Model forecast tracks for 97L continue to show a sharp right turn once it gets into the Central Caribbean. (Credit: SFWMD)
TUESDAY UPDATE: Air Force reconnaissance aircraft investigating Invest 97L on Tuesday afternoon did not find a closed circulation, but the National Hurricane Center said the system was producing near-tropical storm force winds and was continuing the show signs of organization, according to the NHC.
“Conditions are expected to be favorable for development, and a tropical
depression or tropical storm is likely to form tonight or Wednesday,” the agency said in a Special advisory.
Heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds were expected to spread over the Windward Islands through Wednesday.
In a hopeful sign, many forecast models to suggest that Invest 97L — which appears destined to become a strong tropical storm or hurricane — will roll out of the Caribbean and into the Atlantic east of the Bahamas next week.
These forecasts are too far out to let down your guard, and some European Ensemble models suggest a track farther west. So does the Navy’s model, the NAVGEM, and the mean Canadian model ensembles have been showing a track uncomfortably close to Florida’s East Coast.
In any event, tropical development is likely, according to the National Hurricane Center, which is giving the system a 90 percent chance of becoming a depression — or Tropical Storm Matthew — by Friday. There’s a 70 percent chance of development by Wednesday, when the system is forecast to move into the southern Lesser Antilles.
Models show 97L skirting the northern coast of South America before bouncing north toward Hispaniola.
Even if the storm does make that hard-right turn — as the GFS continues to predict — we could have a very strong hurricane near the Bahamas next week. The GFS is predicting 967 mb which is potentially a Category 4 storm, and that could trigger high surf and potentially extensive beach erosion along Florida’s East Coast.
Winds would crank up out of the east-northeast under that scenario.
If the storm stays weaker than projected it could move farther west than shown in some of the model spreads. That would make the eventual turn toward the north farther west as well.
Sunday was only the second day of the month with below normal temperatures in West Palm Beach, with a low of 73 and a high of 87.
In fact, the 73-degree low was the coolest since June 11. Overall, September temperatures are still running 1.7 degrees above average in September, but at 83.6 degrees it will fall far short of the 84.4 degrees posted in 2010.
A cold front is due to slide into Central Florida on Friday, but it won’t have any impact on South Florida to end the month.