Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist AccuWeather.com
STATE COLLEGE, PA, U.S.A. (AccuWeather | Aug. 20, 09:12PM) — While it is too early to say for sure that a hurricane will hit the Gulf coast before the end of August, there may be a threat for the United States and Caribbean islands from the Atlantic in the coming days.
As an area of disturbed weather that originated from Africa earlier this month moves westward into the Caribbean this weekend, gradual tropical development is possible.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck, “This disturbed weather will move into a zone of more moist air, light winds aloft and warmer water over the Caribbean.”
The slow-moving disturbance will soon begin to affect some of the Caribbean islands.
“The Lesser Antilles will experience gusty winds and heavy showers Thursday night through Friday while it’s possible that the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico receive similar impacts over the weekend,” Smerbeck said.
At this very early stage, a track into the Gulf of Mexico is possible next week. However, there is a broad window of possible paths and hurdles for the system to overcome for development to continue.
Interaction with the larger islands of the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, could limit strengthening and/or deflect the system farther north or south.
“High pressure building over the lower Mississippi Valley may help to steer this feature into and across the Gulf of Mexico late week, but it is also possible that a developing low pressure area east of the mid-Atlantic coast draws the system farther north across the Bahamas and toward Bermuda,” Smerbeck said.
Interests from the Caribbean to the Gulf coast, the southern Atlantic Seaboard and interior Eastern states should closely monitor the situation.
Heavy rainfall into this weekend in parts of the Ohio Valley and Appalachians could be an ongoing flooding concern should a tropical system loaded with downpours were to wander well inland toward the Labor Day weekend. Streams and rivers in some locations are running above average for late summer.
Hurricane Season Peaks In Mid-September
Even though some people may associate summer with the heart of hurricane season, tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic are primarily late summer and early autumn phenomenon.
Despite the seemingly low numbers, the pace of named systems in the Atlantic is only a bit below average to date.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydnynowski, “Seasonal lag has a great deal to do with the delay in the number of tropical systems.”
Ocean water temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere typically peak late in the summer. Additionally, non-tropical storm systems dominate the weather maps and their winds and generally make the tropics too hostile for development during the first part of the summer.
The upcoming weather pattern over eastern North America will be more favorable for a tropical system to approach as a zone of hot, humid air with light winds builds and expands.
The tropical disturbance being tracked will continue to battle dry air, disruptive winds and marginal water temperatures into the first part of the weekend.