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Epsilon is forecast to be a hurricane in the Atlantic while the Caribbean threat has diminished

Oct. 20 satellite image of the tropics.
Oct. 20 satellite image of the tropics. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Tropical Storm Epsilon is stuck in an area with no strong steering currents well southeast of Bermuda. While it’s drifting around, it’s forecast to slowly strengthen, however, and reach hurricane strength over the next few days.

Eventually the steering flow will push it north, coming close to Bermuda about Friday. The consensus of the computer forecast models is that the worst of Epsilon’s winds will miss the island to the east, and the official National Hurricane Center forecast indicates that that’s the most likely outcome.

Epsilon is shaped like a comma, a legacy of its beginnings as a non-tropical system, which had a broad, lopsided circulation. In the current configuration, the head of the comma is the tropical storm, where one batch of strong winds are found. But the arcing band to the east, which remains from the original non-tropical system, also has strong winds at its northern end.

In any case, if the forecasts are right, both of those high-wind areas will miss Bermuda to the east, though the island will feel the effects of Epsilon’s large circulation. It’s eerie how many storms have impacted Bermuda this season.

Tropical Storm Epsilon: 5 a.m. Tuesday advisory.
Tropical Storm Epsilon: 5 a.m. Tuesday advisory. (www.HurricaneIntel.com)

In the Caribbean, the situation is completely different than we envisioned it might be at this point, looking at the forecasts produced last week. The tropical disturbance moving by to the south of Florida has turned out to be the dominant feature. This is the same system that brought gusty tropical squalls to the northeastern Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico, and is now throwing periodic waves of rain across South Florida.

The low pressure associated with this disturbance combined with the strong high-pressure system to the north is generating a stiff wind off the ocean across the southern Florida peninsula, which will keep the clusters of tropical downpours blowing by through tomorrow. Some areas won’t see rain very often, but areas caught under a band rotating across the coast will see quite a bit.

Late in the week, the winds will let up as possibly-Hurricane Epsilon cuts off the nose of the high-pressure system as it moves north near Bermuda.

The extra-strong breeze is aggravating the King Tides by blowing ocean water toward the coast. Tides have been running more than a foot above the levels that were predicted if there were no external factors beyond the typical tidal effects. These super-high tides plus the tropical downpours could cause some local flooding, especially in areas that don’t drain well when the tide is extra high.

By late in the week, King Tides season will be waning, and the likelihood of heavy rain is forecast to decrease.

Last week, we were concerned that a broad low-pressure system might develop into a significant storm and come north. Now, only a small pocket of conducive upper-level winds is projected, so the developing disturbance is forecast to stay weak.

It appears likely that a broad area of disturbed weather will remain from the western Caribbean into the Gulf. This will help keep the air over Florida warm and moist for now. Long-range projections hint that a season-changing cold front might work its way south late next week and sweep the moisture out, but it’s too soon to be sure.

Nothing else tropical seems to be on the horizon at the current time.


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