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99L a heavy rainfall threat for Jamaica, Haiti, and Eastern Cuba

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:35 PM GMT on October 21, 2012

A tropical wave embedded in a large trough of low pressure (Invest 99L) covers a large portion of the Central Caribbean between Hispaniola and the northern coast of South America. This storm has the potential to be a dangerous rainfall threat for Haiti, Jamaica, and eastern Cuba. The disturbance is headed west at less than 5 mph, is over very warm waters of 29°C, and is in a moist environment. 99L has a large area of heavy thunderstorms that have a good degree of spin. These thunderstorms are beginning to organize into spiral bands, as seen on visible satellite loops. However, the amount of heavy thunderstorm activity is about the same as yesterday, and there are no signs of a surface circulation. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 99L this afternoon, but I expect this flight will be rescheduled for later.

Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 99L.

Forecast for 99L
Wind shear is a low 5 - 10 knots, and is forecast to be in the low to moderate range, 5 - 20 knots, through Tuesday. This should allow for some steady development of 99L, and there has been a good deal of model support for 99L becoming a tropical depression by Wednesday. Steering currents favor a continued slow westward movement for 99L through Tuesday. On Wednesday, a strong trough of low pressure to the north of 99L is expected to turn the storm to the north or north-northeast, which should put 99L in the vicinity of Jamaica on Wednesday and Eastern Cuba on Thursday. By Friday, 99L should be in the Central or Eastern Bahamas. It is unclear at this point whether or not the trough pulling 99L to the north will be strong enough to pull the storm all the way out to sea to the northeast; a narrow ridge of high pressure has the potential to build in over 99L late this week and force the storm west-northwest, with a potential threat to the western Bahamas and U.S. East Coast by next weekend. In their 8 am EDT tropical weather outlook, NHC gave 99L a 70% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Tuesday morning. 99L will be capable of bringing heavy rains of 5 - 10 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches in mountainous areas, to Jamaica and Haiti, Monday through Wednesday. Heavy rains will begin on Tuesday in Eastern Cuba, and spread northwards into the Central and Eastern Bahamas by Wednesday.

Invest 90L in the middle Atlantic
A tropical wave (Invest 90L) about 830 miles east-northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands is headed west-northwest at about 10 mph. The disturbance has a small amount of heavy thunderstorms, as seen on visible satellite images, and has gotten tangled up with an upper-level low pressure system. This upper-level low is providing 90L the spin it needs to become a tropical cyclone, but is also pumping cool, dry air into the disturbance, which will keep any development slow over the next few days. Wind shear is a moderate 10 - 20 knots, and is forecast to remain in the moderate range until Tuesday. This may allow for some slow development of 90L before it encounters high wind shear of 20 - 30 knots on Tuesday night through Thursday. None of the reliable computer models develop 90L into a tropical cyclone, and it's unlikely that 90L will affect any land areas. In their 8 am EDT tropical weather outlook, NHC gave 90L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Tuesday morning.

The next name on the list of Atlantic tropical storms for 2012 is Sandy.

Jeff Masters


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