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TD 2 struggling; new African wave bears watching

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:19 PM GMT on August 12, 2009

Tropical Depression Two is struggling. The depression still has a good chance of becoming the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm this week, but the dry, Saharan air that surrounds the storm, combined with moderately high levels of wind shear, are interfering with the storm's organization. Satellite loops of the storm show that heavy thunderstorm activity is limited to the west side of the depression. This is due to strong winds out of the southeast that are creating a moderate 15 - 20 knots of wind shear. The intensity and coverage of these thunderstorms is meager, thanks to the large amount of dry air to TD 2's north that is getting wrapped into the circulation. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed a well-formed surface circulation, with top winds of about 30 - 35 mph.

Wind shear over TD 2 is expected to remain in the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, over the next five days. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are a marginal 26 - 27°C, and will not change much over the next three days. There is plenty of dry, stable air from the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) to to TD 2's north that will continue to cause the storm problems. The relatively cool SSTs and dry air mean that TD 2 will not be able to intensify quickly. However, it does appear likely that TD 2 has enough going for it that it will eventually be able to become Tropical Storm Ana sometime in the next three days. Most of the computer models show some weak development, but none of them predict TD 2 will become a hurricane. It is unusual for storms forming this far north to make it all the way across the Atlantic to hit the Lesser Antilles Islands. For now, TD 2 doesn't concern me as much as the new tropical wave to its southeast, just off the coast of Africa.

Figure 1. Tropical Depression Two (left center of image) and a new tropical wave (right side of image), newly emerged from the coast of Africa.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic
A strong tropical wave with some rotation and plenty of heavy thunderstorm activity left the coast of Africa yesterday, and is located a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands. The GFS and ECMWF models continue to predict the development of this wave late this week. Both of these models indicate that the wave would track further south than Tropical Depression Two, and could impact the Lesser Antilles Islands in about seven days. This storm bears close attention over the coming days.

Two other tropical waves, one that just passed through the Lesser Antilles Islands, and one about 300 miles east of the islands, are mentioned in NHC's Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook. Both of these waves have very limited heavy thunderstorm activity that is not increasing, and are not a threat to develop over the next two days. None of the computer models develop either of these waves.

Felicia moves through Hawaiian Islands as a tropical depression
Tropical Storm Felicia weakened to a tropical depression before passing through the Hawaiian Islands yesterday. The storm brought scattered heavy rains of 1 - 2 inches to the islands, and no damage was reported. Felicia is only the 10th tropical cyclone of tropical depression strength or higher to hit the islands since 1950. Four other tropical cyclones have passed within 75 miles of the islands during that time period.

Be careful clicking on external links in blog comments
A comment may have been posted on my blog over the weekend containing links to a malicious web site that infected some people's computers when they clicked on the link. The exact link responsible has eluded us thus far, and we are also investigating the possibility that a bad banner ad was responsible. To provide an extra layer of protection, we've installed software on the blogs that will now warn users that they are leaving the site when they click on an external link, so that one has do an extra click to go to an external site. This will give users an opportunity to think twice before clicking on a potentially dangerous link. I apologize to anybody who may have been affected by the attack. Please submit a support ticket to help us out in the future for any issues of this nature.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters


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