Monday, July 22, 2019

Tropical Depression Three (2019)

Storm Active: July 22-23

Around July 12, a tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa. It was among the first of the season to be seriously monitored for cyclone development, but it traversed the Atlantic basin for the following week without incident. A portion of the wave axis took a northern route, passing north of the Caribbean islands and approaching the Bahamas by July 21. Stable dry air in the region made progress difficult for the disturbance, but it managed to spin up a small area of convection driven by very warm ocean waters. This led to a tiny circulation and the system strengthened into Tropical Depression Three on July 22 over the western Bahamas.

Soon after, the depression began to feel the influence of an approaching cold front and turned northward on July 23. The center passed just offshore of east Florida, but its small size meant that only a few showers and occasional gusty winds impacted land. By the late morning, the system had already lost its identity and dissipated as it combined with the front.

Even though the tropical depression formed over very warm water, it succumbed quickly to dry mid-level air.

Tropical Depression Three was a small and short-lived system with minimal land impacts.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hurricane Barry (2019)

Storm Active: July 11-14

During the second week of July, a trough of over the southeast United States drifted slowly south-southeastward, producing some scattered afternoon thunderstorms as it went. A few days later, on July 9, this anomalous motion brought it into the extreme northeastern Gulf of Mexico, where more consistent convection began to flare up. Weak steering currents allowed the system to meander west-southwestward and it gradually organized, developing a broad circulation. By July 10, a clear low-level center had formed, but it was displaced well to the northeast of the mid-level circulation. Moreover, the strongest thunderstorms were actually located over southeast Louisiana, where significant flooding occurred before the tropical disturbance had even been classified.

Finally, on July 11, improvements in organization prompted the naming of Tropical Storm Barry, located now nearly due south of the Mississippi delta. Even after naming, however, dry continental air pushing in from the other restricted cloud cover to the southern portion of the tropical storm, and several small low-level vortices were evident on satellite imagery. This disorganized hampered Barry's intensification. Nevertheless, the pressure fell appreciably over the next day and aircraft reconnaissance indicated that the system's maximum winds steadily increased to strong tropical storm strength by July 12.

Meanwhile, Barry took a turn north of west around the edge of the mid-level steering ridge and began to move toward Louisiana. Even by the afternoon of July 12, however, the northern semicircle remained very dry, so few effects were felt over land even with the system less than 100 miles offshore. Despite its unconventional structure, Barry steadily strengthened through landfall. It peaked as a category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds and a pressure of 993 mb on July 13 as it crossed the central Louisiana coastline around noon local time. The slow movement of the system resulted in only a gradual weakening trend and prolonged heavy rainfall, especially just east of the landfall point. Nevertheless, Barry weakened to a tropical storm shortly after landfall and a tropical depression on July 14 as the center of circulation pushed further inland. Upper level winds out of the north kept most of the precipitation over water even as the center moved away, sparing inland areas from more severe flooding. Soon after, the storm became extratropical over the midwest.

The above image shows Hurricane Barry near landfall, with most of the northern half of the circulation exposed.

Barry originated from a non-tropical disturbance over the southeast U.S.