Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tropical Storm Alberto Forms Off Southeast Coast

The first tropical storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season has formed. The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories of Tropical Storm Alberto just before 5 PM. Sustained winds are estimated to be around 45 MPH, with higher gusts.

A slow southwestward motion is expected through a portion of Sunday. A turn toward the west-northwest, followed by an additional turn to the north-northeast is expected after that. There is a fairly large cone of uncertainty issued by the National Hurricane Center, reflecting the model uncertainty with when and where these turns will exactly happen. Remember; don’t exactly focus on the center of the cone. The eventual storm track could end up being to the far left, far right, or any point in between.

With some land interaction possible around the Carolinas and the system likely interacting with cooler ocean water temperatures when it moves northward, the system will likely become post-tropical. But that is not an absolute certainty at this moment. The National Hurricane Center has most of New Jersey and Delaware in a 5 percent to less than 10 percent risk for tropical storm force winds. Higher percentages are down towards the Carolinas at the moment.

This tropical storm has formed twelve days before the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. This system has been producing winds around typical tropical depression strength for a while today, but it didn’t have all the needed characteristics to be classified as a tropical cyclone. As it continued to develop all the characteristics fairly rapidly this afternoon, the winds became even stronger…pushing the system to a tropical storm status when the first advisory was issued.