Monday, August 20, 2012

Gordon Swipes Azores

Hurricane Gordon passed over the eastern islands of the Azores early this morning as a low end Category 1 according to the National Hurricane Center. Gordon crossed Santa Maria Island around 1:30 AM this morning Philly time and has continued on an east-northeast jaunt since then through the eastern parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

While Gordon is not as strong as it was earlier in its life cycle, the storm was still sporting 75 mph max winds as of 5 AM.  However, wind shear from a upper trough to its north and also its west will weaken the storm markedly over the next couple of days as it tries to push towards Europe.

Gordon, west of Spain and Portugal, in relation to Europe via satellite imagery.
Gordon will likely become either non-tropical by tomorrow or be very close to it.  Satellite imagery (above) shows a sheared system that looks less tropical and shows a bit of a frontal feature attached to it to the south of the storm.  It was still able to produce wind gusts to 56 mph earlier this morning in Ponta Delgada and 52 mph at Santa Maria as the storm moved through.

The Azores do occasionally get swiped with tropical systems. One such storm was also named Gordon in a case of deja vu (all over again), six years ago. Another system was Tropical Storm Grace in 2009. They also do get grazed by remnant lows of several "recurve" systems that veer north and then northeast and east in the Central Atlantic.

Gordon is the season's strongest storm to date, with max winds of 110 mph on Saturday night at its peak before it began a weakening trend due to cooler ocean temperatures and wind shear in the upper atmosphere.