Forecasters give tropical system in Caribbean 90% of becoming cyclone

See Tuesday update: Tropical Storm Earl forms, could be hurricane before landfall. 

Update 7:45 p.m. The strong tropical wave about 200 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, still has organized thunderstorms, but has yet to achieve a closed circulation needed for tropical cyclone formation.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The National Hurricane Center outlook at 8 p.m. Monday
The National Hurricane Center outlook at 8 p.m. Monday

Regardless of classification, the National Hurricane Center says in its 8 p.m. outlook that locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds will continue affecting parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti tonight before reaching Jamaica and the Cayman Islands overnight or tomorrow. Forecasters also say conditions remain ripe for strengthening, and they put the chances at the system forming into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday evening at 80 percent, with a 90 percent chance of formation within 5 days.

The system, even if does become Tropical Storm Earl, is not expected to make a significant impact on Florida’s weather.

Update 4:50 p.m. The National Hurricane Center says the Air Force hurricane hunter plane scheduled to investigate tropical wave 97-L had to turn around because of maintenance issues.

Marnee Losurdo, chief public affairs officer for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, said a minor fuel system “anomaly” occurred and the Hurricane Hunter crew opted to return to their base at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.

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Forecasters have given the wave a 90 percent chance of development over the next five days, but seemed confident it would have tropical cyclone-force winds by the time it reached Jamaica and the Cayman Islands tonight.

Storm watchers are eager to get flight-level data that will show better measurements of wind speed and whether a surface circulation has formed.

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Update 2 p.m.:  A strong tropical wave about 275 miles east-southeast of Jamaica continues to have well organized thunderstorms, but lacks a closed center that would make it a tropical cyclone.

The National Hurricane Center at its 2 p.m. update is giving the system a 90 percent chance of development over the next five days.

An Air Force Reserve Reconnaissance flight is on its way this afternoon to investigate the disturbance.

Forecasters are certain enough that this will become the year’s 5th named storm that they said tropical storm conditions are likely to occur over Jamaica by this evening, and could reach the Cayman Islands overnight.

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Update 8 a.m.: Forecasters are giving a tropical wave in the Caribbean Sea a 90 percent chance of development over the next five days.

According to the 8 a.m. update, the wave continues to show signs of organization and satellite data has shown the system is producing 40 to 45 mph winds.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The National Hurricane Center said if development continues, the system could become Tropical Storm Earl later today or tonight.

While no threat to Florida, the system is expected to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to the Dominican Republic and Haiti today. Jamaica should expect tropical storm conditions this afternoon and evening.

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Previous story: As of 2 a.m., the National Hurricane Center was giving a tropical wave in the Caribbean an 80 percent chance of forming into a cyclone over the next five days.

The next update will be at 8 a.m.

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Forecasters said this morning, the wave, which is moving west at up to 25 mph, has experienced an increase in thunderstorm activity and has winds measuring up to 45 mph in the northern and eastern areas of the system.

If the development continues, a tropical storm could form later today when the wave moves into the central Caribbean Sea.

The system, formally dubbed Invest 97-L, is no threat to Florida, but as of Sunday night, the National Hurricane Center was giving it a 70 percent chance of building into something more organized over the next five days. If it musters named status, it would be Earl, and mark the first Atlantic basin tropical cyclone to form since Tropical Storm Danielle limped into central Mexico on June 20.

Read: Peak of hurricane season ahead with storms forming right on schedule

The system was moving at a swift 20 to 25 mph on Sunday — a speed that inhibits organization — but AccuWeather hurricane forecasters said the forward momentum should slow by midweek as the overall environment for the storm improves.

Sea surface temperatures, which must be 80 degrees for a tropical cyclone to form, are a toasty 86 or higher in its path. It is also heading into an area where wind shear will put up less of a fight against the system strengthening.

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“We do think this will develop into a tropical storm and perhaps even gain hurricane strength two to three days from now,” said Jack Boston, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “It will stay well south of Florida and probably make landfall somewhere over the Yucatan.”

The last hurricane to spin up in the Atlantic basin was short-lived Kate, which gained hurricane strength north of Bermuda on Nov. 11 but was downgraded to tropical storm status less than 24 hours later.

