Tropical Storm Katia continues to churn away in the mid-Atlantic on a course just north of west. Katia remains a storm worth watching for Tampa Bay residents, but it should be a matter of great interest for everyone along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Even though Katia’s course would put all of Florida outside the cone of uncertainty there’s still a long way to go before anyone can breathe a sigh of relief. The reason is simple: even at the end of the five day forecast Katia will still be a long way from land and a lot can change as some of the assumptions that are shaping the current course projections change. In his Tuesday morning discussion, NHC forecaster Jack Bevin expresses confidence in the short term forecast. “The track guidance is in very good agreement that Katia should move generally west-northward for the next 48 hours or so, then gradually turn toward the northwest at a slower forward speed.”
The turn to the northwest is the key to whether Katia becomes a dangerous storm for the U.S. or whether it threatens Bermuda before moving into the north Atlantic. As of now, longer term computer ensemble projections show a wide range of potential paths, with one outlier showing a possible threat to Jacksonville with the greatest threat of landfall being in Canada’s Maritime provinces, but those projections are mostly of interest in helping understand how forecasters make their projections, not as a forecast themselves. The official 3 day track and 5 day forecast are the best information available for the public when it comes to deciding what kind of preparations might be necessary.
There is another interesting situation developing in the northwest Caribbean where forecasters give a mass of disturbed weather a 10 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical cyclone. This system is expected to move northwest over Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico. While it stands little, if any chance of affecting Florida, it may be the best hope Texans have had for quite a while that their brutal drought might finally ease up a bit.
To see the latest official information on the tropical weather picture from the National Hurricane Center click here.