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Tropics Heating Up: Danielle joins the party!

We've been telling you for days now about the more active pattern shaping up in the Atlantic -- now we finally have something to show for it. Danielle was born quite literally in the middle of the Atlantic Sunday evening.

While Danielle may not be the first storm of the season, it appears likely she will be the strongest so far. The official National Hurricane Center forecast strengthens Danielle into a category two, but certain computer models are suggesting that she could become even stronger than that on her trek across the ocean.

One of the models used most frequently by hurricane forecasters, the GFDL, intensifies the storm to category three strength by the upcoming weekend. This forecast panel shows the storm with max winds of around 98kts - or 114 mph - as it nears the island of Bermuda.

 It should be noted that other models, such as the HWRF and others, max out Danielle's winds just shy of 85 kts, or around 100 mph. Either way you look at it, the storm will be passing over areas of exceptionally warm water and relatively favorable upper level winds. All these sings point to the storm intensifying over the next several days as it makes it's way north and west.

But where exactly is Danielle going to go? And who should worry about it? Well - that's still up in the air to an extent. Right now, the main steering force with the system is a large area of high pressure in the central Atlantic known as the "Subtropical Ridge." This guides and deflects storms around it's perimeter shaping their path.

Right now, it looks as if a weakness in the ridge will develop just to the east of Bermuda. The storm will treat this weakness as a "gateway" of sorts and will allow it to guide it to the north. This is what we typically refer to a "the curve".

"The curve" is very important to us here on the coast, because without "the curve" a storm like this one would head right toward us. As of right now, we don't anticipate the storm to come toward the East Coast - although we never say never, and there is still a lot of time ahead. Fingers crossed!

Here's a plot of seven different computer models used to forecast tropical cyclones and where they are taking Danielle through the weekend.

As you can see, all of them maintain a west-northwesterly track, curving the storm to the east of Bermuda. That's good news for us here on the coast - especially the amount of consensus shown by the models.

 One thing we will have to watch closely is the large amount of wave activity behind Danielle. One area of convection just off the African coast is already showing some beginning signs of organization and may become a depression in the coming days. We expect many more of these areas to follow - typical of this high activity pattern.

In other words, buckle your seat-belts - the Hurricane Season of 2010 is just beginning!

That's all for now. Hope you don't have a "case of the Mondays".




By: Tim Buckley