Tropical Storm Josephine is chugging along through the middle of the ocean. It’s on track to miss the Caribbean islands and die in the North Atlantic.
Josephine’s small circulation is fragile, and therefore especially susceptible to hostile upper winds and dry air. Dusty and dry Saharan air surrounds the system on three sides.
Over the next day, the atmospheric environment is forecast to be just conducive enough that Josephine could become a slightly stronger tropical storm. But soon after, as it gets near the northeastern Caribbean islands, hostile upper winds are forecast to return causing the storm to weaken.
The computer forecast models and the National Hurricane Center forecast track Josephine far enough away from the islands that only fringe effects are expected. Although vigilance is required to be sure that happens. In any case, the storm is forecast to be weakening at that time. Early in the week, what’s left of it should turn north well east of the Bahamas and off the U.S. East Coast.
Elsewhere, the National Hurricane Center is taking note of a non-tropical low-pressure system near the border of North Carolina and Virginia. As it moves away from land over the warm Gulf Stream waters, it has a fair chance of becoming tropical enough to be designated a depression or a named storm. If it gets a name, it will be Kyle.
In any case, the system is not expected to threaten land as it tracks into the North Atlantic.
Much was made of the fact that Josephine was the earliest-forming “J” storm in the record book. It beat 2005′s Jose by nine days. Jose formed in the Gulf of Mexico on August 22, 2005, two days before Katrina formed near the Bahamas.
In reality, however, the record is not indicative of what’s going on in the tropics. The big spurt of non-tropical systems in June and July that hung around over warm water long enough to get named – similar to what might happen with Kyle – is responsible for the record pace.
If you look at the amount of tropical energy that has been created this season – the so-called ACE or Accumulated Cyclone Energy – or the number of hurricanes and Cat 3+ hurricanes, we are far behind the busiest years.
So statistically speaking, the real tropics haven’t been that busy. It was the non-tropics that were on fire. Not that anyone is complaining.
Looking at the current satellite image and the long-range computer models today, still nothing significant shows up. But there is still plenty of time.
The peak of the hurricane season nominally begins on August 20th. According to hurricane-season forecaster Dr. Phil Klotzbach, about 85% of the Category 3 or stronger storms form after that date.
No significant August hurricanes have ever hit South Florida before the 24th, so we don’t want to jump the gun with unfounded optimism. For now, let’s just be pleased that no new development beyond a possible inconsequential Kyle is expected into the middle of next week.