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African Tropical Wave 98L Moving Over Cooler Waters

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:23 PM GMT on July 23, 2013

A strong and well-organized tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on Monday (98L) is located a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verde Islands and is moving west-northwest at 15 - 20 mph. Satellite images show that 98L has a decent amount of spin, but only a modest amount of heavy thunderstorms that have not changed much in intensity or areal coverage this morning. The wave is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, which will tend to allow slow development. A large amount of dry air lies to the north and west of 98L, and this dry air will likely interfere with development later this week. The SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will stay in the moderate range through Saturday. Ocean temperatures are barely adequate for development, about 26.5°C today, and will be below average over the region of ocean 98L will be traversing on Wednesday and Thursday, 25 - 26°C. These temperatures are very marginal for development. The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), a pattern of increased thunderstorm activity near the Equator that moves around the globe in 30 - 60 days, does not favor increased chances of Atlantic tropical cyclone formation this week. The reliable computer models for tropical cyclone genesis do not predict that 98L will develop this week. In their 8 am EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 98L a 40% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Thursday. 98L should maintain a west-northwest track through the week, and may spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the northern Lesser Antilles Islands beginning on Saturday night or on Sunday.

Figure 1. Satellite image of 98L off the coast of Africa taken at 8 am EDT Tuesday July 23, 2013, with a satellite analysis of where dry air is, as well. A large amount of dry air lies to the north and west of 98L, and will likely interfere with development later this week. Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS and NOAA/HRD.

Jeff Masters


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