Hurricane Chris, Caribbean disturbance soon to be 96L - 6/21/12
Good morning and welcome to my tropical weather update for Thursday, June 21st, 2012. The tropics are fairly active today, with newly upgraded Hurricane Chris (yes, Hurricane Chris) and the Caribbean disturbance that we've been talking about.
(figure 1. Current satellite view of the Atlantic)
Hurricane Chris, the curse is broken
First of all I wanted to talk about Hurricane Chris and the truly remarkable feet it has done. Chris is now a Category 1 hurricane and might in fact be stronger than estimated judging at satellite. This is the farthest north June hurricanes in history and is to my knowledge one of the few if not only Hurricanes to develop in June that is NOT in the Main Development Region (MDR) where usually it is necessary for such to happen. Chris is very impressive on satellite given it's location and time of year. Chris probably doesn't have much longer left in it's life, so by tomorrow it should already begin to weaken. However, it looks like the curse of Chris has been broken, as this Chris outperformed everyone's expectations including my own.
(figure 2. Hurricane Chris, the first Hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season)
New Caribbean Disturbance a threat to develop.
The next area of interest is the blob in the Caribbean that is being tagged as a 30% chance for development in the next 48 hours. The last 24hrs now that we've gotten closer to development the models have really become aggressive on the strength of this system, but if you could believe it they are still completely diverged on where it will go. The GFS is still continuing to be completely unrealistic with the trough and it actually merging the system with a front in the Gulf, and I will discount this from the solution as the trough would have to be of strength that it would be in mid-winter for something like that to happen.
The European models and the Canadian models are frightening this morning. The European has decided to spin up the Caribbean disturbance into a Category 2 hurricane as it moves into the west coast of Florida. The Canadian model sends it into North Texas/Louisiana as a 976mb Category 2 hurricane. Please remember, and I will be insisting on this the next few days, do not focus on model intensity, for all we know they could very well go back to being a Tropical Storm during their respective 12z runs. The reason they are making this so strong is because they have the system stalled out in the Gulf as it tries to make up it's mind about whether Chris will get stuck under the ridge and be forced back into Texas, or move into the less amplified trough than the GFS is predicting and send it into Florida. That stall causes the system to be stuck over the loop current in the Gulf and bombs it out.
(figure 3. 12z European model 168hrs out)
In summary, the models are completely split on where and how strong this system will get. I do believe though that we will probably get at least a minimal tropical storm out of this system, but a hurricane is far less likely given how rare it is now to have just one but two hurricanes, but don't count it out if the system ends up following the ECMWF, GFS, and CMC track. All interests from Texas to Florida should watch this system.