A much needed stretch of sunny and dry weather has taken control this week as many attempt to clean up from the damage caused by Irene. While most only had some large fallen tries to clean off their property, the more unfortunate ones are still dealing with power outages and/or catastrophic flooding. The Passaic River in northern New Jersey continues at major flood stage and will do so through at least Friday.
Sunny weather with relatively low humidity will continue for the most part as we close out the week. Later Thursday afternoon could present a spotty thundershower in northwestern parts of the area, but even here it is a slight 20% risk. Friday looks to have more of the same with an even lesser risk of a thundershower in the area. As we go into Labor Day weekend I believe Saturday will be mainly dry and partly sunny. A cold front will approach the area by later in the day, so I cannot rule out a shower/thunderstorm by late in the afternoon. Fortunately the greatest risk seems to arrive in the evening or overnight though. This forecast will likely be fine tuned later in the week. Sunday into Labor Day Monday looks a bit more unsettled at this point with more clouds than sun and a threat of showers/storms. Hopefully this changes for the better as we get closer.
Tropical Storm Katia has formed in the far eastern Atlantic and is rapidly organizing into a hurricane as we speak. She is likely to become the second major hurricane of the season over the next couple of days as she tracks west-northwest. Although it is 8-10+ days before she would get close to the U.S., Katia already has a higher than normal chance of re-curving out to sea before ever getting the chance to affect us. Based on climatology alone, tropical systems this far east make it across the Atlantic to affect the U.S. less than 20% of the time. On top of this she is already gaining latitude and the vast majority of computer guidance shows a series of deep troughs in the eastern U.S. over the next 2 weeks, one of which would probably steer Katia away. It would be imprudent though to say a U.S. threat is 100% out of the question this far out. So while I currently give Katia only a 10-15% chance of affecting the U.S. down the road, we should still keep a very close eye as long-range weather forecasts can change very easily.
Closer to home, a tropical wave is entering the Gulf of Mexico and much of the computer guidance is developing what would be called Tropical Storm Lee in the next couple of days. With a ridge of high pressure over the center of the country and several troughs of low pressure diving into the eastern U.S., it is currently unclear whether this disturbance will get trapped under the ridge and move into Texas, or be picked up by a trough and steered into the northern Gulf coast. The Texas scenario does appear to have better support at this stage in the game though and I tend to favor that. A cause for concern is that the water in the Gulf of Mexico is extremely warm, and the potential would exist for a strengthening hurricane to form in this area in the coming days. I would keep a very close eye on this one for sure.