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Atlantic tropical disturbance may develop as it approaches Leeward Islands

By
Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather.com

A disturbance over the central Atlantic is the only feature that has a chance of development in the next week, but that system is forecast to approach the Leeward Islands.

"This feature remains embedded within a region of dry air, but low wind shear into Saturday," according to AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.

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High wind shear can prevent a tropical storm from forming and keep a hurricane from strengthening.

"Since this system is likely to move out of the zone of dry air as it approaches the Lesser Antilles, it may become a depression later this weekend to early next week."

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Development ENW

The window for development may be short-lived, however.

"Wind shear [is] forecast to increase over the northern Caribbean islands during the middle days of next week," Kottlowski said.

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Once this happens, any tropical disturbance that has not developed is likely to have missed its chance at doing so. Any tropical depression or storm that enters that area may be torn apart.

Scenarios

Should the feature take the less likely, more southern route into the Caribbean, where wind shear is lower, some strengthening of an already developed tropical depression may occur next week.

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Weighing all the variables, "strong development of this feature is unlikely at this time," Kottlowski said.

A leading very weak tropical disturbance, or tropical wave, will spread showers and thunderstorms westward over the northern Caribbean islands this weekend.

Satellite Atlantic Friday

This image of the tropical Atlantic shows several tropical disturbances or tropical waves lined up from Africa to waters just off the southeastern United States coast. The image was taken on Friday morning. Image courtesy of NOAA/Satellite

During the middle of last week, one such disturbance brought drenching downpours and localized flooding to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That same disturbance will help to enhance downpours along the southeastern coast of the United States into this weekend.

The same thing may happen again over the Leeward Islands and perhaps Puerto Rico and Hispaniola as the more robust tropical disturbance moves through, perhaps as a tropical depression or storm next week.

On average, close to 60 tropical waves are produced over Africa and move westward across the Atlantic each year. During the period from August to September, a tropical wave emerges from Africa every two to four days.

August Development Tracks

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When a tropical storm or hurricane develops from one of these waves, it is considered to be a Cabo Verde or Cape Verde system, named for a group of islands near the west coast of Africa.

In general, the Cabo Verde disturbances and storms tend to be pushed along by the clockwise circulation around a semi-permanent high pressure area over the central Atlantic Ocean.

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