Caribbean Wave Becoming More Active

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Updated: 8/14/2013 11:39 am
Organizing tropical wave approaching the Yucatan Channel...

Weak low pressure seems to be slowly evolving/developing over the Western/NW Caribbean in association with the tropical wave I've been tracking for days.

The GFS forecast model remains quite consistent on strengthening tropical cyclone that could reach the Central Gulf Coast by early Sat. as a tropical storm.  The European model has also been quite consistent -- at least on intensity -- with a weak system -- little more than an open wave or very weak low pressure -- moving into the Central or Eastern Gulf Coast by late Fri. into the weekend
.  Other forecast models range from a weak low to a full blown hurricane.
Satellite imagery shows an uptick in convection in association with the wave as surface pressures slowly drop.  It seems likely that at least a depression could evolve as the system moves N/NW through the Yucatan Channel then into the open, warm Gulf of Mexico.  Shear is strong in a ribbon across the far NW Caribbean but low over the Southern Gulf but becomes before becoming much stronger again over the Northern Gulf.  An upper level trough will dig into the Eastern half of the U.S. helping to encourage a move more north.  So the Gulf Coast appears to be a likely candidate for whatever this wave becomes (or doesn't become).  Despite the shear, there could be some help with upper level ventilation for the wave by the weekend which could induce some intensification.  In any case....this wave is something to carefully watch & anyone with travel plans west on I-10 anywhere along the Gulf Coast should stay up to date on the latest forecasts.

For the First Coast....it looks like the primary effects would be a slug of tropical moisture pushing north east of the wave which would increase the heavy rain potential.  There would be few other significant impacts unless the system becomes stronger & -- especially -- tracks farther east.

"Spaghetti plots" (forecast models) courtesy the S. Fl. Water Management District:

Large areas of dry mid & upper level air (black & rust colored areas on the water vapor satellite image below) remains over the Central & SW Atlantic. Overall conditions remain unsuitable for significant tropical development as shear generally remains high too. A pretty decent tropical wave has moved off the African coast with the potential for short term development but none of the forecast models are enthusiastic about long term potential....probably due to the combination of dry air & shear.

Shear is strong over much of the Atlantic Basin -- as can be seen below -- exceeding 30 knots over parts of the Caribbean...exceeding 40 knots over the Central Atlantic....& 30+ knots over the Northern Gulf of Mexico....

The tropical wave mentioned above is south/southwest of the Cape Verde Island & should generally continue west or west/northwest ... eventually encountering the more hostile atmospheric conditions. 

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