much weigh in this yet.

 

Screen Shot2015-09-29 15_05_57

Thanks for nothing, right?

Here is the latest National Hurricane Center forecast track. Compare that to the track from yesterday. Much slower and a little farther offshore.

NHCTracks

 

Older Track From Monday Afternoon

Screen Shot2015-09-28 20_54_53

 

What if Joaquin stalls and a new storm forms?

Here is the GFS model. I show this since the US invested countless dollars upgrading it last year to compete with the higher accuracy of the European Model. Speaking of which, this suggest something similar to what the Euro showed yesterday. Sort of. Instead of a direct path into the Mid Atlantic, the storm stalls, but the tropical southeast wind continues to flow onshore and buckles the upper level pattern to start new circulation and bring our region extended rain through the weekend. This is just another option thrown out by the models.


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