Tropical Thursdays: Potential tropical development along Florida Atlantic coast

Weather

After a period of silence, the North Atlantic is finally starting to wake up for late August. Tropical Storm Chantal formed late Tuesday night, south of the Canadian island of Newfoundland.

This is a very small and disorganized system that maintained Tropical Storm status for about a day before being downgraded to a Tropical Depression. Currently, Chantal has winds of 35 mph and will remain out to sea posing no threat to land.

Closer to home we have a cluster of large thunderstorms trying to become more organized over the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.

This system will continue to move northward, grazing the coast of Florida while trying to develop further. Currently the National Hurricane Center has given this system a 10% chance of developing into a named system over the next 48-hours, and a 30% chance over the next 5 days.

Sea surface temperatures in this general area are about 87 degrees and wind shear values are very minimal, creating a prime area for tropical development. We will continue to monitor this area closely over the next week.

Current wind shear levels across the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

Long term forecasting models are showing the Gulf of Mexico becoming more active over the next few weeks with a potential storm trying to form by early September. This is a long term forecast model and could likely change significantly over the next few days. However, current wind shear values are minimal across the Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Campeche, Western Caribbean, and parts of the Western Atlantic. Any disturbance that forms in these areas has a high chance for further development over the next few days. We will continue to focus our attention on the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days and weeks to see if any tropical development takes place.

Over in the West Pacific, parts of the Philippines are experiencing heavy amounts of rain and gusty winds from a strengthening Tropical Storm – Bailu.

This system is moving westward towards Taiwan and will likely come ashore on the southern part of the island early Saturday morning as a strong Tropical Storm and possible low end Typhoon.

Taiwan is no stranger to Typhoons and on average experiences a tropical cyclone three or four times each year.

Tropical Storm Bailu will continue tracking westward over the weekend and make a second landfall in mainland China bring intense rains and gusty winds to the country. Bailu is a large storm at this time and the main threats for both Taiwan and China will be the heavy rains associated with the storm, which will likely cause landslides.

In the North Atlantic we are currently in the most active period for tropical cyclone development. August through October is generally when most tropical cyclones form, including major hurricanes (Category 3 – 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). This is also the time that the United States experiences most tropical cyclone landfalls.

Chantal has formed, and with wind shear continuing to be minimal, and sea surface temperatures continuing to rise, it is only a matter of time before the next tropical system forms. We will continue to monitor the system of the east coast of Florida as well as the Gulf of Mexico for any potential development.

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