Tropical Storm Karen forms in the Atlantic; More tropical development likely into end of September
Since the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, which occurred on Sept. 10, there has been no shortage of Atlantic tropical threats during the last full week of summer. The most menacing of those systems was Imelda, a storm that brewed quickly in the western Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday before moving inland over Texas and unleashing deadly flooding.
Meteorologists were also monitoring Humberto, which strengthened into a major hurricane in the western Atlantic and delivered fierce winds in Bermuda last week. The powerful hurricane stayed well east of the United States, but threatened dangerous surf along the coastline.
Not far behind Humberto, Jerry brewed over the open waters of the Atlantic and rapidly strengthened into a hurricane by Thursday before skirting northeast of the Leeward Islands on Friday.
Behind Jerry, Tropical Storm Karen formed on Sunday morning just east of the Windward Islands. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies, according to the National Hurricane Center.
AccuWeather had been monitoring this area of disturbed weather for tropical development since late last week.
A satellite view of newly formed Tropical Storm Karen on Sunday morning, Sept. 22, 2019. (GOES-EAST/NOAA)
"Karen will bring locally heavy rainfall and wind gusts of 40-50 mph later today to Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. "Sporadic power outages across these islands are likely later Sunday into Sunday night."
After crossing the Windward Islands, Karen is expected to turn northward over the eastern Caribbean Monday into Tuesday.
Karen will gradually intensify as it tracks toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands early this week, according to Pydynowski.
An uptick in downpours and locally gusty winds is likely along Karen's path.
"Beyond Tuesday, Karen will continue to move northward and will be centered well to the east of the Bahamas by later this week," Pydynowski said, adding that is is possible that Karen turns westward by next weekend.
"All interests in the Bahamas and the southeastern United States should continue to monitor Karen's track," Pydynowski said.
Meanwhile, a potent tropical disturbance with a batch of heavy showers and thunderstorms will move off the coast of Africa on Sunday.
AccuWeather meteorologists are closely monitoring this disturbance for development into a tropical depression or storm this week.
"Because this feature is so far on the edge of the basin, movement and impact, if any on the Lesser Antilles and the Caribbean in general from one to two weeks away is highly uncertain," Kottlowski said.
There is a chance this feature is steered northward over the middle of the Atlantic perhaps before approaching the Lesser Antilles.
While the overall weather pattern will be conducive to spawning long-track Cabo Verde systems, which form off of the coast of Africa, and turning them away from the Atlantic coast of the United States, there is some risk of additional systems forming over the Gulf of Mexico into early October.
Anytime there is a general area of high pressure that lingers from the western Atlantic to the south-central United States, the clockwise flow around this system can generate a broad area of counterclockwise flow, what meteorologists refer to as a gyre, near Central America.
"This gyre can help spin up an organized tropical system from any tropical disturbance that comes along and passes through the wind field," Kottlowski said.
Weak to moderate tropical systems can form in the western Caribbean or the southern and western Gulf of Mexico. These systems could brew with close proximity to land, similar to how Imelda formed near Texas, and thus could form with little lead time before striking.
As we saw with Imelda, a powerful hurricane is not needed to cause great risk to lives and considerable property damage and disruptions due to flooding.
This time of the year, residents, travelers, shipping and cruise interests should closely monitor the tropics as conditions can change significantly from one day to the next.
The Atlantic hurricane season continues through the end of November.
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