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 , 2:34 PM GMT on September 03, 2013
A tropical wave over the Lesser Antilles Islands (Invest 97L) is moving west-northwest at 10 mph, and is bringing sporadic heavy rain showers to the islands. Top sustained winds observed in the islands as of 10 am AST Tuesday were mostly below 15 mph. Heavy thunderstorm activity has been low since Monday, and is spread out, as seen on satellite loops. The thunderstorms are poorly organized, and there is no sign of a well-organized surface circulation. Martinique radar shows little evidence of rotation to the echoes, and no low-level spiral bands forming. Upper level winds are favorable for development, with wind shear a low 5 - 10 knots, and an upper-level anticyclone overhead. An area of dry air from the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) surrounds 97L and is interfering with development, though the the 12Z Tuesday balloon sounding from Guadeloupe near the center of 97L showed moist air through the entire depth of the atmosphere.
Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Invest 97L.
Forecast for 97L
Wind shear is expected to be low through Friday, and ocean temperatures will be warm, 29°C. The disturbance has not been able to generate enough thunderstorms to moisten the surrounding atmosphere much, and dry air may continue to slow down development over the next few days. The models take 97L to the west-northwest, bringing it near or over Puerto Rico or Hispaniola on Wednesday night. A track over the high mountains of Hispaniola would disrupt the circulation of 97L, forcing the storm to regroup on Thursday over the Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. The best chance for development of 97L would appear to be on Friday, after the storm has finished its encounter with Hispaniola. This morning's 00Z run of the experimental GFDL ensemble--which produces 10 simulations with slightly varying initial conditions to create a plume of potential storm tracks--foresees that once 97L organizes into a tropical depression, it might take only two days for it to intensify into a hurricane to the north of Hispaniola. The wave will bring heavy rain showers to the Lesser Antilles islands on Tuesday and Wednesday, and this activity will likely spread to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti on Wednesday and Thursday. These rains will be capable of causing life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in mountainous regions of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Of our three reliable models for predicting genesis, the UKMET, GFS, and European models, only the UKMET model develops the disturbance, predicting it will become a tropical depression over the Central Bahamas on Saturday. There will be a strong trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast this weekend, which will be capable of turning 97L to the north before the storm can hit the U.S. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC left the 5-day odds of formation of 97L at 50%, and 2-day odds at 20%. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to investigate 97L Wednesday afternoon. The flight scheduled for today will likely be cancelled. The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel Mission, a 5-year field project utilizing two remotely crewed Global Hawk aircraft to overfly tropical storms and hurricanes, will have one of their aircraft investigate 97L today, and again on Wednesday. You can follow the progress of the aircraft using NASA's live-plane tracker map (Global Hawk AV6 is tail number NASA872, and Global Hawk AV1 is tail number NASA871.)
98L off the coast of Africa and a Yucatan Peninsula tropical wave
A tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa on Monday (Invest 98L) is expected to track northwest over the Cape Verde Islands. This course will take 98L into a region of ocean where historically, very few tropical cyclones have made the long journey across the Atlantic to affect North America. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC put the 5-day odds of development at 20%.
A tropical wave over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has a respectable area of heavy thunderstorms associated with it that is bringing heavy rains. This activity will push over the extreme Southern Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche on Wednesday. The wave will have two days over water to develop before moving ashore on the Mexican coast between Veracruz and Tampico on Friday. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC put the 5-day odds of development at 30%, and 2-day odds at 20%.
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