May 6, 2015 Leave a comment
Good Wednesday afternoon! For several days, we have been talking about a developing area of low pressure across the Bahamas, with some risk of this feature becoming a sub-tropical or tropical storm late this week. There’s no doubt, the cluster of storms to the east of Florida is becoming better organized, but notice how the clouds fan off to the north from the low pressure center. There is still a decent amount of south and southwesterly wind shear, which is blowing the clouds and storm to the northeast. For tropical development, there must be little to no wind shear. Wind shear will weaken a bit over the next few days, so some slow development is likely.
Despite what you may hear on some TV channels and on social media, this will not be a major system. Unfortunately, some people simply live off hype in order to increase ratings. I do not believe in this method and would rather explain what is expected to happen. Here are the limiting factors for rapid development:
1. Dry air is getting pulled into the circulation from the west. Dry air tends to choke these systems and limit thunderstorm activity. Forecast models continue to hint at dry air near the circulation through the weekend.
2. Wind shear is currently preventing rapid development, but wind shear will be decreasing over the next few days, so that will allow some slow development.
3. Cool water temperatures… Water temperatures are generally in the lower to middle 70s east of Florida and into the coastal sections of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. For hurricane development, water temperatures need to be atleast 80 degrees, if not warmer. The potential energy for tropical systems to get going is really low this time of the year. This is one main reason the peak of the hurricane season is August and September. Water temperatures are not only the warmest at the surface that time of the year, warm water temperatures also extend much deeper below the ocean surface.
What will likely happen: The circulation will gradually become better organized over the next few days, with a good chance it will be classified as a sub-tropical or tropical storm on Thursday or Friday. With the limiting factors present, I don’t expect anything stronger than a moderate tropical storm prior to landfall. The low will likely be very small, so impacts will only affect a small area, generally near the coastal sections of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Wind will not be a big deal with this system, but rain and rip current will become the main issues. Keep in mind, the low will generate rip current issues along the entire east coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Alabama will not have any rain/wind impacts out of this event…
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