Hurrican Shutters

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Tropical Storm Alberto’s Impact: In Name Only

Posted by cat5shuttersllc on May 21, 2012

Tropical Storm Alberto's Impact: In Name Only“What’s in a name?” At least a couple of times each hurricane season, some forecasters, including your’s truly, ask that very question.

This past Saturday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center determined correctly, that a cluster of thunderstorms near an area of low pressure off the S. Carolina Coast gained enough organization to be deemed Tropical Storm Alberto.

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Whoa boy! First named storm of the Atlantic season, near the East Coast, much less. Sounds ominous, right? Break out the “Bracing for Alberto” headlines.

According to an Associated Press story, boat operators along the beaches of southern S. Carolina and northern Georgia canceled cruises due to choppy seas and the general concern of vacationers going out with Alberto offshore. Quite understandable. I’m a “landlubber” myself.

But is Alberto living up to “the name”?

Alberto’s “Impact”

First, let’s play “Where’s Alberto.” Can you pick out its location in the satellite image at left? The flare-up of thunderstorms (orange shadings) on the right side of the image, right? Bzzzz. (Sorry…I liked game shows growing up.)

Alberto is actually the rather small area of thunderstorms just east of the Georgia coast. Checking out the interactive radar of Alberto (showing areas of rain, instead of simply clouds), I don’t blame you for asking, “That’s it?”

Not only is Alberto small, but it’s not expected to strengthen thanks to a pair of nemeses. First, Alberto sits in a reservoir of deep, dry air, depicted by the orange shadings in this water vapor satellite loop. Second, upper-level winds are forecast to increase Monday and Tuesday, providing increased wind shear which disrupts the convection near/around the center of tropical cyclones.

So, the impacts of Alberto from extreme northeast Florida to the N. Carolina Outer Banks appear to be:
• Occasional rain in bands along the coast. (MAP: Rain forecast)
• Threat of rip currents, choppy seas.
With apologies to those with beach plans…but that’s basically it. There’s one other atmospheric feature that isn’t named that may affect many more as we kick off the work week.

Who Needs a Name?
Alberto won’t have an impact on the Northeast. Instead, a plume of somewhat deeper moisture (we haven’t decided to name those yet) will be channeled north, then northwestward toward the Eastern Seaboard, well detached from Alberto.

While the deepest tropical moisture will remain over the western Atlantic Ocean, this increased moisture will bring some welcome rain (if you’re a gardener, that is…if you’re commuting, not so much) to the Northeast through at least Monday.

Fortunately, this won’t be a flooding rain, except perhaps in only a few isolated spots, where over 1″ of total rain may fall.

Add in an arriving, then stalling frontal boundary Tuesday, followed by, potentially, another sluggish upper-level trough for mid-late week, and you have the recipe for an unsettled week in the Mid-Atlantic States.

More rain over a more widespread area than our named storm. That said, Alberto may have been a subtle reminder that hurricane season is just around the corner. Are you prepared?

Is it worth naming weak tropical storms that have no chance of becoming hurricanes? Should we only name hurricanes, instead?

Will you pay less attention if a system is not named until it’s a hurricane? What about tropical storms that become major inland flood disasters (Allison in Houston 2001, Alberto in southwest Georgia 1994)? Hit me up on my twitter account and on our Facebook page with your thoughts and comments.

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Distributed by Viestly


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