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 , 4:18 PM GMT on September 03, 2012
Tropical Storm Leslie continues to struggle with moderately high wind shear of 15 - 20 knots, due to strong upper-level winds out of the northwest. The shear is keeping heavy thunderstorms confined to the southeast quadrant of the storm. These thunderstorms are as far removed from the center as we've so far with Leslie, as seen on satellite loops. According to the latest SHIPS model forecast, the shear is expected to stay moderately high through Tuesday night, then drop to the low category, 5 - 10 knots, by Wednesday night. At that time, Leslie will be over warm ocean waters of 29°C, and the reduction in shear and warm waters should allow Leslie to intensify into at least a Category 1 hurricane by Friday, as predicted by most of the intensity forecast models. Intensification to a stronger storm may be hampered by its slow motion, which will cause Leslie to churn up cool water from the depths that will slow intensification. Once Leslie begins moving more quickly on Saturday, this effect will diminish, and Leslie could be at Category 2 strength on Saturday, as predicted by the HWRF and LGEM models. Steering currents for Leslie are expected to be weak on Tuesday - Friday, as Leslie gets stuck between two upper level lows. The latest guidance from our top computer continues to show Leslie making a very close pass by Bermuda on Saturday, and that island can expect a 3-day period of rough weather Friday through Sunday. Leslie will stay stuck in a weak steering current environment until a strong trough of low pressure approaches the U.S. East Coast on Saturday. This trough should be strong enough to pull Leslie quickly to the north on Saturday and Sunday, and Leslie may be close enough to the coast that the storm will make landfall in Canada on Monday, September 10. None of the reliable models have shown that a direct hit on New England will occur, but we can't rule that possibility out yet. The most likely long-term fate of Leslie will be for it to miss land entirely and brush by the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but any forecast of what a tropical cyclone might do a full seven days in advance is pretty speculative. Regardless, Leslie will bring an extended period of high waves to Bermuda, the U.S. East Coast, and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland this week. These waves will be capable of causing significant beach erosion and dangerous rip currents.
Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Tropical Storm Leslie. The low-level circulation center is fully exposed to view, thanks to strong northwest winds creating 15 - 20 knots of wind shear.
Invest 99L in the Central Atlantic
A small extratropical low pressure system that got cut off from the jet stream and is now spinning away in the Central Atlantic, near 26°N 42°W, (Invest 99L), is headed west at 10 mph, and has developed a small amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. This storm is not a threat to any land areas, and in their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook on Monday, NHC gave 99L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning.
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