Watching Hurricane Ophelia (Advisory #29)


Tropical Storm Ophelia is upgraded to a hurricane after developing a ragged eye feature, in a favorable upper atmosphere.

Tropical Storm Ophelia degenerated into a remnant trough of low pressure earlier this week and its future seemed highly uncertain. However, it recently redeveloped and quickly got her act together and became a hurricane. It is headed in a direction that could take the center of the storm fairly close to Bermuda – close enough to warrant tropical storm watches for Bermuda.

Saturday night and Sunday morning is the timeframe for the worst of the storm, and depending on the set up, this storm could be worse than Maria from earlier this month. There are two main scenarios with this track;

1. Ophelia partially merges with the trough that steers her northwards towards Bermuda and forms an isobaric zone in which there is very little pressure change and therefore a small pressure gradient. This means that there isn’t enough barometric forcing in the area to generate strong winds and there could be very little wind if any to note. However, because both the Hurricane and the trough are low pressure systems; rain and thunderstorms are likely in either scenario.

2. Ophelia doesn’t merge at all with the trough, and in fact, a transient high pressure builds in quickly behind the trough allowing for a strong pressure gradient and a storm with dual cores of strong winds; a right hand one (as is typical for a tropical cyclone), and a left hand one.

Any combination of these scenarios is possible, while they could both not occur. Hopefully, with a chance for rain no matter what, we can get some decent rainfall accumulations to break the year’s drought. we have about 28.5″ of rain so far this year, while an average year has over 40″ by now.

Currently, the Bermuda Weather Service has the forecast at 25-30mph winds with higher gusts, this is likely to change as the day approaches, and as more information is known about Ophelia. She is expected to remain a category one, but strengthening to a category 2 isn’t out of the question before reaching Bermuda.

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