Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carlos running south, Dolores now a tropical storm

Hurricane Carlos weakened again overnight, its forward movement has slowed, and the storm is now forecast to pass well south of the Big Island Monday, July 20.

Based on the latest predictions from the National Weather Service, the storm should remain far enough south that even its outermost winds should miss the Islands.

(Image: Three-day forecasts illustrated the expected paths of both Hurricane Carlos and Tropical Storm Dolores. Credit: NOAA.)

But Carlos has been intriguingly difficult to predict, and the weather service recognized that in its morning statement.

“The intensity forecast is highly uncertain, particularly in the short term... While the upper-level environment and ocean conditions appear favorable for at least maintaining the current intensity, current satellite trends suggest otherwise,” the service said.

What that means is that on paper, when meteorologists look at water temperatures and winds, the storm pencils out to remain a hurricane. But when forecasters peer down on it from satellite imagery, they see the storm appearing to break up. Its distinct eye—a key feature of strong hurricanes—has disappeared.

At this writing, with wind speeds in the 85-mile-per-hour range, Carlos remains a category 1 hurricane. But the latest forecast suggests that it could slip back into tropical storm strength tomorrow, Thursday.

It should pass into Central Pacific waters—crossing the 140 degree west longitude line—late Friday night or early Saturday. Its path, as currently forecast, would take its center on a westward course between 300 and 400 miles south of South Point.

Meanwhile, the storm following Carlos has been upgraded to a tropical storm, and has been given a name, Tropical Storm Dolores.

Dolores is veering north, which will take it into cooler waters well before it approaches Hawai'i. That suggests it could weaken and perhaps dissipate long before causing the Islands any difficulty.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

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