8 PM UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center said the disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic — Invest 95L — was “likely” to become a tropical depression by Friday as it moves west or west-northwest toward the Lesser Antilles. Conditions may become more hostile to the system by the weekend, forecasters said. For the low south of Bermuda, forecasters bumped down chances of development over the next five days to 50 percent, but the two-day chances remained at 40 percent. (Image credits: top: NHC; bottom: SFWMD)
There’s a bit of irony — maybe Nature has a sense of humor — that two days after a drastic cut to the hurricane season forecast the Atlantic suddenly springs to life with two potential storms.
Colorado State University’s updated forecast issued Monday called for 11 named storms in 2018, and that includes the one already in the books, May’s Subtropical Storm Alberto.
With a follow-up to the forecast on Tuesday, CSU’s Philip Klotzbach tweeted: “Latest Climate Forecast System model runs predict much stronger than normal vertical wind shear during August-October in Caribbean & a bit stronger than normal further east in tropical Atlantic. If this verifies, would likely reduce Atlantic #hurricane activity.”
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center got out their colored markers on Tuesday, marking off potential storms south of Bermuda and in the eastern Atlantic. Development chances were up to 60 percent Wednesday morning for the former, and 30 percent for the latter.
It’s a little early for the start of the Cape Verde hurricane season, in which tropical waves from the coast of Africa become a focus of concern and angst. But there it is, and the NHC was impressed enough to designate the system Invest 95L, which means track runs are now available on such websites as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Early-cycle track guidance showed 95L targeting the northwestern Leeward Islands, and the GFS Ensemble group shows an eventual path that takes it anywhere from the Central Caribbean to the Bahamas. The intensity guidance, which is always the weakest part of tropical weather forecasting, shows a spread from no development at all to a low-level Category 1 hurricane.
Both systems may be brief flashes in the pan, however. NHC forecasters say upper level winds will become hostile as 95L approaches the islands this weekend, and the GFS and other forecast models show it fizzling out.
The low south of Bermuda may have a short shelf life as well, since NHC forecasters say it will interact with a frontal system on Sunday.
The Atlantic wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin indicates shear as high as 50 knots in the Northwestern Caribbean. But if 95L would get bumped up to the north and miss the islands entirely, it may find friendlier conditions.
RECORD WATCH: The low in Melbourne Tuesday was 81, a record warm minimum temperature. The previous record was 79 set in 2001. It was the second day in a row that Melbourne notched a record warm low.
RAINFALL FORECAST: An upper-level low was moving into the Florida peninsula Wednesday. It should increase rain and thunderstorm chances Wednesday and Thursday as it slides west into the Gulf of Mexico, the National Weather Service said.