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 , 2:05 PM GMT on June 18, 2010
Invest 92L, which yesterday became severely disrupted by wind shear and dry air, is generating a large area of rain showers over the northern Lesser Antilles Islands today. Infrared satellite loops show that the tops of the thunderstorms associated with 92L have warmed in recent hours, and these thunderstorms are weak and disorganized. Water vapor satellite loops show that there is a large amount of dry air in the storm's environment, and this dry air is getting sucked into 92L's thunderstorms, where the dry air is sinking to the surface and creating surface "arc clouds"--arc-shaped clouds that spread out away from 92L's thunderstorms. With wind shear at 20 - 30 knots today, no signs of a surface circulation, and plenty of dry air around, 92L is not a threat to develop into a tropical depression today or Saturday. The National Hurricane Center is giving 92L a low (20% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday morning. I put the chances at 1%. You can track the progress of 92L today by looking at our wundermap for the region, with weather stations turned on. Antigua recorded sustaiined winds of 20 mph this morning from 92L.
A slight chance 92L could develop next week
Today and Saturday, 92L will encounter 20 - 40 knots of wind shear as it plows though a region of strong upper-level winds associated with the subtropical jet stream. The disturbance will also encounter the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola. These factors should significantly disrupt the disturbance. If there's anything left of 92L by Sunday, when it will be over eastern Cuba, the storm may have the opportunity to develop. At that time, 92L will have passed through the core of the subtropical jet stream and entered a region of lower shear (15 - 20 knots.) For the latest round of 00Z and 06Z model runs, the HWRF is the only reliable model calling for 92L to develop; that model predicts that 92L will organize into a tropical depression on Wednesday over the Lower Florida Keys, and head into the Gulf of Mexico. The obstacles that 92L must overcome to do this are great, and I give 92L just a 10% chance of eventually developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday next week.
Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 92L. Dry air is getting sucked into 92L's thunderstorms, where the more dense dry air creates downdrafts. When these downdrafts hit the surface, the air spreads out creating surface "arc clouds"--arc-shaped clouds that spread out away from 92L's thunderstorms. This puts stable air into the storm's low level environment and blocks inflow of moist air into the core of the storm, weakening it. These arc clouds are a telltale sign that dry air is significantly disrupting the disturbance.
Elsewhere in the tropics
The NOGAPS model is calling for a tropical disturbance to form off the coast of Nicaragua on Monday and push ashore over that country on Tuesday, bringing heavy rains.
Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
Light and variable winds less than 10 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico for the next five days, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The winds will tend to have a westerly component through Saturday, which will maintain a threat of oil hitting beaches as far east as Panama City, Florida, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. Ocean current forecasts for early next week show a weakening of the eastward-flowing currents along the Florida Panhandle, which would limit the eastward movement of oil so that it would not move past Panama City. The long range 8 - 16 day forecast from the GFS model indicates a typical summertime light wind regime, with winds mostly blowing out of the south or southeast. This wind regime will likely keep oil close to the coastal areas that have already seen oil impacts over the past two weeks.
Resources for the BP oil disaster
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's new interactive mapping tool allows one to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami
I'll have an update on Saturday.
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