• Bryan Norcross

The tropical disturbance near Africa is the system to watch

The tropical disturbance just off the coast of Africa has the potential to develop into a strong storm. Currently, the steering currents are weak, so it’s going to take a long time for this system to move across the Atlantic. We’ll be watching it through next week, at least.

Assuming it develops, and it very likely will, its name will be Sam.

Likely-Sam is probably going to be tough to forecast. It’s far enough south that it should avoid the large batch of Saharan air that covers a good part of the eastern tropical Atlantic. But its slow movement means that more systems will come along that can affect it or deflect it.

For example, what’s left of both Tropical Storms Peter, Rose, and Odette will be somewhere over the central Atlantic in a few days. They could create a weakness in the high-pressure system that is driving likely-Sam to the west. As a result, likely-Sam may turn north into that pressure void.

Exactly how much likely-Sam’s track gets changed is unforecastable because we don’t know how weak or strong those systems will be several days from now, and how they will interact. And that’s just one of the systems that might come along and affect the steering-flow.

Based on what we know now, it looks like likely-Sam will be approaching the general vicinity of the northeastern Caribbean islands in about a week. At that point, it’s anybody’s guess.

The storm’s future track is at least partially dependent on its intensity. According to the computer forecast models, the stronger likely-Sam is when it approaches the islands, the more likely it is to turn north.

Likely-Sam is in a hurricane lane we don’t like, so we’ll have to pay attention. But we have lots of time, and a lot can happen.

Just north of the northeastern Caribbean, Tropical Storm Peter is sputtering under hostile upper-level winds. Peter’s thunderstorms have been stripped away from the center. The system will drift north of the islands for another day or so before finally taking a turn to the north.

The strong upper winds should keep Peter fairly inconsequential for the next several days, although Bermuda will have to watch it. There’s a chance the hostile conditions will so disrupt the circulation that Peter dissipates.

Farther east in the Atlantic, not too far to the north of likely-Sam, is Tropical Storm Rose. This storm is also discombobulated. It’s moving north into the middle of the ocean and will not have a significant effect on land.

In the far North Atlantic, the system that was Tropical Storm Odette and then evolved into a winter-type system is forecast to be steered to the south – also into the middle of the Atlantic. It might regain some tropical characteristics, but it won’t directly affect anybody.

We’ll see how or if the broad area of lower pressures related to Peter, Rose, and/or Odette might affect likely-Sam, along with other low-pressure systems moving across the North Atlantic.

There is no consensus from the computer forecast models where Sam will be next week. As always, forecasts for just-developing systems are iffy anyway. We should know more in a few days, if Sam develops more or less on schedule. Then there should be an actual center to track, and we’ll see how the weather pattern to the north develops.