Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:55 PM GMT on September 07, 2009
A tropical wave (96L) that emerged off the coast of Africa yesterday has organized rather quickly, and will likely become a tropical depression by Tuesday night. Satellite imagery from the European satellite shows a well-organized circulation, but not enough heavy thunderstorm activity near the center of circulation to be considered a tropical depression. The storm is far enough south that the dry air of the Saharan Air Layer is not a major impediment to development. Wind shear is moderate, 10 - 15 knots, and ocean temperatures are 1 - 2°C above the threshold needed for tropical cyclone formation.
Figure 1. Morning satellite image of 96L, off the coast of Africa. The remains of disturbance 95L, which are under 30 - 40 knots of wind shear, can be seen at upper left.
The forecast for 96L
Most of the models develop 96L, and the chances are that this disturbance will become Tropical Storm Fred later this week. The system will initially move west-northwest, but by Thursday, a strong trough of low pressure passing to 96L's north will pull the storm to the northwest, and may be capable of fully recurving the storm to the northeast. However, most of the models foresee that 96L will not move far enough north for this to happen, and that the storm will have to wait for the next trough of low pressure. With the steering pattern for this year continuing to feature plenty of deep troughs of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast, the odds of 96L making it all the way across the Atlantic to threaten land areas appear low. Still, much that is unexpected can and does happen in the world of tropical meteorology, and 96L bears watching.
North Carolina low
An area of concentrated thunderstorms has developed off the North Carolina coast in association with the remains of an old cold front. This system is under about 20 - 30 knots of shear, and is not tropical. However, it will bring heavy rain to eastern North Carolina today and Tuesday, as the storm slides north-northeastward along the coast.
I'll have an update Tuesday.
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