Sep 26, 2011

DAY 118

The National Hurricane Center had no choice but to kill off Ophelia. But that brings us to an interesting, Roe Vs Wade type of a conversation. When does the life of a tropical system begin and when does it end? Well the most important part of the classification of a tropical system is probably the closed surface circulation. A tropical cyclone does not get a name until it has that. Ophelia's surface low was last seen in the vicinity of Barbuda last and night headed west, and is presumed lost at sea. So with no surface low, Ophelia is dead right? Well, not exactly. The mid-level remnants of Ophelia is still spinning around out there near the Antilles Islands. And if a new surface circulation closes off, then the Hurricane Center will bring Ophelia back. So if you believe that Ophelia is dead, then prepare yourself to see a resurrection. But if you believe that Ophelia's heart is still ticking somewhere in that spinning mass, than prepare yourself for the true end, which is when there is no more kink in the isobars causing a tropical disturbance.

(Remnants of Ophelia)
I would say that Ophelia was offended by her declassification, because she has responded by creating a better structure than we have ever seen out of her. You can see a nice circular nature to her cloud mass, and the broad circulation does now include the convection. There are low level arc clouds in every direction except to the west. The area is becoming a bit more moist though so dry air might be less of an issue for her as she begins her comeback. The wind shear has obviously relaxed because the thunderstorm tops are not being blown away as quick as before. As the sunlight faded tonight, Ex-Ophelia was producing some very high and very cold thunderstorms. That is the key to getting that surface pressure to drop and continue strengthening.

(Remnants of Ophelia)
As of 8pm eastern, the NHC was giving Ophelia's remnants a 60% chance of regeneration. With the wind shear tendency dropping in that area, and dry air becoming less of a problem, Ophelia does stand a good chance of coming back. Her visible presentation looks good right now, it will just be a matter of finding that surface circulation. That determination will likely have to wait for a recon flight which is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The remnants of Ophelia are slowly approaching the Leeward Islands, and will likely continue moving west for right now, as the strong high pressure over Bermuda is showing no signs of breaking down.

(Remnants of Ophelia)

Tropical Storm Philippe wasn't able to gain any strength through out the day today. Dry air and a little wind shear from the north kept him at bay. A little bit of his surface flow was exposed on the north side. But Philippe was able to keep some strong convection going to at least maintain his standing as a 60 mph tropical storm with a pressure holding at 997 mb.

The forecast for Philippe has not changed much, besides the Hurricane Center reducing his probability of becoming a hurricane. They now say that he has a 21% chance of reaching hurricane strength by Tuesday at 2PM. That is his timetable. Philippe has about another 24 hours in a favorable environment, so if he is going to become the seasons 4th hurricane, he needs to do his thing now. NHC is forecasting that he will strengthen a bit more and top out at 65 mph sustained. So it will be close. We'll see what Philippe has got.

This area in the south central Caribbean is only worth a quick mention for right now. It has recently become more active than it's been for months. That is not only the area to watch normally as October approaches, but it is an area that long range global models are hinting at for development sometime next week as upward motion returns to the Caribbean for the season finale. Even though the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico is forecast to remain a hostile environment, we could see a weak hurricane in there pretty soon. Probably not before September ends though, so we will likely close out the month with Philippe. In the record breaking '05 season, we closed out September on Hurricane Rita, just one letter ahead of where we are now. Stan through Zeta occurred after October 1st.

(Active Area in the south central Caribbean)

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