Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:27 PM GMT on August 04, 2006
A hurricane hunter aircraft found a flight level wind of only 29 knots this morning. Thus Chris has been officially downgraded to a tropical depression. You can see in the visible floater loop that Chris is pretty much devoid of any thunderstorm development and you can also see the northeasterly shear that has torn Chris apart.
The system remains between two upper-level low pressure systems and the shear is not expected to relax. The official forecast has Chris regaining tropical storm status, but if that strong wind shear continues, this will not happen. If Chris makes it to the Florida straits, it may have a chance of intensification as it meets the favorable environment in the Gulf of Mexico. Then again, all it needs is for the shear to relax, like it seemed it got a a bit of time yesterday afternoon, and it may regain the tropical storm status that it once had. There may be a pocket of low shear to the storm's north so keep a wandering eye on that.
The high pressure ridge over the eastern United States will keep Chris on a general west-northwestern course over the next few days. The official track has it scraping northern Cuba Saturday night/Sunday morning.
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