Forecasters, officials carefully monitoring next Atlantic tropical cyclone

By Alyssa Glenny,
Meteorologists are monitoring a tropical wave now pushing across the central Atlantic Ocean that could develop into the season's next named storm, to be called 'Lee.' File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Meteorologists are monitoring a tropical wave now pushing across the central Atlantic Ocean that could develop into the season's next named storm, to be called 'Lee.' File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Forecasters and local officials on Monday put portions of the northeastern Caribbean on alert for a brewing tropical system expected to become the Atlantic hurricane season's next named storm.

If it does develop as expected, it will be named "Lee."


Analysts said a tropical wave pushing across the central Atlantic could develop into a tropical cyclone over the next day or so.

As this wave, designated "Invest 95L" by the National Hurricane Center, travels through the main development region of the Atlantic Ocean over the upcoming week, it is expected to intensify, and can even become the basin's next hurricane.

On Monday, the AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue Satellite displayed a widespread cluster of thunderstorms progressing westward, located several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. Into midweek, this bundle of storms will push into a zone conducive for development and further organization.


"Throughout the upcoming week, this feature will track through an environment with low wind shear, ample moisture and ocean temperatures several degrees above the threshold for tropical development (roughly 80 degrees Fahrenheit)," explained AccuWeather Tropical Meteorologist Alex DaSilva.

"There is not a lot of dry air present across the tropical Atlantic that this feature will have to deal with, which will help it to get its act together," he said.

Strong wind shear values can quickly tear apart organized tropical systems or fight against storms trying to form. A lack of vertical wind shear is optimal for strengthening and tropical formation and looks to remain low across the western and central Atlantic for at least the next seven days.

Under these combined conditions, this corridor of the Atlantic waters are primed for helping a storm gain organization and strength. However, meteorologists are taking note of one element that could fight against this storm: sinking air.

The downward vertical motion would suppress cloud formation and ultimately curb how quickly a tropical cyclone can develop, similar to how sinking air associated with high pressure promotes clear skies and calm weather rather than supporting the formation of clouds and thunderstorms.


"Areas of sinking air across the Atlantic could inhibit how fast this feature will initially develop. However, this factor by itself should not hinder much after early this week and the other factors supporting development will take over," stated DaSilva.

Once this tropical wave organizes into what is the most likely Lee-name candidate, AccuWeather meteorologists say that it can take on a general westward track toward the eastern Caribbean Islands.

At this time, the path of the storm is likely to skirt just north of Puerto Rico and the northern Leeward Islands as early as later this week or this weekend, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda to name a few. Given the nearby pass by the islands, impacts of rain and wind from this potential storm cannot yet be ruled out for these locations.

This weekend into early next week, the steering winds could take this storm well northeast of the Bahamas and slow the feature down considerably. By the second week of September, it can enter a zone of ocean waters that were recently churned up by the active storm pattern the last week.

"Following the active pattern across the [Atlantic] basin last week, we are noticing a pocket of cooler waters in the general vicinity of Bermuda and several hundred miles off of the Carolina coast where Idalia tracked late last week. Typically, the ocean water temperatures can rebound fairly quickly this time of year. It is likely that by the time this feature reaches this zone in the western Atlantic by next week the ocean temperatures are likely to return to warmer values," explained DaSilva.


Forecasters say that any potential impacts to the United States and Atlantic Canada will rely largely on the overall steering pattern of winds in place next week.

A few scenarios can take place as we head into the upcoming week, depending on the expected position of various features and how quickly they move across the region. Latest indications suggest that the storm track could vary across a wide swath spanning from the U.S. East Coast on northward to eastern Canada, or even skirt away from the coast entirely.

"Interests across the Caribbean and along the East Coast from Florida to Maine will need to pay close attention to this feature. Depending on the path this system takes, the expected timeframe for potential impacts to the United States and Atlantic Canada may be Sept. 13-16," explained AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.

Historically, most tropical activity takes place between mid-August and mid-October in the Atlantic Ocean. Experts consider the peak of hurricane season to fall on Sept. 10.

In past years, notable major hurricanes that formed during the month of September included Irma, Rita, Maria, Ike and Isabel. Hurricane Irma set a dismal record as the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands, which was then followed up two weeks later by Hurricane Maria.


AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to monitor this emerging threat in the Atlantic into the upcoming week, and urge residents to check back often for the most up-to-date tropical information.

Latest Headlines