It is late July and the tropics are beginning to shows signs of life. After several weeks of a very busy east Pacific, the tables are slowly turning and it won’t too be long before the Atlantic begins producing storms and hurricanes.
Right now the focus is on a strong tropical wave emerging from the west coast of Africa. The National Hurricane Center has designated it as invest area 96L – the first step in the process of watching for potential development. In this case, the potential for additional development is rather low, only 20% out to five days. However, it is the fact that we have something of interest entering the so-called MDR or Main Development Region that makes this situation interesting.
Climatology suggests that while development is possible this early in the season in the tropical Atlantic, it doesn’t happen too often. Dry mid-level air, typically associated with Saharan Air Layer outbreaks off of Africa, usually squash development potential until later in August. That may be what we see in this situation though it doesn’t mean the tropical wave will vanish.
Water temps are warm enough in the region off the African coast and overall, upper level winds are generally favorable.
Some long range models suggest that the wave of energy will wait until it reaches the western Atlantic before developing. We have seen this time and again in recent years as the MDR has seemed to be rather hostile for seedling storms to take root.
Right now, it is a topic of conversation for tropical weather watchers and TV meteorologists. Whether or not 96L becomes more of a story later on remains to be seen. It is certainly a sign that we are getting closer to the prime time of the Atlantic hurricane season and with so much warm water waiting in the western regions of the basin, it’s only a matter of time in my opinion – which makes sense considering the time of year we are in and where we are headed climatologically speaking.
Meanwhile, the east Pacific remains fairly busy with tropical storm Frank dying out well to the west of the Baja peninsula where cooler water and a more stable air mass awaits.
The NHC has outlined an additional area of interest farther to the southeast of Frank that has some potential for development over the next five days. No worries for Mexico, however, as anything that does manage to get going will move generally west to west-northwest out in to the open Pacific.
I will have more on 96L in my video discussion later today and a full blog post again tomorrow morning.
M. Sudduth 11AM ET July 27