As expected, Fred’s circulation was ripped to shreds by the tall mountains in the Dominican Republic and Haiti last night. What’s left of it has moved out over the Atlantic near the eastern tip of Cuba. The question is, can it recover? And if it does, how quickly?
Besides the circulation being disrupted, Fred’s moisture got dammed up over the east side of the island – blocked from moving west. The result was further disorganization of the system. Unfortunately, that also left the drenching rain over part of the Dominican Republic.
When concentrated rain falls over hilly or mountainous terrain, flooding is guaranteed, and that’s what we’re seeing in the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, the moisture has been stuck over the same areas for an unusually long time.
Hurricane Hunters investigating what’s left of Fred have found a very disorganized system. There is no obvious surface circulation. Plus, they are finding relatively dry air above the surface. Neither condition is conducive to the system reorganizing quickly.
So what’s going to happen next? The atmospheric conditions over and around South Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba are going to be marginal for the next day or so. Upper-level winds are forecast to be somewhat hostile.
In addition, the system will likely track near or over Cuba, which will be another limiting factor.
As a result, reorganization should be slow, if it occurs. But it’s an open question what will happen when the system is very near the Keys or South Florida.
Even if the system tracks near or over Cuba, it will eventually move over very warm water – the Florida Straits - between Cuba and the Keys. And here’s where the ifs come in.
If enough of a disturbance survives that a circulation can regenerate, and if it doesn’t get completely wiped out over Cuba, and if the hostile upper-level winds let up a bit when the system is over the Florida Straits south of the Keys, a tropical storm could form pretty quickly.
Because there are so many ifs in this scenario, we have to be ready for the possibility of a tropical storm affecting South Florida beginning Saturday. In any case, a big surge of tropical moisture with embedded gusty winds will move in. The tail of the moisture may well remain over the peninsula on Sunday.
It’s hard to imagine how the storm could be very strong, but it could certainly be more than nothing based on what we know now. The inclination is to focus on the Keys, but the forecast has significant uncertainty – as always is the case in a just-developing storm.
At this point, let’s be ready for a very gusty rainy day on Saturday, and be happy if the only thing we get is the rain.
Elsewhere in the tropics, the National Hurricane Center is noting a disturbance in the tropical Atlantic. They are giving it a good chance of becoming at least a tropical depression in the next several days. The upper-level winds are currently fairly hostile, although they are forecast to become more conducive for development by the weekend.
This system will be on a similar track to Fred, at least initially. So needless to say, we’ll have to watch it.