Sunday, May 27, 2012

TS Beryl Update - Near Hurricane Strength

It appears that the improvement in overall structure paid off for Beryl as her top winds are estimated at 70 mph.  The potential for a damaging hit is greatly increased.  If Beryl were to reach hurricane strength she would be only the second hurricane to directly hit Jacksonville since 1871.

Storms like Beryl are interesting to me because even though the storm has tropical structure it is also being fueled by baroclinic features.  In the below water vapor image, I outlined a subtropical jet stream that is feeding the storm from the SW and strong northerly flow that is contributing to the "spin" on the west side of the system.

TS Beryl is a hybrid that is powered by oceanic heat and
baroclinic processes.  She is close to hurricane strength.
Source: Univ of Wisconsin SSEC.

In my experience, storms like Beryl can either have wide ranging impact and maintain strength for a long time or quickly break down as soon as the baroclinic assistance falters.  A baroclinic-tropical system is also called a hybrid storm.   Last summer's destructive Hurricane Irene was an incredible example of a hybrid system.   Despite alleged top winds of 85 mph (Damage near Oriental, NC suggests otherwise), the storm had a central pressure of 952 mb (Cat 4 would be under 950), and a massive storm surge that flooded areas that would have only expected high water in major hurricanes.  The storm also sent 70 mph winds and heavy damage along a belt far from center along I-95 through VA into MD.  Irene caused billions in flood and wind damage as she treked north through the NE US and well into Canada.

The question is: Will Beryl be The Lady or the Tiger?.

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