Posts Tagged ‘invest’



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The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is less than two weeks away.  The Florida Sea Base is as prepared as one can be for any severe weather eventuality.  Over the next several months I will frequently post information on “Invest” weather systems.  I copy or summarize a lot of those comments from Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog.  Dr. Masters is the founder of Weather Underground which was sold to the owners of The Weather Channel last year.  Weather Underground continues to be my preferred source for radar images and I rely heavily on Dr. Masters’ tropical weather information.

Tuesday Dr. Masters included this explanation is his blog:

What is an “Invest”?
When a National Hurricane Center forecaster sees a tropical disturbance that may be a threat to develop into a tropical depression, the forecaster may label the disturbance an “Invest” and give it a tracking identification number. There is no formal definition of what qualifies as an “Invest”. Declaring an “Invest” is merely done so that a set of forecasting aids like computer model track forecasts can be generated for the disturbance. The “Invest” is given a number 90-99, followed by a single letter corresponding to the ocean basin–“L” for the Atlantic, or “E” for the Eastern Pacific. Other warning agencies assign “Invests” for the other ocean basins–“W” for the Western Pacific, “A” for the Arabian Sea, etc. Detailed microwave and traditional satellite images are available for all “Invests” across the globe at the Navy Research Lab web site.

I also use images and information from the National Weather Service including the marine forecast, drought and fire forecasts, and products from the National Hurricane Center, National Buoy Data Center, and Climate Prediction Center.  There is NO better source for local weather data in the Florida Keys than Senior Marine Forecaster Chip Kasper with the NWS office in Key West.  We sincerely appreciate Chip’s dedication to keeping us informed of potentially hazardous weather conditions.

The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, WindGURU,, PassageWeather, and other sources are also frequently referenced or consulted.  Weather forecasting involves a lot or science and, in my opinion, is an art form.  While sometimes overwhelming, generally the more information you can amass the better you can plan.


The management of the Florida Sea Base takes safety very seriously.  It is not unusual for me to spend a few hours each day monitoring the weather.  We retain an MD who is a recognized leader in the field of hyperbaric medicine to review the medical forms for the scuba participants.  The scuba staff will spend DAYS during staff training practicing rescue skills.  All of our staff members and charter captains are certified in first aid and CPR and the scuba staff receives additional training in emergency oxygen administration and first aid specific to scuba diving.  I remember my dad telling me (repeatedly) 50+ years ago, “Safety First”!  The staff files incident reports on nearly every mishap so we can review them as a team to look for trends or the possibility of tweaking our procedures to make an activity safer.

Stay informed.  Stay safe.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape


Invest 95L

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It was a glorius day at the Florida Sea Base.  The last Coral Reef Sailing crew and the next to last Scuba Liveaboard crew returned to the Florida Sea base for their luau.  We have one Scuba Liveaboard crew still on the water.  All other programs have ended for the summer 2010 summer program season.  We will almost certainly complete the summer program season without a hurricane!!!

Speaking of hurricanes, the system off the west coast of Africa is becoming better organized and has been officially designated Invest 95L.  The following is from Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog:

Posted by: JeffMasters, 10:35 AM EST on August 20, 2010
A tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic about 300 miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands was designated Invest 95L by NHC this morning. Satellite loops show that the wave has some rotation, and heavy thunderstorm activity is starting to build. The wave is in a moist environment over SSTs that are at near record warmth (28°C). The main impediment to development is the moderate 10 – 20 knots of wind shear over the system. As 95L moves away from Africa, wind shear will decrease, and system will probably develop into a tropical depression by Sunday or Monday. NHC is giving 95L a 40% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday morning.