Watch: House blows apart in 140-mph hurricane winds

For South Florida, the passing wave could bring needed rain to some parched coastal areas of Palm Beach County. July ended the month with a rain deficit of about 3 inches in coastal metro areas, according to the South Florida Water Management District. The region is down nearly 5 inches for the season, which began June 1.

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New tropical wave being tracked, now two in Atlantic

Update 2 p.m.: Two tropical waves are now being tracked by the National Hurricane Center with one getting a low chance of development and the second a 40 percent chance.

Neither are expected to be long lived at this point as they travel toward drier air, slightly cooler waters and areas with higher wind shear.

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The wave that popped up Wednesday morning is about 350 miles south-southeast of the Cape Verde Islands. Some development in the short term is expected.

The new system, which is about 1,700 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands, is moving west at 30 mph and has a 30 percent chance of development over five days.

Hurricane center forecasters said if formation occurs, it could be this weekend when the system is closer to Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico.

 

Global satellite image from NOAA shows tropical waves leaving the coast of Africa.
Global satellite image from NOAA shows tropical waves leaving the coast of Africa.

 

 

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The National Hurricane Center is giving a cluster of thunderstorms off the coast of Africa a 40 percent chance of strengthening over the next few days, but it is moving into a less accommodating environment and could fall apart by the time it reaches the central tropical Atlantic.

The wave is moving west-northwest at about 10 to 15 mph.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

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As of the 8 a.m. update, forecasters said the wave was about 400 miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands.

The hurricane center is using the official name Cabo Verde instead of the more commonly used Cape Verde to refer to the islands. In 2013, the Cape Verdean government determined that the Portuguese designation “Cabo Verde” would henceforth be used for official purposes.

Watch home “explode” in 140 mph hurricane winds. 

If the waves moves to much to the north it will run into a thick patch of Saharan dust, which works to kill storms because of its low relative humidity.

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Orange and yellow areas mark the presence of Saharan dust.

Also, slightly cooler sea surface temperatures are in the system’s path. For a tropical cyclone to develop, it needs temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 26.5 degrees Celsius.

The map below shows sea surface temperatures just below 80 to the west of the wave.

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Today’s weather “wild card” will impact South Florida thunderstorms

An extensive layer of Saharan dust is wafting toward South Florida with wisps already hitting the Bahamas, forecasters said this morning.

The National Weather Service in Miami said the leading edge of the dust plume should reach South Florida today, drying out levels of the atmosphere at about 5,000 feet and affecting afternoon showers.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The dry Saharan air layer can be seen clearly heading toward Florida in this highlighted water vapor image.
The dry Saharan air layer can be seen clearly heading toward Florida in this highlighted water vapor image.

The coverage of storms today will depend on how much Saharan air makes it into the area. With enough surface moisture present, meteorologists said there will be some locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds up to 40 mph.

Read: Why it’s eerily quiet in the Atlantic after busy start to hurricane season

“The threat for strong storms today will not be as high as recent days,” Miami forecasters wrote in a morning discussion. “The wild card will be how much dry air intrudes during the afternoon which may enhance dry air entrainment in updrafts for some stronger gusy winds in the 40 to 55 mph range.”

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The biggest concern with today’s storms is lightning with the strongest rains expected in the interior and west coast of the state.

High temperatures in Palm Beach County are expected to reach 91, which is about normal for this time of year. The heat index, however, could hit 105 near Lake Okeechobee.

Sunday was the first day in 30 days where the high did not hit 90 or above. Sunday’s high reached only 87 degrees in West Palm Beach, which is 3 degrees below normal.

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Tuesday is expected to be even drier as the Saharan dust makes it further into the Peninsula.

With plenty of sunshine Tuesday, temperatures are expected to be warmer, ranging in the low 90s on the coast to mid-90s inland.

Heat advisories are possible Tuesday with 105-plus heat index temps across the interior and Gulf coast.

The heavy Saharan dust is being blamed for the lack of tropical activity in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season. But, AccuWeather hurricane expert said there may be a slight chance of something spinning up off the coast of Africa late this week.

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The National Hurricane Center said in its most recent forecast that tropical development is not expected during the next five days.

Kottlowski said the chance of a storm is a long shot.

“Any system that tries to get going over the western Atlantic late in the month and into early August will likely struggle with a vast amount of dry air and disruptive winds,” he said.