All Weather News

Why Did Karen Fizzle?

6 Oct 2013, 11:36 am

It seems like Tropical Storm Karen never really stood a chance of developing into a powerful hurricane — and no one is complaining! But why was the storm so lack-luster?

There are numerous factors that affect the development of tropical systems, and a few were key in Karen’s demise. The main culprit here was wind shear. More on that from USA Today here.

It was already clear that the storm itself was having some trouble getting organized. The center of circulation was well to the west of the main cluster of thunderstorm activity, which is inefficient for storm development.

The clouds and showers were pushed aside by the upper-level winds, which also provided the shear that eventually weakened the overall storm circulation. Without that westerly flow, Karen could have gotten her act together and provided a substantial threat to the Gulf Coast of the U.S.

As the winds pushed the clouds and showers away from the center of the storm, dry air also was able to filter in, which essentially cuts off the fuel supply for a tropical system.

The sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were warm enough to aid in thunderstorm development, however. This allows more moisture to get into the air and therefore a bigger rain threat.

We’re still watching for soaking rains in the coastal areas, from Louisiana to Florida. The storm is still weakening, but it could still squeeze out a few inches before getting absorbed by an upper-level trough that is digging in from the north.

The Gulf of Mexico is typically conducive to storm development in the month of October, but storms are also likely to form in the Caribbean and move northward along the Atlantic coast. The month isn’t over yet, and we’ll continue to keep our eyes on the tropics through the rest of the season.

Keep it tuned to WeatherNation for more updates! And have a great end to your weekend! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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