STORM WATCH: ‘Torrential Downpours, Gusty Thunderstorms’ Forecast For The Region In The Next Five Days
AREA TO WATCH: The area highlighted in red is where a tropical depression or storm may develop during the next five days. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could be affected by this system.
MIAMI — August is historically the beginning of the annual ramp up of hurricane season in the Atlantic, and right on cue, there are a couple of areas to watch in the Atlantic through next week.
There have been five Atlantic tropical storms so far this season, but all of them were short-lived. Four of those storms did affect land, mainly with heavy rain.
The next two names on the list of tropical storms in the Atlantic for 2017 are Franklin and Gert.
Residents and those planning vacations around the Caribbean should closely monitor the weather and forecasts.
Up to this point in the season, there have been extensive areas of dry air and Saharan dust as well as a large zone of strong westerly winds aloft. These three factors act as a strong deterrent toward tropical storm formation and can bring an early demise to well-developed tropical storms and hurricanes.
Conditions are gradually becoming more favorable for development in the tropical Atlantic with dry air, dust and strong winds aloft on the retreat. Waters are sufficiently warm over the region.
One system, dubbed 90L, was located close to South America over the south-central Caribbean and is the more immediate concern of the two.
“In the short-term, the close proximity to South America will be a significant inhibiting factor for development,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
“However, once this system moves away from South America, it will have a better chance for development sometime this weekend,” Doll said.
Depending on the track and speed of strengthening of 90L, some of the islands and mainland areas may be affected by adverse conditions and perhaps localized flooding.
An immediate concern for torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and building seas will be in northwestern Venezuela, northern Colombia, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao through Saturday.
As 90L grows in size, the risk of flooding downpours, gusty winds and rough seas may affect Jamaica late Saturday night and Sunday.
Westerly steering winds may bring 90L close over Nicaragua and Honduras later this weekend.
While this track would mark an end for strengthening, the two nations could be affected by damaging and dangerous conditions from flooding and gusty winds.
Should 90L take a more northwesterly track, toward the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, it would have more time for development and may then wander into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico next week.
The system farthest away from North America, dubbed 99L, has the potential to gradually develop into next week and beyond, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
“Nintey-nine L could become a tropical depression by the end of the weekend,” Doll said.
Provided the system avoids strong winds aloft and dry air to the north, significant additional strengthening could occur.
If 99L develops and/or survives, then it is likely approach the Windward and Leeward islands during the middle to latter part of next week. Parts of these islands are likely to experience an uptick in showers and thunderstorms at very least during that time.
The exact track of 99L in relation to the proximity to the islands will depend on how quickly the system strengthens. A weak and poorly organized system is more likely to track to the west. A developed system is more likely to track north of west.