Despite its very fast movement to the west, the tropical wave and weak low pressure area that we also know as “invest 97L” continues to get better organized.
Recent satellite images show more curved bands of showers and thunderstorms trying to wrap around the low level but poorly defined center of circulation. If it weren’t for the fast motion, we would probably have a tropical storm by now.
As it is, convection is increasing and interests in the Leeward Islands need to be ready for periods of heavy rain, gusty winds and overall squall weather as the system moves in to the region later tonight. The biggest impact will be to boaters so be aware – even a developing tropical wave can bring with it the possibility of strong winds and very heavy rain along with locally rough seas.
Once in the Caribbean, computer models indicate modest strengthening and it may be that 97L goes on to become tropical storm Earl – especially as it reaches the western Caribbean early next week. Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and eventually the eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula all need to be watching this system closely. Water temperatures are already exceptionally warm with ample upper ocean heat content all along the path of this system. The potential is there for this to strengthen and bring at least tropical storm conditions to areas in the western Caribbean, if not sooner.
Beyond the next five days, it is simply too soon to have a reliable idea of where this might end up. For now, the focus will be on the eastern Caribbean with a gradual shift towards the western Caribbean as the week ahead begins.
As for the other tropical wave, 96L, which was farther to the east, it has not shown any additional signs of development and probably won’t anytime soon. None of the global computer models carry this feature for very long but the tropical wave energy will have to be monitored since it doesn’t just “go away”. For now, it’s of no concern and our emphasis will be on 97L as it heads for the eastern Caribbean Sea.
M. Sudduth 12:40 PM ET July 30