Forecast for 95L
A ridge of high pressure will force 95L to the west or west-northwest for the next five days, and the system should increase its forward speed from its current 5 – 10 mph to 15 – 20 mph by Monday. A series of two powerful troughs of low pressure are predicted to move off the U.S. East Coast next week and cross the Atlantic; these troughs should be able to pull 95L far enough to the northwest so that it will miss the Lesser Antilles Islands. The long term steering current forecast from the GFS model indicates an above-average chance of recurvature of storms approaching the U.S. East Coast through the end of August, followed by a near-average chance of recurvature for the first week of September.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave in the western Caribbean approaching Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is generating disorganized thunderstorms, and the wave does not have enough time over water to develop into a tropical depression before moving ashore tonight or Saturday.

Also from Weather Underground:
Staff are departing so quickly now that I can’t keep track.  It’s been a great summer and I hate to see everyone go.  It get’s very lonely here during the “off season”.  Much of the Florida Keys is closed during September.  Many of the family owned hotels and restaurants close for the month.  The likelyhood of SEVERE weather systems peaks in September.  I am hoping the weather will allow me to return home to Texas for the last two weeks of September.
Sales of the used scuba equipment is off to a good start.  Capt. Alex, Ellen and Christy sold over $2,000 worth today.  Go team!
Capt. Alan Robinson of S/V Sinbad is working on my air conditioner.  He will have to bypass the heat/cool valve so I will loose the heater function.  Obviously you don’t need a heater very often in the Keys.  But it is a very nice thing to have during December and January.  I will be searching the internet for a space heater for the aft cabin.
I’m off tomorrow.  I hope you have a great day.
Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  Yesterday was picture perfect for the divers and just a little too still for the sailors.  But the sailors had some EXCELLENT snorkeling opportunities.  Today should be more of the same with a very small chance of a shower.

Invest 91L is forecast to be a Tropical Depression very soon.  It should be somewhere in the Lesser Antilles by Wednesday or Thursday.  Since the Lesser Antilles cover over 550 nm that really doesn’t narrow it down much.  So we will continue to watch the system closely.  The arguments that I have seen so far are suggesting that it should stay south of us or stay northeast of us.  But again, any forecast models have to be taken with a grain of salt at this early date.  Here’s the latest from the National Hurricane Center:


This graphic is from WeatherUnderground.  Bear in mind that this is very preliminary and will likely change.

Early projection for Invest 91L

I was out of the office most of yesterday.  Poor timing.  My office flooded AGAIN (from the air conditioner drainage system) ruining an irreplaceable poster from the Texas Sesquicentennial.  And one of the scuba arrivals had a paperwork issue that I will straighten out this morning.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt, Ellen Wyatt, Capt. Alex Bergstedt, Capt. Aaron Foster and April Oster sopped up the water in my office.  THANK YOU.  When I came in yesterday evening my office looked like a bomb had exploded in it.  I suspect it will take me a couple of hours to put it back in order.

Time to go.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


Try Again

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Yesterday I grounded the dive boats at the Florida Sea Base.  Winds had increased to 25 knots and waves were in the 8′ – 9′ range on the reefs.  We spoke with one captain on the reef with another company who confirmed this data and added that visibility was very poor.  These conditions are too severe for most of our divers.  The divers spent the day sailing, kayaking, playing volleyball and hanging out at the beach.  The was only one minor grumbling (from an adult) who wasn’t too crazy about the small boat sailing.  The divemasters reported that the kids had a great day and did not complain.  Many were particularly happy about getting to sail.  It’s still going to be bumpy today but I hope to get the divers back onto the reef.

Yesterday, Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground made these comments on his weather blog:

A tropical wave (Invest 97L) near the north coast of Hispaniola has been disrupted by interaction with the island, plus the effects of moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 knots. The storm is no longer a threat to develop into a tropical depression today, and the Hurricane Hunter flight that was scheduled for today has been postponed until Thursday. The disturbance has brought heavy rains of 8+ inches to Culebra, Vieques, the Virgin Islands, and some of the northern Lesser Antilles Islands. Wunderblogger Weather456 reported that the power was knocked out on the island of St. Kitts for about 24 hours, due to the intense lightning associated with 97L. All of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are under flash flood watches today.

