Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mercurial Carlos a hurricane once more

The ever mercurial Carlos, predicted yesterday to remain a tropical storm, has regained hurricane strength and some models suggest it could become a major hurricane, with winds upward of 90 miles an hour.

Carlos continues to spin on a path that is keeping it well to the south of the Islands, but it has started veering slightly north.

(Image: This 3-D image of Hurricane Carlos was created July 12 from data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. Thunderstorm tops in the image are shown reaching 9.3 miles into the atmosphere on the east side of Carlos. Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce.)

If it were to take a course that could impact the Hawaiian Islands, that would probably happen early to midweek next week. That now seems unlikely, but Carlos has been full of surprises.

It started picking up windspeed shortly after dawn yesterday, and quickly built back from tropical storm to hurricane strength. The National Weather Service is now predicting it will gain more strength in the next couple of days and remain a hurricane at least through the weekend.

“None of the intensity guidance calls for Carlos to peak at higher than about 85 knots,” or a little more than 90 miles an hour, the service said in an advisory.

With its increase in windspeed, the hurricane's forward progress has slowed somewhat. It is now slated to pass into Hawaiian waters, the Central Pacific, on Friday.

Meanwhile, there are now two weak features following Carlos out of the Eastern Pacific.

The area that earlier was referred to simply as an area of thunderstorms is now being called a tropical low, but it is as mysterious in its behavior as Carlos has been. The weather service reported this feature, now at 13 degrees north and 113 degrees west, “continues to baffle observers with low level swirls growing and dissipating at random within a broad trough with abundant cloudiness blocking satellite view.”

They continue to feel it could intensify into a cyclone.

A still weaker feature, a tropical wave, is found at 4 degrees north and 96 degrees west. Its challenge is to survive contrary winds aloft until it gets into conditions that would allow it to strengthen into something more.

With all this activity in the Eastern Pacific, there still has been no tropical storm this season in the Central Pacific. The average in an El Nino year is in the neighborhood of 4.5 named storms.

Carlos, whatever it looks like when it crosses 140 degrees west longitude, is still on course to be the first of the season.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

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