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The tropics are on pause but not necessarily finished for the year

Oct. 12 satellite image of the tropics.
Oct. 12 satellite image of the tropics. (CIRA/RAMMB)

The National Hurricane Center is watching a tropical disturbance, which is approaching the Caribbean islands. It has a slight chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next couple of days as it moves slowly near or north of the islands. But the upper-level winds are expected to become quite hostile around midweek, so it’s not expected to amount to much, even if it briefly develops.

On our side of the ocean, as we often do this time of year, we’ll keep an eye on the southwestern Caribbean Sea over the weekend into next week. The long-range computer models indicate that a low-pressure system might try to form there. The atmospheric pattern is forecast to become conducive for development starting around the weekend.

There is nothing there now, and there is no consensus on what would happen to it if something did form. There is nothing more to know at the moment. That location is favored in October for tropical development, so we’ll have to continue to watch it until we know the tropics are finally shutting down.

Looking at the long-term average, there is a mini peak of activity in the middle of October, mostly due to systems forming to the south and moving north into the Gulf or the western Atlantic. This is why we stay extra-focused on the Caribbean until the wintertime weather pattern sets in.

The remnants of Delta dumped very heavy rain over the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia over the weekend. Now, the circulation is no longer the story. But leftover tropical moisture will combine with a strong wind off the ocean to make a nasty day in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. It should finally be past New England by Wednesday.

For perspective, we’ve had 5 hurricanes make landfall in the U.S. this season: Cat 1 Hanna, Cat 1 Isaias, Cat 4 Laura, Cat 2 Sally, and Cat 2 Delta. The mega-season of 2005 also had 5. The record number is 6, shared by a couple of seasons: 1985 and 1886.

Number of storms per 100 years. (NOAA)

About the Author:

Bryan Norcross is currently a hurricane specialist at Local 10 News, the station where he began his stretch on television in Miami in 1983.