Dean’s Forecast Discussion (22July2017)
The western extension of a weak ridge of high pressure responsible for the relatively dry/sunny east coast weather and light to moderate E/SE fetch stretching from the Florida peninsula well out into the Atlantic Ocean will re-establish leading into the weekend, keeping the scattered afternoon thunderstorms mostly inland as a weak steering flow. The general trend of rideable 1-1.5′ (+/-0.5′) surf will hold to start the weekend as the modest E/SE swell (noted by buoy 41046 last week) skirts the Bahamas and works in along Florida’s east coast. The PATCH discussion below the 4-7 day forecast looks ahead for potential wave-generating tropical activity in the Atlantic basin, and stay tuned…
Links to NOAA’s offshore Florida east coast buoys: St. Augustine , Fernandina Beach , Canaveral near shore and Canaveral east Link to checkthewaves.com privately maintained nearshore Florida buoys: Daytona Beach , Cocoa Beach , Indiatlantic , Jensen Beach
1-3 Day Wind/Wave Forecast
SATURDAY: Wind light in the morning, then S/SE 5-15 mph in the afternoon with waves “leveling off” at 1-1.5′ (+/-0.5′ with occ 2′ sets at key spots early) in moderate to occ longer period SE/ESE swell with a dominant period of 9 seconds.
SUNDAY(23July): Wind light W/NW in the morning, becoming onshore 5-12 mph with waves 1-occ 1.5′ (+/-0.5′ with occ/inc 2′ at key spots early) in moderate to occ longer period E/SE swell with a dominant period of 9 seconds.
MONDAY: Wind light offshore in the morning, becoming NE/E 5-13 mph in the afternoon with waves a less consistent 1-occ/inc 1.5′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate to occ/inc longer period ESE swell with a dominant period of 9 seconds.
4-7 Day Wind/Wave Forecast
Please Note: This extended portion of the surf forecast will periodically be extended and continually tweaked, or even radically changed (up or down), as model analysis of potential wave-generating weather systems warrant. In other words, don’t plan your sick days more than 3 days in advance based on this portion of the forecast.
TUESDAY: Wind light SW in the morning, becoming E/SE 5-14 mph with waves down some more to occ 1′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period ESE swell.
WEDNESDAY(26July): Wind SW/S in the morning, becoming SE 5-15 mph with waves dropping down to 1/2-occ 1′ in moderate period E/SE swell.
THURSDAY: Will update later.
PATCH (Potential for Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and Hurricanes):
Florida’s summer monsoon season is fully underway with seasonally hot/humid weather setting in. Given the seasonal absence of frontal activity and early season tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin early in the season, minor upticks in E/SE swell from the wave-generating fetch associated with the western Bermuda high will be our bread and butter for rideable to fun waves in July, which is usually our smallest dog-days of summer month. The latest NHC Atlantic Tropical Weather Discussion does not highlight any systems at the moment. However, I’m watching two clusters of convection for signs of persistence. One is in our front yard over the very warm waters of the Gulf Stream just east of Florida. It is basically a trough of low pressure associated with an old frontal boundary. The other area is former Invest 96L, now a WNW moving open wave nearing Puerto Rico. These areas of convection illustrated on the tropical water vapor loop are not organized and are struggling with dry air intrusion, and no development is forecast (regardless of well above normal SST’s providng ample latent heat energy). Still, any persistent convection over the warm waters of the tropical regions (loop) bear monitoring during hurricane season. Stay tuned…
2017 Hurricane Season Outlook
NOAA’s forecast suggested an above normal season due to neutral (“La Nada”) conditions in the Pacific and generally favorable environmental parameters in the Atlantic basin. I’m thinking last season’s action with Matthew and Julia tracking along Florida’s east coast from the Cape north may continue to be the trend in 2017, possibly with more activity impacting the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. The tropical Atlantic could become more active in late August, with peak activity likely to follow climatology occurring during the first half of September. Watch the western Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico as areas to monitor for tropical cyclogenesis, and the western Atlantic for systems entering our swell window.
2016 Hurricane Season Summary
2016 was an exceptional and unusual record-setting hurricane season. This is a good link that highlights the 2016 Hurricane Season, the most active in Florida in the past decade. Here is my summary of tropical activity impacting and/or producing surf in Florida last season:
During July the Atlantic Basin was remarkably devoid of easterly waves and significant convection, with the zero tropical cyclogenesis. After a remarkably quite July, the tropical Atlantic and western Caribbean Sea remained quite through mid-August. The second half of the month was increasingly active. Major Hurricane Gaston had 120 mph winds and generated 35′ seas well out to sea in the open mid-Atlantic during the last week in August, providing the best swell of the summer (to date). Then tropical wave 99L struggled through the Caribbean, entered the Gulf and transformed into Category 1 Hermine, slamming the Big Bend of Florida with 80 mph winds to start September before becoming a non-tropical low by Labor Day, then meandered offshore from the northeast coast for several days radiating a NE groundswell.
Tropical Storm Ian tracked NW/N in the central Atlantic in mid-September, then re-curved well east of Bermuda and accelerated off to the NE. The minor ground swell from this Ian peaked along Florida’s east coast on the 16th of September. Yo-yo Julia pumped in a moderate period NE swell as she meandered off the SE US coast as a depression/storm for nearly a week in mid-September. Looking ahead for the next tropical system, impressive tropical wave Invest 95L moved off the African coast early in the work week and quickly became TD12 and then tropical storm Karl on a WNW track across the central Atlantic. The fetch associated with distant Karl contributed a moderate-size weekend ground swell before the tropical storm departed into the North Atlantic.
Major hurricane Nicole slammed Bermuda as a strong Category 3, then weakened as she slowly tracked ENE over the cooler waters of the north Atlantic, then amazingly regained tropical characteristics and hurricane status (near 40N latitude!!) and is generating 40’+ seas with an expansive fetch while slowly meandering east before racing NE as an extra-tropical gale.
Hurricane Matthew progressed westward across the central Caribbean Sea, intensifying from a tropical storm into a Category 4/5 hurricane (inside of 36 hours!), then tracked north across western Haiti and the eastern tip of Cuba, through the central/northern Bahamas, then just offshore along Florida’s east coast, pummeling beaches from the Cape northward with hurricane force clocking NE/N/NW winds.
While Category 1 Hurricane Hermine ended Florida’s record setting 10+ year absence of a hurricane landfall, Major hurricane Matthew’s near miss continued the lack of Category 3 or stronger hurricanes hitting areas along the state’s lengthy coastline, and many communities in Florida are still long over due for a Major Hurricane.
Of note, William Gray, the pioneer of long range hurricane activity prediction, died April 16, 2016 at the age of 86. Here is a link to the impact the 2016 hurricane activity had on our coast: Florida beaches face sand shortage