It’s Not Quite Over: Another Storm May Form As Hurricane Season Winds Down


A cluster of showers and thunderstorms in the southwestern Caribbean has the potential to become the next named tropical storm of the soon to end 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters say.

Clusters of showers and thunderstorms associated with a broad area of low pressure have been flaring up the past couple of days in the southwest Caribbean, between Central America and Jamaica – an area that is a typical hotbed for November tropical cyclone activity.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami has designated the area of disturbed weather Invest 90L, saying environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for slow development of this disturbance during the next several days, and a tropical depression is likely to form late this week.

Potential for formation is high – the NHC gives it an 80 per cent chance of developing into a storm within the next five days. Not only are sea-surface temperatures in the southwest Caribbean Sea about 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year, but wind shear – the change in wind speed and/or direction with height that typically rips apart tropical disturbances trying to become depressions – is at a minimum over Invest 90L.

Warm water is needed for showers and thunderstorms to blossom and strong wind shear can prevent a tropical system from developing.

“Strong wind shear that has been present over the Caribbean in recent weeks is diminishing and waters are sufficiently warm to sustain a tropical system,” said AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.

Invest 90L’s showers and thunderstorms may begin to spin slowly later this week, and if that becomes fully circular, a tropical depression would be born, explained AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Once sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour, the threshold for a tropical storm would be reached and the system would be named.

The next name on the list is Otto.

The Weather Channel noted that if a tropical depression or storm does form later this week, it’s not yet clear if it would simply sit and stall in the southwest Caribbean Sea, move westward into Central America, or get pulled north-northeastward toward Jamaica, Hispañola or Cuba, ahead of a cold front. Either way, it said, it would be a slow-moving system.

Given the slow movement, the area of disturbed weather may wring out torrential rain from Central America to parts of Hispañola, Jamaica and Cuba.

All eyes will therefore be on Haiti which is still struggling after Hurricane Matthew struck its southwest as a Category 4 hurricane on October 4, prior to reaching Category 5 strength. The country was also hit by a renewed round of flooding from heavy rains last week.

Interests in the western and central Caribbean from Jamaica to eastern Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico at want to monitor the development of the system.


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