Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hurricane Philippe (2011)

Storm Active: September 24-October 8

A well-defined low pressure area formed west of the African nation of Guinea on September 23. The low deepened rapidly later that day, already having developed large rain bands spread out evenly around the circulation. Convection decreased that night, but became very concentrated near the center, and the system became closed early the next morning. It was then declared Tropical Depression Seventeen. Slow organization followed later in the day as Seventeen moved west-northwest, and the system soon intensified into Tropical Storm Philippe.

A weakness in the ridge to Philippe's north allowed it to turn northwestward and decelerate into the day of September 25, when it reached an intensity of 60 mph winds and a pressure of 997 mb. The tropical storm maintained this strength into September 26, by which time it began to encounter higher wind shear and cooler waters. A gradual weakening ensued, as the circulation became exposed on September 27. That afternoon, Philippe's forward motion slowed to 5 mph and its shallow circulation was steered back to the west-northwest with a restrengthening of the subtropical ridge to its north.

That night, despite the fact that Philippe was a minimal tropical storm with little convection near the center, the outflow remained fairly robust, and thunderstorm activity reappeared just north of the center on September 28. The cyclone even strengthened a little that day. On September 29, the center reformed to the north of its previous position, and once again was completely enveloped in the convection associated with Philippe. The exact center position of Philippe remained difficult to identify overnight, but the circulation became more well-defined on September 30, and the cyclone strengthened further.

As the storm moved farther to the northwest, it encountered very strong shear associated with the outflow of Ophelia, but the tropical storm once again demonstrated resilience to strong upper-level winds, and maintained its intensity, deep convection even increasing near the center of circulation overnight. An analysis of the windfield of Philippe revealed it to be stronger than expected, with winds of 65 mph. Late that night, more intensification occurred, bringing Philippe to the verge of hurricane strength early on October 2.

However, the unfavorable conditions near the cyclone finally began to take their toll that morning, exposing the center and weakening the system. As before, however, Philippe recovered its convection, as Ophelia moved north, and conditions became less hostile. The next day, winds were found to be stronger than previously estimated, and the cyclone was a strong tropical storm yet again. Meanwhile, the center reformed farther to the south than before, and Philippe moved west-southwestward during the day of October 3.

After navigating around the periphery of the ridge steering it, the tropical storm began to turn north on October 4. Recurvature occurred quickly during the following days, and shear gradually decreased. On October 5, the center remained displaced from the deepest convection, but, on October 6, strengthening finally began, bringing Philippe to hurricane strength after over 12 days as a tropical cyclone. An eye feature formed later that evening, particularly visible on infrared imagery, and the hurricane reached its peak intensity of 90 mph winds and a pressure of 976 mb that evening.

Upper-atmospheric conditions rapidly deteriorated on October 7, causing weakening as the cyclone accelerated to the east-northeast. The center quickly became exposed that afternoon, and Philippe's brief period as a hurricane was over. A front encouraged extratropical transition on October 8, and absorbtion completed in that afternoon. Philippe was the longest lived tropical cyclone in the Atlantic since Bertha of 2008, lasting over two weeks. Despite this, it affected no land.



Hurricane Philippe over the open Atlantic.



Track of Philippe.

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