The calendar says May, but as we get closer to June and the official start of hurricane season in the Atlantic basin, some might think of tropical cyclones.
There are no real hints of tropical mischief at the moment. However, now, before any storms actually form, is a good time to make sure you’re prepared if your location is vulnerable.
Also, if you enjoy tracking storms, this is also a good time to put your “toolbox” in order. This letter is for you! Today we’re going to take a look at lesser-known tools available on both weather.us and weathermodels.com that can help you track or predict storms for the upcoming season.
Weather pattern link (available in Model Lab)
Hurricanes need warm water to form and grow. In general, they need water at a temperature of 80 degrees or more. Want to know where that 80-degree line is? We have a map for that! The Weather Modeling map, available in the modeling lab, can show water temperature forecasts for the entire globe at once or zoomed in on a watershed of your choice. Choose from parameters like 3-Day Average, 7-Day Average, Snapshot, or Abnormal temperature.
If you’re looking for real-time water temperatures that are updated regularly, check out weather.us observations. These stations are updated hourly so you can have an accurate view of your water’s thermal profile. Most stations are closer to land, however, there are also some “deep water” stations.
Hurricanes need little or no wind shear for them to organize and strengthen. Large ruptures can tilt the storm’s structure, destroying its circulation. Are downstream conditions favorable for intensive farming? Check out the Deep Layer Shear map! They are available from ECMWF through both weather.us and weather modeling and GFS (free to use!) through weather modeling.
Dry air in the atmosphere can be a hurricane killer. Hurricanes require a humid environment not only to move but also to continue to strengthen. Identifying pockets of dry air downstream can help predict whether a storm will persist, weaken, or strengthen. We have real-time steam satellite imagery available at weather.us. You can use the free zoom settings to select any area of the world for analysis.
Real-time steam imaging is useful in certain situations, but forecasting (simulation) steam can help gauge what a storm might face in a day or two upstream. Both Weather.us and Weathermodels simulate WV images through ECMWF.
Everyone wants to know where a storm is predicted to go. With Storm Path maps you can see a spaghetti diagram of possible paths. Weather.us maps are based on the ECMWF aggregation while maps from weather models (available under “Special charts”) include maps from various models such as GEFS, EPS, UKMET and KMA.
You’ve probably noticed an area of low pressure that has a chance to develop over the next few days. If you’re curious about the possibility of it getting organized, switch to weather.us’ Probability tab via ECMWF. You will find maps showing exploration. of a tropical depression within 48 hours, prob. tropical storm within 48 hours, and exploration. of a tropical cyclone within 48 hours.
- The forecast position of the low
Aggregation can be useful when there is a degree of uncertainty. Tighter clustering indicates more certainty while distributed membership equates to great uncertainty. Maps like the Ensemble Mean MSLP available on Weathermodels.com through EPS and GEFS can be useful when you’re trying to determine the future location of that low tropics.
We all know satellite imagery is very useful when it comes to observing and forecasting storms. Weather.us has satellite imagery for every corner of the world with many improvements available. We talked about steam images earlier so now let’s cover Cloud Tops and Satellite HD. Cloud tops are useful for identifying a strengthening storm. Colder cloud tops indicate the presence of convection and thus a storm trying to strengthen. As for the HD Satellite, it can be used not only to see the extent of the storm, but also to see if the upper and lower circulations are vertically stacked, indicating a lack of magnitude. breaks and a storm is poised to intensify.
Both weather.us and weather model have maps for forecast wind speeds available through ECMWF, GFS, ICON and GEM. However, weather modeling also has maps from HWRF and HMON available in the modeling lab. These two models are specific to tropical cyclones and many other parameters are also available (SST, PWAT, etc.).
When that storm forms, you’ll need to know which direction the wind is blowing in order to predict its path. The GFS Directing Wind map can be found in the Weathermodels.com Modeling Lab. Choose from a variety of elevations (200-700 hPa, 500-850 hPa, etc.) to get an accurate view of the forecast flow affecting your storm.
The maps I’ve highlighted above are just a few of the many tools available at weather.us and weathermodels.com. I highly recommend exploring both pages to see what you can find that might be helpful to you. Weathermodels is a paid subscription service BUT GFS maps are free to use without registration. So at least check those out if you’re not a subscriber. If you find any maps that you have questions about, please drop us a line. We’ll do our best to answer any questions you can think of!
About the author
Meteorologist – ’22 Mississippi State Writer for Weather.us and Weathermodels.com. Focus on weather communication. BoyMom x1, CatMom x5. Twitter: @MegGulledgeWX