11AM Update Tropical Depression Five has grown a lot of convection this morning, but is still not Tropical Storm strength. Recon reports later may confirm the status of the system later around 3PM eastern or so.
The center of the storm is difficult to locate by satellite, but it may not be under the convective mass of clouds now.
Intensity wise there are signs that the shear may relax a bit sooner, giving the opportunity for the system to possibly make it to Hurricane Strength in a day or two, and if it does sooner rather than later, it could become a strong hurricane. If shear picks up a bit, it would hold the system in check. Regardless it is forecast to be a hurricane within 60 hours. Anyone in the cone should pay attention to this system. Jamaica should pay very close attention to the system.
The models split a bit on what part of the Gulf they take it to, some more west, some more north. Watching the trends over the next few days should give us a better indicator for that time. West enough, and it would head toward the Yucatan, more north would clip it over Cuba giving Florida more of an opportunity. Right now I'm leaning more toward the west, but it depends on how soon the storm becomes more organized (and if it becomes a hurricane early or if at all)
As for models...
The GFS isn't as bullish on maintaining or redeveloping the upper low in the Pacific Northwest as it moves into the Great Lakes region as it was last night, instead degenerating it into a broader trough and eroding the northern part of the subtropical ridge.
The NOGAPS tries to slingshot TD 5 around a disturbance it develops in the far eastern Pacific, not terribly representative of the range of possibilities. It largely loses the upper low over the Rockies, as it did last night. Not putting a lot of stock in this one.
Most of the statistical or statistical-dynamical models hint at a turn more toward the west as the system passes Jamaica, heading for the Yucatan peninsula. As most of these are based off of the GFS upper air fields, a lot of divergence isn't to be expected.
The UKMet model actually shows something more like the GFS did last night, with a fairly potent shortwave remaining in the Great Lakes region, but located too far north to have a huge impact on the storm's track. It ends up taking TD 5 into central Louisiana, somewhat in the vicinity of where Lili went in back in 2002. This isn't an unrealistic scenario.
More to come later...
Original Update Tropical Depression Five has formed... from recon reports the disturbance east of the Caribbean islands has formed a closed circulation and is at least a Depression.
The forecast keeps it below hurricane strength for now, as it may struggle for a bit. If it persists and maintains itself it will be entering into a more favorable area earlier next week. Models are not reliable currently because of the system being relatively new, but most suggest a general westward and slightly north of west motion. The official forecast has it just south of Jamaica and nearing the Yucatan channel, remaining as a tropical storm.
If the storm strengthens overnight and gets better organized then it could possibly be a hurricane earlier, however if it does not, it may struggle just to be a tropical storm. We'll have to watch it, and those in Jamaica will need to, especially if any surprises with intensity occur. However, right now there is not much reason to suspect any differences in the official forecast.
In front of the system is some shear and dryer air, which would suggest it staying weaker. However, if this area moves north (and the upper level low to the north of it) the system may go further west and have a chance to strengthen more. The models are keeping it weak, but not destroying the system like it did with Chris.
Tropical Storm Debby is still out in the Central Atlantic, forecast to recurve. If it becomes a hurricane it will do so several days out and only briefly before transitioning to an extratropical system. It is no threat to the US mainland.
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