Aug 30, 2011

Eying TS Katia

Above is TS Katia, the 11th named storm of the 2011 season.  Though it doesn't seem like we've had that many storms we are half way through the 2011 storm names.  Currently Katia is just SW of the Cape Verde islands packing 45mph winds and moving west.  Over the past few days I've been watching Katia develop via satellite images and this is the most organized I've seen the storm yet.

Katia is expected to intensify as she moves west at around 10 knots.   

The map below shows why Katia is becoming better organized and expected to intensify over the next few days.

This is a wind shear map.  It shows areas where wind shear is and whether it is increasing or decreasing.  Wind shear very basically speaking is the result of winds at different altitudes.  For example:  at 50,000ft there is an easterly flow of wind at 50knots and at 30,000ft there is a westerly flow of air blowing at 30knots.  The resulting wind shear would be 20 knots which is a moderate level of shear.  You can see why this would be bad for tropical storm development.  The name says it all, wind shear literally will blow wind the opposite way and shave the top or middle section of a storm apart.

I put an arrow where there is decreasing wind shear next to Katia, which is why Katia has been becoming better organized.  If you look further ahead of Katia there is very little shear or decreasing shear so that is one reason why further intensification is expected.

Whether we get waves or not depends how close she gets to the US coastline and how big she gets.  Computer models are showing Katia take a NW turn way, way, way before she gets close to the US. All which can be said about wave development for our coast depends on how big Katia gets because it looks like she will stay well offshore.  This isn't a bad thing necessarily for wave development.  If Katia gets real big and stays offshore we will most likely get a real long period swell because the waves have time to build and groom themselves.

This is all speculation though.  She's very far away.



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