I too, see 97L "moistening up" this morning. Given the added heat content off the SST's, I would guess we will basically see a steady state of increasing coverage area. I cannot stress enough how large this system's overall envelope appears to be. It really is fortunate that a rapid spin up is not anticipated, and that development ( should it in fact occur ), likely not result in the system being designated a depression much sooner than Sunday morning. That much is good news. The bad news is that as this system evolves, its overall size could pose serious flood risk to Puerto Rico and Hispanola, especially if it tracks directly over or just south of these islands.
Having just taken a look at all the models this morning, there seems to be little question as to the basic course and motion over at least the short to mid range of time. Nearly all of the dynamic models and the global models, pretty much advertise a tight cluster of tracks that certainly indicate that the sytsem will pass close to ( if not over ) Puerto Rico and Hispanola. Whether that means just to the south or just to the north still remains within any margin of error. How much mountainous land is traversed prior to any possible threat to the Bahamas, Yucatan, or the U.S. obviously plays into later intensity.
Here is my take on the present set of circumstances - As I look at the broader picture ( literally ), there is little doubt that 97L is on the western edge of what appears to be an overall very large surge of the easterlies. On visable satellite, it would appear to me that in association with 97L, a huge lazily rotating area of Altocumulus would appear as the leading edge of this surge. I think the large pocket of dry air ( SAL ) which lies just north of the latest invest 98L, bears out, this continued easterly surge as well. I think it wil become appearant that the cuttoff low north of Puerto Rico, will be shunted ( or basically pushed ) out of the way by this larger/strong region of mid to upper level ridging which is pushing westward along with 97L. Thus, I do not see the ULL playing much or any role in the developing systems motion or formation ( granted, should the ULL cut off southward, it would tend to aid in the forming systems outflow ). More than likely I would guess the ULL to simply get pinched northward and picked up by the westerlies. To me, biggest threat to Southern/East Coast of Florida, Bahamas, and potentially the Carolina's would be for this system to strengthen into a Tropical Storm prior to reaching Puerto Rico. Such a more vertically stacked system would tend to gain a little latitude a little quicker and potentially pose the biggest risk for 97L to not only impact these areas, but have greater postenial for reaching stronger downstream intensity ( given the avoidance of being impacted by mountainous terrain ). Meanwhile, greatest threat to Hispanola, Cuba, West Coast of Florida and much of the N. Gulf Coast, would be if this system were to not strengthen ( as forecast ) until reaching the Eastern Caribbean, and then to have a more Westward track. In the near term ( 72 hrs ), it is my opinion that the level of consolodation and potential for deepening that will ultimately determine whether we see a possible Major Hurricane threatening the Florida East, Georgia, or Carolina coastline or a re-intensifying hurricane which could ultimately threaten anywhere from the N. Gulf Coast eastward to the W. Coast of Florida.
Given how larger sytstems tend to strengthen more slowly, and given the current overall dynamics my best guess for the moment would be a significant rainfall event for the greater Antilles and eventually a Cat.2/3 Hurricane landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle region to perhaps the Louisiana coastline.
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