Quick early evening update on 97L.
The Hurricane Hunter plane suffered some mechanical issues and had to return to Mississippi before sampling the tropical wave that is nearing Jamaica. However, just because we don’t know for sure what the winds at the surface are or that the system is or is not a tropical storm doesn’t matter much. The effects for Jamaica will be the same – named storm or not.
So that being said, what can people there expect tonight? The main impact will be periods of heavy rain and squalls as the wave of low pressure and developing surface low passes by. It looks as though the loose center of circulation, what little of it there is right now, will pass south of Jamaica. This means a bulk of the shower and thunderstorm activity will rotate over Jamaica, approaching from the north and east.
Fortunately, the wave is still moving briskly to the west at 20 mph or so. This will keep the time period of heavy rain to a minimum but expect some localized flooding – something that is impossible to predict ahead of time in terms of precisely where.
Winds will be nearing tropical storm strength in some of the squalls and at higher elevations. Otherwise, this is a rain event and at least the island will receive some much needed fresh water – just not too much at once hopefully.
After passing Jamaica tonight, the wave should finally strengthen and become a tropical storm. From there, it’s hard to say how strong it might get. Water temps are as warm as they can get really and so it will all come down to the upper environment.
I’ll have more on the system tomorrow morning with posts to Twitter as needed throughout the evening and tonight.
M. Sudduth 5:35 PM ET Aug 1