Tropical Depression 5

By: LPerezIII , 2:27 AM GMT on August 02, 2012

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It's August 1st!! That means we're quickly approaching the peak of hurricane season.

Here is an image showing where the peak is based on the total number of storms on any given date over the last 100 years.

Here is another image showing favorable areas for development and likely tracks for systems developing in August (top) and September (bottom).

Today, as if on cue, Tropical Depression 5 develops in the Atlantic. Let's get to it...

Tropical Depression 5

Current Distance from Galveston, TX - 3,090 miles!! That distance is about 300 miles MORE than the distance between Seattle, Washington and Miami, Florida. That's a very long way out.

As of 7pm CDT, the system is still rather disorganized, but the low level circulation does seem to be wrapping up quickly and becoming more defined per satellite imagery. This is best seen on visible satellite imagery, but since the Sun has set, it is difficult to see that type of detail on visible imagery.
Below is an Infrared image of the system...

The deep red colors indicate high topped, intense, thunderstorms, but the coverage is lacking. This is typical of a system that is encountering upper lever wind shear. That will slow the organization a bit for this system over the next couple of days. However, there is a definite pin-wheel look to the system indicating mid-level circulation, and even some upper level outflow developing. Those two things will help organization. My guess is that the system will become a named tropical storm in the next 24-36 hours or so. It does not have much wind speed to gain before it is classified a tropical storm. At 7pm the minimum pressure was 29.77 inches (estimated) and sustained wind speed was 35 mph (4 mph shy of Tropical Storm status). Movement is WNW at 18 mph.

High pressure to the north will keep the system on this track through the next 7 days or so, and the models are in pretty good agreement.
Here is the 7pm model run...

Of particular note on the above, the (historically) more accurate model - HWFL - and model averaging tracks show the system entering the Caribbean in 2 days and going almost right down the middle. The official track (black) is an average of the spread of all of the models and in line with the HWFL and TVCE.

The Global Ensemble, which goes out to 10 days has a fairly ominous track guidance at the moment and actually brings the system into the Gulf of Mexico in about 8 days. However, another reliable global model shows the system weakening and basically disintegrating in about 5 days. I tend to lean towards the system not collapsing since conditions are relatively favorable for intensification over the Caribbean and especially since the water is extremely warm. It would take a substantial amount of shear to rip the system completely apart once it gets going. It is possible though. That would be a very good resolution, but I'm not counting on that.

Over the next 5 days the system will evolve and we'll see how the models handle better data as NOAA aircraft begin investigating, collecting, and processing the surrounding environment of the system. At the five day point the system will be near Jamaica and if the ridging that is in place now north of the system remains strong that could steer it west into Central America, or, if a weakness develops as suggested by some models, into the Gulf of Mexico.
Here is the official 5-Day track from the National Hurricane Center...

They are leaning towards a hurricane near Jamaica in 5 days, and because the models are in fairly good agreement and the system is moving fast, the cone is fairly narrow.

This one is definitely on the watch list for the Gulf of Mexico residents. We have a long time to watch it evolve and to track it. That's exactly what Weather Spectrum will be doing. The system will become Ernesto when named.

Here is the GFS Ensemble (10-day) Guidance...Please keep in mind that 10 days is considered the long range period and highly uncertain in the model world.

Stay tuned for updates as this situation evolves!!

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About LPerezIII

I have a passion for Mother Nature's fury, serenity, and beauty. I express my soul through my music and photography. B.S. in Meteorology from TX A&M.

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