Tropical System Drenching the Caribbean

By , Expert Senior Meteorologist
August 01, 2012; 8:56 PM
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The showers and thunderstorms will be a downer for vacationers, but the area could really use the rain. (Photos.com image)

A strong tropical wave was bringing the most significant and widespread rain in months to some of the northern Caribbean islands this week.

Some locations have received several inches of rain from the disturbance thus far.

The rainfall will be very beneficial for residents for drinking water and agricultural considerations. However, there is also the negative impact to tourists in the area to consider and the slight chance, at a very isolated level, the rainfall could be intense enough to cause flash and urban flooding.

The feature produced drenching showers and locally gusty thunderstorms over the Leeward islands during the first part of the week.

As of the Wednesday morning, the system was bringing locally heavy rain to Hispaniola, made up of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Eastern Cuba, and to some extent Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, were also sharing in some of the downpours.

The system will continue to move along a general, slightly curved west to northwest track over the next few days.


The tropical wave was approaching eastern Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas Wednesday as seen in this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite photo.

The overall shower and thunderstorm pattern within the feature will be subject to pulses of strong activity and other times when the storms fizzle.

Puerto Rico can expect a couple more drenching thunderstorms to be around through Wednesday.

The heavy showers and thunderstorms will continue to affect Hispaniola through Thursday.

Look for showers and thunderstorms to spread westward to central Cuba and northeastward through the Bahamas into the end of the week.

The pulse of moisture associated with the system is forecast to reach Florida this weekend.

Although a strong feature last week right out of the box from Africa, through this past weekend it has not shown enough organization thus far to classify it as a tropical depression or storm.

There have been gusts to 32 mph in squalls in Le Raizet early Monday morning. Gusts were in the neighborhood of 30 mph in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Tuesday.

Over the approximate three-day period in which the storm will affect most locations, there will be an average of 1 to 3 inches of rain on the larger islands and generally one half to one inch on the smaller islands in the northern Caribbean. However, there will be some exceptions in terms of heavier and much lighter rainfall.

St. Kitts has received nearly 4.50 inches of rain from the system as of Wednesday midday with about 2.90 inches falling on Anguilla. Meanwhile, St. Thomas has received about 0.25 of an inch with a little over 0.10 of an inch falling on St. Croix.

Storm total rainfall for San Juan, Puerto Rico was 1.74 inches as of 8:00 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

Sabana de La Mar, Dominican Republic has received 1.70 inches of rain during the 24-hour period ending at 11:00 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

According to Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, "We are monitoring surface pressure in the region. Thus, far barometric pressure has remained rather high around the system."

A drop in surface pressure would indicate development.

Wind shear is likely to prevent development of the system the next few days.

There is a remote possibility that part of the tropical wave could stir modest development near Florida over the weekend.

The wave could interact with a weak upper level trough of low pressure in the region. Every once in a while a tropical system can spin up in this situation.

As long as the feature does not substantially organize, the zone of showers and thunderstorms will tend to be spread out over a broad area.

Another feature over the south-central Atlantic is also being watched.

"The central Atlantic system already has a large, established circulation and has a very good chance of developing this week," Kottlowski said.

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