Is the tropical Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico, about to spring to life?
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
August 16, 2019, 5:57:33 PM EDT
This story has been updated and replaced. For the latest information, follow this link.
AccuWeather meteorologists are monitoring the potential for changing conditions in the Atlantic basin that may lead to an uptick in tropical activity, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico over the next couple of weeks.
"Indications are that inhibiting factors for tropical development, such as dry air, dust and strong wind shear over the Atlantic basin will start to relax during the week of Aug. 18-25," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
There has been an extensive amount of dry air and wind shear, with flare-ups of Saharan dust in recent weeks. This pattern is anticipated to continue into this weekend.
While this is not unusual during the middle of the summer, we are entering the period of the summer when moist air becomes more plentiful and the amount of dust and wind shear tends to diminish.
Tropical disturbances, or waves, move off the coast of Africa every few days during the summer and into the autumn. This is called the Cabo Verde season, which is named for the group of islands just off the west coast of Africa.
While waters are sufficiently warm enough to support development in this area from midsummer on, dry air, dust and wind shear keep most of these disturbances from developing into tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
"How fast these inhibiting factors relax next week will determine if and when a particular disturbance develops," Kottlowski said.
What is wind shear and how does it impact hurricanes, other tropical cyclones?
Drenching storms to raise flash flood risk in southern US
Tropical disturbance southeast of Hawaii bears watching during mid-August
Experts share tips on how to prepare children for hurricanes
"For example, determining the amount of wind shear in a path of a potential tropical system several days out is challenging," Kottlowski said.
Like other factors in the weather, wind shear can vary significantly from day to day and shift over time as a budding tropical system approaches.
The disturbance, and others will continue to drift westward across the tropical Atlantic in the coming days.
Steering breezes are likely to cause these features to turn more to the northwest and north as they near Central America.
Such a pattern may allow the feature to travel from the northwestern Caribbean, across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, into the western Gulf of Mexico and perhaps toward the western or northern Gulf coast to end next week.
"If the wind shear drops off in the northwestern Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico, the door may open for development later next week," Kottlowski said.
Waters are sufficiently warm in the region to support development should the shear ease up.
Interests from Belize and eastern Mexico to the western and northern Gulf coast in the United States, including petroleum operations in the Gulf of Mexico, should monitor the progress of this feature.
In absence of any organized feature, a surge in drenching downpours and locally gusty thunderstorms is possible late next week along the western and/or central Gulf coast.
While the hurricane season extends from June 1 through Nov. 30, the period from the last part of August through October marks the prime time for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.
The sharpest increase in tropical storm and hurricane frequency occurs from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11.
AccuWeather is predicting a total of 12-14 named storms with five to seven hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes for the 2019 season.
AccuWeather meteorologists estimate an additional one to three named-storm landfalls in the U.S. for the balance of the season, following Hurricane Barry from the middle of July.
Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert of tropical and severe weather advisories. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - August 17, 2019, 7:30:12 AM EDT
Many locations have already had to deal with multiple rounds of thunderstorms over the past week and will have to endure additional rounds of torrential downpours, damaging winds, frequent lightning and possibly even an isolated tornado through the weekend.
Weather News - August 16, 2019, 1:33:35 PM EDT
Researchers discovered a new species of penguin that roamed the earth about 60 million years ago, stood over 5 feet tall and weighed nearly 180 pounds.
Weather News - August 16, 2019, 1:58:51 PM EDT
"We know we were way too close, and that we are lucky we didn't get hurt," one of the kayakers said afterward. But they did catch a must-see moment on camera.
Weather News - August 16, 2019, 1:00:06 PM EDT
As winter hangs on across Australia, another round of snow is expected to close out this weekend in parts of Victoria and southern New South Wales.
China and Taiwan to Japan on alert for a new tropical development in the aftermath of Krosa's deadly blow
Weather News - August 16, 2019, 12:39:05 PM EDT
If a new tropical depression or storm forms, impacts could range "anywhere from Taiwan to eastern China to southern Japan" next weekend.
Weather News - August 17, 2019, 5:52:35 AM EDT
Spotty thunderstorms will continue to erupt and unload torrential rain on parts of the northeastern United States as heat and humidity build into early next week.
Weather News - August 16, 2019, 1:18:35 PM EDT
The recent finding was "purely accidental," one scientist said. Meanwhile, a similar phenomenon was observed in Arctic snow leading another scientist to describe the discovery as "a real shock."
Weather News - August 17, 2019, 5:54:14 AM EDT
While tropical storm formation is not anticipated right away, one area may become a breeding ground for tropical activity sometime next week.