• Bryan Norcross

EPSILON HAS FORMED IN THE ATLANTIC WHILE AN OLD DISTURBANCE BRINGS HEAVY RAIN TO SOUTH FLORIDA

The non-tropical low-pressure system that briefly became a depression over the Atlantic southeast of Bermuda has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Epsilon.

Since the system waited a while to develop, and therefore has been sitting over the warm ocean for several days, it was able to overcome its non-tropical roots and evolve into a tropical system, so it didn't get the hybrid subtropical designation. The top winds were estimated to have reached 40 mph based on satellite observations, so the system got the next name in the Greek alphabet, Epsilon.


The large circulation is pretty much stationary right now, and well away from land. It’s forecast to loop around and then meander north this week. The only question is to what degree Bermuda gets affected late in the week. A significant storm, potentially yet another hurricane there, cannot be ruled out.

Epsilon is not a threat to Florida.


Closer to home, the Tropical Disturbance we were following near the northeastern Caribbean islands last week is now passing south of South Florida. It perked up just enough to draw moisture out of the Caribbean and fling it over the southern peninsula today.

It’s not expected to develop any organization, but will continue to drag waves of tropical moisture over the southern part of Florida and the Bahamas. Gusty downpours on top the extremely high King Tides, which are being accentuated by the strong wind off the ocean, will likely cause some local flooding.

The forecast timing of the disturbance has not been very good. It now appears stronger and better defined than most of the early projections. We were thinking that it would stay south and get absorbed into a separate system that the long-range computer forecast models thought was going to develop in the southern Caribbean. That would have kept the disturbance’s moisture south of South Florida.

But, the situation in the southern Caribbean has changed, and that allowed the Tropical Disturbance to maintain its own identity. It will move west into the southern Gulf. As that happens over the next day or two, it will continue to steer the moisture over southern Florida.

The situation in the Caribbean that got social media so excited last week – a couple of the long-range computer forecast models showed a strong hurricane hitting Cuba, the Bahamas, and perhaps Florida – has now evolved in a good direction.

A weather pattern conducive for a storm to develop is still forecast, but the pocket of favorable conditions now looks smaller and more limited in time. Most of the reliable computer forecast models now forecast a broad, fairly non-threatening system to develop, as it moves slowly toward the southern Gulf. Some models no longer forecast an organized circulation in the Caribbean or Gulf at all.

It is important to remember, however, forecasts for undeveloped or poorly developed tropical systems are notoriously poor. So we don’t want to jump to any conclusions about what’s going to happen late in the week, just like we didn’t jump on the Caribbean-hurricane bandwagon last week.

Odds are increasing that whatever develops will be broad and slow-moving in the Caribbean and perhaps the southern Gulf for at least this week, and not be a threat.