Tropical Update for August 20

Tropical Outlook from the NHC at 11PM EDT on August 20, 2012.

First things, first.  Gordon is gone.  What was the strongest hurricane of the year, Gordon quickly dissipated as it crossed near the Azores.  Thankfully, the Azores escaped major damage as it passed.  Gordon is now an extra-tropical system off the coast of Portugal.  It is forecast by both the US and European global models to fizzle before reaching mainland Europe.

With Gordon out of the way, the NHC has turned its’ attention to three different areas in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  The first area (labeled “1” above) is the one I’ve mentioned a couple times in previous tropics-related posts.  This is the tropical wave that came off of the African coast a few days ago and has made its’ way across the Atlantic.  Satellite imagery shows a circulation, however there is very little convection near the center of the storm.  This has slowed the development of the system somewhat, but any increase in convection near the center could lead to the next tropical depression in the Atlantic.

Another wave (“3” above) has come off Africa and, similar to the first wave, it bears watching over the next week as it meanders across the Atlantic.  Of course, if the first wave develops into a tropical storm or hurricane, it will be difficult for this second African wave to intensify if it follows the same path.

The final area of interest is in the western Gulf of Mexico (“2” above).  The remnants of tropical storm Helene are interacting with a cold front that has pushed through most of the US and has since stalled in the Gulf.  It’s possible, although not likely, the warm Gulf waters could help the development of a new circulation.  This area of convection looked a little healthier earlier in the day, so it seems even less likely we’ll see anything from this system, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Tropical waves (like “1” and “3” above) are the traditional precursor to most of the tropical cyclone seen in the Atlantic.  The first wave is about to cross into warmer waters, which could help spark the convection needed.

Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico valid 12Z August 20.

The first wave is just east of 50 W longitude and at 15 N latitude.  So, it’s just about to enter some warmer waters, which will help its’ chances of becoming the next tropical depression.  If you don’t read this post til tomorrow morning, it may already be here.

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