The climatological peak of the Atlantic Basin hurricane season is around the middle of September and tropical activity has certainly ramped up right on schedule. There are four different systems in the western part of the Atlantic Basin that bear watching over the next few days, an additional wave in the eastern Atlantic and an impressive wave over the western part of Africa. The tropical system known last week as 99L is now rated as a tropical depression (#9) and it could very well end Florida’s hurricane drought later this week. Another tropical depression (#8) is spinning towards the Outer Banks of NC and it could reach tropical storm status over the next few days. The strongest system right now is Hurricane Gaston and it is located out over the open Atlantic and should not have any direct impact on the US. Meanwhile, a fourth system that is currently unnamed and unnumbered is noticeably spinning east of the Bahamas and it too bears watching. The wave over the west coast of Africa will be something to watch closely over the next 10 to 14 days or so.
Tropical Depression #9
Amazingly, the state of Florida has not had a hurricane of any intensity since Wilma came ashore in southwestern Florida during late October of 2005. Hurricane Wilma was also the last major hurricane (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5) to strike US soil in what has turned out to be another amazing streak. Both of these streaks are unprecedented in the record-keeping era and there certainly is a chance the Florida hurricane drought comes to an end later this week. Tropical depression #9 is pounding western Cuba today with heavy rainfall and this system will spill out over the Gulf of Mexico in the next 12-24 hours or so. Once over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, intensification is likely to take place. Many sections of the Gulf of Mexico are above 85°F and above normal for this time of year. Indications are that the tropical system will begin to curve to the northeast at mid-week and then potentially reach the central or Gulf coastal region of Florida (Panhandle) by Thursday – as a tropical storm or perhaps a hurricane.
Tropical Depression #8
While all eyes were on 99L last week, this system kind of stuck up on the Carolinas. This system is headed towards the Outer Banks of NC and may reach tropical storm status before arriving in the mid-week time period. At the point, odds favor a quick turn to the northeast and away from the Mid-Atlantic coastline.
Meanwhile, an impressive wave is just now pushing off the western coast of Africa. This system looks like it’ll take a southern route which is always worrisome for the Caribbean Sea and US coastal regions as it generally lessens the chances of an open Atlantic “out-to-sea” type of path. This system is likely to become a real concern in about ten days or so which happens to be pretty close to - you guessed it - the climatological peak of September 10th.
Wind map showing circulation center just off the African coastline; courtesy earth.nullschool.net
Meteorologist paul Dorian