Chantal and a bit of "C" storm history
Posted July 9, 2013
We've been following the third named storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season for a couple of days now, and it appears Chantal will make an initial landfall in the Antilles later today before heading northwest for an encounter with Hispaniola Wednesday afternoon and evening.
While it remains too soon to know if Chantal will have any direct effects on North Carolina, I thought we'd take a quick look at the current projection for the storm and also how it compares to last year's "C" storm, and the last "Chantal" from back in 2007.
The last time we had a storm named Chantal was in 2007, and as the first image above shows, that storm formed from an old front that had decayed into trough and lingered out in the Atlantic near Bermuda. Chantal that year eventually became a tropical storm with highest winds around 70 mph. It formed on July 31st over 400 miles east of Cape Hatteras at a fairly high latitude around 35 degrees north, and never encountered any land before merging with another low and moving off into the far north Atlantic.
This year's Chantal began its existence as a tropical wave, much farther south than the others, at a latitude near 10 degrees north, and became a named storm on July 7th. Of course, we don't know the extent of its eventual impacts on the islands it will cross or perhaps on the southeastern U.S. yet, but Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with watches extending farther north and west, and there appears little chance this storm will have such minimal effects as the other two covered here.
Last year's third named storm was Chris, covered in the third image above. Chris was also a high latitude system that formed on June 18th far off the northeast coast of the U.S. at around 40 degrees north, developing from a low pressure center along a cold front. It managed to intensify to Hurricane strength with a maximum wind of 85 mph, and followed a hooking path that left it out at sea for its entire life as a tropical cyclone, again having no impact on any land areas.
The last image above shows the National Hurricane Center forecast positions and the fan outlining the most likely envelope of path positions, with the final tropical storm symbol indicating the projected location of the center at 2 AM on Sunday morning July 14th, roughly 400 miles south of Wilmington and just under 200 miles east of Cape Canaveral. There area also some dashed lines on the map indicating some of the variety in computer model tracks. Those are fairly consistent overall, though there are some notable areas of disagreement (the European model, for example, pretty well weakens the system to an unrecognizable remnant by Friday or so, while the American GFS model maintains a clearly organized system, but hooks left across central Florida late Sunday and Monday). So far, it appears the main impacts of the storm may be more in the form of heavy rain and associated flooding than with especially high winds, but as with any projection of tropical cyclone behavior well out into the future, that's subject to change.