Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tropical Storm Don (2011)

Storm Active: July 27-30

Around July 17, a vigorous tropical wave emerged off of Africa, quickly associating convection with it as it tracked over the open Atlantic. On July 22, it began to affect the Lesser Antilles with areas of heavy rain, and briefly developed a low pressure center. However, a small area of unfavorable wind shear passed over the system, and it remained disorganized. Development was hampered further on July 24, as the wave passed directly over the Dominican Republic and Haiti. During the next few days, this was followed by interactions with Jamaica and Cuba, which kept thunderstorm activity to a minimum. However, on July 26 the wave moved over the waters of the Caribbean south of Cuba. Slow organization occurred over the next day, and by July 27, a low pressure center had formed. During that morning, however, the low lacked a closed circulation and the convection was divided into two hemispheres, with the area of low pressure not directly associated with any one part of the system. Finally, during the afternoon of July 27, a circulation became evident at the northern tip of the system's western half, and the low was upgraded to Tropical Storm Don just north of the Yucatan Peninsula.

A ridge of high pressure to the northeast of Don steered it in a generally northwestward course through the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next day, convection increased, particularly on the southern side of the circulation, and modest strengthening occurred despite shear and dry air from the north. On July 29, the ridge became stronger, and turned Don more to the west-northwest, toward southern Texas. During that day, Don reached its peak intensity of 50 mph and a minimum pressure of 997 mb. The presence of Don generated significant tropical moisture along the northwestern Gulf coast, including Louisiana and parts of Texas. However, as the system made landfall, most rain was concentrated near the center and on the south side, and southernmost Texas therefore received the most rain. Tropical storm force winds enveloped a larger area of the coast, but quickly diminished as Don made landfall. Over land, the system weakened rapidly to a remnant low, causing no damage or fatalities.

Don near peak intensity shortly before landfall in Texas.

Track of Don.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tropical Storm Cindy (2011)

Storm Active: July 20-23

On July 19, a low pressure center formed along a stationary frontal boundary situated over the central Atlantic, in the vicinity of Bermuda. This front was the same one that spawned Tropical Storm Bret. The low quickly moved to the east, and deepened over the next day. On July 20, its circulation became increasingly disassociated with the frontal boundary, and the appearance of deep central convection was enough to name the system Tropical Storm Cindy that afternoon.

Even as it formed, it began to accelerate northeastward at speeds over 20 mph. Cindy strengthened rapidly as the circulation became better defined, developing a proto-eye feature early on July 21. The cyclone reached its peak winds, 70 mph, during that morning, and maintained its tropical characteristics through the day. The winds began to decrease as Cindy passed over the cold water north of the 40ÂșN parallel, but the pressure dropped from 1002 to 1000 mb. Additional drops in pressure despite negative changes in wind speed is often a symptom of a cyclone entering extratropical transition, which Cindy did on July 22. However, Cindy's convection was rapidly deteriorating by that afternoon, and the system continued to weaken, becoming a minimal tropical storm by late that night. Cindy was downgraded to a remnant low before actually becoming extratropical early on July 23. The remnant low of Cindy dissipated later the same day, causing no damage.

The low pressure system that formed Cindy mere hours before being classified as a tropical storm.

Track of Cindy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tropical Storm Bret (2011)

Storm Active: July 17-22

Following the departure of a cold front from the U.S. east coast, a west-to-east situated stationary front stalled over the Florida coast and adjacent Atlantic waters. On July 16, a weak low pressure center formed in association with this front, and produced an area of showers and thunderstorms off of the eastern Florida coast. The pressure of the system remained high as it drifted slowly southward over the next day, but a clearly defined closed circulation formed during the afternoon of July 17, and the low was upgraded to Tropical Depression Two. Further deepening quickly followed, and the cyclone achieved tropical storm status a mere three hours later.

The newly formed Tropical Storm Bret experienced almost no motion overnight, drifting southward and then eastward, all the while meandering over the Northern Bahamas. Despite some wind shear out of the west that was bringing dry air into the system, convection persisted, and even developed during the morning of July 18, and the strengthening trend continued. Bret even developed a ragged eye amidst its tight circulation that evening, reaching a strong tropical storm intensity of 70 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 995 mb.

However, dry air penetrated the system late that night, causing weakening as the cyclone continued to move slowly north-northeast. As Bret paralleled the southern portion of the U.S. east coast early on July 19, nearly all convection was lost, and the system packed winds of only 50 mph. Some convection returned that morning, and Bret managed to maintain its intensity despite increasing shear from the northwest. With the exception of the southeastern quadrant, which contained some cloud cover, but even it was struggling, Bret had no associated convection whatsoever, and was essentially a bare circulation. Bret moved northeast through the day, and even into July 20 maintained the same intensity, despite very adverse conditions.

The storm finally began to weaken again that evening as it moved over slightly cooler waters, becoming a minimal tropical storm by July 21. Late that night, the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression while located between the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Bermuda. It also underwent significant acceleration to the northeast, reaching speeds over 20 mph. Yet despite the lack of convection, the system persisted as a tropical cyclone through most of July 22, and finally degenerated into a remnant low that afternoon. Bret's only effects were scattered storms and gusty winds in the northern Bahamas.

Bret at peak intensity just northeast of the Bahamas.

Track of Bret.