Watching tropical disturbance stretching from Bahamas to South of Florida

By Bryan Norcross - Hurricane Specialist

A tropical wave that came all the way across the Atlantic from Africa is splitting into two parts. The northern part stretches from the Bahamas to south of Florida, and may eventually develop next week off the Carolina coast.  

Tropical moisture associated with the disturbance is forecast to move over South Florida by Friday and last into the weekend, at least, as it slowly drifts north. As the disturbance gets over or near North Florida next week, conditions may be favorable for it to develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm near or offshore of the Carolina coast. Early forecasts indicate it would track northeast parallel to the coast, but that’s uncertain.

The southern part of the wave is expected to be a moisture surge pushing north across the western Gulf of Mexico reaching Louisiana late in the week. Development is not expected.

The disturbance that we’ve been tracking since it formed near North Carolina over the weekend turned into Tropical Storm Chantal. It’s not very strong. It’s in the far North Atlantic Ocean – which is unusual for tropical systems – and moving away from land. It should eventually move into dry air and die out.


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Elsewhere in the Atlantic and Caribbean, no tropical development is expected through the weekend.
It’s not totally obvious why the Atlantic is so quiet. The water temperatures and upper-winds appear relatively conducive for development. Part of the eastern Atlantic is covered with Saharan dust, but also the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere over most of the tropical ocean are unusually dry.   Why that is happening is not 100% clear, but it might be related to the huge areas of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean goofing with the overall circulation.

August 21, 1992:  Tropical Storm Andrew was getting more organized. Hurricane Hunters noted the hint of an eyewall developing, a sign that it might be a hurricane soon. But the central pressure was extremely high, contradicting the idea that it would develop quickly.

 

The afternoon National Hurricane Center forecast showed Andrew staying well offshore of the Florida coast through Monday, but the computer forecast models were all over the place. When we finally received the afternoon AVN model (now called the GFS), I saw that strong high pressure was forecast to build to the north, which would block Andrew from turning north if the model turned out to be right. That was when we started to talk about preparing for Andrew, if it became necessary over the weekend. Unbelievably, we were only 2 ½ days from landfall.
 

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