Satellite images of 97L show a relatively meager number of heavy thunderstorms that are not well-organized. The curved bands to the north and east of the center have disappeared, and there is no evidence of low-level spiral banding or of a surface circulation. Surface observations over the northern Dominican Republic show only light winds, with no westerly winds indicating that a surface circulation is forming. Long-range radar loops from San Juan show a much reduced amount of thunderstorm activity.

Here is the 02:00 track for Invest 97.  The system is back on track to come near the Florida Keys, but the forecasted wind speeds are 50 mph or less when it passes us.  This is less than hurricane strength and we do not anticipate any closures.  We will have to hunker down for part of Friday and then all should be well.  The sailboats will be on a dock or mooring ball.  The divers will be on land.  As soon as the system passes we will resume normal activities.

Weather Underground

Invest 98 is no threat to our area.

Weather Underground

I have a busy day today; 07:30 staff meeting, 08:00 – 09:00 continued evaluation of weather conditions and final decision regarding activities for the divers today, 09:00 – 11:30 monthly Team Meeting and at 11:30 I need to leave for Miami (I’ll be back later this afternoon).  It will be a busy day on the telephone while on the road.  Hurray for “hands free” cell phones.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

8 a.m. update - 21 July 2010

The updates continue to be good news for the Brinton Environmental Center and Florida Sea Base programs.  Te tracks keep creeping to the north.  The senior management had a meeting at 09:00.  We are making preparations for a Tropical Storm even though this may be a non-event for us.  In either case, we do not anticipate even a Cat 1 hurricane or any forced evacuations by Monroe County.  The local forecast still calls for winds from the east, shifting to northeast, back to east and finally to southeast with wind speeds 15 – 20 knots through Sunday (well after Invest 97 has passed).  We see all of this as encouraging.

The National Hurricane Center will issue it’s next update at 14:00 EDT.  I will try to sneak in another update this afternoon if warranted.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The weather is benign at the Florida Sea Base but a tropical depression formed yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico almost due south of Apalachicola, Florida and was designated Invest 95.  The system is moving west and will have some impact on the Deepwater Horizon site and will likely push oil further towards Texas and definitely deeper into the Louisiana marsh lands and bayous.

Invest 95 at 02:00 Saturday

I am off today.  This is my last scheduled day off for two weeks.  We have two of the dive boat captains off next week so Capt. Rich and I will have to cover their shifts.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt will probably loose his day off (Sunday) as well.  It’s the nature of the beast this time of year.  There are other assignments that need our attention, but program comes first and Capt. Rich and I have no intent of disappointing our customers.  We work well together and understand that we are both going to do whatever has to be done to make “the magic” work.  We won’t get overtime.  We won’t get a raise.  We won’t get a bonus.  But our customers will get what they paid for.  And if all goes well, “the magic” will appear to happen effortlessly.  There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that happen beneath the magic.  It wouldn’t happen without Capt. Richard T. Beliveau.  I’ve told you before that he is a Saint.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do today.  The 4th of July holiday traffic is usually horrendous so I probably won’t go far.  I’m thinking about going to a movie but I’m not too enthused about going alone.  There’s plenty of work to do on the boat (always) so I may just pick a chore or two and work on those.

Just a quick blurb this morning.  If you are not a close watcher of tropical weather (it seems to be a huge part of my life for about 6 months out of each year) you may not be aware that before storms become hurricanes, tropical storms or even tropical depressions, they are sometimes designated as “Invest” followed by a 2 digit number which is reused and usually in the 90s in our part of the world.  So Invest 98 is a weather system sitting out in the Atlantic right now.  I have attached a diagram from Weather Underground with various computer models on the storms forecasted track on it.  You will see that the system poses no threat to the Florida Keys for the foreseeable future.  But now you know what an “Invest” is and our staff members and participants can be assured that we do our absolute best and use several US and international resources to stay as well informed about our pending weather as possible.

Invest 98 is currently NOT a threat to the Florida Keys.

Invest 98 is currently NOT a threat to the Florida Keys.