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Tropical roller coaster ride continues, and no end in sight!

Kicking, whining, and screaming for summer not to go. If you stuck your ear out your window this morning, you could almost hear it. It's a staple of every first day of school; school children not wanting to walk out to the bus stop and bid their summer adieu. It's one of our first signs that summer can't last forever, and fall is on it's way.

While in some ways, it's hard to believe the summer's almost over - the tropics are heating up right on schedule. Hurricane season peaks on September 10th in the Atlantic, and thing's are getting downright crowded in the open ocean. As we told you last week - the tropics were poised to heat up, and they certainly are. One, two, three storms are already in our sights - and we would be foolish to think that more aren't on their way. Let's get a low-down on the storms we're following right now.

We'll start with "Danielle", which has been a tricky storm to figure at times. The system has undergone several cycles of strengthening and weakening over the past 36 hours, even dropping below Hurricane criteria Tuesday afternoon as it battled some shear and dry air. Now, the storm is showing signs of strengthening again and looks as if it will stay a Hurricane as it makes it's way north and west over warm water and favorable winds.

Watching each model run over the past two days has been a bit stressful at times over the past day, with a few models hinting at a track farther to the west than originally thought. Since it's formation, the consensus for Danielle's path has been a curve to the north taking the eye to the east of Bermuda. Yesterday, a few models began to balk at that and starting taking the storm west... well west. In fact, one frequently used model (the Navy operated NOGAPS) even took Danielle straight into the East Coast as you can see below. Now just a disclaimer, this is NOT the expected forecast - and the NOGAPS itself has shifted farther east. This just gives you an idea of what us forecasters go through on a daily and hourly basis while tracking these things.

Thankfully, the models are reverting back to their original thoughts and keeping the storm out at sea, where it will likely wreak havoc on Bermuda late this weekend. This type of fluctuation in forecasts is normal, especially with a system being tracked for several days on end. That being said - I'm not willing to sound the "all clear" on this storm until we see it make it's turn northward and away from our shores. We'll keep watching it!

Now to shift our focus on the next players in the forecast. Soon-to-be Tropical Storm Earl, now Tropical Depression Seven, and the wave behind it are following right in Danielle's footsteps. As you can see from the satellite image - the still unnamed Earl is about as well defined a system you'll ever see without a Tropical Storm label on it. Believe me, the labeling of this storm is simply a formality at this point - as we're going to be talking about it as a hurricane coming across the ocean for the next week at least.

The track of this system will be similar to Danielle's, but perhaps not exactly the same. The "perhaps" is what we're concerned about at this point. The deflecting force for Danielle is a cold front moving off the East Coast and a large ridge of high pressure moving in behind it. In order for "Earl" to take a curve to the north as well, similar forcing needs to be in place. In other words, how long our ridge holds in place may determine whether or not we need to be concerned about an East Coast landfall from this system. As of right now, it's too far in advance to say - "fantasy land" as meteorologists sometimes like to affectionately call anything over a week in advance.

As if two storms weren't enough to worry about already, we're watching a wave coming off of Africa that looks every bit as impressive as Danielle and Earl when they were waves. Needless to say, we're playing a dangerous game with this many systems coming down the pike in a row. Let's hope we're good at dodging bullets!

That's all the tropical talk for now. An interesting little climate note for today. Our low in Wilmington last night was 69. It's the first time we've been in the 60's during the month of August! Expect more lows in the 60's heading into your weekend (which looks great!).

Here's hoping the first day at school goes well for children and parents alike!

- TB



By: Tim Buckley