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Two African waves worth mentioning

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:51 PM GMT on July 18, 2009

There are two African tropical waves worth mentioning today, though neither looks particularly threatening. A tropical wave near 12N 45W, about 1200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands (97 L), is moving west at 15 - 20 mph. This wave is now surrounded by an area of very dry air from the Sahara Desert. The dry air has disrupted most of the wave's heavy thunderstorm activity, and will continue to make it difficult for this system to develop over the next 2 - 3 days. Wind shear is a modest 10 knots over the disturbance, and should remain in the moderate 10 - 15 knot range over the next 2 - 3 days. Thereafter, shear is expected to rise to 20 - 30 knots. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed no evidence of a surface circulation, and only a modest wind shift associated with 97L. The National Hurricane Center is giving this system a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression in the next 48 hours.

A second tropical wave now approaching the northern Lesser Antilles Islands is under 30 knots of wind shear, and has little prospect of development due to the high shear. However, the wave will bring heavy rain to the islands over the next two days.

None of the computer models are forecasting tropical storm development over the next seven days, and I don't expect either of the two African waves mentioned today to develop over at least the next three days.

Figure 1. Current satellite image of African wave 97L, 1200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands.

I'll have an update Sunday afternoon.
Jeff Masters


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