A look at the various track guidance showing a potential threat to the northern Leeward Islands in the coming days
Invest area 93L continues to get better organized, albeit slowly, as it tracks steadily off to the west. There is not a lot of deep convection or thunderstorm activity noted in satellite imagery. This may be due to the marginal sea surface temps coupled with the fairly dry air in place over the tropical Atlantic.
Computer models continue to indicate that this system will become a tropical depression and likely a tropical storm before the end of the week. How strong it gets remains to be seen. Water temps gradually warm the further west it tracks but the dry air and lack of deep convection could stall any rapid strengthening. It is interesting to note that some of the intensity guidance suggests this could become a hurricane while others actually weaken the system later in the forecast period. This just goes to show how little is really known about how tropical cyclones function, especially when it comes to intensity.
The track forecast seems fairly straight forward. Right now, the low pressure area is moving off towards the west at a steady pace. I see no reason for this to change much in the coming days. Eventually, it should begin to gain more latitude and begin tracking more to the west-northwest with time.
It looks as though the would-be tropical storm could impact portions of the Leeward Islands in about four days. The timing and strength, of course, is tough to call right now. I remain somewhat skeptical that this system will develop as much as some of the models indicate, only because this region of the Atlantic has been so hostile for development over the past year or two. Obviously, interests in the Lesser Antilles will need to keep a close watch on how things progress over the next few days.
In the longer term, the pattern over North America will likely dictate where this system ends up. A very strong trough of low pressure has carved itself out over the eastern parts of the United States, bringing much cooler conditions to a wide area of the country. Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, a fairly potent ridge of high pressure is in place which is currently helping to steer 93L westward.
There seems to be a growing number of computer models that indicate a more westward track beyond the five day time frame. If the deep trough lifts out and the Bermuda High builds back in sufficiently, then we could see a track farther west with a potential threat to the Southeast coast of the U.S. It is just too soon to know with any degree of certainty and a lot will depend on how strong the system ultimately becomes. Typically a weaker storm will move more west with the lower level flow while a deeper, more intense storm or hurricane would likely feel any weakness in the Bermuda High more and turn more north.
No matter how you look at it, the next five to ten days has the potential of being quite interesting for many people from the Caribbean to the East Coast of the United States. The best bet is to just keep up to date on the latest developments and react accordingly. With so much information out there these days available at your fingertips, it’s easy to get caught up in model mania. No matter what the computer models say now, we know they will change with time. This is a dynamic situation and we don’t even have a tropical depression yet – though it’s probably only a matter of time.
For now, we have several days before any potential impact to the Lesser Antilles. Let’s see what happens over the next 24 hours and whether or not 93L actually develops further. The rest will take care of itself. I’ll have another update early this evening.
M. Sudduth 8:45 AM ET July 29