Last week at this time, we had 4 distinct areas of activity out in the Atlantic that were being monitored for tropical development. 2 of these waves formed into Tropical Storm’s Franklin and Gert. Fortunately these storms formed in the central Atlantic and posed no threat to land. As of this morning, Franklin has dissipated and Gert continues to drift further out to sea in the north Atlantic as a weak Tropical Storm.
Recall though at the same time last week, I was most concerned about the 4th wave that had just exited the African Coast in the far eastern Atlantic. Some of the computer guidance was showing very slow development of this system as it tracked westward initially towards the Caribbean. A more conducive weather pattern was expected to develop that would steer this wave further west instead of making an early turn to the north and out to sea. Then, some of the guidance in the longer range hinted to this developing into a hurricane and making an eventual turn northward towards the Gulf of Mexico or southeast U.S. coast.
While much of this happened and the wave currently resides in the far eastern Caribbean Sea, no tropical development has occurred with this system and not much is expected in the near term. The National Hurricane Center has only a 20% chance for this area of thunderstorms to develop into a Tropical Depression over the next 48 hours. Though tropical development may still occur across the western Caribbean late this week, the system will continue to track due west in its weak state. Most of the computer guidance agrees that this wave, tropical or not, will track into Central America later this week and possibly far enough north to re-emerge in the far southern Gulf of Mexico. There, a large upper-level area of high pressure over the west-central U.S. should ensure that this system continues to steer west and does not turn northward to pose a major U.S. Gulf coast threat.
We are certainly not out of the woods though as far as tropical systems go. The Hurricane season is still heating up and the end of August weather pattern continues to look favorable for potential tropical systems to track close to or into the U.S. mainland. Already all of the global computer models are keying in on developing the next wave just off the African coast in the coming days and again tracking this to the west-northwest. The same guidance then shows a well-developed tropical system heading towards the U.S. in the long range, with different runs threatening the eastern Gulf and southeast U.S. coastlines.
This is all long-range speculation, but the predicted weather pattern in the next 1-2 weeks would support such a track. I’d be a little more concerned though if and when we see this tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic actually develops over the next few days, especially since the most recent one has failed to do so. Plenty of time for this one, so stay tuned.