Tropical Update: Caribbean Development Looking Increasingly Likely

Figure 1. 5-day graphical tropical weather outlook from the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical development in the western Caribbean is looking more likely this weekend going into next week.


A broad area of low pressure has now formed in the SW Caribbean. The associated convective activity is sporadic and disorganized. Shear has decreased in the immediate vicinity of this low. However, it remains in the 25 – 40 kt range across the rest of the Caribbean.

Model guidance:

 The ECMWF (euro) and GFS continue to predict that this system will develop into a tropical cyclone (TC) in the northwest Caribbean this weekend. The UKMET is no longer predicting development, but the CMC and NAVGEM are now showing development.

Figure 2. GEFS predicted MSLP and low pressure center valid Saturday (each individual “L” represents a different ensemble member) | Credit: WeatherBell

Taking a look at the latest ensemble guidance: the 00z run of the EPS indicated a 50% chance of a tropical depression forming over the NW Caribbean between Saturday and next Monday. Over half of the GEFS members were also forecasting development in the NW Caribbean this weekend (see figure 2).

Our thoughts:

 The overall pattern that is going to be in place through at least next week is going to be one that favors upward motion and lowing pressures across the Caribbean/Gulf.  Model guidance also continues to show a decrease in shear this weekend across the NW Caribbean.

Considering the aforementioned factors, we continue to believe that there is a 40 – 50% chance that this broad low becomes a tropical depression or storm in the NW Caribbean this weekend/early next week.

In their 8 AM EDT tropical weather outlook, the National Hurricane Center placed the odds of development at 30% over the next 5 days (see figure 1).

If a tropical depression or storm does indeed develop, it is still a bit too early to speculate on track and intensity with any confidence.

However, it does look like a ribbon of shear over the southern Gulf would keep anything that forms in check. A track toward Florida or the east/central Gulf also seems more possible than a track into the Bahamas due to ridging over the Eastern third of the country.

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