TROPICS ARE HEATING UP – GONZALO FORMS IN THE ATLANTIC
The tropical disturbance that moved over South Florida yesterday has an opportunity to organize in the central or northwestern Gulf of Mexico over the next couple of days. The center of the disturbance is well west of the Florida peninsula, but it’s dragging a tail of moisture behind it. That moisture tail will keep clouds and tropical downpours in the South Florida forecast at least through tomorrow.
As the system moves across the Gulf, a pocket of upper-level winds conducive for development is forecast to be nearby. Whether the disturbance can take advantage of the favorable environment in the time it will be over the warm Gulf water is an open question. If an organized circulation can develop, however, the system could spin up quickly.
People along the Texas coast should stay informed. The National Hurricane Center is giving the disturbance a good chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm. If it gets a name, it would likely be Hanna.
Well out in the tropical Atlantic, more than 1,000 miles east of the Caribbean islands, Tropical Storm Gonzalo has formed. The system is moving toward the west in an environment generally favorable for strengthening. At least for the next few days. Its satellite presentation looks quite healthy.
As Gonzalo reaches the Caribbean Sea over the weekend, plus or minus, the computer forecast models diverge on how hostile the environment will become. Some models kill the storm off near the southern Caribbean islands, and others keep it going as an organized system into next week as it moves across the Caribbean.
The system is quite small, so it can spin up quickly, but it can also die off quickly. Small storms can’t protect themselves from dry air or hostile upper winds as well as large ones can. As a result, the factors that affect a small system’s strength can be subtle, and impossible to forecast.
In any case, it appears that Gonzalo or its remnants will continue to the west, well south of Florida.
The same east to west flow that is driving the Gulf disturbance and Gonzalo is forecast to drive another plume of Saharan Dust across the Atlantic toward Florida. The dust and the wind flow should prevent any tropical mischief from bothering Florida into next week, at least.
The dust plume is expected to reach the vicinity of South Florida over the weekend or early next week.
Following Gonzalo-to-be is another tropical disturbance – technically a tropical wave that moved off Africa. Some of the computer forecast models also develop this system as they move it toward the Caribbean, more or less following Gonzalo’s track.