Chances increasing for new Atlantic tropical system prior to July
The tropical Atlantic has remained quiet since Tropical Storm Alex came and went at the start of June. And while the first month of the season is typically less active than the latter stages of hurricane season, the current year is tracking well behind the prolific pace of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
There are signs that an uptick in activity could occur before July, AccuWeather forecasters say. Meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on a series of disturbances and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks.
Dry air, dust and stiff straight-line breezes have been extensive over much of the tropical waters of the Atlantic for the past several days. The conditions have made it too hostile for tropical disturbances to organize and strengthen into more potent systems.
The disturbances, known as tropical waves, represent weak areas of low pressure and rain squalls that move westward just north of the equator. When these waves are able to strengthen with an increase in winds and drop in pressure, a tropical depression or storm can be born.
In this image of the tropical Atlantic taken on Friday, June 24, 2022, vast areas of dust (brown) can be seen. South America appears on the lower left with Africa on the upper right. There has been a significant uptick in clouds, showers and thunderstorms (center and right) despite the dry air. At least one of the disturbances in this moist zone could develop into a tropical system in the coming days. (GOES-East/NOAA)
In addition to the dry air, dust and wind shear acting as deterrents, the tropical wave train is likely to stay very close to the equator this month and into early July. As a result, the waves will not get natural assistance from the physical effects of the Earth, unless they manage to drift farther to the north and away from the equator.
However, the fact that the wave train is so far south, and away from some of the dust and dry air, may allow at least one of these fledgling systems to survive while crossing the Atlantic.
"One particular wave that emerged from Africa last week has a weak wave running a couple of days ahead," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. "This weak system is helping to push some of the dry air out of the way so that the air is moister in the path of the stronger wave while crossing the Atlantic through the weekend."
The National Hurricane Center has labeled this disturbance Invest 94L, a generic label that is given to tropical waves that are being monitored for further development.
The tropical wave may face another hurdle: the massive land mass of South America.
"In order for the tropical wave to have a better chance of organizing, it may have to shift farther to the north and over the open waters of the Caribbean Sea," Pydynowski said.
It is possible the system may encounter a more moist atmosphere with less dust and wind shear around the Caribbean, according to Pydynowski, who stated that the best chance of development to a tropical depression or storm may not occur until next week.
Even though conditions are becoming more favorable for development at this time, there is no guarantee a depression or tropical system will take shape.
However, there is another potential system closer to home that AccuWeather meteorologists will be keeping an eye on, which may form over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Ultimately, given that this system has yet to form, the odds of a depression or named storm developing are relatively uncertain. Nevertheless, should the future system track westward toward the Texas coastline as steering breezes would indicate, heavy but beneficial rain would be a possibility.
There have been no named storms in the Atlantic since Alex dissipated on June 6. The next storms that forms in the basin will be called Bonnie and Colin.
Regardless of whether the systems develop or not, AccuWeather's team of tropical weather meteorologists, headed by Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, expects an above-average season and above-average direct impacts on the U.S. for 2022. The team remains concerned that there could be one or more significant impacts on Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the southeastern U.S. mainland this season.
Even though the Atlantic tends to remain relatively quiet during July and early August, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes tends to increase quickly later in August and during the middle of September. Hurricane season does not officially end until Nov. 30.
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