The tropics remain fairly quiet for the end of September across the Atlantic ocean. The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season has provided us with 16 named storms. Based on numbers, it would not be wrong of someone to assume that this season has been extremely active. However, the numbers are lying. When the hurricane season began, NOAA announced that an above-average season would occur. Their forecast included 12 to 18 named storms, six to eight hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes. As of September 29, 2011, we have seen only three hurricanes and two major hurricanes (category 3 strength or higher).
We are in the right track for the number of named storms, but a lot of them have been weak or below hurricane status. (I am not complaining!) The tropics in the Atlantic are forecast to become quiet for the next two weeks, but we might see another surge of tropical development by the middle of October. For now, let’s take a look into the tropics around the world.
On September 27, 2011, Typhoon Nesat made landfall in the Philippines as a category 3 storm with winds around 120 miles per hour. At least 33 people died as it came ashore producing strong winds, large surf, and flooding rains. As of today, Nesat is currently a category 1 hurricane with wind speeds around 80 mph. Nesat is expected to gradually weaken as it pushes to the west, and it will eventually bring a lot of heavy rains towards China and Vietnam. In the image below, you can easily see a large eye associated with Nesat. It is rather ragged, showing signs of a weakening system.
In the Atlantic Basin, we are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Ophelia and Philippe. Ophelia degenerated into a remnant low this past weekend, as conditions were not favorable for tropical development. However, Ophelia moved into less wind shear and a more conducive environment on September 28 and ramped back into a tropical storm. Ophelia is expected to push to the north and could impact parts of Bermuda this Saturday. As Ophelia pushes north, the storm could intensify to a minimum hurricane.
Here’s the forecast track of Tropical Storm Opehlia:
Tropical Storm Philippe is harmlessly out at sea and should not cause issues for anyone for the next five days as it moves to the north and eventually turns to the west.
Looking ahead in time, the Atlantic hurricane season should remain quiet for the next two weeks. After October 10, the Madden-Julian Oscillation, also called the MJO, shows signs of more favorable tropical development in the Caribbean. The MJO is a large-scale atmospheric circulation that propagates easterly from the origins of the Indian and Pacific oceans. It can show areas of favorable development in regards to lowering pressures and increased convection.
Bottom line: Overall, the tropics remain fairly quiet for now, but we could see one more round of active weather in the tropics sometime around October 15, 2011. As always, EarthSky will keep you updated!
Matt Daniel is Meteorologist for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama. A self-described "big weather and music geek," Matt has a passion for helping to keep people safe when severe weather strikes and says if you don't have a NOAA Weather Radio ... you should get one.