The endless hurricane season of 2020 rolls on. We’re going to have to watch an energetic tropical disturbance in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It’s part of a broad area of disturbed weather, which includes a cluster of heavy thunderstorms that passed though the eastern Caribbean islands last night.
The upper-level winds are becoming increasingly supportive of the system organizing. As it moves into the central Caribbean over the next few days, the atmospheric environment is forecast to become conducive for development.
For the last several days, the consensus of the computer forecast models has been that a tropical depression or tropical storm will develop late in the weekend or early next week in the western Caribbean. If it achieves winds of 40 mph or higher, it will be named Tropical Storm Eta.
Most of the available computer forecasts are fairly straight forward. As the system strengthens near the eastern coast of Nicaragua, a broad bubble of high pressure is forecast to slide east over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. The clockwise flow around that high should push the system – whatever it is at that point – to the west into Central America where it will run into the mountains. That would pretty much be that.
We’re talking about 5 or 6 days from now, however, so the relative timing of the disturbance and the high-pressure system could change. If, for example, the high moves too fast, there could be an opening on the back side of the high for the disturbance to try to move north. Or if the high is weaker than forecast, it could lack the strength to move the disturbance into the mountains, so it could linger over the western Caribbean.
Most of the computer forecast models still indicate an eventual track to the west, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Over the next 3 or 4 days, the disturbance is likely to develop into a tropical depression or Tropical Storm Eta. Once it organizes, the forecasts should become more consistent, and our confidence will go up.
In any case, heavy tropical rain is likely to impact Nicaragua and Honduras as the disturbance strengthens right off their coastline.
Well to the north, the remnants of Zeta are now off the Northeast coast. The system will be absorbed by a cold front, while the big upper-level storm that propelled it east so quickly yesterday develops a separate storm off the Mid-Atlantic coast. It’s this second storm that will push weak Cold Front #1 into South Florida tomorrow.
A following system moving across southern Canada will power Cold Front #2 down the state on Sunday. By Monday morning, much cooler, drier air should cover South Florida.
It’s the high-pressure system behind this second front that we are counting on to block the Caribbean disturbance and push it into Central America.
Enjoy the cold fronts for now, but keep an eye to the south until we’re sure the disturbance is going to behave.