Sep 30, 2011

DAY 121

Ophelia has become the 4th hurricane of the season. We already had 7 hurricanes at this point last season, but we didn't even get 4 hurricanes the whole season the year before that in 2009. Ophelia's pressure is down to 979 mb, and her maximum sustained winds are at 85 mph. A microwave image from space tonight shows a nearly complete eye-wall. Ophelia's structure is starting to look pretty decent, although she does not have a tight spiral at the moment. It's kind of wobbling a bit. That is probably due to some dry air that has been breaking down the thunderstorms on her west side. There is also a region of heavy 40 knot shear to her northeast, but she has been able to intensify despite those obstacles. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Ophelia to become a Cat 2 hurricane tomorrow night and peak out on Saturday at 105 mph sustained.

(Hurricane Ophelia Microwave Image)
The forecast is for Ophelia to continue NNW and then come about to the northeast, staying just to the east of Bermuda. The steering currents are no strong though, so a track that is a few degrees more westward is possible. Bermuda should at least prepare themselves for tropical storm conditions Saturday. A Tropical Storm Watch is active there now, and their tropical storm force wind probability is being listed a near 100% by the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Philippe has become a very disorganized and unattractive storm today. Visible satellite shows a very cluttered area around Philippe, with debris from Ophelia to his north and a tropical wave interacting with a convergence zone to his south. He has somehow being able to maintain himself in some dry conditions. There is also still some moderate wind shear effecting his growth. 

(Tropical Storm Philippe)
Philippe is closing in on Hurricane Ophelia now. He is expected to continue moving northwest for a couple of days and then actually level out and start moving due west by Sunday as high pressure rebuilds to his north. Most of the computer models bring Philippe all the way past 60W before turning him north in Ophelia's wake. I wouldn't be surprised if he drops down to depression status somewhere along that route, but the NHC is still forecasting Philippe to remain at tropical storm strength throughout that journey.

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