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 , 3:17 PM GMT on September 05, 2010
For the first time since August 22, when Danielle became a tropical storm, there are no named storms active in the Atlantic. An extratropical storm absorbed Tropical Storm Earl last night, bringing an end to the 11-day life of the 2010 season's longest-lived storm. While Earl was mostly a non-event for North Carolina and New England, the storm gave Nova Scotia a solid pounding, reminding us of what could have easily happened to New England had the forecast track deviated slightly to the left. Kudos go to the computer models and NHC, who successfully predicted the path of Earl very accurately four days in advance. As we approach the climatological peak of Atlantic hurricane season, which occurs on September 10, there are no indications that today's break in the action represents a beginning of an extended quiet period in the Atlantic. Indeed, we have two systems that could become tropical depressions in the next day, and we also have model predictions of another storm to come late in the week.
Figure 1. Morning satellite image of the remains of Gaston, approaching the Lesser Antilles Islands.
Gaston near tropical depression status again
The remains of Tropical Storm Gaston, located about 700 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands and moving west at about 13 mph, are close to reaching tropical depression status again. Recent satellite imagery shows that Gaston's remains have developed a well-organized surface circulation, but not enough heavy thunderstorm activity to be considered a tropical depression. A large amount of dry air surrounds Gaston's remains on all sides, as seen on water vapor satellite loops. This dry air will continue to be a major impediment to development. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts shear will remain moderate, 10 - 15 knots, for the next three days, then fall to the low range. The winds creating the shear are coming from the east, where a tongue of dry air has intruded. These easterly winds will be able to drive the dry air into Gaston's core, disrupting it, unless the storm can find a moister environment, or moisten its environment on its own by generating enough heavy thunderstorms. Gaston has managed to develop more heavy thunderstorms near its center of circulation late this morning, but the amount of dry air it is battling is formidable. Even if Gaston does manage to become a tropical depression today, development will be slow over the next few days, due to the dry air. When Gaston passes over or just to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles Islands early Tuesday morning, the storm is unlikely to have more than 50 mph winds. More significant development is possible later in the week, as the atmosphere should be moister for Gaston. Gaston may threaten Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the Dominican Republic on Thursday, and Haiti, Jamaica, and/or the Turks and Caicos Islands by Friday, depending upon the storm's interaction with a trough of low pressure expected to move off the U.S. East Coast later this week. The earlier Gaston develops into a tropical storm, the more likely it is to "feel" the upper-level winds of the approaching trough, and curve more to the northwest. The HWRF model predicts Gaston will develop by Monday, and pass just northeast of the Lesser Antilles Islands Tuesday morning. The GFDL model, on the other hand, delays development until Wednesday, keeping Gaston in the Caribbean. The GFDL has Gaston hitting Jamaica as a strong tropical storm on Friday morning. However, the GFDL forecast is dubious, because on Wednesday and Thursday, Gaston may have an encounter with the high mountains of the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Hispaniola, which could easily destroy a system as fragile as Gaston. Gaston has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday, according to NHC.
Gulf of Mexico disturbance 90L
A concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms (90L) has developed over the extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche. Satellite imagery shows that this disturbance is disorganized, but has some modest spin to it. The disturbance is under a moderate 10 - 15 knots of wind shear, and has a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday, according to NHC. The disturbance is headed northwest at 5 - 10 mph, and should bring heavy rains to the Texas/Mexico border region on Monday, according to the latest run of the GFS model. The main impediment to development will be the limited time 90L has over water; the storm will be ashore by Tuesday, which doesn't give it much time to develop.
Elsewhere in the tropics
The GFS and NOGAPS models are predicting development on Thursday of a tropical wave that will emerge from the coast of Africa on Tuesday or Wednesday.
I'll have an update Monday morning.
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