Too Soon to Say a Gulf Coast Hurricane but Development Possible in Caribbean
By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
August 21, 2014; 5:46 AM
While it is too early to say for sure that a hurricane will hit the Gulf coast before the end of August, there may be a threat for the United States and Caribbean islands from the Atlantic in the coming days.
As an area of disturbed weather that originated from Africa earlier this month moves westward into the Caribbean this weekend, gradual tropical development is possible.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck, "This disturbed weather will move into a zone of more moist air, light winds aloft and warmer water over the Caribbean."
The slow-moving disturbance will soon begin to affect some of the Caribbean islands.
"The Lesser Antilles will experience gusty winds and heavy showers Thursday night through Friday while it's possible that the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico receive similar impacts over the weekend," Smerbeck said.
There is a broad window of possible paths and hurdles for the system to overcome for development to continue.
Interaction with the larger islands of the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, could limit strengthening and/or deflect the system farther north or south.
A track into the Gulf of Mexico is becoming less likely. However, it still cannot be ruled out.
"The Atlantic ridge is expected to weaken and shift eastward, causing the tropical system to turn more to the northwest near the Bahamas this weekend, and then perhaps on a track toward the Southeast or mid-Atlantic coast or even Bermuda next week," said Smerbeck.
Interests from the Caribbean to the eastern Gulf coast, the southern Atlantic Seaboard, Bermuda, and interior Eastern states should closely monitor the situation.
The window of possibilities will be narrowed down over the next few days, well ahead of the storm.
Hurricane Season Peaks in Mid-September
Even though some people may associate summer with the heart of hurricane season, tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic are primarily late summer and early autumn phenomenon.
Despite the seemingly low numbers, the pace of named systems in the Atlantic is only a bit below average to date.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydnynowski, "Seasonal lag has a great deal to do with the delay in the number of tropical systems."
Ocean water temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere typically peak late in the summer. Additionally, non-tropical storm systems dominate the weather maps and their winds and generally make the tropics too hostile for development during the first part of the summer.
The upcoming weather pattern over eastern North America will be more favorable for a tropical system to approach as a zone of hot, humid air with light winds builds and expands.
The tropical disturbance being tracked will continue to battle dry air, disruptive winds and marginal water temperatures into the first part of the weekend.