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    Gulf of Mexico, East Coast Not Ruled Out for Tropical Storm Impact

    By By Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
    August 23, 2014, 11:31:37 PM EDT

    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. Some of the Caribbean islands will feel the effects of a budding tropical system into this weekend.

    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 and just north of the Caribbean."


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    Impact on Caribbean

    Odds do not favor rapid development of the system through Friday but disruptions to travel and outdoor activities are possible.

    The disturbance is picking up forward speed and will affect some of the Caribbean islands with torrential downpours and gusty squalls.

    The downpours will raise the risk of flash flooding, road washouts and mudslides but can also ease dry conditions on some of the islands.

    The Windward and Leeward islands will experience gusty winds and heavy showers through Friday. The British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico receive similar impacts Thursday night and continuing into the weekend.

    Downpours and locally gusty storms will be possible on Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands beginning later Friday and continuing into Saturday.

    Portions of the Bahamas and Cuba can experience showers and thunderstorms this weekend.

    Beyond This Weekend

    There is a broad window of possible paths and hurdles for the system to overcome for development to continue.

    "The Atlantic ridge [of high pressure] is expected to weaken and shift eastward, causing the tropical system to turn more to the northwest near the Bahamas this weekend, and then perhaps on a track toward the Southeast or mid-Atlantic coast or even Bermuda next week," said Smerbeck.


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    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.

    While a track next week into the Gulf of Mexico is becoming less likely, it still cannot be ruled out because of the possibility of island interaction and later a system forecast to dip into the Southeastern states.

    Interests from the Caribbean to the eastern Gulf Coast, the southern Atlantic Seaboard, Bermuda, and interior Eastern states should closely monitor the situation.

    Even if a tropical storm or hurricane was to stay east of the East Coast of the U.S., a strong system would generate swells that propagate outward that could reach the shoreline in the form of rough surf and strong rip currents during the last week of August.

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    The window of possibilities will be narrowed down over the next few days, well ahead of the storm.

    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.


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    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.

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